Being and Nothingness

edited June 22 in Translations

Being and Nothingness

 



I stand just outside the crowd watching
them speaking in nouns about what everybody recognizes and knows,
things everybody can agree on. That's what makes them whole, what
wakes them up in the morning. That's what the day is and what the
night is not. They face each other every morning and talk about
agreed things—interspersing the nouns with words of motion and
action so that the words make things happen to each other in their
brains.


And if a new thing, gathers space, and
squeezes itself into birth for them. It may take time, but there will
eventually be a new noun which everyone will append to their
conversation—in the meantime exchewing some old nouns. And
civilization chugs along like an amazing ameboid, alternatively
adding and shedding, extending forward and shrinking behind.


They all have exquisite models in their
brains, populated by the things the nouns represent and made dynamic
by the verbs. In fact they don't need the words, they lose them
sometimes and can't reach out to the things that everybody has in
their brains, everybody understands. But they can always get some
help. These things are real. They always stand and sit around making
sounds corresponding to the names of things everybody recognizes,
although not everybody has personally experienced. Reality doesn't
have to have activated the senses to be real. The senses, in a
futuristic or fictional form, or in the form of suspended doubt and
trust are welded into the words and into the brain models that form
the currency the word are the tokens for.


I watch this. Beware! They are map
makers and chart makers. They are formulators of elements. They push
each piece, articulated, needed, useful into the asymmetrical matrix
of their lives and stamp reality on each piece by bringing it forth
to the mass. They view spaces that their eyes stretch open and they
know spaces spread out by the movement of time. They make things out
of empty spaces and gatherings of elements. All these are rounded and
hardened by their tokens and sharing into inflections of the gasseous
cloud around them.


There are no colors here. Light burns
harder here and less hard there and the particles slam into the stone
at different rates. What they think they see is just their joint
illusion. The air is vacant except for the wind. With mouths they
make these tiny disturbances. They are lucky they can do that. What a
bleak skeleton is the Earth, yet they rejoice in delusion. They see
themselves in every crook and twist of the molecules. They see their
faces where there is no intelligence and no life, in the barrens.


He turned from the ice cold table where
the specimen was pinned out legs and arms akimbo and abdomen exposed.
The blood stained welts were visible on the flanks and inner thighs.
He turned away from the humiliating, uncaring death and stalked out
of the lab. There was no getting sympathetic with them, he thought.
Research needs distance. We can learn about ourselves only by
studying an alien subject, else our viewing and our feelings will
change what we observe. He knew that universal principle. And it was
also a matter of power. To observe and to cut off sympathy made him
feel so good. He could render them helpless and open them, violate
them. He couldn't avoid the sense fo triumph.


The feelings were like fluid gasses
rolling over the trees, making the colors, drawing them to the
colors. The community never believed in colorlessness. The Earth
lived in colors, the insects, the birds, the monkeys, we all hated
the rocks. Color was the subject of God. Color was what God breathed
on us. It was inside us. A translation into the language of our
bodies and the bodies of the creatures around us. The people smelled
the life of the soil in the air. The world spoke together in the
alphabet of maps.



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