Superstitions…ghosts. Freed from Hell to wander above ground and savor the particles of burnt saturated fats as they waft invisibly in the coal-polluted air.
Alone in his apartment, a sad hopeless man commits suicide. Not only that: he lives on the fourth floor. Now he will return as a ghost to haunt the next tenant. If there is a next tenant.
“Si” means death in the third tone. The fourth floor often does not exist. The ’13’ of the East. In China to say “one” they say “yao.” Yao also means “want” when spoken in a falling tone. Thus fourteen sounds an awful lot like “want to die.” Careless puns cost lives, or at least the incomes of businessmen.
Girls go to the fortune teller to learn how old they’ll be when they get married.
Thousands prayed for a good fishing season.
At precisely what point does confidence become rudeness?
How does one distinguish politeness from defeat? from sycophantism? from meekness? from being so afraid of criticism that you can’t tell the truth?
Is there a difference between generosity and submission?
What if there isn’t; and that Aristotle’s whole “find the mean” idea has just been so unconsciously absorbed through the centuries that it dominates all our thinking, and when confronted with danger we identify masochism as moderation?
What if the same force that makes plants grow and makes people get out of bed in the morning is the same force that makes men enslave other men, or send them cruelly into the abyss? That your survival is itself offensive to lots of living (and un-living) things who have every right to be upset at you for doing it? That if life were fair you wouldn’t have life at all because ex-nihilo creation theology claims to the contrary notwithstanding, complexity of life-forms comes out of struggle (ex doloro?), or could we say that friction, conflict, warfare, competition, are what makes life occur?
What if there was enough space in the Earth to maintain everyone’s biological progeny forever through successively multiplying generations? What if all the world’s DNA could fit into one man and one woman?
What if all sports are martial preparation? What if intelligence is a perfect indicator of existential Angst? Are all men different degraded versions of an archetypal hero? Are all humans different degraded versions of a creature who can act without thinking? Imperfect in relation to our complexity? Lost only to return to our true form of stoic rock-ness?
What if the niceguy always got the girl (I mean, first)?
The greedy miser sits in his desk chair and calculates his income.
He spends as little as he can.
In order to keep his vocation satiating him, he invents a game out of increasing his pile of wealth.
The pile grows and so does his desire for it. He fears losing it.
He internally criticizes those around him for pinching pennies.
He lives in a prison of mirrors.
When he looks at strange faces he sees himself.
“I’ve got bills to pay” said an honest man.
It’s a lot harder when it happens to you.
Imagine living in a small spaceship.
Imagine that each time before going to sleep you look out at all the stars and imagine yourself dying before you come back home.
Imagine counting all the stars every day, over and over again.
Can you be fully killed? Haven’t you made death so much a part of your being that you cannot die?
But you still don’t really believe under your skin that your non-being approaches.
Life doesn’t occur in a story arc. You’ve left the Earth. Your space-toothpaste floats beside your pillow and the picture from an old hiking trip.
The lights are mostly off.
You count again. You can’t count how many times you’ve counted.
You see a cockroach. You wonder how there could be a cockroach on your spacecraft.
You see another. It’s big.
There are hundreds. They want to eat you. They all come towards you. They don’t float. The crawl along the walls, the floor, the ceiling.
There’s a red button.
How can your ghost get to Hell now?
What happens to the matter that can never decay into the soil?
If a man dies alone surrounded by nothing with no one there to hear him…
…was he ever alive?