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Gustave Moreau: The Chimera (1867)

" … just wait a minute and see what's served up next."

I suspect that the subject of any inquiry might eventually come to lose its initial identity. What began almost pristine in its innate separateness eventually faded into a seemingly self-sameness with its surroundings, to the point that it might have just disappeared. What was once such a specialize focus evolved to involve pretty much everything else. Try though he might, the investigator would find himself unable to segregate his inquiry into ever sharper foci, for the more he'd come to know his subject, the more it might well seem universal. Success, for instance, my focus these past two months, has expanded far beyond what I initially presumed might be its reasonable territory. I'm coming to believe that I could consider anything—any idea, any object, any emotion—in the light of Success, and find that idea, object, or emotion, somehow another integral part of it. This inquisitor's moved to wonder if this effect amounts to enlightenment, because it seems quite the opposite. Is endarkenment even a term?

The naive separation into individual pieces seems a reasonable enough starting point.
Primary education involves learning how to make essential distinctions, to discern this from that, and that from some other, so that we might live in broad and general agreement. Later, these simple beginnings become less tenable as complications spoil clear separations. Good and evil come to seem less absolute. One develops a taste for bitter flavors and the more complex, the more perplexing, too, though many will eschew these emerging distinctions to become staunch conservatives, often for curious reasons like preserving some past. Those fortunate enough to possess a stomach for complications will continue to decompose their observations to approach apparent singularities. First with one inquiry, then with others, and while one independent researcher might never come to see all of creation in anything like singularity, the pattern becomes clearer to many and the implication becomes even clearer that we're more same than dissimilar and that those earlier distinctions might have only been useful delusions.

Nobody outside of any such inquiry can necessarily step into the middle of one and understand the territory. The barriers separating thises from thats hold more substance than might ever be so easily penetrated. The way through inevitably involves going through, with few shortcuts allowed. In any real enquiry, no reader can simply flip through to the final pages to determine who done it. Who done it never proves to have been the point of the mystery. The unraveling, largely blind but deeply caring, better portrays the purpose; the doing more than the have done already. Such inquiry might require a rather stronger stomach, for its enduring naivety simply must become obvious to everybody involved, even, eventually, to the author himself, though most readers will have already concluded the obvious by the time he catches on.

The result might necessarily be a distinction without distinction. Everything is everything insufficiently describes every thing, yet it might most honestly embody the actual wisdom surrounding any thing. This distinction seems useless in daily practice, except as an underlying understanding of the great, indeed overwhelming ambiguity unavoidably encompassing us. Perhaps only our ignorance prevents us from disappearing into a great surrounding singularity. We're called to play along just as if that self-sameness didn't exist, but of course it does, or always seems to and probably always has. Age reveals only one truth, and that begrudgingly. The distinctions which always seemed so damned essential and important, never were. They existed for the purpose of creating surface tension so certain dramas could emerge. These would become stories which could stand in for learning and experience, which might, if an individual proved fortunate and persistent, propel anyone through and eventually into some singularity wisdom.

The fact that I've come to see Success in everything I look at, might be thought of as either a kind of poisoning or a sort of wisdom. I see Success embodied now even within the most obvious failures. Each distinction seems to only amplify this sameness. I suspect that every thing might possess this unique Chimera-like property, that they each share much more than they don't, if only by analogy. These stories could continue ad infinitum, and might well. I swear that I—or anybody, really— could compose a fresh Success story every morning for eternity without ever once needing to repeat a theme or running out of perspectives. This assertion suggests that Success might also qualify as an infinite, though I admit that I'm projecting here. Even dedicating my life to such a ridiculous pursuit would prove nothing, such is the way with any infinite. Perhaps this very inquiry was never intended to finally survey the boundaries around Success, but to expand them such that Success, always one of the more high-faluting concepts, might come to inhabit the space of us mere mortals, the infinite. Like this eroding season's weather, if you're dissatisfied with the Success you've got, just wait a minute and see what's served up next.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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