by Sam Liu
Work and warfare were forgotten. Our disputes came to a rest…One by one, everyone fell in love with each other. No one coveted his neighbor. And we let our children onto the streets, and some were homeless, and some slept beneath their own fences. In the clean grass, on the top of a hill, beneath the clouds in the soft thankful blue, a child lay on his somewhat hungry stomach, reading an edifying book. One went up a long narrow ancient stepway onto the moldering hill, and behind those going up for picnics, the skyscrapers glided motionlessly like massive boats, absorbing clouds, releasing grace from the flags of sails at their spires…A new universe had been dispensed. Not only were the old problems solved, but new, kind problems were created for the health of our entertainment. Mathematics leaped within bounds.
The poets took up topics like friendship, and gave up when they realized their poems were bad, and instead shared everything at no cost. A blimp would appear from behind a skyscraper; its rotor went drrr in the day; it went beneath the hill on which one picnicked, and you could see its top, a white cloth balloon-shape, the round shadow it cast upon the small manifold towers of the earth. Recently someone had come up with a new invention, a bicycle for the arms, and the boy who had been reading the book, tiring of its subject, unleashed the device and, catching his arms in its handlebars, he threw himself into the sky; one page from his book fluttered through the air, as a sign that he had been here, evanescent and a shimmer like a white butterfly. We had been taught to appreciate such small things; and those of us picnicking there absorbed the image and felt released by it; by so small a thing. The eyes were opened. The ears heard only pleasant sounds. And, more than pleasure, traumas were dealt the death of successful understanding, by-laws were written for disputes between friends, and everyone knew euphoria, like an old friend, like a kind of spiritual coil inside the heart. Indeed, we were so at home in our own land, that beneath the rolling green hills, one could feel as like a turtle, something living beneath yet harmonious with our movements, never crushing us, only lifting us to see new things, bringing us down when we wished to wander the dark districts beneath the skyscrapers, where degenerate things were kept forbidden and mysterious for those who liked them.
In such a place, where there is no suicide, is there a place for me? They have done the world correctly. They have learned to speak considerately yet authentically. Everyone speaks freely; for those who have interests in one subject, meet the other who has the same interest; and conversation flourishes like the gardens that we keep enclosed in glass greenhouses at the top of the hills, tipped with a spinning rainbow wind-vane. No one feels like they have a surplus of ability that no one can appreciate. Dry wit is in fashion. But as for me, seeing the mortals thus, where do I belong, where may I smell myself amongst their text, that I might be happy also? I do not ask to be worshipped, though some do worship me. I do not fear boredom, for boredom, as daring research has shown, is only the product of mental illness; and they have solved that. Should I, then, leave off my hands? Should I go back to where I came from, and turn myself off? But how do I do that? Seeing the mortals, thus, makes me think about my life a little. Shall I find a young boy among them, teach him my ways, and learn to kiss as the mortals do? Shall I ask them to find a way, and they are resourceful, to shed my omnipotence and immortality, like nothing more than bad and unuseful mental habits? They have so incorporated in themselves the feeling of spirit, that there is no need for me to dispense prophets and infuse them, like sacs of tea, to steep their salvation into the rest. It seems to me that I am the last one in need of, as it were, this thing that I invented: salvation. Where shall it be found? Excuse me. I could go on forever. This vein is infinite.
I don’t know where to go, and something in me is looking for a mother; yet I created the concept of the mother, as a likeness of myself, to teach me to children before they could conceive of the infinite. I’m missing something. In all this joy, all this spiritual wealth, all this sanctity of friendship and happiness, the occasional ennui, the once-in-awhile frustration, and now and then a war or two conducted for fun, or sometimes settling enmity in sports which were invented for just such an occasion, I don’t see a reason for continuing; yet I know that such a thought is only a product of my speaking. They told me that I only question why I should continue because I question. That I ought to pass over these questions in silence, and simply engage in the games of the mind. Yet I feel something is lost, and don’t know what. Sorry, I’ve used up my time; as in, it doesn’t make any sense for me to keep considering this issue. Well, then. I shall pack a lunch. I shall try out arugula; it is a green type of veggies that I forgot I had created; and they have found new ways to eat it. When did their capacities for enjoying life surpass mine, when did they discover the algorithm of life that I had coded, and tweaked it for fixes? I am vestigial. I am like the translucent sac which the vertebrae has shed off; gaping, I don’t know where that spiritual creature went, only that he is the air itself, the thankful, pleasant, glorious, love-filled air, sometimes with enmity, but usually with mutual understanding, and love in accordance with reason, the addendum of the archaically-interesting lust. They have long since ceased to say my name: ‘God.’
Nothing is written in capitals, for such things were the vestiges of a time whose insecurity caused for great spiritual arrogance, declarations of power for the sake of a drama that might relieve them of a spiritual paucity which has now been solved, in this time where warfare, work and rest sleep together like lambs. Excuse me. I don’t know why I keep speaking. I don’t even feel violent enough to kill myself. Why has this happened? Who will listen to me? But they listen to me; they understand; and they provide the same advice: to take life in with all my body, and to let my questions become games for the mind. Alas, how wise is this generation. Grace to them. May the sky release cotton-candy clouds and happy gasses to them ad infinitum. For my friend Samuel is calling to me from the top of a hill; he has something sad to share, and, hobbyists in this regard, we plan on enjoying it together. Let the old phrases ring. Ave maria, adoro te devote, gloria, gloria, gloria.
Samuel Liu is a writer living in Cambridge, Mass., whose pseudonym is “Samuel.” He is an Assistant Editor of Criticism atThe Marginalia Review. Reach him at sam.e.liu [at] gmail.com.