Did you ever believe you’d end up in this musty place, a forgotten stairwell, peeling the coats off peanuts while waiting, like a corpse, for your shift to begin? From the aphotic corner, you watch as your younger selves fleet by the part of the corridor observable to you. Some of them have books clasped between their arm and torso. You squint to catch the title: A Routledge Guide to Sein und… The latter half is obscured by the person’s arm. Another comes by: The Paris Lectures: An introduction… But the person disappears into beyond the frame before you can finish reading the title. Of course, you need only scour your memory to realize the titles of those books. After all, you were once those persons.
Do you remember the avid joy that throbbed in your heart as you read your books, then prying open those didactic riddles to life and thinking to yourself, that whatever venomous ills has been spoken of these exercises, they are still incorruptibly life-giving? Or maybe you remember the times where, when asked, you would reveal with pride and gusto the privilege of reading something held most fondly by the soul? Oh, but I’m quite certain you’ll remember those flickering frustrations that came all the time at the mention of the future. You had such a difficult time deciding between the vial of subliminal beauty and the robust, dependable machine.
Of course, now, you see the consequence of your choice. The folly of the young must be paid for by the comfort of the old. But what I really wish to know is if you ever thought, ever considered it a real possibility, that things could turn out so bad, that the decline could be so vicious and the murk so near? I don’t suppose you did. The risk would appear too great, and you’d flee immediately to the right choice. It’s surely unfortunate that you didn’t. But I understand completely how you must have felt at that point of time. The crossroads are there the most perplexing. I used to quote a film: Hope is a dangerous thing. And here, you seemed to have defied that maxim entirely. You placed your trust in that sparkle of hope, didn’t you? And it alone carried you through those years and past that bothersome and unyielding dilemma. I’m really curious, and please be honest, what were you really hoping for?
I had a friend once; a truly passionate artist. He did sketches nearly every day. Everyone who saw them urged him to become an artist. I too had contributed a drop to that shower of encouragement. But the more I looked around, the more I noticed the same delicateness, exactness and swiftness in the drawings of other random artists, and the more I knew that we were urging him into an deathtrap. Like you, he believed in a orgastic future, full of unexpected accolades and the fulfilled promises of youth. He eventually entered an arts school, and that was the last I ever heard of him.
Perhaps some of your old friends are recounting this exact story about you. “I had a friend once; a truly passionate… and that was the last I ever heard of him.” And indeed, you have disappeared. You’ll have to pardon me if that isn’t the case. I was assuming that permitting your friends information on your current circumstance would incite too unbearable an embarrassment. Vanished from the world, just as you had once willingly vanished into abstractions. The parallels that make themselves apparent; what a delicious laugh Fate must be enjoying!
My final question is this, and it’s probably the most important: How do you endure such a measly living? – how could you, when you have already acquired so much knowledge, engaged in the most vigorous thinking, brought down to earth the deities of academia, printed copies of the manuscript you thought could run as your magnum opus. How do you live in this squalor of the non-thinking? The emptiness grows on you like fungus, and soon all your knowledge will be covered in moss and lost forever.
Bring those sticks out, it’s almost time.