The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2012

All Issues
JUNE 2012 Issue

3 stories

Occam’s Razor

Of any two theories, choose the simplest to explain phenomena.

He’s abrupt with you because he’s busy. Because he’s preoccupied. Because he’s upset. Because he’s sad.

He doesn’t want to make love to you because he’s tired. Because he’s depressed. You hurt his feelings. You cut your hair. You drank three beers, it’s like sleeping with a brewery.

He won’t go out with you because he has to work. Because you forgot to remind him. Because theatre doesn’t interest him. Readings don’t interest him, nor gardens. Anyhow, he doesn’t have the money to waste on that stuff.

He’s harsh with you because you’re so familiar. It’s a mark of long marriage, really, that he doesn’t waste time with false

flowery phrases. It shows how comfortable he is with you that he is always natural.

He slams the door because you’re too needy. You’re too demanding. You’re not centered in yourself the way he is.

He appears to hate you because your shadow self is uppermost. It’s not you he hates, it’s your defects. If you got rid of your defects, he wouldn’t have to be so harsh with you.

He isn’t putting you down in front of other people. You’re over-sensitive.

Using Occam’s Razor, all these phenomena can be simply explained: People hurt others because they don’t like them. Occam’s Razor cuts this Gordian knot.



In the plant kingdom, callus tissue is made of hard-walled cells. A plant creates layers of callus around the ring where a branch connects to the main trunk. When a branch becomes damaged or ill, the tree makes many layers of callus tissue around the base of the branch where it connects to the trunk. Once the callus layer is fully formed, the tree slowly cuts off supplies from and to the branch. Its phloem tubes are cut first, so that the main plant receives no harmful fluids. The dying branch’s leaves yellow, then fall. Next, the xylem tubes that bring nutrients up from the roots thicken, harden, become wood. Now the dying branch’s leaves are gone. Its twigs snap readily. The callus layer continues to thicken, strengthening the barrier between the weak limb and the trunk. A strong wind comes along and snaps the dying branch from the tree along the callus layer. The tree creates still more new callus cells within the callus layer until the place where once the branch was is marked only by a group of thickened, concentric rings.

You lost a limb. That’s the long and short of it. You hadn’t realized that layers of callus had been accreting. You didn’t receive messages from the dying limb because the phloem had been cut, no longer sent nutrients down the main trunk to the roots. The sap that flowed up from the roots had bypassed that limb for some time. You don’t know how long but it must have been a while. Callus layers don’t develop in a night. The great beauty of callus tissue is the way it takes care of the main stem. What’s one limb, more or less? Since you’re rooted where you grow, you can’t flee pain but you can detach it from yourself. That dead limb is on the ground above your roots, crumbling, decomposing, leaching its nutrients into the soil. There is nothing to be done. The process continues without you, throughout you, about you.


Apical Meristem

Waking from dreams as a character from a book, with all the dithering and static sliced away. The comfort of it. The luxuriant stretch in an ionic field, where the least of gestures leaves marks in the very air. In a book, if a character stands in front of a closet for several minutes, forgetting what clothes to pluck, well that means something. If you’re a character in a book, your meaningless elements have all been stripped away. Everything you do contains the seeds of what you could be as well as the scars of what you’ve been. In a book, you can clearly see the soil each character’s rooted in, and the flowers and fruits of that soil.

Were you a character in a book, you’d be apical meristematic tissue, that’s what you’d be. You’d be the growing tip of a plant, you’d be the cells devoted to extension, nothing but extension, with each extended cell carrying at its outmost tip the weight, the bombhead you could call it, of the nascent mitochondria that can tell a new cell what it should be. You! Off with you, become a branch! You, become the nucleus of a cluster of flower cells, and look sharp about it!

Everything in apical meristematic tissue is about to extend, to extend and re-form, to become something else, that’s its whole purpose. Were you a character in a book, this would be happening to you. This long liquid Sunday sorting last year’s expenses might still bring you to tears, but it would be a turning point. Some living quick would be touched and changed.

Were you a character in a book, you’d be alive. Alive to this change, instead of slicing off scar tissue one millimeter at a time.


Anna Mockler

ANNA MOCKLER’s novel, The Rat Hunt Boys, appears Spring 2016 from Unbearables/ Autonomedia. She was born in New York and has lived all over the country, where she performed the traditional jobs of a writer: insulation contractor, factory worker, office temp, waitress, printer, cabdriver, restoration ecologist, and English adjunct. She lives in Brooklyn.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2012

All Issues