The Problem with Perpetuity, Paradox, and Paroxysmal Perspicacity

When things are going well for me–when everything is in its right place, and there is that perfect balance of forward motion, productivity, and randomness–there occurs a phenomenon that I’ve never shared with anyone until now. It’s just a little thing, a small quirk, but when I notice myself doing it I can’t help but chuckle, and then, in noticing it I inadvertently give it life.

By this point, if you know me at all whether this cyber-phantom me, or the real life version, you know I tend to live in my own little universe of oddities and eccentricities. I’m an absurdist in some sense, and in practice I suppose I’m an adherent to the tenets of a conglomerate faith, the prophets of which are people like Douglas Adams, J.R. “Bob” Dobbs, Kilgore Trout, Bokonon, Rick Sanchez, Tom Stoppard, Professor Peter Schickele, and the renowned German Baroque composer Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumble-meyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitzweimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shönendanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm. I allow myself to be guided along the surface of reality by strange winds, and like a Velella velella I’m not so much a unique individual as a collective perpetuation of other humans’ collective perpetuations of other human’s collective perpetuations of other humans’ anomalous experiences.

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I experience life as one might expect of a thirty-something male having been born in 1978 whose daily intake of culture includes heavy doses of tokusatsu, Uncle Remus, Marvel Comics, and Raymond Smullyan’s This Book Needs No Title.

Coincidentally, if you don’t know Raymond Smullyan, he died earlier this year, and I’m sad to have just learned this. I found him quite by accident, and it is through his guidance that I have come to accept that bricks can disappear.

I’m something of a quantum absurdist, and that really means nothing more than I believe in science fact only as it allows for the absurd and improbable. (Note to self before I publish this: Don’t forget to mention paradox somehow, but make sure you at least erase this) Multiple parallel universes, infinite improbability, the absence and impossibility of nothing, these are all concepts I believe in, but they are borrowed concepts leached from other people’s brilliance and/or psychoses. I’d be happy to believe that a giraffe runs the universe in a small bunker somewhere underneath Perth, as long as there is a school of thought that insists that this is actually impossible. I can be neckbeardish in my “well, actually” as I scoff at the word impossible itself. I believe in the improbable probability of impossible things being probably just merely improbable.

So back to this thing I do.

I definitely have a tempo that I fall into when I’m in a good mood. It’s not quite your tempo, but it’s steady. Without fail, when I fall into this rhythm, one of two marches begin to play in my head. The first being “The British Grenadiers” complete with internal “tow, row, row, row, row, rows”, and the second being “The Liberty Bell” complete with Bronx cheer. My exposure to the latter is probably obvious to you, and if not I’ll leave it to you to look it up, and the former most assuredly comes from similar exposure to a certain episode of Mr. Bean, a certain series of Black Adder, and the Spielberg film The Empire of the Sun.

When I first watched Empire of the Sun, I had no idea who J.G. Ballard was. It was one of the first adult dramas I watched and felt a deep yet inexplicable connection to. I’m fairly sure the film was running on HBO at the time, so I had several opportunities to rewatch it. It was one of the first VHS tapes that I purchased for myself. You know, it’s funny … as I’m casually dipping in and out of wikipedia for dates and facts I suddenly learn that the screenplay for Empire of the Sun was originally adapted by Tom Stoppard. So there’s that. And Paul McGann, too. And a duck with a brick in its mouth. Physics!

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I spent most of my extra money in the late 90s on VHS tapes, and later DVDs, and I purchased most of all three media types from Suncoast Motion Picture Company at Collin Creek Mall. It’s there that I discovered, for the first time mind you, that there was more than just one Doctor. I had only been exposed to Tom Baker through late night viewings of Doctor Who on PBS. I remember picking up The Web Planet and feeling a sense of awe that carried on until I popped the tape into my VCR and saw the old familiar BBC “ribbon” intro, followed by the original Ron Grainer theme music. That same “ribbon” intro would grace the beginnings of a huge swath of my VHS collection most notably Black Adder, The Young Ones, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Red Dwarf, and of course many, many Doctor Who episodes.

See, things are getting a bit circular.

Eventually, Suncoast closed and I was forced to turn to Barnes and Noble (this is pre-Amazon by the way), and it was there that I spent entirely too much money on fantasy novels. I always present myself as something of a science fiction aficionado, but it’s a fairly new feather in my cap. While I could spend hours in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section of any bookstore, it was for a very long time only fantasy that interested me. Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Robert Aspirin, Piers Anthony.  I remember vividly perusing the wire racks at Half Price Books in Dallas (the old 2-story one) and finding the 2nd Edition Silver Jubilee Lord of the Rings paperbacks. These still are my favorite physical copies of any book I have ever owned. I lost my original Two Towers to a flood in North Carolina around 2000, and my Fellowship of the Ring is falling apart, but I have the others. You may have seen them if you ever lurk around the SF/F section of Half Price Books.

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I recently purchased Asimov’s Chronology of the World from the Half Price Books that replaced that old location, and now, being familiar with Asimov, I’m not surprised that this book is exactly what I have been looking for centuries (pun!). From the Big Bang to Big Bird and everything in between, it is simply all of history condensed and explored through all its connecting threads delivered as only Isaac Asimov could. It’s what should be the textbook used in grade school history. I’m using it as a catalytic or sorts to guide my own explorations of the history of the human race, and I must absolutely do it in order.

You see, I have a problem. Some people turn to drink, others to hard drugs. Some people become slaves to their sexual desires, and some run the gamut of all possible vice. I just simply prefer to do things randomly in order. I get little tingles from doing it, and yes, it is an addiction. I have a spreadsheet that I open every day that lists out for me four things that I should attempt to accomplish in that day. Each suggestion is from a different category, and the categories are: Productivity, Culture, Knowledge, and Escapism. You may already know this about me, but many of you don’t. I had stopped doing this for a while and it made every day feel like I was letting the universe slip away from me. For the past two weeks, I’ve been nailing the list daily (almost). Each category is drawing from a list of possible pursuits, and it’s doing so randomly using a formula I borrowed from a more avid coder than myself. If nothing else, it has kept me writing. I’ll give you some examples. Productivity is a list of novels in process, from Ageless to Mike and the Magic Closet, that I’m continuously working to complete. It also includes “general blog” (*salute*) which is what I’m doing today. Culture contains a list of all the television shows I’m currently watching (in order, mind you) from Star Trek: Voyager, to 70s era tokusatsu, to Game of Thrones. Knowledge contains academic pursuits, math, language, history etc. It’s in this category that Asimov’s Chronology of the World comes into play. And finally Escapism is video games. You may ask yourself: Where does that highway go to? No … you may ask yourself, where do I find the time to do all of these things? Honestly, most of the time I don’t, but I try to at least complete one per day and let the others carry over until I complete them. What it’s done is to allow me a way to hold myself accountable while using my obsessive random-but-in-orderliness to complete what I feel are important projects that help me grow to be a more complete human being. Sure, some of these pursuits are pure masturbation of a sort, but in the end, doing these things makes me happy.

Going through life in this way has made me extremely aware of the trope. I see Doctor Who in Len Wein’s Bronze Age Marvel, I connect Malkovich to The Turtles.

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Friends of the ABC – I get that reference!

When things are going well for me–when everything is in its right place, and there is that perfect balance of forward motion, productivity, and randomness–there occurs a phenomenon that I’ve never shared with anyone until now. It’s just a little thing, a small quirk, but when I notice myself doing it I can’t help but chuckle, and then, in noticing it I inadvertently give it life.

I am Ian Malcolm’s drop of water.

rgaehraeh

I am your worst nightmare opponent in Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, which, times being what they are, isn’t what it used to be. Thank you IMBD.

Yes … times being what they are … so, what are they?

Indign.

And me being the two sides of me that I am, which am I?

One of us always tells the truth, and the other one always lies.

Rest in Peace, Raymond Smullyan. You made paradox my Kevin Bacon, and Malkovich my Iphigenia in Brooklyn. Running knows …

labyrinth-door-riddle

Oh, what a lie!!

One thought on “The Problem with Perpetuity, Paradox, and Paroxysmal Perspicacity

  1. That is interesting. I like your list. I love lists. I like the order in which you do things too because I like things going in order.

    I wish I had something more profound to say to this post, but alas, I do not.

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