Ultimately, all of life is a big piece of shit the universe dumped out in a random moment of thwarting constipation that is still flushing its way down the cosmic toilet. This doesn’t necessarily beg the question, 6,000 years from now, will future civilizations even think of us, though that’s the very question I pondered as I visited the Banpo Museum in Xi’an, China. In part, it’s an archaeological exhibition of a village found over 6,000 years ago. In another, it’s a nebulous time warp into the past, a reflection murkier than bronze, distorted by our own biases and projections. The Neolithic Village is associated with Yangshao Culture which sprang in the vicinity of the Yellow River and was said to be a matriarchal society, though that has been disputed in recent years as painting too egalitarian a culture (the infection of contemporary cynicism spreads). Artifacts and remains hint at their religious beliefs and societal customs, and a primitive form of writing is also on display in some of the vases. Archaeologists don’t know what the rituals entailed or what those symbols mean and can only speculate, though some have suggested the pictorial symbols may have been the precursor for Mandarin characters. I saw jewels made from shells, animal teeth used as necklaces which the “ancients” believed would grant them special powers. There was painted pottery, an early form of a whistle, and tools used to farm and hunt animals. A moat surrounded the village and the primitive remains of houses hinted at someone’s pride and joy six millennium before Banpo became a museum. I envisioned conflicted romances, epic struggles, love affairs, internal politics, battles over superstitions, all so meaningful to them before, now, forgotten aside from being a historical footnote.
One casket of a female was specially adorned with different kinds of symbols indicating some type of unique status, though the researchers have been unable to figure out why. Was she a princess, a religious leader, or a great warrior? I found myself strangely haunted by the question, which in turn extended to almost every facet of the society. Average brain capacity and height were the same 6,000 years ago, making them physically indistinguishable from contemporary humans, though their life spans were about half the length at 30 years for many. I would have been an old man among them.
The folksongs of modern science clamor that we are random particles of star dust conglomerated into equally whimsical bodies orbiting around the gravitational pulls of desire, envy, lust, and whatever else chemical emotion drives human madness. Evolution is an arbitrary set of rules attempting to explain existence after the fact when, in fact, we have no real idea why human beings love Justin Bieber more than the hundreds of thousands that have failed and rest in the mausoleum of unwatched YouTube videos. Viral fame is as ineptly destructive as the vast majority of plagues that fade before they can devour. Why write novels? Why paint murals? Why compose songs? In the end, the most one can hope for is to be encased in a museum like Banpo for tourists to observe and archaeologists extract what they can learn about human behavior by analyzing the quiddities of the past. For 99.99999% of us, even our dust won’t be enshrined.
The innate desire to propagate is at the source of our endeavors as writers and artists, a mental ejaculation spurting out ideas and beliefs. We want to fuck the world with our stories and have them incubate in the empty wombs of barrenly horny audiences. The problem is that the meat market is packed and there are billions vying for a piece of intellectual ass as well. T&A just doesn’t cut it anymore. Miley Cyrus was an exception because she was already famous. Most people get bored with the same porn in less than a minute. You can’t even click fast enough to sate a boner. There’s too many bones of the dead, too many corpses sacrificed in the name of modernization. Right next door to the museum are the warts of humanity, gigantic skyscrapers overflowing with the pus of residents, a dozen more in construction, casting shadows on the ruins of the past. I find myself constantly marred by warts that distract and divert me from writing about the things I want to. In China, all my American social media sites have been blocked. They call it “The Great Firewall,” but in actuality, China has the exact same corresponding sites, only with different names, owned by Chinese entrepreneurs. Still, it means I can’t write status updates about nothing relating to nothing and wondering what people will think. I have a vacuum of time I didn’t realize I was missing and suffer withdrawal symptoms that ancient philosophers once called ontological larceny. I spend my free time reading, writing, and taking long walks. I read Chinese plays about doomed romances I never knew existed from ancient dynasties I’d never heard about. I write about the discovery of the pottery steamer that let the ancients cook braised pork, culinary discoveries more palpably pungent than the epistemological musings of Chinese mystics. I think about the Banpo Museum and girl who was buried. Theories on grandeur are too sublime for me. I envision a father on the fringes, losing his daughter, celebrating her life the only way he knows how; emblemizing his favorite memories with her. The hunters and warriors think his designs are frivolous, but he sculpts away at fragments, trying to recreate the past in his mind, hoping to form a fragile connection in the only thing he’s good at. He’s not trying to communicate across time, only to his dead daughter.
My personal theory betrays my obsession with the fringes and the weirdos that inhabit them while reweaving history to suit my agenda. My literary lovers are few, but I’m happy for each one, drifters drowning in nocturnal oblivion. On the way out of the Banpo Museum, I notice a scorpion scurrying home. I watch for a few minutes. Some random tourist crushes him with a boot and doesn’t even notice. 6,000 years from now, no one will remember that scorpion. 6,000 years from now, I won’t even be a memory. But that’s fine. I look forward to the day I’m recycled as star dust.