You’re walking down a city street. All the cars speeding past you are grey and boxlike. They’re all the same, featureless, colorless, and they make no sound as they sweep down the streets.
You walk into a clothing store. There are no sections for men, women, and children. On every rack hang beige shirts, pants, and coats. The styles are drab and shapeless. There are no dressing rooms. There is no color. Other shoppers…even the cashier…are dressed in the same exact clothing. Everyone looks identical. You slap down your money and walk out with a grey bag full of the same clothes everyone else wears.
You’re hungry. Starving, actually. You walk into a restaurant without a name, a logo, or a menu. You step up to the counter and order the same thing everyone else is having. This is the city’s best place to eat, but you’re not impressed. All they offer are tasteless, watery noodles and flavorless bread. Everyone sits quietly and eats at grey tables. You can’t even remember why you picked this place.
At home, you’re ready to relax after a long day at work. Your house looks exactly like everyone else’s, but luckily you remember which one is yours. After all, it’s got a number. You park your grey car inside your grey garage, and you walk through grey doors into a grey room. Your walls are barren. No photos of loved ones. No paintings. No color. You sit on your couch and turn on your TV. There’s only one station. It’s the same two people wearing the same two suits talking about the same thing they did yesterday. There’s no Food Network, SyFy Channel, Game of Thrones, or Discovery Channel. It’s just two people discussing the value of nothing. What else is there to watch?
You’d like to go to the movies. But there’s no such thing.
You’re thinking of taking a stroll through a museum. But no one’s ever thought to build one.
You’re hungry for a gourmet pizza, a scrumptious slice of cake, and a nice cocktail. But there’s no chefs, no bakeries, and certainly no bartenders.
Perhaps I’ll just lie in bed and read a book, you think. It’s not like there’s anything else to do.
But there are no books. Because there are no authors. And even if there were, all the covers would look the same…grey and black. You wouldn’t know which one to read. It’d be impossible to choose. At this point, you’d settle for a magazine, a newspaper, or a funny website with cute comics on the internet. It sucks, because these things don’t exist. You’ve never heard of them. You can’t even want to want them.
You’re bored. You’re distraught. You step outside for a walk. It’s strange walking through your town. The houses, buildings, shops, and stores are all white boxes. No one bothers with windows…there’s nothing to see. You can’t tell the difference between the car repair shop and the bank. They look exactly the same. No one ever bothered to be an architect. No one knew it was possible.
There’s one thing left that’ll save you. You run back to your trusty radio. It’s a grey box like all the others. You flip the switch and turn the dial to your favorite station. The sound greeting your ears? Static. Dead, dry noise. There’s no rhythm in it. There’s no beat, no catchy hook. It’s just static.
Always crackling. Always the same.
And you’re emptier still.
That evening, your kid comes home from school.
“What did you do today?” you ask. “Learn anything interesting?”
He shrugs. He doesn’t care much about school. He learns the same things every day: math, chemistry, and science. That’s all well and good. But he never has any good stories. It’s because there aren’t any. He’s happy because he doesn’t have to write book reports, but sad because he’s never read a book. There’s not much going on at his school. No sports. No chess club. No band camp. Why have extracurricular activities if there’s no such thing?
He doesn’t even know what a crayon is.
Actually, neither do you.
You’re walking down a hall.
The walls are barren. Everyone you pass is wearing pale sackcloth. Everyone looks the same.
It’s silent in this place. The only sounds you hear are footsteps and your own breathing. They haven’t even bothered to pipe lame elevator music into this place. Why would they? There’s no such thing.
There’s no color here. There’s nothing to do but eat your noodles, sleep in your white bed, and drive to work in your simple grey box.
What is this place?
Where am I? you wonder.
This is a world without art. Without color. Without chefs, architects, or artisans. Without painters, writers, or musicians. Without photographers, sculptors, or comedians. Without gardeners. Without dance. Without movies.
Support an artist today.
Without them, we are nothing.
J Edward Neill