Friday, November 17, 2017

1439: Trenestheses

You have heard it said (especially in courtrooms) that some things must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. But did you ever wonder why the word reasonable was so necessary in that formula? The answer, I think, is that there are two kinds of proof –proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and proof beyond a possible doubt; and the latter type of proof does not finally exist. We can prove nothing, you see, beyond a possible doubt. Not even the previous sentence! Even if a defendant is caught with blood on his hands (and his clothing shows a hundred DNA matches), there is still a possibility that he was elaborately framed. When a jury decides that he is guilty, then, they are not saying that elaborate frame-jobs are impossible. I think they are saying that, in this particular instance, they have little reason to believe in one.

The idea goes beyond courtrooms. Just as a guilty defendant might cook up a story about how he was elaborately framed, I might cook up a story about how Coca-Cola isn’t really a liquid. No matter how much evidence you chucked at me, you could never disprove my claim beyond a possible doubt; I could, after all, make up a whole ocean of schlock involving hyperspace dimensions and the varying laws of physics. You wouldn’t need to disprove my schlock in order to disbelieve it – you could merely decide that my evidence was moronic. You see, then, that evidence is not the same thing as proof. I have evidence that the moon is made of cheese – namely, what I have read in children’s books. I have evidence, too, that the moon is made of rock – namely, what I have read in NASA books. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that one claim is evidence and that the other is not; they are both evidence. But for most people, one is decidedly more convincing than the other.

Picture, then, the mathematical asymptote: the graph in which a line draws infinitely nearer to an axis, but never quite reaches it. That, in my opinion, is what knowledge is like. Just as the line never quite touches the axis, no one can quite prove anything at all. Between the line and the axis, there is always a gulf, and the gulf is always bridged by a combination of evidence and faith. Exempli gratia:

1. When you believe that Coca-Cola is a liquid, you bridge the gap with several metric tons of evidence, and a microscopic fraction of a teaspoon of faith.
2. When you believe that you will not be killed on your way to work tomorrow, you bridge the gap with a sizeable hill of evidence, and a small pocket-full of faith.
3. When you believe that Team A will defeat Team B in the Super Bowl (or World Cup), you bridge the gap with a fair bit of evidence, but still with a rather large portion of faith.
4. If you believe that Richard Gere is secretly an ambassador to Mars, you bridge the gap with very little evidence, and with a large tank-full of faith.

In turn, I think that everyone in the universe has beliefs. When it comes to the questions which are farther from the graphical axis – who should I vote for? what happens when we die? what constitutes good and evil? – I think there are two types of believing persons in the world: those who say ‘Wasn’t I lucky to be born with the correct belief!’ and those who catch themselves, and ask, ‘But aren’t the wrong ones thinking the exact same thing?’ And among those who would ask this unnerving question, there are two salient responses.

Door Number One
It is unpleasant to imagine that a deep conviction – whether it’s yours, or belongs to someone across the world – might actually be plum wrong. Door Number One, then, attempts to reconcile this dissonance by believing in relativity and subjectivity. They mutter to themselves that there is no objective truth – and that if Person A believes that pumpkins grow on trees while Person B doesn’t, then nobody loses; they both get to be right. Besides saying a word or two on whether or not pumpkins grow on trees, I think that the easiest way to debunk Door Number One is to realise how self-refuting it is. Anyone who would mutter to themselves, ‘There is no objective truth,’ obviously believes in at least one – namely, the one they just muttered. Door Number One, then, has never interested me.

Door Number Two
Despite how strange it is to realise that a deep conviction might be wrong, there is another way to soften the sting. That is to coat your personal conviction – what you believe is objectively correct – in a layer of respect for those who oppose it. You needn’t believe that they, too, are correct (or else you are still tempted by Door Number One), but you can at least honor that they, too, are living a meaningful journey, and are trying to bridge all the gulfs on their asymptote. Exempli gratia:

Have you ever seen a sick child – for instance, a young cancer patient – partake in the opening ceremony of a sporting event? In such instances (which have become rather common), the child will often wear their favorite player’s jersey, and will express his or her support for the home team. Only a colossal nincompoop would say to themselves, ‘Well then, anyone who doesn’t root for the home team is a monster!’ – since, after all, it wouldn’t be hard to find a cancer patient who was rooting for the opposite team, now would it? An even bigger idiot would say, ‘That kid is rooting for a team I hate, so his cancer isn’t real and I don’t care about him!’ It is quite obvious (at least, to most people) why these statements sound so darned idiotic: to root for a team, after all, is not to show contempt for the lives of others. Do you see, then, that judgment is not the same thing as disrespect? That it’s possible to disagree with a larger premise without showing contempt for someone’s concerns? As much as the idiots from my analogy may seem like dumb caricatures, they actually exist in political and ideological discussions – ‘the person in this political commercial is hurt and crying, so anyone who votes for (x) is a monster,’ or ‘the crying person told me to vote for (x), and I hate (x), so I can make fun of the crying person for being dumb and misguided.’ Do you see how foolish these sentiments are? Can you see, in turn, how judgment and respect don’t need to be in competition?

Some will never see; and the terrible effect, in my opinion, is that respect is treated as a competitive advantage. It’s suddenly difficult to admit that everyone needs respect – if, after all, we have to respect things which are unfamiliar, or things which are new, or things which are strange and unconventional, or even discomforting, and things which require us to examine ourselves, or also (on the other hand) things which scholars have never written about, which warrant no references in medical journals, and which hold no particular water in an audience of doctors, nor therapists, nor psychologists, nor sociologists, and which do not involve Death nor trauma (as my previous blog entry mentioned) – ‘if I must respect any of those,’ we ask ourselves. ‘What will be left for me?’ When really, the idea of respect as a limited resource – the last cookie on the plate, which only one person will ever get – is, in my opinion, total schlock. Once we admit that everyone possesses a story (and that each of them commands a helping of respect), we realise that the limitation of the resource existed only in our imaginations.

This riddle, I think, is what’s behind the so-called snowflake phenomenon. There is nothing (to my mind) problematic with the notion of personal uniqueness, nor with the expectation of gracious treatment; the illness, as it accords with my own perspective, is that everyone is scrambling to prove it. Please think of a restaurant. Is it typical to barge into a restaurant and explain passionately to the waiters how you possess a fully functional digestive system? No; by eschewing such a time-wasting procedure, in fact, you award yourself the opportunity to eat. Am I crazy to think that our interpersonal lives ought to be the same? That a mythical competition is what constricts us? Once you are unique by virtue of common knowledge (and not by virtue of a legal case to be argued before Judge Judy), I think you’ll become a little more selfless: a little more interested in eating, and not talking about eating – interested in seeing others and their strange snow-crystals, not your own.

Personality quizzes are symptomatic of the conflict, aren’t they? They’re another attempt, I think, to hang Christmas lights on one’s own inimitable qualities (and they are only one symptom, the rest of which couldn’t be stuffed into a dozen blog entries). Nevertheless I might conclude by visiting that age-old personality quiz staple, that question I intended to answer before falling into this rabbit-hole:

Are you a Big-Picture person? Or are you detail-oriented?

Were I trying to answer the question very quickly (and without being misleading), I would say that I am knee-deep in the detail-oriented marshes. If I could answer the question using a fuller cup of precision and honesty, however, I might say that I am detail-oriented on account of being a Big-Picture person. Have you ever seen a novel broken into bite-sized chapters, each chapter with a simple and elegant title? I adore that sort of organization. Or what about the conventional Dramatis Personae device? Where a stage-play provides a full list of characters beforehand, and in turn, breaks a boat-load of drama into an organized little skeleton? I get such a kick out of that. To see large things cut up into small things is, for whatever reason, a kind of literary ecstasy for me.

My response to conflicts and tragedies seems to follow the same pattern. When people are arguing about something great and terrible – or else grieving about some horrible thing on their hearts – I take comfort by visiting the small, indisputable details. I’ve set my alarm for 9:00 in the morning, right? Yes. Or, Greene is presently signed with the Billings Mustangs, right? Yes. Little details like that.

I don’t know. Maybe those kinds of details are missing from conflict. Maybe that’s why they feel so satisfying.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

1438: Salient Cubic Inn

The following entry is almost like a mix-tape. Some of the paragraphs are entirely new, while others have been rescued from a file cabinet marked, Words Which I Wrote Once, But Didn’t Feel Like Publishing At The Time. The result, in my opinion, is almost like a darker, moodier version of a previous entry called ‘Super-Cola Dilemma’ – moodier, possibly, than any faithful portrait of the present. But if you may know anything, know that the jussive suggestion at the tail-end of the entry is seemingly being affirmed; and God bless you, whoever may be reading.

1.  I saw you cry once. It made me realise what a strange and bittersweet mythos you must possess – or to put it more simply, what a profound story you are living. The fact is, we all have stories of our own. Still, just as I would rather read a good novel than a book on how to repair a cuckoo clock, I think your personal quests are more captivating than mine. I hope you find this destination you’ve been thirsting for, but even then, must wonder whether I am seeking some vicarious scratching-of-the-itch through you, some sentimental reminder that not even our strangest goals are impossible. What can I do except support your every step? Bless you. Really. And may we all learn from the path which you are treading.

I feel confident that Death and trauma are shortcuts to sensitivity. Think of a time when someone hurt you – in particular, someone who did not realise the pain they had caused. Were you ever tempted, in emotional self-defense, to tell them some strange and outrageous lie? ‘Be easy on me; I’ve just been diagnosed with leukemia.’ Or, ‘Be easy on me; both of my parents have just died.’ Rest assured that I have never told one such lie (and I understand if you’re puzzled by how hyper-analytical, and indeed, hyper-hypothetical I am being), but I wonder whether I am the only one who’s thought of it. The pith of the temptation is that we want people to understand our pain. Should we say, ‘Hey, that hurt,’ or ‘Please listen to my side of the story,’ there is a decent chance (depending on the situation) that the other party will remain unconvinced. But throw Death in the mix, and they risk the label of ‘Monster’ by dismissing you. When all is said and done, of course, I doubt there are many of us who wish to exaggerate so egregiously. But what they wish instead (I suspect) is that you can see how real and delicate their hearts are. Besides Death and trauma, part of me wishes that there were a less dishonest, but no less immediate, pathway for such revelations – that what I feel is real, and that wherever I go, I am carrying a meaningful story behind me.

2. Something happened this week, and it involved you. I’m certain that calling it a ‘mystery’ would be melodramatic, but nevertheless, found myself composing (almost by accident) a small list of explanations to account for what had happened. To put it bluntly, I don’t want to believe you are arrogant. I don’t want to think you’re engaging in that most insidious of hypocrisies, that smug self-assurance that your needs are God-approved while mine are pitiable chump change. But whether or not this week is any indication, I fear that this Can-of-Worms is potentially very nasty; and part of me, consequently, wants never to open it. But the greatest risk in this paragraph is, without a doubt, trying to pass off my shapeless speculation as actual data. I’ve often pictured having a real conversation with you, but until then, what can I pretend to know?

Have you ever known someone who tried to find the greater sufferer of their insecurity? The question is strangely phrased, I admit – but here is an example which, I think, will help you see what I am asking. I know of a woman who weighs over three hundred pounds. But it is her habit, strangely enough, to degrade women whom she considers large, or overweight. Do you see what I mean? Someone who tries to find the greater sufferer of their insecurity? If you struggle with (x), you might be tempted to prey on other (x)-sufferers (at least, those whom you perceive as such), because if you have the power to identify the illness, then surely you aren’t ill with it. Right?

3. I suppose I’m disturbed by certain things you have implied. I’m disappointed that anyone (anyone) finds it so necessary to squelch what resources I possess. Why do I emphasize the word anyone? For the simple reason that, throughout our lives, some mischief-makers are to be expected. Were I to try and characterize my old, poisonous mindset (that which preceded a pivotal, and arguably, magical October in 2015), I might show a certain fondness for the term conspiratorial. It is harebrained, in other words, to think that a few hurtful mooks are representative of the entire world. Regardless, it can be disheartening that even one such mook exists – even one!! The next time you see me, love, you’ll have no idea that I ever thought of such things. What you do know, though, is your own affair.

As little as I wish to be conspiratorial, there is one hideous thing which I cannot deny: namely, that for no reason at all, the whole world despises the state of Ohio – and Ohio, in turn, must scrape and wrestle against the temptation to despise itself. I am not clawing for a silly metaphor, nor am I fumbling for a figure of speech, when earnestly I tell you the following: that no one can hear about my love for my State, and simultaneously keep a straight face. And while I don’t wish to drown again in those old, crooked beliefs, I suspect that some of my questions (in those second-person paragraphs above) could be answered with that self-same rule – that for no reason at all, you hate me. That I can tell you nothing of what I feel, unless I want to make you laugh. That I am, in your eyes, a being who is not a being – and that part of our quest, as a result, involves finding those who are not so easily deceived.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own

Do you think that I chose this path for myself? Do you think that I ever would? No; but the best response, of course, is to know that you are wrong. Just as wrong as you might be, perchance, if you said that I secretly wished I came from New York. I do not, loves – so little, in fact, that it might be you who secretly wishes I were fibbing. And as I try and fulfill what He has commanded, may God keep me smiling.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

1437: The White Circle

You have heard it said, ‘When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.’ But I am engaged, presently, in a much more curious switcheroo than that – namely, that behind the closed door is something (seemingly) custom-made for me, and through the (blatantly) open window is something I don’t suspect belongs to me. Although it is likely that those sentences suffice, there is a certain degree of emphasis to be noted; the former element is as conspicuous as a messenger whose telegram corresponds to my address, though its inaccessibility is as evident as though it were blocked by steel bars. Likewise, the accessibility of the latter element is far more than plain, or obvious – it is as if a golden stairway were leading there, and (lest we haven’t enough cartoon clich├ęs) many flashing neon Arrows were pointing at it.

It might be insensitive to associate that latter element with a trivial object; but I mean to say that my journey is painfully clear. This quest, this Life-Walk, this ‘Road to Cincinnati’ as I have sometimes called it, is taught to me in such a way that I seem to understand it. And the path behind the Open Window is, to put it simply (and to eschew the tedium of details), anything but Cincinnatian. Similarly, to that alleged understanding is owed my perception of Destiny behind the closed door. Words, signs, locations, events – all point to the characterization which I have assigned. But I suppose that alleged understanding is the key phrase. Do I really understand it? No, assuredly not. And maybe neither of these opportunities is ‘open’ at all, except arranged in such a way that they strengthen me: That is the trial. That is the Road to Cincinnati. That is what the Psalmist calls the Path of Life.


But. That’s just a guess. For the sake of rhyme, God bless.

1. Who would have guessed it? In the past, my blogs made mention of you; and I would have assumed, with such inexorable certainty, that the days of those entries had finished.
2. 
I would have guessed it. That is the answer. I would have written this scene, with quite an overwhelming majority of the details which we find – all except the one.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

1436: Royal Octu Noelyn


In 2012, I made a rather large mistake. I met someone who was, by and large, a very normal and relatable representation of our human journeys, except assumed that this person was sufficiently advanced (sufficiently more intelligent, and beautiful, and well-equipped when compared with the larger Human Zoo) as to contain some kind of organic panacea, of which only an elite few could allege possession. In the past, I have heard claims that my blog(s) are vague, unclear, or enigmatic; and yet, you might be relieved of those enigmas once you recognize that, in some of those wistful paragraphs written to the non-clarified ‘You,’ it was that same foolish assumption that I was letting myself dip into. To that end, I mean to say that I am tempted today. I am tempted to fill this blog with more drooling and idolizing, with a paragraph that treats one person as though they were powerful enough to trample Emptiness under their shoe. Maybe you would recognize the words which are involved: statements commenting on a state of hypnosis after looking at someone, vaporous securities which issue from daydreams, or the ‘You’-shaped hole which rests somewhere in our cartoonish physiology. But I live in a different world now (0r in moments where I flounder, I still intend to) and that is not the physiology I will grant myself. Do you understand that no Human Action-Figure carries the keys to the universe? That we are all like Stretch Armstrong dolls, whose limbs can only stretch so far until all our substance has burst? Which leads me to say,

1. Despite how tempted I am to try and transcribe the ‘magic’ which surrounds you, I will say the following instead: You are given a beautiful journey, akin to mine, and akin to everyone else’s, and one in which I would not refrain myself from maintaining a healthy interest. You have your flaws, I am certain; and you will need to overcome particular struggles and monsters. But these trials assign you neither an advantage nor a disadvantage compared with the rest of us strugglers. Yes, you have beauty (likely, in as many realms as a Coca-Cola has bubbles), but that is no mystery. That is the beauty which was poured into all of us, and which serves as a blessing in each of our lives. And if it is enchanting to see the ‘magic’ which funnels through you, the sense of belonging (of which your very company seems to be a flashing neon advertisement), then know that my spirit possesses similar magic. Should this paragraph still seem overly poetic or cryptic, then let me try and stuff its message into forty simple words: Just because you are beautiful does not mean that we need to worship you. That beauty is no tormenting enigma; it is a beauty which God wires into each of us. And I will go near Him to find it.

What can I try and say in closing? Perhaps a comment on the layout of this webpage. Once this entry is published, all previous entries will be bumped down the page; and by virtue of that mechanic, the last of my pre-Turnaround blogs will vanish from the default screen. That is a good thing, and maybe (in all humility) as good of a symbol as I can end on. Whoever happens to be reading, bless you.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

1435: Super-Cola Dilemma

Before my life turned around for the better, I was often saddened by certain gatherings. I suppose there is no simpler way to explain it than to say that I was chest-deep in envy, that none of my adventurous talking & socializing made me feel any closer to intimacy. Though here is some good news: After life turned around, a pensive mood is about as low as my pendulum swings. I will leave some gatherings with oceans of thoughts, but none that are remotely threatening or venomous. It is more akin to appreciation now; less envy, more a feeling that I've just seen something more miraculous than the Grand Canyon. And as far as I'm concerned, the Grand Canyon is an overused device anyway.

          1. I recall when I first laid eyes on you. That moment is good evidence (perhaps better than anything else) that I am a wildly visual person. Why? Because your image, I think, offered me a certain degree of comfort and security. And I can't finally know if my instincts were correct, but neither can I disclaim some occasional guilt on the matter of being so visual. That is to say, is it right of me? How well would I fare, do you think, if the entire world were equally image-driven toward me? Do not think that I am suggesting an answer to this question, because I simply do not know. For what it's worth, though, you are both (to my mind) wonderful people whose kindness corresponds to those early, and instinctive, imaginations. I'm not going to pretend that your lives are flawless (please don't think that I am quite that starry-eyed), though I might still pose the complimentary question: What would someone lack if they modeled their life after yours?
          2. Let me try and describe you with only two words. I think I might choose Ingenious and Laughter. And when those two forces meet with one another, they will morph into something which is neither the first nor the second. There are no real words, I mean to say, which can describe your sharpness; but I promise you that it swells to artistic proportions. And I can't describe why I smile when our conversations re-play in the VCR of my mind; suffice it to say that you are funnier, perhaps, than every Pie-in-the-Face joke ever performed in our history. You are unique. I would be content to have many more of these memories. Bless you both.

Sometimes I tell people how emotional I am. How I am, in many ways, a Head-in-the-Clouds romantic whose best moments arrive in those instances of interpersonal fireworks. I think that some people have trouble believing it; I think that some people, no matter how much time they spend with me, will always see me as a robot, or a Mr. Spock. But please don't think I observe this concept with any kind of a grievance. Yes, the Erudite is part of me, too. And if that's what people see, then God bless the Erudite. He is a special part of this spirit as well.

          3. I have mentioned already that I am a visual person. And I could be wrong, but I suspect that you are often subject to the whims of us so-called 'visual people' (or in plain English: I bet there are people who want to know you better, merely on account of the way that you look). I advise you, once again, to visit the sentence where I say 'I could be wrong.' Highlight it, underline it, or cover it in Christmas lights if you so choose; but know that there is something in you (quite beyond the visual) which suggests an admirable tank-full of wisdom. Have you ever wanted to ask a question in a lecture, except that you realised the Professor was in no mood for questions? It is not entirely dissimilar to see the marvelous journey you are living; had I a sense that you were in no hurry to finish it, I might sit down (do the whole Criss-Cross-Applesauce number) and ask you to teach me your secrets.
          4. I confess that I have a fear of bothering people. But it is a little more complicated than it sounds, I'm afraid, for the simple reason that it only applies to certain types of people. Well, guess what? You are one of those 'types,' one of those genuses where the issue would typically surface. But you are teaching me, as it were, that these interactions are nothing if not rewarding. To be honest, it would take a little while for me to explain this idea correctly. But I'm not too worried about that. I appreciate you so much for inviting me to a place where (I think) I belong, and where I continually realise how genuine this (relatively) new environment is.

Senses of humor are complicated. If I'm being honest, I don't think my Sense-of-Humor has fared too well in other people's lives. What do I mean when I say that? Well, it's similar to how some movies (which are box-office hits in America) don't make a lot of money when they're taken overseas. I understand that many of my jokes, particularly those predicated on utter misinformation and non-sequitur, are going to confuse others more than they entertain. But, you know. What do you want me to say? Do you want everyone to be like you? Hey! Here are some rapid-fire thoughts:

A) For the love of Heaven, please stop with this '(my ideological opponents) say (x), but then on the subject of (y), they contrarily say (z).' This kind of appeal makes no sense. Flip the quotation to its exact inverse, and the opposite ideology is incriminated of a mirroring paradox. And if you think there's a slick justification for the paradox in your own ideology, then you'd better accept it when the Other Side whips out a justification for theirs.
B) A similar thought, which stems from a recent tweet: The claim 'Just because you think (x) doesn't mean (x) is true!' is not any kind of argument whatsoever. The recipient could easily flip the claim, and say 'Well, just because you don't believe in (x) doesn't mean (x) isn't true!' Do not think I am saying that neither claim is correct; I am merely saying that neither is an actual argument, so much as a motorized wheel of circular-reasoning which depends on a presupposition. That is to say, you've got to provide evidence for why (x) is or isn't true before you talk about a world where it definitely is or isn't.
C) The Cowboys lost! Rejoice!
D) There are far too many calamities and injuries for us to say that 'Happiness is a choice.' But have you ever heard it said that joy (distinct from happiness) is a choice? That we can choose blessed contentment in spite of the emotional lasers falling on us? I am at a point of life where I agree that joy is a choice; I think the toughest question is 'If that's so, then why would anyone choose not to have joy?' To which I am inclined to reply, 'Easy.' To my mind, life deals each of us some terrible cards. There is no denying that some people's cards are more dreadfully stacked than others (and if you think I am claiming otherwise, then you cannot be in my MySpace Top Eight), but even the most spoiled individual will find some perceived injustice. If you choose joy, then, are you not (in some way) saying, 'The injustice, however difficult, must be accepted. Bless the Lord.' And wouldn't that be a very difficult thing to say, unless you had buried your pride somewhere in the backyard?

But please don't think that I am necessarily asking you to agree with me. My larger concern is that there was a dog howling outside the window while I was writing this entry; and the neighbors heard the dog, it was always making noise and by the time the neighbors I had finished writing this entry, the neighbors came and the dog died

Friday, October 7, 2016

1434: Caboose Ruse

Does respect mean the same thing as look up to? In some contexts and Thesauruses, maybe. But I will offer an interpretation based on the Latin; it is re + spicio. The spicio means to look, or to watch. The re can mean again, but here it is best translated as back. To respect is to look back. No, not look back the way Orpheus looked back at Eurydice – look back as in, looking at someone in the eye while they talk to you. And do you know what that means? It means you are standing at eye-level with them. You are their peer, their equal. That, to my mind, is where we find respect. I do not think it is reserved for our parents, our bosses, our elders, or our superiors; no, we respect anyone we do not look down upon. We respect our friends (perhaps most of all) because they are at eye-level with us. To respect is to treat with fairness and balanced admiration. Individuals who are equals will respect one another.
. . .
I miss you. In the end, I don’t think you respected me. When all was said & done, I think you despised me a little. That is, de + spicio; you looked down upon me. I think you were wrong to do so, and maybe I was culpable for allowing it. But I will tell you what is fascinating: You always respected what I said.  Even when things were crashing & burning, you gave my words a chance. You allowed me to disclose. There was no need to compete, to lecture, to correct, to silence or one-up. Not even to relate with – perhaps occasionally to analyze. You are aware that, for my mind in particular, analysis can suggest interest . . . provided that you don’t claim to have solved all my puzzles, to have mastered them before I even had a clue.

But no, you never claimed that. You respected everything I had to say, so willingly and so considerately. You could have laughed when I told you about my swine-flu experience; you dealt with illnesses much more terrible than that. But you didn’t laugh. You listened. And I entrusted you with ‘guy feelings’ too, didn’t I? You could have tried to convince me that your ‘girl feelings’ were so much worse, so much more terrible than I could have imagined. But you didn’t. It was known between us, understood and appreciated, that neither of us had it worse than the other. All because of respect. You respected my every word; and in return, I respected yours. We respected one another. We regarded each other as equals. We both had respect, and it was marvelous.
. . .
Fact is, I miss you a lot. I know it’s easy to peg you as a villain. It’s true that you made a lot of mistakes, and also true that these paragraphs won’t reverse them. But good heavens, your respect was through the roof. And it really makes me miss you. Bless you, pal. Bless you wherever you are. And thank you so much; thank you one million times to the millionth power. If suddenly I felt very bold and courageous – well, only then would I be able to thank you for real.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

1433: Lightning On The Letter-Monster

I have read certain books which do not impress me. In order to describe them, I might choose any number of unflattering adjectives: boring, dissatisfying, empty, futile, tedious, or overly long. Yet (inevitably) after I share my impressions, someone always suggests the following: 'But Bill, that was the point! You were supposed to be bored! It was supposed to feel empty! Because it addressed the emptiness of (x) and (y)!' But the same word always comes up in my mind: No. It probably wasn't the author's intent that I should be unimpressed; but more importantly, it should never be the author's intent that readers be unimpressed.

Do not mistake me. I have read wonderful books which made me unhappy; others confused me, and others still made me feel rather tantalizingly empty, as though I had missed something that the author tried to piece together. A text does not need to be logical or satisfying in order to impress. But it ought to do the whole resonating number. It should draw them back, make them say 'I want to feel that sense of puzzlement again.' If an author's purpose was to underwhelm me (to have me say, 'This was boring and I don't ever care to read it again'), then couldn't they have just written a shoddy poem in forty-five seconds? Couldn't they just say 'Screw craft, the point is that the reader be unimpressed; let's write like a second-grader.' If it is artful to make a reader dissatisfied and unimpressed, then let's publish what a ten-year-old amateur has written. Because that's the point, right? The point was for the book to stink?

No. You may assign your work any number of 'reasons' and 'points.' But if you expended time & effort in order to make it, then do not tell me it was meant to stink. If you worked on it with intensity and focus, then that is the one thing it cannot be intended to do. No, John, no.

A few krazy kharacters:

1. It's like somebody threw the two of us in a box together. We're like 'Oh how are you!' and we're trying to figure out when we start doing stuff. Oftentimes I wonder how strange I might seem, how sudden and off-balance everything might feel to you. . . But I also have a habit (is it a defense mechanism?) of imagining the two of us in some sort of vacuum. This concept is tough to describe, and I would understand if anyone felt bewildered by what I'm writing. But basically I imagine this empty world, one where I'm standing there and you're just kind of looking at me. And that's a comical image that makes me laugh, and the End Result is: I'm kind of just happy that I'm trying.
2. Why do I get the sense that I can do nothing to please you? Is it because I behaved in a self-centered way? Yes, I suppose you noticed that & resented it. But more than that, it's like you're unable to forget it. And now (in your mind), everything I do is self-centered. If I use the word 'I,' that is self-centered. If I write in a personal blog, that is self-centered. It's almost as though you're scratching every part of me away, until one day you will merely catch sight of me. And you will say, 'Still existing, Bill? How self-centered of you.'
3. Man. There are so many people I could try & puzzle over, but you drew the short straw today. I maintain now (and likely, will always maintain) that Somehow, you carry an inexplicably frustrating handful of mysteries with you. The main issue is this: You've seemed so determined to erase me from existence, to blot out every word I ever said because it bored you or confused you or made you uncomfortable or whatever. But every once in a while, it's like, 'Oh. You aren't trying to ignore me. How bout that.' And suddenly my understanding is ruined, if not improved, and I have no idea where to start. Bottom Line: I don't think I will understand you. Ever. But if you try and prove me wrong, I will be thrilled.

I think this is the worst closing-sentence I have ever used for a blog entry.