Honour and Love

“Mmmm, this is some good meat!” Jasmine remarked as she returned her fork to her plate ready to dig in again as soon as her mouth makes some space.

Her lover, Chris, was sat across the small, round table, his knees enveloping hers. “He was a good man,” he said with a nostalgic look in his eyes, staring at the two flesh-covered ribs lying just in front of him.

“So lovable,” she responded after swallowing a particularly chewy piece of the smoked meal. “I miss him already. I don’t know how I’ll manage to cope once he’s completely gone!”

“Well, let’s not worry about that now. We have good memories and tasty meat. Let’s make the most of him while he’s still with us.”

He grabbed one of the ribs and broke off a chunky piece. Wrapped in lettuce he dipped it into the small bowl of BBQ sauce situated halfway between him and her.

“You know,” he said after several minutes of silent eating, “a friend of mine told me today something really shocking. Apparently in the West they leave their dead to rot in the ground. Eww!”

“God forbid! That’s so depraved!” She pushed away her plate and looked angrily towards Chris. “Did you have to tell me this whilst I’m eating? I lost my appetite now, thank you very much!”

He regretted bringing it up. She was right; that is a fairly revolting thought. All day it had been bothering him and he hasn’t been able to take it off his mind. The picture of placing someone to disintegrate in mud would have disturbed him at any time. But it especially sickened him now, given his own recent loss.

Chris’s dad, David, had just passed away a couple of weeks earlier. He and Jasmine found it very difficult to deal with it, but they found solace in the honour that they could give to his body. They tenderly cleaned him and decorated him and lovingly stored him away. Of course they miss his smile, his positivity, his energy. But at least they would still see him daily – at least for the near future. They calculated that he’d last for at least 5 months if they were sparing.

Jasmine was visibly shook by what she had just heard. “That’s disgusting!” she kept on repeating. “Why would anyone do this to a human being, let alone a loved one?”

“I always knew that they were morally depraved in the West. If that’s how they treat their dead, they probably don’t treat their living ones much better.” He had lost his appetite too. But he wouldn’t leave any meat uneaten – not his dad’s meat.

He finished and put the remainder of her portion back in the freezer, next to where the head, arms, one leg and some remaining ribs of the corpse were stored.

They retired to their room for the night.

After exchanging some anecdotes of their respective days at work, they managed to distract themselves from the thoughts that had so disgusted them earlier. she put her arm around him and lovingly kissed him on the lips. With soft, tender strokes his fingers fondled her left nipple, lightly stimulating them as he goes back and forth, up and down, round and round.

“You know what,” he said, groping her breast as he talked. “I am so lucky that we do not live in the West.”

She opened her eyes, as if emerging from a pleasant nap. “What do you mean?”

“I wouldn’t be as lucky to have you if we lived there.”

“Why not?”

“They disapprove of romantic father-daughter relationships there.”


Destined to be Canine

Charlie was chasing his tail and was feeling pretty weird about it. He was chasing his tail because he is a dog. He was feeling weird about it because he is a clever dog. He was experiencing an existential crisis.

Charlie understands that dogs chase their tails. That’s why he keeps on doing it, being aware of his canine condition. But Charlie is not like other dogs who chase their tails in an attempt to reach it. Charlie knows that his tail is unreachable. He has even written a paper about the physics involved. But being a dog, he chases his tail anyway. And that is making him pretty uneasy.

For your lay-dog tail-chasing is actually a quite meaningful experience. Of course the sceptic mocks the effort, seeing it as futile. But the reward is proportional to the challenge. The more unobtainable the goal is, the more meaningful dogs all around the globe find its pursuit. It is too easy being a lazy critic from the outside. Anyone can try it for themselves to see how rewarding the endeavour is. Everyone, except for Charlie.

You see, Charlie is different. He understands all of this. He understands tail-chasing. He understands its evolutionary origins and benefits. He even understands the neurological and psychological processes featuring in the adventure. He can name the chemicals released in dogs’ brains when chasing their tails and how this results in a subjective experience referred to as “meaning”.

Charlie won’t stop chasing his tail – not so long as he is a dog. But his advanced understanding prevents him from extracting from it “meaning” to the same degree that his friends do. Whilst doghood is happy to carry on with its characteristic behaviour that it had been doing for eons, Charlie needs some rationalisation. So he came up with a philosophical argument. it goes something like this:

Tail-chasing is a characteristically dogly behaviour. Dogs, and only dogs, chase their tail. It is thus part of the essence of being a dog to also be a tail-chaser. In fact, ‘dog’ and ‘tail-chaser’ are interchangeable and semantically equivalent. To be a dog is to be a tail-chaser. However, this synonymity only holds if for every x that is a dog it is also the case that it is a tail-chaser. If you can find an x that is both a dog and a non-tail-chaser, then the two terms are no longer equivalent.

Now if Charlie were to stop chasing his tail, he would break the synonymity. Tail-chasing would therefore no longer be said to be part of the essence of dooghood. Charlie would therefore single-pawedly be responsible for the abolition of the essence of doghood. Conversely, by his continuing tail-chasing he is maintaining doghood in its true essence.

This was Charlie’s argument. It is a terrible argument, but it worked. That is, it helped him rationalise his actions. What was actually taking place – something that Charlie is bound to realise in due time – is that Charlie was chasing his tail. Why? Because he is a dog and dogs chase their tails.

The Haters

“You are hateful!” said the man accused of hate to the man accusing him of hate.

After a hasty unearthing of archaic tweets and a meticulous consultation with the IAODH (Internationally Accepted Official Definition of Hate), both men were swiftly removed from their positions and disgraced out of civil society.

“We operate on a zero-tolerance policy towards hate in this society,” said the Hatespeech Commissioner in charge of this case, “Words have consequences!”

She was later found to have expressed hate in the past and was removed from her position. There was no one left to replace her. The end.

The Deaf and the Mute

Adam B. had some strongly held beliefs. He held them so strongly that he was convinced that he arrived at them by entirely rational means. Not that he thought a lot about how he arrived at these beliefs. But with every fibre of his body he knew that they were true.

Adam has a rival, Becca C. He knew that she disagrees with him strongly because he sees her get angry when he expresses his beliefs. But her views are irrational. They must be, since his are right. Becca would disagree, but Adam feels the rightness of his ideas in his body. He doesn’t feel Becca’s disagreement.

Adam knows that Becca has passions too. And he knows that when Becca seems angry, that’s because she is feeling something on the inside. But all of this is what Adam knows. He doesn’t feel it. His beliefs, however, he feels – with a burning passion.

Adam doesn’t just know that Becca is wrong. He experiences it. He cannot negate his own experiences. If Becca could talk, she would tell Adam about the experiences of her own. But Adam is deaf and Becca is mute.

Adam is angry at Becca, for she denies his own experiences. He is also scared of her, as her denial is contagious. With her very existence she makes him question his experiences. If his experienced truth is unreliable, then what is? It’s a scary thought. Adam therefore avoids Becca. Even just being reminded of her throws him into existential dread.

Adam doesn’t disagree with Becca; he lives a different kind of existence. And his existence denies hers and hers his. They cannot coexist.

Becca is not wrong. She is evil.

The Cathedral

With breathtaking beauty the magnificent cathedral looks over the town from its center square, wowing passersby who would occasionally stop to marvel at the skilled craftsmanship that was evident from every inch of the structure.

As you stand at a slight distance and gaze across towards the cathedral, intricate architectural designs reveal themselves to your eyes in dazzling detail and precision. The saintly figures on the elongated stained glass windows stare at you from their position high above, reflecting off the sun’s rays as if radiating towards you love and warmth. The carefully crafted pillars, sky bound, culminate in majestic statues of mythical beasts. Fierce but simultaneously kind they stand there as if ready to protect the town’s people from whatever threat may be coming towards them.

Tradition has it that there is far more to the cathedral than what meets the eye. Apparently if you approach it and inspect it from close up a whole new dimension is revealed and it is not a pretty one. The people therefore avoid coming too close and instead choose to appreciate the structure from afar. The only ones who go up close are the team of architects constantly inspecting the finer details of the design and from the looks on their faces one can tell that they are not happy.

It is not very clear what they are doing there, as they have long been dismissed by the project manager, deeming their work complete. There have been numerous attempts to talk the architects out of their redundant labour, but communication with them has proven extremely difficult. It is no wonder that they all seem sad, as they are continually exposed to the ugly closeup dimension of the cathedral and never get to appreciate their wonderful creation.

It has not always been like this. The elderly amongst the town’s people still recall how not so long ago in place of the beautiful masterpiece stood the old cathedral, shabby and neglected. Its structure was so weak that people would be afraid to pass by it lest if collapses on them unexpectedly. At last the architects came and after decades of labour they transformed it into its irrecognizable new self that we see now.

Unfortunately, the building was so ragged that a complete repair at the very fine levels was impossible and under closeup inspection the remnants of imperfection could be seen. That in itself would not have been a problem, since as long as one does not come too close none of this can be seen. However, for the architects who have through their construction work become accustomed to looking at the building from really short distances, this has become a source of obsessive anguish. And it is not as if anything can be done about this either, as it is well known that beauty cannot be found under the magnifying glass.

And as I pass by the cathedral every morning and take a minute to appreciate its beauty, I see the architects touching its walls, deep frustration on their faces and I think to myself, if only they would back off a little and appreciate their own work the way that I do!

The Victim

It was a near miss. The flying knife was narrowly dodged and now the thrower was hurrying to get hold of it before his prey could. It was a strategic error. When you are dealing with an intelligent target you do not throw lethal objects in its direction lest it misses them and they use it to get back at you.

Fortunately enough the other man was too disorientated and confused and by the time he realised what was happening, the knife was safely in the thrower’s hands ready for the next aim.

The poor guy was evidently not very bright, as as soon as he got back the knife he made the same mistake again and launched it towards his prey. This time it was even more risky, as the man was expecting it and indeed, as the knife missed him again, he ran towards it ready to grab it.

‘You cannot trust people these days,’ I thought to myself, my heart filling with compassion for the naive guy. There was something really noble about his innocence, but innocence will get you nowhere and the man clearly needed help.

I knew that I was not very good at killing. I had never done it before. But this was not the time for these considerations; someone is in dire need and I was in a position to help him. The man’s eyes were swelled up with tears as I approached him. He was obviously in distress. That was not surprising given how hard he had been working for the kill, to no avail.

‘How selfish people are!’ I thought to myself, glancing at the man with the knife in his hand ready to fend off his attacker. I looked deep into his eyes and I could find there no compassion. The man was deeply self absorbed and nothing else seemed to matter to him, not even the plight of his pursuer. I could not understand how someone can be so heartless. ‘Does he not see how important his death is for the killer? Is he not aware of the pain he is putting him through?’

Filled with empathy I joined the pursuer and in no time the prey was overcome. And as the bloody corpse lay dead in front of our eyes, the knife plunged into its heart, a wide smile formed on the man’s face and that is when I knew that today I did a good thing.

The Flirt

Joseph needs bread and milk. In fact he has been in need of them for a long time, but he has not found the courage to try and get some. He did also not have a good enough excuse and in his imagination everyone who saw him at the grocery would know exactly what he is there for.

Deep inside he knew that it was perfectly normal to want some bread and milk and it is even more normal to go to the grocer’s. Nobody really has to know why he is there. And yet the thought of actually going out to get what he needs was frightening. He was definitely aware of what he is after and he was even slightly ashamed of himself.

But today he could not wait anymore. He took out his sportswear, hid some banknotes in his socks and jogged down the road to the grocer’s. The shop was full of people jogging around the aisles, most of them trying to avoid looking directly at the products, although some could be seen giving a stolen glance here and there when they thought that no one was looking.

He ran over to the fruit section and continued jogging around the aisles. Every now and then he moved slightly towards where he knew that the bread and milk were. He did it very gradually, so that nobody should suspect that he is actually here to shop. That would be so embarrassing!

By midday he managed to reach in his jogging path to within a couple of feet from the bread. ‘I’m getting somewhere,’ he thought to himself. That was when he bumped into Norman, an old friend of his. At first he pretended to not have noticed him, but then their eyes met and it was too late. “Hey mate!” he shouted out with a nervous smile on his face. “Working out like myself?” Norman sped up his feet and shouted out, “Of course!” disappearing into another section of the grocery.

A couple of hours later Joseph was casually walking around with bread and milk in his hands occasionally passing by the girl at the counter. Ordinarily it would be difficult to tell that she was a cashier, especially given that she was positioned in such a way that she could have easily have been a jogger during a short break, but Joseph had once been told that these girls were really there for sales. Apparently that is what they are actually waiting for. It was hard for him to actually visualize it, but logically it kind of made sense to him.

The girl’s name was Katherine – that is what was written on her store badge – and nervously Joseph approached her.

“Hi, my name is Joseph,” he started, avoiding eye contact. “I found these around; would you by any chance know how much they are?” He anxiously coughed and added quickly, “Just for the sake of curiosity of course. Lol, I don’t actually need to know,” he finished off with a wink and fake smile.

“Lol indeed,” the girl replied. “How would I know. It’s not as if I work here or anything.”

“Obvs,” Joseph replied, hoping that his disappointment does not come through. Katherine was standing opposite him with a careless expression on her face and Joseph wondered what was going through her head.

“Oh, actually,“ the girl suddenly started saying, “my friend used to work here and I think that she once told me the price. It’s £2.50 for the bread and a pound for the milk. Lol, so funny that I remember that.”

“Funny indeed,” Joseph replied dryly, his inside turning over with happiness. ‘She’s interested!’

He was standing there and calculating his next move when suddenly he hears Katherine’s voice:

“Would you like to buy them?” she lent over and whispered in his ear.

“What?!” ‘She wants to sell me the products!’ ‘Say yes, Joseph! Don’t be stupid,’ his rational voice told him. But he had never done it before. That was much too straightforward.

“No!”, he quickly shouted out, “Why would you even think that?” He dropped the products and said, “I need to return to my jog,” and ran off towards the door narrowly avoiding bashing into an exhausted jogger.

He arrived home empty-handed and knew that he missed yet another opportunity. ‘I’ll try again tomorrow,’ he promised himself, ‘next time I will not be ashamed to say how I feel.’

Tomorrow never came, as Katherine had already sold the products. When a while later he spotted Norman with the bread and milk he knew that he had only himself to blame.