Rendered Fat Content


Cornelis Dusart:
Violin Player Seated in the Inn (1685)

" … we washed up on this shore rather than some other."

My work seems either inane, insane, or both, probably both. It exemplifies doing the same thing and expecting different results, for I seem to follow the same damned process whatever I do. Not precisely the same steps, but viewed from a certain distance or altitude, it includes similar stages: from not knowing to finally dispatching, the flow varies little. Sure, the results seem different every time. This story never existed before this moment and will never appear in anything near to this form again. I do not plagiarize from myself, not yet, anyway. However, I can imagine a day when, steadfastly focusing on my rut, I invent an utterly unoriginal story, a mimeographed copy of some earlier one. This could happen, if only due to the similarities in my process.

Creativity turns out to be different from what it promised.
It rarely seems to birth anything genuinely sparkling. Most results seem dun-colored at birth, though some turn more sparkling in use. I'm learning not to expect always to be learning from my experience. Some work comes as almost mindless repetition, effort expended to stay in the game if not very focused upon winning. It's primarily vig rather than investment. It's sunk cost expecting no return, time burnt in the process, a fire set for light and warmth rather than anything everlasting, yet the product lives far beyond its instant of creation. The residue becomes a storage problem. It needs indexing or something, offering no immediate utility or use. It is as if it is a was, an accomplishment with no clear attachment going forward. It might be nothing more than a backward glance.

Inane, insane, or both, probably both. I've tied up my self-worth in my work. If I don't write, I suffer, so I suffer to write, an avoidance tactic that works precisely as well as every other avoidance tactic. One naturally receives more of anything one actively avoids; it's the universal joke. We actively deceive ourselves that it's ever been different. Who suspected that the universe had such a perverse sense of humor? We each live to learn this lesson if no other. Life's too awfully serious to take too awfully seriously. Each profession eventually becomes a parody of itself, and it was supposed to be this way, apparently pre-ordained. Once one figures out the angles and the approaches; the effort becomes almost ninety percent rote. Then it becomes a joke, though not necessarily either a humourous or a tragic one. I chuckle in recognition. How else should anyone respond?

Life seems both tragic and not, a false dichotomy, a paradox. It seems to insist upon everyone seeking forward progress, then robs us of the means to meaningfully measure our success. We address this shortcoming by becoming something different than we imagined we might. We take flight before landing somewhere else. Somewhere else turns out to be where we would have wanted to be had we not been powerless to choose. This universe holds so damned many tricks up her sleeves that she cannot pass through even the more cursory TSA checkpoints, so she routinely misses flights. She was already there before she left, so on that level, her absence never mattered. She was already everywhere she could have possibly ever been, yet even she seemed to keep moving and sometimes go missing. This universe, too, seems inane, insane, or both. I think it a good thing we washed up on this shore rather than any other.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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