Nigh-negotiable [chronicles of dis-/infection, dec 2014]


Happiness is the longing for repetition. •–•–•Milan Kundera

Pattern recognition is the friend of life and the imagination. Cognitive cousin, if you will. As important as it might be to mathematics and psychology, all those folks obstinately investigating the ties of our neural gelatin to the stuff beyond our eyeballs, PatRec also at every turn, playful cousin, delivers little bursts of joy in everyday life as we recognize: the man in the moon, the old lady & the young woman, the Caribbean atoll on Gorbatchev‘s forhead or the gallopping knight along the cloud‘s edge. If we look and listen long enough, we will mentally trace the unmistakable outline of a figure familiar to us in the unseeming nooks and crannies of the ordinary. And then, before we know it, we conjure a little story about the smiling, happy-go-lucky VW or the weary WWII soldier forever finally about to troop out of the wallpaper‘s random pattern…. a wallpaper, like the star-spangled welkin, jostling with figures from the subconscious.

The one I can remember on the spot, here&now, is the man stuck in the mountain, his face turned West, sunsetwards, gazing at the Berner alps. He looks… relaxed, languid, death-like – little wonder as his face is flash-frozen into a mountainside for all eternity. I can only speculate about his body, continuing somewhere under the Swiss mountains, his intestines part of the bowels of the earth.

Yes, faces we are most attuned to spotting, wishing to see a fellow human form amidst the disorder and the white noise. And if we do and when we do, we feel that, aaaayhh how nice, reality is peeping back at us rather than showing us its habitually frosty shoulder. Just the other day I once again spotted such a face, imaginary and real-as-can-be, much surprised by my unexpected appearance in the building‘s spectral stairway…. 0o0 the genial groundfloor ghost!


One knows that is only the egomaniac phallacy that makes one imagine so but often enough it seems that life, the whole big shebang itself, is trying to teach one a lesson. One-on-one lessons tend to be an expensive proposal but that‘s not the sticking point. The thing about life as a teacher is that it is breath-stoppingly pedantic, cliche-ridden to a fault and just generally not really up-to-speed on acceptable modern didactics. And yet it teaches indiscriminately, each and all – even the most ancient, honorable sage might be ordered for a remedial class or two.

One of its many platitudinous lessons is on a type of wholesome symmetry that pervades the universe, the principle of ying&yang where, yaaaaaaawn–sigh–grunt, the good and the bad have agreed to a balanced cosmic detente. The peacable shape at the end of the joseki. As trite as this axiom might be, people don‘t tire of making recourse to it, especially on occasions of (ever so minuscule) vengeance [e.g. Now that‘s Karma for you, thou fatherless fuck!], falsely secure in the illusion that life has done some soul-searching so as to be at their back, now, in recompense for earlier slights to one‘s noble, incomparable, saintly EGO.

And so anyway: balance, symmetry, equilibrium… in every remotest quadrant of existence. To the point where it becomes difficult not to note it, the lesson‘s manifestation in „real life“ and, simultaneously take note of its hairbrainedness. Which is to say: 7 days ago two of my good friends were blessed with a babe [effortless and in silken fettle], while a fortnight prior someone dearly close to us [our family] was given notice of their own cells, ever so bastardly malignant, turned against themselves.

Ahhhh, but this is no type of symmetry at all! There is no balancing act. No equillibrium, no fairness, nothing of the like! It is this‘here petty little mind noting a star of joy and a planet of pain leaping into existence simultaneously, a few clicks apart, connected only and tenuously by the outraged mind. Suddenly the trite lesson is painfully present and what seemed a cliche inflames the nerves, befires the brain with endless, looping thoughts. Every question in the book springs up and remains as unanswered as it ever has been: why this good person? why so early? why despite due diligence? why, after all, such spiteless disregard for life by its very own elementary children, the cells? why all these whys again for the billionth time in the history of our species? – And the joys of parenthood at the other end of town? So lovely, well-deserved, adorable and yet so cruel in their juxtaposition. Which why can do this justice? Goddamn an equilibrium! There be suffering and joy, dear reader and us mortal little pirates inbetween, none the wiser.



The year, of course, having accrued a few billion rehearsals, is ending again, effortlessly, reminding one above all, how nothing really ends. My german classes‘s students, with near-scientific certainty, will be back to interrogate me about unknown lexemes [which perhaps they should‘ve already studied for homework] and tricky questions on grammar that I will not be able to answer without going entirely off topic [also: tossing to the winds the communicative approach‘s prime tenet that students of language are primarily interested in communicating, blabbing away agrammatically at the very first opportunity], yes, the DAF and DAZ students will be there and so will I, ideally, happy to teach them or rather, coach their multi-dimensional learning processes [haha].

PH Luzern [M.A. degree] classes, no, modules [every lesson like a big, expensive piece of unwieldy furniture] will be back too, unexpectedly&unfortunately, as a few requisite degree-courses slipped the attention of my erring ECP or ECT grip. Modules clustered one about the other so numerous a few were bound to be lost from my sight. Badminton might be back, if I manage to clear one weekday-evening from obligational brambles.


What obligations anyway? Always these things we have to do to remain amongst the connected, respected and living: shopping groceries, prepping a PPp, going for a coffee w/ a friend one hasn‘t seen in ages, teaching the 18:00 A1 class, dashing off to the gym [to maintain the required stamina/muscle], pay the bills [which fly onto one‘s desk like the most pesky of locusts, bloody perennial], shopping groceries yet again, hoovering the appt, the whole appt, getting up in the ungodly AM to, ah yes, go back to work. Etcetera. It‘s not all bad at all, just unending, the year doesn‘t end, it flips back to January 1st [in well-recycled disbelief: Can you believe it‘s January again!?], updates that last digit on the year-count like the way you (feel compelled to) update WhatsApp… a soft, nigh-negotiable yet total, i.e. social obligation.

The year will start over again, unstoppable, with a calendrical ferocity that betokens the continuation of life, cyclical, unstoppable, manifested in the way women (of my age) are giving birth left, right and center. They start again at zero, breath, cry, drink one milliliter of milk per hour, shit their pampers with reckless abandon. Get out of the way, Life is back again! It is the end of December and the beginning of January. Continue what you‘re doing as you move forward to the new start line.



To the west is the amorphous brown muck of terra matter, a minuscule area of her that has been exposed to the other elements. The grass has been removed, one assumes, by caterpillars or other massive machinery of matter transfer. The proper lexeme is heavy machinery. And often I wonder why indeed, it is not swallowed up by the brown molasses one usually sees it parked in.

Was it really a caterpillar that removed all that grass? It might‘ve been a bulldozer used for scraping off a meadow instead of plowing remains of a building into the ground. Caterpillar, bulldozer,… evocative names borrowed from the animal kingdom as if the clunking, bulky machines needed at least a smidgen of organic grace bestowed upon them. But then bulldogs and caterpillars aren‘t at all graceful, nor can they tear up green turf.

What actually probably sheared off the top-layer was a Scraper, possibly a 613c or a TS-14b. They pragmatically fullfill their job: „The rear part has a vertically moveable hopper (also known as the bowl) with a sharp horizontal front edge. […] When the hopper is lowered, the front edge cuts into the soil or clay like a plane and fills the hopper.

The hopper descends, slicing into old Ma‘ earth. A slab of feral grass and subcutaneous soil is dissociated from its habitat and maybe an old, pained wail rises, the one heard when some of our number forcefully reduce nature‘s space to something rectilinear, hard, compatible with piping and power that serves our civilizational needs more predictably. Perhaps not though; no romantically bawling Gaia because the soil has long been deathly poisoned by millions of rounds of ammunition from the previous military range and to see that grass of blades have even persisted here is miraculous.


But then what toxicity is it anyway that doesn‘t kill off the wild meadows and its dancing schools of butterflies? The persistence of life in the face of our garbage, our non-organic droppings, our detritus of urban growth is really something, isn‘t it?




About tmabona

writer, reader [bolano, DW, bellow, deLillo], runner, badmintoneer
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