Lenny: A Butterfly Effect
“She placed a drop of her tears into the deep, dark sea and oceans of water flooded his soul: Chaos. His fingers traced the faults on her continent of a body and her soul tremored like an earthquake: Theory.” (Abiesha Smith)
Last night, I was watching Jurassic Park with my grandparents and Jeff Goldblum’s character (Ian Malcolm) explained a mathematical concept that is of vast interest to me: Chaos Theory. In very concise words, Chaos Theory states that a small change can have a large outcome in what has been termed the butterfly effect: a minute cause (a butterfly flapping its wings in Guyana) resulting in a gigantic effect (hurricane winds in Canada).
When Malcolm made mention of Chaos Theory, he, in a very intricate way, foreshadowed the cretaceous chaos that we all squealed and shrieked at throughout the Jurassic Park film. Chaos Theory can account for Henry Wu’s character (B.D. Wong) and his team trying to genetically recreate dinosaurs and control their genetic code: such a small (in the geneticists’ eyes) desire to recreate that which never dwelled with man so that it can dwell with man for monetary gain resulted in largely disastrous outcomes. Wong thought that he had the dinosaurs’ chromosomes under control and that unpredictability will not come to their scientific party so long as they, the humans, tenaciously held on their control: or the illusion thereof.
In a very practical, real way, Chaos Theory accounts for so much of this unpredictable life that we live. When I was younger, this phrase used to be drilled into me (by my parents) so that I could be acutely aware of the detriments of lying: a liar becomes a thief, a thief becomes a murderer and every murderer has his part in hell. This is Chaos Theory exemplified ago, no? A small, harmless, white lie can result in us becoming the ugliest versions of ourselves, yes? Especially if we carelessly and flippantly tell lie after lie after lie: while some might disagree and say that every individual has their own unique path to trek in this life, there is still a general consensus in the global population of radical liars becoming radical murderers.
Why I am mentioning all this?
“I wish I were stronger and more secure in myself so that I could really spend my life with a guy like Lenny. Because he has a different kind of strength than Joshie. He has the strength of his sweet tuna arms. He has the strength of putting his nose in my hair and calling it home… Who will ever open up to me like that again? No one. Because it’s too dangerous. Lenny is a dangerous man. Joshie is more powerful, but Lenny is much more dangerous.”
From the moment that I read the above quote from Shteyngart’s novel, I thought about Chaos Theory and Lenny being a butterfly effect of his own: while Lenny’s existence might seem small and insignificant, I am of the belief that his actions will greatly affect the world around him. I am yet to finish the novel so I wait in anxious anticipation to see if my theory holds sway.
To take a step away from the complex and chaotic sense of the quote above us, I’d mention about my concordance with the thought: “Joshie is more powerful, but Lenny is much more dangerous.” Many persons call themselves an “open book”, yet we are never able to read a page out of their stories. Lenny was the complete opposite: he laid bare his emotions for the world to see: in Noah’s livestream show, in his emails to Eunice, in his diary and in his behavior towards her. In the world that they (Lenny and Eunice) dwelled, to lay bare oneself in such a sensitive and thought-provoking way was rare because the rest of the world lived for the superficial and that illusion of control. Most everyone cared not about saying how they felt but about what they had: their possessions, their credit scores, their age, the ratings, their health scores, their beauties. In most of the above, Lenny was lacking and Joshie was advancing yet Eunice saw beyond all that finite wealth and saw an infinite wealth within Lenny: his ability to emote like a normal person, his tendency to say and act how he truly felt at a moment in time. For Eunice (and for me), that made Lenny more the man that Joshie was because of what use is a powerful man if he cannot truly communicate with you?
Another dimension of the quote that was profound was the beginning: “I wish I were stronger and more secure in myself so that I could really spend my life with a guy like Lenny.” How many times have I heard these words uttered by my friends? Too many times: I have a friend who turned down the marriage proposal of a secure man to live a life with another man who cannot even keep his day job. She turned down a strong, secure, dependable man for a seemingly strong, insecure, undependable one. Why? Because she had not the strength or the confidence to marry a man who was the better version of she or whose attributes ironed hers out and complimented them oh so perfectly. Now, I listen to her distressing cries about her husband not providing for her and their daughter, his infidelities, his indifferences, his immaturities and the like. Yes, the other man, in all his shining attributes, could have caused her the same amount of heartache but the probability of her experiencing heartache on such an extreme scale would have been far less. Far less. Like Eunice, my friend wished that she had the strength to stay with the stronger man but she chose the one who appealed to her superficial desires: beauty and charisma. I forgot to mention that the man that my friend married was more handsome and charismatic than the other man. But he was that and only that and the two do not pay the bills in their home.
My friend, and Eunice, is also partaking in Chaos Theory: my friend sought after small matters and neglected the fundamental and now she is reaping the seeds of her desires. Eunice is constantly disgusted by Lenny’s imperfections and she sees herself as not strong enough to stay with a guy like Lenny and as I read on, I will hope that her Chaos Theory is not as chaotic as my friends.
One can hope…
Shteyngart, G. (2010). Super Sad True Love Story. New York, New York, United States of America: Random House Trade Paperbacks. Retrieved March 12, 2017