Off topic, but thought you all should know: I am alive.Poor Zachary had a ruptured spleen, and in valiant, bloggerly style, blogged it, with photos of himself — in a hospital gown — taken at arm's length. Perhaps the blogosphere is full of photo-essays showing the details of emergency rooms, not to mention accident scenes — wounds and all. (Point to some!)
I once posted "I just wrecked my car!" — and, though I blogged about how, almost immediately, I thought about blogging the accident, I did not get out my camera to get the photos. (Later, at the wrecker's, I got the photos.) So I admire Zachary's presence of mind in taking those photos, especially since he was in pain — though presumably he was also bored and, unlike me at the car crash, not in the presence of victims, police, and EMTs who would have thought ill of me if I'd displayed a hearty bloggerly spirit. (In case you're wondering why my readers didn't seem to give a damn back then, I didn't have commenting turned on.)
Anyway, I love Zachary's intrusion into the late night thread to tell us about his situation. When you go to comment on my blog, you can see that part of the instructions for commenting are: "You can digress, but digress creatively. Amuse us!" So OT was OK. And maybe I should rethink "amuse." Another reason to rethink "amuse" is that people — probably remembering Queen Victoria's most famous quote "We are not amused" — think I'm using the royal "we." I'm not. And actually, neither was Victoria. But speaking of memorable lines... I love "I am alive." It's one of those very short sentences that feel entirely literary.
Is it a famous quote? I Google and see it's at least a video game.
But it has the feeling of something old, something I read long ago. Is it the last line of Daniel DeFoe's "A Journal of the Plague Year"? The e-text is on-line. So:
A dreadful plague in London wasYet I alive! I love that.
In the year sixty-five,
Which swept an hundred thousand souls
Away; yet I alive!
Is it "Moby Dick"?
The drama's done. Why then here does any one step forth?—Because one did survive the wreck.Perhaps you can help me find "I am alive" (and things close to it) in literary — or cinematic or video-game-ic — works of art. Don't talk about statements in the third person. The first-person statement is the interesting thing here. If you are not alive, you are in no position to comment. By the same token, to say anything is to say "I'm alive." What prompts the always-true words "I am alive" is the consciousness that you might not have been able to say it (or anything else). While it is always within our mental grasp to be suddenly intensely impressed by the vivid fact of being alive, we don't — we could! — say it out loud or write it down... in the comments section of someone else's blog.
... So, floating on the margin of the ensuing scene, and in full sight of it, when the halfspent suction of the sunk ship reached me, I was then, but slowly, drawn towards the closing vortex. When I reached it, it had subsided to a creamy pool. Round and round, then, and ever contracting towards the button-like black bubble at the axis of that slowly wheeling circle, like another Ixion I did revolve. Till, gaining that vital centre, the black bubble upward burst; and now, liberated by reason of its cunning spring, and, owing to its great buoyancy, rising with great force, the coffin life-buoy shot lengthwise from the sea, fell over, and floated by my side. Buoyed up by that coffin, for almost one whole day and night, I floated on a soft and dirgelike main.
Or, no, there is a second reason to say "I am alive." You might need to cry out to someone who thinks you are dead. DeFoe tells of a piper, who went door to door for food and drink "and he in return would pipe and sing and talk simply." But times were hard, and he'd nearly starved, "and when anybody asked how he did he would answer, the dead cart had not taken him yet, but that they had promised to call for him next week." One night, he'd finally gotten some drink, and he was lying drunk in a doorway where the people inside "hearing a bell which they always rang before the cart came, had laid a body really dead of the plague just by him, thinking, too, that this poor fellow had been a dead body, as the other was, and laid there by some of the neighbours." A man named John Hayward loaded both bodies onto the cart:
From hence they passed along and took in other dead bodies, till... they almost buried him alive in the cart; yet all this while he slept soundly. At length the cart came to the place where the bodies were to be thrown into the ground, which, as I do remember, was at Mount Mill; and as the cart usually stopped some time before they were ready to shoot out the melancholy load they had in it, as soon as the cart stopped the fellow awaked and struggled a little to get his head out from among the dead bodies, when, raising himself up in the cart, he called out, 'Hey! where am I?' This frighted the fellow that attended about the work; but after some pause John Hayward, recovering himself, said, 'Lord, bless us! There's somebody in the cart not quite dead!' So another called to him and said, 'Who are you?' The fellow answered, 'I am the poor piper. Where am I?' 'Where are you?' says Hayward. 'Why, you are in the dead-cart, and we are going to bury you.' 'But I an't dead though, am I?' says the piper, which made them laugh a little though, as John said, they were heartily frighted at first; so they helped the poor fellow down, and he went about his business.But I an't dead though, am I? It's a terrifying question to have to ask, but, thank God, the answer is always "yes."