Sunday, June 17, 2012

Consider the disorder of malleability, Eulalie says as she tosses candy peanuts into her mouth and chews on them in that way peculiar to her – a moving the jaw in circles and producing sounds that remind one of the alarm calls of very small birds. Some things are just going to have to remain solid and un-transformable, but those who suffer the disorder of malleability refuse to leave the most solid of objects alone. They rub ceaselessly on walls with their bare hands, coo seductively at the rocks beneath their feet and linger for hours over the bones of animals they find bleached in the afternoon sun. And sometimes – it’s rare, but it happens on occasion – the disorder pays dividends and even those who do not suffer from it can see for themselves, briefly, that what they considered rigid and immovable -- whether it be the bricks with which the exterior of their home is constructed or the heart of the woman they love – is now altered, is bent or twisted or warped so as to change not just its appearance but its very nature in hard-to-define but permanent, and not always altogether unwelcome, ways. In fact, lessons and morality plays of this sort, esoteric formulae and straightforward axioms, abound in the cabinets all around us, call to us from the side of the road as we are passing. But we pay no heed to them because we know all we need to know at this juncture. We have been let in on all the most vital secrets and those that still evade us are of such specific content and quality, such narrow focus, we can only hope to turn them into the conversational equivalent of badges you wear now and then on your lapel when you wish to gain access to an otherwise exclusive gathering. A collection of souls with very narrow noses and the tendency to drop certain letters from their speech in an affected manner, something they most likely picked up while overseas in pursuit of advanced degrees or research opportunities in deserts that by and large remained unmapped and, in some cases, entirely unnamed. Except by those who happened to inhabit them, of course. You can’t be somewhere, can’t exist for any length of time in a place, and not know what it’s called. At least I can’t. Eulalie refers to this belief of mine, this obsession, as an orientation disorder, just one more in a list of such she uses in an attempt to demonstrate to me once and for all that we don’t have to rely on any one else for our own self-awareness and definition. We don’t have to be educated by the educated but can throw up membranes and borders of our own devising much like someone throws a tent up in the back yard so as to host a wedding reception or a woodwind concert for his closest associates and intimate friends, and then no one shows up. 

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