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OUR FATHERS’ ANSWERS were brittle, fragile things – moments of glass shattered under the heavy feet of history. Entropy snapped at our heels, the present thrashed in chains, locked in some back room. Synchronicity swept us up, and as with all momentous events, great chaos was the price of brief moments of transcendence.

Part 1: Genesis

IN A MOMENT of frustration he raised his gigantic fist and crushed his creation to boundless dust – and he went away. In the fortuitous circumstances only eons can provide (on a particle of dust within a cloud of dust) slime congealed into that rare form of matter, life. And set in motion mechanisms of selection which differentiated life, not only from that more common state of matter – non-life – but also, divisively within its own forms.

The phylogeny of species is the ontogeny of consciousness. Matter takes sides against itself, experimenting with hives, herds, and individuals in its goalless descent into consciousness. The discrete sense of separation from all other matter – life and non-life – defines the “featherless biped” as man.

Naked, stunned man stares out from his prison of consciousness and sees only the void which separates the tiny particles of energy which are matter. He creates beings of omniscient fantasy, and builds metaphysical scaffoldings upon which to reach his deities, and bridge his void.

But his bridges lead to nothing, and his structures are filled with empty spaces. And he beats his tiny fists upon the hollow eardrum of the universe.

Part 2: Mark

MARK WANDERS AIMLESSLY through the beach suburbs. L.A. never had much to offer, but seldom had less than at these moments – dry air, dirty water. A veneer of smog smudges the cityscape onto a backdrop which might be mountainous, or might be just the quantifiable atmosphere which separates one part of this formless city from another.

Back in his cramped Venice apartment Mark is being slowly consumed by his television. The cyclopean eye has gradually sucked meaning through from his reality, into another erstwhile unknown reality, balancing some (heretofore unrecognized) cosmic exchange. The power was turned off weeks ago, but the blank screen, apparently powered from other source, continues to exert its entropic gravity upon his consciousness.

Lying down to sleep at the conclusion of another day, Mark considers final solutions. In his dreams he barricades the door and shoves old socks into the cracks. Finally, he rams his entire body, head first, into the TV screen, jamming the dimensional vortex, leaving the rest of us safe for a time.

Part 3: Dream

MARK WALKS ACROSS AN ENDLESS PLAIN of fused stone. Hip-hop rhythms mark the passing of impossible time. Dreams stretch improbable declivities into the plain. The cyclical scrapings of his shoes on stone disturb the silent monotony.

Time freezes as the past rises. A gigantic hand reaches down and scoops him up in mid-stride. His clenched fists open, releasing the pain of unmade responses…

Tectonic plates within his mind shift and slip. Immovable, he remains. His body passes on, but his feelings remain at the site of the disaster, rummaging through the rubble of his flawed past in search of a palpable future.

Part 4: Trap

MARKS’ FOOT has become lodged between two rocks. Momentarily the unfamiliarity of the trap itself brings relief from the cyclical repetitiveness of his pursuit. Yet as the hours pass, every angle for release is exhausted.

And the moments continue to fall like rain, one drop at a time, each one quite unlike the one before.

A hand-sized piece of quartz gains his attention. Grasping it, he immediately falls to hacking at the offending ankle. When the work is done, and the member is thoroughly severed, he crawls forward, dragging the fleshy stump uselessly.

It is darkening now, and Mark enters a grassy meadow and sleeps.

He awakens astonished: Five white bumps appearing at the tip of his stump are the beginning growth of new toes. His new foot tickles and itches. It reminds him of the one still lodged between two rocks on an endless plain – and now he feels the pain. 

Part 5: Moments

HIS LOSS OF FAITH had been gradual. Each defeat loosened his grip on the moment, and on his belief that it could be held. His emotive vision had dissolved from individual events, to groups of events, then finally to a continuum of time, to which he became dedicated.

Within that loss, moments became sharp, jagged objects, flying dangerously past an ever stable flow of change. To hold one meant to lose footing and be torn (bloody) from the dependable ground – to be dragged across the currents of time until, finally losing grip, to be dropped back, unprepared into whatever unfamiliar time and place, over which that precious first moment had become untenable.

Part 6: Time

PERHAPS IT’S THE WAGES OF TIME – subject and object meet in a cruel experiment of the heart. Take what you have left, this heart is bankrupt. Implacid eyes stare from this empty vessel. Laugh, I dare you! As the last wheel of the truck passes over my chest, I consider my further options. Although they seem somewhat limited, yet they seem far less limited than they have at other, less friendly times.

Part 7: Parts

BY THE ROADSIDE lay parts of Mark. Broken off at the knees, on his back, moaning – his motorcycle crushed. The truck he’d just hit head-on was stopped in the middle of the dirt road, with the driver and his two companions staring stupidly down at his dying body.

When I returned with the ambulance, Mark was dead. His face was still, eyes empty. The trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth had stopped. Two ambulance attendants, laughing and joking, hoisted him onto the stretcher, and into the back of the ambulance…

One night six months before, Mark had walked into my house and sat down opposite me. Wordlessly a smile cracked his face. In minutes he was laughing so convulsively – tears streaking his cheeks – that he had to leave, holding his shaking sides.

As he fell into a pit that I’d dug in the front yard that day, his laughter shrieked out, and then sputtered off into the distance.

… staring down into his dead face, with some relief I realized that the part of Mark the truck had not touched  had already left, avoiding the further indignities and abuses only we, the living must endure.

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