/ Reality /
Which came first: your intention? or God’s intention for your intention?
We don’t know enough about the cosmos to know. But still: try to imagine. try thinking it out.
Adam might see trouble when he sees the apple, God might see trouble when he sees Adam eating the apple: but could Adam see all the trouble? (could God?)
I put paper into the roller of the typewriter. (These days I’m digital, but then I used a typewriter.) I type a provisional title, center my name. I type some text. I cross it out, smudge it, type some more text: I throw it away and start over. Finally, I finish something: I call it my manuscript. I copy it, trying to be neat, I send the result to Playboy, hoping a check will come back.
What’s the original? The paper in the waste basket? the first line, the one first crossed out? Is the original the third copy I made after the story came back from Playboy? the one I sent to Harpers? Actually I remember something earlier than the first paper put into the Olivetti: I remember the first line I typed arriving the hour before into my head as I slept, another damn hungover from too many damn martinis? I remember it to this day, forty five years later:
“All right, what’s next?”
And I remember something even earlier than that: I remember the basic story, at least the basic irony entering my head in 1958 or so when a classmate told of a wisecrack made by Moses Hadas as he closed the classroom blinds against too bright and colorful a sunset striking the west windows of Hamilton Hall? (Hadas was repeated as clucking, disapprovingly, “What a vulgar display.”)
The alien anthropologist could find my “original” first page of my first draft: and the alien could find the first typed couple of pages I sent to Playboy. Or: a human or alien priest could get to heaven and ask God: “Which manuscript is Knatz’s?”
Imagine God answering, “Never mind anything typed, or digitized; I have the original right here. I have the meta-original! with all variants, from before Knatz drank the first martini that night in 1969. I have Knatz’s brain waves from when he heard the Hadas story. I have Hadas’s brain waves as well: not to mention what Adam thought when he saw the apple, and what I thought, and said, when I saw Adam take, and eat, the apple. Indeed, I have, right here, all brain waves before, and all brainwaves ever since …”
Blah, blah: “And, all brainwaves from the Playboy office, and the New Yorker office, and the Harpers office …” And “all brainwaves from everyone who’s heard the story, then, or since … and all brainwaves from everyone who didn’t hear the story, with explanations why they didn’t hear it …”
Which is the original?
Well, if God is real, if God really ever hears or says or writes anything, if God really put the thoughts into my head, then only the set of manuscript in heaven is the original. Only the meta is real.
Note: that view is medieval Christian orthodoxy: Scholastic Realism. That’s what the Shakespeare of the fair love sonnets might say; that is not what the dark love Shakespeare would say.
I didn’t know when I first heard that Hadas story that the Greeks painted their marbles. Pretending to classicism we see gray marble; the Greeks would have seen color. I heard Hadad speak in great halls. I never heard him up close. Girlfriends quoted things he whispered (the old man joking), but I never said anything to him, formal or intimate. So I really don’t know: but, I imagine Hadas disapproving of the colored statuary. Like a Christian thinking the pew should be hard: or the Bible should be incomprehensible: stilted gibberish for English.
You want a variourum edition of Shakespeare? Never mind going to heaven to ask Shakespeare in person; ask God’s librarian, go straight to the meta-originals. All typos would evaporate, all variants be legitimate.