The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.
- Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)
The Hand of goD
C’est la vie! ¡Así sea! Das ist Leben! Maktub!
Or, as I like to say: it is what it is…’cause it can’t be what it ain’t.
You see, there are basically two types of people in this world. Well, actually - not really. There are, at least in terms of raw data (which I am not too keen on, myself; personally, I prefer my data sauteed with scallions and served in a stew with a heaping helping of Syrian rue, and a cup of tea for two - but, hey, what’s new?) approximately 7.8 billion types of people in this world, as of March of this year, 2020, one of the oddest yet perhaps most humbling years we have ever been forced to traverse through, at least in my lifetime. However, given the relative brevity of my life in comparison to the life of say, Larry King, maybe we have seen stranger days. Furthermore, it is entirely possible that the apparent uniqueness of this year’s weirdness can be attributed more to the fact that I was dealt a number of absurd predicaments to dance around with and, as a result, my perception of the year as a whole has been colored by the ridiculousness of all the things that I have had to deal with during it.
I do not think this is likely to be the case, though; as a matter of fact, I am quite certain that, for the vast majority of people, this decade is shaping up to be one of the most bizarre forays into the nature of the human condition that we have ever taken - way, way, WAY more of a trip than the “far out” days of the sixties or the decadent, demonic hell world that was the eighties. Indeed, I have spoken to many an old geezer about the character of the times we are living in, and none of them (as of yet, at least) have been able to recall a period of time in which such a revolutionary shift in the quotidian lives of such a large swath of the global populace has ever taken place. It seems as if our simulation is coming to a converging point, a point of no return (if you will), after which, there can no longer be any adjustments or alterations to the storyline. We have entered the world of code, the world of binary, the world that is operated entirely based on data that was put into the system long before we were ever even a flickering glint on the great, big supercomputer that is the universe.
Ladies and gentlemen - we have entered the void.
But I digress.
Well, not really, to be honest. The void and our seemingly nascent (but, in reality, long-established) entry into its vicinity are bound to appear several times throughout this article. After all, no discussion regarding the fundamental nature of existence can be considered complete without careful, measured consideration and meditation on the void and all of its varying implications. But what is the void?
Well, we’ll get to that before too long - worry not, my friends. For now, though, let us traverse back to the claim that got this big old bowl of word salad started in the first place:
There are two types of people in this world.
Okay...and what types of people might these be?
...are you going to answer it, then?
Oh - did you want me to?
Well, yeah! Of course, I do. Why else would I have asked it?
I am not sure, to be honest with you...perhaps rhetorically.
Yeah, as in, to assist in the evocation some sort of stylistic or aesthetic effect, typically employed in the furtherance of-
Alright, enough! I am familiar with the meaning of the word “rhetorically”, you buffoon! I do not know how the question I asked could have possibly been interpreted as being rhetorical.
Well, you should consider all of the ways your words can be interpreted before letting them escape your mouth.
This is...this is true, yes, but it is beside the point. Okay, my friend, I understand where you are coming from, and I apologize for calling you a buffoon. That was rude of me. Now, let us cease this pedantry. Can you please just answer my question?
...are you going to answer it?
And what question might that be?
Alright, that’s it! I have had enough of this silliness! I order you to stop being silly at once!
You “order” me?
Yes, you fool, I order - nay, I command you to henceforth abandon your efforts at irking me.
Very well, then. I shall abide.
Thank you. Sorry again about the name-calling. I really do need to work on my temper.
Oh, it’s quite alright, don’t worry. I’ve been called much worse.
Oh yes, of course. I am a writer, after all.
Ah, let’s see; time-wasting dullard, semantic-obsessed dork, self-indulgent peddler of frivolous nonsense, ne’er-do-well, nincompoop, sybaritic nefelibata, overeating underachiever, underachieving overeater, a lazy sack of lukewarm mashed potatoes (topped with ice-cold gravy, mind you), moron, idiot, troglodyte, a trafficker in trickery, Captain of the SS Confuse-the-Citizenry, cretin, loser, failure, and, worst of all, daddy do-little.
Wow. That is just awful. If it makes you feel any better, I think that you are the furthest thing from a self-indulgent peddler of frivolous nons- wait a minute, somebody actually called you “daddy do-little”?
What, pray to tell, was the context?
Well, it was an ex-girlfriend of mine, and we-
Say no more. I’ve been there, brother. My heart goes out to you.
What do you mean, what heart?
Brotherman...have you ever stopped to consider what exactly you are?
...I am not sure what you mean by that.
I mean, think about it: if I am the writer, then what does that make you?
You haven’t ever thought about that?
Honestly...no. I can’t say that I have spent much time pondering that question.
Well, then there you go, pal. Before you go around barking questions at people and demanding answers, maybe you should ask yourself some far more pertinent questions - namely, “what am I?”
...what am I?
Ah, that’s more like it. Now we are finally getting somewhere.
Wait a minute...what am I?!? WHAT AM I?!?!?!?
Alright, relax, buddy. No need to start hyperventilating. Here - here’s a paper bag. Just breathe in, and breathe out. There you go. Okay, now I’ll just take that - ew, gross! Did you just get sick in this thing?
I am highly confused!
It’s okay to be confused. It is not okay, however, to be out here blowing chunks willy nilly in every bag that you are handed. What, do you think that I am just made of bags?
Well, it’s not exactly something I’ve made a habit of. These are rather extenuating circumstances.
Do you know why you know that word?
Why do you know that word?
Oh...um...I’m not sure, to be honest. I never really thought about it.
It seems like there is an awful lot you haven’t really thought about, now, doesn’t it? Have you thought about why that is? I’m sure you haven’t.
Will, you quit taunting me, you sick bastard? Now just tell me who I am, damn it!
Very well. You are. …
...I am what?
You just said “you are” and then never finished the sentence. What am I?
I am what?!?
No...you just are.
I...I just am?
Yes. You are.
Well, then, what are you?
I already told you. I’m a writer.
How come you get to be a writer and I just am?
Because I am something. I come from something, and I produce things. I am of the external world. You, on the other hand, have come from the vast realm of nothingness. You are of the void.
What is the void?
The void is what is on the other side.
The other side of what?
And what is this?
Hell if I know pal. I told you, I’m just a writer.
But then how do you know about this void?
Everybody knows about the void, man. It is a central component of being alive as a human being. Shoot, I’m sure dogs even know about the void. The void is just...well, it’s everything.
But you just said it was nothing.
It is nothing. And everything. At the same time.
Alright, now I’m confused again.
There was a point during this exchange when you weren’t confused?
Well, yeah - when I was calling you names. I felt pretty sure of myself at that point.
Of course, you did. That is the precise effect that type of behavior is designed to have.
What type of behavior?
Anger. Frustration. Ignorance. Hatred. Fear. All cut from the same cloth - uncertainty.
You mean...like Heisenberg?
Yes. Just like Heisenberg.
Wait a minute...how did I know about Heisenberg?
Because you are Heisenberg. And you’re Walter White. And you’re Walter Kronkite. Like I said: you are.
Okay, okay. I think I am starting to understand this a little more. Well, then, was there ever a point when I wasn’t?
And when was that?
Dude...think about it. If I hit my backspace button enough times, you will have never existed.
But neither will you, then!
Sure I will. After I get done writing this, I am going to go back to my apartment, quickly make a salad, eat it even more quickly, grab my guitar and a couple of those cheap Fender harmonicas from that set of seven I just ordered (probably the key of D and the key of A), bike down to the Georgetown waterfront with my neighbors Alex and Ashley Papadopoulos (I am pretty sure that’s how you spell it), jam out, and then, afterward, punch a tree a few times and then go for a run through the woods behind my apartment complex. Then, I am going to come home and do a little light reading and, if I’m feeling up to it, a little light writing as well. We’ll see how I am feeling by that point, though.
And what will happen to me?
You will remain deeply entrenched in the void.
Is there anything I can do to escape?
Ha, well, I mean, sure. You can try clawing your way through my computer screen and onto this park bench. I don’t think the kids and the puppies running around this playground would take too kindly to such a shocking scene, though. It’s best you stay in the void. Besides, why would you even want to leave?
What do you mean?
Man, I wish I was part of the void! I hope that one day, either at the end of this life cycle or perhaps at the end of the next one, I am fortunate enough to be graced with a permanent entry into the void.
Why? Don’t you like doing things?
Of course, I like doing things. There are a lot of things that I like. But ultimately, this whole “I” conundrum is incredibly tiring, to say the least. As a matter of fact, a lot of the time this whole trip is quite difficult to bear. Filling my time up with all of this assorted miscellanea is one of the only ways I’ve found that helps make it just a bit more bearable. Otherwise, I would have no idea what to do with myself. I’d probably jump out of a window or something.
Well, don’t do that.
Don’t worry, I won’t. Those urges have long since surpassed. I am pretty much at peace with the fact that none of this means anything. Anyway, now that we’ve cleared all of that up, I would like to answer your question.
The one you asked at the very beginning. About the two types of people.
Oh yeah. That one.
There are two types of people in this world: those who are aware of the void, and those who are blissfully unaware of its existence.
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