04 August 2010

Terse Wisdom, Awkwardly Expressed



Sorry. Been busy on a project. I will return more often henceforth.

I encountered a bumper sticker today that at first glance appealed to me.


I'D RATHER BE
HERE NOW

At first it seemed apparent to me that this was a cute expression of dissent from such sentiments as:


I'D RATHER BE AT
WALT DISNEY WORLD


After pondering it awhile, however, I began to wonder if it had some more ominous or even sinister import. If when the driver is behind the wheel of that Subaru, he would rather be there then, then where the hell exactly is he really?

This would perhaps make sense if the guy went north leaving his car here, and just before he left he stuck this bumper sticker on it. In that case, however, he would clearly have to remove the bumper sticker immediately upon his return. Still and all, that seems to evidence a pathological identification with his automobile in the sense that he trusts the automobile to express his sentiments for him in his absence. What if he changes his mind while he is up north and decides he would rather be there now?

They were California plates after all. Anything is possible.

All I can say is that if I were to come up on the rear of this car and read the bumper sticker while someone was driving it down the street--not unoccupied and parked as I did encounter it--my first inclination would be to shout, "You are here, you moron! Pay attention."

He might simply be trying to say something like, "I would rather be here than be in Pasadena." But the addition of the word "now" screws that up because it makes it clear that right now he is not here. Or does it?

I guess he might be saying something like, "I would rather be here now where I am than be in Pasadena where I am not now." With that however, we are getting beyond the ambit of sentiments expressed on bumper stickers. Maybe.

It is the conditional present tense of "I would rather be. . ." with an implicit "if-clause" that is the problem, compounded by the use of the word "now. . . . ." no, no. That is not correct. Come to think of it, "I would rather be here now in Mexico than in Pasadena now," makes some sense, although that construction, "I would rather be here now. . . ." still injects some doubt into the whole scenario as to whether the guy really is here in Mexico. Or in Pasadena. Doesn't it? Is not there still some implication of, "I would rather be here now than where I am now?"

I know that I am making too much of this. Obviously, if the guy is driving this Subaru with this bumper sticker on it all over creation from Central Mexico to California, he does not really care where he is or he likes it everywhere. I suspect the latter. I suspect that he is just a newbie Buddhist imperfectly embracing the injunction to live in the moment. And he probably makes it a point not to drive the Subaru anywhere where he does not want to be.

I admit that

I PREFER TO BE
HERE NOW


makes poor bumper sticker text particularly if the guy only wishes to make fun of ones that say, for example,

I'D RATHER BE AT
WALT DISNEY WORLD





3 comments:

felix said...

Reminds me of a line from Buckaroo Banzai:

Wherever you go, there you are.

Señor Steve said...

Perfect, Felix! I had forgotten all about that. Thank you.

Robyn said...

I used to have a bumper sticker that said "Where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?"