My little girl has become a sneak. She's old enough now to test boundary. I don't know if she tests to determine whether the ambitus is elastic or whether it still simply exists. I suspect the latter. The recognition of permanence is an important skill. Without permanence we'd all be surrealists. Who wants that, really?
We all understand object permanence fairly early on. My face doesn't really disappear when I throw the blanket over it. The joy for her in that game comes from the anticipation, from the knowledge that my face will reappear. What elicits the shrill squeal from her is nothing more than a gussied up faith. Faith is the energy behind every motion we make.
Tradition only implies that when I strike this particular key on the keyboard, that particular letter appears. It could be otherwise. What happens when it is otherwise, when I strike the H and three bluebonnets curl up from the keys? What happens when that basic faith is violated? In fiction you get a narrative that spurts and leaps with a sort of abandon, where the causal connections between events is subdermal and functions on levels of inference rather than linear plot. The Comanches flood over the protective hill, wild with feathers.
I would posit that violations of that basic faith occur all the time. My daughter isn't supposed to touch the receiver in the entertainment center. It's an established rule. Her peanut butter crime is to sneak up there, watching us all the way, filled with a silver anticipation of the response to her crime. Her face will flash red and her throat swell with upset when she's pulled away, but it does more damage to randomly enforce the rule. If she touches the receiver while our backs our turned, the punishment does not arrive. A look of utter distress seizes her face. She's questioned her faith.
This faith isn't a sublime thing. There is no exaltation in my faith that a pressing of the H renders an H and not a bright blooming of knives. This isn't to say that our quotidian movements through a day shouldn't be executed with a sense of reverence. They should. It's just not a sustainable way of living in a world of golden arches and football. Our world is no longer made for a slow and deep appreciation. Pick nearly any one out from a crowd. Watch them. They move like flies trapped in a yellow glass.
My daughter is slow in her crime and slower still in her tests. Her faith in the persistence of the world is new. A green ball is a sphere of wonder. A grape lollipop is bliss. I see her wandering up the hillside into the mad throng of whooping Comanches. Their feathers attract. Her hand reaches out. Tomahawks flash. The world is no longer made for wonder.