somebody asked me this question the other day. it's one I hadn't thought about before, so it wasn't easy to answer. I love collecting questions and inquiries like this, though, to aid in conversational-scuba-diving efforts. for example:
-if you had a plant growing out of the top of your head, which kind of plant would you prefer?
-name your life's greatest ambition.
-what color would you most like to paint your ceiling and why?
-when or if you have children, would you rather they be dazzlingly clever and generally miserable or hopelessly unintelligent but generally happy?
-which food would you choose to be the only thing you ever ate from now on, every day, for ever?
the responses to these are usually less like answers and more like explorations of reasons and motives and priorities and hypotheticals of all kinds. much better than talking about whether it might rain tomorrow.
lately, on my travels, I've been noticing reflections. puddles. train windows. lakes. shopfronts. such surfaces make crazy collages of here and there, above and beneath, inside and outside, forward and backward. the photographs flatten a lot of that deep, shifting, photo-overlay feeling into an only slightly disorienting double-exposure feeling... but until I get around to figuring out proper gif-making, these static juxtapositions of image-within-non-image-within-image are what I have.
I once asked my physicist sister whether the reflections of cars' taillights in dark, wet streets look infinitely long, extending infinitely deep because those cars are moving, or because the car I'm in is moving, or what. she wasn't sure how to explain the optics of it all to me. I'm still wondering, a bit, how that works. maybe I should ask this guy.
of course the feeling of infinitely long, red taillight streaks and/or of a whole world upside-down in the canal water is an illusion. the look of all that space is a trick. but maybe so is everything. human eyes are complicated. optics and light are complicated.
on the wall of an Indian restaurant we visited the other day for lunch, I noticed a wallpaper pattern of the following quotation, all slanted in elegant script: "Illusion is the first of all pleasures." what does that mean? maybe I'll add it to my collection in the the form of a philosophical challenge-- does all enjoyment predicate itself upon a false sense of security, permanence, or desert? hmm.
on slaughterhouse 90210 the other day I saw this excerpt from Catherine Lacey's Nobody Is Ever Missing:
“We don’t get to stay in moments and that should not be news to you. We are both familiar with the concept of time, the awful math of it, how our history always gets larger, less understandable, overweight, overworked, over and over, and memories get misfiled and complicate feelings for no good reason and some people seem more able to deal with this, to keep their histories clean and well ordered but I still don’t understand why we came unstuck from those moments we wanted to stay and why the moments we wanted to forget still haunt us.”I've mentioned Slaughterhouse 90201 before, eh? tumblr is a strange universe, but it is great for thought-provoking snippets like the above paired with television stills. this quote goes pretty interestingly with the question I began with. what period would you say was the prime of your life? the time when you were happiest, on top of the world? out of all the moments and seasons in your ever-deepening history, which are the very best?
while I pondered what answer I would give the questioner, she told me that most people do say right now, or at least include right now in the span of time that counts as their most happy, confident time.
I wonder if that's because everything else seems either haunting and heavy or lost forever. unreachable like the sky, or mere reflection like the sky's image. in comparison with the all-encompasing now, the past and future look like tricks of the light.