We buy records because they fit nicely into certain parts of our lives. I bought Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot almost ten years ago, and it has grown up with me. We’ve had many moments together, and many more after I found the vinyl floating around a garage sale. A few weeks ago I had a really great night, I can’t really remember what spurred it, it was just really great. One of those nights where everything seems to make sense, all my thoughts fell perfectly into place, and the universe expanding at a constant rate didn’t really bother me nearly as much as it normally does.
It’s a good feeling, everything settling into its right place. Cleaning makes sense thermodynamically, because it’s really the only time we have any effect on entropy. But what does the inverse feel like? Thermodynamically, it feels like, well, life I guess. But we have ways of making things seem easier or more difficult. Case and point: any human relationship.
It’s tough to generalize human relationships, so we’re going to tred on territory very familiar to long-time Hoptellectual readers. How do we truly get to know people? Philosopher Roland Barthes thinks it has to do with closeness, the human mind plays far too many tricks, and Jeff Tweedy would agree.
“Distance has no way,” Tweedy sort-of wines, “of making love understandable.” Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is full of thoughts like this, a lifetime of wisdom condensed into a convenient avant-pop record. My roommate claimed the line didn’t make much sense, diametrically opposing the conventional wisdom of “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
Today, Tweedy’s logic makes much more sense for our modern world. Distance has a way of distorting how we see other people, plying them in different directions and altering any objective perception. His theory is supported heavily by lovesick ol’ Barthes philosophies, and even more heavily by anecdotal evidence presented rather smugly by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink. Gladwell posits everything we need to know, we find out immediately upon meeting someone. Entropy remains at a minimum because both people understand one another, and can continue towards chaos together.
Another friend of mine was explaining some relationship troubles to me the other day, and what they amounted to were both people in the relationship understood nothing about one another. They both were amalgamations of facts thrown around haphazardly, waiting to be arranged in a productive and coherent way so that they could get on to the important parts of relationships. But that’s the thing. Arranging those facts is the important part. Everything else that comes after is just icing on the cake.
We can’t always understand everyone we come across, nor should we be expected to. It’s difficult enought to handle the entropy that has already occurred throughout our lives, let alone handle someone else’s (get rid of your baggage! Fast!). But when we do meet people where everything falls into place, then certainly don’t let the person get away, at any cost.
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