Spontaneously, without any theological training, I, a child, grasped the incompatibility of God and shit and thus came to question the basic thesis of Christian anthropology, namely that man was created in God’s image. Either/or: either man was created in God’s image – and has intestines! – or God lacks intestines and man is not like him. – M. Kundera
The exigencies of life are like a spider‘s web‘s filaments to get trapped in. They snarl you suddenly, sticky, frightening, invisible, tightening their grip on you as you struggle for your one-time freedom. Meanwhile, little, black spider time descends on you, a white cross glowing on the back of its opisthosoma, getting ready to suck you dry. You are left wondering how you ended up in this situation where a moment earlier there had only been free flight the unending brightness of another insect day.
Let‘s say it again: Ooooopisthosooooooooomaa!
Now and then one cannot help wonder what are some of the worst-case scenarios that can befall one, especially here in the gentle North Atlantic where harm usually only comes in the form of traffic accidents or untreatable disease [i.e. cancer;] or horrendous terror attacks.
One doesn‘t have to but I do, I obsess, true word, I imagine the living crap out of any what-have-you situation. Everything has been going well for so long in my little corner that it always seems, to me, that calamity must be hunkering down right around the next corner, waiting to pounce. But actually calamity doesn‘t care for any of us all that much it just streaks a cross the planet as an unstoppable, indestructible swarm of bullets might. Felling people here and there. If anything, calamities have a perverse, tragic sweet-tooth for developing country types. But now and then they make it into the heart and brains of our major metropoles.
For lucky me, the worst lately has come in its mildest incarnation: everyday high-jinx comedy. Secular slapstick. On the way up to teacher‘s room, entering the staircase, my nose immediately alerted me of a grave civilizatory offence: dog-shit inside the premises! Scanning the marble floor my sight alighted [unhappily] upon a very light brown, slightly smeared turd as the cause of the olfactory ruckus.
Within the order of my uneventful days this canine elimination was immediately accorded the status of an event. An event in the Badiouan sense1 of the word, if there exists any forgiveness still for adjectivizing French philosophers. Having become somehow in the course of the past few years a marginally responsible citizen my impulse was to alert the relevant hygiene officials; however, being late for class made this responsible response an impossibility and thus, slightly ashamed, I hastened up the flight of stairs to grab a copy of the students‘ book.
[It is safe to say that the following is not very important to the events described in this post but is intended to inject a sort-of charming, aside-ish touch as best I can. – Yes, I often leave my own copy at home because I just don‘t want to burden my poor back with any more weight than is absolutely necessary. In this regard my e–book has been a bonafide spino-cerebral boon and might in fact be one of those technological gadgets that has preserved me [thus far] from a Quasimodo-like appearance. I repeat: Does any of this matter? My heavy backpack? Christ. I suppose not but then neither does the main narrative, thusly considered. Schmostmodern, my dear reader, at the expense of your patience too.]
So there I was, yours fictionally, student book safely tucked under my right biceps on my stressed, long-loped rush to the SA-noon lesson. How I could ever sign up for a SA-noon lesson escapes me as little as two months after I did, desperate for that moolah I spose. Coming down the last set of steps I meticulously kept both eyes peeled for those pungent remainders of dog poop. Actually, the stench in the stairway was so horrifying that I felt embarassed on behalf of my employer, Migros. How could this have happened in hyper-civilized Switzerland? Shouldn‘t some alert employee have smelled/seen the feces, become outraged, gone into public-health-emergency overdrive and amended the situation within two or three minutes tops in a worldclass display of ellbow grease? I remember once reading that this be the country where if your lunch drops off your plate onto the pavement, no prob, you eat it off of that, same bacteria count. And feeling smugly aglow about being citizen to such a country, though it didn‘t exactly take too much of an effort on my part…… But here was this abomination: dog turd in the building.
The smeared leftovers only covered two or three steps, which was a relief but should have set off some alarm bells in my head: where was the rest? Certainly my brain simply assumed that it would have been safely disposed of by the owner of the offending dog. It is so nice and easy to assume that goodwill is abroad and well. But then, if I hadn‘t been all stressed out and thinking straight and logically [which is as frequent as the proverbial blue luna], certainly I would have had to wonder about why a K9‘ophile would only partially remove the droppings. In what perverse mood such a person would be. None of this occured to me as my mind raced forward to the lesson and how, if at all, I might insert a few, new elements. I‘m too big on improvising, unfortunately.
Then, as my hand moved out and forward, my retina caught something it couldn‘t process: A – – – – on the – – – –.
This is the only way I can explain it looking backwards down memory lane because, I also am convinced, there was a deep animal hindbrain stem that knew all along, from that first glance, what was coming. But it knew in a non-verbal way, a horror with no name to its name. Where is a name when you need one? I think I must have seen it but my eyes were, well, mute.
[Badiou is right, infinity does exist. It is a matter of mathematics but also of these thoughts of ours which when arriving at truths after long, arduous journeys, last forever. Forever and a day. And it shouldn‘t surprise us that, Eukaryotes that we are, we wish to arrive at some true kernel of reality.]
SLOWMO REPLAY: I also am convinced, there was a deep animal hindbrain stem that knew all along. More disturbingly, the ones that came before me must have seen it too: known. I KNEW; yet at that point in time there was a disjuncture between my cognitive soliloquies [some grand narrative about how I lithely stepped around this improbable piece of dog turd] and the required action. I would‘ve been better off by a land mile considering the – – – –. Which I did not.
Was there a point in time when the hand was frozen, suspended in time? Just an image on my retina, only a body in space with zero acceleration or velocity. When we slow time‘s progression down enough we can consider every situation in full, we end up with images, pictures, paintings. Those works of aesthetic representation that call us forth to museums. Which whisk us from the tight confines of our corporeal existence into the realm of the sublime, ideally. Time evaporates at the zero moment and we experience space in all its glory, the exact relation of objects minus the distraction of change. We experience perhaps cutis anserina.
For a moment there, I was at the museum of my mind showing
a little appreciated, very exclusive painting of 21st century art for my very own delection. I usually love grand openings but this one not so much. The name of the unknown artist is T. M. Medium: Oil on canvas. Size: 82.5 cm x 127.1 cm. Year: 2015. Title: Blameless Afro-Helvetic Hand Reaching Out for Door Handle Covered in Dog Shit.
Then time, Time, asked me to quote god-damint make a move already unquote and I stupidly complied. I mean complied at that last instant before the little homunculi inside myself which I imagine to be my consciousness, the blithering, verbal core inside myself with which, like everybody else, I dastardly tend to overidentify, had a chance to stay the innocent, Afro-Helvetic hand on it‘s unknowing, preverbal journey towards the canine elimination.
The thing is that, even after the horrible smell, even after the artful dod-ging, even after the surreptitious sidelong glance at – – –, what really alerted me to the reality of the shit, I truely believe, was the texture of its touch. It felt like feces, loamy yet with a touch of grain, sticky and warm and foreign, on my unimpeachable hand. You know. Because, I bet you the opening Weekend of Star Wars VII, if, walking equally blamelessly along any earth-given street on a balmy Saturday morning, you, most beloved reader [so, admittedly, I don‘t love you but I do like you a lot for sticking around for this long], stepping down on the pavement as elegantly and gaily as ever, through no fault whatsoever of your own [un-]doing, would step in one you would also immediately, even through the intervening safety of any given sole, be able to feel out, if you had had the great misfortune of stepping into where none should ever step into. You‘d feel it, through the shoe&sock and sediments of toejam, and you‘d just know. The „Fuck!“ would rise from your vocal apparatus like a natural extension of the indavertent spatial conjunction of your irreproachable shoe and the unforgivable pooch stool. And you‘d realize a simple truth: shit doesn‘t just happen, as the baleful cliche would have it, it exists. Shit exists. And its existence is thus able to clash with other existences, other inconsistent multiplicities.