THE

POLARITY


We woke up one morning and found that the Polarity had shifted.



Some people found the new Polarity to be disorienting. Certain dispositions experienced nausea headaches flu-like symptoms fatigue loss of sleep loss of appetite loss of confidence loss of consciousness loss of signal loss of income loss of independence loss of loved ones loss of loss of lots of loss.



Most troubling: loss of keys.

“I always leave them on the counter. Or on top of the toilet basin. But it is possible that I have left them in the lock again.”



Others professed extreme pleasure with the new situation.

“Things are looking up. Which is south, now.”






Those who had parted their hair one side now opted for the other. Right testicles hung slightly lower.



Some experienced polar nostalgia:

“Remember when Japan was the land of the rising sun?”



Wordsmiths reached frantically for an appropriate correlative to the new alignment:

“It is a message without a medium; a skewer-less kebab.”

“An inverted sense of déjà vu, wherein one is overwhelmed with the sense that one has never experienced any of this before.”

“It is like a metaphor that is not really a metaphor at all—as in: ‘Her hands were like a complicated collection of bone, muscle, nerves, veins, and dermis.’ ‘The dishwasher was akin to an appliance for sanitizing cookware.’ ‘The metaphor was as a rhetorical figure conflating two separate objects.’”

“Ineffable.”




Noun pairs with a prescribed order quietly capsized:

“Mustard and ketchup.”

“Jetsam and flotsam.”

“Guildenstern and Rosencrantz.”



Some ancient Mayans were consulted. What did the ancient Mayans have to say about all of this?

“I’m not ancient,” said Mactzil Quintana. “I was born in 1983, and my boyfriend Maximillian says my body looks like I was still seventeen.”

But what of the ancient Mayan belief regarding the seachange in consciousness that would accompany the shift?

“I mean, everybody’s got to get old some time, but I don’t want to get married, no way. My aunt Balanca died when she was like twenty-five from a tractor, and everybody says I look like her, so I’m scared of big trucks and machines.”

But what could ancient Mayans tell us about the synchronicity of human history and the movements of the heavens?

“I mean, personally, I don’t care which way is down because my ass and tits are staying right where they are.”



“Ass and tits.”

“The Impressions and Curtis Mayfield.”

“The highway or my way.”





Academic debate, meanwhile, was politely confused:

“The difference between a Singularity and a Polarity ‘embodies’ the difference between ideology and propoganda.”

“Of utmost importance will be the critical approach we choose to take in our discourse about the new alignment.”

“It is not an empty signifier, but rather, our concept of “emptiness” actually serves to signify it. [italics from the original French]”



Predictably, fundamentalist groups denied the new alignment.

“If up is down and down is up, then all we have left is sideways.”

“The Polarity does not apply to our particular moral compass.”

“So how should we orient the menorah?”



The new Polarity was particularly salient as a legal concept. Prosecutors all over the world made the similar claim that the new Polarity fulfilled the “extenuating circumstances” clause of various contractual agreements.

“My client was sexually attracted to her spouse specifically because of the unique climate of the old Polarity. It had a scientifically demonstrable waft, certain overtones of which were conducive to my client’s pheromonal constitution. Now that the Polarity has shifted, so has her delicate hormonal balance. The nuptial agreement is no longer binding, and as such the Pomeranian in question, Boo-Boo, will remain in the custody of my client.”






Most of all, the new Polarity gave rise to new doubts and skepticisms:

“Is that really how you make a pretzel?”

“Can you say that slower?”

“What is most expeditious route to the public athletic facility?”

“Am I fat?”



Popular baby names that year:

“Polaria.”

“Podeus.”

“Schifter.”

“Hank.”



The prime minister of Poland held a press conference:

“We are all still Poles.”



You might laugh—in fact you did, at that last bit in particular—but I myself couldn’t help but wonder what this all meant for us.

“Are we broken?” I asked. ”Will there be continuity?”

“Neither,” you replied.

“Are you now the man, and I the woman?”

“Doesn't matter.”

“What is different? How have we changed?”

“Time will tell.”

“I feel as though I have awoken from a thick and feverish nap to find that it is either twilight or else dawn—but which I cannot tell.”

“You have; we all have.”

“I’m dreadfully hungry.”

“As am I.”

And so we set out toward the taco wagon, in the fading light of day (or perhaps it was a slowly burgeoning sunrise?), both dying for a drink, even if yours would be sweet and mine bitter, or vice-versa, and versed vices, shifting our weight from hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder, dawn to dusk, and then back the other way again.

MATTHEW FARGO, 2014

Shibuya, Tokyo.

mfargo@gmail.com