It does my heart good to know, that when (when) I decide to go on an unrestrained, unwarranted spree of wanton death-dealing and destruction, that out beyond the thick walls they're going to put me in and past the threats of a bullet that's faster than I can run, there may be a soul with a sign, campaigning for my right to persist. What a freedom in an age where every fellow with a dollar and a few seconds of your time will attempt to convince you your freedoms are in danger.
It is a strange sensation. What does one say to such folks?
Ah, now, if you'd chastise me, you'd first do so for not having proper enough respect for the dead. Are we the only species who love to make such a sport of our corpses? Ten thousand words for snow, may be said from some Inuit. How many words, then, for Death? God, there is the stink of it in every ritual, every period at the end of every sentence. Legalize killing and call it warfare. Issue forth a tornado and call it tragic. Kill a child and summon a whole world's worth of retribution; kill the same senior citizen vegetable and call it mercy. Blame God, if (1) one hasn't already and (2) hasn't already killed that august gentleman by means of some savage self-convincing argument. in order to start wringing a bit of guilt from the thoroughly postmodern conscience of today, one only need start measuring out the gallons of blood shed on the street they live on alone. 'We're killing ourselves', a teary eyed protestor cries, and I am not shaken. Death is served up as poison and death as metaphysical antidote.
Perhaps it is the muck, the entrails, and the dirty business of cleanliness that leads so many to choose to argue about dying in the abstract. My curiosity is aroused by the individual who would battle so little for their own life, but wholeheartedly for another's. it's not a pretty business, this final expiration and defecation, somebody's laughter reduced to pools of fluid. Perhaps there's nothing more sobering (and nothing perhaps, of better proof, that there' s just a few guidelines out there the human animal best be adhering to, despite its insane desire to resist) then pulling hair from out of a shattered windshield. Today fingers lovingly ran through it, tomorrow a pair of needlenose pliers will. No surprise, that in the face of such vast immediate elimination, men find (or invent) things like religion, like brotherhood, like law; nearly no different in such gathering as the beasts in a pen would instinctively huddle together underneath the storm. Also it may be equally valid for one to understand the blind disregard any travelling soul has to have when exiting the house. the World at Large, and more specifically, the ten thousand lines of force and intent converging just around you (such as on a freeway in one and a half tons of flesh-rending metal and ploymers, going eighty) certainly does not have your best interests in mind.
A man might believe in the bullet with his name on it; it might be easier. A nod here to the random sort of folk, who are much more brave. with impending purposeless causeless doom around every corner, it's a wonder they wake and consciously choose to leave the house. A wonder they don't freeze in the corner, and die shivering, stuttering, and starving. In this way we have folded the foul business into even more abstraction. And I wonder, at times, if this is what human dominion truly is, finding names for things, and then folding manifold beauty and activity (whether lovely or lethal) into terms to be bandied over, taking the joy of experience away from the senses, and dulling them down into hierarchy. Does such an assertion of control, even if invisible, lessen the sting of one's end any more so? Perhaps. I know this: with enough obfuscation, we can turn bodies into numbers, martyrs, causes, and admonitions. We can convert them into lists, use them as boogeyman to straighten the behavior of an errant child, wring one more drop out of the sympathy tittie exposed by our self-absorbed co-inhabitants, who give nothing up but only grudgingly. The mortar of empire is the human body, thrown against the enemy unitl his resolve, also measurable in the willingness to withstand loss, breaks. We may capture our mortlaity in well-produced forty-five second segments, cueing the French horn, oboe, and booming timpani at just the right second to evoke maximum empathy with our fellow man (and oft times just before the collection plate is passed).
I know, I know; I've wandered into the melodramatic. Certainly one ought to make the business of living one of engaging life, rather than avoiding death. A funny thing: You steep a man in enough blood; if he's seen enough of it, or shed it, either literally or metaphorically, one may observe a certain alien element to arise in his ethics. As if by seeing the human body and/or psyche violated a thousand different ways, he has moved beyond the needs solely defined by them. He is no longer one who can afford the arrogant walls of small worlds. being cut loose from such bonds without any sort of acclimation may force him to chase doom with doom. For if we have any real sense of our own demise, it is extremely personal. Easier to shoot at a distance then stab up close, and suddenly our mortality becomes an issue of distance. Those in love affairs with death are dangerous, perhaps, because of such unnatural severance; perhaps this is what make such an abrupt concious end such a suicide so puzzling, we simply can't get there from here, no matter our willingness to understand. We still have certain roots.
From my imaginary cell, in the throes of a killing field that will never take place beyond metaphor, I take this moment myself, not to detach completely, but to stretch my own bonds. as I consider the impending jolt of a few hundred thousand volts, or a needle slowly snaking its way under my skin to deliver a final payload, the rope burn, highway oevrpass and buried speedometer, or the most poetic of these: the cold ring of steel against the temple. No, in this imaginary last few seconds I want to rise above these walls to speak with that dear protestant, and the millions like them, children of Media, whose ethics are better schooled and produced then my own mean, violent statements of a desire for a base, barbaric freedom.
Perhaps, I whisper, if you would fight so goddamn hard for the right for me or any man to have a life, or its simulacrum, you might do me and the World a favor by fighting ten times as hard for your own; you might then yet see the change in the World you're so williing to believe in to die for.