The Bowl part 1

On the desk sits the empty bowl of chips – or should that be just the bowl? How could its former contents be known unless fragments of Salt & Vinegar flavoured fried potato product could be seen and tasted on the observer’s tongue or the bowl licked for the taste of something, but how would the observer know to do that and even if they did it could be that I wiped the bowl clean, perhaps with some detergent like agent, leaving behind very little or no trace of chips at all – but even if that was done it would still be, in a sense, in the sense that deals with what used to be held by a container despite the fact that nothing of any noticeable physical dimensions is now present in said container, an empty bowl of chips. If a man eats chips out of a bowl in a forest and leaves only the bowl behind, was it really a bowl of chips? Maybe … maybe not. Or something.

And why does the bowl sit? Perhaps it lies on the desk. Rests on the desk – is that an option? It’s not running around; that is, it wasn’t running around and then came to a stop because it found itself out of breath. I’d know something like that. I’ve been here the whole time. It didn’t hunch over and grab it’s knees, or cling to the hems of it’s shorts as rugby players do, breathing hard until it got it’s breath back and then become quietly still. That would look quite unusual and I would remember it. No, it sits there, near me – would reclines there, near me be better? Pauses there – the bowl will be somewhere else by this time tomorrow, that’s true, but can pause only be appended to a description a being or machine with the ability and or will to make itself move somehow, thus rendering pause a decision, not merely a state of stillness? I could move, but I have chosen to pause for a while – that sort of thing. Yes, that sounds right. The bowl can’t be waiting for similar reasons. If it was waiting that would imply that it doesn’t need to wait, that it might get up and start doing a Pilates routine or playing the flute, and I’m pretty sure this bowl doesn’t know music – or to be more accurate, doesn’t know how to play music. There’s classical music on the radio right now, and for all I know, for all anyone observing this bowl might be able to tell from such an observation, it could be really digging the violin work in this piece by Paganini. There is, of course, the possibility that the bowl is listening and not enjoying what it is hearing. Maybe it’s not a Paganini fan.

Vibrations play a role in many of the gadgets we use daily, from the quartz in watches and computer chips to building materials and all things that grow in the ground. The correct – or should that be incorrect? – vibration will cause the bowl I’m looking at, at my right elbow, to break up, to crack or somehow lose its structural integrity, and so it is true that the waves made by the sound of this music are received in some sense by the bowl as much as by me, and in this way it is hearing. It’s probably a very limited kind of hearing. But it’s happening. It is.

Can the bowl see? Probably not. Don’t be silly.

Can it talk? If by talk you mean vibrate in such a way that a sound can be detected, then it is certainly vibrating – or the molecules in it are vibrating and agitating against and with each other like a giant rugby rolling maul – and the failure is not for this piece of Chinese crockery to communicate, if that word isn’t going too far, but the failure is mine, in that my imperfectly developed human ears are unable to detect the sound it makes without the aid of microphones and sensors and so on.

The bowl is white – a function of light reflecting from it – and it rests on the desk – rest is better than recline and pause, surely – I can rest a pair of gloves or leave a book at rest at the page I’m up to on a table, so a carefully placed item of Duraceram[1] can rest, I would say, if there’s no danger of sliding or toppling or otherwise falling from where it has been placed. Yes, the bowl rests. It cannot see me but I can see it. It can probably hear me but I cannot hear it. There were chips in it, but I ate them. Laetitia brought them to me. They were delicious, and just what I wanted. But I didn’t know I wanted them – and that’s the best kind of wanting, when the want is unknown and then satisfied.


[1] A type of non-porous porcelain. It’s vitrified. Perhaps this process keeps the molecules from bumping into each other too vigorously as it vibrates. Maybe it doesn’t vibrate at all. I’m not a physicist, but possibly I am a liar. I could, in retrospect, have done more research before I started writing this. Maybe I’m a lazy liar. And it doesn’t seem a big thing to me at the moment if I have communicated erroneous ideas. So I could very well be a lazy, ignorant, uncaring liar. Apologies, if so. The bowl just told me to harden up and finish this thing. The bowl gives good advice.

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Published in: on August 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

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