Volumes within a Book within a Book

I am interested in Cat the romantic and the refugee, and I think I have hit on a motherlode in another small journal, sewn into the center of “Tails” by a bookbinder of some skill. On top of that, it’s a folded quarto of the old style, and may even be typeset on a Gutenberg, moveable type machine. It’s a further curiosity, to be sure, though there is not much which surprises me any longer in this melange. At the very least we might label this set of chapters the furthest progression of Cat the thinker, as he would have had to put no small amount of consideration into a document which was to be typeset and properly assembled according to a very old art. It is divided into three sections, as it would appear, and, as with much of these troves of oddities, may admit of its own organizational logic, though I still have very little of my own to add.

The first part is entitled “Glossolalia”

The science of secrets: These bits of knowledge need not always be true. They concern actions or ideas which are deemed worthy of keeping from one specific party, one or multiple groups, or the world at large. In more extreme cases, they can be kept from oneself in acts of self-denial or abnegation, or willful ignorance. If there is a capacity for how many can be kept, it is commensurate only with the capacity of the human memory. This brings up an important question: do secrets maintain if forgotten? The answer is that they become apocrypha until recalled, drifting eventually into the realm of hearsay and easy deniability. They can cause harm and joy in equally likely measure. Living two separate existences would constitute the need for a balanced and varied pool of secrets.

The friend—enemy continuum: It wraps in on itself. The intimacy required of the truest friend is equal in intensity if not identical to that of the truest enemy. The most harm can be inflicted upon those best loved, and the greatest healing applied to those most detested. What makes an enemy detestable is the absence of or affront to what makes a friend beloved. The difficulty comes in whom is to be forgiven. The arguments to forgive the friend are easy: maintenance of a valuable relationship, making oneself feel they are exhibiting positive human behavior, granting license to the recipient of forgiveness to begin forgetting. The arguments to forgive the enemy are fairly easy as well: closure of an open wound to reopen distance, making oneself feel they are exhibiting behavior which renders their moral position higher than the other, writing off a harm as insignificant enough to be forgivable. But there is a great giving of ground in both instances. The unforgiven harm festers into a grudge, and might eventually scar over as a scabrous edge to a personality. It may also foster a kind of compassion in future, analogous situations, which may be desirable.

The triangle of ghosts: There is a third category of entity in every meaningful relationship. The ghosts of the two commingled pasts are of unlimited potentiality. They can flit about and move in and through the smallest fissures. A single word or smell can conjure one of them, and it may require whole sentences or paragraphs to dispel them anew. The ghosts are by definition neither malevolent nor benevolent. Any value judgment placed on their presence or absence is ultimately up to the haunted.

Consequences: Best to maintain a high level of detachment. Truly only possible with the resources necessary to mitigate potential damage. The less one is impacted by material things and lasting relationships, the easier this is to accomplish with consistency.

Scale of insults and benedictions: Independent of duration or intensity of memory. As with anything one person can say, write about, or enact upon another, timing is often the critical factor. Lives change course according to minuscule events when properly directed and at the precise moments of greatest impact.

Speed and motility: The brevity and consistent range of human life is sufficient to mandate restive concern with motion, sometimes confusing it with progress. All movement is not forward. Most movement is in fact sideways, and at least half of it is in some way backwards. Straight ahead at top speed is a rare condition to satisfy.

The metric of being all right: Generally in opposition of the length of the time it is considered. The bad things creep around the fringes, mostly at bay, until thought of for any extended period of contemplation. If the reverse is true, humanity should be questioned. At least until things change significantly.

Game as metaphor: For love, hackneyed. For life, reductive, though most metaphors are. For crime, most accurate. Rules are clear, if sometimes shifting. Winning and losing is much clearer than in the first two cases. So long as there is no requirement for having fun, this metaphor operates. The game worth playing is not the one we win automatically. It is further not the one in which we most vanquish our opponent, or has the most lasting victory. It must be one where those who have the most difficult time playing it can be assisted the most. At that point, balance and fairness must be discarded. Equity is not an idea most games can comprehend in their mechanic.

Changing the world: Meaningless as a large scale project if the smaller scale is overlooked. One of few goals which requires faith in the tiny summing to the great. Most religions began with this as modus operandi. The problem is that they tended to go from the great to the small. Inductive. We will work from the small to the great. If they want to participate, so much the better. The foundational tenet on which we will agree is that it must change. In most ways.

Telling stories: The only way to organize the world. Meaning making. Finding meaning where it apparently is not. Who tells and who hears are the questions according to which we live. Every life is a bundle of stories. It makes us sad when a story is forgotten, it a petit mort of a different kind. Every grand act or useful idea is a story. They defy death. The ghosts love them. Our enemies and friends bend the details to their will. They slip through our fingers one moment and imprison us the next.

Encoding love: The more difficult the code, the longer the love might last. Anyone who declaims the simplicity of love is likely to be a liar, they should be interrogated at length or ignored. Codes allow information to travel great distances essentially undetected and should not be underestimated. If they can be crafted double blind, so much the better. This allows each party to interpret and seek meaning as they see fit. If the code is perfect, they realize there is no base meaning. It is a well of signs and signifiers which tunnels without end.

This is the gloss—This is enough—This is one life