October 4, 2012
No news is new news.
Meaning: Everything that happens has happened before, even shit that hasn’t happened yet. Logically impossible, and still I believe it; in fact, I believe it more so because it is logically impossible.
Oh, speaking of that, you know what’s really easy to make? Vague statements. Not so easy to make? SENSE.
See, this is the kind of non-scrutable one-hand-clapping crap that used to drive me nuts in my teens and twenties, when I was looking for a way to understand the world, and people would throw some koan-in-the-form-of-a-question* at me, and I was like, YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO BE MORE SPECIFIC ABOUT WHAT KIND OF ANSWER I’M SUPPOSED TO BE LOOKING FOR AND HOW THAT ANSWER WILL HELP ME IN ANY WAY. It’s like, Yes! Conundrum! The question is the answer, the snake eats its own tail, the tree falling in the forest hears itself! Okay, great, but how should I live my life? How can I live my life? What should I be thinking about on a moment-to-moment basis? How do I avoid pain, delay dying, live with suffering?
Nothing? Imaginary crickets? The sound of no hands not clapping?
All right, then. I’ll just be over here, taking drugs and staring at my palm like I’ve never seen it before.**
So I guess it must be age, and probably resignation, settling over me. Because lately I’ve been looking at the paradoxes and thinking, It’s really not that hard.
E.g., Is (infinity x infinity) > infinity? Why or why not? Please show your work.
A: Yes. And no. It depends on when you ask. While you are in the process of multiplying infinity times infinity (which is going to take an infinite amount of time), the act of multiplication is a productive, additive act, so the infinity is growing outwards — it’s increasing. Whereas the other infinity’s just sitting there being infinite. So during the process of multiplication, yes, (infinity x infinity) > infinity. But when the process of multiplication is complete, we see that (infinity x infinity) = infinity.
By applying the Transitive Property, then, we can clearly see that (It is x it is) will ultimately = it is.
In other words: It is what it is. Which, despite my fondness for LOLcat tautologies, is a saying I loathe, because it is most oft used in conversation to mean, “I feel like I should say something now, but nothing is occurring to me, so…shoehorn penguin butterscotch.” But there is a truth underneath the triteness, I think, and I think it’s something like, “There is an immutable reality, and though none of us can describe it, we all feel like we know it when we experience it — you know, it’s that feeling. Anyway, you can and will and probably even should have a bunch of reactions to that immutable reality, some of them positive and some negative, but it really doesn’t matter what you want the immutable reality to be, or if it’s fair or unfair, or if it makes you happy or sad or furiously angry or manipulatively self-destructive, because IMMUTABLE REALITY CAT IS IMMUTABLE REALITY. So grab a short straw, and start sucking it up.”
You know? I was telling a friend last night how I used to have an exceptionally hard time seeing things like roadkill, or commercials for the ASPCA — and I still hate those fucking ASPCA commercials, and I wish donations went to the animals and staff and didn’t help them buy more of those horrible ads — but I can almost look it in the eye sideways a little bit now. Death, at least — suffering, I’m still struggling with, but death has got to be faced. You can’t be precious about it, or wince because it hurts your feelings. Just admit: It takes so much death to keep you alive.***
I think the overall point I’m trying to make here is that it’s probably time for me to lay off the David Foster Wallace for a while.****
(* “Alex, what did your face look like before your parents were born?”)
(** “Have you ever really looked at your hand, Alex?”)
(*** Don’t worry. You’ll pay it back soon enough.)
(**** You think?)