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In the operating theatre, a screen hangs above me, dividing two worlds. Two different realities.

On the farther side of the screen are my feet, legs, groin and stomach. There is the Kingdom of Science. It is a place of crystal sharpness, of calm unflappable precision where one action triggers a chain of different but equally precise actions. A place ruled by surgeons and technicians whose white coats lend them an angelic air. Where procedures are performed in almost total silence because each of the actors knows what the other will be doing next, leaving no reason for verbal communication. Commitment to the rightness of their occupation is tangible and belief in their abilities, unshakeable.

On this side of the screen is a world containing my head, chest and arms.

Here is a province manifested by Tellurian Devices created in an alchemist’s phial. One part, a magnesium flash ignited by a conspiracy whispered up the sleeve of a crimson cloak. The other part a virus created by Lusus Naturae, a trick of nature, sparked into life by inhalation of maiden breath siphoned from the lips of a thousand spermatic fantasies. A place where the mechanics of every-day living are barely recognised because there is no anatomical connection between the corporeal body and Fate. A place where the privilege of being born human is celebrated in ceremonies of casual disposal or transplantation. A place where the death of one creature could save the life of another.

On this side are the headlines punctuating my existence stretching back decades into the last century. To the time when God, with the help of Bill Haley and his Comets, gave Rock and Roll to us with one benevolent hand and, with the other, gifted us mind-bending drugs, Ann Summers, implements of mass murder, free sex and soul deforming celebrity. He also gave us a flag on the moon, but only as a measure of humanity’s insignificance. These endeavours and more have coloured the palette of imagination for the entire span of my existence up to and including the day my heart attempted to murder me.

On this side too resides every manifestation of the human condition mixed in a chaotic soup of care and ignorance, thoughtfulness and thoughtlessness, self-obsession and selflessness, conflict and empathy, humility and infliction, contrariness and understanding. A landscape of calamity through which the living walk.

This is the side where Real Life exists.

As for the consequences of Real Life, take a look at the bullet points of our era; contemplate them and despair:

  • Prejudgement
  • Intolerance
  • Species self-hatred
  • Wilful inequality
  • Continuous conflict
  • Complicit genocide
  • Man hating
  • Woman hating
  • People hating
  • Drudgery
  • The only species ever to preside over its own extinction.

I could go on, but I am about to have surgery on my heart. Something I didn’t ask for, I don’t deserve, and which has put almost everything I have come to rely on into awful perspective.

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© Rivenrod 2020

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