top of page
  • Bill

The Noise That Separates Us From What's Next

A very lazy, off-handed Google search tells us that every 60 seconds, between 100 and 120 people die. This is obviously an estimate; it's not as though every minute there's a census taker looking around for dead people, and beyond that, there's areas of the world where humans live, and that kind of data isn't recorded. It's a world of rough estimations, everything you do is "roughly estimated". Therefore, the truest of any data is vague, and this very true, very vague data tells us that almost two people are dying every second. Think of how many people have lost their friends and family in the time it's taken you to dismissively skim through this first paragraph, alone.

It took you two minutes? You escaped death over 200 times. It's not any kind of new information, to tell you that your puny, fragile body can expire at any moment's notice. Look out your nearest smudged, stained, dingy window at the world. You see that bird flying past? You could cease to be a living thing, and fully transform into an inanimate object in the room before that bird lands on the tree in your yard. Your cat could get up off the couch to go take a shit, and come back to find you just another scratching post in the room, slumped over with your dick in your hand, a dick almost as limp and cold as you are.

Did you know that the most recent recorded case of spontaneous human combustion was in 2010? Michael Faherty, 76 years old in Galway, Ireland. Every lonely old man has his special chair, some stinky dusty recliner with an ugly color, maybe a tacky pattern, and a cupholder for his shitty piss-flavored warm beer. The night of December 21st, 2010, Michael sat down in his throne, like your dad or mine, like any other lame old dad, and fell asleep with a bag of potato chips in one hand and a remote with dead batteries in the other. Snoring with reruns of MTV's Punk'd playing on the TV. The "wick effect" is defined as the partial or total destruction of a human body by fire, when the clothing of the victim soaks up melted human fat and acts like the wick of a candle. When they found Michael Faherty, he wasn't even a whole inanimate object. He was a partially consumed object. Incinerated, like garbage. Maybe his will dictated cremation, maybe not. Maybe we don't always get to choose. Maybe Michael never got to write his will, never got to say goodbye to his children, because he was doing nothing at all one day and found himself cooked like a Thanksgiving turkey.

You can find lists on Wikipedia of documented fatal animal attacks in domesticated parts of the world. Bears, sharks, wolves, alligators. Being from the southwestern United States, I'm partial to cougars. These animals are classified as "man-eaters". Animals that will willingly pursue, kill and devour human beings in accordance with predatory patterns. Hunting. A month ago I was fascinated by this and went down rabbit holes, reading about people of all ages, in all parts of the world, wandering not far from their own homes, and be mauled without provocation. The wild animals have no concept of a person being innocent or guilty, being deserving or undeserving of death. What is natural and inconsequential to a mountain lion is vicious, gruesome and cruel to a human. And most importantly; unexpected.

Aneurysms exist. They exist in perfectly healthy people. You can eat all the fucking seaweed and soybean shit and take all the smelly, oversized supplements in the world. You can hit the treadmill listening to Kelly Clarkson all you want. Your brain can literally ignore everything and choose to explode anyway. Your id, ego, superego, superduper ego, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious ego, everything. Every shred of your identity floating around in your squishy little dome could blow the fuck up this evening while you're reading some cynical loser's blog.

Did you just skip to the end, just to see what you might not get to read? Just in case? I do that sort of stuff. Clearly, this kind of phenomenon is something that lingers in my thoughts.

I hope I've got you thinking about how insurmountable the concept of a sudden termination is, because now I want move from talking about the "game over" screen, and talk about the "mission accomplished" screen.

Have you reached your destination yet? Where you are is never where you're going, right? I mean where you're going. The endgame. You either end at one or the other. Game over, or mission accomplished. Even after accomplishing your mission, you're still gonna get a game over, but even a game over screen is a mission accomplished screen once you've gotten it done. A lot of people define that victory message differently, and it's usually informative of the type of person you are.

Content, domestic life. A partner, a person you can share your soul with, love in every thread, trust with every fiber. A family, an offspring or two. Little bundles of joy and angst that look like smaller, more disappointing version of yourself and your partner. Wealth, a big fuckin' stupid house. White picket fence ("Caucasian picket fence" on legal documents), car that smells like a urinal cake, a TV bigger than your ego. Fame, success, power, popularity, people have different victory screens. However, everybody has the same goddamn game over screen, don't we?

A real victory, a real mission accomplished, can only be defined as comfort. You've done the right things, put the round pegs in the round holes, and the square pegs in the square ones, and everything clicks into place. You find real happiness, or at least the capability for it, and all the dumb little things that once upset you are suddenly impotent and dull. They can no longer hurt you. You no longer dwell on them. You're all good. Some kind of greater-scope ascension has occurred, and on an existential level, there's nothing to worry about.

Unbothered, unaffected, at peace. That's where you're headed at all times. That's the journey each and every festering, squirming maggot on this shit-rock floating in endless space has been on since conception. I remember in college psychology, learning about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Having to draw that cute little pyramid in class.

It starts at the literal resources you need access to in order to not physically die. Food, water, shelter, you know that shit. I say "physically" because there's other ways to die. Not attaining the other tiers in this hierarchy are forms of death. Death of the mind, the spirit, the soul. Failures far worse, far more deep than your pulse stopping. More permanent. Lasting into the beyond. The game over screen is nothing compared to losing the whole console.

You could be just like Michael Faherty from Galway, Ireland and sit down in your favorite chair with all your farts stored in the cushions and get your own personal surprise cremation, free of charge. It wouldn't matter one bit if you'd already seen your "mission accomplished" message. You could get consumed whole less than a mile from your house by some fat fucking bear that never had a mission to accomplish in the first place. You could have that aneurysm before finishing this inconsequential, fatalist article written by a nobody. And you'd die happy, even if you didn't know it, because you'd reached your destination, your heart's destination, the individual terminus of the soul, long ago.

Most regular, functional human thought processes will see these two realities - the inescapable truth of the final chapter being around the corner at all times, and the immeasurable end goal of self-fulfillment on a higher, transcendental plane - and come to the very logical and healthy conclusion that we must live our lives with everyday passion and pursue love and happiness with every action and choice. If your heart and soul and mind don't come to this revelation, you're the type of person I've been trying to reach in my art, all these years. I'm so glad to have finally found you.

Because in my life, in my reality, these thoughts trigger noise. Static, white noise. Louder than anything, any voices telling you otherwise, louder than the sun beating down upon us, rising and setting. Every day. And with each haunting hour, every rotten, sickening tick of the clock, the noise. Some days it's quieter than others. Some days it's overwhelming. But every goddamn time that fucking sun rises, every single time it sets, the noise accompanies. A reliable dance partner, a trusty sidekick with every minute.

Every sixty seconds, every hundred human lives perishing under the sun and moon, the noise with it. Making me a worse person. Making things worse around me. Around you, too. Even if you don't hear the noise, it's all around you. It makes you uglier in my eyes. I wish it wouldn't. This overstimulation stemming from some kind of internal disappointment, it's something in the way. Blocking the road to the victory screen. The fog is clear, the window is spotless, and with every inch of your heart we want to see that road. We just aren't prepared for it.

Nobody, on a conceptual level, is ready to die. We just don't think about it. You don't think about how not-ready-to-die you are, do you? How far off the victory screen could be. How close the game over screen could be. I'm sorry, my friend, to remind you of it.

I'm not ready to die. Neither was Michael Faherty, though.

Have you made your preparations to perish under a smiling sun?



bottom of page