If a question is so politic as to mouth the words that don’t even rise to an audible whisper, can you read its lips? This may be asked of you. The question is intelligent, it knows you may not be ready for it, and doesn’t want you, and knows you might, push it out of the way, cleverly, while no one is looking, give it a gentle, but accurate, and tragically effective kick to the curb. The question knows all this too well. It’s been here at least 2 million years, waiting for someone to engage in discourse.
Who wants a slightly abused, no longer like-new question? The question knows that any energy sent its way is a form of affection, however misguided. It’s like the question is your sibling, and as a young ‘un in this world of inquiry that pierces through all men, women and children have done, it realizes you might be resting in an exaggeration. You be exercised to find that not only does the emperor have no clothes, my goodness, no one does. We point at the question, collectively, all this time, and with no other recourse sometimes resort to calling the question the thief of our raiment. We are, yes, incensed.
The question knows it can’t live without you though. The question is smart enough to know that it won’t be borne on an empty wind. No, it will need voices to breathe it across the empty miles of interstellar space between each one of us. Like a solar wind there will needs be friction. Sizzle and pop mark the syllables of the day, and though it is not what we originally intended, these fricative noises serve as message drums as well as anything else.
Susurrations do well enough too, for those who listen well, and position themselves far enough from the ubiquitous background noises we semi-consciously generate and deliberate, avoiding untoward and awkward run-ins with questions we find embarrassing, or worse, castigating.
Leaving you to surmise that a question will be best observed from a distance. Pretend you are Marlin Perkins in the Wild Kingdom. You are not in your own element, but on safari. You are not at the top of the food chain, and he question might be.
Observe the question, probably at a water hole, because questions are very thirsty, and if they see you the question might well determine that your thirsts are imperfect. Like an alloy gone sideways, we are complications of metal and other heavy and rare earths that are combined haphazardly not entirely by ourselves. Yet, we are culpable just by virtue of being the embodiment of this incomprehensible mash of elements seeking to be unrandomized.
Don’t betray this to the question. Stay in the blind. It is good to remember we are blind, even as we think we know what we are looking at. We see, in part, our own dreams coming to life in the jungle of space, and it is well to remember that. The only way you will ever get close to a question is to have the patience to know that the question, though well and sharply toothed, wants to eat out of your hand.
For that to happen, you will have to remain very still. Just as you want a dangerous question to somehow be safe, the question too is asking the revolving spheres for some relief, even from as dubiously intentioned and sometimes aggressive, sometimes frighteningly timid, beasts of the mind that we are.
So, you wait. Hot days and cold nights will pass. And we will ask ourselves, why are we doing this? The question is unmoved.
Not moving except for its lips. And then you begin to understand. The question is not a dumb beast. The question is praying. You begin to look at the lips of the question for all the answers.
That is another big mistake. The question, for its part, is only trying to survive. Trying not to be eaten up in the morass, muck, the murky waters of those that would proffer answers that are not even answers to this question, but are just thrown up, like a spare tire, at any question that passes. If you’ve never seen a question, try to limp off into the outback with a spare tire the wrong size, I’ll spare you the pity.
You can’t put a question into an aquarium or a zoo. You can try, but the question dies, and disappears leaving not a trace. Best you just thank your luck stars that out here in this increasingly savage wilderness you have, in fact, through no virtue of your own, encountered an authentic living question in its natural habitat.
By Evalyn Baron
On November 25, 2022
One of my favorites among all you’ve shared here……the question as a wild animal…..yes!
By Paul DeLong
On November 25, 2022
Thanks Evalyn…means a lot coming from you… not in the least because you are a sagacious reader… and my most faithful one to be sure, lol <3