It starts off with lots of activity, lots of excitement, lots and lots of heat and smoke, and then following this apparently auspicious beginning it cools off gradually, taking forever to do it. It does nothing and goes nowhere, and that’s it.
‘Hey, cool,’ you say, ‘that’s so cool! Wow! Who would ever have thought of such a thing? That’s pure genius.’ That’s called ‘the long entropic-cool off’ and it’s famous, so very famous. Excitingly famous. The long, long entropic cool off and when I say long I really do mean long. It lasts an age, it lasts several ages, in fact – there could be as many as a dozen of them stuck end to end. Some might say that it never does end and that it just tails off imperceptibly forever, which is another thing entirely. A whimper rather than a bang. The anti-climax to end all anti-climaxes…
There’s something distinctly unpleasant about a situation that doesn’t come to a proper end but simply dwindles and dwindles. You end up with nothing more than a bad smell, a musty kind of an odour lingering in a room. You can’t quite identify it but you know it’s not good. All you know is that it must have been something pretty rotten.
An auspicious beginning followed by the interminable cooling-off period, that’s what we’re talking about here. That’s what we’re dealing with in this case. Only this is a story about the cooling-off phase, not the incandescent phase, not the highly energetic super-exciting phase that everyone goes on about so incessantly. It would make you sick, wouldn’t it? It makes me sick, anyway. It infuriates me beyond measure. I just can’t explain my lack of enthusiasm to my friends and colleagues – they just think that I’m some kind of killjoy. People love to get excited by things, as the philosophers have told us; they’re not interested in looking at the bigger picture. They have no curiosity at all about things really – they simply couldn’t care less. People always want to celebrate the vanishingly brief excitation phase whilst at the same time totally ignoring the immense stretch of what follows on from that. Tell me you don’t find that strange?
There’s a special type of poetry that belongs to the jolly old deterioration phase. It’s a type of poetry that the average guy would find it hard to appreciate I daresay, but I myself am a student of it. I can appreciate it where many can’t. The garish cheap excitement of the reaction phase does it for most folk – that’s all they want, all they care about, as I have already pointed out, but it doesn’t do it for me. It does absolutely nothing for me apart from filling me with dismay and – quite frankly – trepidation. What does the future hold for the human race if this is our approach to things? If there ever was an undignified approach to the phenomenon of existence, this is it. This is most definitely it.
There’s a poetry in decay, all the same. There’s a depth to it, albeit the depth of sorrow, and sometimes there is what we might call ‘the depth of horror’ too. But at least there’s depth, right? There’s nothing as shallow as success, nothing as shallow as success. Dear me no! What were we thinking of? Nothing as shallow as, nothing as shallow as. My own words have become meaningless to me – they coast along on their own inexorable momentum. They have long since ceased to hold any meaning for me and yet I’m compelled to think them just the same. That’s called the Torture Machine.
I’m trapped in an elaborate charade that has now developed a life of its own. I am – in short – a prisoner of my own poor life choices. I made a life-decision a long, long time ago and now I’m trapped in it. I’m still as trapped in it now as I ever was. In a way, you could say that no time has passed since then. No real time has passed – I haven’t moved on at all, not even a little bit. I’m running on the spot. I made a decision to make a decision and now I can’t get out of it.