Rendered Fat Content


Arnold Böcklin: In the Sea (1883)

"Successful beneficiaries …"

Years ago, The Muse returned from a workshop with a fresh term. I sincerely appreciate The Muse's willingness to subject herself to workshops since that urge helps me acquire fresh perspectives I'd never willingly seek by signing up for a workshop for myself. I gain much vicariously that I steadfastly refuse to receive the old-fashioned way. I used to teach workshops, but I can't imagine a situation where I would agree to submit to one myself. I correctly fear all forms of education, and not only because I tend to test poorly, though I do tend to test very poorly, a condition that a lifetime of training has failed to improve. Altogether too much emphasis exists to prove that students were paying attention and that they've managed to retain what might have never stuck. The purpose of education was never validation, but try telling that to a system trying to justify its existence.

The term The Muse dragged home was AmplifiedReflective, which I instantly recognized as perfectly formed.
It sounded so damned authoritative as if it might carry within it deep and significant meaning. It sounded like something a Ph.D. might spout if only to demonstrate superior orientation. On the other hand, it seemed as though it might not have a finite definition, and I'm not certain even today if it does. I have a vague sense of what it might mean but no crisp explanation. It's grown to carry deep and significant meaning for me, but only in a felt rather than a denotive sense. It seems to describe a common phenomenon, almost a daily occurrence in The Muse and my life, though it also serves as a sort of conundrum. It might be nothing more than a slightly flashy, essentially meaningless New Age term that devotees dangle in outsiders’ faces, a superiority marker, evidence, primarily, of an abiding inner haughtiness.

I use the term to describe what proves to be a common enough experience. The Muse and I drove to Portland for the grandson’s eleventh birthday celebration this week. One morning, we headed out for breakfast. We've not yet fully re-embraced the practice of eating out, but we were traveling and had little recourse. We first grieved over the loss to The Damned Pandemic of our old favorite, The Bijou in Old Town, for it served the perfect snapper hash for breakfast. I chose a second option, and we drove across town only to find it closed that morning. I had prepared a backup in case the first choice didn't work, so we drove there to find the place we would have wished for had we been prescient enough to imagine it. It seemed in that moment that The Universe had deliberately denied us our first choices to lead us to where we would have chosen first had we known better. Our deepest intention manifested and satisfied us. That's what I think of as The AmplifiedReflective in practice.

It almost seems as if some subtle superpower is always trolling to deliver such delights. With only a tiny fear of off-putting readers, I can report that this Success Series works more or less precisely in this fashion. I hold a vague notion of what I'm seeking, then something—might as well ascribe it to The AmplifiedReflective—delivers, if not the next installment, then at least the spark of inspiration that results in me writing the next chapter. Each morning, another unlikely encounter occurs between me and these unseen forces. I just need to trust their presence and ask my questions, "Where next? What now?" The AmplifiedReflective responds, usually within a few minutes. It only rarely very seriously tries my patience. Some have asked me how I manage to conjure up a fresh installment every morning, I can't explain that it's not really me driving these creations, but something labeled The AmplifiedReflective.

I have no real idea how this business works, only that it does. The Muse and I recognize that these happy accidents always happen to us, especially when traveling. We're forever stumbling into something interesting as if interesting things were always stalking us. We're discovering this world we inhabit, still awfully innocent given our extensive experience. We're still open, thank heavens, for difference to overtake us and for synchronicity's influence, just as if we could successfully muster any defense against these influences, or would seriously want to. We live our lives accidentally on purpose, just the way we suppose that we should, fortunate for forces we cannot define, hardly understand, and gratefully acknowledge; Successful beneficiaries of The AmplifiedReflective.
We Travel Almost Exclusively By Reflected Light
This writing week proved to be a definite education, though not like a workshop one. This education occurred along the edges, reflecting what seemed reflective there. I stumbled upon significant aspects of Success, though elements that might usually get lost in the cracks and between the couch cushions. Tell me stories I might imperfectly remember and only partially recount, the kind that result in loosely woven edges in danger of unraveling. These hold significance better than tightly sewn seams. We must remember to leave space for dreams and scheming, to always imperfectly remember so that we might gain fresh insight into the same-old dilemmas. We travel almost exclusively by reflected light we call our own. Our original was another's reflection. Our collections had already out-lived us when we met.

Weekly Writing Summary
I began my writing week recounting how I came to acquire my education in *
Edgercating, which tied for the most popular posting this period. "Those who couldn't make heads or tails of the "qualifying" examinations, which were specifically designed to mostly present material that no normal student would have ever before been exposed to, would be sagely counseled that they didn't appear to be college material and encouraged to work in the canneries or become apprentice mechanics, and learn how to hammer nails. This explains how legitimacy became my mortal enemy."
Lucian and Mary Brown: Untitled
[children in classroom looking at globe]
(circa 1950)
I recounted my personal experience with Austerity, concluding that it never has been a useful means of gaining Success at anything but stagnating. " Success cannot be measured merely by what we hold free and clear, but more by what we aspire to, by what we owe to our future over what we owe to our past. Forward momentum stems from the future pulling, and not from past inheritances shoving forward."
Edgar Degas: Breakfast after the Bath (1895/98)
I next considered Approval, and its contribution to Success and failure. "If we, collectively, cannot discern between shit and Shinola®, or, worse, between obviously better and clearly much worse, do we not curse ourselves to produce only worse, for who's capable of building upon better if the electorate loses its ability to determine one from the other? When opposition no longer even pretends to extend loyalty to any unifying ideals, it can only vilify whatever deals their leader, duly elected to represent their interests, might make in their best interests."
Gabriël Metsu: The Herring-Seller (c. 1661 - 62)
I delved into the curious nature of asking why? and Success with *Askemption, which tied for the most popular posting this period. "Success will be Successfully shunted due to the insistence upon an answer to a Fundamentally Undecidable Question. The questioner will have successfully Fundamentally Undecidedly Questioned, FUQed, themself. Congratulations!"
Isoda Koryusai:
Girl Playing a Prank on a Young Man who is Napping (c. 1769)
I visited the 'dress for success' notion by recounting the story of the recovery of my revered SuperBorsolino fedora. "I wear my Success like a fine fedora, a little out of date, perhaps, but clearly styling."
Gordon W. Gahan:
Untitled [man in white shirt and fedora] (1965-1968)
I suggested that Success might be a function of Proximity to it, a 'tag, you're it' proposition. "It might be that Success is a dance, a moving in and out, a rhythm, a flow wherein the sense seems to come and go but actually always lingers."
Albrecht Dürer:
The Prodigal Son Amid the Swine (c. 1496)
I finished my writing week singing the praises of Successfully accomplishing Nuthin for a change. "I'm growing to believe in the beneficence of accomplishing Nuthin'."
Pieter Symonsz Potter: Vanitas Still Life (1646)

And so another unlikely writing week slips away behind us. I remembered where the bulk of my Edgercating originated, how Austerity tends to undermine Success, how Approvals might be nice to have but not strictly necessary, and how one question might usually be Fundamentally Unanswerable and therefore more barrier than an opening. My SuperBorsolino looks brand new again thanks to discovering a gentleman's gentleman's shop, which reminded me that Success loves Proximity like misery loves company. I ended my writing week singing the praises of Nuthin, which I supposed might be the most challenging result to produce.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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