The funny thing is, it wasn’t the Ancients who started all of this. When you pour over the scrolls, the digital books, the leather-bound tomes, it’s always the Ancients. Culture projecting its darkest homunculi, the tiny idols in the cave that lie in the center of the mind, projecting them back towards some antiquarian nomads or some such thing. And they’re always dead these Ancients, long gone! Silence forbid that people ever have the chance to run into them again, meet these tiny wicker dolls of distilled selves in flesh and blood. But in the end, when the end did come, it wasn’t the Ancients at all. Those self-same icons, those idols of flame and shadow, their fragile hands were those that set the first gear in motion. Themselves that is, you understand. They ended it all.
You’ll forgive me if I can’t re-tell the specifics, song-clothed visitor. I was just a man, I had no real expertise in anything. The winds simply started blowing one day. Through the alleys of the great cities, and there were those a-plenty, the winds came. They didn’t howl, or whisper or cajole. They were simply there, so cold and so all-encompassing. The closer you drew yourself to your center, huddling around some imagined ball of light and warmth in your stomach, the colder it grew. Walking the streets became a nuisance. But, what good this talk of the past? Those self-same scrolls and digital books and leather-bound tomes always speak of the past as if it’s discreet, breakable into these little steps that then unfold to make a whole road, stretching from here-now to the impossibly huge there-then. The truth is, the next thing I remember is the wasteland.
Yes, the hand gesture! The outstretching of my left hand to survey before us what remains of this land. Such a regal gesture, as if I own anything but my grief, well becomes the irony of this happenstance. The winds never killed. The Ancients, you see they are my Ancients, the here-now’s Ancients, were too cruel for that. The winds blew cold on more than one level. Ah, you begin to see! I can tell from the change in pitch in your garment, song-clothed! Yes, those hulks of metal on the horizon, which you perhaps mistook for arch-like rock formations, now begin to make sense to you. The winds simply started and never stopped. The first to fall took a long time, but once they had, things quickly deteriorated. With the first chink in the human-flesh armor of society, the winds had found their opening. Quickly, grasped in the throes of gusts unseen, people began to stop where they stood and shiver. There was no escape either; the winds don’t blow everywhere but they criss-cross this land like a navigator’s charts criss-cross solar systems with invisible lines that are meant to guide him home. Him and his ship.
There are no more ships. At least I wasn’t in a ship. I wasn’t near one you see and the drive to act was quickly becoming a rare commodity in this place. I can see from your face and the funereal tone of your garments that you have now fully entered into comprehension. Yes, visitor, they dropped like flies from the sky, head on controls, arms on dashboards, eyes on floors. They dropped like amber from a prickled tree to smash on the ground and leave their viscous matter on the earth. This planet has been watered well and still, the winds blow. Near the end, which hasn’t really come since I am not the solitary denizen of this planet, I took to the hills. The winds blow here often but that doesn’t bother me anymore. If I’m honest, the little idol of shadow and flame that lives in my mind as well, has grown used to them. And so, when they come, I relish them. I bathe in them and feel their raspy breath on my cheek. The fire and shadow mix with the wind, buoyed by the air and I lose myself and find myself. Tear down the edifice and construct a mighty totem. A totem built from the discarded revenants of the there-then.
Yes, I see the question forming on your brow and in your song and I will answer it. Although it is not the important question. I don’t seek out the other denizens of this planet because there is no reason to. All I need I have with me, a fireplace in my thoughts, fuel for the burning when I need heat and the winds when I need cold. You’ll notice I haven’t said “we” or “our” or “us” once. I have no more need of “we” or “our” or “us”, although I faintly remember the concepts. But, as I said, song-clothed visitor, that’s not the important question. Ah, the rictus of disgust! Yes, disgust indeed song-clothed fugitive, I understand you’re smart and see the words before I shape them! But you will listen. Do not worry, my winds reach your ship and inside it and past your song-shields and into your mind. Flee this planet’s gravity well and then the sun and far away but my words will still reach you, borne on these gusts unseen. The important question is: why did I come to the hill? When will had faded, what dragged me to this vantage, where I sit as the scout of all creation, the look-out for the only fortress that remains, the fortress of ego? Song-clothed pilot! Take this back to your choir-leaders, to your conductors and word-speakers. They ponder at the nature of humanity and so I shall present it to them on a rust-colored platter:
I sought a vantage point because that is what I am. I am a vantage point. The gusts unseen blow hard and I stand in their stream and survey. I survey the breakdown. When all was stripped away and the idols were left to themselves, that’s what I became. That’s what we (hah! point to you) became: vantage points to the breakdown.