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sing. A one-way ticket is a disjointed life that misses the links between yesterday and today, today and tomorrow. Only the man who obstinately hangs on
to a round-trip ticket can hum with real sorrow a song of a one-way ticket.
For this very reason he grows desperate lest the return half of his ticket be
lost or stolen; he buys stocks, signs up for life insurance, and talks out of different sides of his mouth to his union pals and his superiors. He hums “The
One-Way Ticket Blues” with all his might and, choosing a channel at random, turns the television up to full volume in an attempt to drown out the
peevish voices of those who have only a one-way ticket and who keep asking
for help, voices that come up through the bathtub drain or the toilet hole. It
would not be strange at all if “The Round-Trip Ticket Blues” were the song
of mankind imprisoned.56 344 Culture in the Present Age After a futile and humiliating attempt to escape from the pit, the man
sets about constructing a ground trap in the hope of ensnaring a crow to
carry his plea for help to the outside world. The trap project has little
chance of succeeding, but it leads the man to an incredible discovery:
beneath the sand there is water that could be invaluable to the villagers.
With this secret knowledge about the water, the man’s attitude toward
his situation begins to change, and when shortly thereafter the villagers
forget or neglect to remove the rope ladder leading to the bottom of the
pit, he does not seize the opportunity to make another attempt to
escape. For now he has a “two-way ticket” to life and can afford to weigh
his options more carefully:
There was no particular need to hurry about escaping. On the two-way ticket
he held in his hand now, the destination and time of departure were blanks
for him to fill in as he wished. In addition, he realized that he was bursting
with a desire to talk to someone about the water trap. And if he wanted to
talk about it, there wouldn’t be better listeners than the villagers. He would
end by telling someone—if not today, then tomorrow.
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.
- Spring '13