And what was this weight?

In a world where we can become so accustomed to the over-sized, to the pretension of the monumental, here was this thing, this tiny object that I could hold in my hand, smaller than a paperback, but carrying more weight than anything I’d seen in I-don’t-know-how-long. And what was this weight? Whatever it was, it seemed to flow through those halls like lava: dense and slow, but hotter than you can imagine. And it filled those spaces with a power to preserve the old as new, and leave the new cowering in shame and in awe.

Beautiful thoughts on beautiful things from the Atlantic article Cloisters: A Good Place to Start by Andrew Baker.


The Exploding World

The day the world exploded didn’t turn out the way we expected. We associated a lot of things with explosions—death and destruction to name a few—and when we thought of the world exploding the picture we made in our heads was not a pretty one. Actually, it looked something kind of like this:

Which, you’ll have to admit, is not very nice. (I certainly wouldn’t want to be in that picture or in that exploding world.)

But we were so hung up on what we did know about explosions and the world that we forgot what we didn’t know.  Or no, that’s not it. You can’t forget what you never knew. So I guess what we forgot was that we didn’t know things. That there were things that existed, or things that could exist, that we couldn’t possibly know about.

When the world exploded, things were destroyed it’s true—pretty much everything we knew was gone. And it was really sad in a lot of ways. Everything includes a lot of things.

Things like:

  • trees
  • dogs
  • people
  • children
  • babies
  • lint in our pockets
  • the way the air felt against the sides of our cheeks
  • rain
  • weather
  • cars
  • buildings
  • mountains
  • the ability to make our friends laugh
  • quiet Sunday mornings
  • days
  • skipping
  • oceans
  • whales
  • calling in sick (not that we ever did this)
  • shoes
  • running away
  • the need for escape
  • smiles
  • fear
  • crime
  • guns
  • wars
  • laundry
  • responsibilities
  • singing
  • stolen moments
  • overwhelming sadnesses
  • sun
  • books
  • music
  • poetry
  • words
  • skin
  • the things we wanted to say but couldn’t
  • warmth
  • coldness
  • wind
  • birds
  • flight
  • our failures
  • the names we called each other
  • jobs
  • paychecks
  • houses
  • front lawns
  • sewers
  • the internet
  • math
  • science
  • speech
  • thought patterns
  • lists

All of this and more. Everything we knew, gone! BLAST! BAM! BOOM! BLOW!

Blown to smithereens. In a bright flash of color (the last color anyone would see again since color was soon to be destroyed) light, fire, and some other elements of our former life nobody could identify the world exploded all around us.

It kind of tickled for a moment and then a funny thing happened…

At the same sudden moment, the height of the blast’s violence, we found ourselves not dead or dying, or suffering, or about to suffer but exploding along with the rest of the world. Our surroundings expanded into new things and we became a part of those surroundings. We too became new things. Only we did not know what these new things, these new things that were also ourselves, were. How could we have? These new things had never existed before.  Or, if they did exist they existed without us knowing about them the way things like possibilities and the unborn exist.

The first of the new things we noticed were our new selves. We knew, we could tell, that we were no longer our old selves. It wasn’t like we were ghosts or spirits.

And before you get too excited let me make this clear, it was not a rebirth. I’m sorry, that would have been nice but that’s not what happened. We really did just explode. This world wasn’t an afterlife or another life, it was simply a new exploding world and we were new exploding people. If you could even call us people.  Because what I’m trying to tell you is that we really weren’t people anymore. We didn’t know what we were. We just were.

And I have to tell you, this was very comforting at the time. To be. To exist. I mean, the world was exploding, we were exploding, and yet there we were being. We did not realize how cool being was before the world started to explode but we were beginning to realize it.

Of course, some of us had a harder time than others.

For example, those of us that used to be mothers kept looking for children. Fathers did this too. Though, unlike the mothers, they did the looking outside of themselves instead of within and this made it easier on them. None of us found anything of course. There was nothing left to find. But there was still a tendency to look for all that we had lost. A lot of us went around searching for the people we once knew and the relationships we once had—family members, friends, lovers—but all ties had been cut, severed, and shattered along with the rest of existence and there was nothing to find but expanding places and all the unknowable things.

The former poets did alright. They didn’t see the explosion coming and were just as surprised as the rest of us, but they seemed prepared for it somehow. The disappearance of all of words and art was upsetting it’s true–and a few of them did mope around missing and looking for things for a few days–but then they all started to get together and wonder—mostly about things like what we were now, where all the words went, why there wasn’t any alcohol, or what happened to things like meaning and beauty and life. They didn’t mean to but in the process of wondering they created another new unknowable thing called heotropism (which really isn’t the thing because we didn’t have words or names to assign things but I made it up for you).

As you can imagine, heotropism can’t be fully explained or understood but it’s kind of like a big mess of confusion, awe, and despair but with new exploding-world parts in it too that you, being from the non-exploding world, would definitely never understand.  The former poets were used to this kind of nonunderstanding  though. And not having words for things was surprisingly familiar to them too, so they did pretty well. Also, they had all that wondering to keep them occupied.

And this is how the exploding world began to take shape. Not shape in the way the non-exploding world had shape (there were no boundries, no walls, and no sides to the shape the exploding world was taking) but shape in the sense that it was growing and forming itself. Or perhaps it was us who was growing and forming. It was hard to tell about these sorts of things in the exploding world. Everything was very vague and because we didn’t have hands, any kind of actual body, or even a container to keep ourselves in we really didn’t try to grasp things.

I’m not going to lie, this kind of exploding life wasn’t easy to accustom yourself too. Some of us hated it at first. Especially those of us who weren’t former poets. (Which was the vast majority.) The former accountants and economists had an especially hard time. They kept trying to find things to count but since there were no more things,  numbers, or math there wasn’t anything for them to do. For a while they walked around trying to figure out what it was they wanted and failed at it. This did not make them very happy and eventually they stopped. It was really weird actually. They just stopped, all at once, and then sturenditure (another fake word I made up for your benefit) was created which I can only describe as the ability to release something you never really had.

Of course we didn’t really know what this meant, sturenditure, but because there was no meaning and no shape to anything it really didn’t matter.

A lot of things didn’t matter, which really upset the former scientists. They wanted to solve things still and find answers. They kept looking for clues and wanted to run tests. Naturally, this was very hard for them. Especially because there was this film of being over all the new things that really got in the way and stuck to your existence so that you couldn’t come to an understanding of anything. Boy were they annoyed. Get this film of being off my existence! they would say without saying. The rest of us tried not to laugh without laughing because we liked the former scientists. We needed them. But they were pretty funny.

Even the former artists agreed. Though, to be fair, the former artists didn’t have time to disagree. They didn’t bother trying to figure things out and they weren’t looking for anything. Once the poets realized we could create things the former artists began to respond to the exploding world as quickly as possible and things began to expand pretty quickly after that.

It’s hard to explain to non-exploding people but everything happened so fast after the world exploded. We were all upset about the loss of course. We missed the colors and it was really hard for those of us who loved dogs to be in a world without them, but there were all these other things too. New things. Undiscovered things that we were constantly discovering. And not just discovering but creating. And they were everywhere these things. And every moment we were, every movement we made, created something new right in front of us. We didn’t even have to try. And it was all so incredibly new and unsure and we were scared out of our non-minds every single moment but we were so free. But free in a way we’d never known or even thought of knowing before. Even the free we were experiencing was new, was different and unknowable, in the same different unknowable way that everything around us was.

You have no idea what it’s like to live in this exploding world. You couldn’t possibly know the things we exploding people know. Our knowledge is not like your knowledge. It’s exploding.  Like duh.

And I have to tell you, it’s not at all how we thought it would be. It is so very much more. I wish I could tell you. I wish we had words that meant things for just a moment. I could make some more up—geohexamorphical, teribolacalic, magnarogharia—but they’re nothing. Not really. And they won’t help you understand.

But here, try this instead:

Imagine everything you know. Put it in your head. Everything. All that stuff.

Now blow it up.

Watch it explode. Watch the fire, the blast, the breaking apart, disintegrating, the outward movement, the discharge of all these things. Then imagine this exploding continuing. Imagine it going on forever. Imagine everything exploding into new everythings. And imagine it all going, just going and going and going, forever and ever and ever and ever. On and on and on and on.

Because this is the thing about the exploding world, the one thing I want you to know:

It doesn’t end.