The Realms of Possibility
The Realm of Possibility
Is where we live, each of us. It is the sphere in which our thoughts take form, in which our plans are made, our calculations. Our best guesses and best bets.
It has a shape, this realm, a three-dimensional topography. It is like a planet with atmosphere, gravity, magnetic poles. And what is most interesting is what happens when it is altered.
This is what a diagnosis of cancer does.
To be sure, each of us would, if pressed, acknowledge that death is always possible; there are, after all, car crashes and aneurysms. Still, death remains, much of the time, in a kind of quantum mechanical dimension. We know entanglement exists: instantaneous, spooky action at a distance. But for all practical purposes, thank you very much, good old Newton will do us just fine.
The diagnosis, and then the prognosis, change that. Even a good one—say, an 8 percent ten-year survival rate—introduces, through simple mathematical deduction, the 15 percent likelihood of within-a-decade-death. Fifteen percent being, as it is, a likelihood between one chance in six and one chance in seven; a chance, in other words—not probable, but also not remote—of not experiencing, of not being, certain things one had assumed one would be.
An attendee at my son’s high school graduation. A passenger when my daughter learns to drive.
Because let’s face it: if Erfahrung—the constant onrush of sensation and thought and feeling that is experiencing—stops, well, then, sister, there are certain Erlebnisse—discrete experiences—that just won’t be created.
Gaps could be left, in other words; holes could be made.
The fabric of my children’s lives might need to be woven around lacunae I have left.
Best to take note, then, of what can be noted, while I can.
(Of course there is Vonnegut-reference swirling around. A miasma-surround. Whatever it is, dear reader, for you; whatever it means, deep down, for me. But I can’t, at the surface-membrane, remember; and I won’t touch-look, I can’t think-see, for I have other fish to fry.)
Is this my prologue? Hard to say. Impossible, at this juncture, to know: where to place things, in the final composition. Given a thought-stream that always flows. Turbulent, usually; with occasional, solacing, streams.
The conundrum is: that you know you can never finish. By definition. Analysis is interminable. Except by death, of course. And maybe not even then, if consciousness moves on.
What can be terminated, of course, is speech. The lips, the breath, the teeth and tongue, the brain that thinks in analogue to these fine motions. These can be, will be, terminated.
But the problem with a story is that it is always a story to an audience. Of one, or more. And even if only to the self, there is always an overhearing intended.
For to speak to the self without the possibility of being overheard would be to face it: the extinguishment of silence.
See the Sense
What the hell was that?
Fucked if I know.
I meant to say something about cat’s cradle, the children’s game where you tangle threads around your fingers and make really cool, complicated and yet regular and interesting shapes. I wanted to say something about that because it seems to me like a metaphor an allegory an analogy an analogue—see, that’s my problem, there are always, always already, too many synonyms, glosses, footnotes and endnotes, marginalia. Not to mentioning underlining, bold, capitals and lowercase—a surfeit of meaning. Orthographical and otherwise.
I hear my feet, crunching on the path. I see the leaves: it’s beautiful. Fall—just the beginning of fall. Muddy in parts, and dry in others. Strange. These woods, in days of climate change. Caribbean storms, earthquakes, rocket launches.
But cat’s cradle. I wanted to talk about cat’s cradle. Because it’s an ego-ideal, in a way, to have a mind that looks like cat’s cradle. Complicated, but orderly. Systematic.
Something where you can see the workings. Where you can see the artistry.
Where you can see the sense.
Laugh With Me
The problem with humor is that it makes me cry.
Which I suppose Sholem Aleichem would approve. He said what he did was write “laughter through tears.” So maybe I’m in the shtetl too. The shtetl of my own making.
The trees are cathedral-like. Heschel said we have cathedrals in time, we Jews. We don’t need to be attached to a place, to things that we can touch. Because we have our cathedrals in time.
And in experience, really. Each one of us has our own experience of time, and that is where Shabbat lives. Shabbat does not live in objective time, if such a thing even exists, which it doesn’t, as far as the physicists can tell.
Where was I? The shtetl. Laughter. Laughter through tears. That’s the problem with humor. You try to use it to draw somebody close. It isn’t a defense at all. Not for me.
It’s an invitation. It’s a come-on. It’s a plea.
Laugh. Please, please.
Laugh with me.
No Other Choice
So what do you do when your jokes fall flat? When the crowd is cold and you cannot get them going. When the most important person—the critic—is sitting stony-faced: “That is just not funny. In fact, it’s in poor taste! Because this is very serious business.”
Well, your career in stand-up’s hit a glitch. Undeniable.
Better go back to writing poetry, or try something entirely new.
You’ve got no other choice.
I hate that you can’t force the finish. At least not in the way you want it to end. Of course you could always just leave off in media res
leave off and just listen
to the sound of fine sand and stones beneath your feet, noting muscles that do not hurt at the moment—that’s quite a good thing—ears without tinnitus, eyes without cataracts. All good, all good. One could do that.
But for how long? And only, really, while alone.
Because the minute there is someone else—a dog walker, even a dog—then it’s not so simple. Then the field, the atmosphere, this membranous sort of thinly glutinous and oleaginous field becomes visible, exerts a force. Then there is another consciousness. And then—then, there is the inception of lust.
That is lust: the longing for the other.
What kind of a person makes voice memos to herself intended to be overheard publicly?
I’m kind of stumped by that one.
I think being stumped is an underappreciated phenomenon.
“I’m stumped” means I’m no longer a tree, growing high, spreading its branches, doing photosynthesis and all that other tree-stuff: communicating with interesting chemicals to other trees, creating a canopy and an ecosystem and everything up there.
I’m just a stump.
Which of course creates its own ecosystem—rotting log, mushrooms and beetles, all that business—but that’s later. That’s once the stump begins to decay.
So maybe that’s what being stumped is: the moment in between a kind of exuberant and communal and stratospheric life, and another kind of life that will be deep and dark and productive in its rich and loamy rottenness.
But right at that moment—of stumpage, of stumping—you’re nothing but a stump.
~ Kimberly Gladman ~
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