Acultural shirting adventure

April 7th, 2021

He walks a sad parabola around the arc of a hospital outcrop, holding a hand whose whole commitment breaks the look of half-defeat playing across his face. His t-shirt --new, blue-- emblazoned with the names of some pharmaceutical concern, says "science will win". Were it not for the logo, were it not for the context of place, how would one decipher the message? Science will win --at what, exactly? The war with Eastasia, at which we've (whoever that is) been struggling, always? Is there some alien invasion afoot, requiring great wunderwaffen just beyond our grasp, the freedom, nay, the very possibility of continuation of the earth itself dependent on some breakthrough just barely out of reach?

Moreover, what is this "science", that apparently has metamorphosized or rather metasticized (oops) from a mere category of disciplines into a party, a team, a task-force, without practitioner or point beyond fighting nameless battles and moonlighting on the off-broadway battlefield of the t-shirt? If this science could be said to have a proper enemy, would that enemy not be faith, and would not the t-shirt's motto be exactly the expression of faith without reason --here expanded to not even require specificity?

Whatever, the man didn't make the shirt, and even though I'm aware that it might make me irresponsible, I won't hold him responsible for it. Not personally, not this time, not really my interest or my purview or, frankly, my business, much as the shirt would seem to want to make it so. I mourn, however, the loss of communication or at least communicative ability that the total gap between message and meaning signifies. There goes a man either directly or from some vanishingly near valence grappling with something much larger than himself. A good thing, too, in most circumstances, but here, at the hospital, as ominous as it is large. But it's expressed in a clownsuit, an ersatz rally-cry, identification without agency, belief without understanding. It's sadder, to me, than the cold objective fact of disease. Sadder by far.

The rift is wide, and "science" won't bridge it. Time and patience might, but I'm not giving mine to this man and I know it, so I just walk away.

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