Friday, November 30, 2012

One channel bluer than the rest, with less resistance, less water volume and fewer cattails, crops up in the narrative repeatedly. This is a trap. Don’t get caught in it. Don’t try to locate the channel on a map of the region because, first, there are no maps of the region short of those kept in the head and these are notoriously unreliable. Second, the landmarks will shift on you until you are completely lost, until you are convinced someone has been manipulating the real-world equivalent of a game board, and you will be right. To a certain extent. But that doesn’t lessen the suffering or even make it meaningful. What it does is turn the picture we have in our minds of the soffits, of planetary drift, into caricatures to be pawned off on whoever is the next to happen by. Whoever has a fifty-cent piece in his pocket. I liken the process to that which allows air-breathing insects to dive a short distance beneath the surface of the water by trapping bubbles against their legs. Obviously, I’m not shooting for one hundred percent accuracy here, but the comparison is apt enough to get me invited back again and again until eventually I become so comfortable the hostess has to ask me, none too politely, to leave when everyone else has already made an exit. The moon is high and crooked, leaning to the right, and the air is so cold you can feel the skin on your face and on your fingers begin to change shape, to morph and complain. I walk for maybe half an hour before I realize I am making an enormous circle and turn back, but it’s too late. Already the sounds in the street, the barking dogs and the oboes on the radio muted behind closed windows announce the return of something that had only recently been lost, and you couldn’t say mourned exactly, so much as dissected – turned into little more than a list that contains maybe twenty items of greater or lesser complexity. But if that’s not the right channel to follow, which one is? Which one has the mark of authenticity (a glimmer to it, I suppose, like that you glimpse on actual bodies of water)? The answer invites something close to fury when it is delivered. It makes us feel about a thousand years old. But you have to continue despite all sense of impending obsolescence, of diminishment and release, because if you don’t, if you abandon the pursuit at precisely the moment you realize it is a pursuit and not something else, something passive and therefore obscene, you run the risk of being labeled a dunce, or even a minor traitor. And, believe me, some of these labels can remain in place for more than a few days. 

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