"Situations and Revisions," Excerpts from An Unspecific Dog: Artifacts of This Late Stage in History

Author’s note, or some post hoc reasoning about what ties the following disparate texts (and their one-hundred forty odd companion pieces) together into a respectable florilegium. In Rortian terms, the subjects of these texts, either explicit or implicit, are caught between vocabularies, between contingency and certainty, the interim in which certain kind of ironic vitality exists, where tragedy and humor are equally likely and often deeply entangled. No text is more than a page; many are a pair of lines. Any longer and something resembling meaning might’ve coalesced. 

5. It has been estimated that, because of their importance to certain branches of developmental psychology, one in two sets of twins has been clandestinely observed against their knowledge during the course of their lives.

137. Certain statistical institutions still insist on categorizing the cause of some suicides as melancholy, even though there have been no official diagnoses in some decades. Also, there are grumblings that what we call the nightingale is, in reality, two separate species.

110. A respected medical journal was forced to print an apology for the contents of a recent paper by a reproductive endocrinologist on the relationship between postpartum depression and the use of epidurals in which the author, seeking to link the pain of childbirth to the strength of motherly instincts, had called the bond between mother and child a flavor of Stockholm syndrome.

145. There are promises that, with improvements to fMRI technology, what matters to us will become more clear.

115. The notion that a person dies a sort of genuine death when their name is spoken for the last time, having become increasingly popular with secularists in recent years, has led to the founding of a not-for-profit organization that assures users that after death, in exchange for regular dues paid while alive, two or more volunteers will have a conversation about you on your birthday (or a given day of your choice) based on available photos and information, much of which is submitted via an online questionnaire. It is required of the volunteers, according to the terms and conditions, to wonder what you were like.

11. An entire apartment building had evacuated themselves before firefighters arrived to discover that there had been no fire in the first place, even though no fewer than ten distinct calls had been placed to emergency services to the contrary. When interviewed later as to why they had called emergency services and evacuated the building when there had been no fire, most answered that they had simply assumed there had been a fire.

21. A prominent writer of online hotel reviews who popularized the notion that, just as the gallery can elevate an object to the level of art by removing it from all context and forcing us to contemplate the thing itself, the hotel elevates human life in much the same way, died at home in his bed.

55. An autodidact that had learned a great deal, perhaps even all there is to know, about contemporary philosophy by watching lectures from all of the great teachers of the day online, marched into the office of the head of the philosophy department at a prominent university and demanded a faculty position, and then proceeded to rattle off an impeccably constructed argument that adroitly melded two previously discontinuous strains of continental thought as a demonstration of his mastery of the subject matter. Before the department head had been able to respond, the autodidact turned and walked away, having realized something of the nature of the academy.

82. A man who leapt from a twelfth story building had thought himself a bureaucrat.

91. There is a well-sourced rumor that there is still such a thing as the House Assassinations Committee, and that they meet for lunch on Thursdays. There is also a competing theory that a group of Representatives who meet for lunch on Thursdays has been nicknamed the House Assassinations Committee.