Unpacking the Boxes is a series of legacy writing pieces accompanied by photography. They form a larger narrative in the ideal of Borges and his garden.
8 AM on a Sunday in the high desert and I can already feel the fluttering of my hand starting up again. It’s been like this for weeks now, and sometimes I can’t tell whether it’s the tremens or whether it’s just my mind. Like a lot of Sunday mornings, I’m not quite sure how I got here, but my shirt’s untucked, I have a loafer on my left foot and a dirty sock on the right, and there’s a car on fire a hundred yards down the road. My head hurts.
The big bang theory did not start as a television show. It did not form as electrons beamed from a gun inside a vacuum tube displaying millions of colors onto large format fluorescent. Superceded by liquid crystal, plasma display, then the organic light emitting diode with an emissive electroluminescent layer. Working without a backlight, displaying the darkest blacks, higher contrast ratios, and active matrix addressing themes that either the small molecule or polymer based formats are known for. The subtlety of Leonard Hofstadter’s red pants, like the color of a barn, is possible because of this. A dying star shrinks, the pressure and temperature go up, and a new reaction forms, all the way up the periodic table until 56. 56 nucleon is where it stops. At that point, the reactions form no new energy, and the star collapses onto itself and spits out all its matter, vomiting in violent death. The majority of this matter has 56 nucleon. Iron has 56 nucleon. Add a little Oxygen, and you have Fe2O3, absorber of green, yellow, and blue spectrums of light. This is why barn doors are red - because all things die, even stars, and when they do, they leave enough iron and oxygen to make the cheapest paint and dye out of. There, on your 48” organic light emitting diode display with an emissive electroluminescent layer, are pants the color of a barn door, shimmering in digitally compressed ultra definition. The big bang theory did not start as a television show.
I just so happened to have the misfortune of being, as veterans of a forgotten war might say, in the shit. Yesterday had been like watching the controlled demolition of a large structure from a nearby hilltop. It was a stadium or maybe an office building that had lay decrepit and was now going to fold into itself; a dying star to be made over again as parking lots and fast food chains. The land rights issues had been decided in a drawn out court battle. The demolition team had been carefully picked. The crowds, who had walked by the monolith a million times before without so much as a thought, gathered in their circles to oooooo and aaaaaaaah while the flashes of plastic explosives fired tidily and effective.
Watching from the hilltop, a moment after the flashes end the structure still stands, and you wonder if it will remain, suspended in air. You are almost numb to it, having seen this moment coming for years, yet you hope for just that moment that the structure will stay up. But the dust clears, you feel foolish for believing in its artifice, and your heart breaks.
Hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields, fed by six billion years of thermal nuclear reactions, pouring visible radiation at light speed onto dermal matter - 8 minutes and 19 seconds flat. Fat-soluble secosteroids responsible for intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphate created through a long chain liver reaction into calcifediol, the metabolite used to measure deficiency of vitamin status. A friend of mine went to the doctor, complaining of fatigue, body pains, and muscle weakness. Was he sick? “My boy”, the doctor asked, “how long has it been since you were out in the sun?” Usually reserved for worried mothers, he received a pamphlet entitled “Treating Rickets”, and was sent on his way.
Star nebulas - Eagle, Crab, Ant; Constellations Serpens, Taurus, Norma. The Pillars of Creation, formed of cool molecular hydrogen eroded by photoevaporation of ultraviolet light. Destroyed 6,000 light years ago, and we know it, but the light hasn’t reached us yet, so it remains, a ghost traveling at light speed, its life and death stretched before and behind it in every direction. Like a photograph of a grandfather frozen on the blacktop in his tennis whites, at his most elegant - arms extended, knee bent, his wrist locked. The ball suspended in rebound off the racket, its trajectory a mystery to everyone and nothing. A backhand winner down the line.