02 July 2017

No peaks just us

Dear diary,

I'll give the bad news first: there's no Twin Peaks tonight. No new episode. The final show of the series will be a double episode, which is to say two hours instead of one; and the buy-now-pay-later cost of such a treat is this evening's abstemious void – that's how I look at it. My life has actually come to this; I'm sad because of a TV show. But the three-eighths of the series that was not awful (to-date) justifies my addiction. Plus it's OK to feel down-and-out in the 21st century. When aliens of the future complete their historical research of the beings that lived from 1977 to 2027, they'll be moved, touched—they'll feel sympathy if not gratitude—for the amount of resilience that we evinced amid such unfairness.

(JOKE NOTE. The title of this entry is to be chanted to the tune of "No peace, no justice!" except with only one no. And apathetically.)

So that's the bad news, now for the good... Actually there's no good news; the news only gets worse. The baddest news of all is that this weekend my sweetheart and I must start installing our floorboards. Our floating fake wood planx. But I must look on the bright side: at least we get to rip up this ugly carpet. It's our carpet's Final Judgment; its Day of the LORD. Now forgive me for paraphrasing verse 16 of "The Enwrapped"; Alcoran's 73rd sura.

The carpet displeased its apartment's inhabitant;
so We seized him with a grievous punishment.

And more bad news is that my boss's son is reportedly moving out on the seventh. This son currently lives with my boss and thus I end up seeing him occasionally after work; and the seventh—that is, moving day, which is a mini Judgment of its own—strikes in less than half a fortnight; and, since my visits to my boss's house are weekly, this news of his son's impending exodus means that the last time I saw the lad might've been the last time I'll ever see the lad. Of course there could arise a prime instant of time here or there in the coming years when our paths cross, for whatever reason, but that's nothing compared to the sure and steady boon of another soul's presence. This means a lot to me because I like people: I don't like for people to go away. I think people are interesting.

And right now gangs of youth are lighting off fireworks in every recess of our neighborhood, which leaves me distraught – although I try not to be a Scrooge about it; I try to understand how children are wowed by noisy pops and bangs; I just don't care to celebrate war (why can't we celebrate lasting peace and detente?), plus (and I'm serious when I say this: I'm a softy) I'd rather not scare the wildlife, the birds and other creatures that share our world and that never received the memo about there even existing a country called U.S.A. let alone that the anniversary of its "birth" is celebrated hereabouts. Moreover many veterans of previous military battles hate the sound of explosives because of the memories that those noises tend to drum up. So the pages of the calendar surrounding this date of July Four (which is the official holiday, as I understand it) are but semi-tolerable to me. It always ends up as months of aural chaos, as opposed to just one DAY, because people purchase their celebratory explosives early and can't wait to try them out, plus they always hoard extras that they keep setting off long after the main festival concludes. Yes, the fun never ends. It sprawls out everywhere and infects everything: this huge tedious bash comes endowed with both a post- and a pre-bash.

But I admit that I like the sprinkler sticks... I mean sparklers or whatever they're called: those handheld fireworks that look like sticks of incense which emit sparks.

And, speaking of wildlife: last week, after we visited my mom for her birthday, on our way home, we stopped at a park and walked its trails. At a certain bend of the ascent, there appeared a tawny deer with huge round eyes, and it was dining on the verdure at the pathside. My sweetheart and I had been talking in low voices, just conversing about art and life, and, as soon as we noticed this deer, we said to each other: Let's try to avoid disturbing the lovely creature – remember that angry dog that came charging at us a couple years ago when we were walking through the woods of Alimagnet: we felt lucky to escape from the fright unscathed; then, afterwards, when we got back to the safety of our lab, we powered up our scientific devices and engaged in some research (only textual, not physical experiments) about the behavior of mad dogs: seeking how to avoid such predicaments in the future, we discovered that EYE CONTACT is interpreted by some beings as a direful threat – now therefore let us avoid meeting eyes with this deer that stands at the right of our upcoming path, for peradventure we might co-exist harmoniously. And although it was hard to resist gawking at this Vision of Splendor who stood no more than three meters away, out of respect for holiness we averted our eyes as we passed; and the deer remained chewing and swallowing the choicest greens. I swear I could even hear it breathing: that's how close we were. And it didn't run off.

Sometimes, it seems, the best way that this planet's fellowsufferers can act towards one another is with indifference.

"Let be." —Hamlet

I wish that the major countries of humankind would act toward each other with less aggression and more compassion.

One of the books in the stack that we continue to take with us on our park jaunts to read aloud is Samuel Butler's The Way of All Flesh. At the point we have currently reached in the novel, the narrator, Overton, is detailing the religious development of his godson Ernest. (I almost want to put that 'r'-word in quotes because the religion of the story's historical age is inextricably tangled with its countryfolk's careers, education in general, and other necessities—as it has been since—but I refrain, because doing so would imply that there is a more pure form. Religion's inherently a dirty affair. Only lucre is filthier. Which statement is false insofar as they're one and the same. "In God We Trust.") Now I'll copy a passage that amazed me, not because I relate to its subject Ernest's spiritual (mal)development but because, in the paragraph's latter half, Overton manages to explain (is this Butler's own view?) in clearer terms than I've ever encountered (or than I've ever been able to attain in my own attempts, which are numerous and compulsive) what I consider to be the truth—the highest that mortals can articulate, perhaps the only—about death.

Embryo minds, like embryo bodies, pass through a number of strange metamorphoses before they adopt their final shape. It is no more to be wondered at that one who is going to turn out a Roman Catholic, should have passed through the stages of being first a Methodist, and then a free thinker, than that a man should at some former time have been a mere cell, and later on an invertebrate animal. Ernest, however, could not be expected to know this; embryos never do. Embryos think with each stage of their development that they have now reached the only condition which really suits them. This, they say, must certainly be their last, inasmuch as its close will be so great a shock that nothing can survive it. Every change is a shock; every shock is a pro tanto death. What we call death is only a shock great enough to destroy our power to recognize a past and a present as resembling one another. It is the making us consider the points of difference between our present and our past greater than the points of resemblance, so that we can no longer call the former of these two in any proper sense a continuation of the second, but find it less trouble to think of it as something that we choose to call new.

That's from Chapter LIII, by the way. It reminds me of that other famous passage (WHY NOT repeat it too often; even daily, hourly?) from Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, where the Duke reasons:

. . . Yet in this life
Lie hid moe thousand deaths.

And ever since I quoted, a few paragraphs ago, two small words from Shakespeare's Hamlet (act 5 sc. 2), their greater context has been gnawing at me to type it out; so, to follow that best assessment of our mortal predicament (by Butler/Overton), here's what I think is the very best stance (by Shakespeare/Hamlet) to confront the inevitability of the aforesaid "shock":

...We defy augury. There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all. Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows aught, what is't to leave betimes? Let be.

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