The Idiot’s Guide

I read the manual on how to be a human being, you know. I studied it from cover to cover. I read it twice. I watched the e-learning tutorial on my laptop and I learned a lot. I learned plenty. I learned the right things to say, the right brand of clothing to wear, the right attitude to have, and all that sort of stuff. I bought the book in Easons on Shop Street – The Idiot’s Guide To Being A Human Being! ‘How hard can it be?’ I asked myself. Everyone else seems to be able to do it okay!

 

That thought was my downfall however. It all started to go pear-shaped very shortly after that. Pride comes before a fall, isn’t that what they say? The old sayings are always the best, aren’t they? The old ones are the good ones.

 

Being a human being is a hell of a lot trickier than it looks on the outside, as I soon learnt to my cost. Just because everyone else can do it without any apparent bother doesn’t automatically mean that you can too! Why would it mean that? That’s a false inference. Life is tricky enough anyway without making a whole bunch of false inferences. Or without making even only one, for that matter, if it’s a big enough one. Even one false inference can sink you.

 

So that’s my situation – everyone else is able to be a human being, apparently without any difficulty at all, apparently effortlessly, yet I can’t. I’m struggling. More than just struggling, I’m failing. People love that word don’t they? Oh you are a such a failure. ‘Failure failure failure failure failure failure’, go the echoes in my head. You’re a sad failure and so that’s it. It’s all in the word, isn’t it? What more needs to be said? No point in over-egging the pudding – there’s no point in over-egging the pudding because then it turns out to be a pretty shitty pudding! Pretty damn shitty altogether…

 

So here I am struggling away like anything behind the mask, trying to figure out how to be a person, trying to work out what it means to be a person, and the mask is stretched very thin. It’s stretched as tight as a drum skin. It’s stretched so very tight that is not even a mask any more – it’s very far from being a mask because it’s not covering up anything! Far from covering up the struggle, it’s actually highlighting it! It’s putting me under the spotlight, it’s putting me under the magnifying glass! Everyone can see my struggle.

 

Everyone else gets to be human being automatically, without seeming to make any struggle at all, and yet here I am engaged in a titanic struggle and I’m not even coming close! My failure is written large in large letters all over my face! No wonder people are repelled and horrified and disgusted when they see me! No wonder they avoid me like the plague – my situation is just too hideous to behold and so no one wants to know…

 

It’s is very important to cope, you know. That’s what my therapist taught me – he patiently taught me that it’s extremely important to cope. If you can’t cope then that automatically makes you a bit of a failure, doesn’t it? That cruel phrase echoes nastily around my head – ‘bit of a failure bit of a failure bit of a failure bit of a failure bit of a failure’. When you visibly fail in your sad attempts to pretend to be a human being then just what the hell does that make you?

 

 

 

 

 

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Virtuality Crime

‘Can I have a Wowtastic meal deal?’ I asked, clutching a crumpled voucher in my outstretched pseudopodium. I was a shape-shifter, I was a polymorph! I was on a bit of a high! I was also a seasoned street philosopher, if I may say so myself. I’ve been hanging around the malls and pedestrianised shopping precincts for many years now, biding my time, puzzling over the big questions, and now I felt that I’d reached a certain level of understanding – a transcendental level of understanding, you could say. ‘What are you doing here?’ I asked myself sharply, trying to catch myself out. ‘How would I know?’ I answered back smartly, as quick as a whip. The simulator would have to get up pretty early in the morning to catch me out, I grinned, full of the awareness of my own near omniscience. ‘Supposing you were famous but no one knew you?’ I asked, testing myself to see if I was as good as I thought I was. ‘Suppose you wanted to buy something but you didn’t know what?’ My mind was jumping like a cricket – it was jumping like a big fat brown cricket in a meadow full of long, long grass in the full heat of the summertime. ‘Are demons real?’ I wondered, ‘can they possess you and make you come out with stuff that doesn’t make any sense at all? ‘Keep smiling’, I told myself, ‘it’s important not to know to let them know that they have you spooked’. I recently learned that there was such a thing as ‘virtuality crime’ – crimes committed in the virtual realm which can never be traced back to you; crimes which break no laws and which have no appreciable impact on the real world. A whole new dimension of crime and criminality, hitherto unmentioned in the statute books! No victims, you see – how can you be held accountable when there are no victims and you yourself are no more than fast-fading pattern of digital impulses? Can one ghost harm another? Can a person be sentenced in a court of law for misdemeanours committed in a dream? Someone somewhere will one day invent the ultimate product and at one stroke capitalism itself will become redundant. I knew this as well as the next man did but if you asked me to explain it I couldn’t! The words just wouldn’t come – I just stood there, grinning like a fool. Someone somewhere will inadvertently invent the ultimate product and this will spell the death knell for consumerism as we know it. Consumerism as we know it. ‘What’s your purpose in life?’ I asked myself out of the blue, trying to catch myself out again. This time I succeeded – ‘Leave me alone, will you?’ I whined, ‘can’t you see that I’m having a bad day?’ I had learned everything I needed to learn on the street you see – that’s the only education that counts in my book! I had learned everything I needed to know in the shopping malls of my own diseased imagination. I’m a veteran at this stage. I’m a seasoned veteran of the Dream Wars – I’ve been around the block so many times that it’s all become a bit of a blur, a bit of a blur, a bit of a blur. I tried to explain myself but the words wouldn’t come. They just wouldn’t come. I haunt myself relentlessly, I never give myself a break. Late at night you can see me sitting there in some anonymous fast food outlet, my head down, eating my meal, struggling to come to terms with the big questions, struggling to come to terms with the enormous absurdity of my own existence. Life took one fork in the road and I took another and having gone so far I feel obliged to continue in my folly! ‘Can I have a Wowtastic meal deal?’ I pipe up enthusiastically, clutching an out-of-date voucher tightly in my outstretched pseudopodium. I am a shape-shifter, I am a polymorph! I am The Undisputed Lord of All I Survey! Whatever I think of comes into immediate phantom existence and I always end up regretting it…

 

 

 

 

 

Not Just Dumb But Superdumb

Not just dumb but superdumb – that’s the story of my life. You know that thing where people like to imagine the situation – hypothetical, of course – where they can go back in time and say something helpful to their younger self? Some kind of deeply inspiring message, or whatever crap? Well I wouldn’t say anything to my past self – I have no inspiring messages whatsoever to pass on! For one thing I know that there’d be no point – nothing anyone could ever have said to my younger self would have made the slightest bit of difference to him because he was just too dumb. I know it doesn’t sound very kind or very compassionate to say this – it’s not politically correct to say of someone that they are ‘incredibly dumb’ but since it is myself that I’m talking about here I think I can get away with! Who’s going to object, after all? I’m not going to object because I know that it’s true. I have the inside-story on that. In retrospect, I can see that I was not going to change my course for anyone – I simply didn’t have the capacity to change and that’s the long and the short of it. People talk a lot of shyte about making ‘poor life-choices’ in my opinion. They are such wankers! When did they get that shit from, I’d like to know? Where do they dream that up? I’d like to grab one of those people and give them a right good shaking. ‘Get it into your head asshole,’ I’d like to say, ‘for you they are no ‘advantageous life choices’ – you’re going to be an asshole whatever choices you make!‘ Can an asshole choose not to be an asshole? Can a dumb idiot choose not to be dumb idiot? Is that a choice that is open to us? Think about it for God’s sake. Just think about it for a minute. Do yourself a big favour! All of this sounds like an insult of course, but it isn’t. It’s a pure statement of fact and there’s no judgement in it. How can we object to something that’s a pure statement of fact? If you stub your toe then you stub your toe – end of story! It’s not an insult to say to point out the fact that you have stubbed your toe, it’s just painful, that’s all! Not an insult just painful. The same thing applies with being incredibly dumb – it is a state of being that brings a lot of pain with it (boy does it ever!) but it’s not an insult. If you think that it is an insult that is simply because you are dumb – incredibly dumb in fact – and that isn’t an insult either! It’s just a statement of fact. Please don’t get offended – just think of it as some kind of kindly passerby noticing that you stub your toe and expressing sympathy – ‘That’s gotta hurt, buddy!’ they say with an encouraging smile, ‘that sure must hurt, my friend…’ So what can you do when you are incredibly dumb, you might ask, missing the point entirely. The point being that you can’t do anything. You can’t even believe it for a start! You won’t take it on board. No way will you take it on board – if someone pointed out the fact to you then you would interpret this as meaning that they were being horrible to you, mean to you, and you’d be angry with them. All you can do is carry on being an idiot, carry on being dumb, and pay the price that you inevitably are going to have to pay for it. And maybe once you have paid your dues – twenty, thirty years hence – you won’t be quite so dumb anymore! It’s not a process you can rush, needless to say – much as we might wish it was! You can’t rush it – you can’t take a shortcut out of here. All you can do is suck it up…. You didn’t choose to be an asshole and you can’t choose not to be – what’s so hard to understand about this? We don’t understand it though – instead we keep shouting our big dumb mouths off about ‘poor life choices’ and recriminating against ourselves for having made them, trying in this way to fool ourselves that it ‘could have been different’. Or that it will be different, if only we could manage to make an ‘intelligent life choice’ for once, an ‘informed life choice’. Well good luck with that one buddy – that’s all I can say! Good luck with that one…

 

 

 

 

 

The King Of Buzzes

I was talking about that old King Buzz again. I was always talking about that old King Buzz! The truth was of course that I didn’t really know anything about the King Buzz any more. ‘You don’t know anything about buzzes until you have had that old King Buzz,’ I said, speaking to anyone and no one both at the same time, ‘you might think that you know what it feels like to be buzzing but you don’t.’ I stopped to chew my lip for a while and then continued gamely, ‘That old King Buzz  starts somewhere in your elbows funnily enough – that’s where you feel it first.’ I was making it all up of course – I didn’t know anything about the King Buzz, I was only just mouthing off. I was mouthing off like a gobshyte. ‘And then the next thing is that you feel it in your tailbone. When that happens you know you’ve only got ten minutes before it hits.’ I was mouthing off like a big moron, I was mouthing off like a fool. I wasn’t even a human being any more at this stage – I was a self-perpetuating bundle of rusty reflexes, I was a puff of stale air, I was a badly-deteriorated residual body-image struggling to maintain itself against the overwhelming tug of entropy…

 

‘Do you know that thing where you suddenly realise that you absolutely hate yourself for wasting your entire life being a total utter asshole?’ I commented. I was fishing for group validation but immediately realised that I’d misjudged the situation – they weren’t going to validate me at all, pretty clearly! ‘Validation’s pretty thin on the ground around here,’ I commented wryly to myself. I’ve been here before of course – I’ve been everywhere before. Do you know that thing you know that thing, I gabbled hysterically. The room was full of silence – no one wanted to look me in the eye. Validation was pretty thin on the ground around here, I told myself – even the unclean spirits couldn’t wait for me to move on, even the unclean spirits felt bad being near me. They feared contamination…

 

I am always having to move on, that’s the story of my life really. ‘Do you know that thing when you have become a stinking deteriorated carcass and you’re totally infested with malignant psychological egos that make you walk around and say things that don’t make any sense?’ I began conversationally, trying to inconspicuously merge into another group. Just dropping it in there, in my very best conversational tone. Just dropping it in there, so very casually, so very easily that you’d hardly even notice me doing it! You wouldn’t notice me doing it. You would almost think that I had been there all along, a cherished and accepted member of the group. Not an outsider. Judging my moment impeccably – just dropping it in there. Ripples of interested conversation spreading outwards; other related conversational themes being sparked up. I didn’t even need to say anything else after this. I had timed it perfectly, I had judged the moment to perfection. No longer was I the outsider, no longer was I the pariah. The intense gratification of social inclusion – that most exquisite of elixirs, that most fragrant of ambrosias… Was there ever anything sweeter?

 

I was no longer fully human at this stage of course. I was a faded stain on the carpet. I was a perambulating bundle of rusty reflexes, a creaking hollow shell that still managed to walk and talk and act as a human being. After a fashion, of course! After a fashion, after a fashion… I still had my good moments, mind you – it wasn’t all bad. I had a good job in the HSE, I had a responsible and meaningful role in society. People looked up to me. Well, maybe that’s overstating it a bit, but you know what I mean. You get the picture. I knew I still had a valuable role to play.

 

My jacket was coated with mildew and my beard was down to my knees; my breath came in long ragged infrequent bursts and there was moss growing on my trainers. I didn’t know how long I’d been sitting there lost in thought, trying to work out my winning strategy. The physical part of me was here but my spirit was elsewhere. It was time for me to come in out of the cold I realised – human kind had need of me once more! The Forever War was still raging unabated and I had my part to play in it….

 

 

 

 

Catch The Culprit And Make Him Pay!

‘It’s very important to maintain and promote the psychological ego’, I told myself sternly and then of course I straightaway felt a lot better. I had a job to do, after all! It’s a well-known fact that having an important mission is a curative factor and now I had reminded myself of my mission! ‘I must maintain and promote the psychological ego,’ I repeated, full of renewed determination. It was up to me to succeed at the task, I realised – no one else gave a damn! I knew very well that no one else gave a damn – I could tell from the look on their faces! They couldn’t care less…

 

 

I felt good for a while after this. I don’t how long – maybe an hour, maybe less. My sense of time is erratic and unreliable at best. I was going about my business feeling all brisk and efficient, feeling purposeful and motivated, and then the next thing was that the good feeling started to wear a bit thin. ‘Suppose I’m unsuccessful at my task of maintaining and promoting the psychological ego?’ I wondered, ‘what would happen then?’ This was the big question really – this is a question that was preying on my mind big time. I got very scared at this point and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. ‘What,’ I asked myself, ‘would happen if I wasn’t able to successfully maintain the psychological ego?’ I couldn’t even imagine what would happen then. Fear bubbled up within me and obliterated my consciousness.

 

 

Nothing happened in my mind for a long, long time. Nothing stirred. There wasn’t a flicker of anything. Then – very, very slowly – I became aware of a bad feeling. I became aware that I didn’t feel good. There was a bad feeling there somewhere but I couldn’t pinpoint where it was. Something somewhere wasn’t right, I knew that. And then the next thing was of course that I to do something about it! I had to locate the evil and then eradicate it. I had to neutralise it. I grew arms, many of them, and these arms grew longer and longer until they were like snakes. I sent them snaking off into the darkness to find the wrong thing and choke the life out of it. They were my assassins. They were my search and destroy team – they would not return until they had accomplished their mission. They would find the bad thing and destroy it. ‘Catch the culprit and make him pay, catch the culprit and make him pay, catch the culprit and make him pay,’ the crowd was shouting. The crowd was baying for blood – the crowd is always baying for blood. You know what the crowd is like!

 

 

It turned out that the wrongdoer was me of course! Isn’t that always the way? Isn’t that always the way? I should have expected it, I should have seen it coming – I’ve been down that down that road so many times and it’s always the same! It always turns out that the culprit is me. Always, always, always… I’m always the one spoiling the party. I’m always the one caught doing the bad thing, the enemy of all right-thinking folk. ‘Catch the ego and make him pay, catch the ego and make him pay, catch the ego and make him pay!’ the crowd was shouting. They were baying for blood. Caught in the act, caught in the act. Brought to justice, brought to account. Forced to confront the magnitude of my crimes. ‘Day by day the evil grows’ – isn’t that what they say? Day by day the evil grows…

 

 

 

 

Art: narcissistic_canibal_by_squezeetheworld

 

 

 

 

I Am Afraid Of The Light

‘Am I allowed to be?’ I wondered. ‘Will I ever be allowed to be? Please tell me that I will be allowed to be…’ Then I realised that it was my turn to get some coffee out of the coffee dispensing machine in the hospital canteen and everyone was looking at me wondering why I was just standing there. As I pressed the button for a regular Americano I found myself playing a kind of a fantasy game. In this fantasy game of mine I was imagining that what was coming out of the nozzle in the coffee-making machine wasn’t coffee at all but the sacred elixir of eternal life. In my imagination this was the elixir that could cure all my ills and totally heal all my problems. I threw myself into this fantasy exercise and it became real for me – I totally believed that the machine was dispensing the elixir of eternal life! I then became terrified that I might waste a drop and stood there holding up everyone else in the queue as I waited for one last drop, the one last drop that never actually came. I was afraid to move on in case it did, however. I was afraid to move on in case someone else might get it instead of me…

 

‘Allow me to be, allow me to be!’ I cried out in my anguish. ‘Will I ever be allowed to be? I asked myself, ‘Will I ever be allowed? Will I ever be allowed?’ My whole life I had been restricted. My whole life had been an exercise in restriction – no one had allowed me and I had never allowed myself either. No one else had permitted me to be and neither had I. My anguish was real, my anguish was tangible. I knew no difference. I knew no other way to be. ‘Tell me a different way,’ I wailed. ‘Show me a different way’ I cried out, entreating all the faces I saw around me. A security man was called. I was removed from the building. No one wants to know, no one wants to know. As I pressed the button I allowed myself to fall into my customary fantasy. I was to drink the sacred elixir. Every drop is precious, every drop is precious. I cried out in despair, I cried out in my loneliness. I was in a dark dark place; I was living under a shadow. ‘If only I knew how I could crawl out’, I told myself, but even as I said this I knew that I was lying – I was afraid to call out from under the shadow, I was afraid of the light. ‘Please don’t expose me to the light,’ I cried out in my terror – ‘please let me remain here in the shadows, where I feel comfortable.’ ‘Let me remain here in the shadows,’ I wailed, ‘let me stay in the shadows where I belong…’

 

‘Why won’t you let me be?’ I cried out to the security man who was forcibly escorting me out of the building, ‘why am I not permitted?’ The security man shrugged his shoulders – ‘It’s not up to me mate,’ he said, ‘I only work here. I’m just doing my job…’

 

I was in my fantasy world again where everything was okay. ‘It’s okay,’ I told myself, ‘everything’s going to be fine, everything’s going to be fine’. The rank smell of fear clung to my clothes and no one wanted to come near me. The sleepwalkers were everywhere – they’d walk right over you if you got in their way! They’d go through you for a short-cut. I told myself, I told myself. Nothing bad is happening, nothing bad is happening. I was making positive affirmations, I was taking back my power. ‘Confidence is everything in this game,’ I told myself. I was frightened in case I saw myself in the mirror. I knew then that I was already dead. ‘Confidence is everything in this game’ I told myself again. As I pressed the button I allowed myself to fall into my customary fantasy. I was afraid of the light I realised. I was a creature of the shadows…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Whisperer

Do you know that thing where the devil whispers into your ear and you think that his voice is your own thoughts? It’s a fairly well-known thing, I believe. It’s a well-known phenomenon. It’s been known for a long time that this is what the devil can do. What I’m trying to say is that you’re quite possibly familiar with this general idea. You’ve probably heard it before. Well, what I’m wondering is if I’m writing all this as a result of thoughts that are coming into my head, then how do I know that this isn’t coming from the devil? More importantly how do you know? When the devil whispers, huh? When the devil whispers in your ear. When he whispers. When he whispers in your ear. He’s got a lot to whisper about, that’s for sure! He’s got plenty to say, that’s one thing you can rely on. You know that thing, you know that thing. Okay so I know it seems that your thoughts are your own and that they’re not Satan’s thoughts that he is putting into your mind – I know that’s how it seems. Of course that’s how it seems – that’s the whole trick of it, after all. That’s the trick of it and I’d be the first to admit that it’s a very clever trick. Diabolically clever, you might say! The devil is not stupid, after all – we all know that. Joe Soap might be stupid, the man in the street might be stupid, but that’s the one thing the devil isn’t. Oh no, he’s not stupid. We have all been hypnotised by the whispers that come into our heads. We are being led like lambs to the slaughter; we are being led like lambs to the kebab house. Does anyone suspect, I wonder? Does anyone suspect? Is there anyone who ISN’T jumping on the bandwagon? We are all pretty quick at jumping on bandwagons I guess and there’s no point in denying it. There’s no point at all in denying it! We’re like lambs being led to the slaughter, after all. We are full of trust, full of trust. We trust any voice that comes into our heads – we will jump onto any old bandwagon. What society after all, but a big dirty old bandwagon? Does anyone ever stop to ask, ‘Hey buddy, where is this bus going to?’ Does anyone? Does anyone at all? Does anyone stop to ask? We just see everyone else jumping on the bus and so we do too! We’re afraid of being left out, you see. We’re afraid of being left behind – I can understand that. You have to jump on quick, right? Push and shove, push and shove. Make sure you get on. It’s a dog eat dog world after all. No one stops to wonder where the bus is going! It’s the Donner Express, that’s what it is! Wait, wait, the bus is going off without you! There was no room for you. ‘Hey buddy where’s this bus going?’ you ask, ‘can somebody please tell me?’ The bus is going off without you and you’re left with Shaitan’s voice resounding in your head, telling you lies as usual…