Ramblings

So, I sat down at my laptop today to try to do some creative writing, since I was in a strange mood and also because I haven’t set any time aside for non-academic writing since the semester started. What followed was pretty unnerving, when I re-read it. Mostly, because I can’t tell if it makes any sense at all, or an uncanny amount of sense. It’s probably just the former, and I’m still thinking strangely. 

For the bored or curious, here’s my semi-psychotic rant:

Life, you know, is madness.

Well, I believe the term used is “absurdity.”

The term used by philosophers. They chose well.

Absurdity. Not many people get it, if one really can get it (and I believe I have.)

Evokes laughter, doesn’t it?

Laughter. Yes. I laugh a lot, don’t I?

At the absurdity. At everything. Well, it’s all one and the same, really. You see, I’ve realized that laughter isn’t madness. It’s the most natural response in the face of the cold, serpentine gaze of “reality.”

Why?

Well.

I’ll tell you. Ha.

The meaninglessness of everything gets to a person rather quickly, once you accept that as the truth. Life was a random accident, evolution, a curious coincidence. All we are, all we do—it’s all temporary in the face of the void beyond the existence we know. (Assuming, of course, I’m right. This is all assuming I’m right…)

Yes, we can search for meaning. We can create meaning. I’ve done plenty of searching myself. Lots and lots of searching. But when we die—what then?

I was afraid of sleep once, you know. Death, while awake, you can mostly see coming—sure, sure, there’s the occasional split-second freight train accident and such. But for the most part, you feel the pain and know it’s coming. But sleep, death’s bastard brother, is much more sneaky than life, when it comes to its dealings with death. One minute, you’re dreaming, the next moment, you’re not. So simple. So completely fucking terrifying.

Don’t worry. I can sleep now.

Most nights.

I once visited a cadaver lab, as a student. I was making jokes the whole time, which my fellow students either appreciated or tried to ignore (the ones that weren’t passing out from the mere sight of the gray-skinned, well-preserved, bony corpses, that is.)

The one I dissected was an old lady. Had been an old lady, in life. Now, it was a cadaver. Of course, hair, clothing, eyeballs… that was all gone.

When we got to the stomach, the girl to my right passed out. I helped catch her, keep her from heading face-first into the cadaver’s open body cavity, and the professors led her into the hallway.

Once they were gone, curiosity overcame me.

I had to see the face (so tastefully covered with a towel.)

So I pulled off the white, stained towel, to look the corpse in the eyes. Sockets.

Was it grinning? It seemed that way for just a moment.

I left that day thinking of laughter in the face of death.

That’s why I laugh. You see now.

If I weren’t laughing, I’d be crying.

Those empty eyesockets beheld a terrible truth. They saw non-existence itself.

Laughter, madness, sanity, solemnity…

(Perhaps I am the sane one.)

(I know why skulls grin.

Yes, perhaps it has to do with having no lips.

Perhaps.

But maybe, just maybe, it’s because they know the terrible, mind-crushing, amusing truth.)

Punctuation Rant

So I feel like doing another rant, and here’s the basis of it: punctuation and grammar. Really. Is it really that difficult to do one’s best not to mangle one’s native language? And I’m not talking about those obscure rules that no one really gives a damn about save for maybe a professor or two. It frustrates me, perhaps since I am a writer and language is my tool of choice, to the point that I kind of want to shout at the next ignorant person to misuse a word or punctuation mark–perhaps in something similar to Herr Starr’s immortal freak-out: “IMPROPER USE OF INVERTED COMMAS, HOOVER!” Admittedly, that character of the violent and darkly hilarious comic, Preacher, had all but lost his mind at that point, but whatever.

Yet, at the same time, I don’t really want everyone to follow the rules of grammar and punctuation. Those who don’t leave behind sometimes amusing results.

Those signs that say “Slow children walking” are great, for example. Are we to drive slowly to avoid hitting children, or are we to be warned that some particularly cognitively disadvantaged children are out and about? The difference lies in the placement of a comma, which should be there, but isn’t.

It reminds me of that old joke about the pandas. For those unfamiliar: two pandas walk into a restaurant and order food. When they finish, they produce guns, and begin firing at the other customers. A horrified survivor runs over to them and asks, “Why did you do it?” By way of reply, the pandas pull out a pamphlet from the zoo, and point to the panda section, which reads, “Eats, shoots, and leaves.” The joke is, of course, that the second comma should not be there.

And then there’s the frequent abuse of quotation marks. Good god, people. Why do so many sign-makers feel the need to place seemingly arbitrary words in quotations? I was in the library the other day, and a handwritten sign reminded the library’s patrons to be “quiet.” So, what exactly is that supposed to mean? Are we not really meant to be quiet?

Hell, there’s a whole page on TV Tropes dedicated to amusing instances of abuse to punctuation–mostly in published works, nonetheless.

So, I’ll close with a few general rules:

1) Commas generally go where there’s a brief pause. If you can read the sentence aloud without a pause and it doesn’t sound strange, you likely don’t need a comma.

2) Think carefully about where you place quotations. If you are writing a sign reminding people to keep quiet in a library, odds are that you don’t need quotations.

3) Apostrophes generally are used to show possession. NOT PLURALITY. Hence, “John’s apples” is fine, but “John’s apple’s” is just obnoxiously wrong.

So, follow those rules, and you should be fine. And that’s all I have to say about punctuation.

A Rant

People often ask me where my morals come from, since I don’t have a religion. I rejected my mother’s and stepfather’s religion (Christianity) years ago, when I was a kid. Then, my reasoning was that a just God, a God who was truly the pinnacle of everything good, would not allow such suffering as I was blindly dealing with and could not comprehend then. And certainly He would not allow the far worse suffering that millions around the globe go through every day. That was my reasoning then. I still hold that sentiment today, though I’ve found numerous small reasons why I disagree with Christianity (and other religions) as well.

My morals come from decisions I make from my observations of the world. The old Roman doctor’s motto “First, do no harm”–I may not be a doctor, but I have taken it heart. I go out of my way to not cause others pain, and I wish to ease the suffering of others whenever I can, though lately I have been wondering what the point of it is, really, when the world is just going to create more suffering. It’s due to the nature of humans, I have realized. People are inherently selfish, greedy–looking out only for themselves and sometimes a few people close to them. Note that I don’t call them evil. Good and evil are human constructs; they don’t exist in nature (is the lion evil for eating the zebra? I don’t think so). And yet even I still use the terms, when describing something that goes against my own morals, which I tend to stick to against all else; it’s something I’m proud of myself for. But sometimes the world just seems like too much, and maybe this is my psychotic depression talking, but sometimes I’m not certain this is a world I even want to live in. Sometimes when the feeling is especially overpowering, I half-wish a great meteor would strike the Earth and wipe out the human race, leaving only ancient ruins for the next species to evolve on the planet to ponder at. Maybe the next species would get it right. Probably not.

That’s pretty dark, and incredibly misanthropic, I know. But sometimes that’s just who I am–a misanthrope who paradoxically continues to strive for good in the world, even if I don’t believe it will ultimately make any difference. People will continue to wage genocide, people will continue to live large while others starve, people will continue to hate/fear what they don’t understand, and that includes other people, such as the mentally ill.

Speaking of hating and fearing what we don’t understand, and linking back to earlier talk about atheism, I certainly don’t understand death (no one alive does) and part of me certainly fears it. For all I know, to die is to cease to exist–a flame simply gone after burning brightly describes it well. For a while, I feared death so much that I feared sleep (dying unware is what I really feared here–at least when you’re awake and you have a heart attack, you feel it coming). I literally developed insomnia; I would stare up at the ceiling from my bed until my brain finally force-quit my body into its sleep mode. Eventually, I came to hope that maybe, somehow, there is something after death, and that eased my mind a little–it still does. I know it’s irrational, but what else is there to hope for? I can’t stand the thought of not existing at all. So in that way I’ve come to terms with death.

I’m nearing the end of my rant now. I have things to do for my psychology class. Isn’t it funny; part of the reason I’m even going into the field of psychology is to help people. I wonder what that says about me.

Maybe part of me still has some hope for the world, after all.