about the author

Kimmo Rosenthal has been teaching mathematics for over three decades. In the last few years he has turned his attention from mathematical research to writing fiction. His work has appeared in Prime Number (nominated for a Pushcart Prize), KYSO Flash, EDGE, and The Fib Review.

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The Old Topology 

Kimmo Rosenthal

In appreciation of Laszlo Krasznahorkai

He has returned from the faculty meeting, after having vowed to not attend another one, and he finds it difficult to fathom why he went, forcing himself to listen to remarks from the various so-called important people, insecure leaders who in reality lead nothing, with their remarks delivered in carefully measured tones, disembodied as if coming from a tape being broadcast through a speaker system, accompanied by mechanical gestures emanating from their rigid bodies, standing there with costive smiles, their pinchbeck air of sincerity, trying to mask their fear of inadequacy, their words devoid of emotion or conviction, articulate but artificial, leaving him with a sense of emptiness in the wake of this sempiternal stream of words, anodyne remarks designed to palliate and appease, declaiming with rhetoric and slogans the acceptable version of things to be recorded so that come tomorrow there will be a sanitized history, cleansed of any untoward sentiment, or hint of discord, or allusion to shortcomings, leaving only a shimmering gloss, a smooth surface where any cracks or imperfections have been sanded and filled in, covered by turgid prose intended to mask the real state of things, the sheer excess of verbiage strangling any undercurrent of meaning, words flowing slowly, deliberately, discreet euphemisms, delicate circumlocutions, grandiloquent tergiversations, elegant convolutions of logic, invoking a world where candor and honesty are synonymous with lack of compassion and acceptance, and where insistence on merit has become meretricious, a world of policies, plans, and procedures, as opposed to ideas, a world governed by a rigid hierarchical machine, which strictly forbids revisiting, questioning, challenging, admitting mistakes, an edifice surpassing Kafka’s Castle, and he has been assigned the role of K., forever denied access, consigned to being an absurd witness to a burlesque ritual, as if he were in the crowd for the arrival of the carnival in The Melancholy of Resistance, making him feel like an anachronism, an atavistic throwback to a time when important things mattered, when he cared, or is it that he still cares, which is why he went and which is why he shouldn’t have gone, having once been a trusted sentry of the hearth, a keeper of history, his name on a fingerpost, but the lettering has now faded as he is merely a ghost from the past haunting the present, although there are those who remember, tacitly acknowledging what had once been, and they smile at him from across the room, as if to communicate a wary allegiance and wordlessly aver that they do remember the old topology of things, yes, they do remember it fondly, and he smiles back perplexed by it all, finding his exasperation and frustration giving way to resignation, feeling he can only laugh, but it is a brittle laughter that is far from mirthful, not really laughter at all.

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