Geometry of the Unknown: Animals with Nowhere to Go

A third storey window view of woods, a hidden railroad, a distant field, pieces of stream brimming with rainwater and life. In just the past few days, the skeletal dormancy of winter forest, sketched brown and black all season, slight olives maybe, smeared white mashed to gray, cold dark shadows growing and breaking and growing again — all glistens now in new light, soaked emerald and jade nippling everywhere, early green plugged in, glow-pulse and skimmering in watery mist and fog, slow-motion rain — a spring like few others in the knowable history of the modern world.

The sky is a lake joining everything. We are afraid or worried or wondering what’s next, influenced by everything that media has to offer.

And yet, we see beauty and promise and extraordinary biological light out the window this morning, a richness and vastness always surprising the pants off each of us every March since we were young blinkers.

I grew up in a Midwestern college town back in the history of America, the 1960s or the 1970s or the 1980s or the 1990s. Everyone alive grew up with me.

The steady drop of vernal rain all day, as beautiful and sexual as anything in life. Inside here, lights and heat highlight all the pages of the day and everyone gets to stay warm. Coffee, tea, bacon, rye toast, butter. We split an orange. We are still in love. All of us, somehow, some way, still in love. It’s the way we’ve survived all this time. Is it not? 

And yet now we face gargantuan mortality everything we have loved and the viciousness of chance and risk the absolute true darkness of humans alone and together at the same time learning how helpless and stupid we truly are (the final sub-text of everything, you can hear it on every phone and see it on every screen).

It takes such a funny strength for each of us to stave off the vulnerability and fear we have lived with every day (under normal circumstances) and our own stupidity and special selfishness. Human oblivion is so simple to ignore.

Here now, though, in these days of Covid-19 and the Geometry of the Unknown, a miniscule chemistry has jumped into mankind, with no special intent, infesting each of us with the logical problem of arbitrary randomness, that good, old-fashioned inescapable sense of futility and death as promised.

When they say an existential threat, they don’t mean an attack on existence, they mean it is so easy to learn that we are in the end incapable of doing anything except the Big Hide from the World and each other. This, too, is a form of ignoring and protection from reality. We see ignorance and disgust outside ourselves. We are our own mirrors, learning. We learn we are animals with nowhere to go — all of us, hunkered down in our special little caves.

How many people are falling out of love one last time today? Does beauty become a simpler thing for you, or does it keep getting more complex and intricate? Pleasure?

I made a spice cake a few days ago with oranged cream cheese frosting. Yesterday I baked a loaf of rye bread (filled with lots of little caraways). We had thick, hot buttered pieces just out of the oven with canned lentil soup jazzed with extra mushroom, diced broccoli, minced garlic, a heaping tablespoon of fresh sweet Hungarian paprika, along with a spinach cherry tomato salad lightly vinegrated.

It seemed during tea and dessert that there had to be a way out or a solution or maybe the correct answer to a complicated, surprising question. But nothing came to mind. The best I could manage for myself is that we’re all stuck in this together. I wanted to point that out. But how does one say something like that with the right tone of voice?


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