Friday, May 28, 2010




: to place side by side

What a day! It just so happens that JUXTAPOSE, in any of its forms, is one of my favorite words in the english language. I am not being cynical here. I know, perhaps I jumped the gun on that exclamation point, but you have to understand, I'm just trying to keep positive, motivated, optimistic. I need that exclamation point today. And I really do enjoy the word Mirriam-Webster has chosen for me. This has been a difficult month—defalcation and embezzle within days of each other? Come on.

So. JUXTAPOSE. The definition "side by side" does not do this word much justice. This is on par with defining an apple as "a fruit." The implications of JUXTAPOSE extend far beyond proximity, to a place where an object is suddenly defined by its opposite. What an under-appreciated phenomenon—the way in which something can appear entirely different when placed against an other. A black is suddenly a gray. A good deal becomes a rip off. A person may appear tall or sweet or regretfully lost when held up next to another.

Does a being existing alone become nothing? I think about the question—if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, will it make a sound? I say, of course, it is solipsistic to think the sound only exists because I am there to hear it. But, then again, my answer to this question only exists because I am there to answer, and somewhere is there to ask.

I am constantly defining and redefining myself based on my JUXTAPOSITION with, essentially, anything and anyone—as though I don't exist outside this comparing. And maybe that is true. Maybe I can only self-define based on everything around me. After all, there is no place where I am totally alone and lacking any JUXTAPOSITION whatsoever. Even if I were to discover a place, there would be the whole issue of my thirty years of previous comparing and contrasting that I would somehow have to erase or forget. Even then, I may find myself thinking, how does this life of nothings compare to a life of somethings? Have I only become something because there is nothing?

I know there is an essence to the self, a solid core that remains unchanged even in comparison. But everything else seems to be constantly in flux. Is there a way to nail down these qualities? A way to establish and understand a mean without the values of other quantities? There is no average without a spectrum.

And so I JUXTAPOSE, I compare, I place myself in every scenario to attempt to gain a better understanding of who, what, where, when, and how I am.

And, no, I have yet to really figure anything out.

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