CONNECTING THE DOTS
Once dots complained about all the attempts made to connect them. The result, they declared, invariably turned out to be the same: a maladroit, 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 to being told how connecting the dots revealed a pattern in them, followed by a confused “And here I was convinced the whole thing was nothing more than a child’s doodling.” Not that those taking credit for the latest connection of dots were daunted by this mistaking of the grand designs they’d traced out for a mere child’s doodling yet again. Some degree of confusion was actually of benefit to dot-connectors, for it meant they remained indispensable to any discussion of how to discover grand designs in what might otherwise be judged an aimless mess. At least until people grew impatient with the whole thing and turned to a fresh scattering of dots to puzzle over. And once again those who considered themselves experts at interpreting dots and doodles might be counted on to offer their services. No wonder dots got fed up. For dots, despite what might be inferred from their seeming uniformity, prided themselves on being distinct and independent. They had no difficulty telling one another apart, so why shouldn’t they take offense 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 liberty to follow their own designs wherever these might lead them—even if this liberty offered no pattern to trace out and assign a recognizable meaning: nothing, ultimately, to separate “grand design” from “aimless mess.” Maybe dots didn’t have a collective meaning, and didn’t need one. Maybe they were just dots. Wasn’t that enough? Did the lack of a shared meaning prove that no meaning existed? Or rather might it merely suggest the limited vision 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 self-declared know-it-all who’d long since traded this magical ambiguity for the reassurance of “the known”—for the comfort of certainty when certainty came at the cost of all else—to have that know-it-all, out of a personal yet unacknowledged inadequacy perhaps, seek to impose an understanding on whatever still retained the glory of the undefined—never! Even a mere smudge of a dot felt moved to rebel at this. Not that rebelling did much good. For “meaning,” once the slightest pattern was spied in anything, was merciless and crushed the life out of all it fastened upon. In the end, the dots never stood a chance.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans