15 July 2009

Interview with a Coffee Cup

Interview with a Coffee Cup
07/15/2009, 10:31 PM

Me: Where do you work?

CC: In a diner.

Me: Do you enjoy your work?

CC: In fact I do. It's a pleasant diner. People come in, have eggs or a doughnut, chat. The TV isn't on too loud. Plenty of regulars.

Me: Is it a problem, getting so close to people?

CC: I imagine a number of the customers are bad kissers! (Laughs) No, it's all part of the job. Some folks sip and others slurp, but it's not a problem. You pay your money, the last thing you want is trouble from your coffee cup. I'm happy.

Me: I guess you could get philosophical about it. You're an absence that's also a presence, the emptiness that is filled but never truly filled, like an uncarved block or atman or something. You are the morning negation.

CC: (Laughs)I just don't think you can think that way. It's a job. I mean, I understand how some folks see a noble grandeur or deep meaning or whatever in what they do, and that works for them, but it's not me, you know? I know what I need to do and I do it. At the end of the day, I'm a mug.

Me: You aren't apolitical though. I hear you're an anarchist.

CC: I'm afraid I started that rumor. A guy from Rolling Stone was interviewing me and he was just so annoying I told him I was an anarchist. The idiot believed me. An anarchist coffee cup! He got fired.

Me: So how do you pass the time?

CC: I'm a student of my world, of diners. I like the way people walk in and just start talking to each other. They seem to find the diner safe. It's odd -- objectively the place doesn't look much different from a waiting room, but people react to it much differently. I think their lives are blank, and they find the place comforting.

Me: I think you're right. I tend to go to diners when I'm very tired yet hopped up on coffee, and the place feels calming.

CC: I think people in that state, they tend to throw their emotions onto the world.

Me: Exactly! My dreams are like that. I used to think that they were wholly two-dimensional, and what gave them added dimension was my emotional reaction to them. So if a wall of water appeared, I could perceive no depth, but what made it feel deep was that that flat space signaled profound fears.

CC: I see. Yes, I think people do that with coffee sometimes as well. When they break down, it's rather horrible.

Me: But the diner mostly cancels that out. Formica in two, three dimensions is not going to be a fraught surface. It's not like the surface of the ocean or the eyes of a serial killer. It's just there.

CC: And it has coffee on it! It's true. Mostly people come in, sit down, drink coffee. For the time they are with me they seem collected, contained.

Me: You must get some satisfaction from that.

CC: I do. Absolutely I do. I'm not saying it's all me -- obviously there are a lot of elements that contribute to the effect, but I do my part, and it seems to work.


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