Friday, January 06, 2006

Compassion is the Hardest Thing.

More and more I realize that I am at least two separate people; more likely a small family living in a building with a long slow curve like the earth and primarily composed of studio apartments. Then again, these phenomena may be much more common and just aren’t recognized as such. Some schools of thought tell us these voices are parts of ourselves. Some schools of thought tell us it matters less where these voices come from and more how we manage them.

Until I recognized that these were distinct voices, regardless of their origin, I used to get into trouble with the line police on the grid. One of my voices is more than a little bit sure that these authorities are less concerned with my safety and the safety of others than they are about control. He should know, he’s been outside the lines many times. He’s been outside the lines so far on occasion that there were no lines to be seen. Another voice is less concerned with making a point out of this argument to the other line-walkers and the line-herders. He prefers to appear to be walking within the parameters while actually being at some distance from them. He’s the guy that wears the t-shirt, with the controversial writing on it, under his jumper.

In order to discuss and understand this properly we will have to assume that there is yet another voice that is contemplating and writing about these two voices. It may be that this is not a person as much as it is a neutral corner and that either of these two voices; dressed the same in this particular instance, will move in and out of that field for the purpose of speech. They may not seem all that dissimilar in this case because there’s a thoughtfulness taking place that is generally the home province of only one of the voices. So they may appear more alike than usual.

We can think of voice #1 as passion and voice #2 as reason but that is overly simplistic. It is more defining to say that they are combinations of each other and that #2 has a better understanding of #1 than #1 does of himself. In reverse we could say #2 has a better understanding of himself than #1 does of #2. Certainly there are other voices besides these but we’ll let that go for now. Otherwise this will turn into a numbers game and be more confusing than it needs to be for the purpose of this exercise. We’ll call the neutral corner The Witness. He’s two kinds of a voyeur without any thoughts or feelings on the matter. One critical addition and then we are off and on our way; the conversation between #1 and #2 often drown out the most important voice which is a synthesis of them both but which naturally precedes the two. This voice is the softest voice; best heard when the other two are asleep or making Love.

#1 knows that there are things which are wrong. He is convinced of the existence of injustice and he feels that if he doesn’t say something he is culpable for the crime. #2 knows that injustice appears to exist but only within a limited segment of time. #2 knows that, somehow, the scales always come into balance and that it is just a matter of seeing the problem to participate in the solution.

Both of these voices are quite strong. #2 has for a long time let #1 run. Possibly he thought #1 might exhaust himself and thereby come into balance too. Unfortunately, or fortunately, as the case may be, #1 is tireless. He operates off of heavy fuel and can burn until the composition of all substance and time has melted away. That is a very long time indeed. He may come and go like the tides and in both the tides and the waves continue until every rock has become a handful of sand. Somewhere on that measureless beach The Witness lets the sand run through its fingers over and over again. There is no one else to be seen.


Ariel Sharon is no more, one way or the other. Soon enough he and everyone like him will be gone and then will have returned under a different name. The spectacle itself may migrate and mutate but there can hardly be a spectacle without players and their dramas and agendas, as history shows and Shakespeare has so eloquently displayed.

#1 wanted to take the song “Big Bad John” and change the lyrics; calling the song “Big Bad Sharon” “Every morning at the Knesset you could see him arrive. He stood 5’7 and weighed 265.” and like that ...and it would have brought in the miners too, because it is a miner’s song. #1 thought it would be funny and fierce at the same time and it would serve as a eulogy for contrast to all of the hypocritical eulogies that arrive when they praise famous men. #2 might have called him “a fellow of infinite jest.” and then said no more because there was no more that would have been polite. #2 is polite, #1 is not.

Is either of them entirely right or wrong? Certainly neither one is comprehensive. Our limited definitions seldom contain, cannot contain, the whole of the circle. We cannot see around corners and so ‘shit’ is only shit and not the food of flowers or the appetizing feast; changing in that moment once again.

#1 is outraged that he will be called a man of peace. #1 can see the empty promise of a small thing given with a larger theft the actual result. #1 sees a small boy given an apple in order to distract him while his bicycle is stolen. #2 says, “That is the nature of the world, this world, my friend.” #1 doesn’t like it and he rages against the hypocritical garments of false testimony. He sees the crime lords arranged about the coffin. #2 knows they will soon follow. The Witness never says a word. Someone is speaking but he goes unheard.

The problem really is the life #1 creates for himself. It is also a problem for #2 who is often confused with #1 because of the noise. #2 is suspect when #1 goes into flames. Still, this is life. This is the spectacle. This is the conundrum of everything said and done and misunderstood by everyone watching their proxies on the stage. It is as if those who deceive us the most are most defended by the ones deceived purely for the convenience of the mechanics of the thing. Somehow the idea of prominence lends gravitas to fools. It is in the encouragement of new life to an old order that the greatest crime is committed. Whatever life teaches us it seems that the power of the lesson is directed to another stage around a corner that we cannot see.

It appears that #2 has prevailed here. #2 does not always prevail. Number #1 is not always wrong. It is just the life and the kicks and the softer moments out of sight. We must go on. Mercifully we forget. To forget and to dream anew; washed in tears and bathed in blood, the horrible echoes recede. In every life someday, Rick Blaine and Victor Lazlo take that walk and a beautiful friendship begins. Until that day the protagonists move in and out of view on their way to some wonderful sacrifice that is the better part of all they have said and done. It isn’t always easy being #1.

All the Mistakes


Visible said...

I wish there were a feature here in the comments section where I could leave a permanent message for those who visit. Often I receive messages here from visitors and, in the interest of politeness, I should answer.

However, it gets strange doing all of that in this format. I know the difficulties I experience in less kind formats where I attempt to accomplish this.

So let me say again- and I will endeavor to leave this with every post now- if you want to hear back from me or communicate with me, please send me an email and I will answer you. I'm not going to do it here. I do read everything here, sooner or later, but I would rather, for my own reasons, not answer here.



Anonymous said...

My goal is to merge my identity fully into the Witness. All my #1s, 2s, 3s, etc. are too fickle and fragile; at best they are clouds in the sky. On the other hand, the Witness is objective. It's the dispassionate observer. If the #1s & #2s are the clouds, the Witness is the sky, unaffected by anything and complete in and of itself. That's the place I want to live my life from.


Justoffal said...

Hey Mr.Les...

A stirring rendition of Big bad Sharon might not be such a bad addition to the Critical list songs.

Anonymous said...

I am certainly a fan of (voice) #1.
He commands my full attention. And even though #2's existence is required there will always be most critical work for #1, all of the time, forever. Nothing (in the world of 'man') is beyond the scrutiny of #1. #1 is never wrong. It's just the degree of outrage that varies eg. trembling or bursting into flames. I feel that the understanding of the work that voice #1 performs, helps voice #2 in its decisions and it is unfortunate that the 'neutral corner' must be there at all. It is 'The Witness' that says nothing condemning us to forgetfulness. Condemning us to come across the same 's--t' time and time again.
I AM a fan of voice #1.



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