'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.
Doing is ploughing
Giving is planting
Receiving is safekeeping.… Ha-ha!
It is one-thirty in the morning.
I have been in bed for hours.
As usual I can’t sleep.
On my bed stand there is a glass of milk,
a French-English dictionary and vice versa.
A Latin-Italian dictionary and vice versa.
A note book and pen,
also one tangerine,
a box of Kleenex,
some chewing tobacco
and my quartz watch…
Mmmh.... Something is missing.
I was sixty-eight years old, I was! I had been living alone at an acceptable level of simplicity, comfort and isolation and since my divorce from my second wife, I had finally gained control, albeit guardedly, over one of life’s principle causes of turmoil and I was making slow, even if unsteady, progress on the second. You may think that it shouldn’t take much for a man in his sixties to overcome his sexual drive, and then, you may ask, what has an old man to be vain about? As for sex, when I was in my fifties, doing what I would have never thought I would be doing at that age, my wife, who was much younger but as a nurse knew some crazy things about people, said to me one day, -You know, you will be doing this when you are eighty.
I remember being vaguely puzzled at her statement for a moment, and then the notion slid off my mind like water off a duck’s back. It never even got me damp. It is like I have a firewall. Of the two though, vanity turned out to be the tougher. The hardest thing for a male to do, is to let another male almost as capable, win at a contest. To let another be the better without letting him or anyone else ever even suspect the opposite.
As I was saying, I was in my late sixties, I was alone and feeling quite pleased with my progress and my lot, when on this particular day I felt the need to reflect seriously about death. I sat down and said to myself:
-Now old man, one day soon you must die.
Having said that, it seemed that there was nothing further to be said or to reflect about.
-So that’s that! I was about to comment sarcastically, when at this apparent dead end I was struck by a thought which was as surprising and as electrifying as it was obvious.
-Yes! Nothing I can do about that! But! I can choose the where and the how!
It was incredible! I had never thought of it! Something so obvious had eluded me. It was as though all of a sudden I had discovered omnipotence. A reverse mode of omnipotence of course, but still omnipotence! I was riding in the highest, a vision formed slowly before my mind’s eyes and wonderful details were added as I eagerly placed myself centre stage.
I saw myself all alone in a great desert.
It was sundown.
I had just finished my last supper, a small meal that included bits of my favourite fairs.
I was sitting sipping wine while my lap top played some of my favourite music. As the light of day began draining off the sky and before the first stars began to flicker on, I chose a piece of Koto, Sakura, maybe, maybe my own. Anyway I put it on repeat, picked up my pills and hanging on to the bottle of wine I climbed on the roof of my van. After a minute or so, very calmly, I swallowed my cicuta, washed it down with the rest of the wine, threw the bottle away and then lying on my back, on top of the world, feeling absolutely wonderful, I let my mind flow out with my gaze into the infinite emptiness whence it had gathered. The first stars began to flicker on as my dwindling self awareness released its hold.
-THIS! This was the how! I thought triumphantly.
I felt as if the greatest gift had been bestowed on me. Was I worthy of it?
Was I mad? Was it Suicide? NO! Nothing like that at all! Why…this was not final capitulation, it was empowerment! A Fiat! The culmination and celebration of life. Time had finally come when the hitherto necessary fear of death had given way to a deliberately complete reconciliation with it. Not at all an extreme measure to avoid pain and humiliation, which would do that alright, but at the price of self esteem and a total break of faith with the greater Thou. O.K. there may be no greater Thou, but there is me at that point, a me which is greater than the sum of my faculties, virtues and deficiencies. It is at that precise moment where the will transcends desires and fears that I attain the immeasurable. It is so, just as Zarathustra says, because it is the right time for it, and to which I add, it is the right way. To go when I am at my best! Like a bridegroom. And of this I was absolutely convinced, there had never been a time when I had felt happier with myself and the world. I had made it to the top of the mountain after all!
So now all I had to do was to decide when. When would be the right time for it? It was obvious to me that this decision would not be so easy. I felt that I should neither be rushed into it by the zeal of the moment, that hubris, that inebriating feeling of omnipotence, nor that I should stretch it as much as I could in order not to miss out on anything.
I was reminded of Erwin, who being a scientist, recently expressed his chagrin that death would soon deprive him of the wonderful future discoveries. Poor man! Such a large brain stumped by such minutiae.
I decided that it would be best for me to set a date. By doing that I would be bound to it, which would not only make me worthy of it but also be of itself a rewarding accomplishment and failing to go through with it after I announced my intention to everyone I knew, I would at the very least have to eat a lot of crow. It was decided, I had to make an appointment with the Grim Reaper, and in so doing unmask him and reveal His true nature–the ultimate Beatitude and my greatest potential.
So I made an appointment with my doctor. I told him I was thinking of suicide as a better more suitable option for me than to let things take their natural course. I was going to ask him to make an educated guess as to how long that might take so that I could then set a date. A date with plenty of time to spare.
He smiled and said, -Why don’t we talk about this when you are eighty-eight?
It was my turn to smile. He had told me what I needed to know, probably better than if he had placed a stethoscope on it. But then I realized that he had given me twenty years to live. I was surprised.
He chuckled, -Well, look at yourself!
I shook my head in disbelief. -O.K. He went on holding my file under my nose, -This is your file for the past nine or ten years. It may have contained three or four sheets of paper, -Now, would you like to see some of the other files I have for people your age?
He was right, since I had kicked my hyperthyroidism, my Ginn syndrome and my beloved second failure, I had been on nothing more than sleeping pills.
Back home I did some figuring, figuring based on nothing in particular except that I knew I wanted it to happen in summer, when nature is at its glorious best and the living is easy. I also wanted four or five years to experience what it would be like to see the world from the great divide. Finally I thought that it would be a nice gesture to leave at least a dozen years or so on the banquet of life. For the poor, for Lazarus. I picked July 17, 2007, as the date. Ready or not, here I come!
Just then Gordy came for a visit. He is an ex jet and helicopter pilot whom I got to know well enough to lose entirely my sense of confidence in those smart and competent-looking commercial pilots and in flying as a means of travel.
I told him briefly about my epiphany and subsequent decision. The thought frightened him: “Ooooh! You are taking a big chance!” He said shivering.
He meant that God would punish me. I tried to explain to him, that in my view if such entity existed he would either be too big to be angry at a little squirt like me and would surely interpret my act as the ultimate and extreme measure to overcome the darkness. If not that, but a vengeful type, the kind that would have to get a piece of hide of something so insignificant, so ill equipped, fallible and extremely mismatched, I would dare say I could not really wish to be elect to his company and I would rather take my chances with the devil anyway. I would take a Cathari attitude. And the on the other hand, if there was no afterlife, but this was it and nothing more, eighty eight years times zero or seventy four times zero still amounted to zero. But the latter a hell of lot more magnificent a zero.
The day I spent at Tetrahedron Park, on the first leg of my journey, was meant to be a pose on the boundary where the Thou Shalt and the Thou Will formed the meridian where light and dark butted. I felt of course, that I was on the light side of the demarcator, and did not notice that by being there I had acquired a shadow. My state of euphoria pre-empted such notice or consideration. I felt (quite wrongly as it turned out) as if I were in a state of grace wherein nothing could stand in my way or mar my bliss. I had dared to defy and overcome what is for a human the ultimate taboo and in doing so I had been granted the gift. I was invincible, but only invincible as Achilles. It took me a while, a long while, to discover and admit this trace but indispensable vulnerability. It was as though when I had crossed the threshold into light, a piece of the darkness clung to me.
, I talked to Constantine about these biblical inconsistencies and contradictiions because I often wondered how they could have evaded his sharp discernment, or is mom's. I said, -Hey Tino.... Ach no, I said. -My divine emperor! How is it that these contradictory statements evaded your sharp judgement and found their way into the sleek and pragmatic presentation the bishops cooked up for you?
-Not at all in fact. I imposed those on them, these ideas tickled my intellectual fancy and my mother agreed that they should be included, just in case they proved valuable to some exceptional future philosopher or theologian.
-Ach, that is simply wonderful, thank you! I just could not see how they would have slipped up on such radically controversial propositions.
-Yes, in fact they objected heatedly, they pointed out that including them would lead to confusion among the faithful. I retorted that for confusion to occur one must first provide a mind, and that we were not confronted with a problem of that sort. Anyway, in fine I had my way, and as you can see I was proven right. Mindless people are predictable, and all I cared about, as you may suspect, was their heroic mindlessness, which they were obviously capable, was that it could infuse some verve in my anaemic empire. I was wrong on that point of course. It did not help; once a social cycle is on a down-swing the historical remedy is war against a neighbouring society and as it happened, I was not aware that there were any left or that they were worth the effort....
And yeah, in P’yongyang, WE are marching.
He lied to me, the emperor lied to me! I could hardly believe it. I went away kind of satisfied about the explanation but then I started mulling it over. And what would not go down was that bit of injecting some verve, loyalty and preferably fanaticism into the blood of the empire. But hell! The early Christians would accept martyrdom for themselves and their families rather than fight! They went to their deaths singing like it was a festival! That extreme dedication to their belief, that fanaticism was precisely what he must have considered so dangerous to the welfare of the society. So if you can't lick them, join them. In this case, persuade them to join. Paul got the message on the way to Damascus. I never studied that part of this historical event I was only concerned to glean out of that smorgasbord of Nicea, the true Jesus. I knew from the beginning that before Jesus, religion in the Greco-Roman world was a matter of trying to influence one's horoscope by propitiating one god or another, or a combination of them; there were many choices. After Jesus though, this playing the odds was no longer possible because he brought to the forum an idea so radical that upon examination proved impossible to evade. People then, were forced to choose one way or the other. He had brought a sword into the world. Be perfect, he said, -You must die and be reborn of the spirit. You must hate this life–heaven is within you–and all of this in the here and now. The kingdom of heaven is spread before you. That is why the young man who had a rich life walked away greatly troubled. Jesus preached the 'thou art that' here and now! This life was not a stage, this was it. And in a world where life was brutish and short, this proposition caught on. By it, they were transformed, they seemed immune to fear, this awesome transformation had given them the power to overcome their deepest emotions and this inspired others to embrace this overcoming, this transcendence of one's natural physical condition and despair. After Nicea, Martyrdom went out like a light almost.
Still interesting though, how did some of these radical ideas survive? There must have been a faction among the bishops who fought tooth and nail to preserve the original doctrine, and these sayings of Jesus were included in the gospels to appease them, but it was too little, and the old and less demanding propitiatory custom prevailed, with the addition of yet another intercessor. Jesus Christ the saviour.
Life, whether in its brutal or idyllic aspects , stands in the way of man’s spiritual progress with its demands, lures and subterfuges. Yet man's aspirations cannot be denied and so religious institutions, particularly the three major western religion, have found ground to arise, establish and grow to almost universal assent by offering tailored doctrines which are spiritual compromises enabling its adherents to feel that they can thus manage and satisfy both conflicting demands of his nature. What is most demeaning and most destructive to man in this arrangement, is that in the exchange he is encouraged to feel helpless, to resign himself and consign the fate of his soul to the mercy of divine grace, thus defaulting on his potential, shirking on his responsibilities and–as it regards his character–relegating it to the embryonic state of a still-born creature. The enormity of this tragedy is that life is also the only real connection to our eternal and supreme essence. I have wandered for years now on this loom of deception, making now some progress, now backsliding and restarting, now confused and now enlightened, but one thing I never considered doing was to give up, to surrender, because life is ceaseless striving: -Would that strife may cease among gods and men… wished Homer, but soon the fundamental fallacy for a system of opposites was pointed out. Life, existence, is striving. Striving to get from under, striving to get on top, then striving to maintain, and in the end even striving to keep striving! And in striving, failure is implicit, it would not be striving nor strife without the risk of failure. And isn’t it absurd that assuming that we do indeed have a soul or a budding spiritual dimension, major religions assures us that we need not strive or risk anything to deserve it or secure it? According to Christianity in fact ( the only doctrine about which I feel competent enough to speak for) one only needs to believe in Christ the saviour to insure oneself a glorious and eternal spiritual experience. It is as though the purpose of this great experiment is not to risk, but to give up.
I have accepted risk and failure, I would fail over and over again rather than believe even if for an instant that to fulfil my spiritual potential all that is required of me is to throw myself at the mercy of a divine personal saviour. I am Gameteus, I am the essential half and state of becoming of all there is. I am out of the pit, I am free! I am ALONE!
Email from Alessandra,
Ciao zio, mi ricordo quando mi dicesti che avresti pisciato in testa a chi stava nella fossa quando ti chiedevano una mano, perchè tu te ne eri tirato fuori, SI IO HO PROPRIO la sensazione di stare in quella fossa, allora ti domando - come te ne sei tirato fuori? - C'è una strada..!?
There was a bit more to the story she referred to in her unexpected message. Quite a bit more indeed! In that vision I was not going to resign like everyone else to being there in that dark pit and I was not going to make the best of it like some suggested: Why don’t you find yourself a nice quite spot somewhere, build yourself a cosy place, yeah with a white picket fence and a white bicycle on the lawn. Most of them were not that kind, they took great pleasure in jeering and laughing at me because no one had ever made it out of the pit and so, in their minds, no one could, but there was Claudio, day and night, at that stupid wall. He just could not get it into that silly head of his that it wasn’t possible and that he should be content like all others, with what was available like everyone else. One day I made it though. I don’t know how, most of the time visions do not go into details. But, there I was, standing on the rim of it looking down at all of them that used to mock me and were now bursting out in cheers. They were hailing me as their hero and beseeching me to help them, to tell them how they could follow my example and escape from the dark deep pit and their limitations. But for some reason I did not understand, nor really question it, at that moment of glory on that edge looking down at those miserable creatures, something told me that I had to piss on them before I walked away. That I had to do that! What seemed curious to me about it, was that I was not prompted to piss on them as they went on hailing and imploring me, as an act of sweet personal revenge. Not at all! If anything, it felt like I would be doing my duty towards the poor bastards. I would be helping them in some way. So it was like I was performing an act of pure and selfless kindness. Upon further reflection, and trying whenever I can to bring into play some solipsism or the priority of the actual, I thought that maybe in this case the effect produced the cause. I was pissing on them in the actual, hence I was placed out of the pit by that act. So how you will get out depends on how you will have acted when you are out.
The wheels on the large wooden horse should have been a dead give-away.
Nature still puts wheels on all her “gifts” and we still wheel them home.
And then we make bayonets... Bayonets, nay, one bayonet! is an indictment on all humanity just as one suffering child is on the whole of nature. Yet this is so because there is as yet no true communication between the creative force or Logos and its creaturely consciousness, experience and intelligence. Because of it, the creative force goes forth like a blind fury while its living senses are cut off and hurled into the maelstrom and consumed. What made the situation irreversible and hopeless in the first place, was the persistent tragic misconception that the responsibility, power and discretion to bridge the gap and hence give direction and order and thus to make sense of it all, rested with the creative force or Logos. It did not. It rested with us, its hypocritical humble all too humble creatures.
And so. still in this state, -In P’yongyang, I, I and I and I and I! are marching.