Excerpt #7 - 2+2=4 and The Wedding Shoe Blues

The Pandemic couldn’t have arrived at a better time. It sounds funny to say that, but, in all seriousness, a plague has a tendency to impose quite the magnifying glass on the reality of the world around us, burning off the fog of the subjective interpretation, judgment, and, in some cases, condemnation that accompanies the perception and discussion of the circumstances before us both personally and individually and also as a collective. 

Thus it is that Albert Camus writes in The Plague: “There comes a time in history when the man who dares to say that two and two do make four is punished with death. And the issue is not what reward or what punishment will be of that reasoning. The issue is simply whether or not two plus two equals four.” Indeed, there are times in history, both micro and macro, when truth through reason and the rewards and punishments that were once bestowed and imposed by reasoned truth give way to the overarching reality of what is, not what could be, should be, may be, or will be . . . which prospects are rendered as irrelevant as they would be if one went hunting in the wilderness with wedding shoes in the place of boots.

Years before he read Camus the second time, they had watched The Deer Hunter on television, and, though they could never agree upon what Michael Vronsky meant when he held up a rifle bullet and simply declared “this is this” to his friend who once again, as was his wont, forgot his boots on their hunting trip up in the mountains outside Clairmont, Pennsylvania, they agreed that it made sense. The semantics of this simple and blunt phrase remained a source of debate between them, and, even though neither of them could firmly or convincingly argue what it actually meant, it was oft cited in order to conclude disagreements with each other and their children when a proposition was so incredibly obvious that it wasn't even worth explaining.

Out in the wilderness, or in the midst of pandemia, as the case may be, the thing equals the thing. What is cannot be defined or contained by reasoned truth, judgment or condemnation. The boots are at home. They are not with him. 2+4=4, and, when Michael simply points this out, his friend aims a pistol at his head, because the fact that two plus two equals for frightens him deeply. Shoot the messenger, as they say. As Camus indicates, “[t]here comes a time in history when the man who dares to say that two and two do make four is punished with death.” How dare Michael not share his boots with his thoughtless and disorganized friend, who needs to learn a harsh lesson in order to survive in a world that turns very dark very fast when Michael, Steven and Nicky are shipped over to Viet Nam and forced to play Russian Roulette with their enemy captors and Michael subsequently finds himself sharing more than his boots when Steven comes back brain damaged and Nicky becomes a professional at the deranged game which he was forced to play in the prisoner of war camp.  

The time for determining through reasoned truth the rewards and consequences bestowed and suffered as a result of what is seem to be swallowed by this pandemic not entirely unlike being in the wilderness without any boots, which really does ruin a hunting trip, especially when all you brought were your wedding shoes.

Now, the pandemic couldn't have come at a better time for the guy who ran over Pat's foot in middle of the road, and whose prosecution was most certainly adjourned thereby, and the Houston Astros. That was that.

2+2=4. This is this. What is and what should never be.


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Excerpts For The Pandemic
by M. Christian Rossman
©publishing313, Inc. 2020