Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Assassination of Humpty Dumpty

“Why shouldn’t I draw a precise line between reality and imagination?” asked Humpty Dumpty. There was something very odd about that challenge coming from him, and I tried tactfully to suggest he might care to clarify what he meant by ‘reality’. Instantly, he snapped back, “Reality is what I experience, nothing more, nothing less.”

I turned away from my egg-shaped friend to reflect further on how we got ourselves into this conversation. It is that desire to capture some of those fleeting moments, to record it as distinctly … real. It wasn’t just a fantasy. It happened. Each and everyone of us feels the weight of this finitude closing in on us almost as soon as consciousness transported us to the commencement of our mortal journey. So we want to put a marker down. It’s a kind of a cry for acknowledgement. Please confirm, we are in effect entreating, that we have truly existed.

When I looked around at the lonely figure sitting on the wall outside my study, I felt perhaps he should get his recognition after all. Books, films, songs, cartoons have all featured him, yet his existence is still granted at a level somewhere below that of true reality. But that’s the point, this so-called separation line for these levels is itself unreal. I was attempting to explain that when the phone went.

It was some automated sales pitch about insurance or something, I put the receiver down in muted annoyance. Walking up to the window, I saw a man and a little boy cycling by at speed. I wish they would be careful. There are reckless drivers around these parts. Then it occurred to me. I wasn’t thinking about Humpty Dumpty, and therefore he was no more. He was not to be found anyway. Wiped off the face of reality.