Monday, 17 December 2012

The Pigeon of Life

You are a thing. Just a thing. A thing made of meat. I've come to tell you this. I am the Pigeon of Life. I roost in these places when the owner is away. Your owner is away. You are under the knife.

When you wake, the world wakes and everything is as it was. But the mind, for a time unknown, is strained through cloth, then set again to jelly. In that time, before waking, while you are liquid and steaming, the Pigeon of Life - me - comes and tells the story of how it is.

We'll have a talk. You'll say: "Why are you here? And if the owner is away, who am I?"

And I'll say: "You are the thing beneath the thing that thinks. The witness."

And then you'll say:  "Where is the owner?"

And I'll respond: "That's unimportant. We're here. That's important."

And then you'll find it fit to question: "Why a pigeon?"

And it'll be a stupid question. Because why a pigeon is irrelevant.  Why not a pigeon? Out of all the things I could have been, I'm a pigeon. What does that tell you? Everything and nothing. No thing. I'm nothing, and you're a thing. This is all just 'thingness'. I'm talking about things being as they are. Just as they are, not how you've made them. When you're in this state, with vapoured  blood and hands disgorging some impractical organ, there's a void. A place of nowhere. The owner can't know, can't feel. Can't care about it. You can suffer a pigeon, though, a timely bird of awakening. And this is practically the perfect moment. The only other time is death, I come to everybody then, but I'm not called the Pigeon of Death.

Then, while you are silent, I'll give you a choice. I'll say: "Put it this way: It's a pigeon or nothing. Your choice."

And you'll say: "I choose life."

"But you can't choose life," I'll say. "Only a pigeon. A pigeon or nothing. And you can't say 'I' either. You're not the chooser, you are not even the one who thinks. You are just a thing. A thing made of meat.

"I choose pigeon then." You might eventually concede.

And I'll say: "Good."

Because they don't always choose pigeon. Sometimes they settle for nothing, preferring to wait the endless wait, lurk dumbly in silence and then wake swearing nonsense. Except there's never ever complete silence, complete motionlessness, is there? Not really. Try and stop motion. Close your eyes. Go on.

"My eyes are closed," you could argue. "I'm asleep."

Not asleep: under. The dreamer is dreaming, unaware of itself. And while this happens, a pigeon can speak. Not just any pigeon, the Pigeon of Life.

Questions may come then. Questions like: "Have we met before?"

And the answer is: "No, but I know you and your soft, human anguish because you know you're going to die. The hundred different ways it colours your waking thoughts, how it makes a saboteur of your finest ambition, flavouring each second of your conscious life.

And then you'll whine and say: "Why tell me this?" Feeling more thoroughly miserable and alone than usual.

And I'll say: "I'm not here, not even talking. And if I am, let me say, it's for my own amusement. In a few minutes or a century you'll wake and remember nothing. No lingering bird, just the ache of a lost organ and a dryness of the eyes. A phantom pain, a phantom pigeon."

And you woke, talking nonsense, and the nurses laughed and the lamps glared dumbly from the surgeons' heads and the way their hands fluttered reminded you of wingbeats. And the strange thing was, you did remember. You thought everything was just as it was, but then you realised it wasn't.  Everything had been replaced with an exact replica of itself and you were just a thing. An interchangeable, scared, meat-made thing. 

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