Awful as it was to have your whole contribution toward the history of thought reduced to one word, the philosopher was right about the flashes--white sheets of rushed nausea, giving way to less intense but nagging uglinesses of the bowels filtered through snapshots of the idiotic misdeeds of humans. Stupid, malign, craven, sickening, slant-headed, shitheeled, moronic, meanspirited, fuckheaded, etc, etc. More adjectives existed, to be sure.

He would go berserk over poorly skilled or totally clueless or pissed off drivers by screaming, even more pissed off: "Another brilliant move by great thinking minds of the western world!" with the subsequent exchange of vigorous hand signals and spittle on the windshield that left fossil tracks months later. These instances were temporary, yes, but had been known to invoke season-length bad moods.

Of late there were signs of one of those coming on. And now he had an instance. A source. His sister called one night saying "You'll never believe what I just heard on the radio, Martin." She used his name a lot. "There was this song, and I swear I heard the guy saying , 'I want to fuck you like an animal.' On radio! Where anybody can listen, Martin." As if he were personally accountable. This from a renowned bitch who put down some pretty ugly moves on the dance floor, with strangers, while the same or worse blasted from loudspeakers.

Hmm. Here was something to check. The song, that is. (This was around 1995.) He wished he'd thought of it himself--the title. The Downward Spiral. The cruelty of humans knowing no bounds made weary and unprofitable all notions of placing one foot after another, over and over, ad nauseam--there you go again. The mystery was the waking up.

The irony and caustics by which he handled everything, however, increasingly felt like shit running down his pants. In the course of human interaction, why when a kind step may be taken, does an ungodly percentage of steps taken fall toward the unprofitable infliction of pain upon innocents? Then again, when those ungodly steps are actually profitable to the inflictor, which state is more morally reprehensible given the same infliction of pain and degradation?

And this too: philosophy no consolation to the toddler whose mamma let him eat dirty condoms because she didn't want to be alone in the house with HIV. Things happen, these things happen, and here's more: worse happens than you can imagine, can dream of. Some of it turns up in the newspaper, and the worst of it never gets told.

Always something worse elsewhere, the nervous system knows, and yet still does not know. There is a pain greater than yours: this makes you either more human or less human, more saintly or more diabolic. The Devil is stupidity. Or cruelty. And inadvertent cruelty--a pretty large category, as it goes--where does it scale?

This kept him from having children, himself. Though a mother type would have to be in the picture, and she was most assuredly not. Thus, not having a child allowed him to go on, made him able to bear the cruelty. But, the existence of a child (an accident by definition) would, further, in order to not compound the child's pain, command him to remain on the scene of the crime. The immense crime entailed by existence. Daddy's own little contribution to the collective misery of humankind. No wonder deep down he was scared to fuck.