The Interrogation

ARE YOU comfortable? Yes? Where would you like to begin? Is beginning at the beginning acceptable to you – or would you prefer to begin at some other point?

[Silence.]

Shall we start, then?

[He clears his throat.]

Where do you buy your socks? Do you eat before going to bed? Do you like being asked questions – or do you prefer listening to statements (of fact, opinion, even statements of statements)? Do you believe in God? Or the gods? Are you in a relationship, single, abandoned, not interested in other people, not interested in yourself? Perhaps, then, you don’t regard individuality, therefore the self, therefore the person, therefore the character, therefore the unique member of the genus Homo and species sapiens, therefore the soul (to be saved or not to be saved), therefore the social atom, therefore the monad, in short, everything that has been claimed

for the solitary human being throughout history, from the Buddha and Christ, with all their suffering, down to me, today, and to you, you don’t regard any of this stuff as valid, precisely because you don’t regard yourself, Y, or me, X, sitting opposite each other enjoying a nice chat, as really existent, or for that matter any of the billions of other Xs and Ys that are, have been or will be, you don’t believe that they are unique beings in themselves, rather than temporary conglomerations of bits and pieces, namely, stuff that can take on any shape it likes (or none at all)?

[He pauses for breath.]

Do you stir your tea clockwise? Do you tap the spoon on the rim of the cup after the stirring? Once, twice, thrice? More than that? Does it in fact make any difference, one, to the taste of the tea, two, to your enjoyment of the taste of the tea, three, to the ultimate meaning (or non-meaning) of existence as a whole?

[Silence.]

Would you wear a green and pink diagonally striped tie to a funeral, rather than the traditional black? If so, would this be an attempt to draw attention to yourself and therefore away from ‘the star of the show’, so to speak, the whole congregation and the officiating priest turning towards you and your quite inappropriate pink and green tie, arranged in diagonal stripes, a kind of clown’s tie, fit only for the circus or a children’s party, and therefore turning away from the box with its resident corpse, the only reason, after all, for this gathering in the first place? And is there any possibility, if you were to wear a tie that is capable of garnering such a reaction, that you are the kind of person who is envious of a corpse, that is, of a dead person whose special day this is, envious because he or she is dead and you, yes you, are not? Envious – you! – of the peace that passeth all understanding?

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