Saturday, June 27, 2009

To Dive for Pearls

In the last chapter, my vardøger stood calmly as a great tidal wave crested above him. Returning to witness the aftermath, the small rocky island remains, almost unscathed. Here and there a stray baguette lies soaked and forlorn among the stones.

And sitting among the pools of water, poking his finger at some small creature, is my double. He looks up as and smiles; he's lifting his hand, thumb and forefinger together, and between them something glimmers in the sunlight. It is a pearl.

The metaphor is clear to me --- of course he had no fear of the legion facts and memories that swelled from the depths. Who is afraid of their own mind? The thousand things I know about Paris don't wander about like so much mental flostam, getting in the way of my thinking. They are organized in clusters, with all the properties of the butterscotch/ponderosa/hiking pearl; Thinking of the Mona Lisa makes me think of Paris in terms of rennaisance art; it also makes me think of an episode of Doctor Who. It does not make me think of the extensive Parisian sewer system.

If I think of mimes, I think of an entirely different Paris, of streets filled with parisians and tourists --- but also Marceau and Irwin, and the feeling I get when I pretend to be good with kids.

It begins to strike me how difficult it would be to bring everything I know about Paris into my attention simultaneously. Accidental associations, like grains of sand in an oyster, have fractured that knowledge in a thousand places, burying each Parisian idea with a thousand feelings entirely unrelated to Paris. What ends up where seems to be entirely at the mercy of the universe. Whatever events make me feel, think, or move me physically begin to tangle up my thoughts into shimmering concretions.

I look with more respect at my doppelganger, as I gradually become aware that he must have awakened that wave on purpose --- and wondering at how he was able to conjure up such a thing, when it might take me hours or days of thought to touch even a fraction of the things I know about Paris --- the pearls are too random, scattered at the whim of the world.

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