VP on death and idiots

from VP's notebooks:

"Trying to make up for the incompetence and idiocy of others is simply too monumental a task to ask of any one person or community. The only functionally worthwhile alternative, the only one with any hope for even marginal success, is to account for your own lackings and pray for others to learn by osmosis."


"And now these three remain: taxes, confusion, and death. But the surest of these is death."

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VP on philosophy

from the first chapter of Varjak Paul's On Philosophy: Function and Mystery

"Philosophy, or a vast portion of it, is like the small child who stands before a mirror and, for the first time, realizes it is himself who is looking back. Being still, thinking, "The eyes that see me seeing are mine, the mind that thinks what I think is mine; I exist", that is the most fundamental philosophical thinking, and yet, it is undertaken infrequently. But why? Because such pure knowledge is virtually unattainable. There are fleeting glances, moments in which the mind and soul are, in conjunction, able to see how the functional and mystical collide. Such moments are, understandably, few and far between.

Philosophic thinking, then, even when nearing its best, is a distant relative of those moments of absurd insight, those brilliant stretches of the heart, when to the intellect conjoined. Inherently so few and far between, such moments are unfit as permanent lodging, even for the most rugged of thinkers. Rather, the functional, day-to-day grinding of the mental mill is what keeps philosophy moving forward, even if glacially. The trick is to remain watchful, for new mirrors appear in the strangest of places."

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or, Whose Meaning is In Progress is Not Dead

This is not where I should be
, L thought. He'd spoken aloud, but he didn't realize it until the woman next to him inquired as to his meaning.

"What?" L turned his head toward the woman as he, too, questioned meaning.

"Well, where should you be?" She was not a slight woman. In her mid-fifties, her skirt and blouse were brown, her hair was brown, her eyes were brown, her fingernails were painted brown. She wore brown shoes and carried a brown purse. L wanted to ask her some rather snide questions regarding her choice of monochrome.

"I don't know, really." He didn't, but he had decided against the snide questions. He only knew the negative, that this place was not the right one for him, then.

For the sake of argument, let us assume that "this place" is an airport. More specifically, let us assume further that "this place" is a particular gate in said airport. Gate 13. L held tickets for the same flight as Brown, but he didn't want to think about where he was headed. Where they were headed. Which was, so we are all aware, a city more than one thousand miles from the airport in which they sat.

"You know," said Brown, "Burke devised a series of statements that, when added together, produced a pretty good definition of man. Or woman, as the case may be."

"I know." L turned away from her and looked straight ahead, through the large, unclean windows.

She continued, "One of the statements is, 'Inventor of the negative'."

"I know." He'd read part of a book, once, in college.

"Well then," Brown continued again, perking up at the discovery of their shared knowledge, "you should realize then, that while you know where you should not be, you should also be able to see, just as clearly, where you should be. Positive. Just because we invented the negative doesn't mean the positive should be completely useless." She finished, pleased.

"Good point." L got up, and began to walk slowly toward a row of plastic seats on the other side of the gate, which, coincidentally, faced away from the windows.

"Where are you going?" When L failed to answer, she ventured a pair of questions, further. "Do you know where you should be? Did you figure it out?"

"Yes. Well, partially, anyway."


"Not next to you, I'm afraid." L paused, and added, "And I've just gone negative again. Sorry." Yes, he thought, and it's just too much brown. Today is more of a red day, I think. He'd spoken aloud, but he didn't realize it until the woman called out, "Red?! That's worse than the blues!"



such a speed

staring at the sun
is not as thrilling as you'd think,
stop your hurried walking by
stop your hurried talking by
    and by each other,
bend your wills away from yourselves
and stare a while, with me.

sleep a while, with me
in the afternoon.
do not think that i will walk
as quickly,
do not think that i will speak
too soon
or take the pace that's fed me
with a spoon and bib to keep me clean. no,

you would slow yourself
to wait for some new color in the sun
then come with me.
let the others be,
and they'll run by us soon enough
and they'll be done
long, long before we have begun.

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____ing in Place

There was the time in her basement. She was on the treadmill, but she was still wearing the dark blue polo shirt and khaki pants she'd worn to school. Her hair's thick, dark brown curls were holding neatly in place by means of too much hair spray.

Twenty minutes earlier, I had walked into her house unannounced, without knocking. They never minded my doing it. So she talked, and I agreed, and she had no idea. The other guy was my best friend, but I agreed.

"Really?" She smiled nervously.

"Yeah." I didn't look at her for several seconds. "He really does. I don't know why he hasn't said anything."

"Are you serious?" Her brow furrowed, slightly.


Years later, I would remember once walking into her house expecting to find a party, finding only a Thursday dinner, pasta. That day, though, I had sneaked a few glances at the movement of her breasts as she walked on the treadmill. She called him after I left. He broke it off for the blonde girl after only eleven days.

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