Like incestuous diddling, the story about the Mario-esque “malformed and arachnodactylic” stillborn (?) baby – carried everywhere even though it perished before it ever really lived – from one brave AA woman was indeed a reminder of “what a tragic adventure this is, that none of them signed up for,” life (376, 379). “Here is no Cause or Excuse. It is simply what happened” (378). And as I write this post from unmitigated comfort, I’m struck that yes, this is fiction, but way more yes, this is truth. My adventure is far from tragic, and running parallel to it, my adventure, are infinite other adventures stuck in tragedy or in jest or in whatever empty, unfulfilling, inadequate qualifier we want to attach ineffectually to the trip. But so then why me left in the privileged position to Identify but not really Endure? Of course, trying to make it about me, about my relative fortune, betrays the possible connection I might experience to a fellow human being, lost as I’d then be in my own narrative, thinking that whatever happens to anyone else ever must ultimately have to come back to my journey. I have to integrate everyone and everything into my world, the one I construct/approximate from/within the bound processes of my brain and associated mental architecture. I lack concepts for the realities of such stories, and so I lump them unapologetically under the distancing category of tragedy. If I can’t or don’t want to face it: tragedy. If I want to pretend that no one else really suffers at all, or that no one else really suffers like I do: tragedy. If I want to pretend that Death isn’t real: tragedy. For them. Not me.
So then maybe we should just like “sit back and enjoy the show” (383). Because it’s just a big 1984 style mindfuck if you start to look into it, life. Or at least on the plane of consciousness where social, political, and economic order reign supreme. But what other plane is there? Rather than think about any possibility, we seek “absolution via irony” and curl into ourselves, or our Entertainment, which is really just ourselves, e.g. Himself’s The Joke (385, 398). When we’re not consuming externalized projections of our inherited toxic inner worlds, we’re consuming those inherited toxic inner worlds, eager “to move on to more advanced anxieties” (390). “What fire dies when you feed it?” (389) Is Lyle enlightened or delusional? The difference? If sanity dwells in social integration, then insanity is social disintegration, a transcendence, i.e. enlightenment, no? We are taught that salvation is in like “future-tense fame” (388). But that’s a want that will never be satisfied, by design. The pleasure can never really be had on this hedonic treadmill, and yet we keep running, withering away into nothingness. What is your cage? Are you aware of it? Even if you become aware of it, can you escape it? How? From the inside, how do you get out of a locked cage? Maybe it’s not locked. But then so let’s say you leave. Where are you then? Another cage? Is it a succession of ever-expanding cages not-to-be-bypassed? Is Death the final absence of all the cages?
Lick your own sweat. Taste your own existence. Feel it. There you will find freedom.
Get away from the Medusa/Odalisque that would paralyze you, the Joelle/Madame Psychosis of cages, the Siren song luring you to Death. But wait, if Death is your liberation, why not run toward that, instead of the future-tense pleasures that can never be reached?
“The truth is that the world is incredibly, incredibly, unbelievably old,” ad “you burn with hunger for food that does not exist” (389).
Why did I come here then, to this novel? What food did I expect to receive, in communion with the Author? Is this experience like The Joke, turning us toward ourselves and seeing how long we last because the Author has such spiteful self-loathing and so now infinitely jests at our equal-because-mirrored self-loathing, learning everything as we do from the Author – the Father – of our existence? Or perhaps there’s no self-loathing. Perhaps there’s only the comedy of it all. The cosmic joke.
So laugh while you can. The joke’s on you.