Living in such a state taTestaTesTaTe etats a hcus ni gniviL of mind in which time sTATEsTAtEsTaTeStA emit hcihw ni dnim of does not pass, space STateSTaTeSTaTeStAtE ecaps ,ssap ton seod does not exist, and sTATeSt oFOfOfo dna ,tsixe ton seod idea is not there. STatEst ofoFOFo .ereht ton si aedi Stuck in a place staTEsT OfOFofo ecalp a ni kcutS where movements TATeSTa foFofoF stnemevom erehw are impossible fOFoFOf elbissopmi era in all forms, UsOFofO ,smrof lla ni physical and nbEifof dna lacisyhp or mental - uNBeInO - latnem ro your mind is UNbeinG si dnim rouy focusing on a unBEING a no gnisucof lone thing, or NBeINgu ro ,gniht enol a lone nothing. bEinGUn .gnihton enol a You are numb and EiNguNB dna bmun era ouY unaware to events stneve ot erawanu taking place - not -iSSuE- ton - ecalp gnikat knowing how or what THiRTY-EiGHT tahw ro woh gniwonk to think. You are in 06/30/97 ni era uoY .kniht ot a state of unbeing.... ....gniebnu fo etats a
Welcome to the fat-free, ultra-light version of State of unBeing. We've toned down for the summer season to fit into those tight little thong bikinis, and boy, do we look hot! Where's that tanning oil?
[Hmm? What was that, Nathan? I should tell the truth? But I AM. I've always said that I want to be a waif model with that chic heroin look. Whaddya mean, that's a crock? Now you listen here. I spent a whole month with my finger down my throat to look like this, and I'm not gonna give it up!]
Of course, most people on the beach don't like to see a bunch of guys in bikinis (many with facial hair, no less) prancing around in the sand. Never mind that there ARE women among our ranks (some with blue hair, no less).
[What? You can't be serious! I would NEVER do something like that. Yeah, like I'd forget to backup all of my mail. Sure, Nathan. Sometimes I wonder if you aren't going crazy.]
I really don't like the beach, but I guess if I could wear a frilly two-piece (one that would be both sexy AND something I could swim in), I wouldn't mind it too much. I think the last time I was at a beach was in 1995, but then I only wore swimming trunks.
[Get your damn hands away from the keyboard. I'm telling it like it is. I wouldn't lie to my readers. Huh? Oh, they can see THIS? Um, oops.]
Okay. I confess. We're not anywhere near a beach, and we're not planning on going. This week I decided to reinstall my Linux box, and while I thought I had backed up everything, it is now obvious that I didn't.
Stupid, stupid me.
It's not the end of the world, really. I got rid of a bunch of crap, everything's really clean, and I discovered that I still like Slackware better than Red Hat. Unfortunately, I lost my mailbox which held about 1,300 messages. Most of that were from mailing lists, but there were quite a few submissions.
So, if you sent me something between now and the last issue for publication and it didn't make it in, I'd like to ask you to send it again. It's kinda funny in a way, though. The people who waited till the last minute got their stuff put in, while the early birds didn't make it. Strange.
Not to say that this issue is bad. It's um, really to the point. It's like a good introductory issue to grab people. It's not too huge to scare people away, but it's still got that same ole sumbitch flavor we like to create at the Apocalypse Culture offices. Once again, I apologize for being a dumbass, and I promise it will never, ever happen again.
Until next month...
[Okay, are you happy? Yes, I know. I know. I'll make sure I'm extra careful next time. No, you don't have to come over and hold my hand the next time I do a Linux install. I'm a big boy, really. Well, at least an editor...]
From thebard To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: SoB mailing list Please add me to the SoB mailing list... thanks! andy.
[you're, uh, quite welcome. you know, it's hard for me to come up with witty replies to letters that are as terse as yours. you gotta give me something to work with, people!]
From: crackmonkey To: email@example.com Subject: ummm.... i really feel like you should title me the official sob groupie. please. i know you really want to. or at least for this month again if you're not ready for that kind of commitment. i'm a really good groupie; i'm good at all sorts of groupie type things like.....well, it's your zine. you should make up the official groupie type jobs. -liz
[i thought the whole idea of groupies were that they constantly changed. i don't know exactly what being an official SoB groupie would entail. i'm almost afraid to imagine. still, i'll put it before a vote at the next SoB meeting and see what comes up. you have, however, garnered the title for a now-record TWO issues. congratulations. i think.]
I Wish My Name Were Nathan
The Super Realist
At midnight, July 1, 1997, Hong Kong will be a British Colony no longer. While many view the handover with excitement and a sense of celebration, many voice concerns over the impending loss of basic human rights, the acceleration of corruption, and the loss of democracy as Hong Kong is thrust into a communistic rule. Many changes are planned to take place and no one is exactly sure what is going to happen. But, what will China use hong Kong for? Will China begin exacting a hardlined stance on immediate change, or will it gradually introduce socialism into the growing capitalism of Hong Kong? Will China abolish all human rights as granted under the current law of Hong Kong, or will the Basic Law devised by Britain and China in 1984 be enough? Will China absorb Hong Kong into its folds as just another province, or will Hong Kong remain a separate entity in both government and people?
The first major change is the ousting of the Democratic Party, the most popular political party in Hong Kong led by Martin Lee, from the current legislature. Nineteen out of 60 legislators will be thrown out on July 1, to be replaced by political puppets hand chosen by Beijing, not by the people of Hong Kong. Those same political leaders of Beijing have made it virtually impossible for the Democratic Party to hold any empowering slots of government in the future by changing the electoral laws. To say that a democracy will remain in Hong Kong is naive at best, since without a free election a democracy isn't even in the ballpark.
With the ousting of the Democratic Party also comes a serious question on human rights in Hong Kong. The world saw the basic tenets of China's stance on human rights during the massacre of the students at Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. A same situation may arise on July 1, as protesters built a 26-foot statue in Hong Kong's Victoria Park in tribute to those fallen on June 4, and plan to hold marches and vigils. City Hall of Hong Kong has rejected the applications from Democratic leaders to display the statue, however those rejections have been influenced by incoming leader, C.H. Tung, another puppet of Beijing control. Even with the applications rejected, stated as contrary to the celebratory spirit by government officials, the marches and protests are planned to resume.
With the question of free speech already firmly planted in the minds of Hong Kong's youth, more questions arise concerning other human rights. Hong Kong has enjoyed many freedoms for 156 years with the reliability of their own legal system developed on custom and precedent. Hong Kong is one of the few places in Asia, and even the world over, where the rule of law is respected and politics play no role in handing out justice. The opposite is true with China's legal system. China's legal system has basically been controlled by the political forces in power. China's legal system has no checks and balance of a proven court system, more like the ambiguity of the political leaders to dole whatever justice they see fit in order to remain in control. Chinese people have consistently been put into prison for their political or religious beliefs, much like the early years of the communist Soviet Union.
Even the Basic Law is under fire from the people of Hong Kong. The Basic Law is the skeletal constitution that China and Britain formed in 1984 to help assist Hong Kong for the next 50 years of Beijing control. Over 25 laws were in conflict between the Basic Law and current laws of Hong Kong. Beijing has ordered that those Hong Kong laws be changed or sacked all together. Even the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, a series of legal measures enacted by the British Government to protect citizens from another Tiananmen Square massacre, is to be repealed. Rights to assembly are to be slashed. Rights to political affiliations outside Hong Kong or China are to be slashed. Rights to habeas corpus are to be slashed.
However, I predict there won't be any widespread detention or execution of the Hong Kong people by the Chinese any time soon, even if there is a mass protesting by Democratic followers. The current political leader, C.H. Tung, although a puppet for Beijing, is from Hong Kong as are all political leaders who are to take over the legislature. They were brought in more as a go between for Beijing's socialistic values and Hong Kong's capitalistic movement. The world is taking a very keen interest in this handover as well, especially Taiwan. China wants to lure Taiwan back to the "family" because of its recent economic power. If China makes the fatal mistake of sacrificing Hong Kong in order to keep the political structure intact, Taiwan will resist reunification with all resources available. Many people think that China would be willing to go through drastic measures such as June 4, 1989, but I think Beijing knows that very influential military enemies are watching.
What will China do with Hong Kong once it has it back in the "family?" Hong Kong's most important resource is its economy. Hong Kong had a thriving economic structure before the value of human rights were introduced by the British. Capitalism and democracy do not necessarily go hand in hand. So far, the impending transition of democratic colony to communistic satellite have had little effects on the economy of Hong Kong, both internal and foreign money. I think that Beijing will continue to allow Hong Kong the economic freedom it shared with British rule. China itself has an isolationist view of economy; however, Hong Kong has never known that for itself. For China to deprive Hong Kong of what it does best is to make Hong Kong basically worthless. Whether this means giving Hong Kong more social freedoms than Beijing currently wants, or the state to take over the economy completely, I can't say. In my opinion, Beijing will lay off the iron grip of communism for Hong Kong so that the entire motherland may reap the rewards.
These are the predictions I make for Hong Kong's handover on July 1, 1997. I think that nothing earth shattering will occur for at least 6 months, maybe longer. I see the political structure of Hong Kong changing to reflect the communist heritage of the motherland, but I also see the Democratic leaders doing even more to secure their own footholds in the government. I1m sure that trade will remain relatively the same for Hong Kong, otherwise why institute C.H. Tung, a multimillionaire tycoon, as the political leader if China was to crush its economic importance? After the student massacre in Tiananmen Square, all eyes will be on China, and Beijing should have the political know-how to step lightly.
On April 19, 1995, a Ryder truck bomb exploded at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, destroying half of the building and 168 of the people inside. Hundreds more were injured. What made the crime seem particularly heinous was the fact that the first floor of the Murrah building contained a daycare; many of those killed were small children. What seemed even more heinous was the lack of remorse of the lead conspirator, Timothy McVeigh. In a month-long trial, jurors convicted him and sentenced him to death, riding the momentum of the 1995 federal anti-terrorism act, which specifically called for the death penalty in such cases. At this writing, the co-conspirator Terry Nichols has not gone to trial. McVeigh still awaits appeals, which may take years to process.
During the trial, McVeigh's defense attorney Stephen Jones first proposed the theory that another unidentified bomber may have rented the Ryder truck and parked it under the Murrah building. But during the sentencing phase, he admitted that McVeigh had committed the crime but only out of patriotism, acting in a "wartime situation" in reaction to the 1993 government siege on the Branch Davidian group in Waco.
"It is a political crime. It is an ideological crime. He is not a demon, though surely his act was demonic," Jones said in his closing statement, hoping to convince the jury to hand down a life sentence without parole, in an appeal to McVeigh's humanity. The jury appeared contemptuous of the appeal. And the survivors had long since renounced McVeigh's claim to being human.
"The very emphasis of the commandment: Thou shalt not kill, makes it certain that we are descended from an endlessly long chain of generations of murderers, whose love of murder was in their blood as it is perhaps also in ours."
I think the jury made a bad decision. In condemning McVeigh to death, they have solved no problems. In fact, more should arise from their decision.
At times I can be a hard-hearted bastard, and in the recent months, I have been. In order to remain objective, I've had to shut out of my mind the anguish of the survivors and their families, popping up like weeds to offer their heartfelt emotional stories of watching loved ones being pulled from the wreckage or dying in hospitals. I've had to ignore the ramifications of newly orphaned children, newly childless parents, all the blood and tears and lives wrecked, to consider this case.
The prosecution and the jury did not make this effort.
I condemn myopic vision and selfishness. Do any of the survivors believe that this verdict really matters? Do any of them believe that this provides "closure?"
"Closure" is a mathematical idea describing an operator that, when applied to any two members of a finite group, will generate another element of that group. More commonly, "closure" means the completion of a discrete series of events.
(1) Mad bomber parks a truck bomb outside building.
(2) Our children / parents / friends / coworkers killed in explosion.
(3) We kill mad bomber.
(4) Justice is served.
Is this a discrete series of events? Does it end in completion? Considered this myopically, it is. But in the larger picture, is anything nearly this clear-cut? This is simply the use of murder as revenge. Christians love to quote the phrase "an eye for an eye" as a reason.
"An eye for an eye" appears in Leviticus 24:19-21 thusly: "If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him:  fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured.  Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a man must be put to death."
Yahweh seems quite vengeful here, but I advise Christians to note that this passage doesn't appear in the Gideon Bible or the New Testament. Jesus advised his followers to love one's neighbor as oneself. Are these pious survivors blessing God for the jury's decision honestly going to accept the fact that the hatred they feel toward McVeigh is also in a way hatred of themselves?
Survivors often feel guilty and wish they could have died in place of their loved one. Is this God-blessing of murder for murder just self-hatred? Nietzsche said that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Wouldn't it make the survivor stronger to forgive McVeigh?
"A nation may lose its liberties in a day and not miss them in a century."
"The majority of us are for free speech only when it deals with those subjects concerning which we have no intense convictions."
"There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action."
Some Americans interviewed during the McVeigh trial said they would favor the death penalty over "having to put up with" McVeigh for the rest of his life. Those interviewed did not enjoy the possibility that McVeigh might turn into a morbid cult hero like Charles Manson. Some even abhorred the thought that McVeigh would write books about his philosophy and infect others' minds with his rhetoric.
What does it mean when a supposedly free country starts to believe that killing off a dissident is more convenient than enduring his ideas?
This verdict is bad for this country, because it reinforces a growing suspicion and hatred toward unpopular politics. Stephen Jones ended his defense by emphasizing McVeigh's political ideology, that McVeigh was a patriot who wanted to avenge the deaths in Waco and avert further tyranny. To many, this sounds like reactionary right-wing extremism. Indeed, to many who do not see the reasons for this ideology, it sounds ridiculous and dangerous.
But it is not ideology that is dangerous, it is action. Ideas are not dangerous -- people are. Unfortunately, this verdict reinforces the invalid belief that to call oneself a "patriot" and accuse the government of "tyranny" is to be a terrorist. I am not denying that in McVeigh we found both the ideas and the actions, but what this verdict overlooks is the fact that the ideas can exist in peace.
Dissent is probably the most astounding right a government has ever granted its citizens, given to us in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Consider that! Dissent was considered treason in Britain and was punishable by death. In our country, this is treason (Article Three, Section 3): "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort...."
Do you see the difference between terrorism and treason? Treason is considered an act of war, such as selling weapons or trading secrets with an aggressor government. Therefore, a treasoner is identified by actively supporting a government or group that is engaged in war with the United States.
Terrorism is hardly as obvious. Until recently, it was considered to be religiously- or politically-motivated crime intended to create terror. Certainly McVeigh is a terrorist. But, riding on the heels of the New York Trade Center bombing, committed by foreigners, and the Oklahoma City bombing, the only domestic terrorist act in United States history, Congress passed an anti-terrorism bill, named "the Death Penalty Enforcement and Anti-Terrorism Act," which has broadened the scope of terrorism to an alarming degree.
Being undefined, "terrorism" has now grown to include any number of activities. Furtively, "terrorism" has replaced "treason" in the Constitution. This anti-terrorism bill expanded the definition of "terrorism" to include supporting foreign groups in their legal activities -- by naming these groups "terrorist organizations." Knowingly providing support to terrorist groups is now illegal, whoever these terrorist groups may be. For example, subscribing to Irish Republican Army literature can now be considered terrorism, even though Ireland is not at war with the United States. Is buying literature as devious as intentionally terrorizing people?
President Clinton showed ethical weakness by signing the sweeping bill that has also expanded the government's wiretapping privileges and allowed it to use secret evidence in deportation proceedings and conduct counter- terrorism investigations without a court order under "good faith." Note that almost any violent crime can now be considered "terrorist." The bill is being challenged by the ACLU.
The short-sighted passage of the 1995 anti-terrorism bill demonstrates a tendency toward the tyranny of the majority. I do not pretend to be objective in issues dealing with our government, because I know I am in a minority, if only by my beliefs. And being in the minority is precisely the reason why I care about these laws. It is self-interest that motivates me. Consider: against whom are punitive laws passed, if not a minority? It is easy for the majority to accept the criminalization of right-wing ideologies, to applaud illegal searches and arrests of "militia members," because the majority thinks it will always be innocent. What they don't realize is that "majorities" and "minorities" shift, depending only on number, not on the validity of their beliefs.
"It is by universal misunderstanding that all agree. For if, by ill luck, people understood each other, they would never agree."
"The most dangerous person in the world is an ideologue with a machine gun."
I think Timothy McVeigh made a bad decision. In conspiring to bomb the Murrah Federal Building in revenge for the siege at Waco, he solved no problems. In fact, more should arise from his decision.
At times I have been a hard-hearted bastard, and in recent years, I've had to be. In order to remain objective, I've had to reconsider allegations of gun-running, child abuse, and methamphetamine production among the Branch Davidian group, and who shot first in the confrontation with the ATF. I've had to stop myself from thinking about the carbon sulfide vomit-inducing teargas that had been pumped into the building for days while ATF loudspeakers announced, "this is not an assault." I've had to shut out of my mind images of a burning building, in 86 people died. I've had to shut out of my mind thermophotography showing SWAT machine guns being emptied into the only available exit during that fire.
I've had to ignore the belief that these people set the fire themselves because they were "suicidal religious zealots."
But at the same time, I've had to repress my rage and any ideas about exacting violent revenge upon the government. From some perspectives, the ATF was clearly at fault. From others, the ATF was following orders under false leads. Can any act of revenge solve that or change what happened? Could anything make it clear why I'd be committing that act, and could anything make it moral to do so? I've had to resist my own emotional urges to consider the consequences of anything I might do.
McVeigh and Nichols did not make this effort.
First of all, the political landscape was ripe for a lynching. The anti-terrorism bill was being deliberated in Congress at the time of the bombing, hardly the time to make a terrorist statement. Aligning the date of the bombing with the anniversary of the Waco inferno was short-sighted as well, for the majority of the public have no such anti-government feelings about Waco, believing the Davidians were in the wrong.
Did McVeigh assume that many others would agree with his need for and his method of exacting revenge? I must admit that I don't even know if McVeigh thought anyone would applaud his actions on a wide scale, for interviewing privileges have been restricted regarding the matter. His lack of remorse and stony expression during the trial might indicate that he put his ideals above his actions. If so, he enjoyed the same myopia as the victims.
I disagree with McVeigh's actions. Setting off a bomb that murders 168 people in revenge for other murders is stupid. One crime does not eliminate another crime. Crime is additive.
McVeigh tried to send his message, anger of government tyranny, in the form of another message, the reckless bombing of a government building. Two messages were expressed here, the louder of which ironically annihilated the more important one. The jurors who convicted and sentenced McVeigh were united in asking the question: "Why?" The members of the jury were obviously intelligent, middle-of-the-road Americans. They had not heard or taken seriously the idea that the government was at fault at Waco. The defense argument that McVeigh was angered over the siege did not register with the jurors. But the bomb did. I now call to the stand, the patron saint of lost causes.
Dissenting ideas and ideals are good for a free society; they indicate that the citizens are thinking. But, as any activist will say, ideas are nothing without action. An idea that stays isolated in the mind or spread conversatively among one's friends will not get anything done.
Speaking publicly is an action. Organizing a militia is an action. Running for political office is an action. Setting off a bomb is an action. An idea may be enacted in infinite ways, and this is where the trouble occurs. Once an idea is enacted, it exists outside the mind that conceived it. It has the capability to help or harm the physical world, other people, and others' ideas. Actions are of the utmost importance.
Actions are, for the most part, the only objective data a person can consider. Although numerous witnesses may skew the details of a traffic accident, they will agree that the cars collided and that something did happen. But it is nearly impossible to get into someone's mind and consider their reasons. Even explicitly spelling out one's reasons may not be taken seriously. An impartial jury must consider actions, must consider the breaking of laws, the harming of people and property. Only secondarily may they consider mindset, reasons, emotions, intelligence.
If McVeigh intended that the Oklahoma City bombing rally Americans to action, he certainly succeeded. But his message was lost in the rubble. Timothy McVeigh made a bad decision in his method of spreading the word. A good reason does not justify murder.
During the course of this essay, you will notice I have assumed that McVeigh did bomb the Murrah building, that Nichols was an accomplice, and that the siege at Waco really was McVeigh's reason for the bombing. I was not conducting a trial here; I was conducting an essay. Please forgive my convenient assumptions.
"The poets? They stink. They write badly. They're idiots you see, because the strong people don't write poetry.... They become hitmen for the Mafia. The good people do the serious jobs."
The mind flutters; pirouetting, tangling into an unconscious web. Thoughts lie on strands separating awake and dreaming. The strands seem to alter planer sides of reasoning, shrinking, stretching, elongating, widening alternatively. Noise turning the strand around completely circular to appear in the opposite side of the spectrum; reversing in polarity and substance, then snapping back into substance. What substance can thought posses? Maybe it's a trick of the light or too much heroin? Maybe it's nothing at all; a naked singularity clothed in passionate throws of surpassing nakedness. Arms glimmering in translucent trancendance, thought embraces consciousness in a grip of prenatal awkwardness. Thought and strand canonize themselves, fusing into twins, fracturing into awareness. Embriotic fluids of motion create, causing the twins of thought and strand to knock against the womb. The tone the same deep fleshy tone of the reasoning in which the womb was made. Pausing, reason begins its breathing exercises of imaginative birth. The knock at the womb comes heavier and with a sense of real urgency, wanting, longing, of waiting to be born, feel the agony of adolescence, the futility of death. Then, stepping between the pools of consciousness and existentialism, reason's water breaks. Creativity floods the floor in appallingly wet structured format. The dogs of senses and logic lap the afterbirth into their stomachs to be digested with science, time, feasibility. Creativity pains reason, as holy water would pain a recent sinner. The two unite as one, contracting and expanding, filling the boots with amniotic fluids. Though chokes the strand of consciousness with its umbilical cord, craving independence and life of its own. Tunneling through abstraction, thought makes its way down the dark damp fleshy door of the world. Light brazens its eyes and thought becomes aware that it is born.
The world cries.
The smog outside my window can't cloud the darkness in this vast hotel room filled with lives and experiences and feelings
You wonder who died in the bed last year and then ask yourself was it worth it? Did they have THE reason for it? Where are they now?
Are they still making long distance calls from the room phone... there's gonna be charges to my account, I just know it
But the phone just sits there frozen and indifferent to the TV coughing up the old spaghetti western
Clint Eastwood hides his eyes in shame for even thinking about entering my hotel room
Not much gained with the sound off, all the better to hear the silence of the phone whisper nothing to me from no one
How about if I just turn the TV off? Pull the plug and watching it suffer no more? Make it as worn and frigid as the phone?
It's cold outside and there's no reason the TV should be better off than me, but then I think, am I that bad off?
So I turn up the heat in my own purgatory, awaiting the inferno of apathy and solitude; even Gideon had nothing to say to me
Talk is all they do now-a-days, and not just the politicians, seems everything has been said, don't want to be a cliche
What happened to the religious fanatics of old? What happened to the die-hard martyrs of the hardened faith? They all died
Maybe the ghosts of those Saints are in this room now with me, watching over the wandering souls
And the dead sea of electronics in my room. I'd bury the phone, but I don't think the manager would like that too much.
The watch on my arm drags me down with the luggage and the heart, it's time to head out and forget the musings
I take the key that locks the memories out from the outside world and locks the lives of all past patrons in
Will they be locked in my heart, too? I hope so, nothing worse than dried soul and a thirst for sustenance
The smog outside my hotel room is clearing up, the lights are off and I don't have anyone to call.
Barney was a wandering buffoon but he knew science and math. Barney wandered in and out of the intricacies of life with a dumb grin pasted on his face and he didn't ask too many questions because science and math gave him all the answers.
One day, Barney was struck by an odd question: "Why?"
This question was a new one for Barney. He had been taught not to ask "where," "when," "who," "what," or "how," because science and math provided all these answers. But the question "why?" threw him by surprise and caused the dumb grin pasted on his face to twitch uncomfortably.
Barney recognized, for example, that gravity existed. He knew how it worked, in the form of various physical interactions and mathematical equations. If he took any two whats and placed them in space, they would attract each other at a certain rate and eventually touch and then they would bounce off each other and then attract each other again until they rested touching in space. But Barney did not know how gravity existed. Or much of anything else, for that matter.
He asked his professors "why?" and they answered: "Because it makes sense. Nature is rational and follows laws." Barney asked: "Why are these laws so?" And his professors shrugged. They said: "You'd be surprised how often they change when you look too hard."
Barney was a wandering buffoon and one day he was accosted by a sage dressed in blue tights, a skirt, and a frumpy sweater. The sage said, "You won't find the answers in science and math. Look elsewhere." Barney was intrigued by the woman's advice and looked elsewhere.
Barney didn't consider psychology and sociology and politics to be sciences so he looked there. He learned general patterns that seemed able to reasonably predict certain outcomes in specialized situations, and it was interesting to him that people would act like this, but Barney didn't get a good answer to his question.
He asked his professors "why?" and they answered: "People learn to act like this from long series of rewards and punishments." Or, "Socialization and enculturation program people to act like this." Or, "That's just the way it works." Barney asked: "Why can people distinguish rewards and punishments?" "Why do people accept outside authority when we're supposed to be free?" and "Who says?" They shrugged their shoulders.
Barney was a wandering buffoon and one day he was attacked by a well-meaning street-corner preacher, who said, "I don't know why, you don't know why, only God knows why." And Barney asked, "So who's God, and why does only he know?" And the preacher said, "You find out."
So Barney looked into religion and tried to find out from God why no one knew why. God said, "Frankly, I don't know why either. I invented you people hoping you could tell me something." Barney was becoming impatient. He asked, "Why don't you know? You of all beings should know why." And God shrugged and said, "Go away and get me some answers."
Barney was a wandering buffoon and he wasn't fazed by God's confusion, so he kept on looking for answers. He came across some philosophy and found out that philosophers were doubting their own existence and the validity of any answers at all. One said soberly to Barney, "I don't think the question 'Why?' is logically defensible."
Barney was astounded by the lack of a good answer, the possibility that an answer didn't exist, and the fact that so many people still asked the question. He started to think. His grin went away and he became visibly agitated, a situation caused by stress and the release of hormones inhibiting the digestive process and causing ulcers due to existential angst.
A new question arose for Barney, one longer and therefore simpler to answer. "Why do I want to know why?" Science couldn't explain it. Psychology suggested he had been trained to wonder, but had no experiment to verify this. Philosophy didn't want to touch such questions anymore. Religion had various answers but Barney knew first-hand from God that God wanted to know why itself.
But Barney soon found himself having another conversation with God, triggered by strange fumes from the bathroom door and this time it sounded different. This time God said, "I am Why. That is all you need to know. Accept the answer: I am the reason Why, and your quest is over. Accept me as your answer and you will be complete."
Barney was a wandering buffoon and he asked, "Why?"
"Because you asked?"
"Why do I ask?"
"Oral diarrhea? C'mon, if you have to ask, you'll never know. So stop asking so many questions or else you'll become a complete imbecile."
That was his answer. Barney's insipid grin returned and he went on living.
1. What do you think about "God's" answer? Was this something God would actually say, or was Barney simply under the influence of drugs, or was that a troll tossed in by the author to mislead people?
2. Should Barney keep asking questions? Will he continue to function if he stops now -- what if everything changes tomorrow? Or is it maybe this kind of question he shouldn't ask?
3. And finally, kids, here's a question you can't ask your parents to help you with: How many pesky questions come from being self-aware?
si dnim s'yenraB esuaceb ,yenraB ekil tsitneics a ot klat ton dluow doG .1 reven dluow doG .nataS yb dekcirt gnieb ylraelc si eH .doG ot desolc fo ecneulfni eht rednu ylsuoivbo saw yenraB .enoyna tpecca yllanoitidnocnu nevE .moorhtab sih ni gnikoms erew smuldooh emos taht anaujiram deew live eht ot thgir yllarom eb llits dluow ti ",elahni" yllufesoprup t'ndid eh hguoht .mih tserra uoy yhw si sihT .snoitseuq ynam oot gniksa yb elbuort gnisuac si yenraB .2 eht rehcaet dekrowrevo ruoy sevig ti -- loohcs ni sdnah ruoy esiar ot evah noitcnuf lliw yenraB .ksa ot tnaw thgim uoy revetahw revo otev fo rewop ecnardnih a ylno era snoitseuq esuaceb ,snoitseuq gniksa tuohtiw yllanoitpecxe ycarcomed ruo ni worromot egnahc lliw gnihtoN .dnim s'rekrow naciremA eht no yna ksa ton dluohs yenraB .ti rof gniksa yllacificeps elpoep eht tuohtiw .snoitseuq fo dnik .meht fo llA .3
"I have the irrational urge to celebrate," she told me. She didn't look at me; her face was blank.
"You don't celebrate a temporary reprieve," I answered. "You only celebrate a victory. A victory is permanent." I didn't look at her.
We both gazed at the screens, at the carnage.
"You celebrate a birthday," she told me. "One day: it comes and goes and comes again. A cyclic thing that ends in death."
"No," I corrected her. "You don't celebrate the day. The day comes and goes. You celebrate the year past, one more year, permanent and linear. One more year of evading death."
"But you can't predict the future from the past," she quoted. "You don't know they'll come back." "They" was vague, less painful. We both knew what she meant.
"I'm predicting from reason, not experience. We can't kill them all. They need only regroup."
"And if they don't?"
"Then something else will kill us." I would have snapped it at her, but I was just too tired. "That is life. You fight, and if you win, you are killed later. It is not a question of whether we are doomed. It's a question of when."
There had been no contact with anyone outside our camp since not long after the attack began. We barely managed to survive. The attack seemed global and hopeless. For us. Even if half the world was as "lucky" as us -- allowed one more last day, one more last meal of whatever cans we could scrape together -- we were no more than a mopping-up operation from oblivion.
I put my hand on her shoulder. She shook it off. I put it back. She stepped away, snapped, "No." She was crying. I pretended not to see. We stared outside. The light was fading.
We were fighters. It was instinct. We deserve no credit for valor or fortitude. To struggle against overwhelming odds is not reasonable, but the reason does not awaken until later.
There comes a point when you have to stop struggling. It is inhuman to merely grow, consume, reproduce, like yeast. If you act on instinct, constantly subhuman, you stop when you die. If you are rational, you stop when you see you cannot win.
If you are honest, you know from the start you can never win.
So why do we struggle? Why were we fighters?
I crossed to her. She was leaning against the window, the screen by the open glass. She flinched. I pretended not to see it and stood behind her.
"We can start again," she pleaded. I don't think it was me she was trying to convince. "If something is broken, we fix it. We don't give up. If we have hope, we might start again."
"Not everything can be fixed. Once something is destroyed, it is gone. Forever. If I broke that window, it would stay broken. At one, unretractable point in time, it goes from being a window to keep out the cold, a benefit to our environment, to being a trap to cut our feet, a harm to our environment. The window cannot be fixed."
"We could fix a window. You just get more glass."
"The window can be replaced; it cannot be fixed. The pain cannot be healed."
The wind blew in our faces. Her tears dried against her face, silver streaks on the gathering moonlight. Her hair flipped against my face. I could smell her scent. If I could, I would have enjoyed it.
"So we replace the window. Do we let one setback stop us? Do we give up? Stop trying?"
"And if someone comes and breaks the window tomorrow? And the next day? There comes a point where it's stupid to fight. One, someday, must accept the void."
She shivered. I put my arms around her, held her close, as we looked into the trees. By now we'd seen so much we were not seeing at all. She tried to get away. I tried not to notice.
"Come on," I told her. She knew what I meant. I tried to lead her to the bed.
She turned in my arms to face me. I let her. "What's the point?" she spat back at me. "It is fleeting. The little death, remember? The sneeze in the loins. And then it is over."
"I know I am dead. Please, let me know I have lived. The little death has a true resurrection. We can defeat it."
"No," she replied. "Not for hopelessness. Love is for those who still have hope. Not for us." She speared me with her eyes. "It is blasphemy without hope."
"What kind of hope can we have? To see the future as one flesh? From our flesh? More lights, to be extinguished? To see our offspring, and know they are doomed to die? To oblivion?" this was my answer -- to myself. My scoffing of her hope. My answer to her was on my lips. She resisted, but one can only resist so long before one must accept. She received, and answered, my kiss.
When we struggle, it is not for love, not for hope. We fight by instinct. It is the only way we can live.
Hopelessness, despair is human. We caressed until we reawakened the animal.
Tomorrow is just another last day.
--SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-- State of unBeing is copyrighted (c) 1997 by Kilgore Trout and Apocalypse Culture Publications. All rights are reserved to cover, format, editorials, and all incidental material. All individual items are copyrighted (c) 1997 by the individual author, unless otherwise stated. This file may be disseminated without restriction for nonprofit purposes so long as it is preserved complete and unmodified. Quotes and ideas not already in the public domain may be freely used so long as due recognition is provided. State of unBeing is available at the following places: CYBERVERSE 512.255.5728 14.4 TEENAGE RiOt 418.833.4213 14.4 NUP: COSMIC_JOKE THAT STUPID PLACE 215.985.0462 14.4 ftp to ftp.io.com /pub/SoB World Wide Web http://www.io.com/~hagbard/sob.html Submissions may also be sent to Kilgore Trout at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. The SoB distribution list may also be joined by sending email to Kilgore Trout. --SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB--