The Middle Aeon

by Gord Sellar

Can there be true purpose in a project that is never completed? Can existence be meaningful if it consists of an unending journey toward a destination that is never reached?

If there is a purpose to the universe, and it achieves that purpose, then the universe must end, for its continued existence would be gratuitous and pointless.

— Paul Davies, in The Last Three Minutes: Conjectures about the Ultimate Fate of the Universe

but paul, sex travels only at the speed of chemicals: have you realized that? no, of course not—you aren’t yet even an embryo, you, who will walk, breathe, fly someday,

you who will also spread the double chain, send half of it spiraling forward into time, in children and grandchildren and the lists pile up quickly, but not to us. you can always shift the clock though, shift it instead to layering dust and stone. geologic time=solace?

past a couple of generations, i can’t see my half mattering to them, though, just as i don’t see them reading this, rightly so. it’s like being 1/64th Apache or something… never the same ghosts, that much farther across the brink

oh, yes, paul, it hurts to see that your thumb in the pie of even marginal immortality dependent on them—on others, often badly educated, boorish/selfish sometimes. needing other people; that your descendants are as much them as you; that you are yourself risen from such a slough:

– great great great uncle who beat not only his own children, but everyone else’s;
– a woman who said nothing as her husband drank their last pennies from the liquor bottle;
– a sullen scribe who subtly (but perversely) changed the sense of this or that word in a translation of a text now lost to us;
– the man who raped the widow and stole her purse, too;
– the mother who smothered her barely born, sleeping baby to death on the bank of a deep, slow river;
– all of the bits, strands, tiny ripples in the self

our families, we may not be able to pick—but we do set the boundaries, though somewhere under the press of dust, of layering ash and stone, the borders disappear; bloodlines collapse, meld into finity

paul, on the way to the damascus you fell, and i think you had a vision of a kind of subtle teleology; who ever told you there was a destination? paul, i think there may be something to this; if there is a destination, we have to stop looking for it, paul, and when we’re lost at least we’re moving again; but we’re already lost? we need to be lost from being lost—to wander away from having wandered away from the path

those scribes believed

i am sure you believe paul, you think that there is a meaning, a direction, paul,

illuminated manuscripts, lit by fires: what they thought were dreams of heaven, really the raging fiery soup of the universe exploding outward, becoming itself, becoming stars, wasting itself and moulting atoms and elements, chafing against itself, calming, cooling into us, agitated strands colliding and exploding in fiery bursts—

at the speed not of light but of chemicals

— Montreal, 2000

February 10, 2012

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