Friday, July 29, 2016

Objectively Speaking

 Until you have use for an object, the object remains in a state of neutrality. You may be aware of it, but unless it takes on some personal quality of being repugnant to you, the object remains a thing. 

If, over the course of time, you begin to sense useful potential in the thing, the remarkable process of internalization has begun; your mind is at work, imagining the ways the thing will make your life easier if not outright better.

When the process of internalization begins, a set of parallel lines begins to form, representing the binary nature of human perception. The object in question becomes an increased topic of awareness to its beholder, perhaps even to the stage where the beholder has begun to obsess about the need to have control of the thing, which is to say have it in his possession or somewhere close to hand.

You might at this point offer congratulations; the thing has transmogrified, changed from a thing to an object, whereupon the meme of the parallel lines appears, much as, to complete the metaphor, wings have begun to appear to the transmogrified caterpillar. 

The thing has become an object, which now has a value, which means it wants the care, attention, perhaps even vigilance attendant on having objects, as opposed to being in the presence of things. Were you out walking, you might well stoop to pick up an object, but were you to encounter a thing, you'd continue your walk,

One aspect of the parallel lines is the meme of buyer's remorse, that remarkable stage of wondering if the object can do all the tasks imagined of it when it was still a thing. Another aspect of the parallel lines meme is the dawning awareness that maybe, perhaps, the tasks associated with the thing-on-it-s-way-to-becoming-an-object could have been performed by talents and abilities already on hand.

Let us suppose you encountered abilities, perhaps even talents,instead of tangible objects. Over the course of time, one or more of these talents or abilities seemed to you to radiate qualities you associate with attractiveness, friendliness, desirability. You wished to have one or more of these things, which had already begun to take on certain tendencies to morph into objects.

You snatched one of them up, cared for it until it began to become an object. Trouble was, the object never settled down into the kinds of talents or abilities you witnessed in others. For a time, this caused you pain in such varied forms as doubt, fear, envy, and bewilderment.

From time to time, you take this object of yours, this intangible quality you've seen grow from a thing and into this quality you can no longer describe. In some form of picnic setting, you hunker down with it, watching the ocean or mountains or desert. You speak to it as though it had the powers of cognition and speech, which, indeed, you'd like to think it does.

"What," you ask it, "do you want from me?"

On occasion, it will tell you something which has the quality of a fortune cookie note or a Twitter text, coming in under the hundred-forty-word maximum.  "Don't describe," it will say. "Your job is to evoke."

On yet other occasions, it will respond, "Keep asking."

Once, in what you considered being on the verge of garrulousness, it reminded you of another picnic, one in which you and a great, favored writer of yours, Christopher Isherwood, sat in the midst of a shady glade, feasting on an improbable mixture of Eastern and Western tidbits, speaking of the translation from Sanskrit to English of the one line of the Bhagavad Gita you know from memory, "To the work you are entitled, but not the fruits thereof."

"Does that," you asked, "mean what I think it does?"

"Yes," he said, "I believe it does." 

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