Allegorical Nonsense

An allegory. Nonsense. Put them together. Okay, not really.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


I have a friend who wants to become a Carmelite monk. No, this is not a joke. What's funny is that I have a number of friends / family members who went into Yeshiva for a period of time, and even a few who were seriously considering becoming a Rabbi. But for me, becoming a monk takes the sacramental cake. I mean, even a priest would be within one standard deviation of the mean. A monk is really an outlier.

But why? Is it because it seems like an outdated concept, except maybe for Buddhists or other people from countries whose language I don't understand? Is it because it seems so counter to the materialism of the world I have come to know (and perhaps even to love)? Is it because you may or may not need to shave the middle bit of your head, as if premature baldness will not do a good enough job? I have no idea. But there it is. The guy's becoming a monk.

He's a very smart guy, so he'll probably end up rising through the ranks, if there is such a thing as ranks amongst Carmelite monks. He might end up as a cardinal, or the Archbishop of Sydney one day, or something, presuming that such positions take people from amongst the monks, and that he should want to. It's very possible that he doesn't want to stand out, and that's the whole reason why he got into the monking business in the first place. But perhaps that's not a fair comment. I mean, a person becoming a monk could hardly be indicted as a conformist. It's about as unconformist as you can get. And yet, perhaps it offers something of a solace that you can join a group of like-minded people and become part of a whole.

I have another friend, who I really should be returning an email to right now, who is merely submissive and paranoid. I find the guy very difficult to understand, and sometimes get the feeling that everything he says to me is somewhat disconnected from reality. Perhaps I am merely over-suspicious and should be accepting everything he says at face value. Perhaps I am the paranoid one. Just imagine, two paranoid people walk into a bar. The first one says "...", and then stops in fear of what the other one meant by that.

Is it possible that I attract strange friends? Or is it rather (as I would like to believe) that the more you get to know someone, and the more you become familiar with their peculiarities, the more you realise that normality is an illusion, and that it only exists inasmuch as people strive to be more like it? Or is it perhaps that everyone has a very different idea of what is normal, and that we are miscommunicating when we compare one another to that standard? I'm going to leave that one open.

I have a feeling sometimes that if I learn enough and gather enough experience, I will get it. I mean, all of it. It just takes a bit of effort, and then I will understand everything there is to understand, and there will be no more misunderstanding, no more awkwardness. I am beginning to believe more and more, though, that there is no such thing. That people who seem to get it are clinging on for dear life to the idea of just getting through this one problem, this one meeting, and hoping like hell that no-one asks anything really difficult, which not only do they not know, but about which they don't even know how to form the question. Mmm, prepositions which work.

I find sometimes that I'm writing something, and I want to express something, and all of a sudden, grammar gets in the way. Like, it's just impossible to actually express a certain concept, because the grammar just won't allow it, and you have to make a decision - either you can ditch the concept, or you can try to find a work-around (which sometimes there just isn't), or you can express what you wanted to express and just hope like hell that your reader puts up with the fact that you're really not clear and really not a talented author at all (not to mention a talented owner of a language-specific-programmed brain). Like "language-specific-programmed brain". I wanted to say, "a brain that is programmed in language (as a whole) in a manner which is language-specific (in particular)". But I just couldn't get it out. It may have something to do with my morbid fear of editing.

Editing. Ha. It always seemed to me so feeble, like an admission of weakness. Clearly, it is a marker of self-confidence and a contributor to strength (like saying "Practice! Ha! If I can't do it straight away, I won't do it at all!"), but some kind of emotional block inhibits me. It's because of that same block that I walk out of exams early - pretty much the minute I've finished writing my answers, tarrying perhaps for a quick skim over what I've done, and I'm out of there. Clearly I make mistakes. And clearly, there are mistakes that I wouldn't make should I have checked my work in a more careful and, overall, slow, manner. But I can't handle it. Is it arrogance? The feeling that I don't need to check and therefore I won't? Perhaps it is born of arrogance. But it has become part of my emotional make-up. And the moment I wake up, before I put on my emotional make-up, I say a little prayer for you.

And you, and you, and you.

I'm outa here.



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