EIGHT - VISCUS PUNCTUS

Almost three weeks had passed now, and I have heard nothing back from Emma. This is to be expected given that she wanted to isolate for awhile, but the frustrating part is that I never knew whether it would be days, weeks, or months until she came back home. This is normal for Emma.
Over the weeks I wrote her a few emails to check on her wellbeing. I want to think that, at least. But deep in my heart, I know myself better than that. I just wanted the damn filename. They have the internet and landlines in Queens, don't they? I've never been there but it seems like the kind of place that would have those things, and post offices too! Emma must have lots of ways to get in touch with me -- I'm in Paris, not Beirut -- but she took advantage of no technologies to reach me. Without the filename, my efforts to assist Emma in whatever trouble she might be in would be much more laborious.
In those intervening three weeks, I had been so preoccupied with the filename question that I was utterly unable to work on my own project. I was beginning to forget even what my ideas were for pursuing my work.

Without realizing it, Emma's "Mixed Materials Novel" (whatever that is) was now becoming my "Mixed Materials Novel" (whatever that means).

I realized then what this meant
That all of that time I had spent
Presents a dilemma:
I go first, or Emma?
Answer: the one who pays rent
. . . which is Emma.

I found myself oddly vested in Emma's project more than my own. Unsure what to make of this, I eventually concluded that it means Emma's project is more interesting than mine, more worthy of effort. On the cusp of deciding to formally (whatever that means) declare a 'permanent hold' (whatever that means) on my own project. Instead, I felt compelled to do something like what Emma was doing. I would have to either have to beg Emma to let me collaborate with her on her project, or take the chance of being accused of 'copying off of her' (whatever that means) and begging collaborating with Emma on her project.
I struggled with whether this meant, the fact that I am probably less imaginative then Emma is. Maybe her whole success in writing was just a result of picking the right projects for her talents. I don't think I'm as good at that as she is either.
Don't mistake my gentle self-analysis for "being hard on myself". If anyone were to say to me, "Charlie, I think you're being kind of hard on yourself," I would chuckle, for two reasons:
First, it's not the same thing to honestly take inventory of one's own skill levels for the purpose of improving mastery of those skills.
Secondly, and far more importantly, the phrase has, right there in the middle of it, the word 'hardon,' which the listener or reader is expected to just breeze past, pretending that in their minds there was no evidence of an imaginary phallus. (For some people it doesn't happen until I point it out, but then, once I've done so, there it is, a throbbing phallus hanging out in the middle of an encouraging comment.) On this phallic reading of the sentence, the meaning becomes different. Now it means something like, 'Charlie, you are being [too much of?] a throbbing phallus to yourself,' implying that the problem I have is a very masculine one. As if a problem arises, and in order to solve it, I have to exploit the metaphorical aspects of the throbbing phallus I am alleged to have become.
Transmutation is everywhere around us. It's not always dramatic. When milk goes bad it has transmuted; when a painter becomes a poet on the side, she has transmuted. When one has a strong, deeply held belief about something for most of his life, and then comes to embrace the diametrically opposed view instead, that's also transmutation.
If I were to copy Emma's work, it would feel very dishonest, and it would be plagiarism; but if I do my own writing based on her approach, it's not plagiarism but I am too concerned about others' opinion of me to take the chance of being perceived as late to the literary party. But there's a third way! From the above cognitive meandering I arrived at last on a plan which would neither require collaborating with Emma, nor looking foolish for just imitating her as if I had no imagination of my own. I would take the principles of Emma's system, and adapt it, transmute it, and take inspiration from it.
Though it had born few fruits so far, I dug in deeper to Emma's Dewey-Derived-Directory (which is what I assume she meant by labeling the directory '3D' in her system.

On a hunch, I drilled down to the directory for 302.2 - Communication and Semiotics and smiled. I had found the entry point to Emma's maze.