Saturday, November 15, 2008

The paint isn't dry...

...so please, be careful where you step.

I wrote myself into a corner...and you might well ask, "What color was your prose?"

Umber. In name it is noble with a foundation of humility.

I thought what better use can I make of this chill rainy Saturday morning alone in the house but to write. For the past couple of days a reoccurring thought had been pestering me. In this time of comfortable solitude I was intent on bringing this errant concept-thread to the page. I furrowed my brow, set my jaw and ... took myself way to seriously.

To start I would employ the convention of an illustrative quote ...

I DO NOT WANT WHAT I HAVEN'T GOT
- Sinead O'Connor*

The quote would adequately speak to my central theme but I was immediately concerned about the social and political overtones implied by citing this particular author. I was determined to move forward but only after adding the "*" and disclaimer.

This poetic turn of phrase might be interpreted in this manner: 'If I do not have it I do not want it.' Regardless of the version offered the allusion still remains. Meaning is not conveyed by the statement but by the framing of the 'negative' space.

That's right, I am going to write about talking about something that is by virtue of it's not being.

I recently encountered a situation in which extreme disappointment was expressed regarding unfulfilled expectations. Frequently such dissatisfaction is a result of high expectations - unrealistic goals and objectives and the resultant failure to achieve them. Often there are clearly defined metrics for evaluating such circumstances. Examples might include not scoring a winning touchdown against a better team. Or not receiving the 'expected' bid for a sale item being auctioned.
Unfulfilled expectations ... something that is by virtue of it's not being. Yes, I felt the concentric rings of circuitous ambiguity beginning to constrict. Yet I felt compelled to push on.

Other expectations are less quantifiable. John laments, "My life didn't turn out the way I had expected." The man, John, married his sweetheart, started a family, raised 3 good children, was well employed, lived a long life in a modest home and still his life didn't turn out the way he had expected. While this example is a bit forced it serves as a point of reference when exploring the 'negative' space of expectations.

Well, I have made my premise. Now I should be made to lay down in it. I have drawn you, gentle reader, down this rat rabbit hole with promises of lucidity and insight (I can hear the Red Queen in the background, "Off with his head!")

John's expectation references the negative space of his life while discounting or dismissing his life in situ. John did not endure 3 messy divorces, 2 blended families, being layed-off (twice) or declaring bankruptcy...

Wait, wait, this isn't at all what I expected! There was to be a clearly defined conclusion with a pertinent observation. At least that is what I expected ... when I started.

I was serious when I started. My brow was furrowed, my jaw was set... then I reread what I had written and began to giggle then laugh out loud. In the end the only thing to do was share the entire silly episode.

Gratuitous closing illustrative quote...
I was taken by a photograph of you
Fountain of Sorrow
- Jackson Browne

* I offer no criticism of Ms O'Connor's politics or beliefs. I chose this quote as a handy example of a linguistic illusion.

Read the head lemur

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