Sunning myself in my parent’s backyard, I look up a flash of orange. There’s a fox tight-roping along the power line. I didn’t know there were foxes in Long Beach. How does he balance up there like that, and how did he even get up there in the first place? Oh, shit there is a wolf chasing him. I stand transfixed. The fox leaps down onto the backyard fence, and the wolf jumps in hot pursuit. The pair scrabble along the crest of the fence, the wolf biting at the fox’s swishing orange tail. They both have the look of an antique taxidermy come to life, dusty patchy fur with desperate, glassy, lifeless eyes. They jump and skid on the roof. With a crunch and a yelp, the wolf has caught the fox. What now? What will the wolf do now? Perhaps, I should get out of here before the wolf notices me. It’s strange that our two dogs aren’t barking. Shit, he sees me. I back up. He ungracefully jumps down from the roof, belly smacking the ground. I back up some more feeling for the door. He turns to face me, teeth over-sized and yellow. What is he doing here? I quickly slip in and slam the door. He isn’t fooled and dives straight through the flimsy screen door. “You don’t belong here,” I shout. But, it’s hard to reason with a wolf, particularly this one. Why did he kill that fox? There doesn’t seem to be any reason to it. Isn’t the natural world always logical? I want to believe that it is that there is some logical system organizing the way trees grow, the arrangement of feathers on a bird’s wing and why this lupine muzzle is pointed at me. The belief in that logic is a comfort to me in these troubling times. It helps to silence the nihilist in my head that believes life doesn’t have meaning and thus there is no point in running from the wolf.
“That’s not what nihilism means,” the wolf growls in a raspy contralto. “Nihilists aren’t suggesting your life doesn’t have meaning, but that ‘life’ i.e. the total existence of the universe doesn’t have meaning. Personally I think meaning in this instance equates to purpose or end goal. Your life probably means a lot to you. I know mine means a lot to me and I’ve got to eat to live” He looks at me pointedly. I’ve got to do something. (Panic!?) “My life does have meaning and the universe only exists, as far as I know, through my experience of it.” The wolf lifts one paw and sets it back down. “You have to eat to live, but you didn’t eat the fox?” I say to the the wolf. The wolf growls in response; I wince. “Foxes eat rabbits; I eat rabbits, and killing is what I do.” He makes eye contact; I look away. “So, you’re a murderer?” I look back to see his response. “Murder, is how humans moralize killing. Murder suggests that a wrong was committed. By killing my competition there is more prey for me to eat, and I am able to practice and hone my skills for killing my food. By killing, I am ensuring my survival, is it wrong to do what is necessary to survive?”
SC: “Could you survive another way?”
SC: “Is your life more valuable than the foxes?”
W: “Yes, because it’s mine. The fox could have lived another day if he’d run faster, been more cunning, or hadn’t encountered me.”
SC: “But he didn’t, or couldn’t, and you killed him.”
W: “Thus is the order of the world.”
SC: “I don’t understand the order of the world or where I fall in it.”
W: Cackles, “ Human arrogance to think you could understand the order of the world.”
SC: “I don’t think I could understand everything; although, I would like to. I just want to feel like I understand a few things, and, specifically, where I fit in that order. You understand your place. That’s why you didn’t hesitate to kill that fox, and that’s why you don’t have remorse now.”
I want to make art that shows I have some understanding of the order of the world and my place in it. I want to make art without hesitation or remorse. I want to make art that shows I enjoy the process and the result. I want to make art that affirms I was here and did work.