Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Man On Mars

[Contributor's Note: More craziness -- meds ran out on Sunday -- your humble Contributor cannot be held responsible.]

I must say, faithful companion, I am continually amazed how much the ceiling in the rec room resembles the surface of Mars: sharp peaks, serrated ridges, disturbed plains, abrupt valleys shadowed by local incandescence. Something like inverted and roughly synchronized waves and flows in stone.

The decorative topography was no accident. This was before your time; but, how well I recall watching Mr. Stimple plunging his flat-faced brush into the cannister, drawing it out laden with joint compound, and tamping it, with some vigor, on the drywall overhead. As he worked, flecks of the plaster fell in a kind of mist, speckling his countenance.

“Mr. Stimple,” I said, as he inspected his work, “You seem to be a man who is always looking up, which I admire. I wonder, have you ever considered whether there is life ‘out there’, so to speak?”

He looked at me through his spackled goggles. “Out where?”

“You know,” I said, “Out in space. Among the starry realms, bright quasars, flaming supernovae, etc. Not little green men, of course. I mean anything that is vital – purposive energy forces, if you will.”

He gazed for a moment through the partitions, upon which paneling would soon be hung. “You know, I never really thought about it.” He removed his goggles, dropped his brush in the bucket, and said, “This should dry hard in a few hours. If you’re thinking about painting, I’d give it a full day.”

I once wished I had asked him what, in his mind, brought forth this otherworldly, topsy-turvy landscape. But, I realize that it must have been unconscious to him – some cosmic, Jungian inspiration in his choice of materials and application.

This would have been lost on my former wife. No-one is doing this anymore, she would say. No-one is doing textured ceilings and wood paneling in basements.

“Dear,” I said, trying to help her understand, “If we do not have texture in our daily environment, we will lose our feeling, our sense of touch, of matter, of difference. Is this not the very fabric of creation. Has it not been made for us to discover? Shall we smooth over our entire umwelt?”

What are you talking about, she would say. For too long, I attempted to explain, but it was like clarifying the dense, poisonous vapors of Venus.

But, now, lying supine on the rec room floor, I can see so clearly. The shag fibers, like a polyester grassland, providing a bed of contemplation – the rust of the brick hearth calling to mind the ubiquitous Martian hue, the knots on the oak veneer like black holes, the grain winding out and around like gigantic galaxies spiraling.

Yes, they may pass “Final Notices” under the door; but, the earthly has never set the course of the heavenly. And, yes, they may have their distant, saturnine, gaseous Titan with its noxious, methane rivers; but, I have the Red Planet right here, and the universe besides. And, of course, you, faithful Rover, looking on your master with a panting smile, then sniffing the extra-terrain for signs of vital purpose.

8 Comments:

Blogger Gone Away said...

And I thought I was the only one to see worlds in a wall of rough plaster, unexplored landscapes in a weathered surface. It is too late for me but you should run, good Remainderman, while there is still time; run to the imagination doctor to seek assistance there. They have good remedies now, they tell me, and with care and application you should emerge in under six months, healed and restored, a new man, ready to face a world of only one scale and sensible, useful apprehensions.

1/19/2005 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Remainderman said...

Gone Away, you have gone a'way too far (as your pseudonym suggests) this time.

If we followed your (subtext)lead, there would be way too many un-medicated 10 year olds, who, when confronted with the choice of a) focussing their attention on the droning instructor on a particular subject, until the ringing of a bell, then focussing his attention on the droning instructor on another subject, and b) a leaf outside making a slow, twisting, fitful descent in the unseen breeze, would be the making the disordered choice (i.e., watching the leaf).

Sadly, had this been properly attended to, at all times, young Albert Einstein would have passed his mathematics course and made an excellent civil servant.

1/19/2005 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

We may lament the unhappy circumstances that led to the world's loss of such an excellent civil servant as Einstein might have made. I'll say nothing of the splitting of tiny particles that has resulted in both benefit and disaster to mankind by virtue of some poor schoolteacher's inability to give said Einstein a proper education.

But I jest, sir. In point of fact, I would not change whatever circumstances that have led me throughout life to be a dreamer. The truth is that I am encouraged by your willingness to admit an imagination, for I kept my own possession of the same a secret, fearing that, should the world realize what a strange and unasked-for oddity dwelt in its midst, it would indeed send the imagination doctors to remedy such an anomoly. More power to your typing fingers, good Remainderman.

Allow me to add that it is not easy being Gone. It has its small advantages in that I am able to be Gone and yet not gone but, in the main, the obvious opportunities for humor inherent in the meaning of my name lead only to my having to force a smile as I am told, once again, that I cannot be present because I am Gone.

1/19/2005 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Poor Mr. Stimple. The old fellow, trying his best to, 1: Not make too huge of a mess on the customer's carpet, 2: Keep from tripping over his own tools, 3: Be done by at least one o'clock; two at the latest, 4: Get paid in cash, and then 5: Beat traffic to his favorite liquor store - meets a thinking man with cosmic questions.


Poor, poor Stimple. He might have loved faithful campanion, though.

1/19/2005 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger Remainderman said...

Gone --

Someone, I'm sure, has spoken more insightfully about imagination (I'm thinking GK Chesterton) -- anyhow, it seems to me that imagination is 1) personal (to everyone to a greater or lesser degree), 2) one of several arguments (along with risibility -- the capacity to laugh) against the modern reductionism of human beings (e.g., to a random, if facsinating, organic, chemo-electrical phenomena), and 3) a sign, in the flesh, of the impression of a divine image.

Carl Jung had some notion of this, but apparently ended up believing in everything -- like the hapless rockster in the movie "This is Spinal Tap", who denies that he's an atheist since, in fact, he believes in everything (again echoes of Chesterton).

If we were created in the divine image, as I believe, then an act of imagination is like a unique, personal sharing in creation, since we are seeing and "creating" something new from whatever happens to be there. Some imagination becomes concrete - in, say, art -- but much of it remains private: which is good.

It reminds me of what someone once said: that when we meet God, it will be like the most familiar thing to us -- perhaps something we believe idiosyncratic or oddly imaginative -- in any case, something routinely personal. If true, then imagination has nothing to do with the occult, astrology, ufo's, or what have you, but has much more to do with a simple relationship with another person (admittedly a big "P" person or persons).

I don't know how I got off on this tangent, but it is resolved: no more jest with names -- away with it - be gone.

1/19/2005 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

Ah, but if I be gone then you, sir, must be the remainder...

1/19/2005 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

One man's water-stained wallpaper is but another little boys fancy. Thank God I am that boy.

1/20/2005 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Hannah said...

Rather than go off on another tangent, I would like to actually comment on the story, if you don't mind.

I love Mr. Stimple. He is everyman's working man. Uneducated, dedicated, hard-working, honest. He's most likely got a very large wife and several children, all of whom are dying to better themselves, as they can't see the gift they have in their father. They sit around the table, talking of religions and philosophies, make wry comments about the state of the world (with no plans to improve that state, of course), and look upon their parents with embarrassment tinged with both love and guilt.

I see Mr. Stimple, not having the capacity to understand his children, but bringing home the bacon every night because he's a man, and it's his job. I expect he is vaguely proud of his children's intellect, even though he does not understand it. He wants the children to better themselves, to not have to toil for a living. Poor Mr. Stimple knows his children are ashamed of him, but he's vaguely ashamed of himself (but only in the presence of his children).

Mrs. Stimple is the quintessential housewife. She got married too young, and although she had dreams of becoming more than she is, the children kept coming, and her dreams were transferred to them. She's their advocate with her husband, pushing him into allowing the children the freedoms she never had.

Oh wait, this was supposed to be a comment on the story. Nevermind :">

1/31/2005 07:20:00 AM  

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