Tuesday, May 10, 2011

When you think about all the unanswered questions that haunt you, the mind boggles--because you like that word and any reasonable opportunity to use it--and in the bargain reels.  How many others are there out there, like you in some degree, perhaps asking even more questions than you do, all the while you thinking this is epic proof they are brighter stars than you?  Of course this, too, is a question.  Perhaps your choice of vocation has to do with the number of questions you ask, but there is also--isn't there?--the likelihood of you being what you are because you were not satisfied with the answers you got and wish to provide more dramatic and elaborate answers than the ones you feel are available.

What are you, then?  How should you fill out this particular form from this particular publisher? It makes some sense to say that you are a writer, an editor, and a teacher.  You might ask, as you mother did on frequent occasion that you are a mischief, or, as has been suggested from time to time, a troublemaker.  It makes no sense to say, when asked of your profession, that you are an asker of questions and a questioner of answers.  Even you, who could also list your occupation as a smart ass, could answer that such an answer sounds too smartassy.

You are caught in the grind of pairs of opposing forces, the chomping jaws of attempted reason; you are mugged and left without your wallet by the thugs of urgent need--for what thug ever has time on his side?--and the bureaucracy of filing a report so that the forces of justice may set forth to redress the crime.  But  your difficulties in describing your muggers reflect not so much your lack of observation powers but rather your preoccupation with your own, inner world.  Unless you know your attacker, as in, that was Fred, from the office, you are every bit at risk of getting your description wrong.  He was, you might say, a small, nervous person who spoke in a tone I found disrespectful and unpleasant.  Could you please be more specific, sir?  Well.  He kind of looked like Fred.  From the office.  But no way was he Fred.

Days later, Fred confronts you at lunchtime.  For fuck's sake, why did you tell the cops the dudes who pounded on you reminded you of me.  Now, they want an alibi, and I can't give them the real one because I promised I'd stop seeing her, so now I gotta go find a new alibi just because some mean ass dudes remind you of me, when I'd never done the slightest rude thing to you.

You apologize buy telling Fred that you said the first thing that came into your mind, which does not in any way satisfy or mollify Fred, who, because of you, is now a person of interest in the sense that not only you think the dudes who jumped you are reminiscent of him but in your confusion, you've got them thinking so, too.

Of course the entire mugging was a metaphoric one, including your wallet, which was not in fact taken but nevertheless represents your comfort zone, your sense of personal confidence in a world gone dangerously lunatic.  And now.  Now, the cops think of Fred when they think of these forces, which allows you some insight into how such things as racial and social profiling are nourished.

Everything, including questions, has consequences.  It is your fate as a graduate of UCLA, editor in chief of a number of book publishing ventures, teacher at a number of crazy universities, to be caught up in a particular batch of these consequences.  Just as it is possible in the eyes of the law to be considered a party to a conspiracy, which is by most accounts a felony, it is possible that your consequences make you a co-conspirator in a Kafka-like concatenation of events that may be best described as writing.

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