Show Stopper

Time marches on and new generations arrive one after another, each ready to shock the world. But it is a world that has been shocked so many times before that shock no longer shocks it.

There is no new novelty under our star-sun, and that includes the novelties of youth and its ignorance and arrogance. The mindless baubles of young "creatives" are as commonplace as gum disease and gonorrhea.

Still, the repetition of old patterns doomed to failure seems sad; to say that youth "doesn't know what it doesn't know" is true but tiresome and repetitious in this era of errata everywhere.

Let us stop the show, the whole show, for a moment, drop the curtains, and reflect back stage. Since the centillions and centillions and centillions of moments since the Big Bang, or whatever started it all, surely we can afford one small moment of quiet reflection. The latest latest thing can wait; there will be eons upon eons of others.

Given a moment of time, clean and unsullied, and a mountain stream and a pool of clear water under a canopy of green leaves, a vision of another world appears—a world in which guitars are strummed, never slapped or beaten; and in which poetry is intoned or chanted, never shouted like an angry accusation of criminal wrongdoing:

Sharazad, let us never rob love its due, sobbing;
Lovely lady, let us pay our bill right now.
Your veil unveiled and bosom bare, your hair
brushing my cheek, eyes dancing, heart throbbing,
tell us a tale of better times, of rhymes
sweet and delicious as the Persian pear.

Let us take this moment, any moment, to reflect on all ruined past moments when we were slaves in forced mental labor;

robots working for robots, robots writing reports about robots for robots, robots coding code for robots coding, robots doing the accounts of robots accounting for robots ...;

let us reflect on our many days dazed as school prisoners, good grades prized more highly than knowledge itself, with whole nights consumed in the study of books lacking stories and telling us nothing.

Let us atone for our stone-deaf insensitivity to life! Given the gift of time, we laid waste to it, shaming shame!

We live and we die; we act and we cease to act; we are, and we are not, on the universal stage of life.

First there is life and living:

We move around in space and time, or "spacetime" as it is often called these days;

we try on many ideas and attitudes, feel many feelings; we are imposters, impersonators, and sometimes we are authentic;

we fall in love, fall out, then fall in love again;

we are foolish, then wise, then foolish again;

we learn lessons only, it seems, to forget them;

we are a total mess at times, Humpty Dumpty face down on the ground groveling, but sometimes we are brilliant;

we understand the complexities, or think we do, of a world and a universe our predecessors knew almost nothing about;

we think about traveling so fast through the universe (call it "cosmic joyriding") that when we come back our friends have all died, victims of "time dilation" and old age; that makes us sad;

then we think about visiting the "little world," the subatomic world of quarks, leptons, and bosons, and being everywhere all at once; but being an omnipresent celebrity makes us dizzy;

then we think that maybe this world's okay but only needs be redesigned;

if we are male, we set about to redesign the female body with larger hips and lower but more-firm breasts with bigger, more-rubbery nipples, better for sucking on, and we feel pleased and only a little ashamed;

if we are female, we redesign the male organ to adjust automatically to the size of any vagina and to secrete its own lubricating oils; thus it can be inserted without fumbling fingers searching for the furry entrance point to Heaven's bliss; and we feel very pleased and no shame at all;

we, if we are male or female, never consider redesigning the brain to improve the personality, character, or temperament of the opposite sex, even though that could do much to improve the harmoniousness of relationships;

we "know what we didn't know" when we were young but barely accommodate that knowledge into our lives;

and we are sad just knowing how sad life can be and cry tears of universal sorrow for those we don't even know.

We are simultaneously sentimental, comical, and foolish, an achievement envied by idiots but no one else.

Then there is death, oh, baffling death:

We die but have only the slightest idea of what that means or death is. For all our "brilliance," no one seems to have the answer.

Do we really die, or is death just another word to "Google (TM)," with answers looking a lot like advertisements for funeral homes and cremation services?

Do we "vacate" our bodies like a lawyer filing a motion to vacate a court order; or is the show truly over, the case closed, and we are a stone down by the old log bridge?

Do we have the faith of a Socrates, refusing to recant and requesting an early execution, because we are "dead certain" of our immortality and already have plans for lunch in the other world?

Or do we moan and request a stay of execution on the grounds that death is not fair, at least not in our case?

But wait! Who said anything about death snatching us away today? Wake up and live!

But right now, given one more tomorrow, one more chance, do we have a plan for it?

Are we going to send it to college to atrophy, to personally experience entropy outside a laboratory experiment;

or are we going to the seashore with a book on the human imagination and, feeling giddy with goosebumps, see all the grains of sand as abundant time and life?

Will tomorrow be just another ruined yesterday, or will the future be as big and bright as the star-sun sparkling on a rippling sea with a mysterious ship on the horizon?

In an intellectual environment of mass starvation, the question begs an answer.

Will all our yesterdays trudge up to a rocky cliff of despair and sorrow and throw themselves over, or will they sit down in the sand with us and reflect on the meaning of life and trace its grand story in our blood, the darting waves and the pull of the currents just a few feet away and beckoning?

Let us drop the curtain, stop the show, shun every new generation—its fads, trinkets, and gadgets—and join the stars until the universe collapses, time stops, and we are no more.
By Louis Martin