Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Tent night III.  §

© Aron Hsiao / 2011

Well, we did it.

Today at noon we engaged in an act of wanton destruction that will echo throughout the rest of our lives, and through the lives of our children, and likely future generations after that.

At the end of the day, I have no coherent, intelligible explanation for any of it. When I was younger, I hated the genre of historical justifications that went, “It’s impossible to explain; you just had to be there.”

Now I find myself understanding precisely where such justifications come from. There is no reason, no way to conceptualize it. It simply is. In the swirl of events that is time, things happen and, as a result, other things happen, and ultimately—and particularly when there are people involved—history takes on a life of its own, often to everyone’s ultimate horror, though it remains impossible in retrospect to establish precisely when such horror creeps in.

— § —

Here we are in a tent for the third night in a row, in the outdoors, by reason of no necessity.

It is as though we—I—have conspired with fate to step out of my life while this was to happen, to enter a liminal state, to resign myself to nature and bare humanity to make this even plausibly imaginable without going insane.

And so I type, in utter darkness, with lumps of dirt and grass beneath me and crickets droning on and on about the justice they’ve been seeking but can never find, shivering and sore.

The children are warm and snoring in sleeping bags. I refuse to crawl into one.

I demand, tonight—demand—to be cold. To feel what is real.

— § —

It is a conceit, yet I have new empathy for those that are forced, in whatever area of life and the world, to make difficult decisions.

To drop bombs with the risk of collateral damage.
To send young people off to war to kill or be killed.
To sentence someone to be executed.
To shutter the last factory in the town, sentencing it and its families to slowly disappear.

Yes, as I said, it’s a conceit. And at the same time, within the context of my own life and my childrens’ lives, it is equally tragic.

And what do all of these things have in common? A kind of helplessness. The total impossibility of doing any sort of right thing at all, particularly when one is playing chess against fate and is already in check.

The die cast, it can appear and feel as if no matter what you do, the result will be the same, or perhaps even worse. Finally and reluctantly, when the best off ramp you’ve seen in a very long time comes along and offers even the smallest promise of respite, you simply take it, covering your eyes and praying as you do so.

No doubt you then regret, bemoan, and second-guess your choice forever, knowing at the same time that in the moment you were sure that there was no better choice, that there was unlikely ever to be a better choice, and that you had only an instant, in the grand scheme of things, to make the impossible decision.

Catastrophe. Utter catastrophe. Circumstance masquerading as agency. And meanwhile the stupid hairless monkeys drone on about the E.U. and Foucault and the price of crude oil and the politics of race. It’s all nonsense. It’s all bullshit. All of it.

Yes, I’m being dramatic. Because it . is . fucking . dramatic, and it always will be.

The end.

— § —

“Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.”

(T.S. Eliot)