Author expressions“CAN’T YOU SEE…?” I SHOUTED AT THE DEAF.


Autor: ©2024 William Castano-Bedoya


According to AE, this phrase is a paradoxical epiphenomenon.

It all started with this phrase I imagined yesterday and, because of its rarity and disruptiveness, I want to analyze it during my walk, put it into context, and at the same time share it with you. Notice how imagination works; yesterday I constructed that phrase, and now, walking my three miles, I’m elaborating on how perplexing that phrase turns out to be. So, I decided to discuss it with my alter ego, yes, with him, whom I’ve grown accustomed to calling AE.

Before addressing the phrases, let me introduce you to the concept of “futile,” which refers to something lacking importance or significance. Dramatic irony occurs when the reader knows something the characters don’t, creating a discrepancy between what is expected and what actually happens. In this case, the reader understands the futility of shouting at the deaf while the character does not.

“Explain to me what ‘futility’ means. You’re not supposed to know more things than me. You’re just my Alter Ego,” I said. “I am your subconscious, and as such, I have much more information than your consciousness,” AE replied with a hint of wisdom.

“At some point, I learned what it means,” said AE, before continuing to expand on the concept. “Futility refers to the quality of being useless, trivial, or lacking importance or significant value. It is something that lacks purpose or relevance in the context in which it is found. Something futile can be perceived as insignificant, senseless, or superficial. For example, trivial activities or concerns that do not contribute significantly to a broader goal or objective can be considered futile, like excessively worrying about the color of the curtains in a room while completely ignoring the need to repair a leak in the roof that is causing significant damage.”

AE and I go out for a walk every day to exercise and improve our condition, me physically and him mentally. He is quite frank with me. Sometimes he overdoes it. He’s blunt and makes me feel bad; I can’t help it every time my ego indulges in being authentic, faithful, real, or true. He represses me ipso facto, just like dictators repress when someone expresses themselves in the use of their freedom. But looking at it from another perspective, if it weren’t for those reprimands, I would surely behave like just another idiot. AE is my grounding pole, the one that captures all the lightning bolts of the storms in my life and channels them to solid ground. He is the only one who ensures that I keep my feet where they should always be while I’m awake.

“What do you think of this sentence? ‘Can’t you see…? I shouted at the deaf.’ How would you categorize it within a philosophical spectrum?” I asked AE.

AE took a few seconds, then replied, “put in this context… ‘Can’t you see…?’ whisper the social outcasts in the face of the indifference of their rulers.” It has an ironic and sarcastic tone that can be interpreted in various ways depending on the context and intention. As for the deaf person, you already know. The deaf person not knowing who shouted ‘can’t you see…?’ at them is as if the deaf person didn’t exist. There lies the sarcasm. I start from the following premise: ‘Can’t you see…?’ is a contradiction, it is a shout towards the blindness of those who refuse to see reality.”

“Wow,” I replied, surprised by the sharpness of his response. That phrase, initially interpreted as mere sarcasm, now unfolds before me as a powerful dialogue about society’s blindness. I immediately recalled José Saramago’s “Blindness Essay,” because it symbolizes the critical selfishness that marks the struggle for survival and becomes a parable of today’s society. It reminds me of a situation I experienced recently: a group of protesters clamoring for stricter gun control, while assault weapons remain within reach in nearby stores.

“You’re right,” I admitted, assimilating his perspective. That interpretation adds a new layer of meaning to the initial phrase.

“Valid,” he replied. “Definitely, that phrase does not support a single interpretation; it’s of hybrid interpretations. I say this because it occurs to me that ‘Can’t you see…?’ could end up being a philosophical question, a deep questioning about perception and reality in the era of misinformation. An example could be the ‘to be or not to be’ of teachers, educators today, who guide humanity towards the paths of knowledge. I think of it in this interpretive context: ‘Can’t you see…?’ the educators ask themselves in the face of the ignorance that persists in society and in the vision of a world where their own students are more informed than them on many topics of knowledge.”

We remained silent, discerning. We walked silently and alone down the street, accompanied by the sun that never stopped shining exaggeratedly on our path. He, AE, also entered silent and peaceful mode, but he didn’t sweat like me. As I walked, still on my first mile and still far from completing the second, I thought about the definitions. ‘A contradiction? A shout towards blindness? A sarcasm? A reflective sentence? A philosophical question?’ I had it clear, all of the above, each one by itself defines the sentence and categorizes it. You, dear reader, will have drawn conclusions and, therefore, your own response.

The conversation with AE should continue so that my walk didn’t turn into just looking but not seeing trees, squirrels, houses, cars, and the tip of my shoes on my shadow because I usually walk looking at the ground; that has come with the years. I knew I still had to complement that phrase with the second one, so I threw an unexpected question at AE, I said: “When you combine the two sentences into one concept, are you puzzled?””You’re right,” AE replied, “when you combine… ‘Can’t you see…?’ and ‘I shouted at the deaf,’ you create a paradoxical epiphenomenon, a kind of irony that can puzzle those who hear it or read it. The irony lies in the fact that the character is shouting at someone who cannot hear, underscoring the uselessness of the action and highlighting the speaker’s frustration. This combination can generate a puzzling effect for those who confront the lack of meaning in the situation and have the capacity to reflect on effective communication and mutual understanding.”

“We’ve walked two miles; we have one left. What do you propose? We could play a little,” I said. “Play? Yes, play, and let’s exemplify this ‘paradoxical epiphenomenon,’ taking a look at our world. You start to understand the game,” AE replied. With my first example, AE tuned in, many phrases came to us, I said one and AE said another. I remember the following:

“‘Can’t you see…?’ exclaim the ecologists as deforestation advances relentlessly. As for the deaf, you already know,” I said.

“‘Can’t you see…?’ cry the wretched as bombs detonate over their bodies. As for the deaf, you already know,” he said.

“‘Can’t you see…?’ question the artists in the face of the lack of appreciation for beauty and creativity. As for the deaf, you already know,” I said.

“‘Can’t you see…?’ wonder the workers in the face of labor exploitation and economic inequality. As for the deaf, you already know,” he said.

“‘Can’t you see…?’ cry the oppressed to the system that perpetuates their suffering. As for the deaf, you already know,” I said.

“‘Can’t you see…?’ ask the educators in the face of the ignorance that persists in society. As for the deaf, you already know,” he said.

And so on. Finally, AE and I returned home with three more miles assumed in life.

William is a Colombian-American writer who captivates readers with his ability to depict both the unique experiences and universal struggles of humanity. Hailing from Colombia’s Coffee Axis, he was born in Armenia and spent his youth in Bogotá, where he studied Marketing and Advertising at Jorge Tadeo Lozano University. In the 1980s, he immigrated to the United States, where he naturalized as a U.S. citizen and held prominent roles as a creative and image leader for projects with major corporations. After a successful career in the marketing world, William decided to fully dedicate himself to his true passion: literature. He began writing at the turn of the century, but it was in 2018 when he made the decision to make writing his primary occupation. He currently resides in Coral Gables, Florida, where he finds inspiration for his works. William’s writing style is distinguished by its depth, humanity, and authenticity. Among his most notable works are ‘The Beggars of Mercury’s Light: We the Other People’, ‘The Galpon’, ‘Flowers for María Sucel’, ‘ Ludovico’, and ‘We’ll meet in Stockholm”.

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