An Old Conversation with Jim

This is another flashback pulled directly out of the archives. I generally avoid looking at my old writing due to the desire to keep looking forward, but every now and again I’ll find myself peering into old files, somewhat bemused and otherwise terrified by past moments in my life. I think the biggest issue I actually have with them is the clearcut reality that I’ve only progressed so far. Such is life I guess.

This is about Jim, a mentor of mine who lives in a trailer park in Santa Barbara. We met years ago when I first moved down there, me struggling to finish my thesis paper and him somewhat delighted to have someone pose him questions. Every time I visit that terrible little beach town, I take the time to visit him in hope he’ll impart some form of wisdom on me. I really look up to him. He’s pretty much the smartest person I’ve ever met, and to have him consider me a friend is an honor. Anyway, I wrote this write before I went to Cuba, when I was befuddled as fuck, shattered from the binge writing I had to do at Coachella and randomly spending all my time sitting on a beach with a clipboard. [SPOILER ALERT: I don’t come across as very well emotionally adjusted.]

Beach Office circa 2012

Beach Office circa 2012

As I wrote by hand back in Santa Barbara, Jim says I seem lonely. He knows the look cause he’s been there before. He says it with conviction. I believe him. He looks lonely

Jim! A genuine gem of an individual if you can stand him, poet/philosopher/mathematician/intellectual that always seems to be struggling to make sense of everything. He has all the hallmarks of a madman. As we were discussing the process of tilling his rented garden bed years ago, remarking how fertile the climate appeared to be for artichokes, he broke down to me the mathematical problem that had been haunting him for years. A boat left one side of a river with a current and headed for the other side. Because of the current, the pilot constantly would have to correct his aim so that he would be not dragged too far askew, but as he adjusted, the current would counter his adjustment and force the pilot to adjust some more. According to physics, every boat would always end up parallel to the dock by the time they finished crossing. There are some problems with this, including the physics would have to hold up regardless of the speed of the current, which would mean the boat would end up parallel even if the river moved only an inch a millennia. In other words, the problems that existed with the physics were due to it’s being dead wrong in reality. Physics told Jim the boat would be parallel while It was in the same vein as Xeno, who had come up with any number (something like 7) solid mathematical conundrums, each one ridiculous when it came to anybody who had to worry about making rent, fucking, or developing one’s soul. It was like an early version of Lewis Caroll’s book on logic, where he broke down the concept of logic while simultaneously writing Alice in Wonderland.

The point was, Jim struck me as a sane man trying to make sense of an insane world, which as far as I can tell from the few post-Freudian psychoanalysis books I’ve read, is impossible. Good fucking luck Jim. Still, he seemed like he had a far better grip on the situation than I had, especially when I vaguely attempted to act like I had a grip at all. I envied him only so much.

From what I gathered based on his rather esoteric explanations, a man who had spent his life dealing with the same problems I was dealing with was concerning himself with something worthless, unless of course he budged a notion of understanding forward, even if by just a little bit. Was I capable of doing that? I felt the answer lied in the analogy of beating your head against a wall. If you’re not capable of stopping or breaking through, hopefully you’ll leave a mark saying you were there.

Years later, all I can confirm is a bruised forehead. 


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