The doctor was a middle-aged man. He couldn’t have been a few years over forty. Below average height with brown curly hair, he was chubby and appeared to be comfortable compared to the sterile environment of his Gastroenterologist office located on the forth floor of a renovated warehouse building in the Inwood area of Upper Manhattan. From this brief moment in time, a witness to the fraction of a second that corresponds to the duration of light passing from reality to the eye, he found himself triply estranged from his environment: once as a doctor, studying the walls of digestion; second, as a part of a larger project to repurpose industrial areas of New York, Feng Shui-ing leather couches, MDF furniture and exotic houseplants within a massive industrial building; and third for being white, and although a doctor, representative of the larger socio-political event of the gentrification in Upper Manhattan and other low-rent areas of New York City.
The doctor was once a young man. He couldn’t have been a few years over forty. Just about average height with thick long brown curly hair, he was fit and smart, raising a red cup for the salutations of a photograph taken of him, two other young men and three young girls, all standing under a large interior door frame within a Victorian house crowded by twenty-something year olds wearing polo shirts and kakis. From this brief moment in time, a witness to the fraction of a second that corresponds to the duration of light passing from life to a photographic negative, he stared beyond our frame of reference (never one to look a camera in the eye) onto his college classmates feeling triply assured of where his life was and where it was going: first and foremost, he was going to be a doctor, a profession which would allow him to both acquire wealth and save lives, much as if the sun were to become a farmer; secondly he was loved, embracing those he took the photograph with and all those around him with his smile, open arms and open heart; thirdly, he was assured of his own natural instincts, having previously been so confused about his own identity, by the age of twenty-one he felt confident about his natural abilities, both physical and intellectual.
When I was with him, his mom called from New Jersey (or so he says…. he never discloses where his family lives nor where he grew up. One time, he mentioned his childhood house was near a spring well and then he slyly — and mathematically — changed the subject to eating pasta on the transatlantic railroad). He picked up, told her what kind of floss he had bought that day, apologized to me, and then hung up.
No, he no longer had to define what his nautral abilities were! rather, he continued to question his own demise until the mysticism transformed into mere reason like the alchemist transforming water into wine. He offers a cup to his mother and she refuses. She keeps his picture in a cross pendant that lays near her breasts.
His desire to pierce through (or into) the other, to inhabit the sacred space of creation, and to understand what it means to be a creator… became integrated into the demise of a witness to the fraction of a second that corresponds to the duration of light passing from life to a photgraphic negative. Fortunately, this desire remains unethical…. even by today’s standards. “Forgive me father, for I have sinned. Amen”
So the doctor continues to transform his natural abilities into mere logic, into mere algebraic equations, into pure reason. Moreover, he continues to drink from the cup of his collegues as if they had $1,000,000 awaiting him at the end of his journey; little did he know… they didn’t. “Forgive them father, for they do not know what they do. Amen”
Yes, he drinks ritualistically every night like a prayer; the mysticism would merge once more from within himself… and in this way, he believed he was in control of the dominating other through the inital gesutre of “beginning.” Yet, what interested the doctor the most is a sort of frenzy that overtook him by the unknown that not only mapped itself, but merged from and manifested itself through the overlapping of the different analytic formulas. And for this reason a witness to the fraction of a second that corresponds to the duration of light passing from life to a photographic negative seeks a sort of soft comfort in chaos. He eats stinky tofu every Friday at dusk.