Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ergo Fuck Yourself

The first time you became introduced to the study of geometry, you knew there was going to be trouble because proofs, which are the spine of geometry, had ergo in them.  Ergo.  Latin for therefore.  Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.  After which, therefore because of which.  A recipe for causality and determinism.  Except for this being a mine field of potential fallacy.  

Not all X things happening after Y time have happened because of or as a result of Y.  Young as you were when you thought of such Latin and philosophical matters, you also thought of the short stories of Anton Chekhov, of "not necessarily," and of ambiguity.  These last three things are strong common denominators of the modern story.

You were already aware of consequences.  Events did not seem random.  Even the act of being bored was a consequence of doing something you got no pleasure or information from, or not bringing along anything to read.  You spent some time testing how long you could go without taking a breath, arousing your mother's suspicions with your sudden interest in baths rather than showers.  

You spent some time testing how long you could go without being bored.  You returned to the bathtub for boredom tests.  If you washed in a business-like manner, say five or six minutes, you would not experience boredom.  The longest you could go in a bathtub without being bored was six minutes.

Most of the time, you want things to make sense.  This means there is, however vague, an underlying sense of logical progression, of one thing suggesting if not outright leading to another. If we are heading into the rising sun, we are, therefore, traveling east.  The water whirling down a drain in a clockwise motion, ergo we are in a specific hemisphere; our location can be that certain.

After a point, certainty becomes boring for you, which serves to explain your interest in story.  Things happen in stories for reasons with close ties to the motives and agendas of characters.  If you put enough obstacles in a character's way, he will not grow bored, nor will you, that is, not unless you make the obstacles too easy to surmount.

Somewhere in your freshman year of college, you heard a writing instructor say that you could enhance complications by accident but must never unravel them by accident.  John is conducting a so-far successful robbery of a bank, to all appearances about to make good his getaway without being apprehended.  But at the last moment.  Remember that phrase, which you like more than "Just then."  In fact, you go out of your way to avoid using sentences with the word "just" in them.

But before John could make good his getaway, a huge counter fell over, landing on his foot, making it impossible for him to extricate himself.  Where do you get huge counters, falling over on a bank robber's foot?  If you were bored enough while writing a bank robbery story, such an event might well happen in your story because, although you're beginning to like John even as you write this, you don't want him to go around thinking there won't be any consequences.

This is a nod to Ray Bradbury's story about a time traveler messing up the present through the simple act of stepping on a blade of grass.  You like his work quite well, even if you did not get along on a personal basis to the point where he once called you a son of a bitch for reading his mail, and questioned you across a crowded elevator in the LA Times for writing things about his bullying his fans.  You like the notion in this Bradbury story of the intricate inter-relationship of things.

You more or less see things as interrelated or the position you favor most other than the randomness of things.  This is the absurd position, the place where things happen in illogical, notional ways that often have no backstory or source of evolved origin.

This leads you to the theater of the absurd, in which events, language, and intentions veer off from the probable and anticipated.  The best laid schemes of mice and men may well veer off from the anticipated, and in their divergence bring us grief and pain for promised joy; they also produce monuments to that aspect of existence often ignored or unrecognized, wherein our best tactic is to recognize the one underlying theme we have striven at such pains to ignore, the sheer wonder and brilliance of the comic, wherein the entire universe and its inhabitants are iterations of the sorcerer's apprentice.

This theme explains much of your own history and philosophy.  In retrospect, you see this force drawing your attention to the naive narrators of whom you have read with such a strong duality of purpose, a simultaneous brotherhood and amazement at their own innocence.

At times, you're led to think you're a cynic, made crabby with each iteration of your own naivete and gullibility.  But there is neither fun nor humor in that.  In fact, there is the constant you've been at such pains to escape, boredom.

If you were to be defined by one card from the cosmic tarot, you would claim The Sorcerer's Apprentice.


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