Wednesday, September 23, 2015

We're all gon-na die

There was a spider in the bath. In Paris. That's rare. I marvelled at it a moment. It had a bulbous body and long wiry legs. Then I killed it, with a piece of toilet paper.

The total brutality and lack of guilt surprised me. Normally I would fuss around prior to the murder, find a piece of A4 paper or an envelope, nudge a corner towards its body and let it crawl on, take it towards the door, decide it was too annoying to go outside and what if it crawls on my hand and then up my arm, then fold the paper over and press down. Sometimes I might make it outside to a kerb or a patch of grass and watch it drop to the ground, then, grasped by impulse, step on it. Sometimes I might let it run away, and feel good about myself before the images rolled in of it crawling back in through an air vent and under my pillow.

This time I didn't give it a second's thought. The act was swift and sure and I felt a clear and absolute nothing as I stuffed the crumpled piece of tissue into the makeshift bin beneath the sink.


Why not the usual agony, the normal sinking self-loathing? I'm a horrible person. What harm was he doing anyway, simply by existing? The thoughts would last for hours, sometimes days, even over an ant, even over a fly.

The night before, we saw Sufjen Stevens at the Grand Rex. It was sublime, and I cried a lot as he sang the songs about his parents, Carrie and Lowell. Somewhere around the middle of the set he sang that pretty song 'We're all gonna die.' The lyrics are repeated over and over. Towards the end of the song there was a huge sonic build that turned into a hypnotic interlude that lasted more than 10 minutes, repetitive and insistent, and a mirror ball inside a mirror at the back of the stage cast cold silver spots of light across it beneath the ornate proscenium arch and up the walls of the Rex, which have castles and turrets sculpted into them all the way up to the very high rooftop. Our seats were up in the gods so we had a perspective of the entire room beneath us, the lights playing over the vast space. The music went on and on and I found my gaze attached to a particular part of the wall with a sculpture of the front of a house in it, and a woman's face carved into its roof. With the cold light upon it the house looked like a crypt - one of those brick houses they have in the Père Lachaise with entire families inside. I couldn't take my eyes away. It was night in the Père Lachaise. The moonlight shone on the cold stone wall. Death so cold so still and silent as the music played on and I kept watching. We're all gonna die. No movement in those walls. 

In front of me were thousands of heads, watching. Above them, me, the crypt. We're all gon-na die. I saw all us dead, wiped out. In 90 years, all of us extinct, cold, like the crypt, and not even for any horrible or unusual reason. I pictured all the bodies frozen in the way that they would die. Asleep and so still. And though the idea wasn't new to me, something shifted.

A thought occurred to me.
Maybe life is not that sacred.
The lights stopped and everyone roared. A new song began.

I squashed the spider. I felt his little round body explode between my fingers.
And I thought:
Perhaps it doesn't matter at all.