Sunday, February 24, 2013


Ernest was not troubled that his epiphany was simply a recognition of the obvious, something that would have appeared no great mystery if considered while standing on the platform, but the observation and accompanying question—why was that?—had drifted into his mind like a fallen autumn leaf which the explosive arrival of the train had blown back out again and it was only after he had boarded the train and left the Norwood Av station far behind that the thought had recurred to him and he had begun pondering the view from the el platform, no longer benefiting from direct observation but instead summoning in memory what his eyes had gazed upon only moments earlier and on many mornings, and while he was not troubled for having spent his morning’s commute on so lengthy a voyage only to arrive at the obvious, since the final insight yielded by his reflections was recognition of an axiomatic truth rather than the obviousness of how and why the two views from the el platform differed, neither did he seem to derive pleasure from the more momentous recognition of the remarkable operations by which his brain had brought such efficient closure to the idle ruminations of his fancy, of the hidden alchemy that converts sensory data into knowledge and understanding trustworthy enough upon which to stake one’s weightiest decisions and actions, data collected casually, unsystematically, through a pedestrian assimilation, a peripatetic accretion, not unique to human beings and in fact exhibited with far greater proficiency by some of the so-called lower species, but then again, perhaps the smile on his face when exiting the train at Essex-Delancey originated not only from his conclusion that a shift in perspective may yield greater understanding but also partly from an appreciation of the wondrous machinery that, with a given assortment of sensory data, could manufacture such a conclusion, and yet, even while he was virtually being carried off the train in the snug embrace of the commuting herd, Ernest and his smile seemed to count for very little amongst the sea of human faces each with its own expression—whether smile, frown, grimace or sneer—each produced as a result of differing circumstances and different sensory data, each with its own peculiar story to tell, for anyone interested in reading it.

D.E. Sievers

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