The Way of the World

When I was but a small wee lad, barely knee high to a barnacle, my great great grandfather, who was an ancient and wizened octopus, came to visit me and impart some of his wisdom. I remember his words as if it were yesterday, “No matter what else you do in life, my boy” he pontificated, “don’t be a steaming great knob end. That’s all you need to know. That’s all I have to say to you my boy… Do what you want in life but just try not be a fucking dickhead about it. Do you get me?” He left then. He left without so much as a single backwards glance. He left before I even got a chance to respond, and I never saw him again. I believe he got eaten by a marauding parrotfish shortly afterwards.


I am ashamed to say – however – that I took no heed of these words of wisdom that had been spoken expressly for my benefit. I took no heed at all. It was water off a duck’s back as far as I was concerned. Instead of heeding these words that had been spoken for my benefit I went right ahead and did exactly what I had been warned not to do. And I suffered the consequences too, of course – we all suffer the consequences, do we not? Every last one of us has to suffer the consequences of our heedless ignorance and there’s no escape from that. Absolutely there’s no escape from that…


There’s no moral to this story of mine, by the way. It may look as if it is heading in that direction, but it isn’t. No moral need be drawn. Nothing of that sort. Those who are destined to tread the path of the incorrigible asshole must tread it and that’s all that need be said on the subject. That’s all there is to it. That’s just the way of the world my friends and so there’s no point crying about it. Cry for a moment or two if you absolutely have to, but then move on. There’s nothing any of us that to change the way of the world, after all, no matter how enthusiastic we might be. Even our ‘Great Buddy in the Sky’ can’t change the way of the world. Contrary to popular opinion, contrary to what we would like to believe. Nothing is that simple.


Everything is ‘contrary to what we might believe’, isn’t it? You’d wonder why we bothered really, wouldn’t you? Just why the hell do we bother believing in anything, right? Idiots that we are. Maybe it’s just because we’re suckers for punishment. Maybe it’s because of that perverse streak inside us that just wants to make life as difficult as possible. That old ‘perverse streak’ has got a lot to answer for, hasn’t it? We like to give ourselves a super-hard time and nothing can put us off.


We pick something to be ‘true’ as flippantly as you please and then we work as hard as we possibly can to make it actually be true. We move heaven and earth. We fight tooth and nail; we fight for all we’re worth. We try to get everyone else to believe it too, given half a chance. If they listen to us! If they don’t get the upper hand first and force us to believe their bullshit instead. Eventually, after we’ve put ourselves through the ringer, we will – with infinite reluctance – give up on it. But not until we absolutely have to. But not until we’ve ‘suffered to the maximum’, however. Not until we’ve squeezed every last little drop of pure misery out of the situation. Now isn’t that the truth?





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Life in the Preta Loka

Empty faces in an empty world – you’ve got to love it, haven’t you? You’ve certainly got to love it, no doubt about that. Absolutely you have. That’s the whole point right there. That awful, frightening emptiness behind every face – it’s all rather splendid, don’t you think? Splendid in an eerie way.  Of course, you’ve got to be the sort of person who likes that sort of thing. That kind of goes without saying, I would have thought! It’s no good at all if you don’t.


Focus on wealth, they told me, focus on abundance… They’d make you laugh, wouldn’t they? Here we are in the jolly old Preta Loka and they’re telling me to focus on abundance! They’d have to see the irony in that of course, they’d absolutely have to. No one could be so stupid as to miss that. For sure they couldn’t.


Machines don’t have the capacity to be ironic, as we know. That goes without saying, of course. They can’t pull it off no matter how hard they try. They just can’t manage it and that’s very heartening for those of us who still pride ourselves on being good old-fashioned non-mechanicals, deeply unfashionable as that may be. It’s up to us to be as ironic as possible in everything we do, to promote – as far as we are able – the pursuit of irony in all aspects of collective life. That’s a joke by the way – I don’t really mean it.


Alas, I – like so many others (like all of us, in fact) – can’t help noticing myself becoming more and more strident, more and more earnest, more and more uncouth, more and more belligerent and – therefore – less and less ironic with every day that passes. The rot has set in you see. It’s set in very deeply. The contamination has caught hold and now it won’t be denied. It insists upon rearing its ugly head. Life has become – for so many of us – a mere matter of brute survival. Or a brute matter of mere survival. We survive so that we might live to survive another day. We survive because that’s the Rule and everyone always has to obey the rule (as I’m sure you yourself know only too well). We survived because we’ve become Survival Machines and surviving is what survival machines do.


Fate is a cruel thing, is it not? Fate is such a cruel thing and none of us can avoid it, which is also very cruel. Sometimes I think that’s the cruellest thing of all. Sometimes people want to know all about my life and stuff like that. They want the inside information. They want the gossip. There’s really not much I can say on the matter, however. There is in fact very little I can say about it because it was all a big misunderstanding. It never really happened. They would cover this up if they could of course. There’s a big plot going on to cover it up, to make out that everything is going just swimmingly. It’s all going to plan, the officials tell us. None of it actually happened but the official story is that it did and that it is ‘totally true’.


Reality is a terrible risk, as I imagine most people will be only too happy to agree. It’s a terrible, awful risk. An absolutely horrendous risk… It’s a terrible risk and that’s why we play the game as cautiously as we do. That’s why we make sure to obey all the rules. That’s why we make sure to obey whatever rules might be going. ‘Focus on abundance,’ they say. ‘Be very careful that you don’t accidentally focus on extreme psychological poverty because you know what will happen if you do that!’


We survive because we have to, each and every one of us. We are survival machines through and through. We make up stupid stories in the privacy of our own heads to try to make sense of this senseless existence of ours and then we fight viciously over whose story is the right one. We’d happily kill each other over it. There’s no end to our foolishness, you see – no end at all. We babble hysterical nonsense as fast as we possibly can; we babble hysterical nonsense non-stop in order to distract ourselves from the knowledge of our terrible fate…




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Dreaming of the Good Things…

Dreaming of the good things, dreaming of the bad things. That’s how it goes, doesn’t it? That’s always how it goes. The good things and the bad things. We all know how this goes. We’ve all been there, you see. The thing is to focus on the good things, as everyone will tell you. The thing is to attract them to you. Those good, good things. How good they are! How wonderful and how marvellous they are. Tears come into my eyes when I think about them. Big fat stupid sentimental tears…


The good things are so very good, we say to each other. The good things are so good but you have to make very sure you never let anyone take them away from you when you’re not looking. We all have to be very careful of that. I was mixing up things that I never should have mixed up. I was dabbling in the dark arts. I was concocting a potion that contained all the very worst things in the world. When it was ready, I would drink it. When the time was right and proper then I would drink it down and I would be reborn. I would be reborn instantly as an unhappy ghost, destined to be tortured on a daily basis by all my insatiable desires. Destined to wander the Preta Loka, continually trying (and continually failing) to get my hands on all those wonderfully good things. All those very special things…


I was in a dark, dark place in my own mind, a place that wasn’t really there, a place that existed only in my own twisted and tormented thoughts. I was stuck there, I was totally trapped there, unable to imagine what freedom would even look like. Unable to imagine the smell of it. Unable to know if it had a smell or not.  I guess I’m like a lot of people in that regard! I guess we all know what that feels like. Damn right we do, damn right we do… To be trapped in that place where freedom is – at best – a profoundly alien concept. Something that doesn’t actually seem real when you say it out loud, something that people would jeer at you for believing. A stupid story that we all know isn’t true, and never could be. That truly is a dark place, my friends.


Being in a dark old place like that isn’t much fun, at the end of the day. No – it’s not much fun at all. No Sir it surely isn’t. You wouldn’t really expect it to be either, would you? It doesn’t exactly sound like a barrel of laughs, and it isn’t. By God it isn’t. “Wait”, I cry out tremulously, “did something just happen there?” We all stopped to listen, straining our ears. We heard nothing however – not a thing. Not a sausage. Zilch. That’s the way it always is of course – nothing ever happens when we’re in that unreal place that we create in the discomfort of our own tormented minds. Nothing ever happens and nothing ever could…



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Excused on the Grounds of Non-Existence

We are all participants in the Grand Illusion, are we not? We are all participants in the Grand Illusion but the thing about this is – of course – that we must never ever admit it! Not even to ourselves, especially not even to ourselves.


The Grand Illusion is so very grand, isn’t it? So marvellously grand, so wonderfully grand. So very, so very. Grand like nothing else. Splendidly grand. And yet at the same time it is crass in the extreme, it is an exercise that is as humiliating for all concerned as it is downright harmful. And yet also rather splendid, and yet also rather marvellous. Which is why we rejoice in it so much, perverse creatures that we are…


Say nothing about it – that’s the thing to remember. Say not a word, not under any circumstances. Refuse to admit that you know anything about it. Then you’ll be just like everyone else, won’t you? Then you’ll be part of the Grand Conspiracy too, only – like I just said – you mustn’t ever admit that to yourself. You can’t ever let yourself in on the secret because if you do that then you’ll know!


Big John walks into the room. “Hi, Big John,” we all say, “how are you doing Big John?” Only there’s no one there. There’s no one there and there’s no ‘Big John’ either. There’s nothing, nothing at all. There’s nobody to be seen – there’s just you (in your celebrated role as the virtual witness) and the empty room, just you and the empty. ‘Just you and the Big Empty’, as the man said…


“There’s no one here but me and the Big Empty,” you say, “only I’m not really here at all because I’m only a figment of my imagination. There’s no one here but me and the Big Empty and I’m only an old sham…” You were cleared of all wrongdoing on the grounds that you don’t exist – they couldn’t make the charges stick.


It was a premium product, but it also wasn’t real. Never real. But all the same a premium product! Nothing but the best. The cream of the cream. The crowd are going mad for it. You can feel the quality of it yourself if you like. You can have a free sample. The Grand Illusion is so very grand, is it not? I believe that I’ve said that already. I’m on record as having said something to that general effect. I do believe that is on my permanent record. A premium product, a premium product – nothing but the very best!


Grand like nothing else, but also humiliating – deeply humiliating for everyone concerned, which is mostly me. Mainly me. Largely me. I was found guilty by a court of my peers, but then excused on the grounds of my non-existence. I was released without being charged. I was exonerated on the basis of general irrelevance. I was let off with no stain on my character…




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‘You total fucking twagger!’ I cried out, fists flailing wildly, teeth gnashing, foam spraying out of my mouth in all directions. I was absolutely incandescent with rage. I was enraged beyond all measure. I was enraged at myself, of course. I hated myself. I hated myself so much…


I was laying up treasures for myself in the Super-Validated Heaven Realm of Good Things To Come. I was laying up treasure after treasure – I was amassing splendid spiritual riches, which are by their very nature beyond compare. Beyond compare, but super-good all the same. Guaranteed by the Guarantor of All Good Things. Guaranteed by the Arch-Guarantor Himself, whose Name we shall not speak in case it is taken in vain.


I had ascended to the Ultimate. First, I aspired to the Ultimate, and then I ascended to it. I’m not wanting to mess around, you see! Never one to mess around, never one to postpone the moments of self-willed glory, I demand what is mine. Angrily, I demand what is mine and when I don’t get it I bellow and roar and paw at the ground like an infuriated bull.


‘I am he who shouts, ‘I am he’’, I shouted, and the echoes of my shouting filled the air, reflected back by the distant mountains. ‘I am he who shouts, ‘I am he’’…, the echo came back to me, returned to me with added vehemence. Returned to me with extra punch and vigour. ‘Even the mountains attest to my greatness’, I marvelled, ‘even the mountains proclaim my magnificence…’


‘It’s as well for them that they do’, I observed to myself. ‘It’s as well for them that they do or else Id’ go over and flatten them! It’s just as well that they see fit to attest to my greatness, otherwise I would grind them into dust’. Even as I thought this however, I felt myself slipping inexorably into one of my terrible slumps. Instead of bellowing I whimpered; instead of shouting I found myself mumbling incoherently. Even I could not understand what I was saying.


In my dreams I was laying up treasures for myself in the Super-Validated Heaven Realm again. I’ve always been a bit of an obsessive bastard but in my dreams I was taking it to the next level. ‘Lay up the treasures, lay up the treasures’, I told myself earnestly. ‘What a man sow so shall he reap’. Beads of euphoria sweat were standing out on my mottled forehead. Paradise was so close I could taste it…




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A Divided God Never Conquers

I was recriminating against myself, giving out stink, giving myself a super-hard time, and all that sort of stuff. “You’re a crappy, useless Creator God and nobody likes you”, I scolded myself, “you’re wicked to the very core and full of ludicrous vanity.”


I knew I couldn’t continue like this much longer, however. I knew I was never going to get anything done just as long as I was divided against myself in this way. A Divided God never conquers, after all. “A Deity who is divided against Himself can never be respected,”I pontificated wisely, “not even by Himself. Especially not by Himself!” Reasoning thus, I decided to take decisive action.


I hadn’t yet decided exactly what that decisive action would be, but whatever it was it would be incredibly, awesomely, supremely decisive. There is no doubt about that! “No sir, I told myself, there’s doubt about that at all…”


Days hasten by, on their way to some important goal. They rush past me, heedless of anything apart from their ultimate destination. The rule is that nothing matters apart from getting to the Super-Important Goal as quickly as possible. The rule is that everything else is crap, that everything else is expendable. The rule is that everything else can be sacrificed for the sake of obtaining the Sacred Goal.


“Hurry on you days,” I cried out gaily, “Hurry on to wherever it is that you’re going!” I waved casually at them as they raced by. I was nonchalant, chilled out, carelessly indifferent to the spectacle – Unphased you might say. Only not really.


I had a vague feeling that something was wrong, that something bad had happened, but at the same time I didn’t know what it was. “Did a bad thing happen?” I asked myself, “is there something suspicious going on that I ought to know about?” I forced a laugh – “Nothing funny going on here,” I said to myself, “everything is fine and dandy and there’s no problem with anything…”


I had created a veneer of false optimism and it was something of a masterpiece – even if I do say it myself! Filled with a sense of unassailable pride, I strutted up and down, as cocky as can be. “You don’t see veneers like that every day”, I told myself, polishing it up a bit here and there with a bit of old rag that I keep in my pocket especially for that purpose. “I’d like to see anyone else come up with a veneer as good as this….”


‘Pride cometh before a fall’, however, as you are now undoubtedly saying to yourself. I’m sure that’s what you’d like to point out to me, if you had the opportunity. You don’t need to however, you don’t need to because I know that already. I’m not stupid, after all, and any advice you may see fit to give me is strictly for your benefit, not mine.


Something very bad had happened to the world, but I hadn’t the faintest clue as to what it might be. Something very ominous indeed had happened and yet the authorities continued to deny it. Which is only to be expected of them, of course – isn’t that what the bloody authorities always do? “Those dirty filthy stinking lousy authorities,” I raged, my face turning blotchy purple with barely repressed emotion. “They’re all Satan Worshippers and Neoliberals!” Deep down, however, I knew that this wasn’t true. Deep down, I knew that ‘the Authorities’ were me…



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The Guru Zone

Do you know that thing where you make up a very special word in your head, a word that no one else knows about, that no one else can know about, and then one day you get this horrible paranoid feeling that your special word might have become common knowledge and that everyone is secretly laughing at you? Even the dog in the street is laughing at you. This is of course just a perverse fantasy, you tell yourself sternly. There’s no one no way anyone could ever have guessed your special word. You decide to Google it just to make sure. Now – if you discover that your secret is out and your special word has been uncovered then that’s your worse fears come true, so that’s no good. It’s never any good when your worst fears come true, as I think you’ll agree. But – and this is the odd thing – if you don’t find the word then you feel strangely devalidated. ‘Do I even exist at all?’, you might ask yourself.


Life is full of different experiences of course. Everyone knows that. Life is full of lots of different experiences for sure, only sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes there’s only the one experience, sometimes there’s nothing but pure monotony – relentless, tedious, soul-destroying monotony. On and on and on – the dreadful remitting monotony of your own pointless existence. What we’re talking about here is the radical impoverishment of reality itself, we might say, and that’s no joke. That is certainly not what most people would understand as ‘a humorous situation’. No Sir – there’s no laughing here. There’s people grumbling, people complaining, people giving out stink left, right and centre, but no one laughing. Certainly no one laughing. What’s to laugh about, after all?


Life is full of different experiences, as I’ve already mentioned. Lots of people know this already of course, but – then again – others may not. Some experiences are generally held to be good, others bad, and yet others again neither the one thing nor the other. And yet what are we to make of these experiences – that’s the question every philosophically-minded person is necessarily asking themselves. ‘What’s the story, my friends? What’s the story? What do you reckon?’


We’re trying to come across as being a ‘worldly-wise’ and genuinely ‘street-savvy’ person of course. Or – at least – you’re trying to come across as your idea of what a worldly-wise and generally street-savvy kind of a person would sound like. How they would come across like how they would come across. The type of things they would say, the type of things they wouldn’t say, the type of facial expressions they might exhibit at appropriate moments in the conversation, and so on. You’ve got it off pat at this stage it’s become very nearly effortless for you and you’re glorying in your newfound freedom. The world is your mollusk, you tell yourself grandly.


It’s only a matter of time before you graduate to the next level, as you have now come to realise. It’s only a matter of time before you penetrate to the heady atmosphere of the Guru Zone and there is no way to tell what might happen then! It’s only a matter of time, only a matter of time, you tell yourself . You will think of special things to say. You’ll always think of special things to say. You will be soaring high, far above any public reproach, and it’s only what you deserve. ‘No better man’, you tell yourself approvingly, ‘no better man’.


‘Do you know that thing, do you know that thing, do you know that thing…’, you bleat piteously, pathetically keen (as always) to find the common ground; pathetically keen (as always) to strike the right note, to strike a chord that resonates with somebody. It’s only a matter of time before you ‘connect’ and you’re living for that moment. We’re all living for that moment, are we not? We’re all hanging in there, waiting for our chance. Coasting effortlessly on wings of glory, soaring high in the stratosphere of our own imaginations. You’re in the Guru Zone now and there’s no stopping you…



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Smoking My Own Smoking #2

I was smoking away on my special pipe. Smoke the special pipe, smoke the special pipe, smoke the my my mind told me with the greatest possible urgency. I was puffing away puffing away for all I was worth, puffing away like a pure lunatic, puffing away like a fiend. My face was going purple with all the puffing. My hair was standing on end. Smoking to special stuff the very special stuff in my very special pipe. All of this was occurring within a hallucination of course smoking the special stuff that was in the bowl of my special pipe was causing me to hallucinate madly, feverishly, insanely, and the outcome of this feverish hallucinatory process was smoke this special pipe, my mind told me sternly, and yet I knew all along that my mind was a hallucination that came out of the glowing bowl of my pipe. Smoked the special pipe, smoked the special pipe came all the echoes in Istanbul in all of a sudden tumble. Came all the echoes, came the echoes, came the e3choes in a sudden. My ego was clearly fragmenting, which is a thing that often happens to me when I get carried away by my smoking obsession and start smoking my my own smoking. Smoke your own smoking my mind advised me, taking the form of a cliched elderly psychotherapist belonging to one of the older analytical schools. My mind – which was at this point in the proceedings thinly disguised as an old-style psychoanalyst – peered at me over a pair of steel rimmed glasses. You have regressed back to a primal infant modality he informed me, you’re caught up in a bout of pathological incest fixation and you think everyone else is sick when really it was it was you all along. Something will have to be done, of course, the austere authority figure which was my mind told me, in the severest of tones. he was the headmaster of my dreams and I was in detention for ever. You’re very sick indeed, he informed me. It’s a dangerous situation, he told me it’s perilous for everyone. You’re a very sick person. You are possibly the sickest man on the whole planet right now. Words just can’t describe it. You are so sick it’s a national crisis. The emergency services have been called. I smoked faster, realising that I needed to smoke faster, realizing that I needed to integrate the contents of my my psychosis. Smoke faster, my mind urged me, smoke faster and that way you might just be able to stem the evil tide





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Rich Creamy Euphoria #2

Out of the rich creamy euphoria – and I’m talking about the genuine Primo Quality Stuff here, which we in the trade call ‘the Cream of the Cream’ – anyone at all, irrespective of their personal skills or talents – can create a compelling and completely satisfying fantasy life. We in the trade like to call this ‘the Cream of the Cream’, the rich, deliciously creamy euphoria that we all love so much – anyone at all, irrespective of the very best fantasies can be created and effectively maintained and the reason for this is that euphoria of this special premier-quality product can create and maintain a richly-compelling fantasy life – a fantasy life fit for a king and you – irrespective of your personal skills, worth or talents – can create a compelling and completely satisfying fantasy that anyone would be proud of and I’m talking about the genuine ‘Primo Quality’ Stuff here, which we in the trade called ‘the Cream of the Cream’ . The very best fantasies can be created and effectively maintained and the reason for this is that euphoria of this special premier-quality product supports and gives backbone to any egoic fantasy irrespective of how inadequate (or perfectly lame) it may be. Create a fantasy life fit for a king and for the reason for this is that euphoria of this very special quality supports and augments and maintains a richly-compelling fantasy life – a fantasy that any













Mean And Nasty

Suppose you’re bored, at a loss, disconnected, alienated, fed up and so on and so forth – all that kind of stuff. You just can’t get motivated anymore – you just want to stay distracted all the time, in your sterile little cocoon of self-distraction. You would stay there forever if you could but of course you can’t. That’s just not possible, as you yourself know only too well. No, that’s not possible, as you now realise only too clearly. You are about to be kicked out of your nice safe little cocoon and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. You are being turfed out, you’re being unceremoniously evicted into the outside world and the outside world isn’t a very friendly place! Not to you it isn’t, at any rate. It’s very far from being friendly as far as you’re concerned – it’s just about as unfriendly as it could get.


You’re making a scene, of course – you’re making a big ugly scene of it. For all the good it’ll do you. You might as well go quietly but you won’t. You will never do anything quietly; you would never do anything the easy way because that’s just the way you are. Why do it the easy way when you could make a scene and drag it out for as long as possible? You’re bored, fed up, listless, at a loss, and all the rest of it. You’re not very happy about the cards life has dealt you and you’re letting the whole world know exactly how you feel. Not that the world gives a damn about how you feel because of course it doesn’t. The world doesn’t give a shit.


How great it would be if only everything could be great! How truly exceptional that would be. How truly. You have come to realise that this can never be however, and the knowledge is very bitter to you. Never was knowledge so bitter. You’re off form, you’re out of sorts, you’re as cranky as hell and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. There’s nothing anyone can do to make your day better. No Sir there isn’t. You’re just going along for the ride (as they say) and what a ride it is, huh? Fun for all the family, as they say. It’s a nightmare you just can’t switch off. It’s a nightmare with no off button.


One moment you’re bored, listless, disgruntled, cantankerous, out of sorts – chewing over the cud in your grubby little cocoon and then the next moment you’re wishing you could have it all back. You’re wishing you could be back there in the old cocoon. You didn’t know how you good you had it. No one ever does. You didn’t realise how very lucky you were to have your very own sterile private reality bubble to fart about in. Within which you could do all meaningless bullshit as you wanted and still feel like a bloody hero. Within which you could (and did) talk shit to your heart’s content. Those were the days, my friends – those were the days. Consequence free bullshit, which is just the way you like it. And you never appreciated it. You took it all for granted, fool that you are. And still are.


You’re bitter towards yourself on this account. Very bitter. You’re downright toxic. Super-toxic. Of course you are. You’re mean and cranky and you can’t find it within yourself to move on. No way can you move on. You can’t see the bigger picture – you can never see the bigger picture. You’re permanently deluded. You can’t find it in yourself to give yourself a break – quite the opposite is true, in fact. You won’t ever let up. You’re going to punish yourself relentlessly every step of the way and no one can blame you for that. You had it coming, after all…






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