‘Death is the only certainty in life.’ ~ Sebastian Errazuriz
‘Life is the only certainty in death.’ ~ Anon
Those who inhabit death, if one can use the term ‘inhabit’ to describe whatever resides in that realm, are as frustrated by, and as scornful and fearful of, life as much the living are of death. The condition of death and all the states that arise from it — peace, quietude, rest, respite, calm, void, serenity — are disdainful of life to their death-bone-marrows, as disdainful as the living are of the grave.
I know, upon hearing all the above, the word ‘rubbish’ immediately comes to mind, and with good cause. It’s impossible to embellish the realm of death with the substance of life. The parallels are unworkable, the points moot.
Or so it seems.
On the one hand, you have straightforward logic. There’s no point in equalizing death with any living process, one says, unless one is chasing intellectual ghosts, or performing a debating exercise, or a philosophical exercise, or an exploration of the impish depths to which logic can ascend, or, in this case, sink. It’s a vain mental exercise, at best, masturbatory in nature and a grand waste of time.
The sophists, of course, approve of the process, because vainglorious orgasmatron is one of their favorite activities.
So do the mystically-inclined and the surfers of the lunar seas. They approve of this exercise for its sheer ability to entertain an abstract but existentially intriguing argument.
This brings us to the other hand: thinking of death in terms of life. An utterly meaningless, fruitless notion. The afterlife and all the conjecture that comes with it, sheer abstraction. The realm of death, for lack of a better term, is impossible to conceptualize, unknowable, unattainable, and not worth referring to in any realistic, practical way. Yet its very notion, abstract and theoretical as it is, reveals the incompatible nature of the polar opposites that make up existence.
More importantly, death as afterlife (and death as a dark entity hell bent on cleaving biology during its daily strolls to eternity and back) reveals what people are and who they are: living creatures scared brainless by the prospect of evaporating from existence and existing no more. The thought haunts them. They obsess over it, trying to find ways to beat the nothingness that follows life. People are what they deal with, and life and death is what people deal with, all the time.
Humanity knows a great deal about life but little about death. It tries to know the ultimate demise by applying obsolete mythology to it, or by applying an understanding of life to it, then reversing it, because death is supposedly the ‘opposite’ to life. They reverse life’s principles to construct mortal reflections and call these reflections ‘death’s nature,’ and then wonder why they’re still in the dark. Five hundred years after the Renaissance, and humanity is still in the dark.
People have no clue. They forget that death is the polar opposite to life, and polar opposite doesn’t mean ‘mirror image’ (enter the mirrors by which Something Wicked This Way Comes — the basis for the past few articles).
It means ‘incompatible’ and ‘inapplicable.’
Let’s use the namesake book to make the case. In SWTWC, when the old people of Green Town enter the Mirror Maze in the Pandemonium Shadow Show to relocate their youth i.e. the opposite of their old age, it sounds appropriate. Mirrors portray reverse imagery, and in the glare of these mirrors one may find the opposite factor, the missing link, the missing ingredient in one’s life, the youth gone bye-bye, the age one relishes to revert to, eager to cross over and be happy again.
The same applies for the youths of Green Town, who enter the Mirror Maze to seek out the opposite of their green years i.e. their maturity, so that they may be all they can be, and say and do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want, without some adult boxing their ears.
But the deceived people of Green Town, and any other town the Pandemonium Shadow Show visits, eventually come to realize that youth and old age are not simple opposites. They’re ‘polar’ opposites. This makes them completely incompatible with one another, each one frightening and validating the other at the same time, none of them up for grabs simultaneously.
Spheres that belong to different realms, is what they are.
The children are so fresh and green, they have no idea what it means to be older. They’re not bothered by mortality or pain. They take risks, play games, surrender to their emotions, and nothing an adult says makes sense until they grow up and fill their shoes. They have to experience it to know it.
Once past the barrier, there’s no looking back. Youth is gone, forever, fading with every year, from both body and memory. They were never young, ever, and never will be, save in the fleeting moments retrieved in the dark corners of their 3am dreams.
When the old turn senile, they become young again, as the years roll by, as seniority turns to frailty, in the way that helplessness and frailty and wisdom and devolution resemble youth. They’re no longer old, never have been, not in the way they used to be. They’re lost inside their own limitations, and that’s a kind of youth in itself, albeit a twisted one. They’re senile-old now, one step from death, just like the womb is, one step from death, but heading out of this world, the senile are, not into it. Nothing can bring them back to a state of wholeness, or freshness. They’re crusty and mouldy. Vestigial and incomplete. Rudimentary. Decaying. Helpless in a bye-bye way.
Such is the nature of the world. It operates within spheres incompatible with one another. There is interaction between these spheres but no one can occupy all of them at once, polar opposites that they are.
In other words, when all is said and done, as the poles are colonized by the traveling particles of life, there’s no way to imagine what the polar opposite looks like, or feels like, or is, or was, not unless one becomes it, and then one immediately forgets where one came from and what the pole whence one came was all about.
Let’s translate this in terms of life and death. Life and death are so different in nature and scope, there’s a schism between them. It turns them into poles, which magnify the motion of particles between them. The schism looms beneath the bridge that binds them. Despite their dynamic and incessant interconnection, there’s no way to imagine death when living. There’s no way for the realm of death to imagine life from its inanimate vantage point.
Connected the two poles may be, but they are binary, by default.
And that is how one realizes that life is a series of snapshots taken across time in a field of realities whose only connection is the traversal of all available particles from one moment to the next. Over time they seem connected, and they are, in a longitudinal sense. But in and of themselves, as far as they’re concerned, as far as their constituent particles are concerned; at any given moment in time, they’re as far apart as north is to south, as youth is to maturity, as life is to death.
And that is what one calls Coming to the Conclusion.
Vainglorious orgasmatron: Check.
The nightcap that follows, of course, involves another important point. All this has been surmised from the sphere of the living. This presents a fundamental problem if one bears in mind that the whole argument was made on the premise that polar opposites are incompatible, and that nothing valid can be inferred about one from the vantage point of the other.
Since all this about death has been argued from the point of view of a living person i.e. from the perspective of life, it’s all moot.
Unless, of course, you consider the possibility that the argument was made by someone not quite alive.
Intrigued? Watch this space for more.
From the collection of writings EON: THE ANGRY COMING OF AGE