Monday, June 27, 2011

From abstraction to apocalypse

This summer I have enjoyed two happy and self-indulgent opportunities to spend time with friends in the Appalachian mountains.   I took two trips, and both trips were planned relatively late, which suits me perfectly.  As I long ago noted in an earlier post, my two default temporal references are (a) the immediate next ten minutes, and (b) eternity.   Most of the time the future feels altogether fictional to me, a place like Narnia or Oz—a place that can be discussed with clarity and rationality but without reference to the real world and without any discernible path from this place to that.   As a general rule, I loathe talking about the future.  I have a near-pathological aversion to planning; it entails a full-body visceral physical hurt.  When I plan for some future event, rather than feeling a surge in power as I gain control over my (perfectly fictional) future life,  it feels like dying, as though I'm relinquishing my soul piece by piece.  Attempting to control any moment in the deep deep distant future (say, a month or more from this point), feels to me a futile, vain and hopelessly excruciating exercise in abstract thinking.   And it remains as an abstraction, as a fictive concept with virtually no significant bearing on my course of action or my well-being.


Until the moment arrives.   And then.....

And then abstraction is transformed like melting wax into utter shock, into complete disbelief that unreality somehow inexplicably--somehow altogether improbably--became real, a most unwelcome visitor to the concrete here and now in which I live.  A sickening horror infuses my entire outlook and life feels like a vertiginous spiral of impending doom.  At this tipping point, I rigorously interrogate my former self, asking him what grudge he held against my current self, who keenly feels like an innocent victim of an outrageous injustice.   What kind of gall my evil former self had to take my current self hostage! 


And thus I must face the day of rue-ing.  For this is the day of reckoning. 

The Apocalypse has arrived. 

And such is how I live life day after day, decade after decade--as a long series of descents from abstraction into the apocalypse.


timekeeper said...

That's okay, buddy...I can handle the planning. Can you imagine if we were both future planners like me? It would be a constant conversation of what was coming up with no enjoyment of the actual event. There would be lists and competing lists. We would spend all our evenings filing and refiling papers. We would not have any friends because we would be so boring. As we are now, we can enjoy the current time, largely through your grounding us in the present, while I surreptitiously plan for the future. Then when the future smacks you in the present, I can unveil all the preparation and we can carry on. Separately, one of us has been called a Nazi and the other has been called neurotic, but's a beautiful thing!

Mike Bailey said...

Ja, das war sehr gut, meine Frau!