Stuff and Nonsense | by Matt McManus

     Today, why today, I was walking along and thinking to myself a little something about Kant and how his philosophy was so much more beautiful than people gave it credit for. Indeed, you think about the idea that we must believe everything has a purpose to make sense of it. How strange and wonderful a thing to tell us in this day and age when the only purpose that matters is our purpose, he one we decide on. Of course this is also consistent with what he is saying about the starting point always being our mind, but different because the end point will always have to be God. God, God, do not make me a God. I am so much less content here, drudging it out over the hills and far away from you so that the journey back could mean so much more than the climax which words stunted candles that they are could never express. There’s an old expression out there about the need of artistic types for some kind of trauma to inspire them to write; remember old Marlowe’s decision to come up with a fictional yarn because the truth was “too dark” by far. That’s why I’ve always been unsure about fiction, because what it the point of trying to make bring light and resonance to something when that’s not the way it actually might have been. What right did we ever have to say the world was a certain way when we are not the world and yet are sanctioned to be a part of it? I remember when I was very young waking up next to the most beautiful girl who could ever live (and that is not fiction) and looking out her window. There were some children playing basketball outside in the afternoon sunlight and they’d been laughing so loud that it had woken me up from my own dogmatic slumber. That laughter, the bppppp bpppp bppp of the ball against the hard concrete court. That innocent sounds was a contemptuous blast against everything that I’d been before, every part of me that had tried to be more than the world within the withoutness of myself. I turned and looked back at her as she was sleeping so calmly, the sleep of love drunk angels, and knew then what I had to do was destroy everything that had been instinctual and powerful before, all the drives and neuroses that led me to think about Kant and Einstein and God and the silly little boys and girls who played at creating their own private universes when relating to the actual darkness of the one outside became too much. Too dark, indeed, it is always too dark when there is nothing more than physical light and we do not know what it even means for something to be “physical.” Think about Pynchon’s rocket and the way it arched like a rainbow before falling into London, that constipated place in an old and tired wound where centuries of exquisite culture and ceaseless antlike activity is taken to mean opinion and truth because it is what makes us who we “are.” Without light there could be no rainbow, and without the physical we could not die and all of this would be some grand comedy where every infinite possibility for each person was realized into an indefinable and yet paradoxically certain eternity. Every light we cast on things is just a reflection of our own darkness, what we cannot abide seeing and so we create our stories and our myths and our cultures to brighten things as brilliantly as that Christmas season where the girl and I walked the cobble stoned streets of a city centuries malfunctioning and were both entirely happy and somehow at one separated from everything. What I wouldn’t give to see that giant German beer touch her lips again, her eyelids just barely squinting upwards beyond the foamy head that separated the girl from my eyes and lips, the torch bearers of who I “essentially” am when those stunted candles are not enough. Or perhaps they are. Perhaps they should be. Why is it that when I say, “I love you” it does not mean nearly enough to me anymore? It means everything it can to you. But that is not enough for me. Understanding nothing would only ever be enough, because that would help me grasp what the unbearable but true distance is that made 2 into 1+1.

     You see we all struggle with addition, with Orwell’s political insistence that 2+2 must always equal four. That is the route to freedom and justice no doubt. But what I am interested in is what makes those natural numbers into real numbers, and that of course is the infinite problem that always shows how stupid politics really is. Exempting Cantor and Cohen from consideration, we must say that nowhere has this problem proven more pressing than for someone who is in love. Augustine’s comment about how, against our understanding, the two discrete are united into one consistent whole, to be “one tree and not two” when the pretty blossoms of passion fade. This ideal has haunted human life with its truth long before he bothered to put it quite. It is, I understand now, God, what I want and wanted with her. What I always need. But it is something that perhaps I can never have. Nor should I for that matter. What does wanting anything have to do with everything? JK Rowling wrote that “youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But an old man commits a crime if he forgets what it was to be young” or something to that effect. It is a wonderful summation of the tension between those preparing for a legacy and those who reject the very idea because each secretly does not yet realize that a young person will not live forever nor could they if life was to have any form for it would have no barrier or conclusion. To a young person life is a spaceless forest which exceeds all direction and form, it casts itself through every bramble and disorder to avoid becoming the authentic schizophrenic an indefinite duration of time would permit. Who hasn’t wished one year that winter wouldn’t come as it needs too for the world and humankind to go on, that the summer sun would be there through March to shine down on our walk from her house to the graveyard where lie the families and hopes that we are just beginning to assume because it is the period in life where everything blooms and reaches up to the purity that is avoiding the mistakes of each soul that has come before because you have built your city not just on rock and roll but the incandescent vibrations that emerge between you and the person who has become your heart? That nameless bridge between 1+1 that passes onto the next thing which is so much greater and clearer in the sharpness of the mind’s eye because the soul is finally aligned with its highest orientation, its ideal and eternal form that could never die because it is unique to you precisely as the greatest gift given to all humanity. What does memory have that can compare to an endless summer; only the crinkly and dull autumn leaves that drift to the ground as reminders of everything that might come again but never in the same pattern, never as repetition? This may confuse you my girl, because I know that you’ve always hoped so clearly and rationally for the future and should have expected with no small right that we would both feel the same about this. But the problem lies in how you conceive of time as this sequence of moments, each one inexplicably but necessarily passing into the next to enable the world to play out its drama through us for one reason or another. Time is never this sequence of moments, the moments are the power we impose on life in order to control it and make ourselves feel anything more than sublime surrender from ourselves. I’ve never been so strong my girl, and so myself I long for authenticity and seeing how all of time, past present future, collapse together into the crystal prism of our minds eye, passing in with narrative sense only to be stripped into the so many colours of disassociation. Because I delight in you so much girl there is no strength inside me to do that to our life, and all the colours that emerge are my ironic effort to squeeze them all back together again to that point where I woke up to the sound of kids playing basketball and saw you next to me, perfect, simple and complete.

     I remember meeting you my girl, seeing into your eyes and wondering where you were within. And looking into them cast the gaze back into myself and there was nothing there I could find that was good enough to stare at you. When you were lying asleep and I was in the other room, I’d wonder why we weren’t together and what kept me apart. I was so afraid of being close to you at times, afraid of what it meant to me and what it would mean to me when you were gone. Then you were one day, and all the fear vanished, and yet you were so a part of me that your presence was within more than ever before.You laughed in the most beautiful way sometimes, and I could understand your laughter was one of love and care for me. For it was not just what I said, but that it was I who said it, and that was what mattered the most to you. And when we fought and I made you laugh, I knew that care was still inside of you very close to the surface. It could not be effaced like footsteps in the snow or tears in the falling rain because it struck to the essence of who we were. The memories flood the time projected going forward, the letters and words we wrote crystallizing into the diamond of my heart once invincible but now cracked into a thousand pieces, held together in transience. Perhaps you remember the day we walked together in the sun my girl, we discussed for the first time how I was sad and you were worried that there was too little that held me together. You asked why I did not like photographs, and I told you about Plato. Old and calcified Plato, who insisted that the reality could not be captured by the image. For the image was just a projection of light cast instead within shadow. It did not make sense to me at the time, for it pushed you away and hurt you. Much like so much else I did and did not do, but might have done if I were stronger and wiser. My mind is like a straight razor, cutting and lacerating, but never able to grow or carve out of the malleable clay of existence anything that was of substance. Or so I thought.

     There once was a boy, and a rather foolish one at that. He woke up and dreamt he could be a man only to realize that waking was only another way of falling asleep. Because the dreams we have at night are only a gutted shadow of those we have during the day, every day, when we walk, eat, talk, see one another, lose one another, want each other back, and then realize that as long as we’re here we can never really lose them. And maybe I dreamt one day about you, and another day, one that was very long ago, but one that is always here because it’s always the future I press for. You were lying there, asleep and perfect, in the home we shared together. The basketballs no longer went up and down and plopped around but the sun till shone in through the window and broke against you. And why did I see you there? Was it because the light was moving to create relative time and bounced off lord only knows what, back into my eyes, the hidden windows into the abyss meant to confront others? Was it because we were meant to be, not because anything is meant to be, but because everything must none the less be, and move onwards in the evolutionary game, written by a madman, signifying nothing, one more step on the ladder to a trophy victory, a desire we desire only because others desire it, a hollow piece of gold to be seized one minute so we can drop it for the next person who comes around? No. I don’t think that’s the case. If it were the case then I wasn’t really seeing you now was I, just the parts, not the “you”, not what wasn’t really me, not what wasn’t just the brush of light onto my eyelids and transmitted electrically into my brain to be organized and sorted into its compartments. The strangeness of it of course it that’s all it was, but because that was all it was, it meant so much more than it was because I was here to see it, and the way I see it, I saw you. And you were everything, so where was I? Where did I go? What road was there left to take? It was all there, in the home we shared for such a short time, but then, every day went on forever and I’m sure in a way that this is the real dream, and that when I wake up, there you’ll be next to me again, not the dream, but the reality, because I don’t need to dream anymore. Does that sound mad?

     In the end it doesn’t matter really, because everything seems mad to me, but that’s precisely the one step I’ve made, not to see myself as mad, but the world instead, or at least the world where everything isn’t and there’s only a world, or multiple worlds, or worlds beyond our understanding instead. What if reality really were to blame, what if it were at fault, cracked and broken beyond repair in thought, and all the efforts we’d made to piece it together again was just narcissistic silliness, like a child who thinks the brick castle he’s made compares to the real thing because the real thing is just a building but the one in front of him now is the product of his imagination?




Matt just completed a couple degrees and is currently travelling around, working in human rights type fields, and trying to figure out a few things in life.


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