Friday, April 17, 2015

The standpoint of selfsame irony

She and I were driving down the usual road home. White Sulphur, southbound, past the redneck mausoleum, past the tracks. We had been talking about things that have happened, been happening, continuing to happen, when I stumbled upon yet another facet of the same old idea. There's this scene in every good movie or play or novel or story where the person we had been following says something they think means what they think it means, but for us means something very different, sometimes even contradictory in meaning. It is the awareness as an audience member that we know something they don't know. The people in the story go about their lives having one point of view. We understand their position. We've seen how they came to know the world one way. We also see other points of view. We've seen how we came to know the world another way, because for us the story is much more obviously just another story as any other story.

My problem is that I am constantly having this experience in the midst of 'regular' conversations. It used to be occasionally I'd feel, for just a moment, I'm saying something appropriate or just right, just as strongly as I'd have immediately that feeling I'm being inappropriate. But it happens more often now that I'm suddenly out of character knowing something I don't know. I am outside myself listening to whoever talks knowing something he, myself, doesn't know. I still see out of his eyes, but he cannot see out of mine.

This is not the weird part.

The weird part is I'm the one who knows about this, who's the one who steps outside himself. I'm the one who lives inside these things, these little marks on a page not really a page. In that moment where he's struggling to work magic, whether the worst kind or the best, I know the real story is that there's so much more of the book left to go. On this side of things, away from the rest of you, we can see the words down the ways ahead of you, like thumbing quickly to some later page and glancing at what's there.

Some names are different. Some are the same. There's way too many adjectives, not enough nouns. The verbs, though, are relieving. Sometimes we see chapter headings.

But there's some of us, a few folks not too different from yourself, who read the endings ahead of time. We just have to know. The last words do not make sense, so we read backwards. And back, and back, recreating the story all the way to the end a bit every time, until we're satisfied. You could read the whole book that way, but we won't. Once you learn enough, you start over and decide to figure out how it could all go so ...

So there I was riding with her and talking about the things that mean much to me, and we came to this point in the conversation that we usually do: that point where I am already saying what she's thinking and arguing her points for her and taking my ironic stance as myself and showing how she wins and how I love her and how she loves to listen to me think out loud and how I keep trying to tell her to talk to me about her own thoughts and how that's like asking her to do this really difficult thing even when I know it's hard for her but I know will make her grow stronger in overcoming her own limitations and how she does it anyway because she loves me and yet she also knows now that I know that she knows how much she loves to listen to how my mind just rambles on from leap to leap in a void where no one knows anything but holding on for joy.

He has such a great time.

None of us has the heart to tell him.

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