Icarus Transfigured by m. l. teague (page 62)

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Chapter Twenty-Five

Dear Grasshopper,

Evolutionary psychology sees God, and the elation such an idea generates in our mind, as arising from the modifying agency of neurochemistry to ward off anxiety about death, which presumably would be the procreative program of Natural Selection to dissuade the individual from suicide on behalf of the species. This is a peculiarly sophisticated and cunning psychology for a blind process like Natural Selection to perpetrate on its pawns, especially given that we are deducing a psychology from that which cannot consciously devise a motive.

This ecstatic offshoot (i.e. spirituality) subsequently evolved its own end, despite this end demonstrating no legitimate evolutionary purpose in itself (with perhaps the possible exception of salubrious benefit derived from self-delusion). To the bigger point, we once more see locating activity in the brain as somehow explaining why something happens by where it happens, and by the same logic that concludes bingo and worship must be coextentive because both occur in a church.

Followers of scientism locate this anomalous ‘God Spot’ in the brain with a pair of tweezers and see an end to the discussion, as though the physical matter was the god sought; yet to make a hobgoblin of logic in this fashion is to posit value in materialism without value itself being accounted for as material.

To claim the value we attach to stars is a function of our endorphins may be true as a physiological matter, but it is not the thought of endorphins that induces endorphins—it is the thought of something “immaterially” greater than ourselves. ~Omar

         The Child, Part Two

His companion made a cell phone call while still at the deli, and Aloysius, knowing she called Evan, or his machine, cleared off to the parking lot to wait for her. He watched her through the plate glass window, since he was forever watching her through the slimmest of barriers. Her spirits seemed to rally while she spoke, as if to hide with her face what deceit she conveyed with her words. Perhaps it was a pantomime intended strictly for the painter’s consumption, yet he could not say whether such a performance would be to encourage or dissuade his hope.

Emma came back to the car wearing a haggard smile, and he knew (if he knew nothing else) she was not leaving town.

Given the continuing Homecoming celebration, getting back to the house was easier said than done. The driver took the long way round to avoid the clogged bypass, though found driving past the fraternity and sorority houses no less daunting a task: Countless trees were rolled with toilet paper, and ruckus partiers, having abandoned all propriety, overturned parked cars to goad campus police. The air was charged, and every intersection felt like a fateful crossroads.

Aloysius looked stonily out the windshield, striking a pose for what he wanted to say. “Emma,” he began confidently, “I want to take financial responsibility for you. For your education. For your child.”

She turned her attention from the to-doings out the passenger window. “What?”

“You can go to another school, and I will pay your way.”

The woman could not help but laugh a little. “You are barely able to take care of yourself.”

He visibly deflated.

She stroked his arm. “I don’t want you acting out of pity, or duty, or anything like that.”

“I wouldn’t put it in those terms.”

“Then what terms would you use?”

He could not say.

Scene: Instead of heading straight to his house, the couple swung by Emma’s apartment to fetch a clean dress. Staying behind in the car, she entrusted Aloysius to go inside and choose one for her. He paused in the doorway on detecting a change in the packing boxes: one now contained the dollhouse. Across from it, the snapshot of Seth was removed from the bulletin board; one of the pictures taken of him during the outing at the golf course hung in its place.

It occurred to the self-appointed guardian, with belated recognition, that there was no other image of an older man: no one who might be presumed to be a beloved father. Moreover, if the fiancé was pictured among these groupings of friends, he was not readily identified.

Aloysius continued to the bedroom where the hand of the mannequin still stuck out from under the bed skirt. He dropped to his knees to eye it in the dark recess. Silken cobwebs hugged the figure’s contours so perfectly that they must have been spun in place over a long time. He let his fingers light reflexively on his Galatea’s clavicle and, with complete indifference to any spiders lurking in them, separated the gauzy tatters down to a pubic bone.

Maybe this was his great failing: He had not kept faith with love long enough for it to produce a workable solution to his ideal/object conundrum. As an incurable romantic, Aloysius was in love with love, yet had no faith in the concept as a practical matter. Perhaps the intended recipients of his affection through the years appreciated this impersonality so telling in him. Whether they perceived his interest to be wholly sexual, or blindly romantic, no woman in his crosshairs wanted to be a means to an end. Regardless, the only things transparently clear about Aloysius were the frankness and naiveté of his heart—not his motives.

The wedding dress rose above the others in a dim sea; the suitor picked it up in the way he picked up the stargazer lily two days before. Omar once told him symbols stood halfway between this world and the next, yet for the uncommunicative man, it was only vagueness he aspired to as a next move. Historically this indeterminism meant his actions in emerging romantic situations were chronically too much of something: too abrupt, too early, too overpowering, too indecisive, too finagled, too late… However, these miscalculations stemmed from the woman being too female for his logic to circumscribe.

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