Thursday, October 8, 2009

Epilegomena to any past metaphysics

or An Attempt to Correct the Meteorological Misunderstandings of Various Dead Philosophers

The division of reality is essentially bipartite, and can be divided into:

1) The majority of the physical world, which is so designed that it is governed by a complex set of natural laws, each of which are at best partially determinate.

2) The weather, which is so designed as to annoy me personally.

Even in its irresistible personal vendetta against me, however, the weather is bound to observe various physical laws. By understanding and following these laws, the wise person can deflect the fullness of the weather's wrath. One of these laws, discussed previously in this space, is the inverse relationship between your decision to carry an umbrella and the probability that it will actually rain. Carrying an umbrella about in plain sight, especially if it is large and unwieldy, will greatly reduce the chance that you will have any reason to use it. If you happen to be an organist, the chances that it will rain are further reduced to (approximately) zero.

What has not, however, been hitherto understood is the degree to which the umbrellas themselves, far from being mere tools in the battle of mortal men against the weather, obey a teleological imperative of their own, viz.:
  • The goal of an umbrella's existence is to become a broken umbrella. The state of "broken-umbrellahood" represents a state of social stability which umbrellas strive for, just as humans strive for a comfortable home, satisfying work, an adequate salary, and an impeccably organized iTunes library; more than that, broken-umbrellahood seems to bear some resemblance to the theological concept of the eschaton, representing the ultimate fulfillment of each umbrella's aspirations and the end to its terrestrial struggle.
  • To fulfil this end, young umbrellas gather in such places as dollar stores, pharmacies, and souvenir shops at tourist traps across the land.
  • The umbrella's journey towards self-fulfillment begins by being "purchased" by a "customer." If the umbrella is lucky, it will discover itself to be one of the cheaper and flimsier brands of umbrella, and at its first use a passing breeze will serve to turn it inside out, cause its tightly stretched fabric to rip away from the frame, or otherwise negate its water-repellent properties.
  • If stymied in their attempts to achieve this goal by insufficiently cheap construction or by being carried about by an organist, the umbrella pursues its second-best strategy: to become a lost umbrella. Its owner forced to go out in the rain unprotected, the lost umbrella considers its mission in life adequately accomplished, even though it has not fully realized its telos by becoming broken.
  • Broken umbrellas, having reached the fullness of their destiny as umbrellas, feel no need to pursue the secondary goal of becoming a "lost umbrella;" rather, they cling to their owners with a strong affection, thankful to them for having enabled them to reach their state of blissful brokenness. This is why any household will accumulate at least eighteen broken umbrellas.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for explaining it all so clearly!

By the way, we bought a bag of 20 umbrellas for $30 from the transit auction site...so lost umbrellas are not heart-breakers!

Anne said...

Your best post to date!