Gorilla in a Darkening RoomJennifer Michael Hecht
A suspicion about oneself in the midst of placid repetition is a vehicle. The suspicion is not a destination. Obviously, the suspicion should not be denied, but neither should one believe it. Let us imagine that life in the arctic is going well for you, though you are entirely alone and the food is long gone; you’ve made your meek adjustments. The suspicion is a four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicle that appears, with keys, one dark day. My point is: it is important that you do not simply begin living in the car. Drive. Our concerns are the anxiety of not knowing where we’re going, and the terrific fear of being given anything else to do, of anything else appearing on our desk. We tender resignation. We succumb. We head back inside and stick in a thumb. It’s a not uncommon, it’s a common error about how things get done. How many gorillas does it take to screw in a light-bulb? One, but you need a lot of light-bulbs. The gorilla regards the crate of light-bulbs with excitement but by noon, despair. My friends, I admit, I can not bear the anxiety of not knowing. Outside, the African sky bleeds blue and oxidizes. Indoors, the one light socket opens herself to her gorilla and waits for the perfect turn. Did you really come here to talk about love? Poor baboon. This is no way to go about it, of course, of course we need to be more honest, to admit the secret weakness, the shattered, well, let’s move on. You hear the socket coo: My lonely gorilla, did they punish you into perversion? Under these circumstances it is hard to be epic. The best you can do is re-open the field of possibilities and resist rushing them closed. Bear the anxiety of not knowing. Resist summing up. The secret weakness wishes to speak, nevertheless, face it, nothing works. It is winter in the African jungle and I am empty. Below me, on the ground a silverback looks out at the bruised-fruit sky of a setting sun and then back up at me. There’s something about fear of darkness in his attentions. Crates of light-bulbs everywhere and everywhere broken bulbs. The terrible graying gorilla is really trying to figure it out now. He’s looking closer. I want him to figure it out, much as, in the other metaphor, I want to park the car in the first town I come to, buy a house, marry the village wine-steward, and open a nice Chianti. But you’ve got to roam. The mango-papaya sky at sunset in the jungle, the aurora in the tundra. Either way, be brave, press the sky back into the distance. Give yourself a little room. Inside the little room, dark now, the gorilla sighs, the light-bulbs sigh, the socket sleeps and dreams about the rising sun. So this is how the west was won? This is how things get done.
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