by Tom Schneider
Well, this is my essay. It’s an essay about the way life is, and how to deal with it. Pretty important stuff, right? Sound impressive? It’s not. That’s basically what every story, book, song, poem, movie, television show, commercial, billboard, poster, public service announcement, and set of hieroglyphs (or cuneiform, I’d hate to be considered racist) has been about since the beginning of history. (Human history, anyway, since God alone knows whether or not there are any other intelligent (or even relatively dim-witted) beings out there (including God, which makes for an interesting conflict of interest) (If you’re looking for the purpose for that last parenthetical aside, try to find the last reference to God, sorry about the confusion) who have at one time or another made their own public service announcements about a subject other than the one about which, I swear, I plan on talking about in this essay. Eventually.) But to the point.
Ha! I bet you thought there was going to be a point in this paragraph!
This is the paragraph wherein I set up my dramatic persona. Ahem. It’s been a long time (maybe a week, maybe a month, maybe forever, time is so irrelevant, except of course for the part where it controls and regulates every infinitesimal part of our lives) since I talked to anyone else about anything. People don’t listen to me anymore, not when I’m talking about something that makes any difference (If I ever do). They don’t like what I’ve got to say (Actually, several people agree with me, and the rest are mainly just indifferent, but if I put it that way it’s so much more martyresque, don’t you think?). And itâ€™s a good thing, too. If anybody agreed with what I had to say, I’d kill them. It would get me that upset! Well, actually, if you were paying any attention to my interior monologue (between the parentheses, lines 19 to 21, in case you were wondering) you’d know that I wouldn’t actually kill anyone, since I actually do know some people who agree with what I have to say, but it makes me sound so much more like a passionate person deeply opposed to my personal beliefs (which of course I am, but only the ones that I don’t actually hold at any given period of time). So when I say that I don’t talk to people, I mean that while I say words to them, they don’t mean anything in particular. Of course, that’s true for most people most of the time.
There. I think that was appropriately wandery and unworldly. Of course, everything in that paragraph is trash, complete balderdash. I wrote that a good ten minutes ago, and so of course by this point I hate it fervently. I mean, for God’s sake, if I believed the same thing for ten minutes at a time I’d never get anywhere!
A wise man once said, “I’d like the hamburger combo with Coke, please.”
So much in this world is done for effect, you begin to wonder if maybe it’s more important than reality. I sure think so. The effect is the only thing that affects us. (Note my proper usage of some frequently confused verbs there.) Reality matters only where it affects us. Duh.
By the way, folks, this upcoming section is not related to the ones before. The second and third sections were related, and each were related the first, although a bit more tenuously. This one on the other hand, is out of nowhere. I don’t even know where it came from.
Don’t think I believe a word of what I say. Never think that! That is one thing that really will get me mad. I’m a random idea generator. Want to know how to cope with the world? Ask me! I’ll give you an explanation, different every time, and passionately believe in it! My hope is to someday be right, and at that point I’ll stop. I’m one of those trillion monkeys, typing away and hoping to come up with Hamlet. So I’ll keep throwing out ideas at a furious rate, because only then will I have any chance at coming up with the truth. (Yeah, right.)
The truth is all-pervasive and completely nonexistent. It is as inflexible as steel and as constant as sand slipping through your fingers. Have you ever wondered why so many people use paradoxes to say things, even though we just know that they are inherently untrue? It’s because we’re wrong. Truth is a paradox. That’s why so many paradoxes seem true. Humanity has been cursed with the ingrained belief that if two facts are inherently contradictory, one of them must be false. Not at all!
There once was a boy who grew up in a poor family. He never had any comforts when he was a child. Everybody he knew lived miserably. He wasn’t very smart, he wasn’t athletic, he couldn’t do anything particularly well. But he thought that he knew a way that he could improve his life. He would be a painter! In his head, he saw pictures of breathtaking scope, infinite grandeur, of fire and ice and quietly talking on the front porch. Finally, he saved enough money to move to a city and buy some painting materials. He began painting furiously, turning out an amazing number of pictures and put them up for sale on the street.
He used up his paint in a week. He died in the street two months later, having yet to sell a painting.
He couldn’t paint worth a damn.
Why do we always try to find the deeper meaning of life? Nobody’s really succeeded yet, and there have been some pretty smart people out there trying. Why do I presume I can improve upon Jesus, or Buddha, or Confucius?
They knew what was going on.
And yet here I sit, trying to explain everything in a simple, easy, bite-size form. I can’t understand the whole truth; I just have to find a half-truth I can live with.
“Forty-two” (The answer to the great Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything)
It didn’t help, did it? Well, I’ve decided that the purpose of life is not to cut out everything that is meaningless. Some meaningless stuff is essential to life as we know it. Row, row, row your boat. (By the way, I have decided to mark all my paradoxes from this point onward with segments of popular songs. This is because, for one thing, the paradoxes are the key points of my paper, and for another, I feel that far too much stress is placed on literary analysts by authors who hide their messages. Have a nice day.) Some of it, of course, really is meaningless and stultifying. Who can tell? Does it really matter? I sure don’t care.
Do you know that my computer will not let me put the letter “I” by itself without being capitalized? Some computer programmer has decided to put his understanding of the universe up against that of e.e. cummings.
He knew what was going on.
I should warn you that all of the opinions stated in this little story of mine only exist for approximately five minutes. They are completely and utterly correct, and I will stand by them until I change my mind. Gently down the stream. Keep in mind, though, that all of them are true, and all of them will always be true, even when I stop believing in them. Everything is true, no matter how contradictory any two parts of it may be. Twinkle, twinkle, little star. Of course, everything is also a lie. How I wonder what you are. Think about it. If everything is a lie, then the statement that everything is a lie is also a lie, which means that not everything is a lie, which again opens up the possibility that the original statement is true. Up above the world so high. The mind boggles at the beauty of this cheap paradox. Of course, the mind only boggles if it cares. I don’t particularly care. I only made up that paradox to get across something which I believed at that time, and which I now believe to be completely false.
Of course, it is still true.
Like a diamond in the sky.
A lot of people look at the world and say that the people who followed people like Hitler were really stupid. They’re wrong. People are just trying to cope with the fact that the universe they’ve been shoved into against their will is unbelievably confusing. That’s a pretty hard thing to do. So anybody who’s smart enough to take advantage of this and can convince everybody that they know what’s going on will instantly develop a huge following of people who are sick of trying to figure things out. So they let somebody else tell them what’s going on. Forty-two. Why not? It sure makes my life a lot easier.
Somebody once told me that they couldn’t believe that, in years designated by somewhat lower numbers than this one, public hangings were festive events. Weren’t they horrified by the fact that someone was dying? Why? The people they let control them said it was right, and if you disagree with the people controlling you, you have to do something about it, and quite frankly it usually isn’t worth the effort. So don’t worry about it, they’re killing a criminal, not a human, and let’s take the morning off work, which I don’t really understand the purpose of anyway.
You know how when you’re in a line of cars at a red light, and one car moves up six inches, and every other car all the way back moves up six inches to fill up the gap? I hate that!