Saturday, April 09, 2011

Paradox day

Everyone's going to have a party!

April is the crowded month, breeding sinners from quick wombs, mixing memorials and desire. And so it's the month of birthdays and anniversaries for half the northern hemisphere. The rest have just gone or are planning for theirs. So it is that we with our flesh give our last piece of respect to the seasons of the earth.

Lord knows that tanning beds, bronzers, and plastic will allow summer to bow to our whims, spring to last to our convenience and with our hygienic standards. Winter will only show up as spasm of snow, freeze, and storm, as we unhinge the climate and worry that doing anything else might "cost jobs." And a Snooki is upset that there will be a tax on tanning beds. (No one should tan her snooki to start with.)

(Manasse Block Tannery in Berkely, CA, doing it the organic way)

On my participation in that great involuntary parade of reflection or ejection, I was morose. I know that's a big surprise -- me being morose, I mean, not that I would think of birthdays and anniversaries of all sorts as being a choice between dejected spirits or ejection of spirits -- but I was just numbly so. You see, I had gotten served by a deputy the day before. That's right: In America debts will not go away, it seems. In the past, I moved so often that the "hide and hope to die" strategy worked on both me and the creditor. On me, it helped confirm my self image. On them, it just worked, as they were eager to sell the debt to a collection agency anyway and keep the real economy going. (The real economy, despite what you may have heard, is not manufacturing. It's financing. The real economy of the U.S. is purely usury. There is nothing else at all. We do not make stuff. We make money. We make it up in the sense that everything is devised now for the interest rate and the default and the sale of debt. It employs armies and creates fictional fortunes.)

So, I was morose rather than surly. (My father gets surly.)

My funk was taking the form of a flummery. The distillate of regret, doom, and new fear were all tinctures strained through the mesh of old fear. This all made me sort of unresponsive in the main, and it lead to oddly reflective moments of paradox.

First, I was waiting for a meeting to begin, and I said, "I can't stand w..." and then realized that what I meant was, "I can't stand." It was not "waiting," but the standing.

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Then I wanted to tell someone that I was, "Not feeling very happy" and corrected it to "Not feeling." This is, of course, a form of the joke that Tom Lehrer made, "Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen. I'm very happy to be." I, however, was looking at something else. I was realizing that the meaning was implied in less than the word.

Later on, that evening, as I went off to dream of someone giving me a rose (really! I know it means I'd died, but I hadn't, so up yours, Freud!), I said to myself, "I don't care how depressed I am."

Suddenly, I realized that I had stumbled on a brand new paradox. Really.

Remember (should I say "really" again, just to prove that I don't edit my posts? really, I don't) Bertrand "Stinky Pants" Russell's fit in his hubristic Summa Mathematica? I'm sure you do. It is "the set of all sets." If you want to be bored to the point that you dribble your own flummery, you can read about it here. See, the set of all sets must have, as a member, itself. If it does include itself, though, then it is not a set of all sets. It's a Klein bottle problem.

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In a way, it's a reiteration of the liar's paradox, but with math. (If it's a lie, it's true, but if it's true, it's a lie.) The question hinges on a Boolean condition, like "living/dead" or "on/off" and "inside/outside." If I say, "I don't care how depressed I am," though, I am doing the same thing. First, I'm obviously lying. Second, any statement I make about my indifference must be a lie. If I were indifferent, I would not care that I cared. If I were indifferent, I would not note that I did not care. If I were indifferent, I would have no position on caring or not caring, no position on happiness or sadness at or of a situation.

Therefore, let no one say, "I don't care" anymore. Henceforth let all such clauses be banished. If they wish to communicate disinterest, they may do so by looking away, walking off, or starting a separate conversation.

Or do we manage, in conversation, to do what we cannot in physics? Do we manage to be outside and inside at the same time? Are binary oppositions false when it comes to the psyche?

I don't care. I just thought I'd share, in case you did.


Clyde Penquin said...

"Breeding sinners from quick wombs" is pretty good, but it doesn't sound like you. Are you quoting someone?

The Geogre said...

Missed this!

Oh, it's a mash-up, as the kids today say. "Breeder of sinners" is Hamlet's summary of what Ophelia would be if she married (to a nunnery, go!), and "The Waste Land" starts with "April is the cruelest month/ Breeding lilacs out of the dead land/ Mixing memory with desire." So, I had April as a waste land breeding people out of a sterile, fallen nature.

It's not that clever, but I had to write something.