A father is a necessary evil, though it’s damn hard to feel necessity for something that might easily be nothing. How would I know anything? Coming into this mess: I’m a baby. I have no need of memory. What do I want with a memory until I have some shot at using it for my own interests? I sure as hell knew who Momma was, but him? Was he even there? And me? I’m a newborn. I’m busy proceeding energetically from the unknown to the known through the incertitude of the void. I’m dealing with the painful character of the ultimate functions of separate existence. Take any other baby born on the day of my birth, take them all: he could have been all their daddies. I can see why the immaculate conception sold so well. I’ll buy one of those and I’ll take a little apostolic succession on the side. But these recurrent frustrations, just when I can see a critical turning point just there, just there, then down we tumble faster than 32 feet per second per second. It’s a battle against hopelessness carrying on like this. He’s my only begetter; I am his only begotten, but disarmed of fatherhood what is he? Who is he to me? All babies have fathers. Some fathers are not fathers. Therefore, some babies have not fathers. Take the imposition of natural law out of the picture and what, does that make life infinitely perfectible? Upward to some great goal. Suppose I am a father. Am I a father? If I were? A father is an unnecessary evil.
My father had a mirror, it was the most astonishing thing this mirror. My father had a mirror he kept behind a picture of my mother. The picture made no sense because it was blurry and ordinary. Her mouth was open. She could never shut up long enough to smile for a picture. Anyway. it’s the kind of picture you’d delete or not develop or whatever it was they did. Develop and leave in the envelope with the negatives. Anyway, he had it in a thick frame but if you turned it over and pushed the little metal clips to one side and pop the back off, there was a little mirror in there. I didn’t get it. What’s a mirror doing in there? He saw me see him messing with that picture and I knew something was up with it. I figured something was in there. But I was hoping for money or a note or something. Treasure map. A woman’s phone number. Something. Made no sense.
Once when was sitting behind a chair, hiding and pretending to write in my notebook, he either forgot I was there or didn’t notice, and I saw him do it. I saw him close up. He was smoking that pipe of his and then he did it so fast. Picked up the picture of my mother and popped the back off of it. He pulled out something that fit in his hand I didn’t see. And then and then he breathed smoke into his hand. He exhaled into his hand. And for an instant (fiat!) light filled the room. Then that feeling, the vibe of it. I’ll never forget it. I’ll remember it forever. It was like passing from life into eternity. I can’t explain it. But there behind my chair I knew within me the precise age of my soul so immense, but also I knew my soul to be something shriveled, something that dwindled to a tiny speck within the mist. It was horrible. Before all that murky bright could clear away, I got the hell out of there. I was young, and I was utterly blown away.
So I tried it myself. I said I was young. By myself. I got the pipe and my mother’s picture and I looked her straight in the mouth. And then I lit up. I took a lots of short fast puffs and held it in too long while I twisted the metal clips to the side. Then, out it popped: a little mirror. I didn’t pause. Ok, yes I did pause. I coughed up a lung. But I wasn’t scared of anything apart from being caught. So I stared myself in the mouth, and I took another hit. Held it in, not so long this time. Then I exhaled right into my mouth exhaling. Hold. Back. I’m tripping balls. Entwined in the nethermost brightness I was looking at mirrors within mirrors within mirrors and in one of them it was raining and I was with a girl in the rain pinned up to a wall. And in another mirror I was holding a baby and the baby was still. Still and cooling. In another I was typing. I was at a desk typing. And there was my father holding a mirror looking at me, watching the letters appear as I typed them. Under his nose as I type them. He isn’t looking at me; he’s watching the screen. He’s witnessing the letters appear one after the other, left to right and together he and I have a feeling. We have together an obscure feeling that some good has happened to us.
Gentlemen, today it is my great pleasure to announce we have arrived at the future of science. [Short pause]. It is my great privilege to tell you fine men that today and forevermore, we have no future need of women. [Lengthy pause for applause]. Using in vitro fertilization techniques, we can induce an ectopic pregnancy by implanting an embryo and placenta harvested from any old trollop [speak these words quickly, don’t give the audience time] into the abdominal cavity, just under the peritoneum, after the subject has been prepped with sufficient oral doses of female hormones derived from cattle, to make him receptive to pregnancy. There is risk of massive hemorrhage, but no more risk than any female breeder runs during pregnancy brought on via now obsolescent techniques. Once implantation completes, the father-to-be may stop taking hormones as the embryo will secrete sufficient hormones to maintain his own development. The pregnant man will experience an incipient ventripotence as the little stranger grows, but many of us have become accustomed to certain sub-diaphragmatic expansions as we age [pause for laughter]. The delivery will require open surgery to remove the baby and his placenta. Because the placenta has been freed from having to grow in a womb, it will have made intimate vascular connections with surrounding organs, so expect massive hemorrhage. Because implantation will have involved any number of abdominal structures, [speak quickly] parts of the bowel and certainly significant parts of more than a few other organs will need to be removed. But think of the joy the new father will experience holding his newborn son! [Smile warmly] He’ll not have a care in the slightest at what parts of his internal structure will be removed as he has just added significantly to his family and to his heart! He will have just begun that most important of all relationships between a father and his son. Oh how your son will love you! And just think, dad-to-be, as you proudly attend your son’s future graduation, what will the little details of his birth matter? [Pause for applause. Smile warmly, make eye contact]. Now, let’s talk financial particulars.
A father is a necessary evil. Listen to me, I know. Who’s your daddy? Do you really know? You have a woman’s word for it. Ok yes, she is your mother and amor matris from whichever direction you approach it may be the only true thing in life. So why then, come on tell me, do the Roman Catholics and their spin offs base everything upon fatherhood’s rock hardness, when we are all born from the eye of the whirlpool? Why? Listen to me, I see you. Straying in your thoughts. Get back here. Come back to my theolologicophilological (I ought to be stopped) theory. Now. Where were we. Father religion. This god is all their daddies. Yes. I’m fine. The church like the world (both micro and macro cosmos) is founded upon the void, the uncertainty of which (even the unlikelihood of which) fatherhood represents. Or perhaps it happens the other way around. Yes. Pay attention. The fear of daddy we feel as children while simultaneously feeling secure in his protection from danger we ascribe by apostolic succession to God the father. Yes. Feel it. Furthermore, heretofore, once again, hereafter (are you condemned to do this?) old Nobodaddy will tell you himself that his role was a brief spurt of inspiration (expiration more like) and off he goes. And agenbite of inwit? What’s that? Oh shake it off Nobodaddy. Mingo minxi micxtum mingler. World without end amen. Oh I will be condemned. (Am I a father? If I were?) Look, this enthroned one, this everybody’s daddy, says Sabellius, was son of his own son. The man felt himself with child foetus that was himself. How’s that? Come again? One coming is sufficient; Here. Have an example. An example. Well, look at Shakespeare. Or whatever his name was. Breathe. Breathing. Rutlandbaconsouthhamptonshakespearemarlowe wrote Hamlet. He was not the father of his own son, he was the father of all his race. He was everybody’s daddy. Am I battling against hopelessness? Fight with me. Our worst enemies are in our own house and family. Stand! Fight! Kid, your growth is my decline. Your youth is my envy. Your friend is my enemy! You brought me pain. Her too and you ruined her body. You divided her from me. Get down from there! Be careful! You increase my cares. I worry sick about you. Slow down! Look both ways! Don’t talk to that perve with the candy. Don’t impregnate before you can pay. Dont do anything stupid. Good Christ, listen to me!
My dad says he doesn’t believe in being a stern father and he makes a point of talking to me as a friend and an even bigger point of telling everybody he talks to me as a friend. Wants to be my brother, but my big brother who can still eclipse me and be the better man for it. Or fade me out like he is the sun and I’m a shadow that doesn’t stand a chance. He’s like that. Likes to think he’s so badass he’s everybody’s daddy. Lazy bitch. He called me that once. We’re as old as we feel he says and he is feeling my age. Buck called me Japhet in search of a father, looking for atonement. Iapetos more like. The Greek version of Japhet fits the bill a bit better I’d say. Iapetos the god of the mortal life span, who with his brothers the other Time gods turned their father into a bitch. Their mother Gaia, the earth, started it. She wanted a divorce. An old school divorce. Their father Uranus was an asshole of mythic proportions. He would hide the brothers in the earth once they were born just to keep them down. You can be a man, sure, but not as good a one as me. Mama Gaia got sick of this, as you can imagine, and made a plan. Then she gave Kronos a sickle. Now Kronos is the god of all-devouring Time so Mama’s plan fed right into his destructive side and he hopped on board fast as lightning. The rest of us needed little persuasion. Krios, my brother who runs the measurement of the year felt ripe for it, and Hyperion with his days and months always wanted to be a part of whatever Krios did, so he came along too. It took just a little longer for Koios to come around. He is the god of the axis of heaven and even though he said he saw it coming he couldn’t decide what was in it for him. Sheesh, you’d think the world revolves around him. He’s the one married to Omphalos, that blowhard, you know her? She’s full of hot air. Anyway, the only one of us who didn’t want to get one up on the old man was Okeanos, but he’s just in charge of moving of the planets and he does a piss poor job of it too apparently, with them going backwards whenever they want. What does he know about Time? So here’s what we did. We knew Uranus was on his way to sleep with our mother (the less I describe about that the better, don’t want this thing to start sounding like a Greek tragedy) and just as he was spreading himself all over the top of her, Krios, Koios, and Hyperion each grabbed a corner of daddy dearest and I grabbed the fourth. Then Kronos, who had hidden himself somewhere near the omphalos, jumped up fast and cut his dick right off. Just like that. One slice. Balls too. He howled so much you can still hear it now. Listen, hear that? Blood splashed all over the place like Carrie at the prom and a whole lot of shit happened after that, but that’s another story. The upshot is there was no atonement; it was an ambush plain and simple and now dad sings soprano. And Kronos still likes carrying that sickle around. He’s working as a travel agent these days. Wait. Hold on. Who is telling this story?