- cormac mccarthy, the road
1. in which the existence of god is proved
'LOOK! HE'S BREATHING,' said hanna.
i looked. he didn't look like he was breathing to me and i said so. we were in a small concavity in the side of a rocky promontory. the rocks atop the promontory were granitic and rainstriped. one of them had a hole in it that made it look from afar like a giant nostril: 'hey! that rock looks like a giant nostril!'
i looked again. no, the rabbit was definitely not breathing. we were in the small concavity because it offered shade and i burn easily. we'd been walking to the end of the promontory but now we were sharing a small concavity with a dead rabbit. the rabbit was a perfect grey rabbit. i don't need to describe him because he looks exactly like the rabbit that appeared in your mind when i said 'grey rabbit' a few centimeters ago.
'no. he's definitely breathing,' said hanna and i looked again and saw the faintest movement in his perfect belly. he was more perfect now because a perfect rabbit is alive and now he was alive. he reminded me of god because there's a mediaeval proof of god's existence that goes like this:
2. that which doesn't exist is not perfect
3. therefore god can't not-exist, because that would make Him not perfect
4. therefore god exists
now the rabbit was perfect like a living god. a perfect rabbit hops though and this rabbit was perfectly still except for the faintest upanddown of his perfect grey belly. he was ceasing to be and i was keeping him company. we were quiet. the rabbit lay still as still on the still sand. little bugs were starting to walk all over him but he wasn't dead. he was close to death though and lay completely still while we sat there. sometimes he would blink but that was it. i wondered if he had fallen from the high rock above. maybe his back was broken.
we sat with the rabbit. the rabbit breathed in and out and was otherwise still.
i tried to remember some blessings for the dying i'd been taught once. i could only remember about half of one of them so i just tried to think nice thoughts for the rabbit. i figured if i was dying i wouldn't mind someone sitting beside me and thinking nice thoughts and maybe deterring things from coming to nibble at me before i was properly dead. maybe the rabbit didn't feel that way. i won't ever know.
maybe the rabbit was thirsty? we looked around for something to give it water with. in the end i carved a tiny spoon from cuttlefish bone and offered the rabbit some water. it ran over the rabbit's unmoving mouth. i guess the rabbit either wasn't thirsty or was too far gone to drink. i won't ever know that, either.
2. in which the author has only known a couple of people well who've died of natural causes
I'VE ONLY KNOWN a couple of people well who've died of natural causes. the rest have killed themselves. is that natural? i don't know. the two i've known well were my good friend baterz and my grandmother bronte. they both died under assumed names. baterz was born barnaby ward but we called him baterz. baterz was short for baterzby baelzebub: there's a nickname with panache, no? bronte was born margaret joan bronte. she didn't like either of her first two names so she went by the third.
they were both bald when they died. baterz had a brain tumour. when you have a brain tumour your head gets opened up sometimes so doctors can look inside it and sometimes you get chemicals and rays applied to the tumour and all three of these things can make you bald. bronte was bald because her teeth were bad when she was little. she got her head x-rayed a lot by dentists and all her hair fell out.
i sat with bronte while she died. i remembered the blessing that time and sang it quietly in the hospital and stroked her bald head while she stopped breathing.
3. in which the author breaks the narrative flow, such as it is, to editorialise
THESE THINGS HAPPENED a while ago. i'm writing about them now because when i went to sit in the backyard beneath the darkening greens of the fruit trees and think about washing my clothes i could hear one of my housemates whipping her boyfriend with what sounded like a leather strap. i stood just outside the back door for a few seconds: whack.. whack.. whack.. and then i turned around and came in here and started typing.
4. in which we stopped waiting for the rabbit to die
WE'D BEEN SITTING there for a while. there's only so much you can do with a rabbit teetering on the edge of death and we'd done most of it so we got up and continued our walk. on our way back we visited the rabbit again. the rabbit looked just the same except his body was oriented north-south instead of east-west. i looked at the sand behind his back legs. it was scraped smooth of stuff but i couldn't work out if he'd moved himself or been moved.
the rabbit breathed, and blinked every so often, and so did i.
5. in which a rock looks like a hippo
'HEY, THAT ROCK looks like a hippo!'
6. the last time i saw baterz
THE LAST TIME i saw baterz he was lying in an open coffin in the front room of his house. he was wearing the grotty antique military uniform he used to wear sometimes. it had epaullettes. he was bald and his body was cold. it's odd stroking the hand or cheek of someone who's been dead for a while because they look so much like they looked when they were a living thing but now they are not a living thing. the flesh is not animated.
life came from the sea and things like us carry around an analog of it inside our skin in the form of our warm and salty blood. matter in these parts came from the sun and things like us carry some heat around inside us while we are alive like a tiny analog of the sun.
dead flesh is not like this. it resists the touch differently and has no tiny sun inside it. it draws heat from the air like everything else and from you if you touch it and so it feels cold.
7. what hanna said when we started packing up the tent
'DID YOU SEE the crow? it had an egg in its beak and it was flying and a bunch of other birds were chasing it and it flew off to a spot and pecked the egg and drank it in gulps. its arse stuck out and moved up and down as it drank.'
WHEN I WENT to pack up the stove i found eleven tiny tiny snails had attached themselves to the metal overnight.
love to all
Thursday, December 13, 2007
1. god is perfect