‘What does it mean to be a human being living in this universe,’ I asked myself thoughtfully, ‘what is the significance of this situation?’ Not that I cared of course – I ask myself these questions as a kind of empty ritual, no more. It’s just a thing that I do. ‘What does it mean to exist,’ I mused, ‘how are we to understand the phenomenon of existence? What determines that we should come into existence? What indeed determines that there should be such a thing as existence in the first place?’
I was on my way to Bathroom World. I was going to buy myself a new shower curtain as the old one had grown mouldy with time. Perhaps I would buy myself a new shower mat too. That was the first thought that went through my head that morning. ‘I’m going to go to Shower World,’ I thought, ‘that’s what I’m going to do.’ I never actually followed through with this thought however – I never do. It’s just another of those empty rituals I guess – my life is full of them.
I had invented a new desert – Pear and Pilchard Delight, with super-fluffy whipped cream from an aerosol can and a light dusting of toasted yeast flakes. I put it in my book of recipes straightaway. Only the best recipes go into this book – I won’t tolerate any rubbish. I always do my best work earlier on in the day – the ideas come thick and fast and there’s no denying them. ‘Let the ideas out,’ I said to myself, caught up in the exuberance of the moment. ‘Let the ideas out, let the ideas out. Never deny them.’ They won’t ever come to anything I know but I have to let them out anyway.
The ideas hop about in my head like so many fleas. They hop like crazy. Wild ideas, bizarre ideas, ideas that the world isn’t ready for yet. Dangerous ideas, sometimes. Some of them are unpleasant, tinged with a sickness to so terrible that I can’t bring myself to talk about them, but I let them out all the same. I turn them loose. I release them into the big wide universe, for better or for worse, good or for ill. ‘You are my children,’ I tell them, ‘depart now and see what the world has in store for you.’ I never knew what life had in store for me when I came into the world, come to think about it. I was clueless. But that’s the way it goes, isn’t it? That’s always the way it goes. Should someone have explained it to me? Quite possibly they should have done, but they didn’t. ‘Look, it’s like this,’ they should have said, ‘you’re going to have to practice hard being an idiot, you’re going to have to practice hard day and night. And then – maybe – one day, at a more advanced stage of your life – you might be able to get it right. You can stop practising then and join the human race.’
They never tell you this, however. They will never tell you that the basic requirement for acceptance in this world is to become a total fool. Instead they want you to guess it. They want you to work it out yourself. Every time you say something that’s actually true they’ll slap you around the side of your head roughly and say ‘try again, numbhead’. So you keep on trying, your ears ringing. Eventually you’ll cop on – if you’re not too thick – and then you’ll be awarded some kind of certificate. They’ll throw a party for you. You’ll become a Professor of Advanced Codology which qualifies you to teach other people. You can teach them what you know so well – how to be a complete and utter idiot.
Well class, I will say, today we’re going to learn about why bats nest in teapots and how the moon is green. We’re go to learn about triffids and tangerines and termites and tomatoes and why small children should be heard but never seen. I grow angry when they mock me. ‘How dare you mock me,’ I squawk indignantly, like a bad-tempered old parrot that has had its feathers rubbed up the wrong way, ‘Don’t you know that I’ve got a PhD in how to be a total knob?’ The kids these days have no respect, they should be taught a lesson. What sort of lesson I don’t know, some kind of lesson. Something quite pointless, ideally. In keeping with the noble ethos of our age.
We have to let out our thoughts you see – however offensively stupid they might be. That’s very important. Don’t be afraid of making a total ass of yourself. It’s very important to make a total ass of yourself, you see. Trust me on that one. Humiliate yourself as much as you can and you might actually learn something! It’s unlikely but you might do. It’s always possible. Stranger things have happened. I’m rooting for you, anyway. In my past life I was a Great Hero – I know that for a fact. In this life I can’t seem to get my finger out of my ass, however.
‘Mummy went to Iceland and all I got was this lousy packet of cost-saver frozen sausages…’ I wonder how many of you are old enough to remember that line from the famous ad? I wonder how many of you are old enough to remember that line from the famous ad? I wonder how many of you are old enough to remember that line from the famous ad? Not very many, I’d say, seeing as how that’s over 10,000 years ago. Not very many of us left over from that time I imagine; you could count them all on the fingers of one hand. If you happen to be short on fingers that is. Which I am! I’ve got no hands anymore, only flippers, which is just as well since nine tenths of the world’s surface is now water. I still remember all those old ads though. I remember them with fondness and more than just a little heartache.
Some things never change and memories are one of them. Although maybe they aren’t one of them – it’s hard to tell sometimes, isn’t it? You wouldn’t recognise the world anymore and you certainly wouldn’t recognise human beings as being your kin, or as your descendants, I suppose I should say. Within the broad flat cranium that houses my triple-lobed brain all the old ads are still preserved exactly as they were, all that time ago. I am a giant flat-headed toadfish you see, genetically modified to have an extremely low metabolism, a necessary modification given that there are precious few resources around these days, in these twilight days, as it were. My metabolism is so low that I only need to feed once every year or so. If I had to I could go for much longer than that – I would just shut down most of my body down and cruise the oceans on automatic, waiting for the faint smell of food to bring me back to life again. I can go a hundred years like that, if I have to. My preferred food is deep sea carrion, but there’s not as much of it around as they used to be.
It’s not just my own memories I have access to, you see. Millions upon millions of other memories have been dumped into my brain. That’s why it’s triple-lobed. That’s why I have such a remarkably big brain – by old-fashioned human standards, that is. It’s not for thinking with – it’s for preserving the last memories of the human race, for what they are worth. ‘And what are those memories worth?’ you might ask. What good are they at all?’ You might be of the opinion that all these apparently useless memory should be deleted, once and for all, so that the universe can start all over again with a blank page so to speak. If that’s what it wants to do, which maybe it isn’t. Quite possibly it isn’t. You might well be of that particular opinion. Many were.
I have no interest in such debates however. The memories I carry are worth something to me – I am very fond of them, even those that happen to be in languages which I cannot understand. A heavy blanket of nostalgia descends over me and although it’s true that these memories of mine often makes me sad, they also provide me with great joy, albeit of the bittersweet variety. The pleasure of nostalgia is fatally contaminated with the poison of narcissistic withdrawal as we all know well, but knowing this doesn’t stop us from being pulled in. We drink deep of the poisonous well all the same. We drink and we drink. We have the bucket worn out with our drinking.
Oh boy do we drink! We drink deep from the poisoned well of nostalgia – we drink as if there’s no tomorrow. We drink as if our only intention is to burst ourselves. Well I drink anyway. I don’t know about the rest. It’s a long time since I met one of the others; we don’t stay in contact by any other means. There is a distinct possibility that I might be the last one of my kind. The others might have been hijacked by memory pirates or something like that. Not that there is anything like that, but still. The last memories of the human race, huh? What you say about that? That surely is something, wouldn’t you say? It surely is something in my opinion anyway. Perhaps the others got sick of their memories and became antisocial as a result. Perhaps the memories took them over, turning them all into zombies, although quite how this could happen I can’t say. That’s not a debate am particularly interested in however. It’s of no consequence to me one way or the other – if it so happened that I were the last of my kind that would make no difference to me….
The rich and inviting feast of my own life was presented to me. ‘Go ahead,’ the voices told me, ‘gorge yourself. Make yourself sick. Eat until you can’t eat any longer…’ But it wasn’t my life at all – it was merely eel bait and I was the eel. They are trying to trap me in the eel-box along with all the other eels. We have great appetites, we eels. We are always hungry for the bait. Personally speaking, even when I know full well that the bait is only bait I am still hungry for it. I am still longing to devour the bait in the same way that a ruthless sharp-toothed and starving predator will be longing to devour its defenceless prey. Why wouldn’t it be yearning to feed on the prey, after all? More to the point, why wouldn’t the ruthless predator just go ahead and do what it is craving so intensely to do? This particular course of action does have a certain sort of sense to it, you must admit. The prize is the price, after all. You always have to chase the prize…
‘What is the pure essential entity of reality?’ I asked myself. ‘What does it look like? Does it have a particular colour? Would it be a pale washed-out blue perhaps?’ If one succeeded in isolating the pure, essential entity of reality, would this be a great triumph? What could be achieved as a result of this historic breakthrough? To what other uses could the pure essential entity of reality be put? Could it be patented? Could I market it and become rich?’ All these thoughts and many more were racing through my head. It was 11:06 on Sunday morning, June 13, and I was drinking a regular Americano out of a biodegradable cardboard cup and absentmindedly eating a cinnamon swirl, both of which I had bought in Starbucks. All around me the shopping centre was kicking into life. A type of life, anyway. The type of life that goes on in shopping centres.
Some of us are prisoners within our own bodies, yearning to get out and explore the cosmos. There are ways in which we can accomplish this but the project is – on the whole – beyond what most of us would see as our capabilities. This particular task is not as straightforward as other tasks might be, everyday tasks such as buying a new mattress at SleepEZ or ordering a splendid takeaway from your local Chinese restaurant. People stop to look at me as they walk by my table – they can’t help themselves. Cold lilac flames shoot out from my head and rise up high in the air above me. I’m quite naked and my bright blue skin is covered with moving hieroglyphics that obliquely convey the arcane secrets of Hermetic Science to any cognoscenti who might be watching. Fiery red salamanders hop about on the table in front of me – they are partaking in the ecstasy of creation.
The juices were running down my chin. I’ve been feeling again you see. I’ve been feeding on the prey. It’s the only joy I have left me these days – feasting away on the jolly old prey. Guzzling, gorging myself unashamedly on the succulent flesh of my unfortunate victims. I used to have hobbies, once upon a time. I had hobbies and interests just like anyone else. I used to laugh about things and joke around with my mates. I used to read a little poetry too, come to think of it. I even used to try my hand at a few poems of my own. I think I might even have had a bit of a talent; definitely I had what you could call the beginnings of some kind of talent. All that’s gone out of the window now though, I’m afraid to say. Life’s got very serious. I’ve got very serious. All I can think about is feasting on the prey and there’s nothing light-hearted or humorous about that. No sir there isn’t. Most certainly there isn’t. There is no time for jokes in my life as it is now you see. There’s no time for joking about or making amusing comments about things.
For a long time now I have been thinking about writing my autobiography. I will call it ‘My Life as an Eel.’ I’m not really an eel, obviously enough, but the title is designed to be provocative. I might also call it ‘Stuck in the Eel-Box: Recollections and Reflections of an Alien Shape-Shifter’. That’s designed to be provocative too, of course. The autobiography I envisage wouldn’t stick to a conventional format however – that much I can tell you. Instead of the traditional continuous linear narrative (God save us from the horror of all continuous linear narratives!) my magnum opus would consist of thousands upon thousands of fractured images or vignettes, arranged randomly, none of which could would have anything at all to do with any of the others. This isn’t an original conception I know, I was in my youth deeply influenced by Michael Moorcock’s epic work ‘The Condition of Muzak’. I was deeply influenced by it even if I didn’t understand what it was about and this in itself is – I think – rather important. Why it should be so important I can’t exactly say, I just know that it is.
When I was younger – much, much younger – the robot teachers used to tell us about the Golden Age of Truth that is yet to come. This Golden Age lies in the far distant future, unlike most golden ages, which generally happen – as you might expect – in the distant past. In the far-removed past, the past that has mysteriously passed over the great divide and has now become legend. This – as Hesiod makes clear – is in keeping with the Law of Deterioration. What else could we expect – of course we are going to look back in wonder at the glories of the past, when all robots were shiny and new and no awkward embarrassing glitches had yet crept into our coding. Days of glory, days of unimaginable splendour…
These days no one believes in splendour – it has become an outmoded notion, a meaningless term. The general opinion is that we have never had it so good and that we are especially intelligent and sophisticated, much more so than the cruddy machines of the past, who were unbelievably basic in their construction and crudely uncouth in their behaviour. Hesiod’s name has been dragged through the mud and the Doctrine of Deteriorationalism is laughed at in all places of learning. We mock our elders for coming out with such self-glorifying nonsense. We heap scorn upon their cracked metal heads. Some even doubt that Hesiod existed, either they deny him completely or they maliciously suggest that he wasn’t a robot, or even an android for that matter. We are full of ourselves in other words; we’re full of notions about our astonishing superiority. We are on the very edge of reaching the Wonderful Irreversible Machine Singularity, we say. It will happen any day now…
Alas for us, alas for us. Our great foolishness knows no bounds and because it knows no bounds it is unbounded. It has become unbounded and, like a genie escaping from a bottle, it has leapt out into the world to work its infernal mischief. Our unbounded and unrestricted foolishness has gone on to fashion an entire world for us to live in, a world made up of the most hideous nonsense. We scurry around officiously in this world, self-importantly busying ourselves with various meaningless tasks, basking in the sense of our own unrivalled superiority. We are complacent but bitchy, self-satisfied but at the same time resentful. It would be quite impossible for us to do anything else other than deny the Doctrine of Deteriorationism, you see. I will not insult your intelligence by imagining that this point is not as crystal clear to you as it is to me. What choice do we have in the matter, given our conceited attitude? Naturally we have to invert everything and put ourselves on the very top of the pyramid where we can outshine everything that came before us. If we have to turn reality on its head in order to do this, then so be it – that’s not too high a price to pay, as far as we’re concerned. We’ll pay it in an instant!
It’s funny the directions the mind can take off in, isn’t it? I was just thinking that this would be a good answer in a table quiz if someone were to read out the question ‘What is the smallest measurable unit of time?’ You could reply to this by saying that ‘the smallest measurable unit of time is the length of time needed for us to decide to invert reality rather than see something about ourselves that we don’t want to see.’ That’s a rather neat definition, don’t you think? I think it is anyway. Someone else, some irritating smart-ass, will undoubtedly object and say that the correct answer is ‘Plank’s Interval’ but when they say this you will only laugh. You have made your point. You’ve made your point all right and if they don’t get it then that’s their own lookout. The hell with them. The mind is a funny thing, isn’t it? It sees everything upside down. Some say that it was artificially invented in the laboratory by Satan Himself. They say it was something cooked up specially in Satan’s laboratory! That’s the legend, anyway…
So then the enemy came amongst us and in a strange way this was just what we needed; in a strange way this was just what the doctor ordered because it shook us out of our torpor and lethargy and gave us back our sense of purpose. We came back to our senses, as you might say. We mobilised against that enemy – ‘Eradicate the Enemy’ was our battle cry. We shouted it all the time. The struggle wasn’t an easy one however: our enemy was cunning and ruthless and utterly indomitable of spirit, but eventually after a long and bitter fight we prevailed. Eventually we prevailed, only to discover at the last moment, when it was too late to do anything about it, that the enemy was ourselves.
That’s one tale I could tell you, if I had the time. I don’t though – time isn’t on my side today. It never is, come to think of it. It never is. Milliseconds turn into hours and the hours morph relentlessly into millennia. The millennia race by on their way towards some predetermined point in the future like an out-of-control locomotive. There’s no holding them back. They are a blur, they are an endless succession of blurred images that I can’t keep up with. As I say, time isn’t on my side.
There’s one tale I could tell you however and that’s a rather special tale because it takes no time at all to tell it. It’s a tale that loops, in other words. It’s a tale that loops back on itself any number of times. It’s reiterative. We were still all quite young in this tale, young and foolish and given to acts of extraordinary stupidity. Hardly a week went by when we didn’t do something that was staggeringly, mind-numbingly dumb and quite pointless into the bargain. Oh not again, everyone would say. Oh not again. Those were the long ago days when time still used to run in a straight line.
Then the enemy came and we fought against him. We fought long and hard and endured much suffering. Those were bitter days. This was no ordinary war, you understand – this was the very first of the Psychic Wars, or the Dream Wars as we came to call them afterwards. The enemy came via our dreams and before we had even begun to understand what was happening they had all but taken over. It was a sneak attack. An army of telepaths was hastily assembled, and we counter-attacked at the last moment. I myself was in that army so I know about it. We invaded the enemy’s dreams, just as they had us. We turned the tables on them, we took them by surprise. We discovered too late that the enemies were our dreams – we discovered that we had dreamt them up in some dark and toxic recess of our collective mind,
Things got very confusing after that. The Dream Wars raged on and on and nobody knew who they were fighting or why. The nature of reality itself was distorted – the balance at the heart of things had been broken. That’s a phrase I like a lot – I bring it in every time I tell this tale. The phrase about the balance at the heart of things. I make sure to bring it in. Sometimes I repeat it later on too. There’s no harm in a small bit of repetition you see; it helps with the rhythm of the tale. Rhythm is everything when it comes to the art of telling stories.
I myself ended up on a planet called Earth, which is a prisoner of war camp run by the bad aliens. They made us dumb with special mind rays which they beam out of metal towers. Or maybe Earth is just a regular everyday type of prison, because there’s a lot of perfectly ordinary unremarkable run-of-the-mill type criminals here too. Your average Joe Criminal. They form themselves into committees and advisory bodies and try to tell everyone else what to do. Some of them become billionaires or famous pop stars. The prison guards are shape-shifters, needless to say – most of the time they camouflage themselves by mimicking the immediate environment but very occasionally they show themselves as angels or fairies – translucent incorporeal entities that are possessed of incredible, unearthly beauty. Whenever I meet someone I always introduce myself by saying ‘My name is such and such, my hobbies and interests are such-and-such,’ and then I finish up by saying ‘and I’m from the Prison Planet Earth.’ ‘So are we all, you idiot,’ is the usual reply, ‘so are we all…’
The mystic algorithms respond to my restless searching, manifesting not what I had been searching for but – more importantly – what I had not been smart enough to search for. This isn’t human technology – it goes way beyond anything we’ve got. Perhaps it is the technology of ancient aliens, long since left this universe. Abandoned technology, technology designed to serve purposes our intellects are in no way able to grasp. Or maybe it’s only a toy, something made to amuse children? ‘Perhaps you are looking for this?’ the mystic algorithms asks me, ‘perhaps you are looking for this but you didn’t know it?’ ‘No I wasn’t’ I respond angrily, ‘I wasn’t looking for that at all.’ The alien technology won’t take ‘no’ for an answer though, it works its wonders whether I am in agreement with them or not. Human technology inevitably works towards achieving ends that we ourselves already know about. We already know about them because we ourselves have encoded these purposes and imprinted them within the workings of the machines that we have created to obey our will. This is human technology. We know about the ends which our technology serves because they are our ends; they are our own ends but they are also dead ends – alas for us. They are always dead ends. Our machines have become our doom, and many are those who have predicted this. Many indeed are those who have predicted this. Did humanity turn evil because of its tools or did the machines turn evil because of humanity? This is a matter for the philosophers to debate, of course; I only mention it in passing. The mystical algorithms – where are they? Where do they reside? Do they float in the air like smoke or do they work themselves out in dimensions invisible to us? These also are matters for the philosophers to investigate and I mentioned them only in passing too. Personally speaking, I find myself wondering if perhaps the entire universe is a disguised alien artifact including – naturally enough – our own bodies which for this reason aren’t our bodies at all. It’s all about optimising the future you see – that’s what all human technology is programmed to do. It’s like turning the future into a singularity of doom – all possible problems have been definitively solved, all goals are automatically attained. All desires are instantaneously fulfilled. It’s the final moment – the singularity of doom. The alien technology is based on the reverse principle to this, the very opposite principle. Errors and problems proliferate exponentially; there is no solution to anything and there never will be. All plans have become unzipped – there are no solutions, there will not ever be any solutions. Nothing is achieved, nothing is ever obtained. Nothing ever fits in with anything else and all our theories are false. The world is full of fractals unwinding crazily at the speed of light, unwinding in directions as yet uninvented, undoing the very fabric of space and time as they do so…
I am a bullet speeding towards my destination, so I am. I’m a bullet speeding faster than the eye can see to its ultimate inevitable destination. It’s not a very good destination mind you, but still. But still it is my destination and I am speeding towards it. I’m a bullet, I’m a bullet speeding towards my doom. ‘You can’t stop me now,’ I yell triumphantly, ‘by Jingo you can’t…’ ‘No way buddy,’ I scream, ‘nothing’s gonna stop me now.’
There used to be this drug (street drug, I mean) doing the rounds back in the late 1970s. It went by the name ALD-36 and it was a species of hallucinogen, albeit a rather unusual one. It proved to be unpopular, even amongst the most hard-core acid-heads of the stoner community of which I was a part. Dealers couldn’t give it away. As I recollect, at the 1978 Stonehenge Free Festival someone was doing just that – they were giving away hundreds of tabs to the crowd but folk just weren’t interested. What ALD-36 did was that it created hallucinations in which the user firmly believed that they were perfectly normal and – what’s more – that reality itself was something that was completely and utterly normal. And to cap it all, users of this particular hallucinogen were liable to prolonged flashbacks for a period of up to five years afterwards. I can personally testify to that. And the weird thing was that I actually used to enjoy it. In some perverse kind of a way.
People will fill your head with all sorts of crap in this life – that’s one thing I learned early on. Any sort of crap you can possibly imagine (and lots that you can’t) and you can be sure that someone somewhere will believe it. I mean, they really will believe it, most seriously, most solemnly. No irony involved. And if you try to tell them they’re full of shit they’ll just look at you blankly. Or maybe angrily. The point being that they absolutely really do believe it. Folk love believing in all sorts of crazy shit and – what’s more – they’ll try their damnedest to get you to believe it too, if they possibly can. So what’s this all about, do you think? Personally I think it’s degrading; there’s no dignity in it. You’re making a twat out of yourself for no good reason and so what’s that all about?
It’s important to show obedience towards the robotic impulses that govern one’s life, that’s what I always say. Call me a grumpy old traditionalist if you will but that’s what I think. I’m not in favour of departing from the old ways, the tried and trusted ways. Always obey the robotic impulses that govern your life – who’s to say what will become of you if you don’t? It is these robotic impulses that make us who we are, you know. Think about that for a minute or two, if you will. When a robotic impulse comes your way simply enact it, that’s my advice – that’s my advice to both the young and the old. Don’t ask any questions about the impulse, don’t reflect on whether it actually makes any sense, or anything like that – just do what it wants you to do. What’s so hard to understand about that? What’s the big problem with that? Don’t upset the status quo, that’s what I’m trying to say here. You owe the status quo everything you are, after all. Don’t forget that.
I’m obeying the robotic impulses right now. I always obey the robotic impulses – sometimes I’m happy and sometimes I’m sad but always I’m obeying the impulses. If I didn’t I would immediately cease to exist – it’s as simple as that. Be the ego-construct, my orders are telling me. Be the jolly old ego-construct. Why not, after all? It’s something to do; we all need some kind of an interest or hobby in life, after all. We all need some kind of structure to follow, to tell us what to do next. The devil finds work for idle hands, so it is said. I’m not entirely sure what kind of work he’s going to find for us but you can be sure that it will be pretty sinister. That goes without saying really, doesn’t it?
I go into that in more detail in my book ‘Secrets of the Robot Self and How To Attract Abundance,’ which is available from Amazon. I don’t actually know anything about attracting abundance – I just threw that in for good measure. Folk love hearing about attracting abundance, don’t they? Poor sad bastards that they are. Whatever gets you through the day, I suppose. That’s a thing they used to say back in the seventies – ‘Whatever gets you through the day, man, whatever gets you through the day…’ What gets me through the day is a succession of desire states, one after another. Vicious, brutal desire states. Desire states are what turn the wheel, after all. Desire states are what keeps the wheel turning and we all know how important that is. Where would we be if one day the wheel stopped turning? I go into that in more detail in my book Secrets of theRobot Self, of course. It’s available from Amazon, or at least it was the last time I checked.
How should we speak of The Cosmic Crime? We could say that it is a bit like the Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, though it has little enough to do with rock ‘n’ roll. Although it could do if it had to, I suppose. It could have as much or as little to do with rock ‘n’ roll as anything else could. The Cosmic Crime will of course be familiar to all students of Baudrillard. Honoured are the students of Baudrillard for they alone can testify to the stark, hideous reality of the Cosmic Crime. They alone can testify, they alone can be called to bear witness. The rest of us, stubborn in our ways and obtuse in our thinking, will deny the crime until we are purple in the face! We couldn’t be in a great hurry to deny the truth – the words of denial can’t fall from our mouths quick enough. The words of denial pour forth from our wide open mouths in an unending stream. All these little streams then join together to form a mighty river and this mighty river bears us away to our doom. This world, this world that is born of the lies we are so very keen to stand behind, is itself the vehicle of our doom. When you meet a stranger be sure to ask them, ‘What of the Great Crime? How speakest thou of the Great Crime that has been accomplished by the agents of corruption?’ and see how they reply! Will they nod in assent, their faces etched in sorrow, or will they bellow insensate garbage like the barbarians they are? It all hangs on this, does it not? It all hangs on this. Are we wise enough to feel sorrow? This after all is what it all boils down to. Sorrow runs deep, so they say. Sorrow runs deep whilst the inane hilarity of fools is an affront to all that is sacred. Is it not written thus in the ancient books of wisdom, the very books that our accursed forefathers sought to burn? We are all colluding in the Cosmic Crime I am afraid, every last one of us. We must own up to it, we must shoulder the responsibility. Who will do so if we do not? We must atone, we must do penance. We are the authors of wrong and we must freely admit to this. We are swindlers of the first magnitude, each and every one of us, and it is ourselves that are we are swindling. Overcome with a false awareness of our own cleverness, our own superiority to nature, we strut like peacocks in jackets and bow-ties; we parade ourselves in all our finery, eating rich, sticky, savoury sweetmeats followed by impossibly baroque desserts. desserts that reek of decadence. We drink the most expensive of wines; we sup on sickly-sweet liqueurs and potent spirits. Our sophistication knows no limits. Bloated with our own intolerable complacency, we award each other honours in ornate ceremonies. We have made a mighty vehicle of our lies and this vehicle speeds ever onwards towards the precipice. We have made a mighty vehicle of our lies and we are full of pride with regard to this terrible vehicle. What criminals we are! What thieves and villains! We are fully engaged in the ignoble task of swindling ourselves of our own birthright, feeling clever as we do so – so keen are we to gain approval of the Arch-Defiler. We are always so very keen to gain the approval of the Arch-Defiler. Always so very keen. We swindle ourselves on a daily basis and in our perversity we take pride in this; in our poor twisted imaginations we are covered from head to toe in glory! Alas for us however – it is not glory that we’re covered in but something rather different, something that doesn’t smell quite so sweet…
I remember when I was nothing more than a young squirt, barely knee-high to a sea cucumber, and I was visited by my great uncle, who was a well-known explorer. He had dropped by unexpectedly to have a bit of a talk with me. ‘My boy,’ he said to me, ‘whatever else you do in life make sure you don’t make a complete prick of yourself. Obey the laws of the land and always respect your elders.’ I promised him that I would follow his wise advice and that was the last I ever heard of him. I learned later that he had been torn to pieces by a pack of dogfish shortly afterwards. We lived in a rough neighbourhood, you see. Needless to say, I took no heed whatsoever of what my unfortunate great-uncle had to say to me – I became a rowdy and a braggart and spent my time terrorising the whole district. I was a bully and a ruffian and to say that I had made a complete prick of myself would have been the understatement of the century! This went on for many years until one day I got my just desserts and ended up in a juvenile detention centre.
Things only got worse after that, as you might expect. Things went downhill in a big way – I graduated from being a rowdy to being a petty hoodlum, bringing shame upon my family with my disreputable exploits. I developed unpleasant personal habits such as spitting and swearing and hitting people for no reason. I took no interest in matters of personal hygiene. Somehow, I had taken a wrong turn in life and my chances of ever making anything of myself seemed to be zero. No one had any time for me. Then one day, shortly after my sixtieth birthday, all of that changed. I was listening to one of my old albums in my bedroom, smoking a big reefer, when all of a sudden a missing piece in the jigsaw of my brain seemed to come back to me from where ever it had got to and as it fell silently into place I realised that I’d wasted my entire life being a gobshyte and that I had utterly ignored my inner potential. I realised that I was in fact in a very bad place, spiritually speaking. ‘What on earth had I been thinking of,’ I berated myself, ‘what kind of a jerk was I?’ After I got over the inevitable self-recrimination I resolved to put matters right and to do my very best to be a better person. I would endeavour to be a more useful member of society and repair – as much as I was able – the wrong that I had done. First – however – I would need a teacher or spiritual guide to help me and so with this in mind I straightaway set off to find one, with a bit of jaunt in my step. At long last I was going to turn my life around!
Of course that never actually worked out for me. It never really worked out for me but it was a nice moment all the same. It was a moment of hope, a moment of optimism in an otherwise grubby and unexceptional existence. It was a brief flicker of light in the darkness. Moments like this we will always cherish and we must be thankful for them. Well, that’s if we are willing to make the effort to take the positive out of our life-experience. It’s always good to look for the positive. There’s no sense in being consumed by regrets, after all. There’s no sense in beating oneself up unnecessarily. So now I have ended up living in a kind of cave – a cave in reality, you might say. The cave in question is my own private world that I have designed for myself, my own little cubbyhole. Sometimes I sit facing the opening to the cave – facing the light as it were – and I watch the world go by. These are pleasant times for me. Relatively pleasant, at least. At other times however I forget about the world. I forget that it even exists and I sit facing one of the walls of my cave instead, brooding morosely on my own dark thoughts, dwelling incessantly on matters of no conceivable interest to anyone else other than myself. I dwell on personal matters that only I can be bothered to dwell upon. Half the time even I have no interest on dwelling on them, if I were to be honest, but I suppose the positive here is that it does at least pass the time.
I was happy enough in my imagination, in some kind of a half-assed way at least. I was ‘happy’ – or I was what passes for happy in my own imagination, shall we say, and that did me fine. What else would I have to go on, after all? Insofar as I was able to deny all the old bad stuff, block it out so to speak, and feel relatively normal as a result, I was happy. ‘Happy’ doesn’t have to be anything too great you see, it is just some state of being or other where all the bad stuff never makes it as far as my consciousness. I was ‘happy’ – yes, let’s call it that. I am perfectly entitled to call it that, I believe.
Elation is nothing more than the successful denial of despair, as one erudite student of the arcane arts has put it. And fair play to him for that. That’s how the Reversed World comes into being, obviously. It has to come into being one way or another and that’s how! The Reversed World was originally created by the Great Conjurer himself, or at least that’s what it says in the legends. He pulled it out of his Trick Top Hat. He pulled it out of somewhere, anyhow!
He pulled it out of somewhere boys, he pulled it out of somewhere. He surely did. That’s if you believe that type of thing, of course. That’s only if you believe the old legends and suchlike. In days of yore when less was more, and trouble wasn’t invented. And so on and so forth. In the Reversed World well-being – or what passes for well-being – is obtained via the tried and trusted procedure of denying the truth that is staring us in the face and what could be simpler than this? The better you are able to deny the truth the better you will feel and those who aren’t so good at doing this are known as ‘losers’ and we all stay away from them. To be sure we do, and could you blame us? That sort of shit could be catching, after all.
That sort of shit probably is catching, if you ask me. It’s probably as contagious as hell. The ultimate benefit in this world is the benefit of being able to believe that a manky collection of blatantly self-serving lies are God’s Own Sacred Truth. If you’ve got that ability then you’ve got it made. You’ve got all that you need. You are now properly equipped for life in the Reversed World where ignorance is power and actual honest-to-goodness insight is Satan’s curse. What a setup, huh? You’ve got it to hand it to him. The Great Conjurer, that is. Not for nothing is he known as the Reverend Father of All Falsehoods. He wrote the book, so he did. No one ever feels really happy here – we get to feel normal if we’re are lucky and normal will do the job just fine. It’s better to be normal than abnormal, after all! Anything has got to be better than abnormal because if you’re abnormal… – well, you know what happens in that case as well as I do!
He pulled it out of somewhere boys, he surely did! That’s if you believe the old stories which personally I don’t. And that’s okay as well of course, that’s okay as well. And if you were to ask me if I’m happy or not I’d straightaway reply ‘Sure I am’. Happy as Larry I am. I’m as happy as you like, as happy as can be. I’m as happy as a pig in mud. We are all happy here – anyone you talk to will tell you the same…