Letters Column for March 2006: Blah! Blah! Brain Freeze!

Posted on April 6, 2006 by Jenna

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Note that I am dizzy so this may be sub-par.

Also, everyone please wish happy birthday to Hitherby_Admin, who has tirelessly labored on your behalf to add Previous and Next Page links to the archives!

Y’know, this reminds me of that one Borges story with the guy writing the play, who has to face a firing squad.
— Eric

The laws of Tlon are harsh and unyielding. Those who write plays must die. Those who write things that are translated into plays must die. Even those who credibly claim to participate in the playwriting process must be hung from the neck until Act VI.

The laws of Tlon and Uqbar are harsh and unyielding, and it was only later that a court— packed with anti-Uqbar judicial activists— determined that they do not apply within the boundaries of the continental United States.

On the way to his execution, the playwright caught some inkling of this future ruling from the corner of his mind’s eye; saw, with the bitterness of impending doom that his death was unnecessary; cried, “Curses! Curses!” into the darkness of the night.

But the UNIX cursor-handling library availed him not; it heard his cry, but answered him not; and deep within the bowels of the operating system it dwelt, pondering what things it is that curses ponder; and so he died, and we the only ones to mark his passing.

Y’know Eric that reminds of the one about the guy writing the play about a guy writing a play, who has to face a firing squid.
— Juke Moran

If you take out the squids, the ocean is harmless!

(Please do not take this as license to play with the ocean at home, or around children, with the squids removed. Hitherby Dragons is not responsible for any incidents that may transpire if you do so.)

“Yeah, it’ll be great!” JFK says, forgetting for a moment that he is about to be shot in the head. “A real mystery for the masses!”
— Ford Dent

Thank you for your (Audience) post!

I think that in the end it is all right to be shot in the head, as long as one first gets to see a time-defying chocolate rabbit.

Here is why I believe this.

It is because we suspect that the world is without romance, I think, that we fear to die. We fear that in the end it shall be the dreary men who are right and all our afterlifes as dust; or worse, that the canons in their robes are correct, with their preaching of a world after death that most exactly supports their precepts.

We do not fear more remarkable things. We do not fear that some Great Snatching Snouse shall, Seussian, seize souls setting forth, snatching them, swallowing them, hashing them, hollowing them, gulping them down to its dim Snousy belly where their hearts will dissolve while their brains turn to jelly.

We do not really believe in more hopeful things, either. Death could be a gift more generous than we deserve. We could wake to find a completion such as we can scarcely imagine to desire: a Heaven not of the paltry dreaming but the grand one, as far beyond Lewis’ inverted onion-Heaven as that is beyond the harp-strewn cloud dwellings of the Hallmark Paradise. We could wake to find ourselves better, to find our lives and loves greater, and to find that even in our errors and weaknesses we have served a greater good than we had imagined our best and brightest moments to do. But we do not think, on some level, that that will be the case.

We do not even believe the simplest and most plausible of notions, that our lives will simply not finish with our deaths; that the pattern that is ourselves will prove as independent of our flesh as software is of the machine. We do not believe that we will become imago.

And whatever it is we do believe, with the preponderance of our thoughts, we fear that it is the dreary men who shall have their say; them, or the canons in their robes.

So I think that it is an anodyne to fear to realize, in the moment before one’s death, that the world is infinitely stranger than we suppose, and that the dreary men have never known thing one about it.

I think there is ground for tragedy— terrible, unimaginable tragedy— to die the dreary man’s death immediately after seeing the rabbit.

To have the Qwik Rabbit come to you and feed you chocolate milk before you die, and then, before you have any recognition of what that means, before you can understand the world this has created for you, to pass forever from existence into the dreary man’s empty grave. I believe it is tragic if the last manifestation of the endless labors and turnings of your life is the question, “Wait, what the fuck?”

But I think that it is unlikely.

I think it is a hopeful sign, when one sees the Rabbit, that the dreary man’s death is not your fate.

That is why, I think, it is the rabbit that escorts you into Wonderland; that Carroll knew, as all the great fantasists knew, of the rabbit that would come to him before he died.

That is why it is the psychopomp.

It is through the Qwik Rabbit that is made manifest the glory and the thunder of the Lord.

The Qwik Bunny is at *that* stage of the evolution of deities, then. The transience of this particular expression of a god’s nature is due to the fact that all gods pass through this stage, granting pain, or reverence, or spaghetti, or courage to each soul at the moment of death, reasoning that only when there can be no consequences for the gift is it a pure answer to the emptiness of the world, and not treacherously an answer to something trivial.

Time cannot be sliced infinitely thinly and so inevitably there is some overlap. So those at the point of death experience everything it is possible to experience, except where the ynth of some gift has overmastered anothers. Spaghetti is much ynner than the experience of writing a novel, and Borges’s god and the FSM share an affinity for the same moment, which is why most experience spaghetti and only a few experience novel-authorship. This melding of gods’ gifts resolves to life itself. When the bunny notices this, he will, by a divine trick, insert himself into that godlife as an actor instead of an author of it, and begin searching it for just what exactly yn means.
— HonoreDB

… silly rabbit!

Divine tricks are for KIDS.

Is there a name for ‘that trepidation that one feels towards spaghetti, knowing that to experience noodles is to move one step closer to death?’

Thank you for your (Audience) post!

“Then why would they build such elaborate homes for us to live in? Why would they feed us so often, only rarely taking offense? why do they have made such perfection, and deny us this eden by killing all who venture into it?”

“They think it’s beautiful.”

“Beautiful? But.. what is beauty?”

“Ah… and that’s what makes what they do ok.”
— GoldenH

Thank you for your (Audience) post!

The mosquitos are better off for having had a dream, however fatal, of the obelisk—

Such, at least, is the moral assertion of the manufacturers of FRED.

The user’s guide declares that the mosquitos’ lives are primordial and without form. Then the installation of the zapper elevates them. It gives them a context and in that context they may develop thought, character, shape, form, and emotion.

They are natively formless; they are natively empty; they are a silence without power of existence disturbed by the placement of FRED even as a lake is disturbed when a stone falls in. The meaning and merit of their lives ripples out from FRED like the ripples in that lake.

It is because there is FRED that the mosquitos have names, natures, ambitions, meaning.

Can a mosquito be said to exist without the context of that FRED-caused death?

Is there more to its life than a reaction, a series of reactions, a pattern of reactions both forwards and backwards in time to the moment of its fiery end?

According to the user’s guide, page 31, in the Troubleshooting section, the answer is no. If it were otherwise you would have defective mosquitos and would need to call the hotline at once.

The mosquitos may disagree.

It is, in fact, probable that they disagree.

But we cannot hear their arguments above the buzz.

I wake, and I’m so terribly, terribly cold. I rub the circulation back into my arms, and say a prayer to she who watches over me.
— SusanC

Thank you for your (Audience) post!

I liked this one. I could say something funny, but that appears to be Dracula vs. Frosty the Snowman with the tagline, “Brain freeze!” and I’m not entirely sure how relevant it would be.

I think the ruthlessness that the world shows us is … not as morally ambiguous in dreams as in other cases.

Here is why.

I think that almost everything bad that one person can do to another person essentially flows out of violation: that is, it’s not the pain or suffering that’s the problem, even in extreme cases, but the denial of boundaries and inherent rights necessary to inflict it. Pain is an outcome, and we don’t control outcomes; boundary-crossing is a process, and we have an obligation to virtue in our processes.

I think that if we permit the world to grant us dreams, then we must accept the data that comes in them, however uncomfortable. That means that it’s not as cruel for the world to throw dreams of immolation at us as it is to pinch.

Of course, the world shows no moral hesitation to crush people who fall off cliffs, to bite them with nettles, to drown them with water, so perhaps this is not even so relevant as typical webcomic letter answers might be.

More tomorrow!