A glass, a spec of dust and a banana walk into a bar. Well, they don’t walk into a bar, they are already there, but nevertheless. Having never formally spoken before they’re hesitant to start up a conversation, incase they’re going to be stuck there for too long a length of time. Glass and dust have seen each other around before, but banana’s new.
Banana: Now I’m not a Nihlist. But I’ve been thinking a lot about entropy recently.
Dust: Oh, hi.
Banana: I’m not local, so I’ve not got to that stage yet where my eyes are numb to my environmental visuals. I’m still noticing everything, like you know when you’re on holiday and all the cereals in the supermarket look so interesting, because all the packets are different? It’s like the objects jump out at you. They’re making themselves known. So I was moving past this sign by the canal the other day which read ‘PERFECTION is a matter of time’ in this kind of Comic Sans script font. If I’d seen that years ago I would have looked at it and thought: ‘Oh isn’t that nice? It’s so positive’ but instead I was like: ‘that’s wrong!’. Perfection isn’t a matter of time. Perfection can’t exist, especially in a world governed by the laws we know of, one of them being entropy. Instead the sign should read ‘ENTROPY is a matter of time.’ Or maybe ‘PERFECTION is still worth chasing in an entropic world’. Sorry do you want a drink?
Dust: (shakes head)
Glass: (quietly to dust)... what’s entropy?
Dust: (looks up on Wikipedia on phone) It’s a molecular disorder within a macroscopic system. It’s something to do with decay and death.
Banana: So this made me think, what actually is ‘perfection’? Perfection in an absolute sense just can’t be possible in a world full of entropy. Everything dies. Maybe on a scientific level it’s easier to measure, like perfect darkness, which is just the absence of light.
Dust: You know Anish Kapoor’s just bought the rights to use Vanatablack, that substance which neutralises 99.965% of light that hits it. It’s the darkest black we know. He just covered his sculpture in Chicago in it, the one that people took all the selfies in...
Banana: Yeah, but I suppose that’s different. That’s perfection as the absence of something, not the refinement of something. So what if ‘perfection’ is not an absolute state but instead it’s just a word that sits on a sliding scale, like a marker or a goal? If that’s the case then perfection is possible but it will always be debatable. For one, conditions may be just right, perfect, but for another not at all. And if perfection depends on perspective then it’s thrown into a state of flux. It just can’t exist.
Glass: Great weather we’ve been having recently..?
Banana: But I was also thinking, as much as I dislike entropy as a condition of this world, that it might bring with it a little treasure too. When you know something will decay and die it only makes it more precious. Wallace Stevens, the modernist poet, said ‘Death is the mother of beauty. Only the perishable can be beautiful, which is why we are unmoved by artificial flowers.’. I wonder if catching something in a moment, knowing it won’t last, increases or hightens the experience?
Dust: I think I’m gonna have to go soon…
Banana: I had this moment earlier, where you know how life just goes past, it’s so quick, and you’re taking in so much stuff all at once. And your brain just filters most of it out so you don’t go nuts? Well, one of those things that normally gets filtered out and forgotten, or logged in the brain somewhere: well I looked at one. It was almost imperceivable, like the focusing of a lens, which I caught just before it got lost in the cloud of reality. So that thing I noticed, could have been deemed insignificant and filtered out with the rest of life's noise, but I really quickly snagged it's tail. And I looked at it. And it was incredible.
Banana: So I used to work in a cafe. And I got really familiar with the coffee bean bags. I knew exactly what they looked like because I tipped the beans out into the grinder so often. Anyway, that cafe started a new cafe and they used the same beans, and I was in that new cafe, writing.
Dust: But you’re a banana…
Banana: Yeah, well, anyway. I knew these bags literally inside and out. Their image was solid and unquestionable in my mind. So I was sitting there and I heard the beans being tipped into the grinder and suddenly I saw the bag. Now I’ve no idea if I imagined seeing it or I actually saw it. Whether I turned my head, without realising, and saw the bag, or whether the connection of that noise to that image was so cemented in my neural paths that it was automatically summoned. And it was an amazing feeling. Amazing. Was that real, or was that just in my mind. So that was just a tiny little thing but I caught it and looked at it. And it made me think, how many other things have rushed past me and I’ve not noticed? And how can I make it happen again? I mean, it's as if you are in a field of dandelions facing an endless breeze, and those dandelion seeds constantly replicate to provide a stream of stimulus. And to stand any chance of focusing on the horizon and navigating the field you learn to drown out those visuals. But then suddenly, accidentally, one of those seeds has a golden tip and somehow you manage to catch it. So to find another you're left with two options: to analyse every seed as it flies past, an impossible and exhausting task, or to continue as usual, letting them pass unnoticed but confident in your ability to discover the next one when it chooses to fly by.
But now I’m worried that I’ve elevated it to such a high level that what I’ve made it into isn’t a good reflection of what actually happened. I've been thinking and thinking about it. I've been analysing the environment, internal and external. I've given it so much attention. But my worry now if that my memory of it is no longer authentic but hyper inflated. Being of the mind, it's harder to perceive the evidence. I can take notes, but I can't excavate the experience and analyse it as something tangible. And now I worry it will morph and twist into what I want it to be, as opposed to what it is. It will become legend.
Glass: So, I’ve got this thing….
Dust: Yeah, it was nice meeting you.