When We Don’t Have Twitter, We’ll Enjoy Books Again
In a couple weeks, Dale Stromberg will release his story collection, Melancholic Parables. These reality-bending flash fictions follow key moments in the linked and infinitely recurring lives of Bellatrix Sakakino. As I read these stories now, during this particular historical moment when Twitter is imploding, I see them as parables about our online lives: who we are when we’re tweeting, or who we think we are when we’re tweeting, and why we keep tweeting.
Your Bad Jokes Never Leave You
When Bellatrix dies, she goes to a place where she relives her favorite moment, “its every detail precisely captured. She was to exist inside it forever.” She’s 12, receiving a triple award at school, and she jokes to the audience: “I just want to thank all the little people.” As the moment plays over and over in her afterlife, she worries increasingly about the joke: “People must have been laughing at her, not with her.”
She comes back to life again, but she never forgets. Not just the bad joke; she never forgets anything. She is “reborn with all the memories of her previous life intact.” Thus, as a child, “being more mentally and emotionally mature than her classmates, she never made friends, and never wanted to.” She longs for the taste of foods that are no longer available.
The Landscape is Full of Bots
As Melancholic Parables has it:
You’re human if:
a) you can’t understand why not everyone is human.
b) you can’t understand that not everyone is human.
Bellatrix follows an omelet recipe that says: “All that is required is the will to make the omelet. To stop at nothing.” You break eggs, and break eggs, and break eggs. Your faith in the recipe doesn’t waver. But after all these broken eggs, wanting the omelet so badly, where is the omelet?
Who Is Bellatrix? Why Is She Doing This?
Don’t know, but in one lifetime, she’s raised to communicate in language that is only “the noise of an old dial-up modem,” and in another, “her body has a dampening effect on nearby…