“Say what?” I said to my jailers, ”What are you telling me? Are you trying to tell me that I just burst into history at a certain point, like after thousands of years had lolled on by, and empires fallen, and then I was added, like kind of shoehorned in, like somewhere in the twentieth century? But all that happened before me, happened without me. Without out me in the picture, even thought of? Though now that I am here I get to feel like I might, at least, be some perturbance, in that whole flatline reality? Is this what you are trying to tell me? That Napoleon, and Socrates, and every person born and died, all of that time just lickity-split or in rollicking succession, or slow as the wheels of hell grinding by, oozing out of the infinite, all of history went by while I was just non-existent?”
I got no answer, their backs were turned. So I went on. “Say it. Say you are you seriously trying to tell me the world existed without me for all that time. Until one fine day, like in 1946 I was added to the human race–though still I wasn’t there, really, because even this I have had to put together after the fact, and admit myself, usher myself unceremoniously, sheepishly, later still into the picture. As finally, consciously, absurdly, existing? Are you telling me everyone has this kind of difficulty? It’s been an unholy struggle, I’ll tell you, figuring out how to reasonably position myself in this life, in this funtime generation, just recognising this stretch-mobile as the one life I have, while in it, prancing and dancing. And now you want to tell me that all of history was just like this, that it is all molasses? That everybody has had to do their best figuring themselves into the human race, in whatever year and in whatever thunderstorm they came tripping along? In all of history which goes back earlier, and earlier. So many people rising up out of the slime, and filing back into the ground. Is this what you are telling me?”
Damn, I thought, as the sunlight came through the Venetian blinds, and my jailers dissipated, this is as frightening and impossible to imagine as the prospect of the same damn indifferent world going insensibly on after I die. Not to make this personal, but . . .