Framed Inspired by Nighthawks at the Diner by Edward Hopper
Many people talk about characters or historic figures being “immortalised” in painting. How Jesus, the Mona Lisa and Henry VIII will live on for eternity, forever encased in their frames, watching their legacy with suspicion and contempt. This isn’t something that we can relate to, as human beings. We are, apparently, the centre of existence. We are here, purely, to be. The outer wall of our being cannot be broken, though we can create inner walls. Inner walls of creativity, such as a world created in writing, through music… or on a canvas.
Worlds devoid of life, but full of spirit; worlds without light, but also with colours; worlds which don’t exist, yet we can see as clear as the world as the world we live in (however clear that happens to be). The world, as it were. How foolish we are. And what a fool I was. I spent twenty years of my life in ignorance, in the existence created for me by unenlightened minds. A dark world full of death, destruction, war, famine, plague and disaster. A twisted world in which the smallest bacterium is equal to the largest whale.
An unconcerned world, unaware and uninterested in what lies beneath, beyond and above. But oh how I miss it. I wish for nothing more than to be back. Back where my home once was (and where it still is, I suppose), back where I belong… But now I am enslaved, captured in a flourish of creation; an idea brought to life by a great mind, by a heretic to the foolish laws of the artificial human mind and the lurking beast that is society: unpredictable and cruel. I have been here now for longer than I can remember. Or longer than I can possibly say.
I suppose there is no such thing as time. Only an illusion created in the “real” world to deal with the problem of all this matter that seems to change, this anti-matter that refuses to change, and this dark matter we don’t know whether it changes or not, or exists at all! We know nothing. Least of all about time. Well, people know nothing, and I was one of them, until my thoughts strayed a little too far beyond our cognitive boundaries. Now I know almost nothing, and now I am here. Here to stay, for all time.
Trapped in this collage of invented existence, living inside the mind of every being, and within the contours which surround us all. Life here is not what it seems. Is it even life at all? I can’t be too sure. But can anyone truly know what life is? I believe not, due to that problem of the unbreakable outer wall. So I accept this subtle composition for what it is: the world in which I exist. Though I long for my old life back, dreaming, wanting, needing… That simple life of oblivion I shared with so many. The colours of knowledge are a burden in a land of black and white.
No shades of grey exist here. No single dominance, no greater power; no democracy, no equality; no real right, no real wrong. Simply a free-form weave of dreams and thoughts, captured by the narrow perspective of a human being (however heretical they may be). So I joined the ranks of the eternal. This bar is the world. And just like the world I once inhabited, it has no entrance, no exit. That damn unbreakable wall again. But what would be the point, when there is no outside world to go out to? Just this darkened street, lit up teasingly by the intense hues of unreal streetlights.
They give little hints as to what is beyond, but I don’t believe them. Houses, streets… no. Just like home: ghosts, God etc. Again; no, not true, just our extra-existential streetlights trying to trick us. Well, at least I have company, ah yes, what would I do without them? The hook-nosed folks across from me, sitting statically, staring down at their pale, tinted hands. And the bartender, how he amuses me! Staring just beyond me, out of the window. Trying to see beyond this world? Around the unbreakable barrier? Perhaps. Many people have.
That’s what I like about this world (and all worlds with a degree of intellect): we always wonder what’s beyond, if anything! This makes humans, or any reasonable creature, different. The capacity to question metaphysically is a fascinating property. And what would life be without this curiosity? Without mystery? There is a universal misunderstanding which I wish to clear up: the questions are more important than the answers. There would be no answers without questions, and even unanswerable questions are extremely important. Those who know this, are the wise.
The rest, the foolish. Only the wise can create life through their infinite questioning, and this is how my companions here were created. Importantly I was not. This makes me unique. I am a foreign body wishing to go home. Alas, I don’t know how. But I do know that I am here to stay, forever, because of this burden of knowledge. Without this knowledge, would I be happy? I suppose I would. But cleverer, more enlightened? Of course not! One cannot be wise and contented at the same time. Knowledge is simply too much to bear. Happy people live in oblivion.
But that raises the question: what is better? Blissful ignorance or melancholic cognition? I sure know what I want, and it’s not what I wanted back then. I would’ve killed to know what I know now; but what wouldn’t I give to be foolish, to be unknowing, nai?? ve? But that’s the problem. You can’t go from enlightenment to stupidity. I suppose that’s why I’m stuck here. Encaged in an alternate existence, a reality I was never meant to be part of. A reality which I am forced to embrace as my own, to live in forever as a pawn in the hands of knowledge.