Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Marmor McDonaldiensis

Warning to the reader: the following was written on August 5, 2008, and I had just received a big dictionary of names. The prose is purple, even by my standards. I understand if you skip it for the much better one before.
In other words, even by these standards, it's pretentious.
"The majority of mankind is lazy-minded, incurious, absorbed in vanities, and tepid in emotion, and is therefore incapable of either much doubt or much faith." -- T. S. Eliot

"From the cradle to the coffin, underwear comes first." -- Bertolt Brecht
This morning was I morning’s minion, dashing from place to post, bashing against a to-do list as if it were an enemy on the field below. Thus, I had voted in a run-off election to deny its inventors their malicious designs, paid for taxes, renewed special permits with the county, gotten bird seed, milk and cream, bananas, and a double cheeseburger meal before eleven-fifteen. Such was the frenzy that my thoughts dragged in the water behind my actions like a skier, screaming for help.

Then I began to look out upon the world, and especially its women, as is the wont of men my age, with the desperate look of a toothless man in a steakhouse, and I began to look at the traces they made and prophesy.
"The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not." -- George Bernard Shaw, Parents and Children
From the fecund swamp of becoming to the fetid soup of been, we dimly perceiving humans live in and by expectation. We circle back with many fewer questions of “What happened?” than we propel forward, lurching and toppling as we go, with boasts of “Hey! Betcha it’s going to....” “Ecce homo?” This is the expecting animal, moving in advance of life and adjusting. When enough of our trials are not errors, say by the age of fifteen, we animals erect ourselves to prophecy. The teenager sees where things have been for that short span, and from twelve years of data points, it projects the line out to infinity and announces that the world sucks.

However, at nearly the same time, the unpredictable arises and reduces the hit rate and tames the annoying little jerks. They find that the opposite sex, and then the same sex competitors, are formulating rules and expecting expectations, too, and the permutations swarm like black flies, leaching out the certainty and draining the leisure time sport of damning the world. Years pass, and the waters deepen and still, and it is time for the more accurate and much more useless predictions of the middle aged and elderly. They have found algorithms for the unpredictable other sexes and agents, and they announce fates from their perches on Rascal scooters weaving through Wal-Mart aisles.

There, then, at my own mid-day early bird meal, I sat like a prostitute in the window of the McDonald’s. We window sitters are alluring the way that gargoyles are, not like bare flesh, but we are as much solicitous. Ours is the bare rictus of withered age or the bald neuter of obesity or poverty. We perch to see lives and bodies, for we dislike our own. Even though I have found that age only means that my pants and pill box get larger, when I look out, I feel the space between the shell and the core of my life, and I am compelled to ease that pain by longing or dismissal.

There was an Armelle. Her precarious beauty was constructed in layers of anxiety. When I see her, or when I see Solveig beside her, both striding in training heels and spinning about like debutantes at the ball, cell phones extended before them, both balletic and hieratic, I can make my predictions. I see their beginning, and I can extrapolate. If these two bodies remain in the same motion on this same course, they will collide with this Muta and that Gerda. This butterfly goes into chrysalis to produce that ... productive member of society. Similarly, if that raw-shaved boy, that Uiseann, with those embellished arms and jeans (his emblem and shield) takes up the present space for long, he will descend into that cologne-dipped Chamber of Commerce booster, that Peli. His buddy (good buddy), with his scalp reddened by sun and his cuffs frayed by sneaker heels, hurling his hands forward like pistons, grinning like a malevolent spirit with a freshly claimed soul in its teeth, will metamorphose from Vernus to Torbjorn. Older, he will no longer have a head that looks like a blister, and he will trade the overpowered pickup truck (the gas pedal of which he works with his imagined phallus) for an under-occupied SUV, colored rigor mortis blue in a concession to budget, and he will achieve independent importance at last.
[Ed. note: I am going to stop linking at this point:
it takes time and probably doesn't add anything.
If you miss them, let me know in comments.]
"We are born crying, live complaining, and die disappointed." -- Thomas Fuller
There is nothing wrong with these transformations, and none of these paths of inertia is meaningful by itself. The gargoyle doesn’t have any verdicts. It isn’t about that. The teenager wails that life sucks, but the gargoyle just stares out, wishing that life were still a verb. If there is anything the prophecy does not do, it does not warn. Youngsters, bulbous and fractious, ossify into hortatory masonry, too, after all, but there is one thing only left to say.

God give us the unequal force. These pathways are extensions, and these graves I describe are now just divots, and they come to pass only if there is no unequal force, no blow, no collision, no random factor, and let us praise the entropy that makes life unpredictable and that pries the figures from the wall, chisels down the bas relief, and tilts the table.

We’re not all individual, not all different, unless we get just a bit confused, confounded, and jarred.