Che, I’m sorry, but I’ve searched the internet and I couldn’t find anything you’d *written* dated 1972. I did come across a heap of other interesting stuff about you though.
What exactly did you look for?
Well…something that someone would have been inspired by you to write, I guess. Something profound, about life, meaning, existence, the big questions….you know.
Actually, I don’t, but go ahead, tell me. What are these *big* questions that you think are so big and important? That, from the way you’ve been speaking so far, seems to be man’s overriding preoccupation?
(I’m a little aghast. Surely, he must know? Surely he’s grappled with them himself? Is he teasing or testing me? He does look genuinely serious, though. I shift uneasily in my seat and he seems to sense my floundering confidence).
Hey, listen. I’m not testing you although teasing you is, shall we say, becoming rather enjoyable (he smiles). But seriously, this is not one of those occasions. I am profoundly interested in what you consider the *big questions*.
But Che, you must know what they are! (I am feeling a little frustrated and puzzled at the same time). I mean, you must have been preoccupied with them yourself! I know you were!
You assume I was…
Are you telling me…
Wait, let me finish.
(He takes a deep breath and gives a long sigh).
When you observe a man’s actions, you assume that he has put a lot of thought into it. Sure, there are some actions that a man performs that you immediately condemn or dismiss as *mindless* but, for now, let’s leave those ones aside. Let’s instead concentrate on the actions that we generally conclude have been well considered and thought through and which are performed as a result of deliberate choice and intent.
(He sighs again. It is as if this topic has caused him considerable difficulty).
You have to understand something here. There are many forces at work in bringing about the culmination of thought and intent and performed as action.
No, I didn’t say that well enough. Let me try again. There are many forces that shape and influence what we observe as a man’s actions AND as many forces that shape and influence our observation of such actions.
Now, I know you may be thinking that I haven’t said anything that you don’t already know but you may be surprised.
(He interrupts himself to draw on his cigar. After what seems to be an unbearably long pause, he continues).
A man’s actions are never his own. Never.
(I allow that idea to permeate my mind, desperately hoping to experience an earth-shattering epiphany. So far, there is none).
Listen mi amiga fiel (my faithful friend), what you see as life’s contradictions are really life’s resolutions. The burden of humanity is unloaded through man’s actions. Man must act for without acting, the burden of his humanity becomes unbearable.
And what we observe as the action of an individual is in fact the collective act of humanity which unfairly places on the individual sole responsibility for what is in fact its collective act. Can you understand this?
(Whoa!!! This is huge, I think to myself, and yes, it does make sense but…)
Are you saying that a man, an individual, cannot be held responsible for his or her actions?
No, I’m saying that she or he cannot be held SOLELY responsible for his or her actions.
But if that were the case, does it not imply that a person, an individual, can never claim to be the sole author of his thoughts and the sole maker of whatever decisions or choices he makes?
I mean, I think that you’re saying that we don’t really have free will, that we can never and have never been able to make completely unilateral decisions or choices. And if that were true, why, I’m not sure I want to continue doing this.
I mean, if there is no point at all, no matter how small and how far into the depths of consciousness I’ve got to go to reach it, at which I can stand and claim that this is purely MY thought and MY intention and MY choice, then what would be the bloody point of MY life????
(I am feeling terribly agitated to the point of panic almost. This is just sooooooo not right, soooooooooo meaningless, sooooooooooo pointless).
Mi querido amiga fiel, mi mas querido amiga feil, (my dear faithful friend, my dear, dear faithful friend), I understand your disenchantment. I truly do. I felt the same way too when I first had this realization. I wanted to destroy the whole world (not just this planet) and spit and vomit and piss in god’s face.
What kind of a fucking cosmic joke was he playing on us??? What kind of a fucking joke was my fucking mind playing on me for after all, I was a fucking atheist!!!
God??? What a loser he was and who could possibly be attracted to him other than mother-fucking losers??? And I sure as hell wasn’t a mother-fucking loser.
(Despite the rising panic and disillusion that was searing my mind, I could feel the sincerity and honesty of his words)
(He paused with a deep and long sigh before continuing)
Please (looking at me tenderly), don’t cry. Give this some time. I promise you, you’ll understand. It will make sense…
What if I don’t wish to understand? What if this is something that I don’t wish to understand because it doesn’t deserve my understanding? It fucking doesn’t deserve my understanding! In fact, I’d say it doesn’t deserve anyone’s understanding! To understand this would be to give up, to cop out. I might as well slit my throat and die.
(Speaking quietly and tenderly) And that is what you must do. You must die.
(I decide that silence and sullenness are my best response at this point. This whole idea is outrageous. Preposterous. Downright disrespectful. I want to be angry with him but for some reason I can’t. I think I realize, on some level, that what he’s said is not his personal, individual understanding but the understanding of all of humanity, of existence. Fuck! This is exactly his point, isn’t it?)
I told you you’d understand (He’s smiling somewhat cautiously. I think he’s trying to be sensitive).
(I’m fighting back a smile. My mind is trying to hold on to my resentment but I can sense it’s losing the battle. I’m shaking my head and smiling and covering my eyes with my hand as if I’m embarrassed by the realization that he is right while he peers at me, making no attempt to hide his amusement. Fuck, fuck and triple fuck!).
(We both break into big smiles).
I think this calls for a celebration, don’t you? Come on, I’ll take you to my favourite bar.
(I sigh deeply, feeling a tense mixture of relief, reluctance and resignation).