Saturday, January 31, 2004

I have a new obsession. But fortunately, this one is reasonably safe, and won't involve a restraining order. It's Netflix, an online service that allows you to rent DVD's through the mail -- an online video store if you will. On their website, you place movies you want to see in a queue (up to 500), and they send you movies from the top of this list. You can have up to three out at a time, and keep them as long as you want. No worries about late fees. They give you envelopes with the postage already paid, and once you're finished with a movie you simply slide it into the prepaid sleeve and stick in the mail. In a few days you get the latest movie from your queue.

The queue is where my obsession lies. It becomes a storage space for desires, a reclamation of childhood, a visible beacon of wanting to have lived in a different era. I add recent movies that I want to see. I add movies that I should have seen growing up but never did. And I add classic movies that I've heard about but never had the chance to see. But perhaps even more so, the queue becomes a device to test your memory. In your head you have an internal queue of books you want to read. But what happens when you walk inside a bookstore? The queue is immediately flushed and you can't remember a single title you wanted. You hover by the Dr. Seuess children's books hoping that the list returns. And then appears the Netflix queue. When you log onto that page you soon forget that internal list inside your head of those titles that you want to see. I've recently been like the guy from Memento who writes stuff down on sticky notes in fear of thoughts being forever lost. Scrap paper and yellow sticky notes sit across my apartment and in sketchbooks when I'm away. A movie title that spontaneously pops into my head. I jot it down since I know it will vanish otherwise. And thus I have slowly built up my queue to the number it stands at today.

96 movies. Or as I like to think of it: a list of movies for the next 3 1/2 years.

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