Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Knuckles splitting chalk

  The most charitable thing you could have sensibly said about him was that he was a somebody and a something which, if you think about it, isn't always so far from nothing as you would assume. Even that he was just the product of an arbitrary decision, somewhere far back along the tail of the chain of events.
  And he worked. And he lived. And he socialised. And with them was created the terrifying and mechanical construct of modern life on an individual scale - a thing of steel, of cogs, of steam - and this construct did its work, and he managed to steer his way through, along the way eating and sleeping and talking and laughing and consuming.
  Yet, one day, he glimpsed the vast beating pump at the base of this machine, rising like the strong roots of the tree growing under concrete and meeting to split it like knuckles split chalk. Beneath his existence, a thoroughly modern existence, a creation that fit him like a suit of armour, that defended him like a suit of armour, that was as heavy and cumbersome as a suit of armour, was still this uniquely fleshy thing. The heart on the sleeve.
  He considered, as its beating deafened him, he considered that: life was, in a way, a gift. It was not given, he considered, as he did not believe in God. It was not willed, he considered, for the same; and therefore not meant. But yet it was not necessarily meaningless. How could that be?
  He looked back and, in a moment of insanity, considered the almost impossibility of even existing. The events that culminated in him seemed to have, to his mind so schooled in various aspects of current thought, not been necessary in fate, been nothing more than absolute chance that had brought him here, to this maddening and self-conscious point. He cradled this web of chance, like it was a baby, marvelling over it, seeing in it the marvellousness of just being, just being allowed to be.
  But as his mind soaked in these realisations, he started to wonder how this realisation could change him. As if he had been given a vessel to try to fill, full of the bright liquids of doing and being, experiencing and making, creating and thinking. His throat choked at the thought of the responsibilities he had invented for himself, of the difficulties and trials. Just to be alive, when such a marvellous thing, called for a serious sort of joy, a fierce love, to push a way through closer to the truths and expose them. The dread of not being able pushed its rotting petals into his mouth and filled him with a sickness, and his hands moved, and he choked the kicking baby, and it was dead, and he was free from freedom once again.


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