Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Symbolism

Bruce began screaming at dawn.  It startled his wife, who tried in vain to calm him down.  He screamed around his mouthful of corn flakes for breakfast, switching to gurgling as necessary.  He screamed while in the shower.  He screamed while putting on his shoes.

His wife was reluctant to let him go to work, but she couldn't reason with him.  He got on the bus while screaming, and got off the bus while screaming only one stop later.  Bruce walked to work while screaming.  A homeless man asked for money and although Bruce only stared at him and screamed some more, the homeless man said "God bless you."  Bruce couldn't hear him because he was screaming.  The homeless man screamed back at Bruce once, briefly, because that's how he thought that Bruce communicated.  Bruce's communication style didn't used to include screaming.

Bruce crossed against the walk signal and nearly got run over.  He probably would have screamed in terror, but nobody could tell because he was already screaming.

He screamed as he stood in the elevator.  He didn't push a button, he simply stood there and screamed until a brave soul entered the elevator with him.  Bruce screamed as he got off of the elevator, was sent home from work, and got back on the elevator.  Screaming in the background is bad for business when you work at a chainsaw support hotline.

Bruce walked home, screaming the entire way, almost getting run over.  His wife demanded that they go to the hospital.  She drove him, with him screaming the entire way.

There was a wailing child in the waiting room, but Bruce's scream overpowered it.  The child scowled angrily at Bruce for upstaging the child's own screams, but Bruce either didn't notice or didn't care.  He kept on screaming.

Bruce and his wife waited in the exam room for only a moment, because like chainsaw support hotlines, it is very bad for business for a doctor to have a patient screaming in the exam room.  Bruce's wife explained what happened.

The doctor held up a sign that said, 'if you can understand this, nod your head.'

Bruce stared at the placard and screamed.

The doctor frowned, then his eyebrows shot up.

"Bruce," he said, "it appears that you are screaming from the overwhelming sense of existential horror because you've lost the ability to process symbols and that is what connects humans and provides meaning to life.  All you feel right now is that you are an organic bag of gas and guts sans meaning or purpose."

Bruce screamed.

"But you must consider several things.  First, you can understand me so you haven't truly lost the ability to process symbols and therefore, haven't lost your humanity nor are you isolated.  Second, the mere act of screaming presupposes an act of symbolism where a specific loud sound, manufactured by human vocal cords, communicates a sense of horror.  And finally."  The doctor pulled on an exam glove and slapped Bruce across the face.

"Ow!" Bruce yelled.  "Doc!  I'm cured!"

The Moral: Existential horror is fine for precisely half of a day, but then somebody is going to slap you.

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