In his last delirium my father began to confuse his hospital room with his own body. In some ways this was understandablethe respirator really had usurped the function of his lungsbut after months in bed he had come to think of the door as his mouth, and would protest if anything unclean passed through it; the fluorescent lights were a circulatory system diffusing light through the room, the bedside television an eye perceiving the outer world, while his own immobile form in the crisp sheets was a central brain or soul cut off from the extremities. But soon I came to see (he told me nothing, I had to figure this out myself) that for the analogy to hold, he must extend past the walls of the room. The television screen was only the inner terminus of the visual apparatus, which must stretch in its entirety through the broadcast signal into the distant transmission tower, through loops of cable into video footage and even backward in time into the very lenses of the cameras that had captured that footage. Or to generalize: the totality of my father was the totality of the universe. The hospital room was only the first of his outer bodies; the next would be the hospital building, then the organism of the city, and so on through the nation and planet and solar system out to those clusters of galaxies whose movements corresponding to respiration and digestion would be governed entirely by the force of gravity, and would take eons. Similarly, my father's body was only the outer habitation of his true self, which lay inside his heart, perhaps in the very heart of his heart, a single blood cell pulsing from atrium to ventricle as his body might walk from room to room, were it not trapped in the bed; or perhaps still deeper, in the nucleus or nucleolus of that cell, in the final invisible dance of moleculesbut you see that nothing was small enough, nothing absolute enough, to ground his fundamental being. It was torment. Or I guess that he was tormented; because as I said, he did not speak to me. If the worlds around him were only extensions of his self, then nothing existed beyond that self, nothing that he might address. My movements, my parody of an independent will, could be explained only by equating me to one of his wandering spermatozoa, one which had never entered my mothers womb but had spilled with its billion brothers onto the sterile earth, a half-creature generated in mockery of man, as man was created in mockery of God.
All in all, it was a serious inconvenience managing my father, and I cant say I was heartbroken when he expired. Only now and then over the years, face to face with great objectsglaciers, pyramids, ocean linershave I found myself thinking that he must have been right, that all this mass and space must be his persisting outer emanation, as the old Norsemen believed the world to be a giants corpse. But I am not the contemplative sort and could never stop to consider it further, not with my errands and appointments. Not beneath the yoke of time.