in Medium, Synergisms, Writers

Old Paper


On Tuesday, that scary bump on the subway came at the exact moment a tall man sneezed violently. By the time I got to the last few steps to exit the 23rd Street station, I felt a different kind of ache in my legs. It has been nearly a year since I closed and reopened. Maybe I’m just out of shape.

The security gates along the row of stores to my gallery still sat tight against the blackened dots of forgotten sidewalk gum. The chill in the breeze swirled at me with bits of paper and leaves. I entered my shop, tossed my coat to the chair, turned back to scan the exhibit, and noted to mop the floor. I went back outside and took photos of the black dots. I tried to connect the gum with the footsteps that made them, but I couldn’t. By the next day, those uncomplicated, conventional actions shifted my outlook unexpectedly, and I was not fond of the way I was thinking.

Art must be allowed to die the way Sleeping Beauty did. That was my conclusion. No matter how writers twirl fine phrases into your mind or painters watch your puzzled eye, the paint will dry in the tube, absent the story’s truth. All the while, music plays and plays to the silent, moody listeners of its class. The tedious work of sense-making only consumes a lack of purpose with the fear of survival. Forgive me, I felt this in my bones all of Tuesday. Today is Wednesday, and I feel a bit better.

It was pointless to think of anything else that could be worse. I still had my joy of novelty, black dots on a sidewalk, red tail jets, the joy of getting a sudden smile, and sitting in playgrounds filled with giggles. My darling partner called this odd attentiveness my silly stupidness. The art I chose for the season reopening was fresh but steadily becoming more frivolous each hour since that Tuesday. The questions friends and lovers asked were the right ones. Still, I could not prevent a sense of meaninglessness from spreading amongst us. Science was injecting a different way of thinking about playfulness within the arts. But I wouldn’t say I enjoyed one bit of this intrusion.

I rattled my newspaper and spread it across my desk. I heard Leslie enter early, as expected. Up went the gallery lights to their entire “buy me” intensity. She nodded hello, sat across me, already reading strange tensions in my so-called “aura of the day.” I put up with that silliness. Having her back could save the shop. I never had a better managing salesperson and partner. Once after a profitable sale of several paintings, she said, “I could sell eggs to hens.” I made the mistake of asking something like how or why. Hand on hip, turning with a glint, she said, “Right after the rooster’s vasectomy.”

On the other hand, my aura was not vaguely humorous. Tapping my desk she said, “What are you reading in the dead tree press this morning.” She liked to say the word ‘this’ with emphasis. It was a sales thing. I want to hold a newspaper even at the cost of three dollars daily. So I looked up and said, “discrete-time crystals.” The ceiling became interesting to her at that moment. I continued, “I’m not silly. They may be a way to measure the parts of matter that oscillate in a repeating cycle for use in quantum computers, and that could improve everything.” No reaction.

The story told me that humanity needs quantum computers to solve today’s unsolvable problems faster. But, I am watching a long and terrifying list of them grow. And abruptly, like that sneeze on the train the other morning, there was the Sleeping Beauty problem laid before me. We are fearful of not waking up in a dream going bad. But, unlike this beauty, maybe we can find a way to permit a kiss from a quantum sovereign prince.

“Leslie,” I said, sitting there in my old paper world, “My aura, as you call it, is getting pushed into the new news. It is wrapped up neatly in a purple dimension of existence I barely understand. I wheeled to my laptop. “Look here,” I said. “It is a world without art, but there remains the need. This story is about truth and hope, instead of beauty, money instead of love, speed instead of rest, yet it is still about dreams. Innovation in a new brand of reality. Maybe it will wake us up, but for now, please give Gregory a call and see if he can clean up our sticky gummed-up sidewalk and put that nonslip polish on the floor before the weekend. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and for your information, I’m already feeling a little bit of red in the binary digits of my so-called aura.”

“Okay,” she said. Then, standing, she turned, walked out, waving her arm back and forth above her head. “Off, no, on to the deeds of the day.”

Source: Natalie Wolchover Quantum Magazine, Eternal Change for No Energy: A Time Crystal Finally Made Real

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