CONNECTING THE DOTS
Once dots chafed at all the efforts made to connect them. The result always turned out to be the same: an awkward, unconvincing scratchwork that required a caption in order to be recognized for what it supposedly represented. “Oh, so that’s it,” was the most common response of people to being told how to connect the dots, followed by a confused “And here I was convinced the whole thing was nothing more than a child’s doodling.” Not that those responsible for the latest connecting of dots were daunted by the mistaking yet again of the grand designs they detected for a mere child’s doodling. If the truth be told, a degree of confusion was to their benefit, for it meant they remained indispensible to any discussion of how to discover grand designs in what might otherwise be judged as aimless doodling. At least until the public grew bored with the challenge and turned to a fresh scattering of dots to puzzle over. At which point a new collection of those who considered themselves adept at interpreting dots and doodles might be counted on to rush forward and be interviewed by those who didn’t have a clue about either dots or doodles themselves and thus looked to any authority figure confident of discerning the difference for something to pass on to others even less in the know, making a loud display of being up to the moment on dots. And so it went. No wonder dots got fed up with such fiddle-de-dee. For dots, despite what might be inferred from their seemingly uniform appearance, prided themselves on being distinct and independent. They had no difficulty telling one another apart, so why shouldn’t they take umbrage at being lumped together under some catchall assumption about what they shared? Left to themselves, they might avoid each other’s company altogether and quite happily shun the conformity imposed by connection to others in favor of the freedom to follow their own definitions wherever these might take them. Even if this freedom offered no pattern to trace out and assign a meaning. Nothing, in short, to separate design from doodle. Did the lack of a recognized meaning prove no meaning existed? Or rather did it merely suggest faulty vision on the part of the meaning-makers? Even the smallest dot held coiled within it the promise of this, that, everything, or absolutely nothing. And then to have some know-it-all who’d long since traded this magical ambiguity for the reassurance of a known existence—for the safe comfort of certainty when certainty came at such a cost—to have that know-it-all, out of some personal regret or unacknowledged envy perhaps, seek to impose an understanding on whatever else still retained a promise of the undefined—never! Even a mere smudge of a dot felt moved to rebel! Not that rebelling did much good. Meaning, once it spied a pattern in anything, was merciless and sucked the life out of all it drew to it. The dots never stood a chance.
Copyright © 2012 by Geoffrey Grosshans