Condos: Space, Capitalism, and Loneliness

Modern life has never been more beautiful and ill. This is my first article for the Bull and Bear, and I’ve decided to forego the usual structure for something that I felt was more humane and evocative of the (fatal) malady at hand here. This poem touches on themes of alienation, and I can already hear the gag – reflexes. By no means is this proposing a radical change in how we structure society (my colleague Zoe Peterson has written a complimentary article to this piece that takes on this burden). I see this poem as more a constructive criticism of the system that is maintaining us alive. As agents in the system, we must, I believe, think critically on matters such as space, capitalism and loneliness. This is my attempt:

 

i can

see the future

when i press from inside

on the walls of my forehead

 

could you believe? in five years. thirty seconds ago. a new instagram picture. so-so and their fiancé have bought their first condo. you ponder silent and confused whether to press the like or the launch button.

 

money envy creeps in as you stare at your online banking app.

what’s the percentage for down payments again?

 

a condo. a condo. who in their right mind would purchase a condo?

 

1.9 million households in Canada apparently.

 

it wasn’t always like that. in 1981, in Canada, condos were less than 10% of the houses built. now they’re more than a third of the houses built every year.

 

here in Montreal, you can see them spawning like weeds in artificial neighbourhoods.

detached homes and Levittowns have lost their charm.

we want to be urban dwellers, like everybody else.

 

i can hear the past

when i twist from inside

the walls of my stomach

 

no one knows how the condo came to be. you can try to google it. if you go on wikipedia, it says the first instances of condominiums appear in a document from Babylon. weirdly enough, the bibliographical reference for this affirmation leads to a New York Times article about dog DNA.

 

i can feel the angst

when i swivel on my Aeron chair

in the empty room destined for my unborn child

that moonlights as an office for perpetually unfinished projects

 

modernity is a series of aberrations, some with shared rooftops, most amortized over 25 years.

 

you can tell condos have become a commodity because every single unit is the same. the same countertops, the same stove, the same sink, the same shower, the same — you can customize your walls with the art of your friend who insisted on being painter which is sad because they would have made a damn good financial analyst.

 

NEWS REPORT: big headed doctor buys high-ceiling condo.

(only logical.)

 

how did we get here? cave, then hut, then condo?

 

the condo has everything to succeed. it provides us with the proximity and shared spaces for a communal living. but practically it fails. we stay, doors locked, cloistered. a bunch of tech-savvy nuns.

 

born alone. buy alone.

 

loneliness is the bane of the 21st century yet we walk, run, fly into its arms. sad teens with down payments. that’s all we’ll ever be. as soon as we get the keys, the anxiety kicks in.

 

your home becomes an object, this large oblong thing, that you compare with that of others. if it was bigger, maybe you’d invite people over.

 

no matter how many times you turn off you tom dixon lamp, you can’t fall asleep. you can wait for Jamie to come back from work. it’s 11pm.  flip open the laptop and watch a youtube video explicating the Japanese philosophy of zen. 12 minutes later and Jamie still isn’t there.

 

what’s the point of having a house if you’re never there? maybe you should invite people over.

 

no one ever sits on the couch

nappa leather, minimal, wide

enough for four people

 

everyone is always busy

no one ever uses the oven

microwave and takeout

shower and shit

 

you crack open a walnut as you lay on the couch.

you feel the nut’s edges slide down your throat slowly.

they stop.

they don’t want to go further.

protesters in the middle of your esophagus.

(you’ve never been a fan of protests.

you watched from above.

in your condo.

wondering how you were going to get to work that day.)

 

you lay motionless on your italian couch

nappa leather, minimal, wide

in your empty soundproofed lair.

wondering why jamie always works so late.

 

 

 

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