At the intersection of three texts I have been reading in the past few days, a clearing has emerged for the incongruity in life - through Baudelaire's "Modernity," Robert Coles' The Call of Stories, and Lucian's The Double Indictment (via). The latter is a Menippean satire - a genre Bakhtin connects to the carnivalesque and polyphony and addresses philosophical and contemporary questions, fantastically, madly. I wish to borrow from the form, to write a glimpse into some of the absurdities of this age. I was given a crystal egg once, and the world would be shrunk and distorted within it, while it released light through its other angles. What is the image of a life, those inversions, or all that light.
Cast: Thumosius, Logosius, An Ad., Dr. Coles, Baudelaire, Silence, Bob Dylan, Gardener, Virtue
Thum: Ah! You tell me that I have been plagiarising when I repeat others' words before I have crafted them into my own. I was only repeating them to myself in a non-academic setting. Hypocrites! Did you think the author could trademark the idea, the perceptions nascent in us all? Truth belongs to none, it belongs to all, for the moment it is mentioned, we see we knew it all along, though some deny it. I will take your words if they are of any use, and I will begin to internalise them.
Baud: Take, my austere poet in studious moods, to the Muse not to others' formulations, listen to Pan, and yes, he was given versified speech in Theocritus' Sicilian paradise, but repeat not those words but the song you imagine as you picture him.
Log: It is not enough. Inspiration is not enough, it requires an education.
Bob: You’ve gone to the finest school all right, But you know you only used to get juiced in it, And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street, And now you find out you’re gonna have to get used to it.
Ad: Make it in life by entrancing them with your eyelashes. 5xbigger. You need manga eyelashes. 5xbetter. Your eyes will not be the same. Your eyes must not be the same. You and your eyelashes - longer than anyone's.
Baud: Everything that is 'material' mirrors the spiritual reality from which it derives.
Virt: My emotions are not the mascaraed lyre. I wish for man to shine past artifice. I wish to speak in resonances, increase the amplitude of the different phases of good, tune everything else into my good music.
Sil: ---. (It sounds ancient.)
Baud: Virtue, can you hear me? I address you now, remove those awful wax earplugs. The man of today wears noise cancelling headphones, which he also uses in airports.
Ad: Fly the friendly skies. Fine print: we are not responsible in the eventuality of war.
Thum: It is easy for the head to be in the clouds. I wish to speak rationally though it is not in my nature, still I feel, I intuit. Here is the fortune cookie message of me as mantis in the length of a tweet. It is not enough to hear the words if one can hear them. We need the application of interpreters as much as doctors. It pains me to keep up with the age. I am out of breath. My heart pounds, but not for the man in the lab coat but the science in the man. Once upon a time, I looked much at the stars and Discoursed. I was a student then and I think I was smarter then but now I am fighting to keep time.
Bob: Gather 'round people, Wherever you roam, And admit that the waters, Around you have grown.
Virt: I cannot find myself in the media.
Thum: I'm calling a doctor.
Dr. Coles: I've been here all along. You spoke of students: they are the test of any lesson that takes itself seriously. Who is the teacher, then? Whose is the lesson? I agree with you Thumosius that truth cannot, in essence, be monopolised, rather is only more precisely or confusedly stated. My student doctors who I learn from have said that the people in greatest need were hanging on for dear life to some words as if unction.
Gard: I heard that man say life. It's whad I try to give seeds, whad I see that people have no time for. Lemme try to 'splain, though I ain't been'a school and words 'nt my friends. The plants 're my friends, I talk to them some, I talk 'n talk and they grow 'n grow, but when's the last time you saw your neighbour talk to them neighbour? When's the last time you saw them take it slow? Heh, they think an apple goes automatic innna store ev'ry time they wanna eat one. Those apples take time to grow. They don't grow in stores, they don't grow on d'mand like teevee. Even if'eh did, I'm no fool'a understand that'd wreck a man's mind. He needs'a see thin's take it slow, teachin' like.
Baud: He began by being an observer of life, and only later set himself the means of expressing it. This was natural for the gardener but so unnatural for the city man.
Ad: Get more for your money.
Baud: Ah! An advertisement! It is the right and privilege of my circumstance! I am going to distill it in my art.
Ad: Jingos aside, I used art before it could use me.
Baud: You have seeped yourself too thoroughly into an algorithm and lost all memory of the present. You have renounced all rights and privileges offered by circumstance, and are damned to perpetuate the falsities of the ungiving.
Virt: Art does not happen without me. The ad is but a copy of a copy - and it calls itself art! It has but assumed the garb of the Surreal and Dada. You empty dress. And yet you stand so proud with your dollar signs. The mysterious element of beauty of an age - it is me! I cannot be stored, like a mummy, or like perfume, you must search for me always anew, every day, being careful along the way not to slip into the abyss, the lack of me, or my extreme.
Dr. Coles: Virtue, you are hard to grasp and not popular among university faculty. Or ambitious students. And yet to practice you, like suppressing the urge to cut office hours short to get rid of that haughty, insistent energy of certain youths, brings rich anecdotes. One student said: "Novelists have not given us the answers, but they've told us that any day an answer might arrive - and that how we spend that day will help shape how that answer we're going to find." Virtue, he could have been talking about how to prepare for you.
Thum: We are speaking as if we could focus on one goal only in the multiplicity of days and all their moods and meanings. Virtue stands behind the screen, while on it, things chance to amplify the noble. Except there are forms that are muddled or become muddled by becoming one with emptiness, which is not fulfilling, but has tormented the plot of novels that then became exciting. I feel this like one feels the swell in the ocean. I think sometimes I am blind and just feeling my way out of these words, this confusion, into a clearing. But again and again I am tested, every day, every moment. It is possible to say wrong words when I really mean to gloss over others' wrong words, and relieve them, keeping only those I want to use or collect like Mementos.
Dr. Coles: Books teach us that we are not alone in this life experience.
Gard: Books! I've loved, cried, laughed, had child'n, watched the times'a year, and last year's bugs, an' in fall, that one night when I heard the cuckoo sin'in' an' smelled the leaves, those gold lines of sun on my fields - I don't need no books to be alive.
Baud: You may be art, man of the cultivated vegetation. I was out looking for symbols today. They are always changing.
Log: I say. These people really need to be clearer, and fully develop an idea before darting off to the next.
Thum: The heart wishes to play mad mantis and leave empty spaces for the readers to enjoy their own flight of thought.
Log: You are so irresponsibly contemporary. Are you even thinking through what you are saying?
Baud: Each man carries upon his back an enormous Chimera.
Log: The mind is to be applied to what it can solve. If mystery exists, we must weigh it.
Thum: I do not know the meaning of the individual life and miss myself from my school days. Is it enough to read what you want to and write what you want to for an audience of three, or -
Ad: Earn more. Call now.
Baud: I grow rich in the Ideal. Only it can be packaged in myriad ways to be pieced together.