Old Roads

A movie is a universe bookended by credits. In the beginning, there was the executive producer; and this is how the movie ends, this is how the movie ends, not with a bang but a gaffer.

Similarly, moving to a new city stretches the fabric of spacetime, stretching it to make room for a new life; and when you leave, time folds back on itself, trapping the memories in a relativistic bubble, preserving the life and world of that former you in a reality loop that hums away while you go on to live in other places. But the loop is not absolute – some energy radiates away and entropy seeps in, such that if you were to fly back to that place, walk the old streets, breathe that old moist air, see that Korean restaurant on the corner, hear the familiar local drawl (I swear that southerners of every country on Earth have a drawl, no matter the language), feel the shadows of everyone who has ever walked next to me down Jiangnanxi Road pass by on the pavement as I look up across those same caged-in balconies, those hanging plants, that window, the realness of that other time (not past, but parallel) would be slightly transparent, like a lightly double-exposed photograph; and every time you visit, a thin layer of newer yous is laid on top of that you, such that even though that old youthful, ignorant optimism still grips your muscles, lightens your breath, and makes your eyes flit just a bit quicker than they have been lately, even though your 26 year-old self already seems quaint and queerly infantile, you must admit that you cannot muster with scientific rigor an absolute argument that the you of today is better or better off than he is. If physical entropy is a constant reduction in complexity, then emotional entropy is the opposite, a constant creation of new complexity compounded on itself such that the light of contemplation, fixed on the growing and swirling mass, reflects a twisting infinity of themes and narratives, weaving together into devilish fugues endlessly composing and recomposing each other, until one might be hypnotized into a vision of the self expanding to fill the known universe, complexities reiterating without restraint until all of creation is completely filled in, becoming once again without form, and void.

Sorry. That paragraph kind of got away from me.

But it does raise the question: is there any kind of living that is cannot be fit into these bubbles? Can we one day achieve a self that is somehow not dependent on place and circumstance? Or are we always going to be stuck resonating within the echo chamber of our own experiences, each contained entirely to the self? It is a question so essential that it is repeated in a preponderance of books and blogs, and so ridiculous that it would take a writer of considerably more skill and less fuzzy-brainedness than myself to be put comprehensibly.

For what do we have to thank for my sudden and unintelligible obsession with solipsism? Paris is burning, and with it many of my assumptions of the sustainability and relevance of many of our other preoccupations (including my current occupation): a memento mori moment. I have been stricken for as long as I can remember with a feeling of urgency, a sense that there is really some formless “other thing” that we all really need to be doing, which has been continually offset by the apparent apathy of the “we all” in question. Perhaps I’m too trusting, too ready to trust social cues. Yet I’ve had gray hairs since high school.

This is the way the blog post ends, this is the way the blog post ends, not with a moral but a preposition…

I have no up-note to end this on.

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