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Gustave Moreau: Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra

"Success often seems a stranger to me."

I hold many things to be DeepMysteries to the point that I, like everybody, believe myself unique—and not in any particularly good way. My DeepMysteries prevent me from engaging with this world as I imagine that I might, had I proven myself capable of resolving these DeepMysteries. These irresolutions do not really affect significant situations, just minor ones, making them even more insidious in most ways. I’m often stymied by some innocuous door handle or, even more often, by packaging. I cannot get to the product inside, thanks to the paranoid-level security system wrapped around the thing, which sits there so innocently within its perfectly transparent yet utterly impenetrable outer shell. I usually call for The Muse to help since such things only very rarely stymie her. She seems to be able to quickly, even preconsciously, slip through barriers I cannot penetrate under any condition.

I purchased an industrial-sized package of dishwashing detergent this week.
It came in a container with a pump handle, which I thought a helpful innovation. The back of the package held detailed instructions for deploying that pump handle since it was collapsed for ease of distribution or something. I saw in this little innovation another DeepMystery lurking, and, sure enough, I attempted at least twenty times to deploy that handle, following the simple-seeming instructions to the absolute letter without luck. I even innovated, fetching my Big F*cking Pliers for assistance. No dice! I started planning to take that package back to the store to seek professional help but later noticed that that pump handle had somehow been deployed. I asked The Muse what secret she'd employed, and she replied that she'd just followed the instructions on the back of the package. I asked her how many times she'd had to perform the instructions before the handle deployed, and she replied, "Once."

She didn't want to get into explaining in any greater detail how she had Succeeded where I had failed, probably because this was such a familiar situation. She's usually able to resolve one of my DeepMysteries without even thinking. It seems as though her muscles hold entirely different capabilities than mine do. She can effortlessly open apps that I can never get past their security barriers. She can find spices that do not appear to me, even when I empty a spice cabinet shelf looking for the stuff. When I ask her where they were, she responds with an answer that convinces me that I might be inhabiting a completely different universe. "They were right in the center back of the shelf you claimed to have completely cleaned off." I had completely cleaned it off!

The spice cabinet sits in a Twilight Zone, just off this universe's grid. I can reasonably reliably reach in and pull out, but send me searching, and I might never come back out again. The freezer's a similar place, where many things seem to go to disappear. Again, I return empty-handed, then The Muse reaches in and finds the damned thing without even looking. I swear that ninety percent of Success might just amount to having been born to achieve it. It's a genuine wonder to me that I ever Successfully manage to accomplish anything, given my native relationship with The Universe. I cringe on the porch, unable to remember the trick that makes the screen door work. I leave apps unopened on my desktop because I cannot answer the security question. I sometimes just unplug the television because I cannot determine any other way to turn the damned thing off. Success often seems a stranger to me.
We Cannot Live With Too Much Ambiguity
A couple of short weeks ago, I could have sworn that I'd uncovered everything even remotely interesting about Success, yet the stories continue. The topic, too, seems to grow richer the farther I delve into unexplored territory. Success seems less simple now, less obvious. By the time I finish writing this series, it might come to seem meaningless once I’ve exhausted its many, often contradictory meanings. This might be the case with every concept, even with every word. Contemplate it too much, and it melts into the scenery, becoming distinctly less distinct the more I consider it. Understanding, even comprehension, of a concept might utterly depend upon no more than a superficial appreciation of its meaning. We cannot not live with too much ambiguity, and upon closer scrutiny, we tend to find ever more ambiguity. Too much in this context, while subjective, probably means 'very little.'

Weekly Writing Summary
I began my writing week confessing to intentionally leaving out plots when writing, opting instead for EmergenceScenes. "In our real world, in our lived lives, no clever plot lines exist."
Rodolphe Bresdin: Biblical Scenes (Not Dated)

I next considered the longevity of the satisfactions Success typically brings me in Satiability. "This might be the human condition reporting for duty again, that we motivate ourselves mostly by pursuing what will usually be short-lived infinities."
Honoré Victorin Daumier:
“- Mr. Alfred Cabassol! You are the only one in the class who succeeded to get through the entire week without blowing your nose into your sleeve. Please stand to receive this prize of honour for cleanliness,”
plate 6 from Professeurs Et Moutards

I visited the perhaps universal suspicion that we're all just faking competence and Success in
Impostoring. "Are we each merely actors mugging our ways through performances, hoping that nobody notices while knowing for certain that everybody probably always knows for certain that we're faking?"
Suzuki Harunobu: The Face in the Mirror (1766)

I stumbled into a space where the common side effect of Success became absurd and questionable in *Stinginess, the most popular posting this period. "Heaven forbid, I guess, that competitors ever have to stop competing, for such mindless pursuits amount to their sole competitive advantage, a useless skill in any larger or more perceptive or more compassionate world."
Juste de Juste: Pyramid of Five Men (c. 1543)

I looked at Method as an insufficient means for achieving Success. " That's just the way Methods work: perhaps they're necessary, but they're certainly never quite sufficient. This understanding seems necessary to successfully employ any recipe."
Albrecht Dürer: Tekenaar tekent een luit
[Draftsman Draws A Lute]

I visited the sorts of Success that wound the winner with Fuccess. "My greatest Successes—this I can confidently report—have cost me the most, and many never adequately repaid the debt they created. They produced Success by other measures than happily-ever-after profits."
Franz von Stuck: Wounded Amazon (1905)

I wondered how long the typical Success might last in Ex-Success. "When the home team wins the pennant, it seems in that minute as if every fan in those stands has experienced something truly eternal, yet two short seasons later, those once heroes have become a gang of bums again, spoken of derisively by the counterman at the delicatessen. Most Success seems alarmingly fleeting, however peaky the initial experience."
Peter James Studio: Untitled
[man posing with "success" poster] (1952)

Success seemed to become increasingly stranger stuff as this writing week progressed. The Mystery, already plenty mysterious, merely deepened. Emergence entered the conversation and utterly changed it, as if by deliberate plot twist. Whatever Success might become, I acknowledged that it's unlikely to satisfy for long. I explored the limits of Impostoring and wondered after the Stinginess Success seems to induce. I might have even put Method in its place for once. Fuccess was my personal favorite story this week. I think it embodies my native playfulness with the language and marries an essential and often overlooked aspect of Success, the damages it sometimes leaves in its wake. I ended the week noting that Success probably only ever exists in the past.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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