Ready for another one? It's a bit longer than the last. In this one, my two worlds collide.
First let me say I'm grateful to ye, son. What ye call a transcription, eh?
Drawn to me like I's a viper: the snake don't have to move, save sway.
No, I don't know where I stand, this world of knotted words. Me nephew says it's an "erratic formal process" that I have to take another's word for; 'ceptin' in me own case, grace afforded like a coin stuck up me nose from God knows where and the change comin' from every orifice that the dear Lord give me, 'ceptin' me mouth. I seen it so in the mirror on numerous occasions, includin' t'night.
No, there ain't a story comin' atcha yet, for it ain't right. I'm tellin' ye I don't know until time when it's time. The way it's supposed to be, humility bein' what it is an' all.
I could tell ye stories: me own and ones I heard, but I'm not as much interested in much more than I wish to remember but cain't, that and forgittin’s close kin, what ain't come to me yet. Mind you, not to be confused with me neighbor, Mr. Ain't Happenin’ T’all. (There's a fella. To be sure.) So what the hell!
When I's a lad, me and a buddy found a Ball jar, the lid holdin' back a black fluid an' somethin' of a bird's beak 'n' feathers'd smudged up against the glass when you shook it. Found it out back his neighbor's yard, we did. Cracked the lid a tad and the innards stank like a man lettin' go enough stomach blood to patch a two-lane come summer.
Now, where's the story in that? Nowheres 'cept in your questions! Always a good start for a teller. The rest is figurin' out how an onion gets all them layers. You know: which way's it get bigger? In or out?
Well, I'm out and I guess that makes ye in, don't it? 'S a joke, lad. Learnt a few tricks there from me nephew. Had 'im here just the once, on his way through to lord knows where. Stayed a month. Slept a lot at first. Said 'is dreams was most important time of day, workin' through some mighty fierce last few years. Aye, the pressures of wakin'.
He's a smart one, tho'. Hard worker too, when he's awoke. Split wood all day, givin' me his views on all sorts of stuff; but mostly on the way his world works.
Speakin' of such, did ye ever wonder about that poet, Wordsworth? I figure a name like that and him bein’ a poet, it’s got to be a stage name, 'ceptin' I know'd a guy last name of Scandal and seemed he done everything he could to make it so.
Anyways, about me nephew, I'd be list'nin' while he'd be choppin'. He'd take a breather now and then and out'd come somethin' like "Willingness to give everything you've got to a relationship, whether it be casual conversation or something akin to the intimacy in a solid marriage, is inseparably linked to our ability to contribute to the improvement of people and their lives.” Darned if I know right off what he’s sayin’ so I’d ask him to repeat hisself. That’s how I come to remember, just in case you’re wondering how deep a contrivance I’s gonna weave for ya.
Then he'd commence to choppin' again. Put up a log. Whomp! And as he's reachin' for another, out'd come, "If such improvement requires great complexity of thought, I am willing to put forth the effort." Whack!
An’ then some more: "I am unwilling to invest much in ideas that seem to do nothing but intensify the confusion, just as I am unwilling to invest in ideas that smugly claim to provide easy answers to every question." Whack!
"Both extremes are destructive, for the fanatics do evil, while the
confused allow it to continue." Whack!
"The path of wisdom must enable both thought and action." Whack!
"We cease to think when we refuse to do so under the constraint of language. I think Derrida said that." Whack!
On it'd go. And I gotta tell ya, at first I had absolutely no idea what he's talkin' about. ‘Cept it sounded so good. I'd figured I might ask him to talk it out for me later, but then come the accident.
A log split funny. Took a hard curve and the ax ended up in his left foot. Split his boot and the foot clean through, next to the big toe, right on up to his ankle, it did. Put him in the truck with his foot on ice in a five gallon bucket and run him up the hospital. Bucket was purt'near full of blood by the time we got there. I give the doctors some of me own blood at the hospital just in case. But they sewed his foot up good as new. Never hit a bone. Kept 'him about a week after that.
When I went in to fetch him, somethin'd come over him. He’s different. ('Spectin' that wa'n't ye? Well, I wadn't.) Didn’t notice right away. Come upon it later, sittin' around the house, talkin'.
It come to me when I figured to ask him about all that talkin' 'fore the accident. I'd tell him what he'd said, like, "Willingness to give everything you've got to a relationship, whether it be casual conversation or something akin to the intimacy in a solid marriage, is inseparably linked to our ability to contribute to the improvement of people and their lives."
And he finished it, but don’t ask me how I come to remember all this. He said, "Remember, dear Uncle, that I also said, 'If such improvement requires great complexity of thought, I am willing to put forth the effort.' Well, I read all that somewhere, and thought about it some more. Who says I've got to make people improved? And with that, what responsibility do I have to a conversation unless there is a reciprocity, an equitabilty that automatically renders a hierarchy, implied or overlooked, moot?
"Not that I can't see giving a homeless person a few bucks or helping a family fix their car so they can get to and from a pathetically paid job. No sir; example is how we improve each other's live. Not looking down on another. By putting a conjunction between people and their lives, a subtle distinction is made that should not be there. Words might make someone feel better but I'm not counting on an upgrade of the human race as I escalate my own standards. For if I involve myself in complex thoughts, then I'd better figure out a way to neutralize the game of catch-up. There's a world of difference between wanting to improve someone else's lot in life and wanting to improve someone, though I have surely been guilty of the latter — oftentimes, I'm sure, without even knowing it."
Well, I’s already in deep and mightily confused, so I goes ahead and asks him, "What about: 'I am unwilling to invest much in ideas that seem to do nothing but intensify the confusion, just as I am unwilling to invest in ideas that smugly claim to provide easy answers to every question.'?"
"Read that, too. How'd you come to remember all of that stuff? Must be in the genes, eh?
"I've got to admit, I'm mostly confused. But the way I figure it, you've got to start from somewhere. I store up confusion like pennies in a Ball jar. I'll fill a jar till there's a mound above the mouth, about to overflow, and then I'll find a quarter in a coat I wore last winter to top it off. Now I've got buying power! Somehow these two things go together, occur because of one another: an intentional act, the submission to the jar, and an act long forgotten that comes back to help in some small but efficient way. Makes it easier, less embarrassing to take the jar into the bank to get some solid dollars. The need for certitude starts at the CertiSaver because no matter how hard I try to pin down an idea, it changes; slips away on more thought."
That's how I come to remember that jar me and me friend found and I says, "Seems to me the feller ye got that stuff from'd be mighty sorry to hear you’re not so sure as ye once was."
"And he would be glad to hear me recite him, rote? The same guy also said, 'The path of wisdom must enable both thought and action.' Note he said 'of wisdom,' not 'to wisdom. There's the difference. I am cynical to the point of faith, dear uncle."
So I asks 'im next, "Was it that Derrida fellow said all that?"
"No. It was one of his acolytes. Derrida might have said, 'We cease to think when we refuse to do so under the constraint of language (semi-colon); even we are coming to doubt if this limitation is indeed a limitation.' Funny, that semicolon; but important.
"What makes language a limitation? Its inability and concurrent desire to achieve a tangible cessation, like Truth (capital ‘t’). What makes us begin to doubt that there is limitation to language? Wanting to have the last word on death.
"Prayer is a response to doubt, dear uncle; conceit is not."
I told the boy that's the first thing he'd said that I out an' out understood. I know'd from experience that's there's plenty of things no matter how much thinkin' upon, there's no figurin' out 'til somethin' smacks me upside the head ... out the blue. All I had to do with it was bein' there with all me questions at-the-ready, the gun loaded and laid up in the corner by the door.
Sure there's those that'd say it was all them questions that let me see what it was I needed to see, and I's got t'agree there; but it wa'n't the questions that made that Thankgivin' goose fly right over me head with all that big empty sky. Get me meaning?
Seems to me there's a point a trail of questions just gotta stop, even so's some new ones can take they’s place, and maybe later the answers'd all pile up again in the shape of new questions. Maybe not. Don't know 'til then; but that not knowin', if ye think on it a bit, might be the way all it keeps goin'.
Me nephew then tells me that I'd pretty much covered it all right there. And as by now he's gettin' around good on the crutches, the next day he leaves. Got a postcard from Seattle, Japan, and the other day one from New York City. I’ll show 'em to ye.
Like I said, I remember all of this. I ain't got no excitin' stories just now. Important to let ye know. Know ye'd like ye a good one folks'll read.