Maybe it’s time to say goodbye.
There’s a lot that I like about this “space,” if I can really call it that. Something about the Internet makes me feel more at home than any place I’ve ever lived, which is troubling but also as close as I’ve ever come to pinning down a capital-T Truth. It seems as though most people feel a lot freer to be themselves, whatever that means, when they’re not directly in contact with anyone else. Hell, the whole reason I started this blog was to try to untangle myself in a way in which other people could understand. I write here so that other people can peer a little deeper into my head.
But I’m finding it harder and harder to come up with things that I can write about.
That isn’t to say that I haven’t been writing. I started up my summer internship three weeks ago, and it’s been crazy but in a good way. The staff there respects me and throws cool things my way, and in exchange I do everything I can to maximize both my exposure to the company’s infrastructure and my utility to my editors. It’s a little unreal to see my stuff appearing on a website with that kind of name recognition and with that many visitors.
But besides that, the thing that I’ve become more and more fascinated with, and have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about, is death.
Now, this isn’t death in a classical cynical, angsty sense, or a flippant excuse for poor judgment–you know, skulls and crossbones drawn in Sharpie, day-glo YOLO-style mortality (also see: live fast, die young). This is death in a practical sense, in that all things must die, every living thing wakes up suddenly and then falls asleep just as suddenly, at least in the context of the unending flow of “time,” a concept which is as arbitrarily measured as it is defined. Of closing your eyes forever (though not necessarily in the physical sense), of suddenly ceasing to be.
I was watching an episode of “Fullmetal Alchemist” with my friend Daniella and there was a scene in which Al was talking about the perils of living as a human soul artificially fixed to a material body. At any moment, the thing body could reject the ethereal soul–it could be in the next minute, the next hour, the next day, or much further down the road. But there was no way of knowing.
And then Daniella and I turned to each other and said, pretty much at the exact same time, “Just like a real body…”
I keep watching people on TV and in the movies and walking past me on the street and thinking, everybody, in the end, is going to go through the same crisis of being that I’m currently experiencing in small, heaving doses, and they’re going to panic and try to hold onto the clinging threads of life in whatever way they can.
Because, as Daniella once told me during an argument about immortality, the choice is between existing and not existing, and in that case, wouldn’t it be obvious to choose to be rather than to not? Fuck Hamlet, if you could keep on keeping on against the endless ticking of the manmade clock, it is clearly in your best interests to take the plunge and live forever. Exist forever. Until forever itself runs out.
For all time is forever until it’s not.
Past, present, and future are arbitrary designations of “now”s that have gone by. Everything happened a moment ago; everything has yet to happen until it does, and then it’s buh-bye, a flash in the pan that fizzles so quickly you’re stuck staring at ashes for most of your life.
And then what? It’s easy to say, as an atheist, oh, then it’s just nothingness, there’s nothing there after us.
But what I’m most afraid of is closing my eyes forever… and then opening them again.
I don’t believe in reincarnation in the religious sense, but I live a good life right now, and barring anything crazy, I’ll continue to lead a good life for the rest of my life.
But what if, when death comes a-knockin’ on my door, I answer and I’m plunged into some great unnameable terror? I don’t mean hell in the Biblical sense, but when my brain sputters out, when I fall into a forever sleep (which is a description which only makes sense based on our unstable understanding of death itself), how do “I” then fit in with the ongoing world? Is that really it? There’s nothing else, nowhere to go but back into the destructible body, no sudden fluttering of original consciousness somewhere else in the great beyond? We are the only universe we know of, that we have seen, but there’s no telling what else exists within the confines of infinity,
and maybe infinity itself is an arbitrary rule created by something else.
I don’t know if learning more about simulation theory would make me feel better, but as it is… there’s nothing that can really make me feel worse, and by clutching onto a blind certainty that I will, to borrow and reverse the name of a reportedly mediocre Bond movie, live another day, I can indeed keep on keeping on
until I can’t.
“Apocalypse” is a term that we’ve all come to associate with the end of the world, but its original Greek meaning is “un-covering,” a “disclosure of knowledge.” Which makes our destructive sense of apocalypse valid, but also speaks to the larger phenomena of death itself.
Perhaps, when we die, we undergo our own personal apocalypses, and from there, the veil of knowledge is lifted from our still, glassy eyes, and we see forever for forever until even that cuts to black.
(Image: “Eye” by Boneface)