Thursday, August 7, 2014

Spilled Change among the Cushions of Story

"Why did I turn here instead of continuing on my normal route?"

If your answer to the question was, "Because I was lost in thought," you were no doubt being accurate because you are often lost in something resembling thought or abstraction or, even better, the locus of muscle memory and concentration.  But in this case, and many others like it, you might not have been going far enough below the surface to get at a more governing response, some core sampling of you that, on investigation, presents a level of behavior you can not articulate, much less understand.

Whether you find clues and discoveries and surprises along the way or not, experiences suggest to you that you will always be essentially a naive narrator, given over to writing beyond yourself in effect to portray individuals of greater awareness and wisdom than which can be crammed into your available storage space.

You know this much for certain, you're long past the possibility of saying you turned here because you were fated or destined to do so.  This is true because of your philosophy in which Reality is too busy with its own agenda to pay much attention to yours.  Even if you were to do something severe such as log a segment of a forest or open one of the valves on a dam, thus flooding acres of land, Reality would be too busy responding in accordance with some notable law of behavior to offer a direct response to what you'd done.

A pigeon or seagull in transit overhead, scoring you with a splat of evacuated waste matter might be seen in some corners as karma or revenge, but the best you could do is apply the term "poetic justice."  But poetic justice is a dramatic device, conjured up by men and women who write poems, stories, and plays.  

Poetic justice is your dear old pal, Wile E. Coyote, patron saint of all characters, setting an elaborate trap for Roadrunner, using a device supplied by The Acme Co. which, now that you think of it, could well be a metaphor for Reality.  Roadrunner escapes the trap because this is Roadrunner's function. Wile E. Coyote will always trigger the trap to pay off on him.  This is so because Wile E. Coyote's function is to be, as Shakespeare told it, hoist by his own petard, blown asunder by his own canon.  The Acme Co. is the official supplier of devices, because this is the thing The Acme Co. does--supply devices.

Poetic justice made an early appearance in the cautionary tale told by The Pardoner in Chaucer's wonderful The Canterbury Tales, wherein three young men, well into a carouse, meet a funeral procession for an acquaintance of theirs, a friend who'd been taken down that very night by a mysterious figure named Death. Our three young drunks resolve to seek out this Death fellow and teach him a lesson.  

Not long after, they encounter eight bushel baskets of gold coins, which is in essence the first tangible step to finding death.  Before the evening is over, all three have plotted against one another, added poison to bottles of wine with which each intends to kill of the others, and, indeed, drunk from those very poisoned bottles, finding the thing they earlier set forth to find, Death, and poetic justice.

It is also a sort of poetic justice that you, who do not believe in things being destined or fated to happen, are not free of deterministic influences.  The paths on which individuals embark have destinations.  You believe this to the point of believing that even being continuously at sea is a form of destination.  Some destinations are reached, some barely missed or arrived at too late for the intended outcome.

We all define our story arc,and we do so even when we chose to accept the arc provided for us by a source outside our self.  We embark on it, add influence to it.  But.  With all its multifarious activity, Reality has some causal effects, which can interfere with our planned outcome.

You are looking for surprise discoveries, about yourself and the universe.  You could say of yourself that you are seeking spilled change among the cushions of Story.

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