Thursday, March 17, 2011

In the event of

Events are occurrences on some tangible landscape, engaged in by one or more individuals with an agenda.  The presence of the individual or individuals in the landscape may have been premeditated; it could as well have been occasioned by boredom or pure happenstance.

Your life is influenced by events and, to a degree by the non-event, the anticipated or hoped-for thing not taking place.  Difficult to tell which is more prevalent because of the quality of self-interest invested in much of what you contemplate, then begin.  It comes with regularity that although you encourage and initiate events, they are not of necessity about you, rather events are results of other sensate beings, performing in consequence of needs.  Your event may coincide by happy accident with the events of others.  When, yesterday, for instance, you waved to a group of young-to-middle-aged men in a park that they were to feel free to use the charcoal grill next to the bench at which you were sitting, you had no idea that yesterday was the birthday of the man carrying the large sack of charcoal briquettes, nor that he and his friends were about to celebrate with what appeared to be an elaborate taco lunch.  You had no idea you'd be invited to share in this event, a fact that in its simplicity and stunning good cheer still warms you.

You do not need to plan events in order for them to arrive at your door, as though delivered by Rob, the affable Fed-Ex guy who also happens to be your swimming buddy at the Y.  At one point in your life, you were contemplating a narrative with a tip of the hat to Ivan Goncharov (1812-1891), in which a character who has indeed read Oblomov has decided to take to his bed, there to remain as long as possible. Once he has begun his quest, he finds it impossible to spend any significant time in bed at all.  Planned event being overcome by yet other events.  When you were the editor in chief of a scholarly publishing house, you were requested by the publisher to use certain acronym or initial designations on your memos, thus such tropes as AFDAD (and further distribution as desired) and the more ominous OBE (overcome by events).  That you made sport of such things was with little doubt a demonstration on your part of political incorrectness, with even less doubt a contributing factor leading to your eventual discharge.  Nevertheless, there you were, overcome by events of your own unquenchable mischief and the stodgy appearance of events.

Taking some time to consider where this mini-essay is going, you realize there are few moments within your waking life where you are not engaged in or looking forward to some event, even if it is the event of finishing a particular event, then turning to music, reading, a meal, perhaps even a nap.  Writing is one of the major events, about which you rearrange the furniture of your day; writing becomes more of an event when the writing is related to some form of discovery, thus it has gone through the years for you to the point where writing about most other things becomes a chore, something likely to be overcome by--whoops--events.

One enemy in particular of the event is attention span.  If you are in the act of writing in an investigative manner and you are motivated to stop writing in order to check your email possibilities (ah,perhaps an intriguing note from a chum, requiring some imaginative response) or the NY Times crossword puzzle or some news blog, you are sending yourself a message that the investigative writing has led you far enough off course that your attention has wandered and you have begun to, ugh, think with critical (editorial) intent.  Bad business; once again, you are OBE, which is to say the more cheerful and pleasurable event has become subordinate to another event, that mawkish, pompous, parental aspect of you so unlike most of who you have become.

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