Rendered Fat Content


Félix Vallotton: The Protest (1893)

"I try to not make a habit of such behavior."

Each setback provides a fresh premise for ClawingForward, a new dedication test trying to determine the depth of commitment behind the pursuit. I can always forfeit whatever I've already invested and walk away, hoping nobody will notice that I surrendered. Honor, or some emotion very much like it, encourages me to continue anyway, to perhaps even courageously overcome whatever barrier I've encountered. My response more often comes from embarrassment than bravery. I cannot quite face what it might mean if I cannot overcome this encumbrance, so I continue the struggle. I sometimes even succeed, even though trying in no way guarantees any outcome. I fancy myself tenacious when I'm probably just stubborn, but hitting a wall usually incites me into action, and often into investigating some new direction, anything to maintain accustomed momentum.

I read the freaking owner's manual, though the submission was, indeed, painful.
I still believe that owner's manuals in general are published to remain unread, particularly when the product they attempt to describe stands as yet unused. Nothing could possibly more confuse a budding user more than reading utterly out of context descriptions of actions never yet even taken, for they've not yet achieved the sole precondition to understand the contents. They're not yet a user, just an aspiring one. The essential understanding necessary to interpret the meanings could not possibly exist yet. A budding user must first attempt use by something akin to ded reckoning, guided by intuition and perhaps thoughtful product design, but don't rely upon that last condition. If one cannot figure out how to turn on the damned thing, more detailed descriptions will only further booger up use, so the naive user simply must first fiddle around at least until they manage to get into what might even qualify as serious trouble. Then, they might have acquired a shred of essential understanding to provide context which might render the owner's manual instructions coherent. Before then, it's gibberish.

I had managed to wedge myself into just such a corner with my digital preamplifier, so I resorted, begrudgingly, to reading the manual. There I found a reasonable translation of what those previously meaninglessly labeled buttons and switches were intended to do. I even managed to find a couple of good reasons why the sound was not properly passing through the box. I flipped, toggled, and invoked, and the sound improved. I could have expressed more gratitude, I suppose, but I was really relying upon nobody noticing that I'd violated my first and formerly inviolable principle and read the freaking manual. I plead something similar to The Fifth, insisting that I felt desperate and had lost my mind with frustration. Mine was not a rational or reasoned response, but a feral ClawingForward one.

What other fundamental convictions must I sacrifice in my pursuit of my SetList? SetTheory should really include the proposition that many beliefs previously held as holy will have to be sacrificed if one expects to maintain their integrity. Yes, I understand that this condition amounts to a paradoxical one which will not resolve with reason. SetTheory, like most everything, straddles that space between reason and necessity. One holds firmly to convictions until just before they threaten to do him in, then they become negotiable, not to demonstrate weakness but to fully manifest strength of character. It never could have been noble to undo one's self with any defense. Conditions could always conspire to insist upon consenting to engage in some periodic, temporary Anything But That. When encountering some late-stage Wall, for instance, it will very likely not do at all to stick to straight and narrow interpretations. Often, some more generous translation of a deeper meaning emerges to encourage a little bit of Anything But That. These interventions often provide great leverage.

Anyone who ever achieves anything deeply meaningful with their integrity intact was most likely not paying close enough attention. Some of the interventions necessary to make it across any finish line should properly compromise what you imagined would be necessary before you started. The longer those convictions held, the more difficult sacrifice usually seems. It should properly feel indistinguishable from sinning. It should seem as though we've advanced beyond tooth and claw until one realizes that
they haven't. One might reasonably conclude that they're still in the jungle then and reasonably consider discarding all remaining vestiges of domestication, but that feeling's more of a trap than sinning ever could have been. Nobody survives on a diet entirely comprised of Anything But That. It's a negative supper, properly reserved for special occasions when one's trapped in a corner and filled with the temptation to finally crack the freaking manual. I try to not make a habit of such behavior.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver