Rendered Fat Content


Jackson Pollock: Autumn Rhythm (1950)
"It took me more than I took it."

Every once in a while I rediscover that I was not born a machine. Each rediscovery seems original, like this essential dichotomy had never before occurred to me. Following each revelation, I quickly slip back into another flowish state, only to later be rudely awakened from it again. I progress in such fits and starts, as if I had not quite mastered my clutch pedal. I haven't mastered much. I might reach out with enthusiasm, but I tend to eventually overreach, never certain when enough amounts to enough. I prefer to exceed my own expectations, or try to. I make optimistic plans, which might be the best way to disappoint myself in actual execution. I have never been a reasonable person.

I know I've exceeded my design capabilities only after exceeding them, and the cues usually fool me.
I might feel unusually tired or exceptionally achy, not sick, not really, but offish. I retain the will but lack the spirit. I engage as if nothing's changed. Perhaps especially because something has changed, I defend my original intentions, fortifying more forcefully, which rarely works. I attempt to continue, but I cannot. My imagined continuous flow cannot sustain itself. This is when I rediscover again that I was not born a machine. Humans do not do continuous flow. Oh, I know, manufacturing touts their never-ending assembly lines, their Kanban continuity, but even they have to schedule breaks for the humans involved in those processes. It's schedule those breaks or unpredictably disrupt the flow, for no flow unendingly continues. Never.

Sit by a river and listen closely. You'll hear surges and ebbs imbedded within what from a short distance simply seemed uninterrupted flow. Even the human heart rests between beats, maintaining at best a close approximation to continuous flow, a rhythmic arrhythmia in practice. Time, too, moves in spurts and stalls, the timepiece on my wrist attempting only a crude accounting of its actual passage. The cruse control varies depending upon terrain, over or under, downhill or up. As the apps on your phone remind you, modern software developers attempt continuous updating, with, generously speaking, mixed results. The first computers were assigned jobs, later ones, batches, and even later ones, real time engagement which is always eventually disrupted. The closer computing gets to continuous engagement, the more human it seems, for it simply cannot sustain such flow unendingly. Neither can we.

I spend a disoriented day sorting out what's wrong with me. I suspect that I'm just slacking. I go into hiding, The Muse agreeably plays along, not calling me out for laying down on the job, though the job's not completing itself. Perhaps I'm just blessed with an artistic temperament. In production terms, I lose a day, as if I'd ever held title to it. I experience a setback when compared to the ideal, which I begrudgingly acknowledge as having been delusional. I seem to need sleep but cannot rest. I feel upset, disappointed that I'm not performing like the machine I imagined I was. I have no decent excuse, no good reason. I grow paranoid and sullen. I'm 'only' human after all, not so strong or tall, but apparently eminently fallible. Willing doesn't work. I might spring back tomorrow, to resume my delusional flow, but today I'm going diastolic, or so I say. I'm not broken. I apparently just needed a break. It took me more than I took it.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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