The sky strips every night

I never really planned on living long enough to have to worry about doing things that would make me live longer. I always vaguely imagined going out performing some honorable service like dying during a particularly grueling stretch of the work year to give my friends and family an unwonted vacation, and not taking too long to go about it. The course of life seems to me like a funnel where you gradually get attacked at closer and closer quarters with wimpier and wimpier weapons. In your 20’s you might get assaulted with a knife or a Toyota, but by your 60’s they’re more likely to be going at your cells with an instrument that looks like the degenerate cousin of a ballpoint pen. The weaker the weapon the longer doing damage takes and the more it hurts. Getting beaten to death with a plastic shovel would probably take days and would turn you into melty ice cream by the end. When you’re old and hospitalized it can take years, enough time to experience each part of your body dying in turn, as if answering roll call.

The point is people don’t just evaporate or fade away. The body is too heavy and there’s no convenient opening in the package to pry open and let the soul out. It’s like those clamshell packages at electronics stores that are supposed to prevent shoplifting and have to be really mangled in order to get whatever’s inside out. That’s what it takes to detach the spiritual from the corporeal in people. And that was the mistake that my last Congressional Representative when I lived in America made. He took the title “Representative” a little too seriously and thought he had to serve as the representative of the abstract concept of his “constituency” in all ways, become its embodiment. He worried that if the signified existed in some concrete and non-abstract sense the signifier, i.e. him, would not really signify and hence would have no function. So he started trying to take over the lives of his voters, showing up at their workplaces and social functions, doing their jobs and chores for them, hoping they would get totally displaced and eventually fade away into some vague metaphorical space that he could comfortingly stand in for, like a poopy two-year-old does for happiness.

Really it’s simpler, like in China, to just accept the total inappropriateness of your political representation as an opening premise. Having someone like Mao on all the money is a lot better at any rate: I get to sit on his face all day, and if I ever went to a strip club it would be way less awkward to be jamming that into some sweaty orifice than the face on the rupee. Mao certainly wouldn’t be seeing anything he hadn’t seen before. Actually, if I ever went to a strip club I’d bring a bunch of coins, see if any of the dancers would accept those being slipped into their thong, maybe I’d even look for a coin slot on their person–or a credit card swipe.

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