A Prose Poem by Justis Mills
Let us suppose for a moment that the skeptics are right. For the sake of argument. Let us suppose that there are furrows between sorts of experience, of suffering, and that these furrows are not navigable. That we may only read messages fired over gaps, across borders, and speculate no further. That we are lonely creatures.
If the skeptics are right, we have so much work to do. We have to be quiet. We have to listen to people who strive to think slowly, to blot out inner lightning. We have to pay attention, actively, to many things we try to ignore. We have to build trebuchets and load them carefully, calibrate the angle.
Lennie: So what does all of this mean?
Justis: Sure! The idea was that there are always people who are pretty sure that almost everyone else is wrong about almost everything. They’re under the impression that people with different sorts of experience can’t properly communicate in any relevant respect. Older and younger, people of different races, or genders, or from different places, etc. Because their life experiences are too different for communication to actually work.
So if these people are right, everyone’s in trouble. If they’re right, we’re all isolated! And trying to communicate at all becomes extremely complicated. We’d have to be paralytically aware of our own situations, and those of the people we were talking to, and use plenty of disclaimers to connect even in a cursory sense.
Fortunately, those people aren’t right. It is possible to communicate. But everyone else is wrong, too, because we assume that it’s a lot easier than it is. Skeptics negate plenty of stuff that’s actually there, but everyone else assumes stuff to be real that isn’t there. A lot more of it, so that we can survive in our day to day lives.