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This is Layer 4 by Sam Potts      Tools:

Ben Greenman's Layer 4 Commentary


I am no longer friendly with the old man from Layer #3, my former friend from Ancient Greece. What a jerk that guy turned out to be.

I loaned him my bicycle and when he brought it back to me one of the spokes was completely out, like a compound fracture. "What the hell?" I said. He narrowed his eyes and told me not to use that kind of language with him. That kind of language? Who is the jackass who ruined the hell out of my g-damned bike? The gall of that guy.

It got me thinking, though, about the nature of time, and how none of us really understand it. How could I be friends with a gentleman from Ancient Greece in the first place? What if way back when, he traveled to Russia and got into a fight with one of my ancestors? The whole thing seems impossible, doesn't it?

Then I saw Sam Potts' Layer #4, and it clarified matters significantly. In this layer, Sam has wisely focussed in on the moment of significant drama in Layer #3, in which one man who is dressed in a loose-fitting suit of some kind winds up his leg and pounds another man in the balls. Most of us, particularly the men, felt a stronger connection to the man who had been kicked. Call it sympathy. Call it muscle memory, or nerve memory, or fear of the known. Some sadists identified with the man who was doing the kicking. There is a guy here in our Brooklyn Layer Tennis facility who is a tremendous sadist. His name is Nick, and when Layer #3 came in, he went around saying "What a feeling that is, to put a heel into someone's balls. It's like being born!"

Sam heard Nick. How could he not? Nick was walking around the place yelling. Same covered his ears, I thought in pain. But evidently, he was covering them in thought, because in this layer, though, Sam has advanced the whole ball-kicking thing significantly. On the one hand, he has colored the kicker to give his dastardly act more reality. The ball-kick really pops now. But that's not all: he has also given us a way of thinking about the victim that liberates us all from our preconceptions about sympathy. The man who is being kicked is, we now see, being kicked so hard that his grandfather feels it. The fetus in the middle represents the unborn child that is at the root of our adult existence, as well as the unborn children that are in the seminal vesicles. That is an interpretation. It is disputable. But what is indisputable is that the alien/fetus figure, with its discus-shaped eye, unites our memories of Layer #3 and Layer #2, while also encouraging us to wrestle with issues of mortality and time. And wrestling, of course, reminds us of Layer #1.

In our past is our present. In our present is our future. In our balls is our sperm. Balls in your court, Armin.

Play by play commentary for this match is provided, as it happens, by Ben Greenman.

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