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Piero di Cosimo: The Misfortunes of Silenus (circa 1500)

"Hell emerges in the absence of Fictions."

The world was going to Hell that Sunday morning, so The Muse and I decided upon a round-about route, one which might offer us a few hours beyond cell range, beyond what passes for civilization over on the West side of the mountains. We wondered if we might so easily escape the thrall. It might have been that after going to all the trouble to take the route less taken, we'd find a caravan of weary flatlanders also following our plan to escape up and out of the heat and crowds, but we were lucky and the roads were lonely. A few odd stragglers quickly passed us, leaving us to move at our own pace, to find our own cadence.

While the world went to Hell, we ascended into a Heaven of sorts.
Of course, our Heaven was largely of our own imagination, one of our more useful Fictions. I am not cynical when I say that much of my reality amounts to one or another fiction, some story I made up and adopted to make better sense of some experience. I rarely check references and am rarely away from influences. I draw conclusions more quickly than I draw breath, and most hardly matter. I need no verification to know most of what I know for certain. I mostly deal in opinion.

Our society, such as it's become, floats upon a sea of Legal Fictions. The latest one, a real whopper of a notion, that fetuses are people, sparks lots of emotion, rarely helpful when seeking reason. If fetuses are people, then it only follows that abortion is always murder. That big IF tends to get lost in discussion. That IF represents a huge conditional. If and only if, it proposes, but then that if seems easily discounted, for that if seems easily demonstrated. Fetuses clearly fail to satisfy most of the criteria necessary to qualify as people, but legal fictions only need to satisfy a single condition to become unconditional. Remember that Corporations are considered people, another prominent legal fiction in our lives, people that can actually 'live' forever.

The granite cliff face upon which the road had been built seemed beyond belief. What must have driven the engineers to ever even attempt such a feat? Were there not easier ways across the mountains? Was this route in any way necessary? I suspect that it was not necessary, that it began as someone's fiction, one destined to become communicable before mutating into an imperative. A road along a cliff face, a Sunday drive through noplace, a small escape into Heaven, a satisfying fiction. It was as if we were masters of our fate.

We must be careful what we swallow, though it seems that somebody will gleefully agree to swallow anything. Understanding that we live by tenacious Fictions might provide enough provocation to turn anyone into a cynic. Does nothing matter? No, no, it all matters! It matters
more because it's made up of choices. Because it's made up Fictions, we're free to free ourselves from demeaning notions by merely adopting more useful Fictions. We must believe, it seems, while firmly holding onto our convictions rather lightly. We must hold some beliefs as both true and self evident, while knowing full well that we originally made them up as choices because we decided to live that way as if. Hell emerges in the absence of Fictions.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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