This post previously published here.
On February 23, 2008, about 200 volunteers flushed at coordinated intervals every toilet and urinal at newly built Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., to ensure the pipes could handle the load.
Imagine a moment when everyone in the world with a cellphone sent each other a smiley face emoji at the same time—not to test the limits of all the networks, just for shits and giggles. Put yourself in the micro-second between everyone hitting send in unison and the possibility that no one would remain on the planet afterwards to respond. Are we not right now suspended between the final fantasy of synchronized global suicide and its fulfillment via technology?
A far more sinister way to end the world would be to realize everyone’s fantasies, a process virtual reality machines have already begun. Realizing every fantasy would destroy the symbolic power of fantasy itself. We’d be left with a literal translation of every metaphor, a logical explanation for every random thought. No more latent content to our dreams—every secret would be dragged out of our minds and streamed “as is” in real time. Before too long, we’d pray to God for nothing less than Nothingness.
For now, we keep texting and carry on—everyone equal before the Law of Communication—forced to send and receive information, most of it useless. Just do it. Just speak.
The most radical message left for us today is to say nothing at all.
Imagine a moment when everyone on the planet with a cellphone refused at the same time to send a text. Or a moment when everyone on the planet flushed a cellphone down a toilet. Dream up a fantasy so spectacular it threatens to end the world and then, for the sake of fantasy, don’t tell a soul.
This post previously published here.
We are told to exercise, to improve the quality of our lives, to above all be happy. We buy a Fitbit. It counts our steps, checks our vitals, monitors our sleep cycles. We become health-conscious consumers of physical exhaustion. Life, no longer a spiritual journey, becomes the quest to outrun a gurney.
Let’s stop kidding ourselves: the final goal of science and technology is to exterminate death. It may take forever, but future generations of scientists will risk their lives to get dying under control.
Are we not heading towards a man-made eternity without God? Are we not destined to create a permanent Heaven on Earth that would put to rest all hope of an afterlife?
We must resist the consumerist imperative to buy ourselves more time at all costs. Accept death as a devastating act of mercy. A blessing in demise.
Smooth as a sunbeam
Lighter than light
My spirit transcends
The clockwork of time
Last week marked ten years since my father died. I’ve decided to dedicate my book to him.
I finally settled on a title. The Intimacy of Communication: A Spiritual Encounter.
The book is in its final stages, and I’m learning more about Microsoft Word than I ever thought possible. The perfectionist in me wants everything “just right,” as if a typo makes me a bad person.
I expect perpetual greatness from my writing when better-than-average in some parts might be good enough. Did I expect greatness from my father all the time? Did I assume he shouldn’t get angry or that we’d always see eye-to-eye? If so, I was a fool, or at least a child.
Books endure revisions—and revisions of revisions. Whole paragraphs disappear, chapters expand and contract, wordy prose turns poetic.
Over the last ten years I’ve reimagined our father-son narrative. Some days a piece of dialogue we shared gets a fresh—or murkier—interpretation. Some days the character played by my father undergoes dramatic rewrites, revealing tragic flaws I hadn’t considered.
It’s hard for a son to grasp the power of his father’s presence, but even harder to mourn his death. As my book nears publication, have I even begun the process?
In rehab it’s possible that Robin Williams’ doctors treated him as a dual diagnosis patient. A dual diagnosis indicates that a patient suffers from some form of mental illness along with substance abuse. Depression, for example, might lead to alcohol abuse, or abusing alcohol might make depression worse.
I look at it more like a DUEL diagnosis. Every day you wake up staring down your opponent, preparing to fight. It’s like those old-time Westerns, with all the drama and the palpable threat of death.
But in this duel, as you approach your adversary, a wall appears and smacks you in the face. It’s a mirror you’ve been staring down—it’s you you’re after, fighting for your life against your life itself.
Robin Williams knew the feeling. He fought hard to stay on his feet. As I continue my battle with depression, I’m distraught today over the realization that a talented man and caring soul couldn’t stop beating himself up.