Conversation with Myself

The U.S. Department of Agriculture first printed its “Special Report on Diseases of the Horse” in 1890. It was reprinted in 1896 and later revised and reprinted in 1903, 1908, 1911, and finally in 1916. The 1916 edition, and possibly the earlier ones, included this sentence: “In the mare the thickening of the walls of the bladder may be felt by introducing one finger through the urethra.”

I came upon this information while trying to find a sentence in which the word “bladder” is used to describe something like the rubber bag inside a football. Though I found a very few examples, none of them satisfied me. I was looking for an alternative to “balloon,” because I had used “balloon” in something I wrote last July 5 (in 2018, that is) to describe my head; empty, save for air, and lacking in creative ideas. It occurred to me that I could describe my brain as a hollow bladder instead of an empty balloon, hence the search for usage of “bladder” in a sentence. I wanted to be certain I wasn’t manufacturing definitions to suit my mood; I needed visual reassurance that my intended usage was proper. Instead, I found that my brain is similar to a vessel intended to contain horse urine.  But, as I suggested earlier, my vessel is empty and as far as I know has never contained horse urine. Perhaps my choice of “bladder” was unfortunate. Maybe I should have stayed with “balloon.”

The point I planned to make was that a year has passed since I wrote about the absence of ideas in my head and little has changed with respect to its contents. My head remains empty, vacant, uninhabited by creative thought. One might think that, on the day following Independence Day, my head would be filled with reflections on freedom or self-determination. But, no, such thoughts only create questions about whether freedom and self-determination truly exist or whether we delude ourselves into believing in ideals that have no basis in reality. So I choose vacancy, instead. Vacancy is preferable to clutter drenched in doubt, ambiguity, and skepticism.

Ideas twist and circle around themselves, meeting in the middle and moving along to recreate themselves again. Think of the symbol for infinity, the lemniscate (also called the lemniscate of Bernoulli). I once knew the word and, I believe, used it for some obscure reason but I don’t recall why or when and I can’t find a record of using it, at least not on this blog. That’s neither here nor there, though. My point is that ideas refresh themselves in a never-ending loop. Bladder or balloon; they’re the same thing with just a slight twist. There’s no appreciable difference between my brain and the urinary sac of a mare, if you believe the words of the “Special Report on Diseases of the Horse.

Infinity, by the way, is not a number, according to something I read online. Yet the same scholarly explanation asserts the lemniscate symbol represents an infinitely large number. Later, it goes on to say, “Infinity is not a number. It does not represent a specific number, but an infinitely large quantity.” Methinks mathematicians may not be especially good with language. Of course, it could be that I am neither good with language nor capable of understanding mathematical logic.

Lest I leave lemniscate inadequately explained, let me incorporate a formal definition: “In geometry, the lemniscate of Bernoulli is a plane curve defined from two given points F₁ and F₂, known as foci, at distance 2a from each other as the locus of points P so that PF₁·PF₂ = a².

Maybe my head isn’t empty. Maybe, instead, it is filled with shattered fragments of information I never fully understood, even when they were part of a whole. Perhaps the creativity I crave is there, but shredded with pieces missing. That might explain my affinity for infinity and why I want the use of the word “bladder” to matter.

If I let it, this conversation with myself could balloon into something infinitely large and impossibly complex.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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