Monday, January 7, 2013

Asylum Walk (8)

The house party on Earth.

(1 hour = 100 million years.)

The doors were opened at dawn, nearly two days ago.

For the first few hours, the house stood empty; as far as we can tell, no guests arrived.

By noon there were definite arrivals, but traces of these, owing to later great disturbances, are faint and ambiguous.

Starting mid-afternoon, however, increasing numbers began dropping in. Over the first night and all through the next day, the house teemed with visitors, multitudes of them, coming and going at unpredictable intervals. For all their wild profusion, they nevertheless shared certain qualities of modesty and simplicity which kept the gathering, especially when compared with later developments, reasonably sedate.

Everything changed, as it always does, with the advent of sex. This began with the Eukaryotes around dinnertime on the second day. Couples peeled off to bedrooms, or copulated where they stood or lay. Wild feeding continued. Post-coital lovers consumed others in flagrante, then were themselves devoured.

Evidence of the long reign of the Trilobites can be found throughout the house, embedded in the dried slime and mud in which they scavenged and bred.

About the extremes of raucous violence achieved during the party’s second night, enough has already been written. Every party reaches an apogee of wildness sometime long after it has begun and not too close to its end, when exuberance has overcome all initial resistance but is not yet tempered by exhaustion or other by-products of its own excess. It should be remembered that even the rampage of the Dinosaurs, which began sometime after midnight, was completely extinguished and the offenders evicted, before 3 a.m. (Thank God our paths never crossed!)

That was less than an hour ago.

We have just stepped through the door.

The party is still raging. Screen doors banging, guests arriving and departing, usually without notice. In most ways the house bears little or no resemblance to the structure of 46 hours ago. Still, there are surprising instances of persistence: guests may be encountered who, though they arrived many hours or even a day ago, and have participated unstintingly throughout, seem totally unchanged.

As always, when a party has gone on a long time and the hour is late, there are discussions about whether the event is sputtering out or merely gathering itself for a second wind. Evidence points both ways.

A second dawn is still two hours away.

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