Schrödinger’s everything

Odin stops at a cash machine to see if his new card works with his old PIN. It does. He gets fresh lottery tickets at the tobacco shop and it costs nearly nothing because one of the previous ones won minimal amounts. He decides to get something meaty at the store and on the way there, waiting for a light, existence unfolds for him.

But it’s not so much the world reveals itself to him as he finally understands why he never understands anything.

He can see too many options.

How can you be sure of knowledge if it’s not perfect?

How can you know anything if you don’t know everything.

It goes like this: he is thinking about a story he read that he liked a lot and trying to remember if it told anything or if it showed everything. Because on the one hand, the “show don’t tell” maxim for writing is ideological (and, like any ideology, used to manipulate more than you might suspect although not everyone totally agrees), and on the other he found the story satisfying and on the other he is thinking about writing a story that works even though it tells a lot and is ideological about it.

And he is standing at a light and thinking about telling, like, “we were unhappy because we were poor, or at least I was unhappy” and then he thinks, actually, the only way he ever had a chance to understand anything about people was for them to tell him something because showing — the entire world is always showing you everything, sometimes honestly, sometimes accidentally, sometimes it’s misleading or it lies and you never know which. And Odin never had the feeling that he understood anything, ever, because possible explanations and scenarios spawned in his mind faster than he could evaluate them, fractalling off each other like fever hallucinations you might get peeking in on a grown up party when you’re a sick little kid and supposed to be in your room getting well.

Everything is always Schrödinger’s cat, all the time, for Odin.

How is showing supposed to do you any damned good when so much more can be shown than can be processed or understood with any certainty or confidence, when the meaning of what is shown is so plastic and malleable and speculative, and when, at the same time, showing one thing obscures a dozen more?

It’s not much of an epiphany, but you take what you get.

Odin buys something meaty, but the only crows he sees on the way back to the office are way high up on the weather vane on the steeply part of some big house, or way up in the air, or in the crown of a distant tree.

Relationship tips from Erwin Schrödinger

Dear Erwin,
My wife says I must clean up the hedgehog poo from behind the storage shelves in the cellar because the plumber is coming and will be appalled if he looks and sees it. I say if the plumber moves aside the heavily-loaded shelves to check if there is hedgehog poo underneath then he is a PSYCHO FREAK whose opinion is of no consequence and that we should wait until we are moving the shelves anyway and chisel away the excrement then. Who is right?

Dear Sleepless,
You were BOTH right until you asked. For a fastidious Austrian woman, it is correct to unload the shelves, move them aside, and chisel away the hardened coprolites, no matter whether she is the one who has to do it, or someone else gets told to. For a lazy American male who has seen too much hedgehog poo for one lifetime, it is correct to wait until the shelves are moved for another reason especially when they hide the poo and it doesn’t stink anyhow. Until the situation is examined, your mutual rightness coexisted in a non-determinate manner.
But then you asked, so I will tell you: your wife is right.
Yrs, Erwin Schrödinger