As was then, as is now

A friend talked to me on Facebook today. Came to me looking for help; and, when I answered, seemed more interested in ignoring my advice than in listening to it. Demanding that I say something, as I pounded out my thoughts.

When I was in college, I watched my Japanese professor struggling with a graduate student to translate something, I think a poem. It was achingly beautiful, and tantalizingly ambiguous.

Did the poet mean this? Or perhaps that? Or perhaps that other thing? And what did it mean? Maybe this, but wouldn't that change those two lines of the poem? Or given the allusions that it was making, maybe that, but what about those allusions? Was it deliberately clashing?

In the end, the pair eventually reached an impasse. They had found a kinda-sorta inconclusive conclusion, and started to move on.

And then they facepalmed, because as soon as they turned the page, they noticed the last line of the poem at the top of it. Which left no ambiguity at all.

Eventually I signed off and called my friend, and we talked. Signing back in, I discovered that none of those sentences were in my chat log.

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