"It was square and shiny, enclosed in cardboard, sitting in the living room as if it had been there always. But it had not been there the day before. I walked around it, gingerly giving it a wide birth. I had seen these before and each time I had been afraid. The picture on the top of the box showed a streamlined clear-glass panel, with four silver knobs for feet. At the very top, a small rectangular shape would give the digital read-out. I feared the worst. I could not open the box."
Studying popular culture as an elective a few years back, I was quite intrigued by the idea that science fiction is actually quite conservative. I had always thought of sci-fi as a radical type of fiction that postulated the impossible and stretched the reader’s mind to embrace objects and beings that were products of the author’s over-active imagination. How could it be conservative, yet clearly have such unorthodox elements?
But as I began to study it, rather than just read it for pleasure, I could see how the genre reflects and asserts our most conservative fears about the world we live in. As J.P. Telotte suggests in Anthology of Drama, science fiction is chiefly characterized by fear – “as a genre that often deals with speculation about the future, science fiction (like other genres of fantasy) is familiar with and particularly well-suited to address our various fears: of technological and cultural change, of the future, of the unknown…” (Anthology of Drama, 115). When taken in this light, the sub-story of every science fiction piece becomes a fascinating look at the culture that produced it as it can become a tell-tale indicator of the fears with which that culture struggles.
So, what does that little introductory paragraph reveal about my own culture of fear?
Yeah, that's right. The dreaded bathroom scale! The battery in our bathroom scale died a few months ago and I keep promising my husband that I'll get a replacement. Finally, the day before yesterday, I happened to see this scale for sale and at $13, I figured it was almost as cheap as a new battery. I bought the darn thing but haven't gathered up my courage yet to take it out of the box. It's sits ominously in my living room, waiting for my fears to dissipate, or at least, temporarily retreat.
On a more positive note, however, I have been making a concerted effort to cook with more veggies!
I've never cooked artichoke before, so I'm looking forward to giving that a try. And we just read recently that dragon fruit is supposed to be extremely healthy so we're trying that too. The bag on the right is one of my favourite products - broccoli slaw. It's such a convenient way to make stir-fry, salad, etc. and ups my veggie intake for the day really quickly.
Hopefully, with all the veggies we've been eating, the bathroom scale isn't something I need to fear. Still, I'm pretty sure I could write a convincing sci-fi novel about our society's obsession with weight. In the mean time, it occurs to me that the old adage "you can run but you can't hide" would be more applicable in this situation if I was to re-arrange it a little - "you can run, but then you wouldn't need to hide!" For now, I'll leave running to those of you who are more physically fit - I think I'll stick to trying to increase my veggie intake and getting a good walk once a day. And given enough time, perhaps I'll get over my fear of the dreaded bathroom scale.