And now for a cloud-wringing surprise twist!
Rather than pick up where I left off, partly because I see no light in describing more of my mistake-filled pendular pettiness but mostly because my memory of the subject has been exhausted, I will pretend that all my musings, despite not leading directly to a conclusion, having saturated the billowy folds of my mind, condensed into a burst of clarity:
I would keep my smartphone's number but assign it to a yet-to-be-acquired old flip-phone, the kind without even a qwerty keyboard and the only kind that didn't require the purchase of a data plan, which phone I would keep turned off and buried at the bottom of a large, plastic lidded bin, betwixt the lowest in a pile of towels and pillow cases, the battery removed and stuffed higher up in this linen sepulcher, all sitting in the back of the bin, neat and white, the bin itself in a hard-to-reach area of a closet, another bin needing to be moved out to even access my plastic ark of a covenant, the shelf above then still preventing an easy grasp of its contents, and the closet itself difficult to open as its door did not sit well in its tracks.
Yes, my first act in giving up a cellphone would be to buy a cellphone. And my second to hide it. I would make calls and check the flip-phone's voicemail from my laptop using Gmail's calling abilities, but I would not have a Google number and so people could not telephonically reach me on Gmail--which also meant, that when I made calls, I would being doing so from whatever random number the good people at Google assigned to me for the occasion. If the internet were not to work and I really needed to make a call or if I needed to retrieve a text message from a bank or the great Book of Faces or if I had to flee my house during an android or Chaldean invasion, I would exhume my phone from its holy resting place. I wouldn't initiate contact through Twitter or Facebook. Messages sent to me through these services would be redirected to my email, from which I could respond directly without setting finger in the link-filled booby-traps of T & F (four years on, responding thusly is no longer possible). If someone wanted to text me, they could put my email address in the "To:" line rather than my phone number. If they wanted me to text them, I would send an email addressed to their phone number. Email Email Email. Email would be singular and I unsyncretic. If I met someone, I would give them my email. If I wanted to reach someone, I would do so from email. And if they wanted to reach me, they would have to, one way or another, send a message to my email. Or, as I would soon find out, they could just buzz up to my apartment.
Now, to return to one of the concerns I mentioned at the outset of Part 4, I needed to tell people. Telling is no trivial concern. To tell is to give your story, to represent yourself in the public sphere, to add to the avatar that is you in the social setting. To tell a story about communication--and so to comment on how telling is done in general--only added liberal-arts-major bilge: now it was not just my social avatar in question but also threads from avatar to rest of fabric; now it was not just message I had to worry about, but also the goddamn medium. What words were apposite? What manners befitted the telling? And, of preeminence to my mission, what words, what manners would best facilitate my new acts? ensure the rough transition be made smooth? grant permanence to my parting? What stories served this higher purpose best? This, my entry to a better, disconnected world. I would soon shatter (metaphorically, of course, that shit is expensive) my false idol, but what and how to tell people of my new beliefs? Of my haphazard awakening? Of the inspiring spirit now inside me? Lo, where hideth the Buzzfeed quiz proclaiming what prophet I was meant to be?
Was I an Abraham? Willing to abandon those closest to me at first calling? To sacrifice that which is dearest to me in the name of my new faith? Or would I resist the Word out of humility, like early Moses? Who am I, that I should go unto Jobs, and that I should scold forth the children of America out of Cupertino? I am not eloquent. "I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue." I am pleonastic on the page. Would my reluctance even stretch beyond the stereotypical prophet's to manifest itself as Jeremiah's eventual despondence? Would "...that my mother might have been my grave," he says. Would people call me as well the weeping prophet? "Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see disfavor and a digital tomorrow?" I say. But would I forbear? Or would words be in my heart as a burning secret shut up in Snowden's memory? Though, maybe, with no Eli to correct me, I would simply miss my calling. Or would conscience be unto me as an Eli? Would I even volunteer, after Isaiah? God asks "Whom shall I send...?" and he at once replies "Here am I; send me." Though, really, as Isaiah is apparently the only one present and a seraph has just purged him of sin and you can't just look around, shrug your shoulders, say to God "no idea; good luck with that," and walk away, his is a questionable autonomy. No, there is implied duress here. Isaiah is more like Amos than eager seer: The phone hath chimed, who will not quiver? "the Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?" And when I did prophesy, would I draw from the well of anger oft visited by the prophets? Would I pour forth against the device worshipers? Would I even match Jeremiah's alternate disposition, which led some to refer to him as a prophet of wrath? This Jeremiah pressed God to punish His people, to "pull [out the wicked] like sheep for the slaughter." But how to know if the anger building inside me did not exceed what social conditions merited? After all, why should Jeremiah have been angrier than other prophets who faced similar apostasy in the people? And then there was his apostasy, his display of a fury beyond his right to possess. Jeremiah sees God punish those who betrayed Him and seeks to imitate Him, forgets that he is not Him, forgets who is Whose instrument. Would I wrongly seek to smite my tyrannizing enemies, or those who put stumbling blocks in my way, be they friend or manufacturer? Would I luxuriate in the downfall of the persecutory powerful, of Blackberry, say, as Nahum did with Assyria? Or would I end up inhabited by Jeremiah's alternate alternate disposition, balancing fury with practicality, seeking to appease a mighty foe (who?? what?? email??) so that we all might survive? Or perhaps my ire could instead be tempered in effect by the beauty of Isaiah's words? Would I spin endless metaphors? Might I possess the ability to approach even just the murmuring flames of his linguistic majesty? Would I even be overly hopeful and consoling, a parallel of Deutero-Isaiah, promising that all this stuff would eventually work out? Could I paint an eschatological vision of man unadulterated? Of man and technology (lightly) holding hands and eating trail mix (one part your basic manna toasted and mixed in with two parts almonds and one part raisins; salt of the earth to taste)? Or would I become like Elijah, a sword-toting soldier of god, challenging hundreds of digital diviners to a duel between my ways and their idols, slaying them myself upon victory? (They'll be rolling in the aisles.) But could I address a crowd like Elijah, or would I need an intermediary, a Baruch to take dictation and read my words aloud, an Aaron to be to me instead of a mouth, to be, even to be to me as my prophet? Irrespective of who would do the speaking, how would the speaking be done? I just brought up, but in dread quickly discarded, the cancerous issues of metaphor and language--What of rhetorical and syntactical strategies? What of assonance? What of word play? What of sarcasm and what of sincerity? Of feeling? What of concision in phrasing? And what of total output, lazy Obadiah? What of elaborate descriptions, prattling Ezekiel? What of incomprehensible entanglements, without naming names? Oh, what of homonyms? Of inconsistency, ornamentation, and meter? Of repetition and retelling, of gemination, of tangents, of simile and simplicity, of parallelism and perspective, of parable, what of poetics, of prose, poetry, prose that feels like poetry, prosody--in other words, what of Style? A superabundance of stylistic choices at a wap wrenched me, winched me, seizing at me from the variously-fashioned biblical entries, shackling me, racking me, each multiplied by (sundry English translations and the original Hebrew), now tarring me, leaving me tasting fume and hawking plume, now tearing me, rending, extending me, leaving me drawn and almost decimated, leaving me howling and lightly headed, leaving them with pleasure whetted, leaving me feathered, fettered...frittered... who knew words could laugh? I Relent! could chortle so maliciously? Spare me, oh wrathful Language! could howl Let not Diction fall upon me! Too soon did I abandon Content, yes, I agree, and to there I must at once relapse: What to share of my history? Nothing beyond place of origin and approximate time period, who are you Micah? A full life, womb to tomb, framed by ancestors and descendants, I am Jacob? The internal spiritual crises, sigh! sigh! Jeremiah? The external psychological battles, an echo of David and Saul? Imagery drawn from my past, nature comes natural to Amos? Should I even allow my pronouncements to be shaped by my personal life, following Hosea, whose marital tribulations inflected and perhaps determined his words? Should I even allow my personal life to be shaped by my pronouncements, following Hosea, whose words inflected and perhaps determined his marital tribulations? Should I even allow for both? Or would my tale be of a grander and more divers scale, was I an Ezekiel? Like Hosea, his marriage was used as an example--and so in a debatably more tragic context--but Ezekiel as well was carried by visions along with a time-and-space-jumping forerunner of a certain Dickensian ghost, and this prophet could yet at other times decamp into silence, and then from either state could he emerge and partake in all manner of rant, allegorical gesture, and sometimes-odd stunt--"I will let a third of my hair to the wind, to signify the portion of our lives wasted on devices. But first let me weigh it out to make sure it is exactly a third. Does anyone have any balances? Yes? Anyone? I left mine at home. No? What about a knife?" Beyond stunts, was the marvelous out of reach? Could I breathe new breadth into my life, or someone else's, perform behavior-reforming miracles of inspiration to mirror the resurrections pulled off by Elijah and Elisha? Might what I leave behind, one day revivify? Stepping back a day's journey, what of ritual and morality? In other words, how much to emphasize the manifold technical changes in my life (how I used technology) and how much to say how life is going (emotions, behaviors, relationships, et cetera)? And, stepping back an additional day's journey, whichever of the above roads I traversed most often, how to strike the balance between style and content, between elegance and precision, compression and completion? Where to exercise restraint? polish? ambiguity? When is content style and style incontinence? Should I aim for structure or give in to disorganization? To have or have not? Can the disparate be wed? And, stepping back three days' journey, as I traveled back and forth between condemnation and consolation, stopping in between to urge for a change and repentance that would never come, where would I tarry longest? And would time prove me wrong, or, worse, prove my diction deficient, my words in either case discarded? How could I even know if my honest convictions came about honestly? After all, Micaiah described a lying spirit put in the mouth of certain prophets by the Lord Himself. In other words, would enough of what I said hold true or be said well enough or at least possess enough of the spirit of truth in it to keep me from relegation to the dust bin of false or forgotten prophets? But then would some future compiler or editor--
Wait! Where am I? How did I get here? Where is here?! In whose incubating vision did I just lose myself?? It is not 3,000 years ago. It is today. Therefore I am in a room, sitting on a couch, a room not in Judaea nor Samaria but in New York. I was no prophet. I am holding a computer! Neither was I a prophet's son--next to me is pizza!--nor had I any interest in being a prophet--I'm an atheist for Christ's sake!--memorable or not. Prophets, the kind we remember at least (and remember we must because they are past), especially the latter ones (not in my living room on my couch), full of messages, the ones materializing after the judges (but before me), are annoying, are maligned, derided, abused, and rebuked, are persecuted, worst of all are ignored (still...). Ezekiel's forehead was made like adamant harder than flint so he could face the rebellious house of Israel; Jeremiah (sometimes) knew his admonitions would go unheeded, that the people cannot hearken; Isaiah was to make sure of it. Why would I seek such a fate? I would run from such a fate. Of course, almost all prophets were at least occasionally reluctant or disheartened--and I speak here of the sanctified prophets, the ones who might even reject the title, not of their ofttimes rivals, the forgotten court lackeys and the prophets commissioned solely by shekels--meaning I was in the position of the self-hating Jew on this account. And yes, I'd be saying against an established power structure of sorts, but one could hardly say I was a destabilizing force. I had no sway. I was not ordained. My words would not even be heard, let alone forgotten. I was a mosquito stayed by strong wind. And sure, I had my ideas about what would come to pass, but I was also sure most of them would pass unfulfilled. Then again, vaticinal accuracy and precision were not necessary hallmarks of a prophet--some never even tried to predict and, for those that did, there was leeway for the incorrect/somewhat correct (despite Deut. 18:22) or vague ("Out of the north an evil shall break forth" does not predictive superpowers make). If anything marked the prophets, it was their war against idolatry. And yes, I too was fighting an idol--but my war was a personal one. I was disconnecting--what did that to do with anyone else? So, let me rephrase: Of course I did not believe myself a prophet or anything of the like nor have any interest in acting like one. I did not think myself special--then again the prophets would probably claim likewise (even if their words and actions might counter such self-reflections), so better to say that I did not feel compelled to some mission. Though I knew that friends might accuse me of thinking myself inspired, that family might condemn me for preaching, even, even if I did none at all, just by virtue of my actions with respect to device--even actions alone appearing attestations of my superiority, judgments on my compatriots, urges to repent and mend their ways, or kindling recognitions of truths in kin that must need be suffocated by anger towards me, as a man throweth a stone at the waters if his reflection displeaseth him--my goals were too selfish to care about changing others. Me? A prophet? No. Self-importance didn't enter into my denomination. Not that the prophets were self-important--they didn't choose the position. One cannot choose to be this organ; the matter is in the hands of Another. But even if they felt important for having been chosen, and even if they hypothetically had chosen--well, one must efface at least a part of oneself to be played by God. That is, a part of one's self will be effaced when one is Thus played. So. Where did that leave me? I--I was just a man. A man worried about the what and the how and the why of my life. I didn't care for more.
But what of the prophets? What of my vision? What to make of my vision?! I can't ignore it--it's right there, two paragraphs up, on the page. Where is Daniel?! I need Daniel! "Daniel!" No answer. "Daniel!" Nothing. Think, Think. Now what? What was I to do? Shall I? Shall I try my hand at interpretation? Can I? Me? No, I couldn't possibly... Well. What choice did I have? None: I cannot imagine that my vision intended to reduce each prophet to an anecdote or particular aspect of personality. Nor, conversely, to imply that an anecdote or particular aspect of personality was peculiar to the prophet under discussion. It seems, as I relive my vision now, that I was granted an occasion to learn something from these (mostly) men, these invested teachers, perhaps to find models of behavior amongst them...them who were made to see and cursed to know the ills surrounding, them who were tasked to communicate the greatest message of all--yes, I think I see it now--some risking their lives to speak and yet to stay silent would incur a Greater's wrath, that of the most powerful communicator of all, He whose words came to life! On Whose behalf the prophets spoke and demonstrated a message instructing nothing more than the proper way to interact with one another, human with human and human with Creator, up and until eschaton, up and until He wrote His law in the hearts of His people, in their inward parts. But I, I found enough ills in my inward parts to keep me occupied beyond eschaton. These must be dealt with--forget prophetic mission--there could be no new beginning otherwise. So? Perhaps--No. Well...perhaps the prophets, then, perhaps they could be metaphors for me for how I might, intentionally and not, sound to others and behave, even if I did not share an analogous mission, even though--as I said before--I had no wish to change others.
And yet--and yet, that is not it, that is not enough. I did wish for change and I did have a mission and I did feel a certain kinship with the prophets--or, as kinship with men of God is a bit self-aggrandizing, I'll say instead that I felt a special affinity for the books that contain them. Also, I just spoke of ills to remedy, of remediation as a precondition to a new beginning--hardly antithetical to a prophetic mission. Perhaps then--perhaps it would be correct to say that I did own an analogous mission, just not an external one. Or, rather, one not external to me. I had to make changes in myself so that I might be able to change how I live so that I might improve my life. Perhaps then it would be correct to say that I hoped to be a prophet unto myself. Yes, I suppose that might make some sense, that might account for why I looked to prophetic books for guidance, why I seemed to identify with so many roles in their pages, identifying despite feeling empty of a desire to transform others. This all directed me back to him whose company I always seemed to end up seeking, back to Jeremiah, who had to overcome his own spiritual crises, his own heretical outbursts and mental breakdowns, to "take forth the precious from the vile," before he could return and continue his outward-facing mission. Of course, the changes I was making and the mission I was possessed by were all confined to me and all intermixed--but there was heresy in what I was doing, there was spiritual crisis behind it, and I might certainly have mental breakdowns if others overreacted. In any case, to keep the battle internal and its outcomes confined, I would need to focus the blurred lines between relation and explanation and justification and proselytization and pen myself below the second demarcation. I say proselytization as slipping into such a mode was a danger for me, not to imply that the prophets engaged in it. The prophets weren't seeking converts (outside of the wives, children, and servants in their control) (and I had no one in my control, so at least I was safe on that account) (though there was a younger brother under my cellphone plan to whom I would soon refuse a smartphone upgrade)--more like reverts. The prophets sought to restore those who were ostensibly of the prophets' persuasion to that persuasion. Perhaps they hoped that these reverts might, in the very long run, be a light unto others, others who might "take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you," but this hope was hardly active prophetic pursuit. And, as there were none of my persuasion extant, I would be a prophet wanting congregation even if I wanted to be a prophet unto others. In any case, I sought neither revert nor convert, not to turn nor return--if I hoped that others would do as I did, it was only because they'd be easier to deal with.
Besides, how could I change others? I had not been chosen. I had not been consecrated. I had no script. What would I say and who was I to say it? Who would anoint me? Would my lips be purified by burning coal? Who would feed me the words I was to say? Was there even anything to illumine? But, again, I had no interest in being a prophet prospecting outwards, a living torah to guide the luddites (I'd have to create) till teachings were set down in writing. My concerns, such as they existed outside of self-reformation, were far more pedestrian and purely neurotic (I have a strange sidewalk in mind's eye, full of 5th century Woody Allens):
In my efforts to disconnect, was I telling people that communicating with them was not a priority? And by extension that they were not a priority? How to explain that disconnecting from device was not disconnecting from people? That there was no metaphor here? That, if anything, disconnecting from device was connecting to people? But, since this was a goal, if I indeed hoped for more humanity in my interpersonal relationships, was it not strange that I was resorting to a more electronic and detached method--email (and only where there was a computer and wifi) as opposed to phone (cellphone: not just always at hand but always in hand, with potential for talk, for back and forth of text, for endless ways to "express" oneself to others; landline: the qualities of a real, human voice)--of communicating with people? How could I explain that away? But putting content of message aside, what of method? What of delivering said content? Could I send a mass message regarding my new approach or was this one-on-one time? Would the former be viewed as dismissive and distancing or more easily accepted at face value and as non-negotiable? Would the latter be viewed as an opportunity to dissuade me or appreciated as considerate and in the service of fellowship? If I chose the former--mass message--do I do it by text? Direct and with expectation of immediate response. Email? Sometimes impersonal and with some leeway for delaying response. Facebook post? Public-narcissism-with-no-expectation-of-response by point of diamond engraved with heavy-desire-for-response. Etc.? All of the above? Which would serve me best? Which deserved to be elevated by virtue of its use for my lofty explanatory mission? To be recognized as somehow more necessary for human interaction as a corollary of having been chosen to explain my thoughts on human interaction? (Each outlet has come to mean something, even if that something is ever-evolving, to have almost a certain purpose, to convey information in a certain way and within a given structure, even if dependent on context (one might reverse the above notes on text and email for a work context, say) and relationship, to offer a specific degree of personalization and invitation for response and engagement, to carry an inherently different degree and timbre of performance, even if each ear be singular--not that each outlet was necessary for communication; I certainly felt I could massage (email) and (calls by Gmail) to accomplish what I wanted or needed in life, even if life proved unstatic). And, if I chose the latter--one-on-one time--did it behoove me--as, again, one of my goals was to increase 'connection' with people, especially when we were together--to let people know in person about my plans to disconnect? Former (mass message) or latter (one-on-one time), did I owe my public a full reckoning or just a Tweet-like proclamation? In other words, was this to be a human moment, a late-night, into-the-early-morning-hours conversation, or a look-what-I-had-for-breakfast-lol moment? And putting content and method aside, what of implementation? Was there a grace period I should give people? A sort of transitionary phase? Or was a communications protocol one of those things you could adjust at will? Should I be more lenient with some than others in the transition or would that send mixed messages about my intentions? Content! Method! Implementation! What to say?! How to say?! When to say?! Direct, descriptive, playful, concise, conciliatory, philosophical, dense with explanations, foamed over by rants, apoplectically apocalyptic, I am exceptionalism, aphorism is wisdom, socially conscious commentator, appeal to finer nature, empurpled tongue vermillion sky, severed from flesh, carnal incarnate, mothafucka of da peeps, grunt grunt, shhhhhhh--What would I be? What manner of being correlated with what reaction? What could issue from me proper to the matter at hand? But forget that--what was the issue? What was I trying to say? I didn't know. I didn't know. No, seriously, I didn't--Fuck. Am I just--I can't--Am I just stabbing darts here? How should I answer? I mean, where were the questions? What am I talking about? I don't know. I don't know. Reread this piece--or even series--so far. I mean--All nonsense. So don't reread it. I should stop writing now. I can't figure it out. I have presented a history of Babelism. I don't know what to write! It is obvious I had failed to pin down what I was trying to say and convey about communication. I am running on babble. It is obvious. I had failed to arrive at something hard and fast, failed to conclude. But had I even sussed out the proper domain? The point of intervention? Elevate? Me? Ha. Ha Ha. The thing about which to take a stance? Have I done even that? I don't know anything. Enough! I will not go on. No. I didn't know what I'm talking about. I'm failing to come up with anything! What's the use? Just to circumlocute like this, inside my own head, battering away at my own brain, exhausted myself and my own emotions, and for what? For melancholy's sake? Oh, I would it would all stop! To depress myself with continued failure? I hadn't known. That was my reward? What is the point?? Just made the change already. Stop talking. I will not went on. No phone. Stop Thinking. It hurts! Get rid of it. Simple. You haven't even figured out your topic?! I'd gotten nowhere. I didn't know. I've regressed, even. At least before I thought I knew and didn't know how much I didn't know. And now? That I see this chasm before me? Inside me!! There it was. I gave up. Here am I. I want no more. And--and perhaps it doesn't matter anyway. I have had it! Perhaps it was all vanity. I haven't known anything! No more words on the page. How would I?! They ruin me! I don't see what I didn't see. How couldn't I?? All wasted time and squandered energy. Where? I won't ever. Might I escape vanity? Just go get the flip-phone you want. Perhaps it didn't merit any attention at all. What comes after? Stop. Writing. Was it worth it? Order it online or something. At what cost? What is its purpose? No what medium. What--you know what you did! You'll break. Now. What was it going to get me? How could you not know what you are doing? Now now. What does it want from me? No more how to tell. What you have known?? If I keep writing. I don't know. If I were. Maybe. If I was. You knew! Did it have goals? Nobody cared. if I was maybe if I would it Happened!! When? would it be Clear, distinct, observAble?! Turn off. When will all of it at once be known? People could find out. It, this...thing, this, this, this...it. They'll call and. this What?! When?! Now what? why? No. No. no no. I would have had...no choice. It's--it's not right. The long-term...the long--let me, let me catch my breath, yes, the long term...perhaps the long-term results...are all...the long term results...stronger bonds or...friendship drifts...depression or peace of mind...productivity...boredom...were all--were all...that mattered. Yes. Yes. And perhaps! I couldn't. I will have had it! I mean, sorry, I, no, No! I can do this. I will myself to... I did... What? this... No! I will do... I had had enough! no, I didn't mean--just, just...let me!...sorry...I mean (here he gently closes his eyes and takes a deep breath before opening his eyes and then opening his mouth to speak, for a moment breath suspended, and then words issue forth and he like a toy unwinding): and perhaps these were even dependent solely on the change I was setting in motion on the elimination of device and not on any words or behaviors I could produce. There. I could. (here he knew he could). I told you. produce. I. why? but. Who am I? anyway. to... Me?? Who am I? anyway... ...here he trails off. And for a moment now, he is again frozen. Then, suddenly, with a single blink and a cartoonish jerk of his head, he reanimates: Oh, I am weary...here, here is a rock, some stones...let me--let me rest my head now, let me sleep a little, that I may...
I believe I have observed before that people believe that they cannot cut down their devices, that they need device to live. This is and was (since I'd gained enlightenment) a sentiment unshared by me, of course. But I do identify with--or, rather, I now identify that I once identified with one of the causes for this sentiment. Spurring each defeatist is more than just pragmatic concern. There is as well spurned fear--no, not spurned, not ignored even, but unrecognized fear, or perhaps deliberately unidentified fear, fear of embarrassment perhaps, of having to say sorry I don't have a phone, of having to explain oneself forever to everyone, of reproach--even by tone or gesture or facial expression (an unseen movement of the eyes, even, a squeeze just below the nose, ever so slight, a pinch in a corner of a lip, tsk tsk) but also by full-on fulmination--of lack being isolator. And so, though I didn't know it, I was afraid. In inner dimensions I could hardly be sentient of, somewhere so fathomless in the bowels of my bowels that depths and their contents could scarcely be conceived, let alone ruminated, there an unease had suffused, was eternally too dispersed to be pinned down or even acknowledged, even by a sub-subconscious. There I knew Job under scorn, a strange comfort offered me. There I felt the exiles, the repeated Yom Kippurs to come, friends taking turns with the role of God, jumping the calendar to plague me with, well, you know. And there I saw what would become of me: "And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be."
If the manifestation of fear is a hasty retreat, the manifestation of unrecognized fear is hesitation. And, as it would be a telling that would usher fate my way, here the hesitation preempted speech. Unease in the bowels of one's bowels refers to immobility of the mouth, leaving a patient stricken with logoparalysis, the body's way of forestalling what unleashed tongue would soon drag in. Such was my condition. If I could have seen my fears, if I had reckoned with them, I might have collapsed under their weight and abandoned my intrigue. But I was blind to them, and my blindness pushed me forward by keeping me in place.
However, despite the destiny it would draw nigh, syllable by uttered syllable, explaining myself to skeptical friends and family--first in the conversations that dwell within one's thoughts, then in the live-and-in-color fleshy variety (there manifesting my rehearsed bits as best I could--there talking after the imagination of mine own heart, with those walking after the machinations of theirs)--was, whether or not I liked it, however and however much I tried to prevent it, an inevitability.
Well, no. To call it an inevitability, even though it was one, is to unjustly acquit myself of responsibility. It was a duty, something owed to my community. There was honor in it, even--or at least it was a matter of honor, at the very least a matter involving honor. But I felt it as a burden, even as a burden upon my back I felt it. And yet I saw balm in its discharge, in the carrying of the burden to its conclusion. The telling needed not be simply a social obligation, an arrogantly-generous concession on my part to some imagined needy and overbearing public--there were ways for me to profit.
Aside from being revelation to others, to tell is as well a part of how we understand ourselves, form our own internal narratives. And, as I began to sort out what I was actually doing and why I was really doing it, where I would now be situated socially, and what and of what strengths my ties to others would be, I was like a student in class who, never raising his hand, though considering and deliberating the issues at hand, only thinks that he is thinking. A panic arrives when he is suddenly called upon. Quick! What to say? What actually is his opinion? Telling forces an answer. Telling impels iterative thought. Telling coheres vague notions into theories and protocols--Telling, then, could be how I explained myself to myself.
Now, while I didn't anticipate the level of anger I would encounter post-tellings, and the resultant almost talmudic-level squabbles I would involve myself in--both with others and in my own mind--I did know that there would be some back-and-forth, some degree of image-fashioning, some measure of me answering questions and so on. After all, I couldn't just make the switch and not tell people. I couldn't tell people and not try to mold my story to influence how they'd see me--my likeness was at stake! I couldn't mold my story and not modulate sanctimony depending on audience, softening it for one if tact were called for and then firing it up to push another's buttons. I couldn't sit there after tellings and just ignore questions and scoldings and jokes. I couldn't respond without explaining my reasoning (to others and to myself), without provoking defense mechanisms (in others and in myself)--one part announcement, two parts justification, and presto, a cracker of an argument is half-baking--or could I? Could I squash the need to understand and be understood? Could I treat the telling as a throwaway line and shrug my shoulders at confrontation and cogitation? Was the conversation really an inevitability? Must I cast myself?! (The existence and ever-increasing length of this multi-partite haggadah should suffice as answers to these last few questions.)
However, even if/though I didn't want/crave/need a conversation, and supposing I at least managed to delay it, if not be altogether wicked and avoid it altogether, at bare minimum I would still need what, in this context, would be the lesser sibling of a telling, even of the throwaway variety: a notification. This notification would need to communicate to people that I would no longer be communicating per social norms--that I had a new system in place--nothing more. But I did less than even that at first.
In the beginning was the lie over email:
"hi [sic] people, gonna be without a phone for a few days til [sic] I get a new one. email [sic] me if you need me...though I can't imagine of what actual use I could possibly be to you...unless one of you needs someone to sleep on your behalf."
These few, lethargic words sent to friends and family (on April 2, 2011), a new force, suddenly and improbably, compelled me, energized me. The declaration itself seemed to demand action, that declared must become deed, this deed must become me, the power was beyond me, puissant, awesome and unyielding, and then exciting, do it, do it, as I, now commanded, my self refracted, ambiguity polished away, with an ecstatic but nervous pride, restraint exorcised, with relish curbed and intensified by caution in the face of the momentous, decompressed, as if thunder might now inexplicably be triggered in my very being and overwhelm my senses, yes, myself already almost saturated by a foretaste of its shatterings--just--yes I, with the joy of angels singing and the enthusiastic anticipation of a divine light ready to enfold me, now, even, a first amber ray beaming towards me, yes, I can feel its warmth now, the cloud breaks, a fire just an infinitesimal distance from my forehead, I bear witness, already a pulse, yes, a first rush roiling through me, my tongue is bleeding, his wake quaking even before Him, the Spirit of the Lord! My mantle now unwrapped! His hand strong upon me! Will I yes! Yes to mountains rending! Yes let the Spirit take me up! Yes to the voice of a great rushing! Yes let me fall on my face! Yes to the sight of a devouring glory! Yes to an epileptic, mind-flooding blindness! Yes to before, before, before, yes I! With appropriate melodrama! Powered down! My! Motorola Droid! One! Last! Time!
And then I...what? Out of the midst? I, I sit? Astonished? Where? Here? Am I--well, I, uh, I...guess... Right! I go online to search for the period-piece-with-a-numbered-dial-pad I coveted--only to find that none were available on the Verizon Wireless website. Nor on espn.com. Nor did I see one at the Verizon W. authorized retailers I later walked by. Nor at my local genizah. Nor was one on display at the official Verizon W. store I eventually crawled into. Luckily, here a most merciful employee was able to excavate my future antediluvian curiosity from what I could only assume was a pre-Judaic tomb deep beneath the store in a heretofore undiscovered and undefiled cryptic antechamber to the seventh circle of hell (devices that didn't afford Big Wireless much opportunity for data charges had apparently fallen far out of favor. And, I suppose, had no buyers--save one). Purchase complete, I interrupted my idle idol idyll (homophonic trinity bonus points!) and anticlimactically powered up my Droid to have its contacts transferred. I then re-powered down said Droid--trying but failing to muster up the self-righteous rapture that accompanied the 4/2/11 power-down--threw this...this...wannabe Apple in the perhaps-half-a-cubit-cubed paper bag Verizon had given me for my just-purchased new relic, and dashed home in a cinematically diluvial downpour. I arrived, inordinately bathed--I arrived, fished out of water but tri--I had arrived, triumphant, purified by the heavens and--I arrived...to find only the relic in the bag?
Rain had opened a hole through which my beloved Droid had slipped away for good.
Stay tuned for Part 5 of this series.