Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Waiting-Room

A waiting-room, people in it, and more coming in all the time, if only at a trickle. Space must be getting at a premium.
And what are they doing in there? What else - they're waiting. What else could they be doing? But they might be doing something else while they're waiting, but even so all they're doing is, it seems, encompassed within the waiting. They might, for instance, some of these inhabitants of the waiting-room, be talking to each other, but what is it they're talking about but the waiting - how long it's taking, how this is no way to be treated in this day and age, and so on.

And what is it they are waiting for? Who said anything about waiting for? They're just waiting. This is a place you wait. Infinitely? Well, perhaps not infinitely absolutely, but infinitely so far. There may sometime, perhaps, come an end to the waiting, but not, so far, yet.

They must be fed up so, all these people waiting indefinitely, you'd think. And you'd probably be right. Though it depends, I suppose, on the mind of the person doing the waiting. If he or she gets too caught up with the idea of waiting for something - an end to the waiting - then it certainly must get tedious, extremely tedious, particularly with the absence of this end coming. If he could see people ahead of him in the queue being called forth from the waiting-room, their turn having come, then of course he too could feel hopes of a nearing end to his waiting, but no such departures arise, and so there's not much cause for such hopes.

But how could it be otherwise than to be waiting for something? You can't just be abstractly waiting. Waiting isn't something that can stand in isolation, unlike say, running. You don't have to be running for something, you could be just running. Ah, but here at last we might be getting somewhere. What is waiting or waiting for something? It's not anything really, is it? The really bit is the standing or sitting or whatever it is you're doing while you're waiting. That's about as much as you, or an external observer at least, can say about waiting: you, the observed, are standing around or sitting, doing apparently nothing but this standing or sitting - or maybe also looking with stupid regularity at your watch and looking a bit at odds with the present as is. You're letting people know - or perhaps just yourself - you're not just some useless person standing around doing nothing. You're looking at your watch, again not just because you've got nothing else to be doing but looking at your watch, but because you're waiting for a change in circumstances of some kind, a more desirable future that you're approaching at some kind of temporal rate. You're not just here like a fool. You're implying the inferred absence of something, for example a bus. It's a kind of performance - a group of actions that create the impression of waiting.

And so all these people in the waiting-room - what's really going on here but they think they're waiting. That's what waiting is - thinking you're waiting. It's the thinking is the verb. So that's what must be our waiting-room. It's a waiting-room in the absolute. An existential waiting-room. Or at least it might be - it's a reasonable guess. So while you're in there waiting, there's no end to the waiting. That's what waiting is - waiting, which is to say thinking you're waiting, the same as you could be thinking you're flying or thinking you're jumping or thinking you're swimming or whatever. You might have to be a bit half-mad to be thinking those things, but that's another matter.

But what if they really are waiting for something? Our man earlier, waiting for the bus: along comes the bus, on he goes - his waiting was not in vain. But his waiting had nothing to do with the bus coming on or not. His waiting achieved nothing. It was all in his head, whereas the bus - that was certainly outside his head. For our people in the waiting-room so, is there or isn't there a world of difference between waiting for something that does exist and waiting for something that doesn't? Not effectively anyway, so far. You couldn't really tell any difference between the waiting for something which really is and might but hasn't yet and may never appear, and something that isn't a something in the first place and so will certainly never appear. And given all this waiting, and the nothing but the waiting, surely they could be doing something better with their time than waiting, which is to say, as said, thinking they're waiting.

So how do they get out of this waiting-room if it's all so apparently useless to be in there waiting? It's the how they got in that's more the issue - all this thinking they're waiting; and if they stopped thinking they were waiting then they wouldn't be in there in the waiting-room, for you can't be in there unless you're waiting. That's the nature of the waiting-room.

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