A path through a forest of old cedars.

Alvin: What I’m getting at is there are two ways countries have been progressing lately.

Mona: Agreed.

Alvin: According to that book by Tim Snyder, there’s the politics of inevitability and the politics of eternity.

Mona: I thought we’d be eternal by now. Eternal sounds better. 3am eternal.

Alvin: We’re not. Eternal is not the good option.

Mona: It has a better ring to it.

Alvin: I know, but the politics of inevitability means we’re on a path of inevitable progression. In this system, things are getting better.

Mona: I would have believed that, like, in the early 2000s.

Alvin: With the politics of inevitability, there’s a sense of, like, oh, we’re improving.

Mona: Maybe it was the age I was, too. That comes into it. I believed in inevitable upwards growth. But this author is saying eternity is not good.

Alvin: Not in this context, no.

Mona: This is eternity in the sense that you’re stuck in an eternal cycle, right? Of grievance? Things are not going to get better.

Alvin: Think Russia.

Mona: [In a Russian accent] “But in Russia, that is not our fault.”

Alvin: Who are you right now?

Mona: Let’s say I’m a Putin inner circle Russian rich guy.

Alvin: Who is saying…?

Mona: Who is saying, [In a Russian accent] “It’s not our fault. It’s not our fault there’s no inevitable progression. It’s the fault of the west. It’s the corrosion of Russian morals. It’s the homosexuals.”

Alvin: They’re always against the gays.

Mona: “And so we don’t progress.” The Ukrainians want to progress.

Alvin: Yeah, the Ukrainians want to become a new kind of country. They don’t want to remain eternal. But the Russians are stuck. There’s no path forward.

Mona: I find it so weird that Putin has no successor. He thinks he’ll live forever.

Alvin: I can see his hair getting wispier and wispier.

Mona: His face will…his skin will shrink, closer to the skull. Then he’ll just be a skull.

Alvin: With the thinnest…

Mona: With crepe paper skin, terrifying, ancient, but still trying to rule the country.

Alvin: I can’t imagine what comes after him.

Mona: I imagine him touring these Russian AI labs and stopping at someone’s desk. He taps his finger on this poor programmer’s monitor.

Alvin: Trying to act offhand.

Mona: Totally offhand, Putin says, [In a different Russian accent]“So I was just wondering if we’re close to downloading someone’s consciousness.”

Alvin: The Russian programmer talking to him is terrified.

Mona: The programmer is looking back at him like, [In a slightly different Russian accent] “Yes, we are getting close to fully replicating your thought process, your personality, your entire soul, so that you can live forever and we never have to worry about a successor. Here’s to the politics of eternity.”

Alvin: That night the programmer packs.

Mona: Yes, the programmer’s on the road to Georgia in the middle of the night. No doubt. All these young people.

Alvin: Bags in the front of the car, bags in the back, note on the door of the apartment.


Mona: Are your draft years over?

Alvin: My own draft years? In most cases. I think? I wouldn’t be selected first. I would go… if I was in Ukraine.

Mona: That’s one measure of the luck of fate. Never during those draft years did someone say, “You’re drafted. You’re going.”

Alvin: I know.

Mona: That is pretty fucking rare. That is rare, historically.

Alvin: I know.

Mona: You would have run away in a second. You would have gone to Tbilisi.

Alvin: If I was a Russian… If I was sitting next to that programmer, sure.

Mona: You would have found a way out of Ukraine as well.


Mona: Or you’d find a supporting role.

Alvin: Wow.

Mona: Or a firefighting role.

Alvin: I do care about this stuff.

Mona: I know. I know. And I can see a lot of first aid. You’d be tending to wounds. Roaring engines, sirens.

Alvin: I’d be playing a part.

Mona: Playing a role. Just not…killing.

Alvin: I read about a graphic designer who now just launches mortars.

Mona: I’m sure.

Alvin: But you don’t…

Mona: No. I don’t see it. Someone has to bandage wounds.

Alvin: But I’m there. I haven’t left. I haven’t left Ukraine.

Mona: Yeah. I think so. No, I know so. You’d be there.

Alvin: I’d be there.


The waiting room of a community health centre.
The visitor’s gallery of the European Parliament in Brussels.
A café in Paris, 20th arrondissement.
The paint aisle.
A downtown café.
A large hardware store.
A laneway.
A path through a forest of old cedars.
A cafe in Oregon.
A used bookstore.
In Christian heaven.
At the home of a crossword puzzle setter.
Outside a car dealership.
The Salish Sea.
A cafeteria.
In a forest.