Day 236: Test the butterfly effect.Posted: August 25, 2011
Originally scheduled for August 24.
“Chase a butterfly away from its flight pattern to disrupt meteorological systems worldwide.”
I saw no butterflies today. If I had, and I’d chased them from their flight patterns, would it have actually changed anything, or was I always going to have chased them, and so the real change would have been to not chase them away, except that path wasn’t and never was open to me?
…no, nevermind, I’m not going there this evening.
This is why we have narratives, right? To make sense of all the impossibly small and unknowable factors that make up big, complex, world- or life-changing events? I and my two of my friends and colleagues read Clarissa over the summer — and I promise I’ll write at least one last post about it at some point — and at least one of the things going on in that novel is an attempt (or parallel attempts) to figure out what happened, what thing or things propelled the paragon of virtue into the power of a libertine who eventually raped her, and how those things (and which of the things?) lead to her death. (And thus I reduce 1,500 pages of densely-printed text to one long and cumbersome sentence.)
We need narratives: nothing makes sense without them. At the same time, narratives make sense of things by ruthlessly trimming away all sorts of things that might or might not be important, and by loading down the things that are left with all the scraps and shavings of importance that the ruthless trimming left behind.
Anybody remember Day 43? (I didn’t, really.) An exercise in trimming, which is what this post needs, despite being barely 300 words long — all of it a digression, digressing from nothing in particular. My thoughts are the butterflies, and I’m chasing them around, fueled by bleary-eyed tiredness and bourbon, and it would defeat the point of this day’s task to edit, to revise — choosing one word instead of another, over and over, is what got me here instead of wherever it was I thought I was going when I started out.
Well, there you go. Time for bed.