The only convincing love story of our time. Or was that Lolita? At least Dolores Haze was alive and breathing, and that’s passe now. Indeed, the most convincing love story of our century must needs be with something inflatable, deluxe and disposable. Bryan Ferry was, in 1973, prescient about the unbearable loneliness and ennui of millenial living. So he was a bit off on the technology; he was still thinking of inflatable dolls in the literal sense, the digital inflation of our fantasies not having come to be yet. Still, old fashioned plastic or new fangled digital, he’s captured the soul of modern man, all alone in his spotless environment with nothing to interact with but his own breath. Could we all be any sadder, isolated and immobile with our shiny toys and 3D Evil Monster Porn? Or does this nationwide state of existential boredom even exist? I don’t think it really does, but it’s one of our talking points as a culture. Most of us can still – despite spending too much time alone watching unnaturally inflated women do unspeakable things – interact with one another and even experience (and share!) basic emotions. It’s vaguely romantic, I suppose, to imagine yourself as the only living being surrounded by others so hopelessly disengaged they can only invest themselves in lifeless shiny objects. You can both feel sorry for such characters and envy them – they have their dream homes and everything in the world but their souls are empty. It’s not exactly a new theme either. Wasn’t pretty rich people’s ennui what Gatsby was all about? (Seriously, tell me if it was, I’ve never read it.) What’s new is how, the culture vultures cry, we are all disappearing into a vortex of virtual ‘reality’ in which solipsism and masturbation have replaced all desire or ability for human interaction. That’s just silly of course. Like I said, most of us young moderns have the rational thinking skills to make a distinction between real and not-real life, and are comfortable taking our pleasures in both worlds. The idea of modern youth quietly going insane alone with an iPad is just the most recent iteration of out-of-it older people freaking out about how the younger generation is all going to hell because women’s ankles! novels! automobiles! the waltz! not wearing a hat in public! flappers! rock and roll! women voters! men with long hair! contraception! drugs! free love! gay marriage! the internet! and all the other things that everyone thought would lay society low but didn’t. So no, we haven’t all collectively taken leave of reality just yet. But that’s not to say we’re not without our slivers of loneliness, disengagement and ennui. There’s always some sense of hopeless romantic sorrow in the story of one man and his inflatable doll, because he’s pathetic and yet we can relate to him, because he reflects our own pathetic little obsessions, and if he happens to look like Bryan Ferry then it’s romantically pathetic and kinky hot.