House and Garden

Joy detergent bottleJoy bottle (deformed)

I remember reading about the experiment and feeling something oddly familiar about it. Like when a déjà vu leaves you with a nagging suspicion that it wasn't déjà vu at all, that you really did live through the experience before. These anxiety stricken monkeys running in fear from dark, looming, abusive would-be nurturers. It reminded me of the first grade. On the playground, being attacked by sadistic second graders. Nuns like proto Darth Vaders beating unruly rebel children into submission.

But it was not just this isolated trauma that caught my attention. The image of Chicken Wire Mother seemed to me to describe our society on many levels, in many ways.

The Experiment is about depriving a social creature of the foundation of social behavior: trust. Trust in one's companions is essential to forming relationships. Without trust, one is faced with constant fear, paranoia and isolation.

Which reminds me of Richard Nixon. A man in a suit just a little too big and stiff, living in a large house in the middle of the nation's capitol, very much cut off from the people he was meant to lead, investing in electronic technology that allows him to hear what is being said in another room in another building, by people he fears.

Which reminds me of the houses up and down my street, each very isolated from the next, not shelters so much as containers. Or maybe each is too much a shelter, like a crab whose shell is so thick it can hardly move any more.

And it occurs to me now, that in America everybody wants a room of their own.

Back to title page