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120| Because they say honesty is the best policy, but anyway who are they to say anything at all

Wythe Marschall


I know I shouldn’t write this, seeing as how the aggrieved generally doesn’t retroactively claim the status of aggriever, but just follow me on a little gedankenexperiment: It’s actually a good thing that you transgressed, in a way, if we both squint, because the very form of your transgression — our choice of post-transgression tactics I mean — betrays you in now offering us a means of reconciliation — or perhaps more aptly of conciliation, because I don’t know exactly how concile we were to begin with, cf. your transgression.

Let me put this into less concrete terms for you: You are an inept, spineless bankrobber. You forgot to instruct me not to press the secret red button, and now the cops are blazing out of the precinct house like the last bouquet of flowers on Valentine’s Day. But for now, I mean for the next two and half minutes, depending on traffic on Canal, we have plenty of time to talk about your transgression — to get, as every relationship must, at some point between Thanksgiving and New Year, properly juridical. So tell me, hotshot: Is your transgression bothering you? Have you palpated it recently? Would you describe your body as physically bowed by it? Think about the bow metaphor, it’s a good one. Think of firm, green wood bending every so gently into an S — not good for the lumbar, I assure you.

The point is, you and I feel the same way about each other. I’ve been so busy gloating, perhaps due to the fact I nearly took off your leg with a standard bank-issue papercutter — and regarding the quick bandage work, you’re welcome — I haven’t had time to appreciate my victim status. It feels good to be the victim, to savor the evidential contours of a crime-committed-against, like an absent plum-sized-hole in the icebox, or a circle of dust mourning a swiped can of spinach from the pantry, or a cough terminating a glorious sentence drowned mid-absolute clause by the whine of a lowflying plane dancing under a cloud that’s reflecting down on us the yellow of an aster- and sweetflag-choked field somewhere out near Secaucus, an almost holy yellow of sunset, although it can’t be much past ten.

I only wish that, in the heat of or immediately after the imaginary leg incident, I had remembered my victim status vis-à-vis the imaginary bank robbery, and compared that status to your somewhat homologous status vis-à-vis the imaginary leg incident — because then maybe some magic solution would have proffered itself, like a salve, or a brick stuffed with huge, slowly revolving coins — a “fee,” if you will, for services and transgressions rendered and counter-rendered.

Alas. I am left composing this, somewhat belatedly, on a plane now gaining altitude so as to render the world of our petty, dissolving manias more toylike and therefore less threatening.

Wythe Marschall is a writer and PhD candidate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University, where he studies twentieth and twenty-first century life sciences. His work tracks the language of healthy and unhealthy bodies across biology, ecology, fiction, and art. You can find him on Twitter at @hollowearths.

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