BOOK V.

The Gospel According to Stephen A.


Now the judgment is passed and yet you dwell upon the earth, what will you until that hour arrives? How does one while away the final days, weeks, months, years of existence full-knowing no forthcoming redemption? Does one feast in an orgy of carnality, attempting to indulge in a flood of physical sensation? Does one adopt a stance of spiteful anger and engage in a profusion of destruction and violence? For, you know the ultimate punishment is apportioned to you. Nothing further may be done regardless of what you do between now and that time. What then is left?


1. It’s of paramount importance to devise a strategy for living since the intent of your world is to restrict you to a role of uncomplaining employee and self-assured consumer. You are to make and spend money without questioning anything. Mistaking yourself for being a self is the cardinal sin. There is, after all, no way this process can work if the participants believe they’re someones. Great difficulties arise, such as self-medication and creative intoxication, for people who wander onto the depressing terrain of thinking there has to be something more.


2. The young, at the age when realization of the tragic occupies the mind where appreciation of the time-scale involved has yet to reside, tend to dive off into self-destructive patterns of behavior complicating the aging process with the requisite recovery and reconstitution the eventual discovery of longevity demands. Thus, old age is exacerbated by maladies brought on by youthful indiscretion as we politely like to say. This in an effort to forestall the admission of not being a person at all, but only an employee; good or bad, deserving or undeserving, generously paid or habitually fired.


3. Hope is the greatest betrayal. It’s the self stabbing the self in the back. It’s what we call the emotional register of not surrendering to death. All species have it. It’s particularly poignant in us, but decidedly a point of desperation in other animals, such as dogs being hit by cars. They hope this human taking its life has the kind of control that could back this away from being its final experience. They even hope humans might make different decisions so all other life forms sharing their space aren’t relegated to lives of crushed hope crushing the self.


4. So it shouldn’t be surprising the species generating this pervasive negativity, being a species, feels the same set of sensations; hope, desperation, confusion, terror. Some might say it’s fitting. For decades they’ve been introducing their infants to an ongoing game with confidence in an outcome which has always been in question. The only authority they’ve used is, “We were here first. Suck it.” Now, it’s piling up. The decay far outweighs the peacock display, and the bodies are piling up. At some point it becomes obvious they all can’t be victims of their own bad decisions. That defies the Vegas odds. Rather than lending benefit of the doubt from an account that was overdrawn several lifetimes ago, go ahead and call, “Liars!”


5. Now that we’re feeling better, and children continue to faithfully march to our cadence from maternity into the highly-suspect process of education with the addition of occasional live gunfire, we not only learn we aren’t educating our young on a par with our alleged advancement as a society, we can’t even keep them alive in school. (If there ever was an excuse for prolonged absence this would have to be it.) Still, the arrogance continues to climb; the aggrandizement of self for no other justification than, “I’m alive. Suck it.” It would appear long since have vanished into a cloud of absurdity any concerns with how we may be regarded as the distant future looks back on us their distant past. “How did we even manage to get here,” would likely be the quote of the year - something in which we may all take pride.


6. What do we tell these children? Well, when they’re quite young we fill their heads with the notion there’s this jolly old benevolent soul who, once a year, rides around putting presents under trees for “good little boys and girls.” Later, just before they reach puberty, we like to impress them with our wisdom, and jaded intellects by intimating that if they think life is a bed of roses, are they ever in for a surprise. Of course, they wouldn’t be surprised had they not trusted us in the first instance, and believed the tales we seek praise for regurgitating to our young. Didn’t you know it’s cruel to tell children the truth? Lie to them so they don’t feel scared about where they are and who they’re trusting. They can find the terror on their own. We can then move to offer conciliation. “Hey. We all go through it, kid.” The cleverness of it all is astounding.


7. We pay professional movie stars who “look good” and are “cool” tens of millions of dollars a pop to make films of comic books, and can only name two qualified actors per gender. The seconds we have to debate. But, there sure are a lot of big names, big draw-celebrities dwarfing the common folk who’ll never see one million dollars their entire lives. These industry-generated pseudo-artists hold forth on fairness and equality, as long as the venue is in a big city with a PA system and TV cameras. We bury literature altogether in precedence for text messages with emoticons and syntax that looks like a dictionary diddled on the bookshelf. Their justification? “It’s a job, man. Everybody’s got to get paid.”


8. As it unravels before their eyes, they all smugly conclude that if some other guy saw things correctly, or would stop making those stupid bad decisions, everything would be just fine. As the violence sharpens and spreads, as the body counts, which have stretched the imaginations beyond splitting, rise….the argument becomes somethingsomethingnormalize. “Do we really want to normalize this?” Guess what. If you’re talking about it, it’s the past. You can’t normalize the past. What you should worry about is what’s coming next. Just like those movies, it’ll be bigger, and way better than before! Everybody will be talking about it! And, there will be nothing to live down. No one will ever have to bear any guilt in the end. That’s it! You’ve found a strategy for living!


9. But, wait, you’d have a job that makes you feel like a king in a palace with a trophy wife named Alice if that nigger hadn’t ruined it. You’d have one each of those ultimate cars if that chink hadn’t ruined it. You’d be worshiped by all whose gazes fall upon you if that queer hadn’t ruined it. Those corporate weenies would have given you the keys to the vault if it hadn’t been for that fem-Nazi with no biscuit recipe wanting to vote. You know whose fault it is! Can you spell “A-R-15”? Of course, you can. Hey. There is no God anyway, so why not a little police suicide? No, not the one eating his revolver, the one pointing it at YOU! There you go. You found the answer. You devised a strategy for living.


10. Oh, excuse me. You’re the one who decided rejecting everything as not worth accepting was the preferred mode. You hold meetings with no intent, and deny purpose. Your indignation is all that’s required. If the powers that be don’t acquiesce to your obvious discomfiture, hey, dismiss them as marginal. I’m sure that will do the trick. There is no primary causality. There is no point of order. There is no aesthetic. There’s just your sensibilities. My compliments. How neatly you’ve tied the bow on your package that isn’t packaged which contains the formless form. You broke the code. Your correctness has won the day. You found the answer! You applied the proper sneer. You devised a strategy for living.


11. Then again, how could I be so blind? It’s you, the harbinger of gender bias! Just despise those traditionally oppressive males, inject that opposing paradigm and presto; Nirvana! Your car is among the best, and I know you earned it, as well as a place to park it. Your clothes are so fine you can legitimately fret about becoming dirty. “Keep your grimy hands to yourself.” If only the right people were around, then this life could become it’s own perfection. Why do they insist upon showing themselves? It’s very discouraging. Maybe if we raised the spending for the police department, and looked the other way when they get rather…forceful, that will sort things out. Yes, you have the rudimentary formulations of a strategy. Be proud.