Thought Experiment As Performed At A Desk (Feb.4.2021)
Proposition One: The process of being, definition as observation.
Everything existing in time is in process; it has no definition, because definition, in the way that language, as it is, works, is a stopping-point. It preserves an image, an instant, that no longer exists, outside of this image you have made. What you have now is not the thing you have captured, but the image of the thing.
You can never know every piece of it at once. There are questions you cannot ask together. Without observation, what is there that exists? Nothing, maybe. Not empty, but just not there. Not any thing, the possibility of things. The moment of the undefinable. Expand the experiment. Not two places at once, but all places.
When I am not looking at what my blood is doing, it can be doing anything. But other bits of my blood are looking, and so they all do what we believe they should. I look at the aloe vera plant in front of me, behind my computer screen. Light entering my eyes. Moment after moment. The leaves are variegated, lighter spots in the dark green. Parts are shining under the desk lamp. Waves of light entering my eyes. I am observing the light, I am observing the plant, I am watching them take in every color of light. I am watching them give me green. I am watching them give me green. Spitting it out. Gifting. Process of elimination. I know that it is eating. It is giving to me light, its leftovers, and air, its discard. I am breathing, and this is happening. I am writing it, and it has stopped happening, and it has not stopped happening.
Let us take observation away from the eye.
Proposition Two: Touch, the real, ungrounding.
Let us touch. Go on, try. We do and we don’t. There’s never a point of contact between particles, but the forces they emit, the magnetic waves, that simulates that contact, that is all contact. An intersection of forcefields. Action, reaction. I am observed by my desk at a million points along my forearms. It is very hard to be unobserved.
"There is always someone in the forest," Terry Prachett wrote.
In my ears, there are vibrations of sound. That is touch, too. Hearing is interpretation of observation. Parts in my computer are moving, signals transmitted, originally there were instruments. There was the air between the violin and microphone. I am hearing the echoes of that observation. It was real. It is not. It was. It was.
We use the word touch liberally. Let us use it. I like the words affect and affective, but my ties to touch lie in its versatility, and that for myself it is hard to separate my physical and my affective body--feelings sit in parts of me quite clearly. Stories, words, poems are the easiest to name. Some things in my ribs. Some things at my throat. It is not always a gut feeling, when I have “gut feelings”. It is often higher. Often bonier. I don’t know why.
Any thing is something you have a relation to. It is something you are affected by, are touched by. Are observed by. It is easy to understand why empty is the word that people like to use. No connection, no relation. No ground with which to form a body. Nothing to be not. Observation creating edges. Myself and matter-not-myself. Matter that myself is touching. Matter that touches myself, that makes a self of me.
In my own Faerieland, before faerie are made, they are not. They are nothing. The instant of Naming and becoming are simultaneous. By having Name, there is a division between the substance of Faerieland and this new self. It has no matter, but a Name is enough. A Name is enough. I always call it tearing. It is never a gentle thing.
Proposition Three: Telling the stories again and again and again.
Motion is the only thing that is safe. We will all arrive somewhere, but as long as we are moving, we are not stopped. If language kills, repetition revives. It keeps things in stasis; narrative creating a new time, a new moment of superposition. We tell stories again and again, because while we are in the telling, the ending is unsure. It is unsure because it does not exist. The story is in process, it is in motion. It keeps going. It ends, but if we start again, it can end differently. It might not, but the point is not the difference, it’s the motion. It’s the motion.
We ask things again and again, because we know the answer, but in the asking, we are putting another electron through. We are closing our eyes, we are looking and not, we are trying, each time, each time, to see it in both places. To know it is in both places, that both outcomes have come true, even if the end is not any different. Even if the end is not any different. There is a moment between asking and answering, that edge of what is real, that edge that makes things real and unreal, separates and creates.
The musical Hadestown rests at the bottom edge of my right shoulder blade, and in my ankles. “It’s an old song / But we’re gonna sing it again // … // It’s a sad song / But we sing it anyway.” Again, and again, and again. I am looking at the aloe vera plant. It is giving me green. My desk is real, it presses up against my leg. I am writing a story. I am writing a story.
Mitchell, Anaïs. Hadestown.
Prachett, Terry. Small Gods.