Reading is doing. Action! David Copperfield, the commercial magician, was motivated to take his stage name after reading David Copperfield. He identified with the character because he, like Dickens, had worked in a factory as a child. Of course, that isn’t true at all. He just liked the sound of the name. David Copperfield, the commercial magician, is a philistine.
Bob, the weekend woodcutter, chisels scenes of the nativity. He anonymously delivers them to the yards of well-known atheists during Advent. Resemblance is a system of thought and played a constructive role in knowledge in sixteenth-century culture: guiding exegesis and interpretation of texts, organizing the play of symbols, providing knowledge of things visible and invisible, and controlling representation. Infinite Jest, the postmodern novel by David Foster Wallace, is a work of word-stitching. The minute descriptive detail resembles the intricate stitching, millimeter by millimeter, of a life-sized embroidery of the exterior of an 1890s Victorian house; there are no rooms inside, nor are there any furnishings. It’s magnificent ornament disguising despair as vacuousness. Or, it’s purposeful meaninglessness disoriented by an aimless but desperate hunger for meaning.
Except, it isn’t those things. Creating a postmodern story is just a ruse to mask writing for the sake of writing just as a doily is a ruse for stitching for the sake of stitching. There were four articulations of resemblance: adjacency, emulation, analogy, and sympathy. No one knows why. I asked her and she said she knew. Who changes her name to “No one”? She did. The adjacency of places indicated that things touch and fringes intermingle.
Frogs have one goal in life: to become butterflies. They are a failed species. In terms of meeting goals, anyway. The problem originally occurred in the goal-setting phase of existence. The ongoing problem is adherence to the original goal. They are successful as a species in the sense that they continue to exist. That is decidedly unsatisfactory for frogs, though. They are unhappy with themselves as a species, but they continue trying. It could be said that they would cease to exist if they had an attainable goal. Movement, influences, passions, and properties were communicated. Thus, failure to achieve has been interpreted as the key to their survival.
Adjacency was also a sign of a relationship. Why wouldn’t it be? Fred thought he knew, but he was so distracted by the big things that he forgot to tie his shoes one morning then tripped and fell down the stairs. He has amnesia now and he’s happier than he’s ever been. Through adjacency, resemblance is connected with space in the form of a graduated scale of proximity. This gives rise to the proximal distal, though distal proximity is its mirror image. They’re the same, but the left is on the right and the right is on the left. Which means that they aren’t the same at all. Similitude. That’s a different concept, though. Getting the order of things correct has never been a specialty of mine. As a principle, I’m against order. Practically speaking, though, I use just enough order to make my eggs over easy. Hey, gotta eat, woman!
Were I to go to the moon I would no longer have a need for bleach. Adjacency also provided that the world is a universal convenience of things and linked the world together like a chain through relationships. Chain gangs were once convenient. I doubt being adjacent to a slave driver with a whip was fun, though. If I had been forced into labor like that I probably would have derided the concept and damned physics to hell. Silently, though. Mostly I’d be thinking I shouldn’t fall down or I’d get whipped horribly. Or maybe I’d try to figure out how to kill myself without being stopped before I could succeed. Is that the circle of life?
From circle to circle, resemblances were able to hold extremes apart while bringing them together in such a way that the will of God (the Almighty Unknown) could penetrate the unawakened corners of the world. It’s not easy to pass judgment on the unknown. Not with specificity, anyway. You could try, but I wouldn’t bother with you if you did. If you tried to tell me about it I would yawn before walking into traffic as fast as I could.
Greta was a philanthropist. So she said. Evidence of her good deeds were scarce and those that were discovered proved false upon examination. She had no respect for science and even less for truth. That’s what we all said about her. She suggested we agree to disagree. Given that all of us were born in the United States after 1990, we were unable to agree that we were disagreeing. Emulation was a sort of adjacency that had been freed from the law of place and, without motion, was able to function from a distance. Before we were frozen by inertia, the iPhone was invented and we forgot that yesterday existed.
I have undergone many surgeries. As such, it was a resemblance that needed no spatial contact. I see myself in you. Reflections and mirrors provided the means by which things scattered through the universe could answer one another. You accused me of harassment for staring too long and deeply at you, but I was really staring at myself … which I saw in you. Why are you blaming me from looking at myself … in you? It’s not my fault that you made yourself into an image of me. But you reply, “Oh, no! No, you made yourself into an image of me!”
Imitation throughout the universe, without connection and proximity made possible by duplication through mirrors, abolished distance proper to things and that allowed things to overcome the place allotted to them. I love words that begin with the letter “p.” “Pedantic” is a favorite of mine. I often consider myself a pedant, but only because the word begins with the letter “p.” I could write that the word begins with p, but I think writing “the word begins with the letter ‘p’” creates a more sufficient clarity.
What is the meaning of all of this? Can such a question be answered? Am I the only person who could answer such a question? Or should I leave that to the practitioners of literary criticism? Why does one question lead to so many others? The problem of emulation was the inability to determine which was the original image: which image is reality and which is projection? Don’t get me wrong; I could answer these questions. But to do so would require a tremendous amount of time and concentration. In fact, I believe it would feel like time in a concentration camp. Not in the Nazi sense of the word, but a camp designed to facilitate concentration. The question was ultimately incoherent because emulation was deemed a twinship existing in things. The two reflected images are not necessarily equal; one may be dominant and the other weaker with the weaker image receptive to the stronger influence of the dominant. A university, okay! I’m saying universities are concentration camps.
Speaking of meaning, I recently read that men prefer acknowledgment for their intentions and purposes while women prefer acknowledgment of their feelings. This was a statement made by a couples therapist in the early 2010s. He had been working with couples since the 1970s and, after some time, he noticed a pattern in the complaints of couples. Granted, these were apparently heteronormative couples. Through emulation, like envelops like. Who knows what the patterns of failing LGBTQ couples are. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough once therapists specialize in seeing lesbian, gay, and transgender couples. The links do not form a chain but a series of concentric circles reflecting and rivaling one another. And then there’s mixed couples, a transgendered person married to a cisgender male who is attracted only to transgendered persons.
Is there a name for that? A name for a cisgender man who is only attracted to transgendered persons? A lesbian is a woman attracted to women. Easy enough. A cisgender man attracted to transgendered persons, though? Is that a thing that happens? If it does then there must be a label for that category. There’s a label for everything now. Tied up in a little bow. Persons are like the firmament, but they are not bound to it. Their “inner sky” may remain autonomous and independent. Maybe not. Maybe the cisgender man attracted to transgendered persons will escape compartmentalization. On the other hand, that might not be so great for that guy. It’s got to be much harder to use computer dating services without having an acronym to let others know who he is and who he is wanting to date: “CGM/TP.” No one is going to know what the fuck that means unless they read what I’m writing. Even then, I’m not sure if anyone will know. I have no evidence of your reading comprehension skills, your tolerance for postmodern writing, or your ability to decipher absurdity and usefully apply it in your life.
I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Who knew doubts had benefits? Skeptics, for one. They live by doubt. Their entire metaphysical framework would collapse without doubt. Oddly enough, though, they may have the one conceptual framework that would make them happier if their worldview collapsed. After all, their lives would become filled with certainty! By means of knowledge and wisdom, persons come to resemble the order of the world by taking the world back within themselves and recreating their inner firmament in a manner that is similar to what is external.
There is more to say about that, but I want to return to the therapist’s notion that men crave acknowledgment for their intentions and purposes and women want acknowledgment of their feelings. As I said, this therapist was attempting to help heteronormative couples. So, okay, we’ll leave it at that and examine it as a fraction of humanity, a window into a specific Westernized socionormative dynamic within heterosexual couples and, I suppose, potential couples. If this occurs then the wisdom of the mirror will be reflected back to envelop the world, and persons will discover that they contain the stars within themselves, influencing what influences them. If that’s the case, it would be really simple to solve relationship difficulties.
For example, a woman applies for a job, but is rejected. She is disappointed and sad. Her partner, a heterosexual man, should not focus on how hard she tried or insist that she’ll do better next time. No, he should, according to the therapist, express that he is aware of how hurt she is by not getting the job, by being rejected in her attempt to be employed. He should open himself up to empathize with her so they can share her sadness together. This, according to the therapist, not only soothes the feelings of hurt, rejection, and loss, but also brings the couple closer together in a time of need, thus strengthening trust between them and the development of a firm belief that they can overcome difficulties and crises together.
On the other hand, a man applies for a job, but is rejected. This seems to be another twinship, but perhaps an infinite multitude of them. He is bitter, angry, and dejected. His partner, a heterosexual woman, should not focus on his feelings or talk about how disappointed he must feel. Within analogy, adjacency and emulation are superimposed. No, she should, according to the therapist, express that she is aware of how much work he put into trying to get the job, how impressive it is that he had the courage to make the attempt, and how proud she is of his dedication and determination. Analogy provides an endless number of relationships. This, according to the therapist, reinvigorates self-confidence, reaffirms a worldview that had been damaged, and helps the man feel that his partner believes in him, his values, his goals, and his purpose. Inversion is possible without rendering itself open to dispute. This leads to greater openness which brings the couple closer together, strengthening their bonds through trust, and creating a shared belief that they are there to support one another through difficulties and crises which, in turn, make the good times much more rewarding.
Earlier, I wrote about my love of words beginning with the letter “p.” Reversibility and polyvalency endow analogy with a universal field of application. There are so many incredible “p” words! How about “phrontist”? You can look up the definition using an online dictionary. There’s even another great “p” word used to describe the meaning of “phrontist.” All figures of the universe can be drawn together.
Yet, I am quite sad that there are so few words that begin with the letter “z.” It’s unfair. No, it’s not. Who applies the concept of justice to words beginning with certain letters? Besides, I’m referring to the English alphabet which is derived from a Latin alphabet. I’m not even sure if Sanskrit has an equivalent for the letter “z.” If it does, maybe there are tons of words that begin with the Sanskrit version of “z.” I don’t know. There is one privileged point in the universe: humanity. In the scheme of things, I don’t really care. Not now, anyway. Maybe I’ll care in the future. I’m not going to rule it out. My interests have changed over the years. There’s some give and take there.
But right now I don’t care. What interests me at this moment is why there are so few words beginning with the letter “z.” I am enamored with the letter. I mean, it’s not the letter “p,” but it’s in the next tier of importance just below it. I never realized it, but I have a hierarchical structure for the value of letters used to begin words. Even to my addled brain, that is very odd. Humanity is a fulcrum of relations and proportions. Until now, I never knew this structure existed. I could sit where I am and go through the alphabet to find out exactly where each letter used as a beginning of a word fits into a tiered ranking system of values. Huh.
Humanity is always the possible half of a universal atlas. The ancient Greeks seemed to have a thing for the letter “z.” Naming the most powerful god “Zeus” is an intriguing statement about the power inherent in the sound of the letter “z.” Of course, I don’t know the Greek alphabet or if the Greek word for “Zeus” is pronounced the same as it is in English. The space occupied by analogy is a space of radiation. I’ll pretend it does.
But there are far more “p” words and names in ancient Greek than “z” words. Pliny, Pythagoras, Pandora, Pegasus, Plato, and so on. Perhaps the Greeks recognized the power of the “z” sound and felt few words were worthy of beginning with that letter. Persons are surrounded by it on all sides, but, inversely, persons transmit these resemblances back into the world from whence persons receive them. I can respect that if it’s true. I doubt it’s true, but I am choosing to believe that it’s true so that my esteem for the ancient Greeks remains intact.
I doubt the same is true of the English-speaking world. What I mean is that I doubt that there have been few “z” words created because of a reverence for the sound the letter represents or for the aesthetic attractiveness of the visual symbol of the letter. I think it’s more a matter of laziness, neglect, and a distaste for imagination and creativity. Let’s look at the history of the English, okay? Persons are the center upon which relations are concentrated and from whence they are reflected. The English and those in English-speaking countries have long lived behind closed doors. Being creative and spontaneous on the street? That’s for the common man, not a man of distinguished tastes! No, there shan’t be any “zooming” or “zinging” or “zapping” as long as we’re British, by God and Queen!
Or something like that. Sympathy provides no predetermined path, no prescribed links, and no measured distances. Frankly, I don’t give a damn. Though paraphrased, it’s a famous line from the movie Gone with the Wind. I’m not sure about the novel of the same name. I’ve never read it. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen the movie. Sympathy plays through the universe in a free state and traverses the vastest spaces of the universe in an instant. I’ve seen a few scenes here and there; the only scenes I can remember seeing were clips from Gone with the Wind included in other movies. Simple contact can bring sympathy into being. The other movies were pretty bad from what I can recall. That seems to be true of all movies that include scenes from well-respected and award-winning movies.
I’m not sure if that’s a diversion. I know the meaning of diversion; that’s not the issue. I’m trying to determine if the previous paragraph is a diversion, a detour, a continuation, or a piece of the puzzle. Maybe it’s something else. Sympathy can excite the things of the world into movement, and it can draw the most distant things together. The thing is, though, that the letter “z” has a power that is not recognized by the English-speaking world. What is considered by some scholars to be civilization’s first religion, Zoroastrianism, is yet another powerful “z” name. Of course, the name of the man, Zoroaster, is the English spelling. Zarathustra is the Avestan spelling. Sympathy exists also as a principle of mobility and a force of attraction. Well, actually there are some characters in Avestan that my keyboard simply can’t manufacture even through the different language options available.
Anyway, Zarathustra was a dude who lived in Persia a long time ago. According to Wikipedia, the twentieth-century scholar Mary Boyce dated Zoroaster somewhere between 1700–1000 BCE. The instance of the Same is so strong within sympathy that it will not be merely one of the forms of likeness. I don’t know how she did it. She either lived at least 4000 years or she transported back in time. Unfortunately, she died in 2006 so I can’t write her an email to ask her how he was in bed. The power of assimilation through sympathy renders things identical while mingling them, causing individuality to disappear, and thus rendering them foreign to what they had been. Either that Wikipedia contributor was intentionally fucking with us through double entendre or was completely clueless about how that sentence read. Pretty funny either way.
This Zarathustra fellow is credited with teaching the concepts of heaven and hell, the resurrection of the body, the Last Judgment, and everlasting life, the foundations of all the Abrahamic religions. If sympathy’s power of transformation were not counterbalanced it would reduce the world to a singularity, a featureless form of the Same. Kind of makes the whole Israel vs. Palestine conflict over the “Holy Land” seem even more ridiculous than it already is. Antipathy is the counterbalance of sympathy, maintaining the isolation of things and preventing assimilation. I think if Judaism and Islam had some important people whose names started with the letter “z” (or at least a letter that represented the sound of the English letter “z”) then they’d probably be able to find a solution to their problems. Not really. I think collective amnesia is the only answer.
I don’t know, though. There is the figure Zechariah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Maybe if they all focused on that dude they could figure out a way to get along. The problem is that they all have different stories about the guy—if it’s even the same man. In absolute form, antipathy creates infinite differentiation. If they can’t come up with a shared story then I don’t know how they can come up with a shared resolution. They’ve condemned themselves to division. In these ways, antipathy is a force of repulsion.
It’s interesting, though, this push-pull dynamic of Zechariah being one man providing different meanings to different faiths. Through sympathy-antipathy counterbalancing, the identity of things is able to resemble others without losing individual singularity. Christianity actually incorporates this model through the Trinity: God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; one thing is three things simultaneously without losing its oneness. This counterbalancing explains how there can be space and time; adjacency, emulation, and analogy are resumed. To put it simply, Christianity has within it a singularity that is a trinity existing within the singularity of conflict about the meaning of Zecheriah between the trinity of religions traced back to the singularity of Abraham. The volume of the world is supported, maintained, and doubled by the counterbalancing simultaneously drawing things together and holding them apart. The world remains identical; the same remains the same, riveted onto itself.