The Lottery

22 Jul

a scene

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The Americans aren’t the first to adopt the lottery system, but they do make the biggest spectacle of it. The borrowed idea becomes an infallible coup de grace once it emerges from the lips of the country’s 46th president, and a year later—as if its widening cracks haven’t already been revealed by several filmmakers and its imminent failure predicted by at least several influential academic unions—as far as the media is concerned, the lottery is the Lord Jesus Christ, come back to Earth.

It applies to everyone. Parcel size ranges from 5-25 acres. Uninhabitable land is auctioned off to nonprofits and charities. Once each state is rendered as a complex, curivlinear grid by engineers and planners working under the guidance of federal officials, power is handed back to state governments to run the lotteries. The brochures—The U.S. Land Lottery and What It Means for You—are mailed out with the same unappetizing regularity with which the National Guard rounds up and deports Latinos and Arabs. There is something about the language of the Americans: it is too efficient. Everything is thought of, as if it were engineered by a supercomputer after running 2,000 simulations.

Waves of homeless men, women, and children besiege the major cities every few weeks, stocking up for the circuitous migrations to which they are doomed; most shelters and homes had been dissolved in the idealistic fervor of the lottery roll-out. Aside from this, the largest geographical change is the dispersion of the urban populous. Fourth generation Chicagoans find themselves on a 7-acre plot in central Illinois, hundreds of miles from where their aunts and cousins are building small timber-frame homes, up in Grayslake and down in East St. Louis, their family now something of a scatter plot.

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inspired by Alexander Trevi

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