Tuesday, February 14, 2006
It is Valentine's Day. Is everyone ecstatically happy about it just like me? Or did I just stab you in the intestines with a dagger made of fear because you had completely forgotten about it until just now? Or perhaps now you would like to stab me with a dagger made out of pointy metal because I brought it up again, thus disturbing your daily meal of bitter resentment (try it with the Gravy of Loneliness, it's suicidally good) at your table for one.
It's hard to say for sure, not knowing you all as personally as I'd like. Or not like, as the case(s) may be (you know who you are... yes I mean you). Whatever your position on Valentine's Day, this holiday is all about the heart, whether we mean feeling with it or reaching into the chest cavity of our disgustingly happy enemies, tearing theirs out and showing to them--still beating--before they die.
When we talk about hearts on Valentine's Day, we usually mean this one:
Aww, look at it. It's all symmetrical and pink. It's sort of cloying and ridiculous, isn't it? It makes most of us wish it had a throat so we could punch it in it. This is the kind of heart that holds hands and walks on beaches and likes to eat meals by candlelight even though you can't see your food to cut or spear it with utensils. It's the kind of heart that has the magical power to keep you from being electrocuted when you hold your boombox over your head in the rain underneath your ex-girlfriend's window. That kind of behavior is NOT stalker-y harassment, no! It's from the heart, man. It's feeling.
Coincidentally, this is also the kind of heart that boxers always assign to their opponents in the interview after they have just beaten him almost completely to death. "I give him credit, he had a lot of heart" means "I'd like to thank my promoter for arranging this fight with someone who thinks effective punch-defense is to catch it with his face." Heart is what competitors have who have no business competing. Like Rudy. Sure, that midget had heart by the boatload. But realistically, we all know if he'd been allowed to play more than one down, he'd be dead and the story would have had to be posthumous. And then who would have played Sam in Lord of the Rings?
See, that kind of heart is giddy and empowering, but it's also dangerous. And not just because when you open it up, there are usually chocolates inside.
Much more dangerous, however, is this kind of heart:
First of all: gross. Not only is it asymmetrically displeasing, the Quasimodo or organs, but it's all lumpy and saggy and all kinds of disgusting colors like purple and dark blood red and yellow and green. It's revolting to look at compared to some of the other, more attractive internal organs; it can't touch the graceful, arcing, cylindrical flow of the large intestine, for example, or the perky, charming uselessness of the appendix. Sure, what it does is important and all, but it's not going to win any prizes for aesthetics.
Of course it makes you wonder why there is such an effort to represent the heart culturally as a card-friendly cartoon version of itself. We're being lured into a false sense of complacent security against the #1 killer of human beings in the world. It's a precarious, duplicitous organ, drunk on it's own power because it knows--it knows--you can't live without it. Hell, even if you have too much of it it will kill you.
But we're fighting back. We're making strides. The days of coronary tyranny may be numbered. Just this week a boy in northern California lived for eight months with no heart whatsoever.
When the news gets out, maybe the heart will begin to understand that we are human beings, the apex and triumph of evolution and/or created in God's own image (depending on who you ask). Science or theology, that's some pretty serious, well-deserved anthrocentric hubris we're talking about. We're not going to be held down by some puny piece of anatomy just because it makes life possible. We can't live without kidneys either, but you don't see them killing nearly as many people for sport or insisting on being cut out of construction paper in kindergarten classrooms or forcing people to marry ugly people just because they happen to be compatible in every other way.
The heart has a lot to answer for. And once we all get ours replaced by machines, we can take it out and question it at length. It is my fondest wish that when the heart realizes that we are no longer its slaves, it will learn some humility, some deference, some perspective about its place within hierarchy of the human system of disgusting things best covered up by skin. I believe it will because the heart is human after all.
Unless you splice it together with a pig's heart, like the president said in the State of the Union. But that's a different war and a different blogpost.
Happy Valentine's Day.
Now rise up! People of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your angina.
I said angina. Gutter-minds, all of you.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 1.9