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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Persistence Of Enigmas

The attraction of riddles has to do with our minds trying to organize things. Mind senses and, where it encounters mystery, tries to make sense. It reckons, calculates, culls clues, learns method and solves. Where it cannot solve by other means, Mind imagines.

It imagines the riddle alive --an enigma, the universe speaking, inviting. A story unfolds. Consider this photograph recently sent me by Daughter, who knows my recreational affliction of making stuff up, and I suspect inherited it.

It is bare, snow and shoes. Mind must populate it: a curious crowd at the sawhorse barricade; a weary, stodgy, square-toed inspector looking out of place in city derby and raincoat with raglan sleeves. He sees the snow disturbed by hundreds of footprints and wagers they match the discarded shoes. Good old slow, solid police work ahead, he thinks, and sets about measuring them. But then he sees a figure peeking shyly from behind the dumpster.

A little maid, neatly dressed in cap and apron, motions to him urgently. He dusts the snow off his wool trousers and plods over to her. "Here now," he says. "What's all this?"

She looks up at the inspector with rosy cheeks and round eyes the color of forget-me-nots, takes a deep breath and says, "Oh sir, haven't you heard? Ever-so-sudden-like it was!"

You are quite welcome to continue this scenario or make one up of your own. It's what we do. Riddles, mysteries are enigmas certainly, but are they not psychopomps also, assisting us through a larger world? One gets stuck in routine, everyday things, but from time to time our universe springs an enigma upon us and we must answer.

When I began this adventure, so long ago, I thought I was an explorer, that all risks were worthwhile and around every corner a new world waited. I no longer wave a hansom down with extra fare and shouts of not a moment to be lost. I take the train now. But I am still an explorer.


  1. I also love the mystery of this--as well as its meaning-creation that you and Daughter present--because neither little maid nor the narrator mentions these are all--AFAIK--women's tossed-away shoes....

  2. Excellent observation, Will! The fact they are all women's shoes escaped me. I was too busy making up the inspector and maid to notice. Daughter took pic outside her costumery at the theatre. Perhaps only male actors will get shoes now. Another mystery!

  3. Those ARE psychopumps in there. Too bad we didnt see neckties in that dumster along with the. I mean, some guys look hansome in them but really I say it's high time those women threw their pumps away. geez
    oh I see you said psychpomp and hansom

  4. Oh and I can't see the word enigma now without imagining an invisible "G". I get it. Brilliant...(exits practicing mantra) "I know nothing, I know nothing, ...."

  5. Does this mean i don't look handsome in my psychopumps? Well, you could've said something earlier!

  6. see edited version of the psychopomps blog with an illustration just for you. All for the cause of laughter of course. Yep, I've got cabin fever:)


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