“. . . civilization obtains mastery over the individual’s dangerous desire . . . by setting up an agency within him to watch over it. . . .”
— Sigmund Freud
It’s the square government building knocked together by the low bidder, the carpeted lobby, in khaki, and a few stone urns, their throats stopped with sand, snuffed cigarettes and gum wrappers. It’s always 9 or 3 o’clock, the right angles of the day, too late to be early or too early to think about going home to sit at the west window of your apartment near the river, a cold beer, dusk on the boulevard, the evening traffic and the last barges mingling their lights, No, you can’t think of that this early, you’11 go crazy. The file cabinets are jammed, drawers like messy nests of trash birds, grackles and starlings, everything saved, everything in duplicate that no one will ever want. Please, no eating at your desks. The bureau chief hates the office to smell of hot mustard or chili, the cozy musk of popcorn encourages gabbing and the gyros from the Greek place have embarrassed three reports with permanent stains of grease. No loud talking or laughing. The agents’ memos must be filed by late morning and again early evening. In the yawning of the afternoon, you might walk to the window, which is sealed to control everyone’s comfort. You might look out if you promise not to notice the couple in the little park, under the big hands of the sycamore, the red of her skirt, his open collar.