“There is a disease, the fear of open spaces, but my disease is the fear of life. When I lie on the grass and watch a little beetle which was born yesterday and understands nothing, it seems to me that its life consists of nothing else but fear, and in it I see myself,” wrote Anton Chekhov in the short story “Terror,” published 12 years before his death.
This plain fragility is like a fern tightly hugging the ground. A beetle will never be eternal, just simply forgotten.
As long as we humans are alive, our memory continues to operate conscientiously. Even after death, we still live in the memories of others. However, after the so-called “third death,” no one will be remembered because life cannot transcend time recorded by the tick-tocking of a needle swinging side to side. However, death itself is not timed. Death does not fade away as time goes by. This is exactly what Achilles did 40 centuries ago. He paved his path to eternity via Hector’s death while living things coexisted with him through literature, memory, and commemoration.
“On this he treated the body of Hector with contumely: he pierced the sinews at the back of both his feet from heel to ankle and passed thongs of ox-hide through the slits he had made: thus he made the body fast to his chariot, letting the head trail upon the ground. Then when he had put the goodly armour on the chariot and had himself mounted, he lashed his horses on and they flew forward nothing loth. The dust rose from Hector as he was being dragged along, his dark hair flew all abroad, and his head once so comely was laid low on earth, for Zeus had now delivered him into the hands of his foes to do him outrage in his own land. Thus was the head of Hector being dishonoured in the dust. His mother tore her hair, and flung her veil from her with a loud cry as she looked upon her son.” ——Iliad by Homer.
The nature of Achilles’ eternity was determined the moment he treated Prince Hector’s death with ruthlessness and tyranny. Death, just as the longhaired Archaeans foretold, was symbolized by the melting of white paraffin blocks heated by broiling flames.
Directed by Junxian Ouyang (USA)