No Turning Aloud

I stand at the corner of Wyatt and Earp, unable to decide on which street to take. I know that Wyatt will lead home; take me back to that which I feel so ambivalent about. To walk along Earp means the inevitable conclusion of our little saga, and this is something I am equally ambivalent about. I now wish to find a third option, one that does not involve returning from the direction I have come. I imagine this third option as stairs that climb up above the buildings in front of me. The stairs are made of stone—granite, to be specific—and do not have a banister on either side. They are, and have to be, wide enough for only one person to traverse it. Also, too narrow for any movement other than forward. I place a sign at the beginning that says, in very clear letters, “No Turning Aloud. All Turning Aloud Must Be Done before Ascension.”
     I don’t have the need to turn aloud, so I climb the stairs and watch as the streets below reach out to the horizons: Wyatt to the northwest, Earp to the northeast. From above, both streets look surprisingly lovely. So much so that I almost yearn for them.
     The stairs continue to ascend, and I along with them. Somewhere, there must be a plateau. This is where I will be able to stop and drink from the fountain; this is where I will rest and eat from the trees. But it is a long journey, so to preoccupy my mind, away from my tiring legs, I begin to whisper some poems.

     Eyes like skies,
     Spanning the world
          but oh so empty.

     I built these stairs
          to reach their depths,
     But the higher I go
          the emptier they seem.

     I stop for a moment and look carefully over the edge. I’m very removed from Wyatt and Earp street, yet I no longer yearn for either. My legs speak to me, and to quiet them I resume my walking.

     From afar,
     That which is separate
          looks fused.
     If I knew no better,
          as most don’t seem to do,
               then I’d turn back now,
     Only to find it remained separated
          all along.

     Here is the plateau, but it’s nothing but a parking lot. Jesus, how silly of me, I almost blurt aloud before catching myself. I step off the stairs and onto the plateau; this is where the divisions become evident, and I see my name scrawled lazily in one particular spot. I move to it, trying not to step on the other names, and take a seat. For a brief moment, truly the briefest of moments, I think I can feel the letters squirm under the weight of my bottom.
     “I must have killed my name.” I say this to no one, but perhaps the other names can hear. In fact, they must have heard, as all of the sudden they are inching away from me. I see desperation in their movements, and as each strains to distance itself, the names begin to unthread and unravel. In an attempt to calm the crawling names, I recite another poem.

     Our lives are like a perpetual inching
     We each pull back
          then push forward
     Hoping that along the way
          something will happen
          something will give
     And we won’t have to move anymore

     The names are now spilling off the edges of the plateau. They don’t make a sound as they tumble down, down to Wyatt and Earp streets. I wish I could hear them in their last.
 This gives rise to an idea. Since I can’t use the stairs anymore, I unravel my limp name and affix one end to a division. Then I let the other end fall over the edge and watch as it flails its way down as far as it can go. My name is not long enough, but I clamber down it nonetheless. As I do so, I listen for the fallen names. How do names die? Do they whimper? Do they cry? Perhaps they moan or laugh or scream or

A City’s Identity: Fixed or In Flux?

A city on its own does not have identity. Before it develops identity, it must provide the materials on which identity can be founded, these materials then being interpreted by perceivers. Created materials—the skeleton of a city—exert an unseen influence on these perceivers. Doing so excites their faculties, instilling in them the desire to imagine and order what is being presented. Every determination of the city’s identity is unique. For example, for some the city will be beauty and peace, while for others it will be squalor and chaos.
      Given the nature of the perceivers, however, not all of these determinations can exist concurrently. Here is where conflicts arise, forcing some perceivers into subjugation. Inflicting subjugation alone will not remove the longing for a particular determination. Just because the subjugated long, on the other hand, does not ensure that a determination will persist.
      Keeping such memories alive proves especially difficult when faced with efforts to purge this newly subjugated determination. Long before a subjugated determination can establish a foothold, it is generally routed and destroyed by the established subjugators. Most purging actions take the form of sardonic inquests, where the subjugated are asked numerous nonsensical questions. Next, the subjugated are tasked with defending their answers to these questions, many times leading to increasingly contradictory statements as the they struggle to survive.
      Oftentimes, some semblance of logic is born of these inquests, creating the peculiar case where the subjugator determination is brought into question by the subjugated. Pondering these new considerations reverses the dichotomy, whereby the subjugator becomes the subjugated, and a nascent determination, suddenly appearing sensible, becomes the intellectual foundation for a new subjugator. Quarreling in this manner helps, paradoxically, ensure that no determination remains constant, despite any efforts to maintain a uniform determination of the city’s identity.
      Routing of supposed subjugated determinations has become a matter of habit. So many determinations have come and gone, in fact, that it might even be argued that this infirm quality is itself the city’s identity. This argument also raises the question of whether a city, or any city for that matter, can truly have identity. Under such a system, it cannot be argued that there are any constants by which to derive meaning. Verily, as time and experience have shown, there are no other options by which to effect a lasting consensus. We now must face the reality that, in this system, all matters are subjective, coincidental, and/or arbitrary. Xenophobia prevents there being introduced any third, fourth, fifth, etc., determinations into this system, thereby creating an insulated form of governance, immune to change.
      Yet it is still believed that there must be a time when the system will be disrupted. Zoological data supports this hypothesis.


For the Intermittent Writer


Short books about albums. Published by Bloomsbury.

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