27 November 2015

Imagine a Wombat Flying through the Sky

(I typed for an hour, and produced the following.)

Imagine a wombat flying through the sky.  What do you see?  I see a dark shape, blackish purple, with a swollen pear-like body, drifting upward toward a cloudy, starry sky.  Why are you asking me to imagine this?

No reason, really.  Do you ever draw you fingers down a strand of hair and, feeling the slow grip of the fibers against your skin, think of all the texture and microscopic segmentation on the hair?

Maybe yesterday I turned 28, and my eyes are getting paler, becoming transparent, so that I cannot see.  Maybe I am fighting something.  Maybe there is a dying kangaroo being carried down the hallway, outside my door right now—for death? for treatment? Where did it come from?

Tonight I have burrowed through the warm, early-autumn soil, into the center of the roots beneath a large tree.  And right now I am looking up into its trunk, where the web of roots meets and ascents into the open air, and what I see is a hollow in their midst, like a funnel, pointing upward to the sky.  But everything is dark.  Maybe I see this ring of roots reaching out in all directions from the core, and it looks like an inverted crown.

I try to think about the weave of cloth, the way it is strung together to give it more heft without increasing the gauge of the thread.  How different kinds of weave produce different degrees of elasticity and softness

When you rub your eyes, you see a play of arabic, geometric patterns—stars which never close, stars which are also knots, knots layered one inside another in another, which stagger back and forth in loops and branches around a surface, so that the simpler shapes one sees are always only suggested by the lines, but never truly there.

Think of a fruit growing.  First the barren tree in winter, leafless and lifeless, waiting.  Then the spring green, the budding leaves, swaying in the warm winds.  Then budding, blossoming flowers which smile invitingly to the bees, which spring open, age and wilt away.  But the flower buds remain and swell, glutted on the plant's excess of food, until that bud grows past recognition, becoming a succulent fruit, dangling on a little flower's stem, waiting to fall.

Your feet are cold.  You sit still and focus on your feet, feeling the skin intensely, hoping that by feeling and accepting their discomfort, it will cease to be discomfort.  The cold is just a passing feeling.  It is not painful, just uncomfortable, and it will eventually be gone.

You put on a piece of music, and you wonder whether the ease and availability of doing so makes it harder to appreciate the music.  Perhaps if you had to attend more to the physical medium on which the music is inscribed, had to attend to the mechanics of playing it, and had to devote yourself to the act of listening while it played, you would care more about music, and would find it easier to say "this is what I want to hear".

You don't know everything, and you don't know everything that people say about everything, so you don't know how to talk about everything, and you don't know all the expressions people use to discuss everything.  And in your ignorance you remain unaware of the existence of many thousands of words which other people might take for granted or find completely ordinary.

You have to go to the bathroom, but you can't help wondering why there is a little blue squirrel at the bottom right corner of the text editor window.  And you think "perhaps I should click on the squirrel or hover my mouse over it to see if some sort of explanatory message or menu appears when I do so".

People are tedious, and you have a lot of difficulty tolerating them, understanding them, explaining yourself to them, dealing with their responses to your inadequacies, ignorance, faults, oddities, etc.

One of the things that you wanted to say: that sometimes in multiculturalism there is so much of a desire to accommodate the needs of the Other that the Other is infantilized and stripped of an ordinary voice, because the accommodation isolates him from the reality of his surroundings.  We keep the child safe from infection by isolating him from all bacteria, but this only increases the weakness of the child's health and sensitivity to disease.

To add to the problem, the multiculturalist ends up silencing his own voice and neutering his own agency by taking upon himself the burden of mediating in advance all possible conflicts and difficulties that might occur as a result of cultural difference.  So that, instead of there being a genuine, honest interaction between two people, we have one person who is silenced and disenfranchised through the excessive accommodations of another, who is himself silenced and disenfranchised by his need to anticipate every necessary accommodation and possible difference in advance.  Misery all around.

Before one learns a language, sometimes one looks at the foreign words (or, more exciting still, foreign letters), and sees in them all the promise of a foreign culture—things to understand which have not yet been understood, things to enjoy which have not yet been enjoyed, new ideas and personalities, new facts and events.  All of this can appear simply in a page or volume of unintelligible text.  But when one begins to learn the language, and proceeds to actually learn the language, the promise of another culture is slowly crushed and flattened against the boring mechanics of expression and the problem of translating the unseen, uninteresting features of language (the ones which make interesting expressions possible) from one world into another.

Maybe people think of brick walls as boring and inert.  No, they are exciting.  Think of brick in all its varieties.  Is it red or gray or green, is it concrete or terra cotta.  Perhaps the wall isn't made of brick.  Maybe it's some other kind of wall.  Maybe it's a tall wooden fence.

Privacy from one's neighbors.  You are settling into a life in which you have no ordinary human contact, because of all the protective barriers.

The smell of tea.  The different smells of tea.  How certain black teas have an alcoholic component to their aroma, perhaps left from the fermentation of the leaves during processing.  Or other teas have a sweet aroma from added fruit components or flavoring.

The smell of bread.  Fresh bread has a wonderful intensity to it, nothing like the pasty stuff one buys in the market.  The flour has blossomed and the yeast has produced a rich smell of alcohol, and one can smell the crisping of the starches in the crust.  The best breads come out of the oven and sing, the crust crackling spontaneously as it continues to cook and cool.