July 8, 2017 (Saturday)

by Yule Heibel on July 7, 2018

I’m not in a very equanimous space right now. I’m angry, I’m depressed. I’ve spent this past week of pretty weather – just for a change, we actually had consistently good weather – hacking my guts out and having non-fever fever sweats, doing double laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and listening to both A. and W. hack away with their coughs, as though we were all in some kind of deathly call-and-response. And I’ve listened to the traffic, and I realize that noise can kill. If not kill you outright in body, it can kill off bits and pieces of you till you’re not quite sure who or what you are.

I feel isolated, not connected. I hate the “noise” of the professional chattering classes the most, and while I don’t have TV, I unfortunately subject myself to their amplified insanity via Twitter. I do this in part to know what’s going on, and to understand why a perfectly intelligent and respectable Cambridge-based person I consider a friend, who is NOT a professional chatterer, tweets out an insane Russia-hacked-the-election tweet. Seeing her tweet was akin to a gut punch in a way. Incredulous, I thought, “You really believe and buy into this shit, don’t you?” It’s one thing when the IYIs, as Taleb calls them, do it. They get paid to be ignorant. But when people you know who don’t have a bone professionally in this fight and who you thought have both feet on the ground do it, you have to wonder. Then you see a completely deranged Keith Olbermann tweet (I don’t follow him, but someone I do does, and he RTed Olbermann, with commentary), and you realize, “Oh, okay; this is where they get it.” It’s mind-boggling.

So, there’s that noise, then there’s traffic noise, an absence of calm and quiet. And there’s illness noise, all the disruption caused by the bug, the sweats, the coughing, the inability to exercise. I wonder if quiet and silence and absence can be equally destructive? I bet it could, if it isolates.

Isolation is a funny thing. It – the word – derives from island (or island and isolation derive from the same word; same thing, sort of). You are enisled, I guess, when you’re isolated. Not connected. Not reachable (easily), not traversable. You don’t in fact have to alone to be enisled. You could be on an island with other people, but you might still all be enisled if none of you ever leave, get off the rock, connect with the other islands or the mainland. You can be enisled in a marriage. Enisled, you can feel the isolation in whatever circumstance you find yourself: married, but craving the connection of casual, for-once-non-sexual touch.

How to connect? How do you connect the island? And with whom? At what point, if enisled, does connection become a bubble? Reaching out and connecting with like minds might connect you, but isn’t it a bubble? And does a bubble build genuine bridges, sturdy conveyances that get you off the island, out of isolation? Or are bubbles just ways of importing furnishings and more enisled people to your already isolated state?

Maybe bridges built in the mind are fundamentally unsound and shaky. Maybe they have to be built through touch and feeling, or at least be in part composed thereof. A back rub, a hug, a caress, a handhold. Not just a thought.

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