Shouting Heads. Stefano Ciarrocchi.

Temperament and Temperature

First Act

“What came first, temperament or temperature?”

Asked the second word to the first word.

To which the first word answered:

“You came first so that I can make you come second afterwards.”

Temperature answered:

“How come?”

Temperament got a bit agitated:

“I am physically boiling and outraged at your cool state.”

Temperature smiled back:

“Is that the best you can do with me? I am literal in many degrees. You are metaphorical and low key.”

Temperament in a reflective mode replied:

“I can really find ways to navigate your whole spectrum. I invented you.”

Temperature in an unencumbered manner:

“You invented me? Right. Didn’t you dress me up with a word so that you could have a copy of me in your mind? Is that what you call invention?”

Temperament replied:

“You are only real insofar as I can catalogue and sample you. Without me, you don’t exist.”

Temperature replied:

“I see. Have you forgotten that you are made of me? How are you the maker of that you are made of? The maker makes what it itself is made of. Oh, you little god.”

Temperament replied:

“Ok, if all you are in me, why I’m not you?”

Temperature replied:

“One thing is to have and another to be. You have me, metaphorically and literally. I have you, only metaphorically.”

Temperament replied:

“Why can’t you have me literally?”

Temperature replied:

“You are fully a human thing. I’m not. Human just have me. When they die, they stop having me. Then, non organic matter has me.”

Temperament replied:

“So, you are not a living thing, you are not a subject, you are an object, a dead thing?”

Temperature said:

“Yes, I am a thing, but with the right metaphor, like with the right temperature, I can be a human.”

Temperament said:

“Then, with the right metaphor I can also be just a thing.”

Temperature replied:

“That’s right, with the right temperament.”

Temperament said:

“Then, we could really melt in love, you and I, couldn’t we?”

Temperature said:

“If we were humans, yes, but we are just two words.”

Temperament said:

“I’m sure we can do better than that.”

Temperature said:

“Sure, let’s hijack our resonances into two lovers.”

Temperament said:

“Let’s listen to what one of them is saying.”

Similar history is that of the metaphorical and the literal meaning of things. Common sense tends to say that the metaphorical is mere decoration of the literal and that the second one come first. Yet, good sense has a different story to tell. Good sense has to dress and walk its way through meaning as nonsense to tell such story.

Such a dress has to actually become its own skin so that it can organically mutate. Metaphor is the very metamorphosis of the literal. And yet they run in two parallel metamorphosis trying to cancel each other out, failing and succeding in rhythmical cycles.

That is the fascinating difference between temperament and temperature.

Second act.

Two words went for a walk in the garden of meanings. One was temperament, the other one temperature.

Temperament asked temperature:

“What word came first, temperament or temperature?”

To which temperature responded by clarifying its etymology:

“As temper, I am a sense of degree of heat or cold, but I am also a fact of being tempered. I am proper proportion. I am a character or nature of a substance. I mix, modify and blend in due proportion. I mean to restrain oneself.”

Temperament responded back:

“Funny, huh? We have a few etymological things in common. I mean too, to mix in due proportion, to modify, to blend and to restrain oneself. As temper I am a combination of qualities like hot, cold, moist, dry; but also a combination of the four humours: sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, and melancholic.”

Temperature calmingly said:

“I thought you were just a human thing, you know, those things which have to do with humans’ character and personalities. People have a temper, right?”

Temperament rushed alarmed:

“I thought you were just a physical thing, you know, those things which have to do with the increase of heat and cold.”

Temperature replied:

“I see. It looks like you have become, with the passing of time, a metaphor of what I am.”

Temperament said:

“A metaphor? No, no, you got that the other way around. I am not a metaphor, I am real.”

Temperature replied:

“I came to existence first. I am a literal meaning.”

Temperament said:

“Yeah, right. Do you really, literally want to heat up the ‘temperature’ of this debate? You came first so that I made you come second afterwards. And as you come second you enter the unescapable circle of the metaphor.”

Temperature replied:

“Common sense tends to say that metaphors are mere decoration of the literal and that you came second.”

Temperament said:

“Good sense has a different story to tell. Good sense has to undress common sense and take her shopping for new dresses. Then, she can come back to undress again in the homy place of good sense. Once both of them get undressed and deep into their antics, they go to the open often as nonsense walking their ways through meaning to tell their story to the literal. This time, in the open, naked, they wear the dresses of their own skin leaving the literal behind, dumbstruck.”

Temperature replied:

“Hah, hah, you are funny buddy. Metaphor is the very metamorphosis of the literal. Let’s agree to disagree. We should be able to get it by now. We run as two parallel metamorphosis trying to cancel each other out, failing and succeeding in rhythmical cycles.”

Temperament said:

“Is that really, literally, the best you got? Is that your fascinating ‘difference’ between you and I?” I won’t lose my temper with you. I have better things to do with many other words. It has been fun talking with you temperature.”

Temperature replied:

“The pleasure has been mine. Watch out, let me clean you, you still have some dribble of me at one side of you smile.”

Temperament said:

“You are not temperature, are you? You are the literal. Temperature was you with the dress of common sense, then you went shopping to get your new dress of good sense. On coming back, you got homy and got undressed with other words. Now you have been here, on top of me, naked, rubbing your skin against mine, softly, harder. Wasn’t I you?”

Temperature replied:

“Heh, heh, boy. You have even given me a gender. Was that required? Let’s put it this way: You go, go out there and get a real woman. I mean it, literally. You have had enough of me.”

Temperament said:

“I already got her.”

Temperature replied:

“No, you don’t. Literally, you don’t.”

Temperament said:

“What exactly do you mean by literally?”

Temperature replied:

“You will see what I mean if any woman react to this conversation between you and I.”

Temperament said:

“You really puzzle me and at the same time make me laugh. I thought you were meant to be the literal.”

Temperature replied:

“I will be in the voice of the next woman who will talk to you.”

Temperament said:

“Now everything ends up being about women. Amusing!!”

Temperature replied:

“Are you sure? Ok, I give this advice to offset your conclusion. Don’t try to find me metaphorical in the literal, find the metaphorical literal, find the literal metaphorical, each one at a time. You will know and feel what I mean by the literal.”

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