Sunday, March 29, 2009
an imaginary speech to an imaginary man
What do you want? I'm assuming you wish to live. Since you've expressed nothing to the contrary, that is. The question it seems is - Why. Why do you wish to live?
Best I can make out, you wish to sit here watching sport on the TV all day long. Day in, day out, every day the same. It seems not to matter which sport. Nor does it matter whether you've seen it before. On any given day we probably watch that fifteen minute Fox Sports News bulletin twenty times. More, probably. The same stories over and over and over. And none of it worth a pinch of shit of course. If we were to take out the endless histrionic moralising about footballers and cricketers getting on the piss and punching some fellow, or molesting some woman, there'd be very little left.
Wait a minute! Benfica beat Galatasaray on a 2-1 aggregate and escaped relegation in the Bundesliga! In spite of the fact that we have no idea what this means we'll watch it twenty times. As long as there's winning and losing, and all accompanied by screaming, it's all good.
What is there besides Fox Sports? Food used to be very important. Well, not food so much as processed sugar and grease. Actual food, the food I cooked, you would peck at, complain that you were full, or that it was too dry, or that your false teeth couldn't handle it, or whatever (honestly, any idiot excuse was good enough) and then throw it out. Just before you'd shuffle over to the fridge for a creme caramel. Followed by some ice cream. And a bowl of custard. And perhaps a cornetto ice cream. And some chocolates, biscuits, and toffees. Hmm... how about one of those little Woolworths-brand petit choux things? Why not. A day well spent! Ninety percent of your caloric intake comprised entirely of sugar and grease. Oh! It's good to be alive!
Sorry, I'm being sarcastic. But you really loved that stuff. So much so that you put up with chronic diarrhoea for months - shuffling off to the toilet every fifteen minutes. For months! Good God, there was shit everywhere, the walls, the floors. How many times did you shit your bed? I can't even remember. God knows what lies you told your doctors. And God knows what they made of it all. By all rights you should have been constipated, what with that being a major side-effect of your chemo. Anyway you gobbled those anti-diarrhoea pills like yet more candy. And the only thing you could think of that might be at fault was my cooking! Ha ha ha ha - it's funny really.
But now you don't even have that. With the cancer taking hold, and you with no appetite and vomiting all the time, you barely eat anything. The petit choux sit in the fridge uneaten.
You have no friends and family. You trashed all that long ago. No one calls or visits now. If one of my clueless brothers calls occasionally you talk for five minutes and then say, 'Well, I'll let you get back to it', and hang up. Really you'd rather watch TV.
Your doctors are your social life now. Would you argue if I said your relationship with them could be defined as 'Yes, sir. No, sir. Three bags full, sir'? You go through the motions, they go through the motions - it's a game of charades that goes on and on. I understand their part in the charade. They've got a mortgage to pay and kids to put through an expensive private school. And with your DVA gold card you're their cash cow. They love you to death. Literally, now that I think about it. God forbid your death should come early. Where's the money in that? Prolongation is the name of the game. And billing all the while.
But you don't seriously think they give a shit do you? Billing aside, best I can tell they view you as a technical exercise. Imagine some fellow in charge of a new soft-drink product launch. For him to succeed doesn't require that he drink the product or even like it. And since the product is entirely without nutritional value or anything beneficial at all, he'll oversee a campaign that pivots entirely on violence. Or sex. Or any goddamn thing. He really doesn't care.
And nor do your 'carers'. They don't care. They just go through the motions. And so do you. They prolong your life - you prolong your life. And the question of 'What's it all about, Alfie?' is nothing more than a cue for a conversation about Michael Caine. "Gee, he's good that Michael Caine, isn't he?" Otherwise I know what's in it for them. Money. But what's in it for you? Why do you continue? For yet another day of sitting watching Fox Sports News to see if Benfica escapes relegation?
Perhaps you do it for me? I am the only thing in your life besides the doctors, the TV, and the sweets. And the mad thing is that we have nothing in common. Everything you hold as worthy I have nothing but contempt for. Certainly there's the aforementioned trinity - I hate 'em and you know it. And it gets worse when we take a break from sport each night to watch the SBS news. It's your half hour of suffering as I get iconoclastic on everything that you ever held dear in your life. The government, the military, duty, loyalty, and respect, all that stuff, everything - I smash it to pieces. As I lay bare the litany of lies we're told, the obvious parallels to your life spent making pointless war upon Asians is unmissable. If I call John Howard a war criminal, what does that make you? Everything you were proud of, now shown to be the thoughtless actions of a dupe. What a nightmare. Finally the weather report! You - "Is it alright if we put it back to the Sports?" Me - "Dad, I've already done it." A sigh of relief.
And so we come back to the question - Why do you wish to live? Your wits are gone and the sports is meaningless. You're in pain all the time and you can barely eat. There's no one in your life but for a fellow who's a walking-talking indictment of everything that was you. What is there in your life?
Here, now, in this forum that you will never see, I'll tell you what it is - it's fear. I see it in your eyes you know. It's never not there. And with everything turned to dust, all joy banished, and every reason to live gone - fear is all that's left. Here it is, without adornment, the perfect, elemental, hard, white stone of fear. This is the ultimate fear - the fear of non-existence. Anything but that. Any delusion, any charade, any noisy trumpeting TV distraction is preferable to facing this thing.
You'll never know it for what it is. Which is to say, you will never know yourself. All you know is delusion, and delusion is all you ever were, are now, or ever will be.
I know you have never wondered at the meaning of 'today is a good day to die'. Since you have no idea what it means, you will never say it. Regardless, it's as true for you as it is for one who understands. When your 'today' arrives it will be a good day. The fear, the delusion, the suffering, held only by your terrified grip will become as nothing - a waft of smoke from a dream in some movie you barely remember. A thing that never was, to become never again. An end to it all. A good day.