Vicky and I went up to Cambria this weekend for three days of great food, fantastic wine, and general R&R On the way home, Vicky asked me what I’d be writing about in the blog. We went over a few things, some you may see over on One Path, but the one that’s most pressing to me, the darker one which is why it’s over here on My Side (My Side has become the default setting for the more jaded, cynical, and generally weathered and worn Ken), is the one I want to write about first.
Have I mentioned that I’ve solved the question of Free Will? It’s simple and takes only a few, basic, physical laws. I know that’s my next book of philosophy but getting down to write it is another issue entirely. Part of the reason I want to write about free will has to do with my unique perspective on the subject. When my brain makes me see things that aren’t there or hear voices or muddies my vision by throwing up life-sized pictures in 3D or when I sleepwalk or when things get generally fucked up, I have to wonder how free will applies. How can I be said to have free will at times like that?
This takes the question of free will out of the realm of predestination and puts it on a more existential footing: What do you do about it?
You get through, that’s what you do.
And so it was that Vicky and I were sitting at a table in Lynn’s in downtown Cambria, I was eating my steak, when – like some carnival funhouse – my vision split. This is a singularly unpleasant experience. On one hand, I was at the table. Vicky was in front of me. We were carrying on an innocuous conversation about the kid at the other table looking like the guy from Napoleon Dynamite. (“Ghaa! Idiots!”) On the other hand – almost like I was in two places at once – I was sitting in a living room with my dad and we were watching real estate listings for desert properties. (In case that description is too difficult to understand, here’s another way. I sat inside the living room and two windows looked out over dinner. Still confused?) It was such a random image that it nearly hurt. I had to clench my eyes tight to try to shut it out. Opening them, I noticed the label on the A1 bottle was printed in Cyrillic. The hell??? I clenched my eyes shut again.
Vicky asked, “What’s wrong?”
I said, “It’s not in English.”
That’s what it’s like being married to Ken. Here’s what it’s like being married to Vicky. She solved the problem by simply turning the bottle around. I doubt she even knew what I was talking about but she waited for whatever was happening to pass. (One answer to this problem may lie in the fact that the part of your mind in charge of dreams and hallucinations is far from the language center.)
Problem was, it didn’t pass. Over the next few hours, I worried away at the image like a rotten tooth. I thought that my dad and I were in Seattle. But why were we watching real estate listings on TV for desert properties in Seattle? I realized Rosa was there. Slowly, the image came into a sharp relief.
But it was no relief at all. Almost like remembering part of a lyric and trying to remember what song it’s from, I dissected the image. Over a day later, and much to my surprise, I realized that this image that kept colliding into my psyche wasn’t one image at all. The house in Seattle was real but my dad and I didn’t look at those real estate listings there. The real estate listings came from a time in the mid-1980’s, when my dad and Blanche and Dwight and Richard lived in Bloomington and my dad would often check out real estate listings and explain them to me. But the third part of the image – Rosa – why was she there?
Do I need to tell you?
And so, I came to realize that the different parts of the picture were nagging at me as much as I was nagging at them. My dad’s been out of town and out of contact for over a month now. As sick as he’s been, I am very worried about his health – his life.
But what does this have to do with free will, anyway? I had planned to write a book about free will, set amidst fictional conversations with my father. Now, here was my father, slamming into my right eye – as if to ask me, “Why do the conversations have to be fictional?” I was the only member of my family who could write my father’s biography and now, in the final days of his life, it would be best to get started before too late.
I could write about his life and the actions the set his course, time and again, using these as examples of what free will actually was, what it meant, how it worked. I followed the progression of his life up to my mother and through to Blanche. I thought about the destruction my parent’s divorce wrought on my mother’s life and that’s where Rosa fit, because losing her had destroyed me so, with repercussions still felt to this day. (It was with Freudian irony that the first relationship I had after Rosa was with a single mother of three children!) And I realized that my own life is a series of exercises in free will. Maybe correlations can be drawn between the two lives. After all, I’m no biographer; I can’t do a proper biographer but I can use history to show how free will works in our lives and how the physical laws I mentioned earlier can be expressed in time.
Finally, this could all come together to show how free will functions in the life of someone whose own brain often works against his will and, possibly, his own best interest.
I don’t know if I can do this. The situation at work does not allow me to write. But I know that there’s something in all this and maybe I’m working on it without my knowledge. Either way, I’m running out of time, my brain doesn’t want to wait and, as I’ve so often been shown, I’m doing it whether I want to or not.