Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Economy Of Time (3rd Extract)

Society is cyclical, like most patterns within life. Sometimes you have to get down into the boiler room and fight like a dog. You have to swim upstream and lash against the prevailing wind to find your peace. Then other times you must be carried by the tide, and you must find your peace amongst those who offer you the least.

I spoke to this great prophet, this raging seer of the kitchen table. He was like a wounded general, able to plan and command, but too hurt to go on, too weak to lead the way. He dispensed his mercurial wisdom to me, and it dripped like sweet berry wine into my ears. I absorbed and archived his wise words, alongside those lessons I had learned for myself via this most bittersweet curriculum.

“People, when all is said and done, they are just the same as plants, or wooden cabinets. An obscenely beautiful collection of chemicals, and substance....  A bunch of atoms arranged in some fortunate or unfortunate way. You are you, and I am I, but even our concept of identity is reduced to the mathematics of neurons firing in our brains a certain way, memories scarring or inflating our persona, but ultimately, all just wild and wonderful atoms going on their journey. It’s all predetermined you know? When you see your women, your voracious and beautiful women, then all that’s going on is one part of your brain firing shells at another and triggering responses. But even that does so because in the random mechanics of the universe, a bunch of stuff got together inside your head and told that part of your brain to do that thing. And even then, you can’t take any credit, because it also told your parents to do a certain thing, and they did it, and you were born of that great crucible that is your mother’s womb. But none of it is because of US! They are all just doing their jobs, even if you think that you can control them, and tell them to do otherwise, then your flawed. The part of your brain that understands the logic is being told to stand aside and let the romantic part have its way."

  "Do you realise, that even when you rebel, your just doing what was planned for you, because your brain can never have a capacity that nature didn’t intend it to. You can rebel against society, or authority, or even rebellion itself, but your only ever following the path. The ancients called it destiny, but that’s a euphemism for a much wilder concept. Don’t you know that, even us sitting here, having this conversation, is just a part of the great tide, the atoms going where they have to go? Nature doesn’t make mistakes Sebastien. Zappfe thought it did, but he thought too much of us all. Doesn’t that just blow your mind?”

It didn’t blow my mind. It was what I expected. His words had a familiarity, despite them being the most infernal conflagration of wildfire madness I’d ever heard anybody string together. But he had not finished...

“How do you imagine your ‘mind’? I bet you think of it like the wind, an invisible spirit encased in your skull? Some mystical vacuum that cannot be detected, but exists, somewhere behind your eyes? But think about it...”

All I could think about was how I imagined a little red heart shaped organ to be aching inside my chest, crying out for Hannah. Not even to touch her, or speak to her, but just to meet her eyes in a room somewhere and confirm that beside the slack caricatures of us as lovers, was something that was tangible, or physical, or spiritual or just AUTHENTIC. I couldn’t stand to think that my heart wasn’t really the shape it was when carved into a tree, supplemented by the words Hannah and Sebastien in rigid swiss army knife scroll.

“Your mind is just your brain, an organ, like your bowels or your liver. IT just processes things in the most efficient way it can. It’s physical, like a tiny yet sprawling subway system of pipes and wires. Your ‘mind’ isn’t anymore invisible than your kidneys. You just can’t see it. “

He had stepped up his speech, into some maniacal oratory that had been welling up for years. I understood him, and appreciated how he was trying to help, but knowing that my pain was just a bunch of atoms prodding another collection of atoms, prompting yet more atoms to react was in no way lessening the burden. I felt he was touching the very boundaries of humanity, and that his logic gave him an air of the mad professor.  That I was being lectured on something that one day people would take for granted. Yet as intelligent and analytical as I found him to be, I couldn’t help but feel that I was on the verge of grasping an even higher concept. I could feel her unique vibrations. For a second I could almost taste her scent pirouetting into the kitchen through the open door, shaking her head at Sam’s explanation, reminding me that all I need to know and understand is her. But she is so far away...


  1. Thanks William. Your blog is an inspiration to us all.