Humans’ understanding of space—and the stars and planets and the intergalactic debris between them—is infinitesimal. There simply are too many facts and processes and interactions between them for our remarkable (but crudely aboriginal) brains to comprehend. I suspect we know an equally small proportion of what can be known about Earth’s oceans—and the life forms and prehistoric clues to “origin” hidden beneath miles of water. Our brains’ limitations, too, will keep us from knowing more than a tiny fraction of what is knowable. We (I should say they, inasmuch as I am not involved in the endeavor) keep trying, though. The search for knowledge is admirable, if futile. It’s the futility of the undertaking that makes the effort so commendable. To reach the unreachable. The nobility of the idea is breathtaking. Stunning. But delusional. The romantic notion that humans are pursuing—and will continue to pursue—the impossible is a source of pride. Embarrassment, too; depending on one’s perspectives. The strength of that pride, though, usually is sufficient to overwhelm the sense of shame that accompanies attempting the preposterous.


I woke periodically during the night, each time feeling like I must have been asleep for hours. Invariably, though, only 20 to 30 minutes had passed since my most recent glance at the clock. I thought I had taken quite some time to fall asleep again after noting the time; but it could not have been terribly long—because the 20 or 30 minutes had included the time it took for me to get back to sleep. When I got up at a quarter past four this morning, I felt like the night had been extraordinarily long, but I had gone to bed only a bit more than six hours earlier. Having arisen so early (like in the “old days”), I decided to take advantage of the extra time available to me. The second of two loads of laundry is in the washer and the first one is in the dryer. I’ve finished my first espresso. I’ve scanned the morning news (which was a rehash of yesterday, reminding me of the absurd movie, Groundhog Day). And I’ve devoted dribs and drabs of time to this post. By 7 pm this evening—thanks to my early spurt of energy—I may be ready to go to sleep again.


Time cannot be recycled. At least that’s my thinking on the matter this morning. Once a moment has passed, it cannot be recovered. It cannot be relived. After it has been experienced, an instance of time cannot be experienced again—not a second, not a minute, not an hour, not a year, not an eternity. That being the case, the idea of time travel is a pointless, wasted concept. Science fiction, in my view, should portray something that could conceivably be possible at some point in the future, given potential advances in science. If the experiences of moments of time are “one and done,” then they have not legitimate place in science fiction. They arguably may have a place in science fantasy, but not science fiction. And science fantasy is whimsical garbage. Sue me; I’m in a judgmental mood this morning. I may become more forgiving of the idea at some point, but I’m relatively sure that point will not take place today. And I’m absolutely certainly it will not take place at some point in the past.


Poetry is the emotional equivalent of sandpaper. Poetry smooths the rough edges of ideas and words, removing sharp edges that hide truth or understanding. But, like sandpaper, poetry can accentuate those same sharp edges, revealing the pain and discomfort of reality. This morning, I think poetry is too often subjected to unnecessary analysis—it can be categorized, pigeon-holed, examined microscopically, and otherwise dissected and evaluated and criticized. On the other hand, haphazardly stringing words together does not constitute poetry. Poetry weaves words and phrases into either physical or intellectual images (or both) that may evoke different emotions in different people. Poetry encodes insights that might not be understandable in “standard” prose. But beautiful prose can—sometimes inexplicably—carry poetic qualities. I choose not to spend my time and energy trying to classify poetry by type or style or mechanical attribute. Scientific evaluation tends to replace the mysteries of poetry with artificial armatures; the original is a living, breathing life-form, while the examined version is a mannequin.


For some reason, drinking tomato juice jazzed up with several drops of Tabasco sauce makes me feel virtuous. I might feel both virtuous and dangerous if I added a bit of vodka to the mix, but I’ll be satisfied this morning to leave the vodka for another time.  It’s after 6:30; I’ve let half the day slide by. At least I’ve accomplished something of consequence; clean laundry is naturally consequential.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Consequences

  1. Bloodboy, your characterization of me as a dangerous man is ironic, don’t you think? How many microbreweries have you run out of business by consuming so much of their products that they have nothing left to sell to an adoring public? But the idea of linking vodka and brisket and danger is more than mildly appealing. Bring the first two ingredients and I will supply a keg of beer that you can transform into danger. I await your enthusiastic response…

  2. Kneer Springblood says:

    Mr. Swinburn, you are and have always been a dangerous man, with or without the application of vodka… Especially around a brisket! Be well…

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