Thursday, September 20, 2012


I can remember what a revelation it was to me to find out that there was a word that described how things get messed up: entropy. This "gradual decline into disorder" was a relief to me. It was the word that described Alvy Singer's ennui as a child. I've written about it before, and judging from the title of this blog, I probably will again. So here goes: Reading Thomas Pynchon's "Crying of Lot 49" as a freshman in college gave me the sense that I was opening a door to knowledge that had been hidden from me all those years. There was a vast conspiracy out there, and it wasn't just human beings involved, but the very laws of physics themselves. The whole world was falling apart, but that was precisely the thing that made all this art possible. "Every act of creation is first an act of destruction." Pablo Picasso said that. Of course he was using words from other people's sentences to do it.
I've been feeling this more keenly as I age, and the people and things around me move from order to chaos, in spite of my best attempts to keep them from going that way. Maintaining a house and and a family center is more and more difficult as forces beyond my control keep us slipping toward the random. This was most apparent to me this past weekend as I stood in front of our dryer. Here I was, cleaning our clothes with the expressed purpose of putting them back into drawers where they could be worn again. I am constantly fishing the odd sock out of this crevice or pulling that one from the static flurry of a freshly dried sheet. It wasn't the socks that got to me. It was the lint. When the dryer was empty, I pulled out the filter and skimmed a handful off gray fluff into the basket next to the machine. That basket, though not very large, was stuffed and overflowing with similar-sized balls of gray fluff. This was the distillation of our laundry, the clumps of loose threads and fabric that have been diminished from our clothes over these many months. That pair of pants that had to be retired a couple of weeks ago? They might still be around if not for the lint filter working its evil magic. That favorite shirt will someday be part of the void.
I'll bet Woody Allen gets all his clothes dry cleaned.

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