Rendered Fat Content


Thomas Birch:
Capture of the Tripoli by the Enterprise (1806/12)

" … I'll still already be gone by then."

My experience of this life so far strongly suggests against the existence of sequential anything. Sequential seems a hypothetical, one possible alternative rarely actually encountered; a theoretical, all things being equal, when things only very rarely end up being very equal. I skip around instead. I might set off in some definite direction, following the simplest of instructions, but soon encounter some distraction, some unexpected abstraction needing fleshing out. The road not taken seemed the very soul of straightforward. The road actually traveled seemed to have meandered.

Oh, plans rely almost entirely upon sequential construction.
There, one finishes the first task before starting the second. In practice, the second might well begin before the planned first one, due to extenuating circumstances. One comes to know better when actually doing than one ever, ever knew when planning. Those determined to merely follow the plan quickly become indentured to it. To finish as originally intended might prove the very best way to undermine the quality of the experience of doing it. Anything really worth doing seems worth screwing up in this fashion.

My mind wanders because it's in the very nature of a mind to wander. Who presumed a mind could be tamed, taught into exhibiting an attention span long enough to completely finish anything? The NextChapter starts manifesting before the first one's even written. The NextChapter aches to appear. It drags the author into his future well before he thought he would be ready. He most likely has some last chapter work to finish before his schedule frees itself up. Doesn't matter! He's gone before he knows it. Maybe he'll double thread, finish up while starting up. Maybe not. The future arrives before he's ready, before he's fully prepared. The future always jumps the gate as if it were already late and not early. Futures come before anyone's ready.

I can't say what comes next yet. I recognize its face and its intention, but I dare not mention its purpose or its nature. It will seep into being, slowly dominating, leaving the last chapter behind. Even reading the finished work with all the chapters neatly lined up, I will not be fooled. I will hop around ahead and back and not feel very long satisfied simply sequentially reading the story. I'll need to revisit what I already enjoyed and hop ahead to nearer the ending to avoid reading some unsettling plot twist. In the end, I'll claim that I read the book though I just grew weary of exploring it. I will firmly believe that I got the gist of it, that I received whatever it might have imparted, but I will feel a little guilty for not having religiously complied with the unspoken imperative that I should have absorbed it sequentially rather than in the haphazard way I tend to absorb.

I will finish the former chapter while already gone, already stalking the next story, the next series. I might not even notice when I finish the present series for I will have become almost fully immersed in the next great adventure, the initiation anticipation perhaps the greatest payoff of the whole enterprise, far outstripping the sense that's supposed to come with completion. I'm clearly already gone. In two weeks and change, I'll announce where I've headed. In the mean time, I'll continue posting these stories, Againing again and again and again, if only to see where this series takes me, though I'll still already be gone by then.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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