Rendered Fat Content


Wassily Kandinsky, Painting with Green Center (1913)

"That whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must remain silent." Ludwig Wittgenstein

" … all influence, no substance."

Were I to follow Wittgenstein's advice, I wouldn't say much. Many might argue that this outcome would seem far superior to the present alternative, myself included some mornings. I have felt moved, however, to attempt to consider some StrangeAttractings SettlingInto sparks, though I hold no clear description or cogent explanation, for their presence seems real enough to attract me, though the particulars continue to escape me. I suspect that I'm engaging with some sort of field here, that the strong sense of an abiding absence during exile, even though I continued to remain just as present there as I ever had been anywhere, just in a different location, was the result of mysterious forces or perhaps a field. I came to feel at home-ish even there, but never felt precisely home. Each place felt more like a rented room encased in finite time, temporary and impermanent. I only ever laid down shallow roots there, though the soils eventually became familiar, as if they were mine, but only for a season. I felt the transplant there, able to survive but not to thrive. Equatorial summers and arctic winters reminded me that I never would become a native. Here feels different and always has, but I cannot explain that difference, not even to myself. I say, half in jest, that gravity just works right here, though I remain dead serious about that statement.

I think it both hilarious and ironic that the field of physics, the study of physical properties, has increasingly become a field of philosophy.
The so-called enlightenment chased the philosopher out of the laboratory but he's back, and with the sort of vengeance only three centuries of displacement could bring. What started as rather innocent investigations into things has matured into an understanding that those things, if they even exist, hang on the bare perimeter of much greater things our senses cannot detect. Thought experiments bolstered by elegant mathematics draw better conclusions than mere observations had, though conclusions hardly hold together. We speculate before coming to understand that we don't quite understand yet. Modern physics thrives more on metaphor than specification. Having defined the particles, we come to understand that subtler forces more deeply influence. We live near the confluence of science and religion, belief and pending truth. We understand that our senses have always been rather blind watchmen, missing perhaps most of every performance. We still manage to land spacecraft on Mars.

The best we've been able to muster as a species has been to sense the presence of influences beyond our finite understanding. We've posited the existence of fields because no other story seems to explain our experience. We don't just poke sticks into darkness but toward suspected light sources in hopes of confirming stuff we have no hope of ever seeing. The stories grow ever richer but also simultaneously ever simpler and more subtle. We might one day understand what was always before beyond knowing, by means of ever better explanatory stories, better metaphors. The poet in me watches in awe, knowing our language still proves as inadequate as our physical senses, yet these StrangeAttractings continue to tug. I suspect that we'll eventually discover some incredibly simple explanation that won't make sense to most of us because we've been entrained into certain habits of language. We have no words yet, let alone a grammar, adequate to describe what we experience. Yet we continue experiencing.

I despise this place some days. Having largely tamed it, it now demands my maintenance. I have not gotten away with anything. Beds reworked get reinvaded by the same rhizomes I thought I'd completely eradicated just last month. Infinite obligation seems the eventual outcome of my StrangeAttractings to this place. I love this place most days. It seems like the canvas upon which I was intended to paint, and I will commence with painting once the infinite digging's done, and I'll try to keep up with the watering and vacuuming through the fray. I will not see the day when this SettlingInto's real and truly done. I suspect that I'll never shake the feeling that whatever I've done has proven inadequate to the challenge. My place in this world seems destined to forever outpace me. Done does not belong even in the vocabulary of heaven, apparently.

I've been toying with a Quantum Theory of StrangeAttractings, hoping, I guess, to find a way to put this abiding mystery to rest. Let's just say that I believe (without proof) that some places apparently hold the power or force capable of deeply influencing me. This force renders other places foreign and this place alone, home. It makes no sense. Other places offer better access, better shopping, more prestigious addresses, but this space is just whatever it is, whatever that ever was. I can't explain it other than to say that gravity seems to work right here, and gravity might be a force or a field without particulars, either. Gravity exerts its influence without possessing molecules. Like home, it's not a thing as such, all influence, no substance.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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