It’s a weird day. It’s been a weird winter entirely. Walking down the sidewalk, Odin alternates between powerful and stumbling drunk. Sometimes he forgets to breathe, then remembers and gasps in grey atmosphere.
Crows follow him to the store, where he buys salad and salted cashew nuts because he is trying to go a few days without carbs or sugars.
By the bench, two crows – Muninn and the nameless second grey one – take nuts without complaint. The grey one flies off with a beakful.
Odin’s little brother posted a photo of himself to a popular social networking website. Looking at it, in that first instant between seeing something and identifying it, Odin’s brain was already filing the image in the section of his memory associated with his father. Oh my god, Odin said, out loud. Odin had never noticed their resemblance before, his little brother had always been bigger than their father, taller and heavier, and now he was balding in a different pattern than their father had, and with a white moustache their father never wore; but the eyes!
Odin is in a universe in which recombination of elements is the basis of all existence. All matter is made of the same atoms. Sexual reproduction recombines genes. Philosophies and religions recombine ideas. The faces of children recombine their parents’ features.
Originality is in the recombination, not in the building blocks, Odin thinks.
The universe is one big Markov generator, Odin thinks. The present moment is a combination generated from previous moments. Your thoughts are generated from previous thoughts.
So, Odin tries something. Odin moves closer to the light.
First, Odin thinks he has stumbled onto an idea he could parlay into a massive self-help empire. Then, he thinks this is the idea at the root of every previous self-help empire (including religions) in history.
Now and then, Odin thinks, Love. Or he is nice to someone. Or he thinks about someone he likes, his daughters or his wife or a friend.
Odin meditates, and a cat crawls over him and he thinks, what a pretty cat.
When you are surrounded by shit, and you recombine things, and it comes out looking like shit, that shouldn’t surprise you.
So Odin stops surrounding himself with shit, and surrounds himself instead with beads and semi-precious stones, ripe berries and smiling women.
Odin doesn’t know if this is naiive or simple.
Odin tries to recall the hardest joke he ever heard, the hardest joke to tell, but all he can remember is the man telling it – the delivery – and not the joke itself. That alone makes him laugh.
It’s his father’s laugh.