“Shall the world, then, be overrun by oysters? No, no; horrible!”
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Adventure of the Dying Detective“
They told me the world was my oyster, and I was just left with so. many. questions. For example: I appreciate the oyster, but is that ALL? I mean, they’re full of protein, but I’m still gonna be hungry. Oysters just aren’t very big. Or is the world some kind of giant oyster? In that case, proportion matters. Oysters are quite protoplasmic; you don’t really eat them with a knife and fork. (Or, at least, I wouldn’t; not raw, anyway, and what kind of barbarian would sear the sea out of a thing from the sea-bed?) Indeed, oysters are generally consumed while alive (clarification: optimally, both you and the oyster are alive at the time of chewing). This means you ought eat them quickly, and also, you can’t very well wrap some of the thing “to go” bag for later munching.
(This is even true of that strange blasphemy, the fried oyster; oh, you can take ’em home, but the oysters themselves will vanish, leaving you nothing but the crunchy shells. They have gone off to a better life, the same place as onion rings go if you leave onion rings unattended for too long.)
But I digress away from a vastly more important concern:
What if the world is your oyster if and only if you also cannot have your cake and eat it, too? I mean, what if this whole set of food-related homilies is naught but an intricate series of denials, built into the language to imply that good things must be limited? If so, we should worry, because bad things come in threes, and we’ve so far listed only two.
(Unless this is a good thing in a small package, but seeing how we’re racking up words here, I’m not sure that the package is all that small.)
These are just some of the weird implications of all of these bits of long-held wisdom. And I have further problems: if the world is my oyster, that seems to be pretty hard luck for everyone else who isn’t me. Also, I’m pretty sure I am part of the world, so the world is therefore “a thing which belongs to me, which also contains me”. Which suggests that, should I actually eat this world-turned-oyster, no matter what size it is, not only will it barely make a dent in my hunger, but also, I will have just engaged in self-cannibalism.
That’s the sort of thing one might do (tip of the hat to Mr. Stephen King on that one) if one feels comestibles are scarce. And admittedly, going back to the cake thing, it does sound as though the baked goods in this phrase exist solely for the point of teasing you to the brink of insanity. I mean, what is this restriction on simultaneous possession and consumption of gateaux? The moment a cake becomes yours, you become unable to eat it? Terror indeed! Hypothetically, you could amass all the cake in the world (which is a very large amount of cake, unless the world is an oyster, in which case, if the world is a small oyster, the cake must be microscopic, but still, proportionally, bigger than you are)…anyway, presumably, you could have literal tons of cake, and be unable to eat any of it.
I suppose this means that, should you want to consume cake, you must steal it? Theoretically, once it’s stolen, it might be “yours”, but it’s probably not rightfully yours. Right? Unless, obviously, you already possess the world because the world is (as suggested above) an oyster that you own, but to be perfectly candid, why would you want to own the world if it were a mollusk? Oysters are like the rest of us living beings: they need things from their environment. Oysters gain nutrition living in sea-beds. If the whole world is made out of oyster, if it’s just a giant oyster floating in space (or a tiny oyster, also floating in space, also containing you, over which you have some form of technical and/or cosmic possession) then it’s going to be a dead oyster very soon, and what’s the use of owning a dead oyster, unless, perhaps, you really like the shell part? (But still, the oyster is not the shell; the oyster is either the protoplasm-plus-the-shell, or it’s just what’s inside the shell. Nobody said you get to keep just the shell; that’s a separate object! Don’t be presumptuous)
What I’m trying to say is, you can’t have it all. Which is good, because “all” would include cake, and evidently, if you have cake, you can never eat it; quod erat demonstrandum. On the other hand, maybe you can have it all, in which case, WATCH OUT, because the world will also encourage you to take a problem and “give it your all”, and then the problem will have everything and you will have nothing.
What I’m trying to say is, it is what it is, and apparently “it” is an oyster, and that is horrifying.
What I’m trying to say is:
I’ve been alone, in my apartment, not going out, for ten days now, and the words, the demon-driven sulfur-blazing locomotive-full of words have been whispering and contorting through my head, twisting back in through themselves and flinging themselves though corners of my mind where I thought no corners existed. The words are waking, the words are howling to be written, and they are strange and they are twisted and I love them so dearly; O, thou curious inhabitants of the back of my head, O, thou peculiar flashes of dream, thou art denied me in my slumber, in order that you may stream out towards any page I leave unprotected! Thou art my comfort, thou art the shock of sudden life, thou art the nameless spark of vitality which infuses my hands with purpose and my eyes with speedy acquisitiveness, as they dart back and forth, reaching out for ideas, pulling them in, taking them apart with my fingers, twirling them into new shapes in hope of creating amazement or amusement.
I am whirling in the tempest of my own mind, connected to you always by the way you kindly permit the missives from my skull to flow into yours. Don’t send help; I desire no cure. If thou must fear the infections of the world, then let me offer a gentler contagion: here is a cup of artisanal insanity. Sip it, if you would, and pass it on. No-one is truly trapped when they have words to reshape their realities; it is just that the nature of most realities is to distract you away from the knowledge of boundless creation. This is because all things fear change, and Reality knows perfectly well what you can do to it if you try.
If we must lose our sanity, then let us loose divine lunacy upon the world. Bring forth your songs, your tales, your wondrous aberrations. Give them to me; I will hold them dear, spin them into something different, and toss them back to you on glimmering wings.
My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities, put on events, and make stories come into being. I also tweet a lot over @darklordjournal.