I am letting my consciousness stream. The law is a jealous mistress and she doesn’t allow lawyers to let their minds range far afield these days, or wax philosophical much (or wane metaphysical either, if that is a thing, I think it is, or at least I’d like it to be). Billable hours and thinking don’t dance and their daddies don’t rock ‘n’ roll. But for the next 750 or so words, my mind is floating free, existentially hither and tither and twither and whither?
Free to wonder why and what and where and when and who and how. Did the Founding Fathers do that when they sat in Philadelphia and drafted our owner’s manual? I bet ol’ James Madison and his cohort of constitutional cronies just sat out at night and stared at the infinite beauty of space and the stars and dreamt that what they wanted to be, would be. Or maybe they punched a clock, too? I can see the time sheets now: DRAFT ARTICLE II 3.4 HRS. (RETURNED — THE PEOPLE DON’T ALLOW BLOCK-BILLING).
Such nonsense that fills my head at 11:49! and it’s a gray Wednesday, too, as I bend the rules of grammar to bother my editor will he notice? There was frost this morning when I walked my dog, something witty, wise, succinct and splendid fermenting in my head. I never imagined what it would be until … it was and then here it came, but oh no it’s sliding away again.
And then I turned back and something in the other corner of my mind smiled at me. A vague whisper of a vague dream — but I can’t quite grasp it by the tail and pull it into view. Was it ever there? Would it have ended up in a brief, or rolled eloquently off my tongue when next I stood grasping the podium at Capitol Avenue to still my nerves? Lawyers dream of electric objections, but we few, we happy few, we band of appellates — ah, we dare a song of silver bullets spewed back at our inquisitors.
And now I’m staring at the tiny blue stitched dots on my Daswani shirt and each one seems to call out to me, “Iron us, you fool!” Maybe I should’ve worn a white shirt, or one without a talking pattern, or at least one that didn’t have this d—n weird collar that won’t stay down no matter how many times I shove the collar stay back in. IT STILL WON’T STAY DOWN! Won’t somebody, anybody, write a New Manifesto Dress Code that somehow involves collarless dress shirts?
The burden of production and the burden of persuasion and the burden of proof walk into a bar. The bartender looks up from his want ads and scoops them up and now they’re burdens in his hand but not birds of a feather. But he binds them into a bunch and buys himself some business while busying himself with the belated bother of backing away. But all those little burdens fill our days as we gamely attempt to distinguish between them.
Such things fill my mind even as my eyes range over the pages of a transcript. Putting judges under a microscope, my splendidly, coldly, meanly pedantic profession. In the heat of the moment, I’d melt just the same as anyone else trying to remember that a present sense impression ain’t the same as a past recollection recorded and neither one can hold a candle to the declarant’s state of mind, here! I say. And if I appear to falling myself from grace, we’re all in the same bog making the best of it — at least I hope we are.
I’m not editing and I’m not censoring and I’m not stifling, but, trifling, I wonder if I’ve said anything so far or merely done violence to the English language and my readers’ patience. If all of my columns were stretched end to end, would they touch anything worthwhile or just end up in one big, long, verbose, flowery Mobius band, turning continuously onto itself, all one side? They say if you stare too long into the abyss, the abyss stares back, but did you know that “byss” is the opposite of abyss? So maybe it’ll just flip itself over and end up meaningful.
“Die, Doctor, that is the last thing I shall do,” supposedly Lord Palmerston’s last words, ah to end so quippingly, wittingly, fittingly. And here I am, stuck inside a column with the Memphis blues again. No way to stop, no reason to write on, nothing more to say.•