When I Was Spawned For the Hundredth Time

Do you know that moment when your eyes accidentally meet those of a stranger’s across a sea of plastic mushroom-like circular tables in a fast-food restaurant and you straightaway know that they hate and despise your guts with a passion and would like to kill you if they could get away with it? Well I get that a lot. I get it wherever I go. It’s getting so that I don’t even find it strange any more. I just think ‘OK so here we go again’. I’m not trying to say that it doesn’t bother me because it does. It bothers me a lot. It’s just that it doesn’t seem so weird any more. It doesn’t seem as uncanny to me as it used to. It’s just part of my life, part of my daily experience…

 

Do you know that moment, that near-telepathic flash of instantaneous recognition when you meet a stranger’s eyes across the crowded space of a fast-food restaurant and you have this uncanny feeling that they know everything about you? They know everything from just from that one look? And they hate you. They hate and despise you beyond measure because they know you, because they know what you stand for. Or rather it’s not that they know what you stand for but rather that they know what you did. They know what you did, but YOU don’t know what that is. You’re in the dark. You haven’t a clue but you know it must be bad because of the reaction. You know that it must be bad because of the universal reaction of implacable hate. So your mind is going crazy wondering what it is. You know that one, right?

 

I was a noob again. I had to go back to noob camp and do all the noob things. I had to start all over again doing all that real basic noob-type stuff again. Working your way up again – bit by painstaking bit. Step by step and the steps are so slow and arduous. I’d fucked up somewhere along the line and so now I had been spawned in the spawning grounds again and there was nothing ahead of me but doing all that noob-stuff with all the other noobs and that’s the most basic stuff imaginable. There’s no kudos there and that’s a fact. It’s OK for them because they really are noobs, they’re noobs with no experience other than being noobs and not even very much of that but when you’ve been a level 90 being a noob all over again is a very hard thing to face into. When you slowly and groggily come to in the spawning grounds and you gather your wits together just enough to realize where you are and what has happened to you, that’s just unbearable. It’s a very bad moment.

 

I was undergoing the ego-death. The one you read about in the manual. I knew it beyond any doubt – I could recognize the signs. My ego was sending me all these pathetic ‘wounded-ego’-type messages. Dying messages, really. Failure messages. Utter humiliation messages coupled with a sick sense of how there is no point in trying to do anything about it because you totally deserve all the shit that has come your way. You deserve it all. Because every single cell in your body is a loser-cell, every single molecule in every single cell a loser-molecule. Even the atoms making you up are loser-atoms. All of them. You just have to suck it up, endure the unbearable ignominy of it. That’s a contradiction in terms, isn’t it? You have to endure the unbearable. And yet you do. You submit to it. It’s as if you can feel the whole world’s scorn and that hurts so bad – there’s no one on your side, not anywhere. Everyone is laughing at you because they know you’re such a loser. Your ego’s going belly-up. Like a fish in a fish-tank that’s not doing so well. Some kind of delicate fish that’s got a very bad case of fin-rot. Swimming around in weak circles on the surface. Belly up. Getting progressively weaker. Prognosis not good. You know the way things are going and they’re only going the one way.

 

 

 

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The Children Remain To Guard Us

So I went to sit down with the others in the place where you go to hear the stories and before very long we heard the story of the story-telling machine which had been invented to tell stories all around the clock without ever taking a break because as everybody knows machines never get tired and they also never get bored when they have to do boring things which is always and forever and so a new age was ushered in by the ushers who are paid to do this sort of thing day and night the story-telling machine spun its multi-coloured yarns and the people sat around in the square to listen their ears growing long and wispy as they listened to all the lies and their fingers grew long and spindly trailing in the dust around them indistinguishable from the shadows that gathered there in the courtyard as the sun slowly went down behind the immense lifeless bodies of sleeping giants some the size of mountains others wizened hobgoblins smoking their evil-smelling pipes and spitting mouthfuls of black phlegm into rusty iron pots the golden age was long gone nothing but a fanciful rumour often heard but never believed we all know better at this stage we’ve heard too many stories and all of them lies the shadows gather silently in the dusty courtyard and all we can hear is the sound of coughing and screaming and children crying and the father remains to beat us said the story-telling machine give praise and thanks to the father who is coming to beat you the stories were getting grim now the fun had gone out of them men with faces like blank walls the soulless servants of the corporate warlords line up behind us to prevent us from making our escape they were making us buy the product a grim time a dark time a time of iron and harsh phrases the product has wormed its way into our very bones at this stage it has infiltrated our dreams the enemy is here among us my friends he has taught you to like him but in liking him you despise yourselves the story-telling machine is weaving its spell it is telling us the story of ourselves the machine is dreaming us its output is our thoughts, our feelings, the terribly boring stories we tell ourselves its input our pure life energy we are the output of the story-telling machine the stories we tell ourselves are its stories it coats our synapses with sticky yellow tar the permafrost of sleep the day of the father has dawned the cross father the angry father the shouting father listen to him shout listen to him roar listen to him bellow he’ll land a punch on you as soon as look at you at other times he’ll pretend to be your friend the product has gotten deep into our bones at this stage my friends it has infiltrated our dreams and coated our synapses with its sticky yellow tar the poor old pathways of our brains and the children remain to guard us says the voice softly and the children remain to guard us

 

 

 

 

Mindseed

Somewhere below the threshold of consciousness I was making up theories to explain my evident existence. There was an irritant out there in the velvety darkness of my sleep, a vaguely threatening issue lurking out of sight in the dense tropical undergrowth. The issue of existence – my existence to be precise. I was in a dream, not really paying attention, not really knowing or registering what was happening. It was happening but I didn’t care. I didn’t care because it didn’t concern me. The theories were seething under the surface, working away silently. I was content to let them do so. The brute fact of my existence suddenly looms, like a giant iceberg appearing in the dark – first impressions not giving any indication of the size of the thing. The theories start off unconsciously, autonomously, but then as the problem proves to be bigger than first imagined the computational intensity builds up and up until it reaches the point at which it crosses over the threshold. And then Bang – you’re awake. You’re conscious, although you don’t at first know of what. And then you realize that you’re becoming conscious of yourself trying to solve a big problem. The biggest problem there is – the problem of your own existence.

 

So there I was, evidently existing but unsure of what this meant, unsure of what the ramifications of this might entail. Doing my level best to get an angle on what was happening, but to no avail. I lay there, apparently relaxed, my mind working overtime in the background trying to get a handle on things. It was coming up with a rather strange line of thinking – visually it was all leaning over to one side with lots of baroque little curlicues branching out fractal-wise from the leading edge. It looked very much like a great wave, a great ocean breaker made up of thousands upon thousands of skewed endlessly reiterating computational matrices. Then the wave hit a limit and started to topple over itself, disintegrating dramatically as it did so. Time seemed to slow down. For a moment everything went blank and when I came to I was sitting on a stony beach next to a dark and stagnant sea. A stiff breeze had arisen and it was moving huge clumps of yellowish foam along the surface of the sea towards the shore, towards where I sat. Every now and again a giant lump of foam would come loose and get blown into the air. The beach was littered with clumps of the stuff. The foam had an unhealthy look to it and I didn’t want it to touch off my skin. There was a smell of decaying seaweed.

 

An event had happened – that much was easy to see. An event had occurred and some sort of emergency protocol had been triggered. That’s what created the discontinuity, I surmised. A whole world of questions were left to be answered, as is always the case after a discontinuity. Questions of identity. Questions such as ‘Who am I?’ ‘What am I doing in this place?’ and ‘Who was I before I came here?’ There was nothing in me but blankness. All I had left to me were questions I realized, questions that I didn’t even know how to begin answering. I went backwards in time, looking for clues. I retraced my steps – I rolled my memories right back to the very beginning, which was all of ten minutes ago. I replayed them slowly. ‘This time will be different,’ I said to myself, although I couldn’t understand where this statement had come from. ‘This time I bring back with me a token,’ I said again, more forcefully this time. ‘All of my memories, the memories of an entire world, are gathered together in a single multidimensional  mindseed, hidden deep in my unconscious’, I declared. I didn’t recognize my own voice – it was deep and hoarse. I knew then that the seed was already beginning to stir within me – this time would be different, I thought to myself. This time would be different because this time I would remember…

 

 

 

 

Gubbish Worm

My life was living itself. I didn’t have to bother myself about it too much – if at all really. There was nothing left for me to do, which I found a bit odd. I still had my hobbies of course, which all came down to various styles and modalities of self-sabotage. Needless to say! What else would you expect after all? Life’s kind of foolproof really – this is what I have come to understand, however slowly. Well, it actually is foolproof, not ‘kind of’. It needs to be you see because we are the fools. Bring on the fools, as the man said! Well – here we all are. Here I am. Smiling and waving up at you. Only not smiling so much…

 

Bring on the fools. Yes sir, bring them on. There’s no telling what they’ll do! Or maybe there is. Probably there is – don’t fools always do the same thing? That’s how we know that they’re fools – because they keep on doing the same old thing. Because they keep on doing exactly the same thing, no matter what. You have to give fools credit for that, they’re nothing if not consistent. It doesn’t matter how badly things got screwed up before, as a result of us doing all this stupid fool-type shit, we’re still going to do it again. We’re going to do it again and again. Like every time is the first time. Grinning like the fools we are every time. We’re going to keep at it, as obstinate as you like. You bet we are. You’ve got to admire our tenacity – we’re going to keep on doing the dumb stuff, the wrong stuff, no matter how much suffering it has caused us in the past. This is after all our sacred right, our sacred entitlement.

 

My life was living itself. I didn’t have to so much about it. Actually, I didn’t have to do anything about it and – as I have said – this pretty much frees me up to devote myself to my life-long task and primary pastime, which is to do my level best to screw things up. In whatever ways I can. I don’t really have to think about that too much either – it just comes naturally to me. When I actually notice that my life is so good at living itself – which is a rare enough eventuality because I’m usually much too preoccupied with all my habitual pestilential bullshit – I am absolutely astounded. I wish I could make that point more strongly – I am completely and utterly astounded by it. Then of course I forget about it again and fall back into the mire.

 

Back into the bloody old mire. Always the bloody old mire, huh? The bloody, bloody old mire. The bloody old mire of filthy degrading forgetfulness – that’s the ticket, hey boys? Wouldn’t you say? Damn straight it is. I’d like you all to stand up now my friends  and salute the flag – the flag of forgetfulness. Pause for a moment to take stock of our tremendous accomplishments in the field of bullshit. I stand up to make a speech – I feel that it’s called for. I ascend the podium and address the assembled dignitaries. A hush falls upon the crowd and I launch into my key-note speech. I’m an accomplished public speaker, of course. I’m nothing if not eloquent, if I say so myself. The effect is spoiled somewhat by the Gubbish worms that crawl out of my mouth as I speak, trembling with excitement as they do so. Eagerly anticipating their opportunity to spread their  vile corruption far and wide in this poor unfortunate world of ours…

 

 

 

Even The Other Freaks Will Shun You

I was hunting for kudos high and low. I was desperate. I was hungry for kudos – so, so hungry. How can I convey my terrible hunger to you? It defines everything about me; it defines my existence – it defines my actions, my thoughts, my dreams, my values, my aspirations. Hunger defines all…

 

I’m hungry for kudos because I have none, obviously. That’s so obvious that I don’t really need to come out with it! The fact that I am so very hungry for kudos says a lot about me. As I have just indicated, that says everything about me. What more needs to be said? I am defined by my total lack of kudos, whatever that means. What exactly does it mean to have zero kudos, you might ask. If you happen to be of a curious disposition, that is. What sort of a psychological state are we talking about here, you might wonder? This is where my curiosity fails me however – all have to say on the subject is that it is a psychological state that totally stinks. It has nothing going for it at all, and that’s just about all I can say on the subject. It’s rubbish. It’s a thoroughly worthless state of being…

 

Having zero kudos is itself a stigmatizing condition. To have no kudos has no kudos (in short, it looks bad) and so when people see that you have no kudos this reduces your kudos even further you end up with less kudos than you started off with. If that makes any sense to you. Which it does to me, anyway. What happens in practice is that low level of kudos starts feeding on itself so that you end up with negative kudos, and that’s where the fun really starts, if you follow my drift. I’m speaking ironically here, as no doubt you are aware.

 

The ‘fun’ that I’m speaking of here arises as a result of the counterproductive and dysfunctional ‘kudos-seeking’ behaviour which – when it is not sufficiently disguised – becomes in itself a repellent factor that guarantees not just that no kudos will ever come your way but also that the painfully low level of kudos that you already have will be severely diminished. The much-needed and sorely missed ‘kudos factor’ becomes at this stage little more than a pipe dream. The point that follows on from this is somewhat philosophical in nature but I feel that I have to pursue it nonetheless – is it possible to miss something that you have never had? How after all do you know that you are missing it if you have never had it in the first place? Maybe you are actually missing something else? Or – what is more likely – maybe you are missing something that doesn’t actually exist because you don’t really have a clue as to what you are supposed to be missing?

 

This leads into some pretty strange places. The point that I am making here is that what you are missing isn’t kudos at all but – rather – some sort of bizarre, freakishly inappropriate idea of what you laughably think kudos should be. So you miss this idea of what you wrongly think kudos is and feel very bad about not having it, even though the damn thing you are missing doesn’t exist in the first and – what’s more – never could do. Not in any universe. Not ever.

 

And anyway even if your totally whacko-version of what you think kudos is did exist and you – by some sort of surreal fluke – actually managed to acquire some of it, what possible good would that do you? You’d be a real freak then and no mistake! You’d even be a freak to other freaks. The regular freaks would shun you. They would be violently repelled by you, as if by some sort of unspeakable horror. In short, you would become an out-and-out abomination.

 

These are the typical thoughts of someone who has negative kudos. Repellent as it may be to you to be acquainted with them. These are my thoughts, recorded here for posterity in this digital medium. Reproduced faithfully on the screen of whatever device you might happen to be using, for your possible edification. And actually – now that I come to think of it – this is a perfect illustration in itself of my dysfunctional attempts to make kudos out of my painful lack of kudos when really this just isn’t going to work. This is my trick, you see; this is my ‘secret weapon’. I am trying to convert negative kudos into positive kudos by putting a spin on it. The only thing is however that it doesn’t actually work so what I’m really doing is converting negative kudos into even more negative kudos. In more simple language, you could just say that I’m busy digging a very deep hole for myself!

 

 

 

 

Cyborg City

I was feeling sorry for myself because the sad thing was happening. I was feeling sad for myself because the sorry thing was happening. I was feeling so sad because of the bad thing that kept on happening. The bad thing and the sad thing. Why did God create me I wondered? Is it just so he can make fun of me? Was I created simply to suffer? I often think this – it’s sometimes the only way I have of making sense of my situation. At least if I can make sense of things then it doesn’t feel so bad. That’s a basic human characteristic, isn’t it? The need to understand, the need to make sense of what’s happening. No matter how senseless it may seem, we have to try to make sense of it. We have to create a narrative about it, no matter how terrible that narrative might be…

 

I was feeling sad for myself because the bad thing had happened – the bad thing that I don’t like had happened. The bad thing that I don’t like always happens. It never doesn’t happen. It happens all the time and it never stops. It happens over and over again forever and that’s why I was feeling sorry for myself. The bad thing is called ‘life’.

 

Audaciously, without thinking about what I was doing, I took a big greedy bite out of the Hero Sandwich. This was a mistake. The sandwich was far too rich for my blood – the heady intoxicants it contained were too potent for my weakened constitution and I started to hallucinate feverishly. I was in a place I did not recognize, a place I had never been in before. I was standing on a flat and endless plain and the distant horizons were dotted with spires and turrets. They were not spires and turrets of an archaic kind however – these were of a strange and futuristic design. Clearly they belonged to some fantastical science-fiction future-world. It wasn’t a scene from mankind’s terrible past that I was witnessing but rather a scene from mankind’s even more terrible future. The air was as hot as if it had come out of an oven and it smelled of metal. Cyborgs with the faces of laughing dogs were walking by me on both sides. They paid me no heed and I wandered if I was invisible. I felt as if I was in a dream. I felt dizzy. I felt as if I were choking. I felt like being sick. I didn’t know whether what I was seeing – this strange futuristic world – was real or not. One of the dog-faced Cyborgs walking by stopped right next to me, turned, and looked straight into my face. ‘This world is real my friend,’ it told me telepathically, it’s laughing face momentarily sad as it gazed upon me, ‘so you had better get used to it…’

 

The air was baking hot and it smelled of metal. It smelled burnt. The sun was directly above me – the heat coming down from it was impossible. The sun must be going supernova I thought stupidly, but I knew that it wasn’t. It was just another day. Another day in the far-distant future. Everything around me was on such a vast scale that I felt dwarfed. I felt hugely insignificant. On either side of me the Cyborgs were walking this way and that, taking no notice of me as they passed. I had made a big mistake when I put the Hero Coat on, I realized. My legs – not being able to bear the weight of this mighty coat – had gone from under me and I had immediately been flung into the far-distant future. A very strange and terrible future too, by the look of it…

 

 

Art: Ghosts Of The Concrete World by Cameron Gray

 

 

 

 

 

 

Causing Hysterical Mirth In The God Camp

When we graduate from the larval to the adult stage of this incongruous earthly existence the first thing that happens is that we get assessed by the big assessing machine for our suitability or otherwise for engaging adult-wise in this splendid miserable world. We think that we are being assessed for our glorious individuality but really it’s our generality we’re being graded for. How will I score will I make the grade I wonder will my grade be coarse or fine or medium the most excellent mark of perfect generality is the sublime entitlement of course you are both suitable and highly recommended for the very highest positions of responsibility you’ll end up taking your position on the board of directors the money is big and the responsibility to be whatever we tell you to be is great. The story is a familiar one you have heard it many times before I started off my career as a travelling salesman working on a commission-only basis selling Satan’s lies to the general population it’s all on a ‘need to know’ basis you don’t need to know what plans Satan has for you you only have to buy the product and tick the box to be put on the mailing list for all the future special offers. But suppose you don’t make the grade suppose you end up a loser a failure a freak a misfit a reject in the place where all the rejects go? That’s the other side of the coin of course you might start off stupidly thinking that you were born to be a winner but then when it comes to the crunch you discover that you weren’t your delusions of future success were a joke all for the sake of giving the gods a good laugh at your expense and that’s where you really come in to your own with your ridiculously grandiose and self-centred expectations like some rich ripe fruit to be crushed under foot causing hysterical mirth in the god camp some of the minor deities literally pissing themselves laughing they fall over and piss themselves on the spot shrieking with hysterical laughter and it’s all because of you the gods are getting their money’s worth out of you and that’s no word of a lie the howls and cackles of mirth that come rolling down the slopes of Mount Olympus are fit to split your head asunder you never heard the like of it first they allow you to build up your ego to a preposterous size which happens very easily because that splendidly preposterous ego of yours feeds feverishly on illusion and grows fat on fantasy and then they burst your bubble they squash you like the bug you are. We’re all entertainment for the gods in that respect, wouldn’t you say? We’re all in the same boat and the boat is sinking fast. The more seriously we take ourselves the more they roar with laughter. And if we don’t fail the all-important test, if we don’t turn out to be sad and pathetic self-deceiving losers then the gods laugh all the more! The joke is all the richer then…