The Owl-Eyed God
On suicide, personal and social
I look out over the black water. The sky is a greasy iron dome. The grey mud is frozen beneath my feet. Above me is an endless weight and below me is a place to rest. I consider.
My god is an unfolding shape behind the flames who gazes with fierce curiosity into your brains, his owl eyes and his red feathered beard swimming in and out of focus as the dripping of the cave gets louder and louder. My goddess is a gigantic womb that holds the world entire. My worship is the pounding of my heart.
My ancestor tosses fitfully in his nest of wool and bracken and dreams a nightmare. He dreams he is me. He dreams he has everything he could ever wish for, in a tall house of stone and sorcery, but behind the walls something is rotten, behind the walls there is nothing there, the gods are dead and gone and the world is run by the fey, by something worse than the fey, and he bolts, he runs as far as he can but there are no woods, there is only tall stone house after tall stone house, within each one a thrall, mesmerized, gazing at the enchanted lights and eating the enchanted food, and he runs until he reaches a river, and he looks out over the black water.
The world, it speaks to me, it pulses with the widest wavelength, I see it, I know it, but I can’t hear it. My head is encased in plastic and glass. My soul is sickened and withered. I’ve forgotten my native tongue, which is the tongue of the geese flying south and the wind through the snow-laden boughs. I only know the impoverished lexicons of my little civilization, the grammars of hubris, the ones and zeros, beep boop. The more we set down the more it all slips away from us.
I kneel down and put first my palms on the icy grit, then my cheek. I collapse. I let the ache that usually comes from within come from without. The cold dark is far more primally terrifying than anything else, it doesn’t chase you or gore you or bleed you or burn you, it doesn’t do anything at all, it just is, and it forces you, completely inexorably, to become one with it. It slows you down until you stop. I want to stop.
I lie with my face in the wet dirt and wait. Through the tears frozen in my lashes I notice the blue cap of a Bic pen lying an inch from my head. At first I feel nothing, but then I feel disgust, and then rage. There is nothing and nowhere that isn’t covered with a thin film of poison and bullshit. I can’t even have a dramatic moment flirting with death without being reminded of it. I get to my feet.
I pick up half a cinder block from the assortment of rubble by the abutment and heave it into the water. There but for the grace of God go I. I wander away.
Later I stare into my glowing screen and watch the little symbols dance. They encode the thoughts of thousands of people I will never meet. I am alone. Some of the thousands of people hate me. They have never known me and never will. We are alone together.
I want to change my life but stepping into the black water seems more realistic. We want to change the world but sinking deeper and deeper into our augmented-reality torpor is the path of least resistance. The only thing worth having in this life is each other and that’s what we’ve lost. Ten thousand followers, a hundred thousand subscribers, a million fans. None of it is worth a single real companion.
I evolved to lie in a pile of warm bodies at night. I evolved to spend all of my time with dirt under my fingernails. I evolved to run wild animals to death. I evolved to be transfixed by the owl-eyed god behind the bonfire flames. I evolved to be part of the heartbeat of the wild world worshipping itself.
The cruelest outcome of modernity has not been our enhanced exploitation but our enhanced alienation, whole new never-before-seen types of disaffection rolled out every year, entire armies of people working around the clock to achieve greater and greater degrees of isolation from each other and disconnection from the land and sundering from our ancestors’ cultures.
In my rational mind I want to build a better modernity, but in my heart of hearts I want it all to fucking burn.
This is an excerpt from my zine, What Else is There to Live For 2. You can get the zine at the Fucking Cancelled store.