One Man Speaks to Nothing

This is a snapshot of my philosophy disguised as a short story. It is (admittedly) heavy, so I’ve broken it out into 5 sections (click on the header bars to open the section). Read them one at a time, or all in a single sitting. Whatever you do, try not to read the last one first. That would just be weird.

Part 1

“So, you don’t know who I am, do you?”

“Sure … of course I know who you are.”

“Yes? …Well, no … I don’t think you do.”

“No, no … I know who you are.”

“Yes? … Really? No, I don’t think so.”

“No … I know. Sure. I know.”

“So then … alright, who am I?”

“Okay … so; well, you’re … I feel silly, really, standing here like this, talking to you … I mean, it is rather strange … it’s not every day that one gets to … that is … well, you’re God … right? God. I mean … you must be. Certainly. You’re God. Who else would you be, popping up from out of nowhere like that … standing here and all?”

There was silence—a long, uncomfortable pause. There was nothing, and then nothing … and then:

“Hahahahahahahahahahahaha …”

An explosive burst of laughter. He was laughing wildly. It looked as if he was having trouble breathing. The tears began to roll down his cheek and over his chin, and … drip … drip … drip. He paused for a brief moment, taking a short breath, and then:

“Hahahahahahahahahah … hahahahahahaha … hahah … ha … hahahahahahah … whoo …”

He had dropped his hands to his knees, bent over in tension from the expulsion of so much air. His bony fingers ran through his hair, from the front of his head to the back in one swift motion. He was going to say something:

“God …” There was another pause. “Yes, well … hmmm … HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHeHeHeHeHe … ehm … hahahahaha … hooooo”

And then, just as abruptly…nothing; silence. Sound and motion had been devoured.

“No … not god. I am most certainly not god. Though I dare say it’s an interesting proposition. God … hmmm. This says something, I’m sure; certainly, something.”

“So then, who are you? If you’re not God, but you’re here just the same … here in this place … with me … right now … from apparently nowhere—not that this is anywhere in particular—still, who are you?”

“You really don’t know, do you? After all this time, you still don’t know …”

“Yes, well, I don’t suppose that I do, no. I mean, I could take another guess: you’re not the devil, are you? Some demon or something, here to eat my soul or my heart or something?”

He was going to laugh again; I could feel it. But he didn’t. He came toward me.

“You must look.” He took me by the chin and pulled my face in, close to his own, staring deeply—calmly. He smelled of nothing … and candy; not candy, really, but sweet. It reminded me of childhood. Not my own so much, but childhood just the same. “Can you see it? No … no, you wouldn’t see it, would you? Pity, really.”

“See what, exactly?”

“Yes … exactly!”


“What indeed! What indeed.”

None of it was making any sense, whatever that was turning out to be. He was not answering anything; he was simply asking more and more and more.

“I am standing here,” he said, waving his hands in circles parallel to the floor, “and you are standing there … and yet, neither one of us is really standing anywhere, are we? Certainly, I am looking at you and you are, for all intents and purposes, looking at me, but you haven’t any idea what you are looking at … you don’t know what—or who, rather—this me is. It is just a thing you think you’re seeing … but you’re not. You are not seeing me and I most certainly am not seeing you—not really, anyway. Let me ask you something …”

“Yes … go ahead.”

He began pacing back and forth, back and forth, his hands resting on the back of his neck, beneath his ears.

“Look at your hand, what do you see?”

“Okay … I see my hand.”

“Yes … and?”

“I see my hand … and I see my fingers. I also see my wrist, and my knuckles, and my fingernails, some hair … a brown freckle, a vein; what exactly are you looking for? What exactly am I looking for?”

“Is that all? Is that all you see?”

“Yes. Wait … let me guess … No; no it’s not, right?”

“Ah, yes … sarcasm, how amusing.”

“What does any of this have to do with who you are?”

“Ah, but what has anything to do with anything else? Truly.”

He kept moving, always moving, this way and that. It was difficult to follow his peculiar motion.

“I will say that the answer to your question is, quite simply, you.”


“You heard me correctly the first time I said it. What has to do with you … with this … all of this, such as your hand and your fingers and your toes … and this place and time and space and so forth,” he said spinning wildly, hands open, palms up, “has, precisely, to do with who I am … with what I am … with how I am. Can you not see it?”

“See what?”

“Yes, I know … strange, cryptic. Unusual; all of the words that this must be for you.”

“None of this answers my question. I still don’t know who you are. Or what you are, or how or when or where or whatever. And I most certainly do not see how any of this has anything to do with me. You don’t know—can’t know—anything about me, about who I am.”

“Don’t I? Can’t I? Are you so sure of all this? Are you so sure that you know just who this I, this you … really is? Do you know? Tell me … look at you hand; what do you see?”

“We’ve just been through this.”

“Yes, yes, I know … and perhaps it is that we have come to it; but we have gotten through nothing. What you have yet to see is that you aren’t seeing just what it is you think you’re seeing. That hand … your hand … right there, in front of your eyes, attached to your wrist on the one end and your fingers on the other … that isn’t real. It doesn’t exist, not really. Billions of particles, billions of billions, wrapped together in such a way as to make you think that they have become something else, something more … or less. What you are looking at there is, essentially, empty space filled with molecules … with particles—components of nothing, and everything—that have conned you, convinced you, tricked you into believing that they have become something other than what they truly are. They are molecules and, when combined, they become … molecules. It is quite simple, really. Certainly their functions change but they are nevertheless essentially the same. Of course, we call them finger or freckle or knuckle or wrist, and for any one of a number or reasons, but in the end … they only are exactly what they are, and that is all.”

He breathed out. Rather, it seems appropriate to say that he expelled all of the air that remained in his lungs, and then paused before drawing new breath. And then he began again.


Part 2

“Given all of this, whether you grasp it or not, we come to the question that you have so ironically labeled ‘me’. And so here I stand before you, certainly … well, again, I do not stand; not really. Nevertheless, I am here, confronting you, questioning you; this is without doubt. I am … I am being … in relation to you … and still, you do not believe that I am what I am. You do not know what I am—who I am, how I am—because you cannot let go of your need for this illusion; the one represented by the dexterous appendages so skillfully fastened to the end of each arm. You cannot, or perhaps will not, awake from this dream of the some-things that are; that are, in the end, not … not really.”

“I have lost my mind … certainly; that must be it. I’ve gone crazy … mad … and this is the result.”

“Only too easy, such a thing. No, no, I am sorry … but you won’t get off this hook without a struggle.”

“What hook?”

“This hook …” and he held out his arms in a way that seemed to extend beyond the limits of my ability to see them, and slowly turned, around, and around, and around

“Look at your hand.”

“I’m tired of this. What is it you want from me?”


“Yes, want. What do you want? You must want something. You don’t tell me who you are, but still you’re here; you don’t tell me where you have come from … but still you remain. You must want something; indeed, something!”

“Always wanting … wanting, wanting. Why must it be that I want anything? Is it not possible for me to be beyond the capacity of wanting? Is it not possible, perhaps, that this is not about my wanting … but about you … about you, needing … needing something, that has me here, with you; in front of you?”

“But I have everything that I want. I don’t need anything.”

“Again! Still! Have, want, need … this naïveté is suffocating.”

He grasped his hands tightly around his throat and made a coughing, gurgling, bubbling sound as he sank to the floor. Thud. He lay face down for quite a while, twitching only slightly in the middle, with his arms outstretched at either side. He was mocking me.

“Out with it already!”

“Out with what?”

He rolled to his left and sat abruptly, legs folded, one uncomfortably contorted above the other. I noticed that he was not wearing any shoes. His toes moved as he spoke.

“First I am wanting and now I am withholding; I do feel sorry for you.”

“For me? What have I … why would you … what are you doing here? What is this about? There must be something.”

“This has become increasingly cumbersome for you … this banter, this talk of ours, has it not?”

“This is not talk. It’s not banter. It is nothing and you are, in my estimation, an illusion of my overactive, and apparently intensely perverted psyche. And that is all. Yes … that is all.”

I was walking away, though I did not feel myself moving. He stood, slowly brushing what I took to be imaginary dirt from the tops of his black linen trousers, folded his hands so that all of his now interlaced fingers pointed downward and took two small steps forward, toward the me that was not moving.

“That is not all.” His voice was almost a whisper, a warm breath on the base of my neck. “It is not even close. In fact, it is rubbish, all of it.”

I turned … because that was all that I could think to do. I faced him, with my head bent slightly toward the ground, my eyes glancing upward, and then back again. I felt as a child feels, being scolded by a parent or a teacher.

“I don’t know what it is that you expect of me.”

“I expect nothing from you; neither do I expect anything from myself, which is important for you to know. I am beyond that, I am outside of expectation, outside of wanting or willing or needing or even doing. I am not built in that way. That is not my purpose or my function. Tell me, are you built in that way? Are you built—are you put together—just like that?”

I don’t suppose I was meant to answer that question. Of course, at the time I didn’t give it much thought.

“We all want or need or expect or demand something. It may not be me of you or you of me, not this moment, but it is in any case unavoidable. It will indeed be one day that you expect something of me, or I of you, or each of the other. We all engage in the politics of this expectation, and that is all. That is how we are built. That is how I am built.”

He stared deeply. He was looking into my eyes but his gaze did not end there, it did not stop to meet me; it continued on, into me, through me. He began to stroke the small black and gray hairs that covered his narrow chin. I found it odd that he would have facial hair. It felt unusual, uncomfortable; it was, I suppose, too real. And he was, I suppose—or at least, I presumed at the time—not.

“I can see that there is much for you to do, or perhaps, much for you to allow to be undone. So much to know, to understand … to unlearn; and time is waning.”

He sighed. And then he drew in a breath that seemed to take the air from my own lungs. He continued to rub his chin with his thumb and forefinger—in and out, in and out.

“So there is no way out of this then … this wanting? There is no way to defeat this cycle, this circle, this curse?”

“No,” I said.

“And are you sure of this?”


The answers had fallen from my lips as if pulled to the ground by the force of gravity. I did not think. I only opened my mouth and like fugitives, yes’s and no’s fled in desperation.

“And why is it that you feel so confident in your assumptions?”

“Look around you. Look at our history. Man does; that’s what he does. He takes in, he consumes. He builds up and tears down. Icarus ascended, Cain killed Able, Genghis was the Kahn. It’s all there. There is no fine print. It is black and it is white. Isn’t all of this perfectly obvious to you?”

He was staring at me again. I took it to be disbelief at first. But the more I thought about it, the less sure I became of just what it was that had colored his face in that moment.

“When I look around me I do not see just what you see. And when I look behind me—which I very rarely do—I do not see just exactly what you see. That which appears as obvious to you is like the skin of a fruit: on its own it seems appealing enough; brightly colored, fragrent, pleasing to the touch. But in the end it is bitter, thick and hard. And if you do not take the time to tear it away, to remove the flesh from the contents of its packaging, with all of its rind and zest and pith, you will most certainly miss out on the sweetness of that which lies beneeth it. And in that moment, when the opportunity has passed, what you are left with is good only for use as fertilizer.”

He was thinking now, moving back and forth, pacing three steps forward, three steps back, and on again. Geometric patterns burned into the backs of my eyes as he went this way and that—trapeziod, tetrehedron, hexagon, polygon, dodecagon. And then he stopped, turning on his heels, facing me.


Part 3

“You said Icarus, did you not? And tell me, what again is it that happened to dear old Icarus, as he strove toward great heights? As he reached for the wisdom of the gods?

“What? What … what … what,” he repeated in a husshed whisper, tapping his fingers on his chest in syncopated rythem. He stopped and pointed a finger at nothing in particular. “The very wings upon which he flew began to melt … they were, after all, made only of candle wax and feathers … and he, in the end, was lost beneeth the sea. Devourd by Posideon, consumed by Leviathan—though, most likely, picked apart by small fish and salt-water mongrels.”

“Yes … but that does not change the simple fact that it was his instinct to ascend, to climb, to reach for that which was beyond him.”

“Ahh, but was he ascending? To ascend implies, linguistically, anway, a movement upward … but in the end there is no up; and conversely, there is no down. There is only in and out, here and there. So his ascention was really just a shift in direction, a change of momentum. And as for that which was beyond him … well, perhaps. But I think it more appropriate to say that he was reaching for that which existed outside of himself, for that which stood to make him more than what he was. And if I am right—which I do believe that I am—then poor old Icarus, and all those who find analogy with him, do nothing to proove you point. And as for instinct … well, we can talk about that one later.”

I was waiting for him to tell me to once again look at my hand or my wrist or some such thing … it would have only seemed natural, given the course of our previous conversation. But he did not. He just stood in front of me, looking; not at anything in particular. Though it was quite obvious that he was focused on a point, a place, something very specific. I could not resist the urge to speak.

“My only point here is that it is inherent in man (or in woman) that he should strive, that he should attempt to do, to conquor, to master. And I do believe that my point is, and continues to be proven. So Icarus drowned, so Napoleon was defeated, so Hitler committed suicide; so what? Their failures do not negate their drives. And that their drives are all similar only serves to prove the point that they are, in the end, inherent in the beings that we are.”

“Ah … the beings that we are. But it would be my inclination to say that those of whom you speak—and many, many others—manifested the behaviors that they did, committed the acts or atrocities or excruciatingly poor judgments, precisely because they were not being. They were not being the beings that they are.”

“Excuse me if I sound a bit elementary … but you are beginnig to lose me.”

“I know that you are expecting me to tell you to look at your hand now, but I will not. I want you, instead, to think very clearly. I want you to focus your mind and try to hear what I am going to say to you. I want you to hear what I will say.

“Simply because we exist, because we are here, because we can think and feel and do … that does not mean that we are, by default, activly participating in the collective process of being. Certainly, we are all beings, and we all refer to this particular existence through our various conjugations of the verb “to be”; I am, you are, they are, we are, it is, and so on. But that is, all of it, nothing more than mental and verbal gymnastics. It says nothing of our relation to fundamental categories that do, most certainly, exist outside of language.

“We create words because we are horrified of ontologically specific dispositions, of fundamental inclinations. Words are the buffer; they protect us from the flames of the enfirno, from the emptiness of the abyss … from the face or the voice of god. But in the end, they mean nothing. They are, essentially, empty; and they are never filled with that which is really real.

“And so, when you say that something is inherent in being—whether it is in reference to an individual or an enitre people—your argument is undermined by the fact that you have yet to express an adequate understanding of the language that you employ. Your entire argument is predicated upon a particular understanding of this word “being” that is tied, inextricably, to the negative examples that you give.

“Being is, essentially, beyond the capacity of the human mind to conceptually comprehend; which means that it is also beyond the grasp of verbal computations. It is not mathematical; it is metaphysical. It cannot be thought; it must be felt. And it does not act or do; it only is. So then, to say that a behavior is inherent in it, that something that is done is fundamental to a reality that does not do, seems rather ridiculous, don’t you think?”

“But we are still talking about the behaviors of man. And this is the way that man behaves. This is what he does, in every case, in every time. And so it follows that it is his nature to do such things. Otherwise the argument is that all of humanity has, for the duration of its own history, acted in a way that is counter to its nature.”

He bowed his head, his chin almost touching his chest; his eyes, though, never left my own. And then he oponed his mouth and licked the edge of his lower lip which had dried from, I imagin, all of the talking.


I was expecting more. This was all that I got. And then he sat back on the floor and folded his legs, one over the other. He placed his hands in his lap, his fingers interlaced, and began rubbing the nail of his right thumb with the pad of his left.

“What do you mean ‘yes’?”

“What more is there to say. Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes ….”

“So I am to believe that it has been the way of humanity to negate its own nature in favor of a systematic set of behaviors that is counter to its own design. That would be like filling a combustion engine with water and expecting it to run, and efficiently at that.”

“Or else like using gasoline to generate a fraction of the power possible—while maximizing environmental pollution—in a world consumed by hydrogen.”

“What?…. Look, if this is your argument, if this is what you are going to expect me to believe—which, by the way, I must say, at the moment I do not—then you’re going to have to do a better job of explaining it to me.”

“You formulate opinions … or theories … based upon what you experience. What you experience is that which is presented to you through the use of your sensory faculties—sight, sound, taste, touch and so on. Your sensory faculties give you information and this information is then processed by your brain through the use of conceptual categories that have been handed down through the generations as a way to relate to the various things you come into contact with. These categories are used to fabricate, and then articulate positions of determination for any one of a number of your sensory experiences. The problem, however, is that sense perceptions are corrupted by the existence of categories that preempt truthful experience. For example: your hand.”

I could feel the confusion painting itself on my face. And I could see him reacting to it almost instantaniously.

“All of this is simply to say that this … all of this … is not real; not in the sense of which I am now speaking. We do not experience this world, or things, or people, or even life, as they are, for what they are, in there is-ness; we only experience them as we have been conditioned to experience them, conjugated as a verb, presented as a noun. Your hand is a hand not because that’s truly what it is, but because that is what you have been conditioned to categorize it as. It is something because for it to be nothing, and to still, nevertheless, be there … hanging, one at the end of each arm … would, perhaps, drive you—at least, this undisciplined version of you—to the brink of madness. So it becomes a hand, for whatever it’s worth, and that is what you relate to it as: as a category, a concept; something static, dead, unmoving. And that is, my friend, the long and the short of it all.”


Part 4

“But how does this all relate to the fact that we continue to strive, to do, to expect … and so on?”

“The fact that we do these things is not the point. The point is that it is not inherent in us that we should be this way. Look at the world: can you tell me that the average individual is, fundamentally, happy? That gaiety is a word that could adequately express their movements in and around this place?”

“No, I don’t suppose that I could. I mean … I could, but I don’t suppose that would be honest.”

“So then, if people are living out their potential, if they are existing in a way that is in accordance with the nature of their being … if they are being only as they are … why all of the pain … all of the melancholy … all of the unhappiness? Why the struggle and oppression and bitterness and despair?”

I had little to say to this. And so I said nothing.

“It is a simple matter of systems evaluation; though such a thing, addmittedly, does not sound so simple. Nevertheless, if you have a system, such as an electrical system, for example, and something goes wrong—it begins to deteriorate or to break down, to stop producing electricity efficiently or effectively—the most logical thing to do is to start at the source and work your way outward (or at the problem, and work backward), evaluating its functions as you go. From this to that … to that … to that … and so on until you find the problem.

“The trouble with humanity, as a system of interconnected beings-in-relation, is that it finds itself … which is to say, each and every one of us … as the source. We are the base of the structure. And to start with ones self as the possible point of disintergration is more than most anyone can reasonably deal with. So rather than look at the fuse box, to sontinue on with my analogy, we spend much of our time blaiming the toaster-oven for the short in the television, and so on. And so one item is replaced in lieu of another. Of course, all of this becomes moot when the house burns down.

“And so, inevitably, we fall back to my initial question: if humans are so adept at living out their potential, and their potential is married to their nature, then you must tell me why all of the pain and angst? Why the war and famine and strife and struggle; to say nothing of their history of failures? Certainly it is not that it is their nature to be in pain, confounded, confused … lost?”

He paused for a moment, as though he was going to wait for my answer. But I was getting the feeling that his pause was to prove the point that I, indeed, had none.

“It is because they do not evaluate the system. They do not look at what is, and then modify the environment in which it exists to accomidate its particular nature; they only say that it must be something wrong with whatever is … or is not … plugged into it. Call it categorical modification. In fact, many go so far as to confuse the various tendrals for the roots of the structure itself and so simply try to rewire a circuit without a source of power.”

“Listen, I don’t mean to be rude, but it feels like you are jumping all over the place here. I’m having a hard time getting from here to there to way over there. This all started with my argument—which by that way, I still hold to—that humanity is predisposed to strive towards certain ends that any given individual or group may find to be advantageous, given their particular set of circumstances. And I am still waiting for a comprehensible response.”

“First of all, your argument was that such things are inherent in humanity, not simply some predisposition, which can, quite easily, be chalked up to environmental circumstances. Secondly, I am not leapping or bounding or teleporting from anywhere to anywhere else. I am, in the grand scheme, crawling … and even then only barely … in deferance to the incredible stubbornness of your confounded psyche.”

He took another unreasonably deep breath—in through his nose, and then out, slowly, through tightly pierced lips, as though he were going to whistle—and then placed the first three fingers of his left hand on the middle of his forehead, directly above the bridge of his nose.

“To put it in terms that even your apparently sixth-grade philosophy will comprehend, your argument about the inherent nature of man is fallacious (that means false) because a man or woman’s actions do not, by default, give face to the nature of their being. Period. (A being that is, in the end, not theirs alone, but one that is communal, participatory, relational.)

“Environmental circumstances—along with a host of other factors—play an irrefutable role in the activities of beings. After all, it is not the nature of a monkey to play the organ grinder, or of a bird to speak in fragmented sentences in various languages. Nevertheless, given the right set of circumstances, they will … and they do. Human beings are certainly no different in this respect. We are all, in the final analsys, just birds and monkeys.

“And yes, my argument remains that it is, and has been for quite some time, humanity’s basic predisposition, which is circumstnatially informed, to deny the reality of its nature in favor of a set of behaviors that effectively shield it from the consequences of a profound understanding of the self; an understanding of what one is bound to in the moment one comes face to face with that in them which is truly real. And we have the whole of recorded history to stand upon as evidence to this hypothesis.

“Nevertheless, I must give you some credit for your observations: men do indeed strive. They most certainly have and it is without argue that they will surely continue to do so. But the directionality of their movement must never be disregarded—or misinterpreted—as it has been by your most unfortunate lower self. Man does not move up, he moves out. And this motion is so defined because it is away from himself that he goes, and with a velocity that forever appears to increase with time and conditioning.

“The human being reaches for things that exist apart from himself because he is sure that his wholeness will come from without; that a piece is missing and so it must be found elsewhere, beyond, outside. Each has his own understanding of what this is … money, fame, power, prestige, controll … domination … escape … whatever you like, the list is long. But because he searches, and because this search is, in the end, made public through its various and varying consequences, the average individual, who is always watching the activity of others, presumes (however falsely) that all things are as they should be; that this movement of man is an assention within himself for that which is his maximum potential, irrespective of what external influences are necessary to reach such heights. And this is propagated by the assumption that some natural law exists that demands of mans’ activities an incorruptable justness, or else they would fade with time and nature would regain its composure, the perfection of its own order.

“Of course, this is not the case. Man runs away from himself; he flees with great determination, and nature simply steps aside and allows him to go. And as he does, he—and all those in proximity to him—mistake this flight for a return. And you, my friend, are meerely one among the many.”

“So what you’re saying, then, is that the behaviors manifested within humanity as a whole are, more or less, simply a flight from the self? That whatever it is that one does in this life is, in the end, I presume, nothing more than the effects of some attempt to escape whatever it is that his true nature would compell him to do?”


“Doesn’t that sound a bit far fetched?”

“And why should it?”


Part 5

“In all of these years, countless generations have passed and yet every one has been consigned to the same fate: to flee from the sight of their own shadow? It sounds a little too melodramatic … a little too Poe; or Clark, maybe.”

“Simply because this been has the general trend does not mean that there have not been—and will continue to be—those whose lives are marked by a spontaneous (perhaps not so much so) return to the self. Truly, where do you think religious movements come from? Certainly they are not the product of human calculation? (At least, not in their infancey; in their purity.) True religion—or true spirituality, if you like—is nothing more or less than a window through which one is able to catch a glimpse of the power in being … the power in the purity of the self; the self that is not autonomous, that is not alone, that is not simply the I or the you or the me, or whatever else you might like to call it. And true spirituality is apprehended in every time, in every place. But even as we have seen, and continue to be pointed toward the window, the light that is coming from within it is nevertheless far too bright, too hot, for the majority of the people to tolerate.”

“But if the self is unified … if all selves are unified, and religious experience is only an experience of the self … or of the being of the self (or whatever) … how to you reconcile the existence of so many religious traditions? Shouldn’t there be only one religious experience if, in the end, there is only one self, one being to experience? If you cannot reconcile such a thing, you cannot hold to the validity of your argument; it simply falls apart.”

“Nothing simply falls apart. It is either solid or it is not. If it is not then it has never been. If my argument is valid, then it has always been … even before it became my own. And if it is not … then it has never been, regardless of how any have viewed it in the past.

“As for the reconciliation of the many forms of religious experience, well that is a bit less confusing and, I think, quite solid. Though I must say that it does not surprise me that you would find this to be riddled with difficulty; after all, you still consider categorical sense perception a reliable form of external experience. In any event …

“So then: religious experience … where shall I begin?”

He had pushed his lower lip down beneeth his teeth and gums with the base of his index finger and then grasped the underside of his chin with his thumb, creating a sort of vice. He continued to talk int his way.

“You experience the world, correct?”

“Well, yes … though it seems that I don’t experience it quite correctly, now do I?”

“Never mind that for the moment … this is something else entirely.”

It was becoming incerasingly difficult for me to focus. I was gaining interest in the things he had to say, and yet, I found myself drifting further and further away from his voice. I had to fight to bring myself back.

“So, you experience the world … as do all others who come into contact with it. And you relate to this experience through concrete (as well as abstract, I suppose) concepts that are given to you over time, and by those who have come before you, correct?”

“Yes, I suppose that would be accurate.”

“Okay … and would you say that these concepts are those used—though, certainly in variation—by anyone existing in time and space, as you yourself do?”

“Yes … sure; it makes sense enough.”

“So as for religion we have an experience of the self—an experience of being—that is, essentially, incomprehensible, strictly speaking, to the confines of our linguistic aparatus. (This is just another way for me to say that it is, in the end, impossible to accurately talk about.) Still, presuming the one who has this experience finds enough value in it to wish to share it, we are faced with the difficulty of employing language—its concepts and its categories—to communicate the fruits of this experience. And so, naturally, analogy is employed to, if nothing else, point us toward the general vicinity of this experience’s occurance.

“In other words, the one who sees the self, who comes into contact with the reality of being—without being devoured by it—finds it necessary to express in concepts that which he or she saw … or felt … or whatever. This is the compass that they will give us. It is the window, the divining rod, the roadmap; but it is not the experience itself … they do not give us the view or the water or the destination. And this is where the difficulty—at least as you see it—lies.

“As each of these individuals exist (as do you) in time and space … and as they are bound to the very same communicative categories—to say nothing of human faults and dispositions—their various expressions will be colored by the lives that they have lived; the time period, the geographic location, the social climate, their particular standing, and so on. So here we have problem number one: one can only communicate an experience of profound siginificance form where they stand alone, and from nowhere else.

“Problem number two: individuals—billions of individuals—have to take these concretized versions of someone else’s eperience of self, from the particular location in which it has been formalized, and assimilate it into their own knowledge base; to say nothing of the need to reconcile it to their particular life and lifestyle. They must make what made sense to a very particular individual or group of individuals tens or hundreds or thousands of years ago and make it make sense to the life that is lived now, here, today. To leave anyhting up to human beings, with all of their whims and what-have-yous, is risky business; to leave such a thing as this to them is only begging for trouble.

“So the existence of a myriad of religious traditions does not refute the singularity—though I must say that I use the term singular rather loosely—of being’s experience. Such things … ontology and the like … must be brought into our conciousness from where we stand. And those of us for whom such things must be ushered in by others, conscious apprehension will come through the use of very site-specific concepts. And so for many to know the same truth, one may need to employ five or six or more different categorical definitions; i.e., Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Shintoism, and on and on and on, amen.”

I could feel the darkness coming over me. It was an unusual experience; one like I have never had before. I shook my head violently in an attempt to regain my composure. He could tell that I was fadeing.

“It’s a bit like tying your shoes: some people use the loop, swoop and pull … others use the bunny ears … still others simply get velcro or slip-ons. But in the end, we are all wearing shoes and all of the shoes are secure on all of our feet … unless, of course, we cannot make sense of the fasteners.”

I felt like I was suffocating. I couldn’t talk; I was having difficulty breathing. My eyes began to swell. My tongue was heavy. I don’t remember if I was sitting or standing or if I was floating in the air. I heard voices in the distance … several voices. Perhaps it was only one voice. But it was not his voice. The air around me was yellow and then green and then, suddenly, black. I don’t know how long I was out or where I was at that moment or how I ended up here. All that I can remember is waking up, in this bed, with you standing over me … shining that light in my face. How did you know my name? … And he was gone.

“You have been under a lot of stress lately. You have been with us for three weeks, now. Occasionally one of our nurses will find you sitting up in your bed, conversing; presumably with this ‘friend’ of yours. Of course, you understand, we do not see him. Nevertheless, the conversations vary widely; though all are usually quite philosophical in nature … and all cause you a great deal of emotional unrest. So, it is our procedure to medicate you when we feel that the conversations have become more than you can reasonably handle. But don’t worry; the effects will soon wear off and you will be your old self again. In time, you may even get through this. For now, just rest, and try not to think to much about it.”


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Andrew said,

September 2, 2011 @ 3:22 am

Wow this is great

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