I said “Triangles” a lot into my phone today. I said, “Triangles triangles triangles.” Sometimes I thought about a triangle. I pictured its three sides, the base, height and hypotenuse, as I said, “Triangles.” Then I said it another two times: “Triangles triangles.” Sometimes I said more than just “Triangles.” Sometimes I drawled it out. I said, “Triangles,” or “Triangles.” Sometimes I didn’t think anything at all. I just said, “Triangles.” That was enough sometimes.
A triangle is a three sided figure. A triangle is any figure with three sides. These sides touch. They touch end to end. As long as that’s true, and as long as they are straight lines, they are triangles. Nothing else will make sense about triangles if you don’t appreciate how important it is that the sides be straight and that the points touch.
Look at the triangle! Look at how straight its three sides are. It’s good that a triangle has three straight sides which do not overlap. That’s what good is. Yes.
The word “yes” is like a triangle. First you have its sound. That is like a straight line at the base of this figurative triangle which “yes” is like. It is a straight sound, the shortest connecting two points: the beginning and the end of the affirmation, which “yes” always DESCRIBES.
The affirmation is like the height of a mysterious triangle. Yes!
And the hypotenuse of the triangle is you and me, is us, is the eye, which points at triangles, as much in the figurative sense of there being triangles as it does when the eye points at “yes.”
Triangles are special and important!
Can there be other shapes? Sure, but they’re made up of triangles.
Square? It’s two triangles, and it’s additional and boring.
Pentagon? Five triangles.
Hexagon? That’s just a bunch of triangles.
And so on. Boring!
If I wanted to think about a square, I’d think of a square. If I wanted to think about a hexagon, I’d think of a hexagon. And so forth. But I’d have no illusions about what I’d truly be thinking of: a collection of shapes, any of which, taken individually, are better than the whole they combine to form.
I don’t want any of those shapes. I want triangles. All I want is triangles.
May my thoughts ever be of triangles.
May triangles and my desire for triangles be the sides of a triangle, and may I be its base.
Maybe you don’t believe me. I know there’s only so much of this I can explain. I understand. There’s your disbelief and my explanation at the sides and the topic at the base. Granted.
But do something for me, okay?
Extend your right pointer finger and thumb. Extend your left pointer finger and thumb. Connect the tips of your thumbs with the tips of your pointer fingers. You know what you just did? You know what we just did?
Maybe. I’m not a very good writer. I don’t care as much as about other things. When it comes to triangles, I’m a superstar. If you’re going to listen to anybody about triangles, you’d want somebody with a head full of them to be talking.
There might be people who talk better or write better, but let there be no illusions: nobody gets triangles like I get triangles. Nobody.
You know what? Don’t talk to me unless it’s about triangles. Don’t even begin unless you’re articulating something that is like a straight line, that you can connect to two other things that are also like straight lines, provided all these straight line things connect end to end in the form of a triangle. It can be a right triangle. It can be an equilateral triangle. It can be an isosceles triangle. It can be any kind of triangle you can imagine, but it’s got to be a triangle. Otherwise I don’t want to hear about it. Don’t bother me with it.
You know why?
I’m trying to transition away from thinking in sentences. You know the thing about the sentence is, it’s boring! It’s fundamentally boring. Oh, you can do cool things with it. Hey, who doesn’t like reading a novel! And if you’re ordering delivery food, you figure what you want and then you wait a little bit and presto, it’s there and it’s exactly what you asked for, amazing! Cool, huh!
But in terms of what I like to think about? Hey, the sentence is kind of getting played out.
Hey, the sentence has hidden dimensions, sure, and can defy itself and accommodate any thought you could possibly have in its construction and mechanics. Cool. Fine.
But you know what I think I want to do before I die?
I want to have cool thoughts.
Really cool ones.
You know what thoughts bore me, what thoughts, running through them all again, are just total snoozes I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy? You know what they have in common? The chicken and egg baloney of whether the idea came first or its articulation.
Try this, okay, imagine a saxophone. Wasn’t that cool? You needed language to do that, unfortunately, I mean you wouldn’t have done that unless I had written, “Imagine a saxophone.” But you didn’t need that combination of words to form the image beyond that. You know? You recognized the figure of a saxophone, you formed the picture in your brain, you know?
So that image is like one side of the triangle, and the word “saxophone” is the other side of the triangle, and the function of the brain to bring the image out of the word, you know, that’s definitely the base. You see how much better that triangle is. Isn’t it better than any of these sentences?
Much better. A lot better.
And you know what, you might be thinking of having like… I don’t know…. a drawing of a triangle on, like, a chalk board, or something, with the word, “SAXOPHONE,” next to one side, and a drawing of a saxophone next to the other side, and a drawing of a brain by the base, all in chalk, these drawings. You know what? Erase all that.
That’s pornography. That’s triangle porn! Erase it. You know what? Erase it forever! The, uh, real triangle is inside the mind! The real triangle is pure abstract thought. It can’t be erased. You know what, if you needed to visualize like that, this is just a wasted attempt at honest communication. You might grasp the specialness of triangles, but not the importance, no way. Absolutely no way.
You know what I do when I think of triangle porn? I think of the porn as the base, and the two sides are your laziness and vanity.
Bad, bad, bad! Because, listen. I’m trying to leave language behind. Oh, I mean, outside its useful purposes. I’ll still write grocery lists if I need to remember. I’ll probably send out thank you notes sometimes. I’m saying, when it comes to replicating the shape of my thought: it’s triangles all the way.
Triangles all the way!
I’d rather just think about straight lines that connect at points in series of three. I’d rather just think about things in terms of how they are triangles. I’d rather also think of these terms and these things as sides of a triangle whose base I can barely comprehend.
Oh, some smart aleck out there is gonna say, This isn’t really about triangles.
Every time you said triangles, you meant something else.
You meant the mass extinction. You meant identity. You meant God.
You know what I have to say to that?
I get to say what this is about, and I have this to say: Triangles, triangles, triangles.
And to that end, you know what I’m going to anticipate? A truly bold idea, an idea about triangles, when it comes along, you know what people are going to want to do to it when it challenges them to do something other than want to chuckle?
When it challenges them to feel awe?
They’re going to try and chuckle about it!
Wrong, wrong, wrong!
This is when I stopped listening to people, this is when I lost my sense of humor, you know, when I made a couple jokes, a couple insinuating about triangles, about how sense is made, that kind of thing. People thought I was insane! It’s shocking to people. You know, you can’t blame them. Language is what most people think in, and it’s this ever-widening-ever-ranging chicken-and-egg exercize between thought and expression, and it’s natural to want some kind of relief, is it not, from being both its jailor and prisoner! Relief! In the form of joke! Jest! Right! Right?
That is not the summit we approach!
Triangles are no laughing matter, first of all.
Second of all, if you tell a joke twice it becomes less funny. Not so with triangles.
A triangle is forever.
You know what’s like a triangle? A joke is like a triangle. Frequently a joke is like a triangle, many jokes, I mean, are like triangles. There’s the fact that it’s told to provoke laughter at the base, right? And there’s the implied meaning and the literal meaning of the words in the joke, that can be like the sides, or the setup and the punchline sometimes can be like the sides, or whatever, every joke is different. But fundamentally speaking, when you’re laughing, it’s because there’s some kind of balance between these sides. They begin to resemble straight lines, in other words– there is stability, straightness, in each of these elements, and each of these elements is in communication with the other– the straight lines connect.
But you know what’s the problem with jokes?
There’s like a secondary triangle formed by the anticipation of laughter, the laughter, and the passing of the laughter.
That sucks! That’s not funny!
And these two triangles overlap. That’s not funny either!
And even less funny: they can seem to form the sides of a triangle– an Ur-triangle– whose base is a cultish following of this will-to-laughter. The will-to-chuckle, I’m saying. It’s a cult! It’s got priests and rites and stuff like that. It’s a serious bummer! It raises barriers between certain people and lowers others. Essentially, though, you know what it does, is it makes you feel guilty if you’re not in a laughing mood!
Me, I’m never in a laughing mood anymore. That would imply a love of language. Language distracts me from what is essential: filling my head with triangles, triangles, as many triangles as possible. I want to be so full and rich with them that I invite thieves. Triangles: my cup runneth over.
You know who could never say the same about jokes? Or something funny to say? Any human who has ever lived. You know, you know, you could prove me wrong right now, you know how? You could have something funny to say right now.
Say something funny.
Sam Virzi studies fiction and teaches writing at UMass Amherst. He has self-published a comics adaptation of the Revelation to John. Other work of his has appeared in the New York Tyrant, Hobart, Spork, Autre Letters Vol. 1 and The Fanzine.