A flood of random thoughts
an extended extract from book 2/1, travelling, Buenos Aires
Standing on the wing of the airliner, Alice smiled and took a deep breath. The airliner wasn’t in the air, but being up here was great all the same.
She spread her arms and took another deep breath.
Yes, this was fantastic.
Late in the afternoon, Jazz found Alice sitting on the wing of the airliner.
And then Alice started to talk. First hesitantly, then random thoughts flooded out. She talked as if she hadn’t talked for days when in fact, she had been talking all the time. But maybe she hadn’t talked about the things she had been talking about. And now a lot needed saying.
You would think that, once out, a person would be done with whatever had been said. But apparently talk needed repetition. Or maybe in all of this talking, some thoughts hadn’t made it out so far, and now the neglected thoughts got impatient and wanted out too.
‘Earlier, I was thinking about this phrase,’ Alice continued. ‘I’m as free as a bird. It feels like that up here on the wing. And then I had this pang: Yeah, if only I could fly. What’s the use of being as free as a bird if you can’t fly? And see, that summons up my mood pretty accurately. There’s a lot to be positive about, but there’s always a voice, pointing out the flaws. You know, when I got up here, the plane technician said: “You better be careful, lady. I don’t want to scrub you off the ground.” Same thing. Free as a bird, but I can’t fly. There’s something relaxed and self-confident about the Buenos Aires Team, don’t you think? In a good way, mostly. You know, Oscar Wilde wrote: “Courage has gone out of our race, maybe we never really had it.” Courage is a key. I’m sure of that. Did you meet Navarro?’
‘That’s him,’ Alice said, chuckling.
Yes, Jazz remembered how bluntly Alice stared at Navarro at first. It was embarrassing for both of them and amusing for those who witnessed it.
‘Navarro decided to join the Admin and Society Team in London,’ Alice went on. ‘He’s a philosopher. Talking with him was like giving my grey cells a proper airing and letting them dance around, jump and spin, find new routes and connections, bring up intriguing questions, getting into corners of my brain I haven’t used in ages. He said: “The only way to progress is to give room to imagination and then cross-check what comes up with common sense.” I love that. Mind you, it wasn’t all intellectual lovemaking. We had a few solid arguments too. But here’s the thing, you can have a great argument with someone so long as your opponent isn’t all knowing but open to consider ideas and questions. In the end, we agreed that there’s no such thing as two sides of a coin. There’s usually a whole box of coins. And the boxes have very different sizes, to say nothing about globular- or prism-shaped coins. Globular is a word I learnt from Navarro. Sounds funny, doesn’t it? Glo-bu-lar. Anyway, people just call for a simple truth, because they don’t have the patience to see every detail of a matter. It’s too complex for their liking. And there are always contradictions. Nothing is just one thing. Everything is multiple. We just don’t always know the extent of the multiplicity. You know, the trouble with a university degree can be — and it’s a can — that knowledge only gets reproduced, parroted, copied, instead of extended, reinvented, questioned or adapted. And you know what really disappointed me as a student? A university degree doesn’t save anyone from stupidity. At worst a degree makes you more stupid, because now you think you know something, and you have a piece of paper to prove it. So with Navarro’s help, we’ll make sure our eduction facilities don’t produce parrots but thinkers. And more importantly people who know they don’t know. Though, what they know might prove useful in learning more. And we’ll teach them to unlearn. Because, no matter how much you get apparently right, there’s always an endless supply of mistakes. Some mistakes open doors, others dress up as right choices or even as facts, because we don’t see the full picture. Which in itself is something quite ambitious. And I wonder whether we’ll ever get close to a full picture. You know, people want a recipe, a manual, or a riddle with a cheat-sheet. But thinking for themselves, that’s asking too much. Well, that’s a bit harsh. But then Navarro pointed out: “A person needs to believe she’s right, because being wrong is unacceptable and bad for self-esteem. So everything that’s said or written is perceived in a way that fits in with a person’s preconceived perception, and that keeps the person on the right side, on the knowing side, on the side of those who know what’s right.” Well, we had quite a fight about ideologies. Which is something I don’t want to use or do or create.’
Alice took a breath.
The main flush seemed to be out, and Alice looked a little guilty. But a few stray thoughts hadn’t made it out yet, Jazz guessed. ‘Go on then. Let the rest out too.’
Alice smiled lopsidedly, inhaled and continued: ‘I wondered about insects, poisonous snakes, sneaky predators, and the abundances and diversity of them all. Why are they all here? But then I thought: that’s nature for you. It’s full of things without much concern for reasons or efficiency. It’s abundance. And it worked well. Until humans got cocky. That’s what always gets me — why are we humans so destructive? And even feel good about it? Apparently. And I wonder why children are so clever? Is it because they are still curious? I don’t know. But adults could be curious too. Maybe we really become too dull as we go through life, too broken by life’s demands. Or too blind? That’s why we need to do something for adults. We can’t just push all of this mess on the youth. If we do, they’ll only end up as dull adults themselves.
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Pages: 62 pages, 16k words
Price: €1.48 (incl. VAT)
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