As a prosaic poetics would posit, B would not have happened without A (with A being negative in the realm of outcomes and occurrences and B being positive). We tell ourselves these stories all the time. But it’s not a matter of one singularity leading to another. It’s multiplicity, with a single person in the middle, and sometimes—maybe more than sometimes—we single people unwisely permit our moment’s myopia, our experiential singularity of any given piece of present, to extend to the vast proliferation. We forget that if A hadn’t happened, some other A would’ve, followed by some other B. Same genus, different species. Or maybe the same B. Who the fuck knows?
If that wasn’t enough, here’s another generalization: We piece our narratives together in retrospect and then assign causality and the result is a nice little happy terrible fucked up stupid picture of “things” that we can then present to other people and those people will nod and/or shake their heads because we’ve managed to tell a tale that makes sense and might even be like a tale they’ve told before, and they’ll tell you so and we’ll all feel good about being people despite the bad things that do on occasion befall us. Life as a timeline. Experience as a progression. Consciousness as an ordered sequence. They’re stories, and that’s fine. But they just happen to be, those Bs just happened to follow those As, and those As just happened to arise from some other set of circumstances, nature, and choices. And somebody had to tell it.
I’ll tell you a story. The A in this story is the job I took last fall that I actually mostly enjoyed and which got me out of an old job I hated but this new job went south fast and became about as bad as the old job but this one had layoffs and resignations. Some left, some were “let go.” I can put that in sarcastic quotes because A sometimes makes me bitter and bitterness is why we have lemons.
Anyway, I was scheduled to hear from a potential employer this morning and I had mixed feelings. Not good mixed, like cheese and caramel popcorn, but bad mixed, like opioids and alcohol—not so bad at first but unlikely to end well. I’ve had this variety of mixed feelings about them all along, pretty much anytime we’ve interacted over the past month and a half. And, like a person, I wondered why.
Being hired by them could be a B, but it might not be the right B. My mixed feelings could be about just this one part of the process, just being a candidate, the part where we talk about their “needs” and what “I’d bring”—like skills and popcorn and such. Or it could be about the whole deal, the whole job and the people and the company and the move to the most expensive city in this fair and fucked up land. Either way, instinct is speaking and it says fuck them, write.
Maybe that’ll be B. Maybe this time is for finishing some goddamn stories and prose-poetry and getting some publishable work in the hands of publishy people who publish things. Because maybe we don’t know how things will work out. Maybe all we can do is rely on our character, know our strengths, and let the narrative unfold as conscious, free-willed actors. Then go back and critique it in hindsight and wonder why we were so stupid, why we didn’t see B coming, and find someone to blame when B is a stack of rejection letters and steaming pile of self-dissatisfaction in the center of the living room of the apartment we can no longer afford because “no one” makes any money from B. But that’s just A talking, and it’s high time for A to shut the fuck up.