Evolution

Evolution is not an inevitable march forward into perfection; it is an unending, unyielding, messy red. Like death, he visits us all. Like death, he is not cruel.

The current iteration of our world, our bodies, ourselves is the best it will ever be! The great bias of history.

We forget we are the next in the line of progression to be bumped off eventually and maybe we are the failed branch in the family tree. It is not for us to know. It will be those digging up the impressions of our bones on rock our names and dreams forgotten who decide.

rlb 5.20.17

penny slots

Only my mother would consider the postictal phase of a seizure melodramatic. Only my mother would take herself out for ice cream on my birthday. Alone. Only my mother could consider consider an aversion to peanut skins overwhelmingly depressing. Only my mother.

There’s a concept in learning and conditioning called variable-ratio scheduling wherein the number of responses required to obtain a reward changes at random. It’s used most-recognizably in slot machines. Coin-greasy fingers slipping against buttons and touch screens under flashing lights and C-major chords beneath mirrored ceilings. Generic galaxies spinning beneath their feet. Blacked out windows. Not a clock in sight. With variable-ratio scheduling there the gambler will stay, suspended in their own perception of time and space, until they run out of money or some stronger stimulus comes along to distract them. Casinos do their damnedest to ensure that there is no stronger stimulus; cocktail waitresses are beautiful but unobtrusive providing everything from liquor to food to ashtrays and would you look at that? The ledge between the slots is the perfect size to hold all of it and a cup for more change (in the few places that still pay out cash rather than vouchers).

My mother is on a variable-ratio schedule. Most interactions are neutral or they are postictal disasters. But once in a blue moon I’ll win something large or small and that is enough to keep me coming back– one more hand, one more penny, one more roll of the dice.

rlb 5.19.17

Historical Perspective

Ink bruises in high enough concentration turning the backs of pages brown and green. Bruises unhealed become sores when the skin sloughs off and, undrained, left wet and unclean, they rot. This is why I refuse to leave the desert content to live on the river with her shifting shores. Rivers are supposed to have banks not shores but here– landlocked and lake-fed heading west for the lowlands where she will attempt to fill the unfillable– there is a memory of the sea. We were beneath it once. Primordial salt floating beasts the likes of which only whales and immortal jellyfish remember. Whales and jellyfish and the desert.

rlb 5.17.17