Is That Clear?

“We find those ideas clear that reflect the same degree of confusion as our own.” said Marcel Proust, and he was obviously right.

Because clear means what exactly? Clear glass so we can see the thing behind it?

But if everything were perfectly clear we couldn’t see anything at all! There’d be nothing behind the clarity to see clearly!

People like clear gem stones but this is childish. People mock mud but they eat the food that grows in it.

Sometimes instead of clear we say — clearly articulated. You can tell where the little pieces start and where they end and how they go together. It’s a clear argument we say and mean — I know what the premises are, and what is supposed to imply what. It is not tricking me with ambiguity — I know how to take this thing apart and put it back together. I have control over it, it has no control over me.

That murky thing draws me in and makes me want to clarify it. It’s muddy and it makes the muddy stuff from the bottom of my mind rise up and make my own mind unclear.

But imagine two ponds. One of them is so unusually clear that it lets us see a starfish at the bottom. We think the starfish is ten feet down. But it is really a thousand feet down. The clear pond was deceptive. The muddy pond was the one we could trust. We couldn’t see more than ten feet — we didn’t know what was at the bottom of it.

And that was right!


Turbid and Superfluous Lawyer Who Lived in an Abalone Shell in the Park

There was an extremely turbid and superfluous lawyer who was kicked out of his home by his father and mother who were both judges and went to live in an abandoned abalone shell in the park by the swingset. At first he could not stop crying, but he was a clever young man and put this to good use by crying during his legal depositions which turned the hearts of the young lady judges in his favor and they awarded him and his clients seven hundred and seventy and three pots of jam made from a fruit that had gone extinct the previous year and therefore was quite valuable. He retired into the egg chamber of an ant colony deep below the city and devoted himself to composing epic poetry using only eight letters of the alphabet and this poetry was so beautiful and affecting and profound and melodious that the people in the neighborhood elected to give him a cup of tea every afternoon of the first day of every third month until they forgot which they did immediately.

When he was very, very old and his skin had the taste and consistency of fruit leather the young people gathered round and said “why don’t you use the other letters” and he replied

You know, I really should!


New Kinds of Music

The music of insects with human minds but an insect sense of rhythm, and the reverse.

Music where the measure is billions of years long.

Music where the measure is shorter than the shortest period of time the brain can perceive.

Music of different varieties of silence, composed entirely of rests. The rest of anxiety versus the rest of repose, the rest after the cessation of a drum versus the rest in anticipation of a trumpet.

Music which spans an entire life time the first note being the baby’s howl the last the old man’s sigh.

The music of light, of touch, of smell.

Music from languages whose meaning derived entirely from music, the songs therein being a counterpoint of meaning against meaning. Music in contrast which is entirely free of pitch, whose melody derives from the rough texture of words when their literal meaning is subtracted.

The song of emotions not yet felt.