A few days ago I was a sorry witness to an unusual conversation – if it can be called that. It was about noon time. The sun was doing her usual “life-giving and death-inflicting” thing. She was thoroughly engaged in killing off a few layers of Earth’s ozone. Simultaneously somehow she managed to promote photosynthesis in green plants and to support life – in all its diverse manifestations – on this cold, dreary and lonely dust-ball. Grilling the skin of a random passersby, producing mutagenic cancer cells in some, destroying healthy cells in others. The ways of the sun are unpredictable and wild. Like all nature – she’s a bitch. Giving pleasure and nurturing life but also carrying within herself all the seeds of rottenness, filth, death and disease. She gives life but also takes it away.
As usual in these apocalyptic days, while other folks of goodwill desired to acquire the largest amount of cancer cells, I spent my time in obscurity and shadows. Hiding away from the beautiful and murderous temptress of the sky, I quenched my spirit in the artificial world of belles lettres. Reading page after page, devouring letter after letter, suddenly a laud and thunderous voice as if from the sky pronounced: “You are a zero! You are a zero!” What was that? Who spoke to me?
While my eyes like some tiny cogs in a giant machine continued to gobble up the inscribed words and studied sentences, focusing on the contrast between the natural light and the saucily shaped black dots on the miniature book-like casket of rotten glue and dead wood fiber, my thoughts moved in various dark ways and cloudy directions – forgetting all and memorizing nothing. Though my nose was buried deep in the book, I wasn’t reading anymore. I thought about the mysterious voice I just had heard. Wouldn’t it be nice if I had experienced a hallucination? Then, at last, I could claim the long-sought honors of a prophet and the elusive crown of a mystic would finally fall into my hands. I could become the second Muhammad or the second Moses, but of course, if that sort of thing really happened to me, you would know me as yours truly – Magnus the first. But somehow my brain, simple and empty as it was, couldn’t quite come up with some elaborate fancy and was utterly incapable of producing a convincing and credible fairy tale or creating a brand new identity that could boost my charisma to unprecedented heights. The chemical reactions in my brain were not up to the task and couldn’t cause that important shift in consciousness that seemed, for the time being, so desirable and necessary. So I took solace in my ignorance and found piece in the dull realism of mindless atoms. Wasn’t this how the natural selection works anyway? Some piles of atoms, I guess, are just better adapted for wearing the hat of a mystic, while other piles might be more suited for the garb of a scientist. As for me, I guess, I had a genetic weakness for the white sheets of a madman. But clothes won’t change the person, right? The inner essence will always stay the same – a bunch of mindless atoms floating around an empty space for no particular reason. Enjoying existence for the sake of existence! Nothing to change and no one to inspire. To leave behind nothing and to dissolve in infinity. To stand on the tallest mountain and to cry out loud: This too will disappear one day! To look into the eye of every stranger and say: “You, ignorant fool! Why do you bother?”
As these gloomy thoughts of mine came to their full expression and approached their predestined end, the mysterious voice was shouting once again: “You are a zero! You are a zero!” I lifted my eyes from the book I was supposed to be reading and set my gaze straight out of the window nearby. An elderly man in his 70s or 80s scolded an idle young fiddler in his early 20s. The young man tried to hold his own and stand up for himself. But all he could do was to mumble something utterly incomprehensible. “You haven’t learned how to speak properly. You can’t even string one sentence together.”, noticing the defective and confusing speech of the youngster, the old man was back to his insulting and attacking routine. “You are … a zero!… A zero! You are… a zero! A zero!”
The young man now fell silent as if he had swallowed his tongue. The power of speech had abandoned him completely. He starred at the pavement and wept.
After seeing all this from a safe distance, I turned on my laptop and checked my emails. There was a notification from ScienceDaily, an ad from Barnes & Noble, an invitation to befriend someone on Facebook, and a personal message from Amy Brooke.