What’s considered ‘right and proper’? I feel like this phrase is the equivalent of asking what’s normal? And that’s a weighty statement, one I’ve been asking myself right now. After all, it’s hard to judge what’s normal when no two people are alike.
This is the question the short story, “Right and Proper,” raises within Matthew Buscemi’s book Transmutations of Fire and Void. In “Right and Proper,” the reader follows along with Kailey, a meticulous manager whose emotion has almost been completely removed in her practical, opinion-less job. For someone working in quantum decoherence, they remove the possibility of an object’s existence in order to generate energy. Unfortunately, this means the elimination of art, creativity, of this spark of existence – the thing that gives us life.
I like how this story brings this fact of life to light, that without creativity and enjoyment, the world be an expressionless, boring place. You can tell immediately that the characters have the bare minimum of emotion – happiness at order, sadness in the face of chaos. I think what I liked most in this story is the contrast between beauty and need.
“The interior is a simple lattice, but it grows more
angles and curves as you go outward, until the edges, with those helices and spirals. Oh Su Ges-Limnu-Nis-Limmu. It’s amazing.”
The hunk of transparent tungsten remained to Kailey nothing more than a hunk of transparent tungsten, despite the recruit’s description.
Kailey produced her computer, and instructed the nanite control system to synthesize a glass of water into her hand. (7)
In this scene, we witness the superior diss the imagination of the inferior intern, although internally, who even though is inexperienced, imagines beauty in the creation of complexity. But while the superior explains this object is just for power, ignoring its beauty, she uses that same power to generate a glass of water.
To me, contrasting the justification of creativity/beauty/enjoyment with the necessity of food/water argues that some elements of life are hard to achieve without first moving past the sacrifice to necessity. Where the need to survive comes first, art will always come second, only after comfort has been first achieved. This juxtaposition I really enjoyed, which didn’t take more that putting the two actions side-by-side. A relatively simple solution.
Buscemi, Matthew. “Right and Proper.” Transmutations of Fire and Void. Seattle, WA: Fuzzy Hedgehog Press, 1-10. Print.