THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
The purpose of life is quite plain to see. It is the endeavor – perhaps the only one – in which we all invariably engage. And the plural first-person pronoun ‘we’ here is not limited to just we humans. It applies to all life.
Wait, hold up, stop, stop, stop. We’ve just encountered our first hurdle. What on Mars does it mean to be alive!? I know I’m alive, I know the marijuana plant pieces in your glove box were once alive, and I know the virus that has burrowed into my foot-skin and erupted as a doppelganger cauliflower is alive. (Okay, okay, okay, I know viruses are perhaps too simple to be considered ‘alive,’ but give it to me on credit here, for the sake of the continued existence of the compound noun ‘doppelganger cauliflower.’)
On the other flipper, I know the metal pan into which I just hungover-dly dumped a can of cream of mushroom soup replete with a surprise stranger’s single pubic hair is not alive, the old afghan blanket wrapped around me that gives me childish and sentimental comfort is not alive, and my grandfather is not alive. The last bit there is especially confounding. Right after grandpa switched from alive to not alive, he looked very much the same as he did prior to the switch – the same as all of us living mouth breathers still up and about and hanging our ass-cracks out of our loungewear as we publicly shop for useless subsistence-wage-manufactured bullshit in giant retail warehouses, while other people outside remain cold, hungry, and sick.
What’s that little hair in there?
So why is the be-pubed metal pan not alive, while the foot cauliflower is? Well, the omniscient internet god has cursorily informed me that biologists have come up with a few characteristics to differentiate dead pubic pans from blooming Brassica Oleracea parasites. To wit:
1. Growing. If you grow from small to big, like the mosaic wart that I just passed to you in the wet gym shower, you might very well be alive. Put a new mark on the door frame.
2. Cellular Composition. You are made of cells, the most basic plastic square in the Lego starship of life. But wait a minute. Wait just one minute here. I’m not a biologist or anything – my advanced studies were in the form of the abstract and economically-worthless thought-castles known as ‘the humanities’ – but I do believe I recognize a logical tautology when I see one. ‘You are alive if you are alive.’ Well, very good then.
3. Anabolism. Sounds like a gonzo porn studio. Means you transform shit outside of yourself – maybe the box of Twinkies and Bisphenol-A-riddled Mountain Dew you just bought off a metal rack at Wal*Mart – into cells (the tautological font of life, see #2, above). Your consumptive mouth is the entry point to a mystical engine that transforms non-life into life. And you thought you didn’t have any special talents! Fuh. This one pretty much makes you a god.
4. Stimulus-Response. You get poked, you say ‘ow.’ Or ‘uhhh, yes!’ Depending on the poking.
5. Reproduction. After a certain kind of poking, the genital slimes combine, and in something akin to the most horrific of Cronenberg scenes, slowly transform into a humanoid-golem-thing. That eventually ambulates around the retail warehouses to buy terrible bullshit to put it in its godly mouth to create further life in a prolonged and cyclical living horrorshow.
You got it kiddos? That’s life. The living thing is the thing that gets bigger, consumes shit, responds with shallow, stupid satisfaction to the stimulus of insultingly moronic pablum, and creates half-copies of itself if it can cajole, force, or drug another sufficiently similar living thing to engage in coitus with it. Sometimes, two living things not sufficiently compatible to baby-make end up genitally probing one another – but fair warning, this can be fatally dangerous. It is best to keep your insides on the inside, folks: only fuck things that more-or-less look pretty much like you.
So consuming, shitting, and making more dull-normal children isn’t a bad start to understanding the purpose of life. But these are mere descriptors of what life is; they only describe how we distinguish the non-living bullets from the living human bodies we assiduously shoot them through. But do they really serve as bona fide purposes? Let’s see . . . .
Could baby-making be life’s purpose? Well, if you remember, we’re looking for the thing we all invariably engage in. Now, by your social network feeds you must know this is not the case with baby-making. You have either made a baby, and therefore are incessantly flooding the bandwidth with digital ones and zeros representing your alarmingly average child because everyone needs to see him or her at all times always, and they surely could not find it at all obnoxious, or you have not made a baby, and therefore are drinking yourself to ruin, wondering what the point of life is, and writing bizarre internet articles that no one will read, but which will make for good professional psychologist talking head fodder after you become infamous for doing something horrific. Point is, kiddos, not everyone makes babies, or wants to, or even wants to engage in the act that can lead to making babies. So cross it off: this isn’t the purpose of life.
Let us not even chance making babies – by refraining from the baby making act altogether, William.
How about good old-fashioned stimulus, then, likely in the form of physical pleasure or agreeable sensation – could that be the name of the game? Let’s just ask this guy, who is better at life than you and your next thousand descendants combined will ever be:
Okay, okay, we’re running short on big ideas here. How about consumption – eating shit, buying shit, owning shit, having shit, using shit, breaking shit, McMansions, strip malls, posting pictures of your heinous possessions on social networks, useless plastic folderol, toxic children’s toys, millions of vehicles constantly spewing toxic gases from their six-foot large-diameter-ed metal cancer blow holes, the saline bags in your chest, your adultery-abetting smart phone, and all the other fuck-all?
To begin: if consumption turns out to be the purpose of life, I will personally accept that turn of events as irrefutable proof that the multiverse exists, and we are all living in a variant governed by none other than the Anti-God itself.
But I don’t believe that’s the case. We Americans – five percent (5%) of the world’s human population – consume twenty-five percent (25%) of the world’s resources and create a full half of humanity’s solid waste. Despite this yawning material privilege and entitlement, we for some reason save our most ravenous consumption for scores of anti-depressant pharmaceuticals, which we pop into our ignorance spouts with “astounding” zeal. This, even though the pills facilitate our breast cancers and kill us. Well, I suppose there’s nothing more American then selling deadly products to the interminably stupid populous for a tidy profit, so let’s give ‘em a pass. Pop the pill and feel better, folks – it’s not the American way to address root causes. Dump your piss bucket on the top-of-the-flame symptoms, and be done with it. There’s prime-time television to watch.
So mass consumption is a strong correlate of mass anti-depressant use, and Americans’ materialistic narcissism prevents other humans from consuming their equitable share of the planetary bounty, and those other humans become the losers of the zero sum resources game. Yet the fifty-three Chinese people who together only get to consume as much as the one, single, solitary You continue to live anyhow. So we’re still missing the bull’s-eye on the purpose of life. The thing we – the big, big we – we growing, consumptive, reproductive things – we living things – all invariably do.
But . . . wait . . . thinking about the pills . . . the pills that numb the inexorable depression of simply being alive . . . and that cause the cancers . . . that kill you . . . . Kill . . . you. Kill you. Kill. Death. Death.
By Jove, I think we’ve found it.
The purpose of life, folks, is to die. It is the vital negative, the yin to life’s yang. The Bert to life’s Ernie. It is an inevitable coda, one towards which all life, from big human you to the smallest and cutest foot cauliflower, careens daily. Surprise! A pube in the soup. In one of many of life’s circular arrangements, you will eventually become the stuff of anabolism – your basic chemical and energetic constituents will become the consumable crap that some other living thing uses through its godly mouth to make more of its own cells and grow, until it too dies, and on and on and on. Just as the crap you’re putting in your mouth now was once alive. Life begets life, life begets death, and death begets life. In a very physical, material way. Involving mouths and anuses.
We’re both going to die, Bert.
The social-network-post-happy baby makers, in their reproductive endeavor, have consigned their own children to certain death. But without the death sentence, the live children could never have existed in the first place. So basically, you’re fucked. Not to worry too much, though: the digital ones and zeroes approximating your child’s visage will last a very long time – much longer than his or her lungs will draw breath – on some for-profit corporation’s redundant servers. But remember, they own a transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free license to the copyright.
This endpoint is so weighty and imminent that a great many people skip the masturbatory stanzas of living altogether. They might choose, for example, to let a non-living piece of metal occupy the same space as their organic brain for a very brief moment of time. Then they are either just as non-alive as the bit of metal, or through accidental failure (and why not? – they weren’t very good at life to begin with!), they become what we call a ‘vegetable.’ A metaphor to another living thing, because they are still alive. As opposed, to say, ‘dead as a door-nail,’ a metaphor to a non-living thing, reserved for the non-living. And coincidentally, also something you can neither consume to grow more of yourself, nor something you can fuck to make a brand new half-you out of genital slime.
So the very purpose of life is to die, to make more stuff for other life to consume, to eventually die, to make again – circles, circles, circles. Got it? But we’ve got these big, self-aware organic brains that let us perceive and sense our infinitesimally abbreviated circle-arcs. It would be easier if we were on unconscious autopilot, and the life-death-consume-life-death machine just went about its machinations in quiet, repetitive peace. But it doesn’t. The light shines brightly upon the merry-go-round. And you can see everything. While you are waiting for the life machine to chew you up and spit you out – the very purpose of the life machine, after all – what the hell are you going to do with yourself?
You can really choose anything, anything at all. Except ‘not dying,’ of course. Because that is your purpose. Okay kiddos. Act now, or forever hold your peace.