ImaginaryEnemies

ImaginaryEnemies
Crítica, engraving by Julio Ruelas, ca. 1907


" … hope springs intermittently, never seamlessly or continuously."


As society seems to crumble, live on the six o'clock news, I feel mostly moved to tap the snooze alarm. The broadcasts seem to need to cast their full color video in shadowy blacks and whites, a palette hardly suitable for representing any underlying complexity. It seems to be us versus them again in never-ending conflict. The simplicity imbedded within the storyline unfamiliar to anyone experienced in any sort of real world relationship. These seem soap opera representations, where human relations distill down to the color of a character's hat and the soundtrack's sinister tone. We each maintain our caricature characterizations of those we imagine to be our mortal enemies, mostly without ever having had the pleasure of their physical company. We remain willfully ignorant of others' intentions, if only because our fictions might prove unbelievable should they stray too far into self-contradiction. We hate more easily than we love, often holding ourselves hostage awaiting another's extension of an appreciation we ourselves withhold. There might well be far fewer bad actors than really bad plays, lines proposed to maintain a seemingly necessary simplicity, lest we grow too confused.

I watched a poorly masked so-called protestor paint graffiti on an innocently by-standing tree in the park adjacent to the statehouse this week.
I wondered what message he was trying to communicate to me. I wondered why none of the dozens of people streaming by didn't linger for a moment to slap that paint can out of his hand and offer at least a mystified rebuke. The news camera shifted to some subject less baffling as the demonstration roiled on. Small acts of cruelty interspersed with the usual banalities. A few hundred show up with apparently no place to go once they appeared, perhaps surprised at the sense of solidarity, but no less surprised at the sense of aimlessness they found awaiting them there. Now that we have our ImaginaryEnemies in sight, what might we choose to do? We really must see this intention through to some more satisfying conclusion. So-called agitators throw some meaningless rocks. Someone breaks a window. A few slip through the lines to swipe something from a shop they'd likely never even considered entering before. The roles seem curiously induced, since it seemed unlikely that very many woke up that morning feeling an urgent need to vandalize something.

Nobody seemed to understand what had happened, how a perfectly peaceful protest turned into a pitiful display of excess. ImaginaryEnemies might have been involved, or maybe it was just the context talking. I watched police kneel in solidarity and protestors try to embrace their obvious opponents, their fellows insisting that they'd somehow crossed some line. That line, thin and blue or equally thin and black, stand back to back to back to back to back, fiercely and seemingly blindly confronting each other for committing the grievous sin of playing the part of The Other. I cannot see you through your costuming. I cannot quite see through your mask. If you ask me what I believe, you might not have to project such malevolence upon me. I do not need to be anyone's blank screen holding their scurrilous projections. I am more and other than my costume ever concedes. It's only ever you and me here.

The play continues with ever escalating passion, with many never seeming to catch on that it's even a play. I do not intend to denigrate the cast, for each member most likely found themselves unwittingly and unwillingly cast into their role, some seemingly luckier than others. I was raised in God's Country, a spurious self-description intended to deceive. My initial world view emanated from what I firmly believed was the authentic center of the universe, the only place on this green Earth where gravity seemed to work right. Every other place, even the alluring far-distant places, existed displaced from an obvious ideal. I genuinely pitied those who would never know the scents of springtime there. The Muse didn't believe me when I confided that I'd grown up in a Walt Disney® movie, but once she'd seen the place, she understood why I'd said it. Like a Disney film, it was overwhelmingly white. Animosity tended to be safely secured behind flower-covered fences and rolling wheat fields. God had most convincingly shed her grace on me, perhaps most prominently, the questionable grace of blindness, an eventually willing ignorance of the actual nature of this world. I've seen plenty since I fled than place, like some Latter Day Adam or Eve fleeing the garden to inhabit less idealized spaces. The real world features inconveniently-placed horse shit, and provides endless opportunities to step into another fresh pile of it. I realize that I'm writing my script and so I get to choose my ImaginaryEnemies. I'd rather that everybody become my actual friend.

I began my writing week swearing to more playfully anticipate in
Anticiplaytion, a dedication I'd genuinely hoped to live up to.

I next sang my praises for
Opacity, after a fashion, insisting that discretion demands withholding some of my more grizzly details from public view.

I then considered just how
Relentless this pandemic has proven, but also reminding myself how relentless I've proven to be. As my friend Daniel Starr reflected, some of our defense against this damned pandemic requires a relentless acquiescence to counter its relentless demands.

I next investigated my
Bookish nature, celebrating the relieving mobility my reading brings this sequestered soul.

I next noticed just how prominent paradox has become under the pandemic in
ThePandemicParadox, questioning whether this scourge qualifies as a problem or as something inherently less solvable, and how leaders usually focus upon solving, even when a solution seems unlikely.

I then reflected on just how thin our story sometimes seems in
Thinnest.

I ended the week just where I dedicated myself to not end it as it began; not in playful anticipation, but hunkering in dread in
Cascade. We've seen this movie before.

These weeks seem to whip by and would hardly warrant notice were it not for the hope they sometimes bring. They insist that hope springs eternal without fully acknowledging that hope springs intermittently, never seamlessly or continuously. It might lose its primary benefit were it a more consistent companion. I seem to need my ImaginaryEnemies to recognize my friends, and though I inevitably lose a lot in translation, I'd much rather have ImaginaryEnemies than imaginary friends.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved








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