Pairing: Everything and Everything
One of my favorite episodes of The Sopranos takes place in season 6, when Tony Soprano is recovering from both a gutshot wound and a near-death experience in the hospital. Tony, his capo Paulie Walnuts, and a Bell Labs physicist are watching a big prize fight in the hospital room of a DMX-like rapper also in the same ward, when the conversation turns to the nature of human existence. While the pairing of individuals in this room is itself worth mentioning, it’s their conversation that is the most interesting.
“It’s actually an illusion those two boxers are separate entities….
“What the fuck!”
“As separate entities is simply the way we choose to perceive them….think of the two boxers as ocean waves or currents of air, two tornadoes, say. They appear to be two things, right? Two separate things. But they’re not. Tornadoes are just wind, the wind stirred up in different directions. The fact is, nothing is separate, everything is connected.”
“Everything is everything. I’m down with that.”
Everything is everything, which is why they make such a good pairing. In this combination, any one thing can be attributed the significance of every thing.
One way I think that this idea is illustrated in writing is in a kind of sub-pairing within this Pairing: Ted Wilson’s now-defunct Ted Wilson Reviews the World series on The Rumpus/Electric Literature and Reviews of My Life by Bud Smith (author of WORK) over at Barrelhouse. Both of these columns showcase this potential everythingness of the world and that, through the review, everyday things become remarkable—not in that they’re special, but in that it’s possible to make remarks about them. Since everything can become a subject, everything is equally meaningful.
I’m down with that.
Turning back to that episode of The Sopranos and its Bell Labs physicist (Hal Holbrook, conjuring Kurt Vonnegut) and what he said during that fight: If what he says is true on the quantum level, it both supports and negates the idea of pairing. If in reality all things are the same, the false mind perceives two things and judges them to be a good combination. On the other hand, the idea that existence is a unity that allows any two things to be linked no matter how divergent they seem gives more weight to pairing, just as long as we're willing to lie to ourselves.
In either way, it's an idea similar to the Hindu concept of maya, the illusionary face of things. Not to be confused with Mýa, who sang the hook in Ghetto Superstar, along with several of the Fugees but not Lauryn Hill, whose opinion on these matters is well known.