The road winding around the hill was narrow, easy to fall off of, and in fact the guard rail was broken in places—probably a car had driven to the edge or perhaps even gone over the edge and plunged five hundred feet to the bottom. Here was the question: why not stand still, sit still on the cushioned chair? Why fly to Mars? Why sail to America? Why drive up the mountain?
You know. Because it’s there.
You’re mocking me.
I apologize. I just meant I’d rather make love than philosophy.
If I had to choose, I would too. We’re programmed for survival. Gaia’s philosophy is procreation.
Gaia doesn’t have a philosophy. Gaia doesn’t have a consciousness. Gaia doesn’t care. She’s like Kali the Terrible. Only we have a consciousness.
Other species do too. You know that Gracie misses us when she’s kenneled.
Yes, many animals have consciousness, yes.
And do they aspire to write epic poems, explore Antarctica, design better vacuum cleaners?
Yes–to find better food, better shelter, better mates.
So when we drive faster, drive harder, drive higher, we’re expressing a species urge? It’s not the aroma of the stars? Not the magnet of true north?
The Magnetic Pole changes. Stars don’t have an aroma. It’s just what we want, we poor, poor creatures, deluded, loaded, burdened with imagination.
When you look at this photograph of the road with the broken guard rail, do you see the family that drove off the hill, their mangled bodies in the rubble?
Now that you have called that up, yes.
But maybe it’s just a rusted guard rail waiting for repair.
I prefer that.
I wanted to erase all memory of that accident. Instead, I’ve spread that memory. They were our neighbors when I was little. Notice the old Woolworth’s sign. That store is gone too now. Going, going, gone.
Let’s go go go till we’re gone. Let’s go fast, let’s go far.
And when I die, will you remember me?
How can you ask that? Besides, men die first in eighty-six per cent of couples. You can be comforted.
The good thing is you will die first. The bad news is I will live four or five more years. Joy joy joy.
Okay. Tell me about your neighbors
I hardly knew them. We hardly knew them. But they are, were, a part of our species.
Such an odd thing to say—“species.” Is that always on your mind—our species?
Almost never. But it flitted through my mind that time, it clung to the tunnels, echoed through the caves and sewers.
Let’s walk out. We are comrades trudging up the hill. Give me your hand.
It’s the tallest hill in the city.
Give me your hand.