Elucidations II (Descriptions)

by dschapman

I have many likes and dislikes – I have many memories, many intuitions, and many doubts – I have a terrific many beliefs! I have tried to explain my ideas in order to communicate them and if I succeeded in explanation then I failed to communicate them. I failed even in explanation, however, and so I most adopt a different method. Instead of explanation, I aim to attempt pure descriptions. Descriptions of a self – characteristics, as though I were a character. Sometimes the compulsion to recognize my self is overwhelming – and, to my appall, I generally find myself unable to. Else, I find myself able to, and what I see appalls me. Sometimes my sense of self is that of jamais vu, others that of déjà vu – but generally its presque vu, almost seen.

Elucidations of the self appear as necessary as elucidations of a broader, theoretical sort. Not to say the self is neither broad nor theoretical. Elucidations of this sort, however, are better thought of as descriptions. Description is no less complicated a term than clarification, however, and the very notion of it forms an immovable weight in the fore of my mind, and stays there – an impassable wall. The mere suspicion that the wall is impassable is enough for me to know not to bang my head and fists against it in vain until I die of blood loss, but instead to sit down in place and wait patiently for it to crumble. If I crumble before it crumbles, so be it – I never had a chance.

Descriptions, then – impassable, but evident – so I sit down patiently, accept, and describe.

Where to begin? My beginning, I might say – but my beginning is impartial without an understanding of my parents, and where does an understanding of them begin but with their beginning? And so on down through the interminableness of Absolution. Lines must be drawn – and it seems sensible to draw mine at my line of surfacing memories. For my memories do not only inform my thoughts, like all of everything informs everything, but they directly produce them – in some way, I believe, on a fundamental basis. Early childhood, on through adolescence, and into manhood – seems a sensible way to go about describing things, if not false and impartial. But even an order such as that is more limiting than it is expressive, and so I would do best to stray from even it.

Unfortunately, I am very nostalgic. I have always been – especially in childhood. And why not in childhood? A six year old has good reason to look back on the age of three with heartful tears of reminiscence – it was, after all, the first half of his life! And probably the better half. And so on, the twelve year old remembers being six, the twenty-somethings look back on adolescence, the middle-aged look back on their twenties, the dying look back on middle age. And so I learned from a very young age that there was no percentage in nostalgia, and that it would only get worse from here. Not only was it diversionary and strange, it was downright confused, and odious, a comsumptive and guilty delusion. And so I forewent reminiscence as thoroughly as I consciously could – indulging only on a very rare and emotional occasion.

However, having succeeded in dismissing my memories thus, I have begun to lose touch with them, and with them, I have lost grip on the notion of my past. A substance which I found so potent and supercharged that I needed to ignore it, was now hardly to be found at all. And so I have reached a point where I feel a thorough re-visitation with the past is due, and necessary in terms of ascertaining my own descriptions.

But the past is a tiring and winding path to take. Before I can begin, I need to gather my strength, collect my wits. I would like to attempt a basic inventory of my current self, as I self-recognize; insufficient as it may be, it will be something from which to work from. Whether or not it will lead anywhere – as nonsense may or may not lead to clarity – is another question. So I accept my cards, insufficient as they may be, shuffle, and draw…

I eat the same meal every day, or as close as I can to it. I eat an order of mashed potatoes at least once a day. Left alone, I invariably fall into a relatively inelastic routine. I feel that I am able to break it, but I have no inclination to.

I rarely cook for myself – although I do enjoy baking. I am capable of cooking good meals, but I enjoy the quality and service of dining out, and I don’t mind the expense. Circumstances change for company – but not when I’m alone.

I eat many of my meals alone, in my corner of the restaurant, regular with the waitresses and generous. I read my paper and order my usual – and generally I enjoy myself. People wonder where I’m from, because they can tell I’m not from around here.

My favorite drinks are sweet tea and soda pop – that is, sugar water. I don’t drink milk – milk is for infants, not adults.

I like pastries – baked goods in general – and particularly fruit pies. I’m mad about apple-raspberry pie, even though I’ve only had it once in my life. Otherwise, I like apple pastries.

My attraction towards the apple approaches fetishism. As a fruit, I also like bosc pears and berries. But of course the apple is much more than its fruit.

I excelled with ease in school, although I never realized the real extent of it. The implications of second grade terrified me as a first grader, which in turn terrified me in kindergarten, and so on up and down the ranks, until I realized that I never actually had anything to fear, I always did well, and it did no good to worry.

I rarely studied – I could see no percentage in it. What I did not know intuitively, I did not know.

When my grades suffered, they suffered from book-keeping measures or miscommunications. They never reflected my intellectual capabilities, although I would argue further that grades never reflect intellectual capabilities.

I excelled beyond measure at history and literature, although as an adult both subjects, as lessons, disinterest me.

My teachers were clearly lesser men than me, save the good ones, and they were few and far between. It doesn’t matter, exactly – I think I am an exception, not the rule, and so for most students there is no complication. Even if there were, teachers are not bad or unqualified, even the bad and unqualified ones – they are good enough.

Nonetheless, mine were lesser men than me. I had a sense of it as a teenager, and by the time I was eighteen it was a hard-nosed fact. What does that mean for me, the student? To the aspiring student? Incompetence at the top – disillusion through the ranks.

I had dreams of popularity as a child and I realize in retrospect I achieved, even surpassed, my childhood dreams, often quite literally – but my present dreams were, are, never realizable, until they are in the past – and irrelevant.

I knew many people and I still do, although I qualify myself as lonely. Friendship is a meaningful notion to me, and so I take it very seriously – and so I hardly have any friends. It is not because of them, but me – but that doesn’t change the facts of the circumstance.

I have many acquaintances but I have no use for acquaintances, and so the numbers dwindle.

Media is immensely valuable. Books, movies, television. Television is perhaps the greatest medium of them all. Television is amongst the greatest of all things. Those who rally against television and petty and confused.

I am related to Johnny Appleseed, John Chapman, the fanatical frontiersman. He is a distant cousin on my mother’s side. Through him, and through America, and by virtue of the fruit itself, I like the apple.

On my mother’s side, I am the impoverished remains of a proud and aristocratic legacy. My mother grew up in a decadent fourth avenue complex amongst bluebloods of all kinds. They partied with celebrities and held private showings of broadway plays in their living room. My mother’s father, Derek Lamont, came from a long line of true blue-blooded gentility. He lost his fortune to a thieving friend. He lived out his life drunk and locked away in his study. He was a genius, and he died before I was born. From the moment I was old enough to understand the nature of my dead grandfather, and of my mother’s glamorous ancestry, I began to romanticize and mysticize him. I believe that I live in something of his spirit – that we were closely aligned, so to speak.

My father was a hardworking son of good hardworking Pennsylvanians. His lineage dead-ends in an orphanage. He met my mother and together they fell in love – and into utter destitution. They persevered and raised a family, and are now middling middle-class. Through them, I learned work and goodness. I learned value and disdain for money, and I learned to save my pennies.

I believe that the honesty of my father’s legacy provide a powerful remedy to the great decline of my mother’s legacy. The Lamonts clearly indulged in a fateful self-indulgence, and somewhere in the twentieth century they succumbed entirely, falling into nothingness. But remnants of a glamorous legacy remain, and my mother knows the legend first hand.

By coming-of-age under the spell of the honest, hard-working principles of Uncapher, I feel that I have the necessary goodness that perhaps the Lamonts lacked, or lost track of. And with that goodness, I can recover the fortune and status that my grandparents and my mother lost, and provide a new, enviable place in society for both the Uncaphers and the Lamonts.

Essentially, the dream is to “change my stars,” or to reclaim the stars of a century ago. The Uncaphers deserve it and the Lamonts would be proud of it.

That seems the most important thing, to be raised good. Goodness cannot be an addendum, it must be the substance – everything else can be addendum.

I am a woodworker and I like to fashion chairs and desks. I only use hardwood, and of them, mahogany, oak, and walnut. Oak and walnut are my favorite woods.

I read William Faulkner, Henry Miller, Comte de Lautreamont, Arthur Rimbaud, Herman Melville, and of course Ludwig Wittgenstein. I read much more than that, of course, but those are the names which I not only read, but with which I empathize. Moby Dick is the most monumental novel ever written (that I have read).

I watch films. Films, like television, are meaningful and beautiful. I have spent a greater portion of my life watching great films than reading great book, and I empathize frequently with characters in films. Westerns are above all my favorite – particularly Italian Westerns, although all movies of all eras are good. I am in love with: Paul Newman, Warren Beatty, James Dean, Natalie Wood, Klaus Kinski, Marilyn Monroe, Spencer Tracy, Audrey Hepburn, and Harvey Keitel.

It is shameful behavior to take an active disinterest in clothing. If anything deserves deliberation and judgment, it is clothing. I value clothes accordingly. In the wintertime, I wear wool – cashmere, merino, angora, qiviut – although cotton will do where wool will not. In the summertime, I wear linen – although cotton is good as well.

I do not wear jeans, I wear trousers. I do not wear t-shirts, I wear shirts, and I tuck them in, and I button them up. I am comfortable in black wool and leather shoes – black and tan, as it were, like my hound dog.

Dog is man’s best friend. My dog is no exception. He is scarcely stupider than most men, and he makes no claim otherwise. We communicate without use of grammar, and so we are actually able to communicate.

I am a decent man but it is because I can afford to be – because I have the luxury of being decent.

I understand the appeal of many pasttimes – birdwatching, bocce ball, cultivating a garden. I wish I had the time to try my hand at them all – but to do one well, one must do it devotedly, and I haven’t any supernatural capacity for devotion.

I have broken my back, my spine, my pelvis, my wrist, my fingers, my leg, my ankle, etc. A doctor fused my back back together again but still it feels quite broken. Nevertheless I am walking, and I walk up-right.

They called my injuries jumper’s break. They are the same injuries that suicide jumpers survive with.

I am an aesthete, a philosopher, an investor, a speculator, a woodworker, a student, a scholar, a writer, a printer, a videographer, a flautist (I am not a flautist), and an excellent poker player.

I have been trying from the beginning to simple state I am and then list the appropriate adjectives, but I realized that every adjective I could think of seemed appropriate, and so it simply became an exercise in word-recollection. Perhaps that alone is telling – after a thousand words or so, when I am exhausted, perhaps something about my identity could be seen in the collective meaning, tone, of the adjectives I can simply bring to mind. But the idea is too stressful. I cannot do it.

In fact, the entire process of description is more tedious and difficult than I had first imagined, especially in keeping on honesty and certaintude. I have already lost certainty, and my remarks are gratuitous and pretension – of course, the pretense is clear, and so pretension is perhaps a good sign.

It should be said that in stating only positive, that is, affirmative, aspects of my self, it is not because I am ignorant or trying to hide the negative; in fact, the whole totality of that which I did not mention represents the negative. And for every word I said, there is an infinitude of words I did not say – and those are as truthful as indication of anything else.

I want to be honest with myself. I want to describe myself, for my own sake. But it is hard and I cannot. I can think of nothing but my hands. The harder I think, the harder I strain, I can think of the lines in my hand, of the scars and wrinkles. It is difficult to describe myself. It is even more difficult to comprehend description. I can only  think about my hands. I should try again some other time; sometime when I’m feeling capable.

 

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