by ...

Troy Jollimore


One need not be a professional animal
behavior researcher to drape oneself
in shrouds of colorless fabric and force rats
to run through colorless two-dimensional mazes,
although it may help one avoid certain troubling
inquiries. One need not be employed by a major
academic institution to carry out such work
to be puzzled by the results of the blindfolded
honeybee study or think it a good
idea to see what happens if you give
a fake egg twenty times the size
of a regular egg to a herring gull
(answer: the gull ignores its own eggs,
keeps trying to sit on the big fake egg,
and keeps falling off.) One need not seek
permission from Church elders to dance the Charleston
in this day and age, nor wait for the latest
Supreme Court ruling to ask a person
who floats your boat if they want to go bowling
when the fireworks are done. In Antonioni’s
The Passenger one character says
“People disappear every day” and another
replies “Every time they leave the room,”
and one need not be Pauline Kael to enjoy
this exchange or to take a certain pleasure in and
at the very same time feel just a bit un-
persuaded by the fashionable nihilism of
Italian film directors. You can’t trust just
anyone to go poking and sifting through
the culture, what with all the deadbeats and
opportunists out there. Nor can you trust
the culture to go poking and sifting through
itself. One need not be confused to be alive
although one must ordinarily be alive
in order to be confused. One need not
doze beneath the coconut tree to be struck
on the crown of the head by a coconut,
resulting in half a second of total
astonishing enlightenment, then, wham, permanent
and equally total and astonishing extinction
of consciousness. Press anything hard
enough, long enough, between two stones,
you end up with something true. One need not
speak a foreign language to find the words
at one’s disposal profoundly inadequate
for expressing the thoughts that matter most.
Someday your shoes will fit. Someday
you’ll be kissed. Someday they will stop suspecting
you. One need not abandon oneself
to the furies, rend one’s outer garments, lie supine
at the Gates of the Congenitally Un-Self-Loved,
or spend one’s hours disconsolately perched
on top of a giant fake herring gull egg
to let oneself hope for these things.