REPORT A PROBLEM
On the resolution of balance #6:
We assume symmetry, expecting to find it at the end looking back at a completed idea, and assume that finding gently evolving patterns and structures is proof we are walking towards the end. Worse than that, we impose symmetry on the chaotic and random and direct our energies down paths that confirm our beliefs ignoring other interpretations. Fitting every clue into a pocket, every angle into a square, even when what we build is an insentient monster and the prettiness and order and structure around us seems to justify our actions and make sense.
There was an undefinable organic quality about the structure. This was the best he could come up with to describe what he felt: the hairs on his arms had risen when he entered and it was more than from static. Inside was all shiny surfaces, some metallic and others that resembled porcelain or ceramic, maybe polished stone and light came from within these surfaces. He felt bathed in warmth. There was an echo that didn’t match his own breaths or his heart rate and he looked around expectantly but the room was empty; it seemed that the building was breathing.
The moon tonight was a clear as a newly minted silver coin. A precious thing, the moon, and soon to be acquired as more land for consumption and acquisition by those who can afford to buy. In their great wisdom, the Americans have decided that corporations can start to own the moon; legislation has been passed and sealed to that effect regardless of the wishes of all the people of the world. And why stop there, soon the whole galaxy can be filled with old cars and debris of extinguished rockets, their sprockets and wheels, discarded as we travel outwards.
Life as documentary #26:
In days where we all practice isolating and removing ourselves from public spaces for social distancing in the spaces I inhabit and move through alone, I have noticed the emergence of a wildness, an untamed eruption of textures and variety, or life and death in the landscapes and hidden in protected corners where the eye, usually distracted by a fast-moving aggressive world, in the banter and bargaining of life, would normally not travel. This wildness is quiet and gentle, made of tender shoots and deseeded flowers, and renews itself without the need of attention or care.
I have new habits that are twisting me about. I wake early but my routine ignores mornings. I come up for air when I don’t want to read or when hunger and thirst make me depart the fictional world. I didn’t choose new habits, they arrived in stealth and without sanction. If I had made a deliberate choice to take on this behaviour, I would have chosen something more worthy., more socially reputable, but I did not and this lifestyle grew unaided. Now I wish my former life back and find it has vanished together with my will to change.
Newspapers are becoming cultural artefacts that hark back to historic times. There was a fragility with newspapers, in many ways the news read in them was only true for the day and readers expected nothing more. Tomorrow the revised story can change the focus and either escalate or dismiss the earlier truth. Journalists hold fast to the professionalism of their craft yet they have no more hold on fact or truth than anyone else, all they have is a platform and legal teams to defend their opinions and their right to voice them. Without physical newspapers, journalists are losing a platform.
I have been juggling the idea of using ‘may be’ and ‘maybe’ and how this influences the flow of meaning in text. I get irritated when the spelling app tries to force the latter when the former is what was needed in context: this intrusion may be an irritant, but maybe it is intentionally subversive. Conversationally, maybe seems more used; it has a sense of a glide, an evasion or suppression, a means to deflect an answer. ‘May be’, on the other hand, injects a pause for reflection, a space to reassess, prior to proposing a path forward.
‘Drama, baby,’ he said. ‘It is all about the drama.’
‘Not sure that baby works for me. A bit too patronising. And when you say it, it’s aggressive almost bullying: when you say baby, you make it sound like a putdown. All I want is for my ideas to be taken seriously and all you do is carry on as if you are the only one who can have an idea.’
‘Pull in your head. All we're doing here is trying to get it off the ground. We’re just throwing out ideas here.’
‘You need to listen and speak less.’
The evidence of experience #24:
The absence of direct eye contact cuts me off from the world extant reducing my life to internal machinations and interpretations and imagination, not a seamless monologue. When I talk to myself, the ununited facts. Loose thoughts and feelings, spring up and interrupt to show them as fallacies, as stories that only pick and choose from self-fulfilling facts and ignore the rest. And all this from not making eye contact other people? Seems a stretch, but then that is the story I am holding to, at least until I come up with a better on.
Her ego gave a bit of a ripple as she backed away. A bit of an addiction: outplaying the risk was what made her come back to this game each time. Going in she had the facts, the layout, and knew who was likely to be there. She’d walked into the Stand where there were few escape routes and knew she would have to game up and talk her way out. Walking outside she felt the fresh air cool the sweat trickling down her neck and shivered. Couldn’t beat the adrenaline, the thrill of surprising everyone and walking away richer.
I am about to descend into the world of acronyms and subtext, but if that is TMI, too bad. K8, not a friend more of a frenemy, is a wild child intent on sabotage of all things literal and an addict and proliferator of emoticons that send the most vicious and brutal messages she can smile off as if they are cute and smart and without intent to harm. I need time to acclimatise, to immure myself to the effects of Y-Gen and Next-Gen and their geeky slang-lang that’s sprayed out for fun, to rhyme, and not to exchange facts.
I am in the same place the same even as the world passes me, as yesterday and the other days pass by. Sometimes I see flashes in the stream but the pass quickly. There is no way I could step out into that world my feet would be pulled out from under me and I would be lifeless in a minute. I have heard the roar of the outside world constantly, so loud that without it I fear silence and would think myself deaf. As much as it is intrusive, all the shouting and noise bubbles and squeals along meaninglessly.
‘Why do you think this script should be considered? We have published our brief, have you read it?’
‘Don’t take me wrong. but it’s too early to be putting rules around how we associate. Don’t you think we should consider what value we can give to each other, what we can exchange, before we just take out the trash?’
‘Have you even read the product brief?’
‘I have a product; you have the means of production: this creates a platform where we can discuss working together. I’m asking you to review the scope of your project and expand your vision.’
What is it we want, now when dangers hover around us invisibly? We feel the breeze from wings as they circle us and we also want the shield of invisibility that we can turn on and off, that will shield us from sight when danger seems too prescient, too tangible. Then we would be safe and have courage and we would not just run with our hands waving wildly about to disturb the threats we feel wrap too closely around us. Even as we run, we know there are no safe places, no-one to run to who will protect us.
I would like to draw your attention to the word temblor, a word I have only just stumbled across, and how on first approach the sound of this word influenced my interpretation of it. The meaning in context was clear: the dictionary told me it is synonymous with earthquake, tremble, shake. And that was the meaning I took on reading it, but the sound sent me in two distinct directions. Temblor conveys a quivering, shaking, tremor, subtle and sensitive, almost a slip, and at the same time captures the tension of an embedded implosion. I’ll remember this one.
In these times, let there be dragons. I say that without irony, if you are asking, but serious, not. I prefer dragons to demons and it is either one or the other that will pour out in flight and swamp good deeds. We are all abraded and aggravated, our spurs and helmets in place and the saddlery jingling while the horses restlessly trot in circles breathing heated fumes this cold morning. The challenge is up and courage called for. With a tight hold and pulling back on the bridles even as the blood runs hot, we start, jostling for position.
There are ambient sounds, rustling papers as pages are slowly turned, water dripping into mossy fountain pools, and soft materials moving as a shoulder or a leg resettles, teaspoons clinking on fine china. Somehow these carry the aura of rich and luxurious surroundings; these are the sounds of leisure. Then there are shoes that walk on plush grass that sound like the wind moving through as stalks are bent and pushed aside and a handle turned opening into a room where only the ticking of a clock can be heard. This peace is privileged, treasured, and hidden from the world.
It was the squeaking gate that woke me. I thought it had been fixed but with this wind, the catch doesn’t hold and it banged against the fence. Maybe it wasn’t the gate squeaking. I was restless and heard the trees whipping around in the wind outside too; the weather had been wild all day long. When I woke, I heard the banging. I was hardly asleep when I heard squeaking; a door opening inside? But at that time of night, I can’t think who would be walking about. I can’t help being nervous these days with all that’s happened.
The city breathed heavily and shifted, asleep and rolling over in the throes of disturbed dreams after a night of heavy eating and strong drink. This was nothing unusual in the early dawn when trucks gently hummed and rumbled moving swiftly through the dark wet streets. It wouldn’t be long before the sleep was more disturbed like a guilty conscience as garbage collectors rattled down alleys and at the back of restaurants gathering up the previous day’s refuse and the early buses left the depots. Stretching and yawning weren’t far away as sunlight reached down and glinted in through windows.
Payday, at least I hope so. Today is when I anticipate my bank account filled to overflowing with treasure stored during my working life: a pension payment is due. The problem with setting up six monthly payments, from admittedly a paltry amount, is that by the time it arrives I have spent it several times, on several purchases, only to find that when it arrives there is an unanticipated expense that cannot be deferred. Another example of how theory and practice diverge. This was supposed to be my discretionary funds, separate from daily expenses, for spending on luxuries or holidays.
There is the modern dilemma to traverse, that legal and ethical decisions are diverging, making it impossible to make decisions that are both legal and ethical without compromise. The sad part of this problem is that the laws, which are made retrospectively and that then become immutable, define the options we have to choose from. Let me give a true world example: in politics, morality is not required to stand for office yet we can only elect those on the ballot sheet, and voting is mandatory. Ethically I cannot support the morality of any candidate, but legally I must vote.
Most of us are depressed, sad people who walk around miserable all the time and we only realise this when we come across someone who isn’t like that. There are rare individuals who are happy, who smile first and ask questions later. These happy people glow and light up the dim and shaded world the rest of us walk through mindlessly. No, that is not right: we don’t walk through this vale of shadow, our gloom actively engineers this ambience. We want the world to match us so we don’t stand out like the prophets of doom that we are.
‘Language is the point. Don’t tell me I’m missing the point when I question your choice of words. Language is all that matters.’
‘I don’t know what to say.’
‘Not only that – you don’t know how to say what you want to say.’
‘Maybe you aren’t listening. Irony isn’t just the words, it’s the context. Have you checked your hearing lately?’
‘Don’t patronise me. You want to dismiss criticism and not answer my questions and I’m going to call you out on it, every time. What you call irony, I call being patronised.’
‘You’re not listening.’
‘You’ve nothing to say.’
Talking about new behaviours, one habit I have acquired, now that the restrictions are being lifted and we are encouraged to move about again, is that when planning a holiday or journey, to investigate the flu tracking map to see the prevalence of reported cases of transmissible illnesses. Not only does this map of reported contagions indicate pockets of low levels of handwashing and associated general standards of cleanliness, but for the risk-averse, it provides evidence on which to establish trust. And trust is always good when you are sleeping between other people’s sheets and eating food cooked by strangers.
For great ideas, a great name is needed. I have been reading about afforestation, the methodology for returning waste landscapes to forests. But without the ‘af’, ‘forestation’ sounds like the last bolt hole in a dystopian wilderness. Afforestation is in need of a public relations makeover. Coming across this cobbled together composite word a reader would stop, probably misread it, practice saying it, and become distracted from putting ideas into action. The name should be a clarion call, ringing for all true believers. Readers mustn’t be distracted or misdirected, what is wanted is to inspire in readers a zealot’s passion.
Why do I want to write? The question came to me in a dream along with many unusual arcane folderols and I was tempted in the dream to answer, and tried but failed. The question, still harbouring in its folds the vibrant and arcadian world of the dream, stayed with me when I woke. I remember in the dream starting on a long explanation, drawing together many threads and conclusions, weaving my answer into a strong platform of reason, none of which convinced the multiple listeners resident there who all, without exception, treated my tirade with loud contempt, even ridicule.
When we talk about evidence we must agree on what framework, what supporting facts and conjecture are acceptable and where the line of reliability is to be drawn. Persuasion is not evidence, nor is argument or personal recommendation: to be considered as evidence, there must be reputable, fact-based data to support an argument. Even this definition leaks like a sieve, relying on a reputable source of data when the merits and denigrations of different sources can be argued until the cows come home. No wonder that in heated discussions, positions based on peasant logic and gut feelings are defended passionately.
There needs to be a before and after: before when I was found and after when hounded into flight. Or alternately, simply before dawn and after sunrise. Both examples are essentially the same; in both the before is static and the after is active with the action accelerating. I can choose any meaningful point in time as a way to begin. Then there is the rush to the future. Release can be from reacting to a trigger pulled or from an intentional action, a planned or strategic move, where I am the engaged party and intent on reaching a goal.
‘Welcome … welcome … welcome.’ With each iteration the vigour of her greeting dissipated and by the third she had turned away and her attention shifted, leaving us forgotten on the doorstep. As she disappeared into the house we hesitated, uncertain whether this had been an invitation to enter: technically consent wasn’t given.
Voices in the background followed our second ring of the doorbell and Richard’s rapid appearance.
‘Come in, please,’ he said. ‘Don’t mind mother. She’s a bit absent-minded and forgot to tell me you'd arrived. Come out, into the garden: I’ll get you a drink and introduce you.’
The backbone of my life seems adrift these days. I forget what day of the week it is and that is not all. Have you ever experienced being completely engrossed in some work and you get up to fetch something and just in that step away from what you are doing, you forget whatever it is you were thinking of? I do and I catch myself standing somewhere, perplexed having forgotten why I walked into a room. The worst part of this dislocated memory is that I feel 1’ve forgotten to turn off the gas or I’ve lost something important.
The Tip Jar