Wednesday, April 22, 2020

From Poets v. Crystals (WiP)

Bun was making a list of things to tell his younger self. He would get his chance this afternoon.

He wrote: "Haircuts and shaving."

He wrote: "'Jump' older."

He thought about it, and added: "(in 'jumps')."

Bun checked the time weather on his phone. It looked like he would only get one chance.

And added: "Sleeps, food, sick."

Bun scratched his moustache. These words did not yet capture his real point, which was how shaving his face or cutting his hair always made him appear more youthful in the mirror, but youthful by a different and unpredictable increment with every shave and haircut. It was through this invisible steady progress forward and variable 'jumping' back that change revealed itself. He thought this would be useful for his younger self to know, not exactly for itself, but for some vaguer truth toward which it gestured.

Or try a different metaphor. Life considered as a whole, Bun now knew, was like those sicknesses which compose so many of its most vibrant and vital episodes. As you wrestle in your sweats, you do not continually feel yourself worsening and strengthening. Despite all its nowness, the unbearable immanence of illness, still you must always wait for something, for the next big update, as with any news cycle, you must scroll aimless in yourself till your body holds its press conference, till your body comes out to face the cameras at some significant juncture, after a meal, a sip, a dream, a care-giver's visit, the moment you step outdoors, bed time, and change of the temperature.

This advice, which even grown-up Bun struggled to express to himself, would probably not be much fun for young Bun. Yet why not? Why not teach oneself things one doesn't even know oneself? To teach yourself something you already know feels like a waste. The boy had more time to decide what to do with this shimmering and fragmentary understanding. More time to be free of it.

What was 'advice' anyway? A form of something else? Education. Instruction. Seduction. Warning. Care. Or could advice be a thing-in-itself? And if a thing-in-itself, then is advice to be found only in some places, or is it available everywhere, like space and time? Do all things give ample guidance, if only you can bear to read it? A severed head. A game of Chess. Do they emanate advice? Should Bun perhaps say nothing, only smile gently and give himself a slow, solemn nod?

Bun had a go at the nod.

Bun crossed out "Haircuts and shavings."

Why did advice come in pieces? Pieces of what? Was something being torn apart?

Bun wrote down, "Men so beautiful but beauty up-side-down" and crossed it out immediately, as if the long line of the strike-through were just the final letter of the final word.

He checked the time weather on his phone.

Later that day -- but also forty years earlier on the beach at Tsutsumigaura -- Bun was feeling a little crestfallen at how the encounter had unfolded. Sensing time's ticklish arms gathering him up to carry him to where he belonged, Bun suddenly remembered the list!

Hastily uncrumpling the blurred scratchings and strike-throughs, Bun bellowed across the luminous gusting grey-green sands to his skinny naked seven-year-old self, as he scampered and plunged in the white-capped blue-black billows: "Haircuts and hairballs! Jumps older to jumps! Sleeps and foods and sicks! I'm old you!"

And snapped right back to now.

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