n. the awareness of the smallness of your perspective, by which you couldn’t possibly draw any meaningful conclusions at all, about the world or the past or the complexities of culture, because although your life is an epic and unrepeatable anecdote, it still only has a sample size of one, and may end up being the control for a much wilder experiment happening in the next room.


Where are Jane Austen, Borges, and Heidegger now? The first in a week-long series of illustrations by Jason Novak, captioned by Eric Jarosinski.

The City 08/24/14

The stories about a place that used to exist but has been wiped out often become more important, more real than the place was or ever could have been had it endured. Depending on the kind of person you are, you either find this fact magical or banal.

It had been a bath house.

It could be that its existence in a desert was interesting enough without adornment.

But that’s not how stories work.

It burned to the ground. The stones were incinerated. The water that used to course through it caught fire, steaming into dust. If you climb the neighboring buildings, the occupants of which charge visitors for the view, you can peer down into the hole and see the scorched sides, so dry they make the air crackle.

Nobody can think of any sort of fire that could burn stone or water.
There are many stories about why this happened some of them even address how. If you’re curious you can sit in any of the nearby tea shops or drinking holes and listen. Wet the right throat and you can listen until you wish they’d shut up. Talking, like fire, tends to build momentum when exposed to oxygen.

Devils bathed here in ash and a holy man sent them away, standing and gibbering amid oblivious bathers unattuned to the forces of evil. When he banished them the shockwave hit the furnaces that heated the water. Bathers, holy man and building burned. The demons would have loved it had they still been there, the place was always a touch cold for them. A jilted man cursed his lover and in the style of men his rage powered the curse past moderation. A child crept in one night and drowned, its ghost was powerful and pyrotechnic. A woman whose mind could move the world, though she didn’t know it, became suddenly afraid of water. She had a dream of salvation, of the end of water, and the bathhouse paid the price. The physics of the ground have been so brutalized that they’ve passed partially out of the world. Anything built on the black earth sinks and disappears under the cover of darkness, vanishing from both memory and gossip.

The place where the bath house used to be will only allow one sort of tale to be told.

That appears to be the only thing true and constant.

Either that or all the stories are true and constant.

As a traveler I prefer it that way.

A co-worker challenged me that I couldn’t finish a XXXL Burger from Fat Burger. It’s three patties, 24oz.

I failed. Jesus. Who do they make shit like this for?

The City, 08/16/14

The Avenue of Fish. What a name for a street in a city that has sat on desert for as long as anybody can remember. Even the Storywhisperers under the surface and hidden away from the light with their books and their quiet, not even they’re able to recall a time of more water than could be drawn up from a well and held in a bucket.

For most a fish is just one of the carvings on the tops of the buildings.

But there’s a quiet legend that once there were a pair of rivers to either side of this city. But it’s not a legend that you’ll ever here on this side of the walls. Big water is heresy, insanity, and only acceptable for children.

The city’s wells have always pumped.

But there were two rivers. I believe that.

The carvings on the Avenue of Fish, lining the tops of the buildings and swimming through the air that shimmers with heat waves instead of a current, wind instead of waves.

I think about that. About the rivers going suddenly dry and a long-dead people panicking and learning a new way of life. I imagine memory purging and book burning, fear and death in the streets. I imagine a city trying to calm its populace by digging below the surface.

The water has moved below the ground, they’ll say. Don’t fear. We can find it.

The gods are testing us.

Me? I’m only a traveler and can leave whenever I want.

But if I had to guess, I’d say there really were rivers to either side of this great city and I think the sun and the people drank them from the earth. Sand covered the beds. I think the fish learned to fly and they coasted over the land and far away from here.

There is magic here, but it is mostly too sharp to handle. Sensible creatures leave it alone.