I’ve died gone to Paris: Chapter V

I am on my way to meet with Morrison at his apartment in the Marais district.  My route will take me along the right bank of the Seine. I decide it would be fun and admittedly a little nostalgic to browse among the book and magazine stalls that are there.  The stroll is a bibliophiles’ dream and in my mortal existence I could waste time and not a small quantity of money among the vendors.  But happily there is no longer a  limitation of money or more importantly time.

When I was in Ottawa, time like money held an inordinate sway over my life. Most people, my own friends and family, Elie included, would have insisted that while it was unpalatable or even distasteful, “it is, what it is”. Or my favourite “it’s reality”. But clearly reality is not necessarily “what it is”.  Even in the universe where quantum phenomena (or whatever this is) were not so  “in your face”, the underpinning of that universe was nevertheless built on a an edifice of quantum dynamics.  In that previous life this was not always an acceptable disposition to take towards my, or anyone’s responsibilities.

The illusion that “time is money” is plausible only as its own justification. Wages, interest rates, or charges, stock values and return on investment are all predicated on a notion that there is a standard value to something based on it’s relationship to a money-time calculus. And finally, this calculus is then applied to the variable of greed that suggests that a person has a certain propensity to spend ‘x’ amount more on something, to possess it. And all this verbosity packaged under the title Marginality and then subdivided into, Marginal Utility, Marginal Value and Marginal Costs. The result more often than not was Marginal Jobs, Marginal Communities and Marginal People.

I wonder, “What about finance or even economics?” How can we even have finance and economics when time doesn’t exist? It may be that knowing when is easier than explaining when. But being unaccustomed to this vernacular, thought and perception can be a little perplexing to say the least. If one is not careful, life and perception quickly becomes a mise-en-scène subject only to ones stream of consciousness. Reality tends to turn into outcomes without cause, punctuated with cliché conclusions like “I create my own reality” or “the world is what I make of it”. Existence here, however, seems to defy the calculus of time.

It has occurred to me that it might be interesting to have a little chit-chat with one of the luminaries of economics.  I would have just one question. In a universe where neither time nor money exist and there is unlimited energy and resources, where is economics?  It would be one of the most delightful experiences of my existence.  What would Mises, Hayek or Freedman have to say about a place where want or greed are no longer necessary; where invisible hands can be, in fact, invisible. Because greed and want are impossible, there is no Marginal anything.  Marginal value, Equilibrium or the Theory of Labour exist only in the fantasy of the human mind as, in fact, they have always.  I suppose that there may be those who, unable to exist without the struggle of competition that results from a Zero Sum dynamic may create, even here, exactly such an environment for their amusement.  The difference would be of course that if one did not want to play anymore… they can just leave.

I eventually find my way to Morrison’s residence.  I was surprised to find that for all his previous life extravagance, his place was simple and even Spartan.   Jim had tried to maintain as “terrestrial’ a life as possible and even went as far as decorating the flat with pictures and other curiosities that were available in the Marais district along La Rue Saint Antoine.  However, there was definitely a theme to the few pictures that decorated his walls. The ornaments sparsely fixed on simple heavy furniture were also variations on the same theme.

“Hey Morrison what’s with the Lizards?” I asked in a mocking tone.

“What are you talking about it’s my logo, mantra  and my spirit animal” came his declarative response.

“Your spirit animal?” I puzzled. “I didn’t know you had native in you.?”

“Ya man, don’t you know we’re all native from somewhere!?” he shot back.

Not wanting to press the matter I responded somewhat derisively and soto voce, “Ya groovy man, groovy!”

“So what are we doing”, I called out to Morrison.

“First we’re going to grab a bite down at the Arse”, replied Morrison.

“The what!”, sounding put off by the name of the establishment.

“The Arse”,  repeated Morrison.

Then with a great sigh of frustration he explains  “Cafe l’Arsenal. There, is that better?”

“Look man, be cool. I’ve invited a special lady to the Arse and I don’t want a million question. You dig, are we cool?” His words sound like both a request and  command.

Morrison lives in the same flat where he died in 1971.  He insisted that he did so in the hopes that he would experience a paranormal phenomenon –his own.  He actually thought that he would witness his own ghost.  He was the very epitome of California of that period.  Magical, mystical and marvellous.

We walk up the rue Beautrellis to the rue Saint Antoine across the street, actually kitty-corner from where we were standing I could see the canopy of the Cafe l’Arsenal.  Like so many other cafes in Paris this one had its tables and chairs set out alfresco where one could be entertained by the coming and going of the city traffic.

“Are you hungry”, I ask Morrison with a puzzled expression on my face.

“No man, I never get hungry and neither should you.”

“Ya!” I reply, “I thought it was kind of weird because except for the coffee, I’ve consumed virtually nothing since I’ve been here”.

“That’s right, you don’t need to sleep or eat, you never get tired or hungry.”

“But I see all these people eating and drinking in cafés and restaurants?” I said.

“Ya, true but that’s mostly because they still enjoy it”, he said emphatically.

“So you’re saying they don’t need to eat, they just want to eat because they enjoying the act of eating?”

“No man, eating –tasting food!” This time he emphasized the “tasting”.

“We don’t need to eat any more, we can simply experience it?  We can experience our own life. We can experience pleasure or even pain if that’s what we want to do”,  I said.

“That’s it!” he said, as if I had come to a revelation.

And, just as I thought, having unravelled this little conundrum, Morrison threw me a curve that should not have surprised me.

“But if you eat you still have to take a shit!”

I ponder this answer with a thoughtful pause and in turn somewhat facetiously reply,

“Does it still stink?”

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