I live in an American household that manages to make potato chips unpalatable. Let that point sink in.
It’s never really that people don’t understand; we always say it as if they are somehow confused, when they are not. Like this:
• Why do people fail to understand that if someone should expect to be criticized every time they walk into the room, to the point that one can actually watch people look around for something to complain about, then no, that person will not want to be in the room with you.
It is not that everyday belligerence doesn’t understand; these people do. It is not that they are somehow confused about why the constant hostility distresses anyone; they aren’t.
If there is any one thing you ask people to not do, they will do it.
Insofar as a common and significant link ‘twixt the intimacy of driving a knife into another person, to the one, and coital penetration, to the other, is testosterone, the act of shooting the place up starts to seem very nearly masturbatory.
The psychoanalysisα of that proposition is probably as fascinating as it is grim. At some point it seems to denigrate the American shooting crisis while exploiting the very notion of rape culture, and it is easy enough to call any mass-murderer a pathetic wanker. Yet the analogy persists, and it is easy enough to regret, before it is written or uttered, any phrase about shooting his load in public.
Killing is intimate. Killing is also distal.
He can tell her he loves her; she can believe him; it can be true; and the link between this passion he shares and the violence he might commit against another is testosterone.
α The temptation to dismiss, out of hand, expected pop-culture strains of evolutionary psychology according to their obvious weakness presuming coital penetration as inherent to the existential justification of sexual differentiation, would be erroneous in at least one context, as the apparent fault becomes at least symbolically relevant; to the other, invoking semiotic values might be an overstatement. But where the pop strains of evopsych would discuss men evolving to penetrate women, Y previously evolved, and, indeed, continues to this day to adapt and select and evolve, not as delivery unto X, but as environmental distribution of gamete for X. Where human males may have specialized for gamete delivery, this is merely specialization of gamete distribution. And while it is true enough that word games are easy, and phagogenesis could, artistically, at least, be argued an intimate precursor to general environmental gamete distribution, the greater danger is the potential for evopsych to finally recognize the argument that masculine raison d’être really is to be a wanker.
There is a certain futility in announcing anything, especially when there is nothing to announce. Still, two poems in two days and an actual effort to retain them feels like starting something. Here’s a joke, though, that isn’t actually a joke: National Poetry Month, having just ended, managed to remind of something apparently forgotten.
At some point in my nearly forty-five years I forgot that I am a poet.
No, really, I have no idea how this happened.
Except I probably do.
I don’t know, I should probably be embarrassed; but, y’know, whatever.
Why do people so desperately need mysteries?
Still, that is not the right question; one can easily see the potential for offense, but there is also a threshold at which it does not matter because someone, somewhere, will be offended by the merest whiff that their humanity is somehow imperfect. But if the comparative question arises that the gas bill is considerably less this year than it was last, and what we really want to know is why, how is it that the most obvious factors—weather and temperature, devices used, and unit cost, just for starters—must necessarily remain mysterious?
There comes a point at which one is frustrated at the lack of actual information about a chart and carefully-devised statistics that hide one particular bit of data: How much does the gas cost per measured salable unit? If we are paying X per Y volume, apparently both X and Y must remain mysterious as we discuss why the gas bill is lower this year than the same period last.
Wait, wait, wait: Must? Who says, “must”?
Either the gas company or the consumer; it is unclear which. Because in the moment when one exclaims, “Why is the one thing we don’t get, here, the cost per unit?” of course the answer is going to be, “I don’t know, it’s probably in all the other pages.” That is, the pages not simply thrown in the recycle bin without reading, but also determinedly torn up for security purposes.
The question remains: What is the proper question? That much, to be certain, remains mysterious.
So, there is this thing people do, sometimes, and perhaps it is perfectly human behavior, except when it is so clearly statistically deviantα. Or maybe it’s just something about perception. Sometimes we exist in an environment where simple things are impossible: I am writing something; my coffee cup is empty; if you wish to take odds, no, I cannot manage to go refill my coffee cup without someone demanding that I stop what I am doing and undertake another task. And perhaps that summary sounds a bit pointed, but when you can watch someone get up and start searching the room for something to give you, they make some sort of point: Here is something that looks like it has a deadline in about four weeks; you need to stop what you are doing and do this thing right now.
And if you ask about this phenomenon, the one thing people don’t do is explain why they can’t leave you to what you’re doing; indeed, very often they come right out and—what, confess? admit? acknowledge? chide?—say the one has nothing to do with the other.
α There is, of course, a recursive dive into the question acknowledging that statistical deviance, real or perceived, is itself perfectly human; this is, to the one, a seemingly legitimate existential consideration, and, to the other, a nihilistic rabbit hole.
A reflection on anatomical impossibility:
“I gave it the ol’ college try—well, you know, everything short of binging to blackout so someone else could cram it in for me—but, no, it ain’t happening.”