I want to stop. I don’t want to die.’ This was what I was thinking.

One thought might have been covered by the other. But I knew that I wanted the things I didn’t understand to stop.

The success of the human species, it was said, was based on cooperation, its ability to form social groups, sometimes large social groups, crowds, cities, masses. I had, previously, conceived of cooperation, the social functioning of the brain or social intelligence, as a kind of mind expansion. It was something which we shared with dolphins, along with our specific neoteny.

However, in the history of critical thinking there occurred this particular recuperation: every misreading became available to the central, authoritative or canonical reading. To speak of this as market expansion would be to underestimate what this new critical understanding brought in, to minimalise its territories, as it were.

And, however, what I didn’t understand seemed to be irreducible to a misreading or misunderstanding. I had forgotten what I meant, what you meant. As a result, I didn’t understand, and wanted that sense of falsity – not fiction; it wasn’t ever a fiction – to cease.

We do this,’ I thought. ‘We jump to the wrong conclusions. We blame the other for misleading us. The other rails against being misread, misunderstood.’

I didn’t rail against it. I was all shouted out.

I wanted it to stop. What better way to talk about it than to invoke mortality? And what way could be more misleading?

I surveyed myself in the mirror. I was intact, apart from two small obstinate patches of eczema.

There were the minimal expectations of a life. These might have been called fashion’s simplifications: its injunction to reduce needs to what was basic; its incitement to elaborate on the particular basic we placed at the core of our identities; all belied, naturally, by the very exchangeability of these core needs, according to the needs of quite another and unrecoverable set of circumstances. This was the market itself.

I wanted to stop missing the point. … It might have been money… It was always money.

I never contributed enough because I was never sufficiently engaged in self-sacrifice, either in the noise of it or in its acts. Presumably, its acts conjured money from another misunderstanding, communicated along a great line of misunderstandings, to the bubble of credit, which we were presently told was an illusion, a shibboleth, in need of great volumes of faked conviction to re-float. This did not reflect on my failure. How it didn’t, I did not understand.

Why was I intact after wishing the dissolution of all that miscommunication? – seven billion people clapping their hands at once, one hand, a great wind, no sound -, like the angel of the future, I felt it as no more than a mere faint draught, although I could see the rubbish piling up underneath… I wanted that to stop too.

And I was blown along, blown through the narrow and clichéed path by this tiny breath, as if it were time itself. It was not trackless, that place, it was like the return of all I could hate only in order it could hide what I loved. That seemed to be its purpose.

I wanted it to stop. I didn’t want to die. But I wanted the threat up my sleeve, just in case.

Horribly, I understood, if I died, well, that was what had happened. My previous partner had insisted that I still have my faith. I had duly reported, like a lamp, it would be kept lit for her. It went out. And it went out. And, like denial itself, it went out again.

My new partner lived in the real world. She moved forward. I slipped. But I was intact. … And where was I with all this talk of ‘his‘ and ‘hers‘? Was it a gendered story I wished to convey to you?

I wrote a minute ago ‘if I died, well‘ and so on. I left out that I knew dying was as difficult as being born. The practice of ritual annihilation of the self was not to commune with or otherwise enter the void, it came about as an answer to pain. The shaman taught, the priest taught how to leave the body not for knowledge but to avoid feeling, as an anaesthetic or palliative practice.

(And then I thought about the execration of the body in the Middle Ages, those up to, say, the thirteenth century, and how it coincided with the traffic in body parts, relics of saints; how this must have meant a very special place for the body, its transubstantiation into the virtuality. It became art. It became line. It became the baroque.)

What was the source of the embarrassment? Whatever it was, it was not existential. I remembered the friend, drunk, who had made his unsolicited remark, ‘Sometimes I feel like suicide,’ in his thick German accent. His was the Angst from which I’d run, flown, got the hell out, 35 years ago.

Now I was hunting a beast. It wasn’t yet a destiny. The knowledge was all there. But it was not an epistemology. It was a pedagogy.

It was a philosophy of learning. In it, as in birth, whence we’d come, was all knowledge. And to it, as in death, whither we were headed, belonged all knowledge, all that we’d forgotten.