CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST (wherein andrew describes his encounter with the paradox finding device)
later, as we sat in the kitchen alcove of
i considered 388 027. the number had no obvious significance, no sign of a pattern or mathematical errancy, nothing for the likes of an english major.
the man danced a practiced finger from row to row as he scanned the digits. he grunted occasionally, belched loudly when his finger stopped below a series of seven 9s, but otherwise seemed entirely absorbed in this gypsy math.
then, from behind the curtains i heard the now familiar hum of the paradox finding device. strange that i hadn’t noticed it before, i thought. then the curtain moved—i hadn’t seen the device move before, just the noise and lights. the curtains jiggled again. perhaps i’d found the paradox motherload.
i could now make out her figure behind the curtain, nipping at what must be the paradox finding device.
leaving the man to his cryptic pages of digits, i walked into the kitchen. the counters were mostly bare. a spicy curry-like substance stewed quietly on the stove. next to the wine rack i spotted the bright blue spray bottle.
“are you planning to spray that cat?” asked the man. he was staring at me now.
“maybe,” i lied.
“of course—well, don’t bother. come; sit, sit. there’s interesting stuff here, but i think that all we have time for are these twenty or so pages.” he was pointing to a stack of pages he’d labeled “election 2008.”
“this is amazing stuff. you score a seventeen!”
“is that good?”
“well, it’s a true paradox, that’s for certain.”
“see, look here. these numbers suggest that on both a global and a micro level you hold views that are paradoxical.”
“what do you mean?”
“for starters, you genuinely believe that barack obama is the moral choice for president, and the immoral choice for president, and that there is no moral choice for president. and you believe that mccain is in many ways the best that the republican party has to offer, but don’t expect to give him your vote—”
“i follow you, but you’ve got to give me some credit for consistently thinking that
the cat had abandoned the paradox device and was purposefully walking about the room.
“meow,” she said.
“hmm. perhaps. nonetheless, you believe that capitalism, democracy, and the protestant work ethic are keys to the continued success of the
“right, i see where you’re going with this. i’m stuck with these non-negotiables—we must have the freedom to earn our own keep, control our destinies, and live our lives without the interference of a malignant bureaucracy, yet the very system that allows such american dreams seems set up to propagate inequality, poverty, and poor health care. the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. and although many churches and social programs successfully address these needs, others create generational patterns of welfare.”
“oooh, boy,” he cried, looking down at the print-out, “and we haven’t even mentioned the abortion issue.”
i couldn't resist the bait. “i buy the arguments of websites like proobamaprolife.com, which describe how obama’s emphasis on decreasing the number of unwanted pregnancies through education, birth control, and condoms will have a greater impact on the number of aborted babies than any policy of mccain’s. and i hate how the republican party has co-opted this issue as the one way to keep evangelicals in their electoral camp. but i’m going to have trouble voting for a candidate that supports increased access to abortion.”
“you don’t even need me!” he flipped to another page. “what about your so called objectivism?”
“what do you mean? i’m a model of objectivity. after all, i’m an ISTP.”
“then how is it that you are so swayed by the call for change, by smooth talking, amazing speeches, and funny jokes? why do you esteem the underdogs and challengers over the seemingly capable incumbents? and why do you allow personal grudges—i.e., the lack of response to your supersonics pleas—to impact your vote? and for that matter, why do you so prize objectivity? ”
i stared at the man, dumbfounded. i looked at the pacing cat, at the hanging drapes, at the curious buzzing device on the floor. “i don't know. what’s the answer?” i asked.
he ran a hand through his hair, shuffled the papers into a yellow attaché case, and stooped down to pick up the device. the cat meowed once, twice, and a third time. with tired eyes he looked at me and then back at the cat.
“she says that you are the answer.”