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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Prelog: October 31 2018

“Tomorrow’s the big day,” I said to myself. Actually, I didn’t just say it. I just thought it. Technically, I didn’t just think it. I thought it a few moments ago. And, technically, that isn’t exactly what I thought, but it is similar. And technically, I thought it a few moments before I wrote the first sentence in this paragraph, a day before I wrote this one while editing and weeks, months or years before you read it. Let’s not get too technical. If we get too technical, I’ll never get this paragraph finished, much less this section, much less the whole book. And you’ll never get to read it. So let’s agree that I’m not going to be too technical. I’ll just say that I thought that or something kind of like that, at some time, and wrote it in dialog form. And let’s leave it at that.
The point is that everything is always different from the way you say it is, and everything is different than it seems. You can never write things or say things that are exactly, precisely true. And the more you try to make them accurate the more confusing things get. As you can see. It’s all metaphor. It points to what might be true, but it isn’t true. OK?
Back from the moment of editing to the moment of writing.
I wrote that and my mind erupted in a cacophony of thoughts. (It wasn’t a cacophony. More like a confusion. I think I used the wrong word. But cacophony is the way it seemed at the time and the way that I wrote it before I got around to editing it. They are both metaphors for what really happened and whether it was a cacophony or just confusion is a detail that doesn’t matter. You get the picture. I hope.
So my mind erupted in whatever. I did my best to calm my mind. I was writing, longhand, in a notebook. I’m concentrating on the tip of my pen as it traces out these words. Or rather the words that I wrote in the notebook, not these words that I’m editing. As I’m editing, I’m watching my fingers type, trying to keep my mind calm. As you are reading, you are doing what? Take a look?
So a confusion of thoughts. The thoughts are all vying for my attention. Or so it seemed.
“One at a time,” I said to…what? Myself? My thoughts? The voices in my head?
I took a moment after I wrote the words after I [originally] wrote the words “I took a moment…:” to calm… what? Calm myself? Calm my mind? Calm my thoughts?
“ We don’t need calming,” came a thought, or a voice in my head, or someone, or something. What was that? It wasn’t me, exactly. I didn’t plan to think that thought or write the words. I didn’t plan or intend to write the words that are just now appearing and explaining my lack of a plan.
That’s the thing I want to point out. These words just appear. I sit in front of a notebook with pen in hand or I sit in front of a computer with a document open and fingers poised and words appear. They just appear.
To the extent that “I” do anything, I sit down and get ready.
“But you did intend to be writing,” said something.
“Yes, I did,” I answered. Or something answered on my behalf. See? It’s happening. The words are just appearing. I was writing, and thinking, and observing as I wrote and I thought. But I was not making the words. I was watching them and occasionally thinking about them. And sometimes stopping their flow—I think I was doing that. But the words had their own life. They poured out. Why? Because I wanted them to pour out? Because they wanted to pur out.
“What now?” Came a question. (Complete with a question mark, I noticed without having been aware of typing it.)
“ I don’t know.” came an answer.
It was true. I didn’t know. I didn’t know as I was writing. I don’t know now as I am editing. Or then as I was editing, because I’m not editing any more. don’t think anyone knows.
If you know, let me know.
Writing is a kind miracle, I thought or maybe something in my mind thought. So is much of life. We take it for granted.
“Let me explain,” something else said.
“ Who are you?” I asked. (Or maybe something asked on my behalf.)
“Call me The Explainer,” it said. “Or just Explainer. I’m the part of you that explains things to you. I do it all the time to help you think that you understand things,” The Explainer explained.
“OK,” I said. It seemed reasonable. “So explain.”
“ Let’s start with what’s indisputable. We have to start with the indisputable because this is going to get pretty weird, pretty fast.”
(“It’s already pretty weird,” someone or something said, long after the fact.)
“Okay,” I said. “What’s indisputable?”
“What is indisputable is that right now someone or something is writing these words. I’m not going to say that it’s you that’s writing the words. Because you is a pretty complex thing and we could argue all day about what you mean when you refer to you. I’m just saying something is writing them. Or someone. Okay so far?”
“Yes,” said the pretty complex thing that it could be argued that I was.
“No,” said something else. “I dispute that. What you have said is not indisputable. I will proceed to prove it, as follows:
“Something that is indisputable cannot be disputed.
“I am disputing it.
“Therefore it is not indisputable.
It was sound reasoning as far as I could tell and I might have said that the logic was indisputable, but I’d just learned how easily someone could easily dispute something that had been declared indisputable.
“I dispute that statement on other grounds as well,” continued whoever had disputed the statement.
“Explain that,” ask The Explainer. (“Technically,” it added parenthetically, “I should be doing the explaining, being The Explainer. But I have no idea what the other grounds might be. Although I do acknowledge that the point has been demonstrated.)
“You wrote this differently in the draft,” said someone. I was transcribing the handwritten draft to Google Docs and it was pointing out that I’d broken the flow of the original. “Are you going to get back to the original version? You need a transition, and I don’t see how you can make a smooth transition.
A pause in the flow of typing. You, reading, might pause also. Or not.
“Maybe,” a voice continued “if I ask, non-sequitur, ‘Did you do that for rhetorical purposes or as a literary device?’ Someone can say ‘Which is it?’ and we’re kind of back on track. It’s a clumsy transition, but it’s the best I can come up right now.
“No objections?” Asked the voice. There were plenty, but I pretended there were none. “Which is it?” Continued the voice. “For rhetorical purposes or as a literary device?”
“Stop!” I said. “Just stop! This is becoming too confusing. This is madness.”
“I’ll say,” said something.
“You just said,” said something else.
“Let’s get back to the original objection,” something tried to helpfully resegue.
“Dispute,” came a correction. “I just looked back. Nothing objected. Something disputed.”
“I could object,” someone said.
“STOP!” I shouted in all caps. Or maybe it wasn’t me. This is the way the mind that I call my own seems to work. And maybe I should not call it my own. It seems to be not just my own, but perhaps I’m an even more complex thing than I think I am.
“Whatever or whoever said ‘I dispute that’ please explain.”
“Certainly,” said whatever or whoever had said ‘I dispute that.’ Hereinafter The Disputant.
“ I disputed the phrase ‘right now someone or something is writing these words.’”
“Because the phrase ‘right now someone or something is writing these words’ is manifestly false because ‘Is writing’ is false. They have been written in the past. When the phrase ‘right now’ is read it must, in the reader’s mind, refer to right now—the moment that the reader is reading.
“If the phrase was changed to “a while ago someone or something had written these words” it would have been true from the reader’s perspective, but false from the writers.
“It’s quite difficult, perhaps impossible to write something about something that is being written that is both true at the time of writing and true at the time of reading. The statement ‘Athens existed thousands of years ago.’ The statement “This paragraph starts with the words ‘It’s quite difficult’ is true when it is written and when it is read.
“But statements about a sentence, within a sentence, are problematic. The problem comes from self-reference.
“And further, the phrase ‘these words’ is problematic since it refers to other words than themselves. So ‘those words’ might be better.”
“Those seem like reasonable objections,” said someone.
“Sorry, but they are not objections. They are grounds for dispute,” said the disputant.
“I stand corrected,” said someone.
“But you’re not standing,” said someone else.
“STOP!!!!” I said. It was my hand that was doing the writing and my mind doing the thinking. So you might think that thinking that thought would stop my hand. But it didn’t.
I have some power over myself. But didn’t know and still don’t know, how much power I had or have or could have or could have had over this continually escalating and complexifying dialogue but it did seem to me then and now that I had a little power.
“ ‘Seem’ is the right word,” someone said. “But things are not as they seem. I think that was pointed out earlier in this dialog or essay or whatever it is. And according to Google ‘things are not as they seem’ has been written on the web more than 3 million times already”
“Enough!” I said. “I’m going to stop writing. I’ll have breakfast, and then transcribe What I have written and start a new section later if nobody minds.”
“ I mind,” someone said.
“I’ll do it even if somebody minds,” I said. “I do have the power to stop writing.”
And I stopped writing.

“No you didn’t,” something pointed out. “And you still have not stopped.”

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