Describes my thoughts. And general world view.
Staccato pictures. Visual word associations. Linked but without cursive flow. Unedited and unrefined. Colloquial.
My accent has (sometimes purposefully, sometimes not) disjointed and jarred back and forth over the years. I have an early and irksome memory of my (then) broad Yorkshire, first h and last g ‘ackin’ provincial tongue tekin’ a chidin’. Gramma’ pedan’s jus’ wern’ schooled wheer A wa’. I’ve sporadically tried on other accents with a call and response compulsion that I never could quite fathom, at any time, but just went along with anyway. Turns out there’s a name for that. A sub-definition nestled in a sub-set of arbitrarily graded degrees of normalcy. Subjective categorisation. Clinicians of a certain bent pathologize all kinds of weird shit they don’t understand. Especially when that weird shit applies to someone else. Presuming. Labelling. As if they have a sufficient grasp. Which they mostly don’t. People are weird. Life is weird. Everything is weird.
I try to imagine what kind of thing or things might count as being truly meaningful – in the grandest, weirdest scheme of all things. The Scheme is unseeable, stretching out light years beyond my own small, dilated sphere of comprehension. Engulfing it. Swallowing it whole. Until I can conceive of absolutely nothing which may contain even a hint of intrinsic meaning apropos of the accident of existence. And then all things shrink back down to infinitesimal specks of chance on eternally recurring bell curves. Indifferent. Insignificant.
Perhaps meanings can only be found – made – in fragments. Like happiness. Neither one necessarily has anything to do with the other. Happiness isn’t even really a thing. It’s a response. And each happy (or its opposite) reaction is qualitatively and quantitatively different from the next, sliding around non-linear emotional spectrums along with love, intuition, hurt and distrust. Bell curves. Beautifully simple graphs to visualise and construct. Blueprints sketching out the general from the specific, containing all our myriad differences and similarities. Medians describing – dictating – the norm. In their multiples, in three-dimensional space, they configure a child’s whirring spinning top, their middlemost arcs crisscrossing a central plane of origin about which each and all turn. No one curve remains static. They oscillate through each other as if they were electromagnetic waves, extending their shared, shifting plane of symmetry out along the radial x-axis, slipping beyond the carousel’s leading edge, retrograde like the rings of Saturn. Approaching the farthest – near silent – reaches of centrifugal force, or inertia, float the distant, displaced outliers. Different. Othered.
The fan oscillates with a soothing whir. Shifting air around the kitchen. Blowing meaningless but not unfeasibly poetic lines about the place. Something about streams of nostalgia running from a flared tap and the palliative scratch of a barbed tongue. Whatever draws my eye. I can’t actually see the barbs on my cat’s tongue but I know they are there. His rippling, tilted face reflecting up at me from the bottom of his steel drinking bowl. The tap isn’t even flared. It’s a rusting swan neck. The water bowl isn’t made of stainless steel. It’s moulded from formica. The cat isn’t drinking from it. He’s fishing a fake jellyfish from a glass bowl on the kitchen island.
Lyrical license. Small, inconsequential moments that have recently been and that I’m seeing again because they relate directly and without any conscious effort or edit to the immediate scene before me. The flared tap belongs to the bath. Each late morning or early afternoon the dog and I quietly watch and hear the splashing, cleansing, columnar waterfall – in moments of respite – waiting for the warmed, cradling relief to rise, in preparation for his daily hydro-physio session. If he ever regains feeling in (and conscious control of) his hind legs, he’ll already know how to ride a bike. It’s more than a month since he underwent decompressive surgery for acute intervertebral disc disease and his recovery is slow, with no guarantee of physical rehabilitation. And spasmodically difficult to see.
But then I’m struggling to see much of anything through this variable ‘progressive’ prescription. Now that I’m closer to fifty than forty presbyopia has set in, along with ever blearier disillusionment. The optician suggested I try wading through these blurry vari-bogs of optical dross – as if my view of life wasn’t distorted enough already. Good ideas don’t necessarily translate swiftly or easily into real world solutions and these maladjusted lenses, in their present guise, appear to have more than a blink of the Emperor’s new spectacles about them. And the best I can half-focus my unsettled attention on is a strained, unpoetic conceit.
I don’t really know what the optimum conditions for originative reflective thought are but I feel that right here, right now, in this chair, before this screen, they are unmet.
Purposeful, creative reflection requires an inspiring mental object, a specific presence of mind and fastidious attention to detail. The immaterial must be projected out into three-dimensional space, turned in one’s hand and held up to the brightest source of light, set down again and scrutinized in relation to something or someone else. I cannot focus fully on a single thought long enough to even satisfactorily name it. And this room is darkening.
And so I find myself stuck thinking about thinking. And the moment I catch myself – looped in the convolution of circular thought – the flow is interrupted. Gone. Like closing tired eyes against the perpetual, reflective echo of diminishing sense. Like finding yourself caught – disorientated – between two face-to-face mirrors. The ruminative stream abruptly halts and doglegs itself the moment I become conscious of it. When I try to isolate and examine a single thought, the act of examination itself becomes the thought and is quickly, sequentially, displaced by the recognition that I am ‘thinking my thoughts away’ in even attempting to examine them. They return, redouble and then simultaneously go somewhere and nowhere, set adrift in the skimming shallows.
Ideas are contingent – like everything else. Situational. Circumstantial. Fortuitous and elusive. Not infrequently impossible to articulate. It is discomfiting rather than humbling to acknowledge that some ideas might presently – or forever – be impossible for me to imagine. Precluded by sheer happenstance. By place, class, even gender perhaps. Delimited by the places I haven’t visited, the books I’ve never read and the people I have either disregarded or else been disregarded by. An experiential forestalling by the cumulative sum total of my good and bad luck . What thoughts am I unaware I’ve never had? And may never have? Unanswerable conundrums.
Inspiration can be fleeting. Unreliable. And reflection, by a certain sort of definition, casts light back from a surface without ever absorbing it. Words just empty echoes, saying absolutely nothing at all.
Until all you’re left with is a strung out page of gobbledygook.
Thank fuck I can’t really see to read it.