Brud and La: Certain Things to Be What They Are Have to Be Messed With

Brud: Good to see you, La.  What brings you to CVS?

La: I am buying dental floss and also reflecting upon the nature of things.

Brud: How goes it with those two activities of yours?

La: As for the first — pretty well.  I have elected to get the store-brand floss to save money and to avoid flavoring, since I prefer the cleanly flossed taste of a healthy mouth, and if I end up tasting my own blood due to untreated gingivitis that will simply spur me to more dilligent flossing in future.

Brud: That sounds like a sound decision.  Does a similar soundness apply to your reflections, or do they cause you more trouble?

La: I am afraid they cause me more trouble, because I am puzzled by the old puzzle, namely: how can I know what the world is like?

Brud: I guess the ordinary means of sensing it and thinking about it seem insufficient to you?

La: They do.  It strikes me that my senses only tell me about the world as it is when I sense it, and my thinking only tells me about the world once it has been mangled by the crushing and slicing of my very partial and biologically determined and passionate thought. What to do?

Cashier: Do you have a CVS card?


Brud: It occurs to me that your assumption is that the way things are is the way they are before they have been messed with.  Pristine and intact.

La: I so assume.

Brud: And this assumption is far from correct.

La:You astonish me.  How so?

Brud: Your teeth are not as they truly are unless you brush and floss them.  Your teeth only get to be healthy teeth — which is their true and proper estate — if you mess with them, bother them, and interfere with them.  Similarly a human infant left alone to its own devices does not become human.  Rather it swifty maddens, then perishes.  To flourish, it needs to be cuddled and cooed at, fed and fondled, in short — interfered with.

La: A paradox, Brud, is it not?  These things only are what they are when we change them into something different?

Cashier: (HANDING HIM RECEIPT) You have five dollars off your next purchase.

La: Great.

Brud: It is a paradox when you state it like that, but once you apply the flossing and brushing of your care to it you see that it is eminently sensible.  The world without our interference is no world at all.  If we add our vigorous jostling it grows into a world; and if not, not.


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