g r a v e l
A L I T E R A R Y J O U R N A L
Things I Want To Tell You
Some years ago back in Lufkin, Texas, I knew the man who developed what can only be described as the ultimate safety valve, or catch, the screen in a sewer. The scheme was ingenious, and must have been years in the planning. I can only imagine that it came to him fully formed at the moment he caught her eye, or she his, back in the bar in Max Meadows, Virginia, where they supposedly met. As the manager I assume he was even involved in her hiring, although I have no doubt that she was a full participant in the escalation. Where there is a bar there is alcohol, and a girl who will chew gum will smoke, and a girl who will smoke will drink, and we all know what a woman who drinks will do. She was, still, when I knew her, a woman devoted at deep levels to escalation.
They were well into the deception by the time I knew them, and he was deep into his persona as a weightlifter, a powerlifter. He wasn’t that big, and I have no idea what he really did during the three-hour sessions his persona demanded. These occurred four times per week, mostly after work, and I suppose that no one really knows for sure.
As part of the persona--although perhaps powerlifters are all like this, I haven’t known any others--he was something of an amateur expert on physiology and nerve conduction. What he said about fast-twitch muscle stimulation, I found out through later research on the internet, turned out to be true. The consequences of his avocation, he said, in addition to the massive lats that truth be told really weren’t all that much bigger than mine, included uncontrollable muscle spasm, frequently nocturnal. The implications of this aren’t immediately clear, but it is gradually revealed that this makes it essentially legal for him to beat her while they “sleep.” Something about a menses ray, at least one tremendous backhand and sometimes two to her midsection. And yet his wife attested over cigarettes to a fervent happiness that she never would have believed possible back in Max Meadows, back when she was wild.
I should have said that I knew of a guy. His wife and I worked together back at that educational consulting firm. We worked together for some years, but I never actually saw him in anything but two dimensions. And yet I’ve always admired him immensely.
It’s fairly significant that the T9 prediction system (of course they operate on the Pinyin Roman alphabet) on Chinese cell phones--while characters are comprised of repeated strokes made in particular sequences these are so various that it would require a base system of something like 75--diverges from the U.S. method at key moments. Example: “9433” in China spells “wife,” but in the U.S. it spells “wide.” After the technology’s had more time to settle in there will surely be whole numerologies built up. Names will fall in and out of favor: “Amy” is “cow,” “John” is “IMHO.” And, then, one day, many years later, archeologists and anthropologists will discover this, and perform intense cultural analyses.
Life is a race won by one. Unless there is a tie, in which case it is won by Ty.
Here is something that would be really cool: if there was this guy named George Louis, and he wrote a book about the third world in which another guy, named B. Oscar Arias, writes an article about a third guy (who doesn’t exist) who is engaged in an elaborate performance art piece that itself re-creates the original performance art pieces of Longmont Potion Castle, the legendary phone artist from the Denver, Colorado, area. I don’t mean that he is just making calls in L/P/C’s style, but is actually attempting to reproduce them down to verbatim dialogue and the primitive sound effects of the B.S. 1980s. The article makes make it clear this is a monkeys-at-typewriters-type endeavor, and that it would be a complete miracle if he got even one second of credible re-creation. The hyphen signifies that this was not recreation, but something deeper, and the article accorded the effort the kind of reverence one rarely finds in scholarly articles save for those celebrating the life of someone long dead, or festschrifts for the almost dead, but this guy (whose name I cannot remember) was still active, going on his eighth year, without having obtained even one second of usable re-creation.
But then it would be really interesting if, in the course of the daily internet doodling he claimed to his wife was an integral part of his job, he discovered that someone was actually doing this, and it is unclear whether this is the original L/P/C, dormant for going on three decades now, making his electrifying return, or whether this guy was inspired by Arias in the first place, or whether it is an impostor, or just what is going on. Nobody knows, I mean there is even debate within the dwindling L/P/C communities, its members felled by overdose, age, and disability, whether this is something limp, a lack of freshness, or simultaneously a malefic echo and entirely novus, whether it is an homage, or a joke at the expense of, or whether there is even a difference between these things. It really got quite philosophical, on the internet, at a certain point. And all this is only a small part of Louis’s book.
Any theory of justification must allow, prima facie, for both a statement, or a belief, and its negation to be justified, if justification is to be be separated from knowledge and truth, which if it can’t then what is the use of having the goddam separate theory. Example: Belief in free will is justified by experience. Even if you don’t believe in free will you have to admit this, but there are also all kinds of good reasons (many of them also experiential, paradoxically) to be a fatalist. Regardless what you believe is true or real, your theory of justification must allow for both of these. Because they are obvious by acclimation. Thus the uses of justification are therefore ethical and/or psychological, not epistemological or metaphysical.
Of course, you are also justified in believing only in metaphysical truth and doing away with justification altogether. Each side of the Law of Non-Contradiction, in most cases, can be justified, but even metaphysical truth must always be second-class citizen to experiential. Otherwise experience loses meaning, and A Conversation With Quentin emerges from the pack of thoroughbreds as the leader coming down the backstretch.
Coming up on the Uptown midnight it was clear that it would not rain again even as the sky remained low with clouds that looked flattened against a pane of glass and hung not too far above the tops of the buildings. I don’t know how the light works, whether it’s the lingering light of city magnified by the lowness of the clouds or something off the Lake. Or maybe it’s a greeting, an outstretched hand illuminated by the ember of my cigarette. This new neighborhood with its trees is aggressively quiet, my car is parked on the street, and it will all be unbearable soon enough.