- Vol. 04
- Chapter 03
Image by Manon Bellet
THE UPPER LIMITS OF REALIZED ABSORPTIVE CAPACITYIt was a Tuesday evening when he lost his mind. Standing in the middle of the sidewalk, he tried thinking back to the last place he'd seen it as the city's soundtrack washed over him in waves.
A few hours before, he had been sipping burnt coffee and trying to ignore the discomfort of his bottom on the hard plastic seat while focusing on the presenter onstage. “The challenge of addressing Marxist feminism's internal inconsistencies once and for all,” she said, “is no longer simply a political imperative, but also an existential one...”
He knew he shouldn't have come tonight. Not with work tomorrow and still fighting off a headache, a wracking wave of pain that he always associated with flames. The cliché had made him even angrier. His body's inconsistencies were more of an obstacle lately to any kind of real action, although it could still be counted on for the usual fascinations.
Ergo, while he had struggled to follow the visiting speaker's rambling train of thought, his mind's eye greedily recorded the beautiful inconsistencies of her finely coiffed dreadlocks, her flowing blue dress. The speaker exited the stage amidst a politely brief burst of applause before the audience rushed to the refreshments table. He remembered pushing through the milling anarchists and socialists, making a note to update his Tinder profile when he got home.
And yet when he opened the doors and recoiled from the scent of the fish market a few blocks down, he realized he no longer knew where home was. And not in some metaphorical sense—he was immobilized by a complete absence of direction, one that neither his acquired experience nor his muscle memory could resolve.
THE UPPER LIMITS OF REALIZED ABSORPTIVE CAPACITYHe started to panic now, imagining his mind as a sponge being wrung out (another cliché), struggling to cup memories flowing by before they were gone forever. He could vaguely remember the praise he'd received in classrooms and around dinner tables, though without any context the scenes devolved into archetypes. The Platonic Classroom. The Proto-Dinner Table.
Faces he couldn't recognize applauded him for what now seemed like elementary observations. Was this why he had overestimated his own absorptive capacity, not realizing that the interweaving webwork of his physical and psychological selves was more fragile, more paper-thin than he could ever imagine?
“Head back to Kansas if you're going to star-gaze, buddy!” He was knocked roughly in the shoulder, interrupting his private drowning. He surveyed the city around him with new eyes, seeking a direction that made more sense than any other. As he did so, another memory took hold.
He was a Child, gone too far out in the ocean while his parents lazed on the shore. He was suddenly startled by a sharp pain on his shoulder. Turning to look, he saw a shimmering bulb being pulled away by the tide, tentacles trailing, its journey shifted forever by his impenetrable existence.
He felt the warm bath of tears and began to move.