Prisoner No. 12 receives a new letter from his latest correspondent that expresses a profound helplessness. He remarks to himself, “how a man falls! From the high tones of the last time we met to this” then he shakes his head. He looks at the terrain that trudges slow across his skin with indifference then smiles. He proceeds to reply the hearty letter.

Prisoner No. 12: “The meaning of life is to live it.

Asking about the meaning of life will only lead to an infinite regress – one will ask the meaning of each and every meaning we get. This occurs by the very nature of the process that asks. What meaning are you looking for? Is it not a grand consequence? It can’t be any other for as soon as you ask the meaning of life, you include the people and things around you.

While we are here, our actions have meanings. They determine who lives or dies, who is happy or sad, who is hungry or fed, who is sick and healthy. We have our own functions to judge us while we are here. Our own functions – thought, emotion and sense – ask us for justificatory answers.

The only reason that question of the meaning of life has any meaning at all is context. There is a limit to how many – and various – questions can be asked at any time. Should all the questions possible – remember, simple and complex (from a combination of simple ones) questions – raise their voice, we will not get that question of meaning. All will eventually cancel themselves out and what results? Silence. We might say then that the meaning of life is Silence but what does Silence do. It accepts. And so, the questions resume and we answer them one at a time. In the end, it is a process of answering the questions posed by our experience.

Why should meaning be answered this way? Because the question does not ask of one side of the human experience but the whole. As such, the whole human experience must be answered with the greatest justice impossible – you become the court and they go against each other.

Also, the question is answered not by any particular method believed to be trustworthy for such belief is just another that tells us there is some meaning somewhere. By such ‘trust’, it is rendered all-powerful and thus, stands above justice – all roads lead to it, “where do I lead to?”, it asks of itself now.

As your father, the architect of our dear penitentiary liked to say, “look to the Cartesian plane, it is all you quest o dear acolyte”.

My advice is to find that question which is most raucous in you. If it is the meaning of life, well, that’s your unfortunate genetics or fate or whatever fancy name they got for it out there. Go ahead and find it but along the way, you will have to stay alive to find it, therefore, in the end, you will live. If necessity is not enough or looks foolish, know that the other questions are there waiting for a listening ear. Can I poke out my tongue, is it tactless in such delicate matter, o brother..”

No. 12 puts the folded paper to his chest and wishes it the best of luck in unlocking another heart.