Thursday, January 12, 2012

When You Are Looking At Something, You Cannot Imagine It

from "Paraguay"
by Donald Barthelme
Herko Mueller walks through gold and silver leaves, awarded, in the summer months, to those who have produced the best pastiche of the emotions.  He is smiling because he did not win one of these prizes, which the people of Paraguay seek to avoid.  He is tall, brown, wears a funny short beard, and is fond of zippered suits in brilliant colors: yellow, green, violet.  He is, professionally, an arbiter of comedy.  "A sort of drama critic?"  "More what you would term an umpire.  The members of the audience are given a set of rules and the rules constitute the comedy.  Our comedies seek to reach the imagination.  When you are looking at something, you cannot imagine it."  In the evenings I have wet sand to walk upon--long stretches of beach with the sea tasting the edges.  Getting back into my clothes after a swim, I discover a strange thing: a sand dollar under my shirt.  It is strange because this sand is sifted twice daily to remove impurities and maintain whiteness.  And the sea itself, the New Sea, is not programmed for echinoderms.

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