It’s Not Nice Being Me

My mind degenerated in an instant and I fell through the crack in the floorboards into the netherworld beneath. Great suffering was mine then. Great suffering was what was waiting for me underneath the creaking floorboards of the everyday world. Great suffering exists there in that secret subterranean world, great suffering that no one will ever admit to knowing about. They won’t admit to knowing about it even if you ask them outright. You’re not allowed to talk about it. No one wants to talk about it…

 

That’s what happens when your mind all of a sudden decays – the floorboards that everyone else walks quite safely on will no longer hold you and you will find yourself in the murky darkness of the stinking netherworld. You can hear people walking up and down above your head, the floorboards creaking ever so slightly under their weight. You can hear them walking up and down and up and down; you might even catch the occasional snatch of conversation but it means nothing to you. It couldn’t mean less. What could it mean anyway? What relevance could it possibly have to you when you’re down there in the netherworld that no one wants to know about? Which they wouldn’t understand even if you went right up to them and told them about it. Which you can’t anyway because you don’t have the words for it. There are no words for it…

 

Would you want to know about the netherworld that lies beneath the creaking floorboards of the world of everyday life? Of course you wouldn’t. Don’t pretend that you would want to know be because I know you wouldn’t. You won’t fool me for a minute. Oh yes tell me about the netherworld you say, your eyes darting furtively around as you look for an escape. Sure, tell me all about it you say as you make a mental note to scrupulously avoid me in the future. That’s very interesting you say as your mind switches off completely and your eyes turn as blank as a brick wall…

 

Why would you want to know, for God’s sake? It’s not nice to know. It’s not nice at all but that’s what happens when your mind decays on the spot and you get sucked up into the underworld. It’s not nice being me, I want to tell people, but I know they don’t want to know. Eyes looking studiously the other way. Footsteps quickening as they walk on past. Keen to continue their lives undisturbed, untroubled by any talk of the netherworld. Developing a sudden interest in being somewhere else. Oh look, there’s John and Sarah! Let’s go and see what they have to say. Something fascinating, I’ll be bound. Something absolutely riveting, without a doubt…

 

Was there ever anything as unworthy of attention as this netherworld of unspeakable suffering, I think? Was there ever? It’s not nice being me, I want to say, but no one wants to hear. No one’s interested. Everyone is walking off, each in their own direction. Something interesting ahead. Oh look! It’s not nice being me. It’s not nice being me. It’s not nice being me. It’s not nice being me. It’s not nice being me. It’s not nice being me. It’s not nice being me. It’s not nice being me. It’s not nice being me. It’s not nice being me. It’s not nice being me. It’s not nice being me. It’s not nice being me. It’s not nice being me. It’s not nice being me…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cosmic Balance

Little tiny events can have the biggest consequences, or so they say. There’s a kind of a curious balance there, isn’t there – the apparently inconsequential versus the globally significant. Everything is balanced – I have no doubt about that. Everything is part of the balance and the balance is never broken. That balance is now determining that I am sitting here, trying to work out – in the midst of my ongoing confusion – what it is that I am trying to say…

 

The balance that I’m talking about here isn’t deterministic; it’s nothing crude like that. Determinism exists only in the foolish minds of men. Not that I’m not a man, or that I am not foolish. I’ve just undergone enough painful experiences to see with a little bit more clarity the foolishness that dwells in us all. The foolishness that seems to go unopposed in this world of ours. The foolishness that has so successfully set up shop in the minds of men and women. And it’s not just a corner shop that I’m talking about here – it’s a multinational company. It’s a Zaibatsu. It’s a global economy.

 

The balance of which I speak doesn’t tell us what to do – it doesn’t provide us with the script. It’s not a book of rules – it’s a balance. You can do whatever you want, but be sure that whatever you do will be balanced out in the most profoundly harmonious way. This is what I have come to learn. Slowly, painfully – with infinite reluctance perhaps – but all the same, this is what I have come to learn. I have learned if I act on the basis of illusion then this sets up a particular type of situation for me. How can it not? It sets up a situation that I can learn from – if I am open to learning, that is. That’s a good proviso – who’s open to learning, after all? We may be open to many things, but not learning. Oh no, anything but that. Learning – what a truly absurd notion that is…

 

What I’m trying to say I suppose is that acting on illusions always backfires on the supposed actor. How indeed can it not? ‘Acting on an illusion’ comes down to believing it. Why would we act on it if we didn’t believe in it? If we believe in the illusion then we are bound to react to it. There’s only two ways to react to an illusion – either in a hopeful way or a fearful way. Either I think that the illusion is to my advantage or I think that it is to my disadvantage and I react according. Either I try to avail of the illusion or I try to avoid it. Either I go down one road or the other. But both roads lead to the same place in the end! Both lead to pain. How can they not, after all, when the original premise is false?

 

The balance has to be kept. The pleasure I find through foolishly believing in illusions will be counterbalanced by the pain that I reap, also as a result of believing in illusions. As a result of believing in those very same illusions. This is the cosmic balance of which I so circuitously speak. The balance which keeps presenting us with the opportunity to learn. Always assuming that the one who acts on illusions is open to learning, that is. But whether we’re open to learning or whether we’re not makes no difference to the balance. The only concern the cosmic balance has is to keep on balancing. This point is worth repeating and so I shall – whether we learn anything or whether we don’t is of no concern to the cosmic balance. No concern at all…

 

 

The Mechanical Energy Makes Us Do The Things

The mechanical energy makes us do the things. Do the things, do the things, do the things, says the mechanical energy. Only it doesn’t. It doesn’t need to say anything, we do the things anyway. We always do the things. We do the things, we do the things, we do the things. We do the things because the mechanical energy makes us do them. The mechanical energy always makes us do the things. So I’m sitting here wondering what it’s all about. What my life’s all about. Because it isn’t ‘my life’ at all. It’s not my life – it’s just all the mechanical things that the mechanical energy makes me do. Everyone else is busy doing the mechanical things too. They like doing all the mechanical things. Or maybe they don’t. I don’t know. Doing the mechanical things is good, doing the mechanical things is good, doing the mechanical things is good, they all say. Sometimes people go on the radio or on the TV to say how good it is to be doing the mechanical things. Sometimes people write important books to say how good it is to do the mechanical things. So that we will know that it is good and keep on doing them. Sometimes they will get famous for writing these books and will go on television to talk about what they have written. Or they might give lectures or public talks. When this happens everyone says how good it was of the person concerned to write the book and tell us about how important it is to do the mechanical things. Only it’s the mechanical energy that makes us say how good it was for the person to tell us how good it is to do all the mechanical things. And it is the mechanical energy that makes the person write the book in the first place, or go on TV, or go on the radio, or give lectures or public talks, or whatever. The mechanical energy makes everybody do everything! It makes us do the things and it also makes us go around saying how good it is to do the things. The mechanical energy makes us do everything. People never get tired of this mechanical activity. Or maybe they do. I don’t know. That old mechanical energy – why does it love to make us do the things? Does anyone know? Does anyone care?

 

 

 

 

 

Fatal Error

I had done a stupid thing and wasted precious time. My mind reeled at the enormity of my blunder. Was it a blunder I could survive, I wondered? But even to think about this blunder, even to think this thought, the thought that ‘this was a blunder’ – innocuous as this thought may seem – was itself a blunder of the first magnitude. The thought itself was a blunder of cosmic proportions. Could I survive this second blunder, I wondered? Could I survive the second blunder of thinking about the first blunder?

 

Then everything went blank. Everything went back to zero and I had to start again with a clean slate. All my mistakes had been wiped away. All records had been wiped clean. I had to start from scratch. I was in an unfamiliar environment – everything was almost entirely dark, everything dark apart from the faint glow that was coming from a number of computer screens. The screens were constantly flickering, constantly churning with some vast data flow. Data was silently seething everywhere I looked. I looked around me. I was in what appeared to be a large open-plan office, apparently I was witnessing the aftermath of some major catastrophe. Broken glass was everywhere – most of the monitors had been shattered by the accident. There was a faltering hum going on somewhere in the background – reality itself was breaking down, I realized. What was I to do?

 

I was struggling to arrive at a correct formulation of my situation. Competing theories were flashing through my head. “Everything is fine.” My mind told me. Then it immediately followed this up with “Everything is not fine…” The two statements in complete and utter contradiction of each other. These were my two competing theories to explain what was going on – ‘everything is perfectly OK and there’s no need for me to worry’ and ‘something very bad is happening and I do need to worry.’ Only worrying wasn’t going to help – I knew that. I had to come up with some sort of plan, some sort of solution. I had to respond to the situation in a way that was both intelligent and effective. I had to correct the reality decay.

 

The monitors were flashing information at me but it was all scrambled. It was nonsense-information and it was giving me nothing to go on. I had no way of responding to it. Even on the most basic level it didn’t make sense: messages came up but they weren’t messages at all. The symbols they were composed of weren’t proper symbols – they were nonsense symbols. It was like a made-up language. A made-up language that had been made up by a fool. And yet there was no denying the urgency in it. The information was flashing, flashing, flashing at me with a terrible insistency. It was broken information however and there was no way for me to respond to it. I could only look on…

 

I was revisiting old ground, reliving old obsessions.The derelict office is my mind, I realized. This realization – which was like a solid blow – came to me at the same time as a massive wave of déjà vu. I’ve been here before, I thought suddenly. I’ve been here before and what’s happening here is massively important. I’ve got to grasp what’s going on – I can’t let it slip away from me. As I always do let it slip away. I mustn’t let myself get side-tracked, as I always do let myself be side-tracked. I’ve been here before, I realize, but I always get side-tracked. I’m always here – I’ve never been anywhere else. I never got away from here, it’s just that my mind has tricked me every time into thinking that I had. My mind is like a tidal wave of distracting information and I can’t resist it. It’s a deluge that I can’t stand up against.

 

The broken information is flashing at me but I don’t know how to respond to it. I don’t know what I am supposed to do. The information was some kind of reality misfeed. Reality was broken data. Or was it that the broken data was reality? There had been a fatal error in the reality supply and everything was screwing up. My mind was competing with itself to come up with the right interpretation. The data-flow had become incoherent and there was no way to respond to it. Reality had become self-contradictory and there was no way to remedy the error. Reality itself was an error and I didn’t know what to do about it. Maybe the error was in my theory for what was going on. Maybe the error wasn’t IN me, maybe it WAS me! Maybe it was me that was the error. Maybe reality was fine. Maybe reality was perfect.

 

The broken data was a reality. Reality was the broken data. The broken reality was the data. I was trying to fix my own fixing but the fixing was the fault. The fixing was the fault, not the fault itself. The fixing was the fault that could never be fixed…

 

 

 

 

In The Halls Of The Dead

I was rehearsing my excuses as I walked through the corridor. Aah well I couldn’t have done that you see because I didn’t have correct authorization… I wasn’t to know that at the time… I was only trying to be helpful… how was I to know that would happen… I was off sick that day and I knew nothing about it… that wasn’t my fault at all someone had given me the wrong information… well I wasn’t feeling the best that morning… that’s just the way the system works… my hands were tied there you see there was nothing I could do… I didn’t know nobody had told me… that wasn’t my fault at all… that had nothing to do with me… well it wasn’t my idea to do that that was the other fellow… you’ll have to talk to him about that…

 

The excuses were oozing out of me like some kind of unhealthy fever-sweat. Hopefully they would be enough to get me through. Hopefully I was now sufficiently prepared. Hopefully I had thought of everything. I went through it all one last time – ‘yes’ I said to myself, ‘I think I’ve got all possible issues covered.’ I was a bristling mass of excuses. I had an answer for everything. I had a response for every question. I had a get-out clause for every eventuality.

 

I entered the chamber. Anubis stood to one side and the Dread Devourer squatted solidly to the other, obviously looking forward to having another soul to devour. The Devourer hunkered down on its ungainly hindquarters – ‘let’s get the formalities over with,’ its eyes seemed to be saying. I could see the drool starting to gather at the corners of its ugly mouth. I started immediately to come out with my preliminary excuses – the ‘pre-excuses’, as I call them. Laying down the groundwork, you could say. A good defence is all about laying down the groundwork. Anubis silenced me with a look. ‘That’s not how we do things here,’ he informed me coldly, ‘this isn’t a committee hearing. These are the Halls of the Dead…’

 

I couldn’t answer, much as I would have liked to. It was as if some supernatural force was clamping my mouth shut. ‘We like to cut through the BS here,’ Anubis continued, ‘our process is very straightforward: we rip out your heart and weigh it against the feather of truth with these scales. Simple as. If the balance goes in your favour then everything’s cool, but if it doesn’t then my friend here gets to eat you. The Dread Devourer allowed itself a slight smirk at this point, obviously having its own opinion about how the judgement process was going to go.

 

I had to think quickly at this point. Obviously things weren’t going the way I had hoped they would. I had to take the initiative and turn things around somehow. Buy myself a bit of time. I gestured frantically at my mouth and Anubis reluctantly gave me back my voice. ‘That’s all very well Anubis,’ I said, ‘and I hear what you’re saying but aren’t we being just a little bit philosophically naïve here? I mean, what is ‘the truth’ anyway? Surely that depends upon one’s viewpoint? What’s true in one context may not be so true in another. And what is it that Nietzsche says about truth?’ Anubis stared at me blankly at this point, clearly unsure as to where I was going with all this. ‘You know,’ I continued, pressing home my advantage, ‘about truth being defined by whoever it is that has the most power in any given situation. Let’s examine the present situation. Who has the power here?’

 

Anubis and the Dread Devourer exchanged glances, apparently lost for words. Not that the Dread Devourer ever seemed to have much to say anyway. I could feel my heart beating painfully in my chest, which was ironic, to say the least, given the circumstances. Had I succeeded in my ploy? Did I have a chance of getting out of this? I allowed myself to hope again – philosophy was always a good way of throwing a spanner in the works. You can bamboozle anyone with philosophy if you know your stuff. Time seemed to slow down weirdly and then all of a sudden Anubis and his unpleasant-looking companion came back to life again and burst out laughing. I had totally misread the situation – they had been sharing a joke. The Halls of the Dead shook with their mirth.

 

‘Nice try Nick’, chortled Anubis, ‘but I think we’ll stick with the plan here. We’ll let your heart do the talking…’

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Normal

When you aren’t human any more then you have to learn to pretend. Isn’t that the way of it? If you can’t make it then you have to fake it. You have to figure it out, you have to come up with some sort of recipe. You have to come up with some sort of formula. “Hey guys, guess what – I’m human too! Just like you lads. Exactly the same – no difference at all. How cool is that? Let’s talk about some of that good old human stuff…” How to come off like a person. How not to keep dropping clangers. How to relate. How to say genuine human things and not stand out like a vegan in an Argentinean Steak House.  Or a Nazi at a bar mitzvah. Heh heh heh. I’m only messing… It’s not that hard! There’s nothing to it, really. It’s just a matter of having the right formula. How many people out there do you think are for real? Not as many as you think, buddy! Not nearly as many. They’re playing the game. Trying it on. Trying it out for size. Putting it out there. Hey buddy I’m human too. Just like you. Cool, isn’t it? I think it happens when you lose your sense of humour. One day it’s just gone. Everything just grates – people say stuff to you and it grates on you. What they say grates. The fact that they are talking to you grates. They tell you stuff that’s happening for them and you’re just thinking ‘Why are you telling me this?” You don’t say this, naturally. You don’t let on that they’re grating on your nerves. You cover it up – you come out with some sort of formulaic response. Some kind of standard reply. I know what you’re saying there buddy. I really get that. Yeah. Right on. Joe Normal, that’s me. Only I’m not – I’m from another planet entirely. I’m from the planet “And you’re telling me this why?” I’m from the planet “Do you think I’m actually interested in this crap?” Life just stops being funny one day. People stop being funny. If they ever were. Everything they say grates on your nerves like a rusty cheese grater and you wish they would shut up. They’re such odd things, people. Totally self-engrossed. Totally preoccupied with their own dumb shit. All they care about is the stupid banal drama that is their life. Yes that’s really interesting please tell me more about your stupid life. About the upsetting thing that just happened to you. Or tell me about your feelings. That’s always a good one! Feelings. Tell me how you feel about things. Yeah – I totally get that. I feel stuff about things too. Yeah. I really do get that. I’m hearing you. I totally know what you’re saying there…

 

 

 

 

Even The Unclean Spirits Despise Me

In the Kingdom I was King and I was also the not-King. I was the Majestic One, the Exalted One, the Imperator, but I was also the scum of the earth, the vilest of the vile. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Such was the Kingdom. I was lowlier than the scum that collects on the surface of the most stagnant of ponds, viler than the vilest of unclean human discharges, and yet I was also King. I was King and it is important not to forget that. I was Top Dog, I was the Head Honcho, I was the Numero Uno. I was the Bossman; I was El Supremo. I was adorned in the finest lineaments, clothed in the rarest and most expensive fabrics. And yet I was also – at one and the same time – the most scurrilous of jackasses, reviled by all. Even the lowliest cur in the street reviled me, as I believe I have said elsewhere. The dregs of society shun me when they see me coming. They turn the other way in disgust, so lowly is my station. Regularly, the dregs of society band together to form a committee and then they all beat a path to my door, they come up to me to tell me that I can’t stay here, that I have to go. I am informed that I have to go and hang out somewhere else, somewhere where I will not offend the sensibilities of decent folks. It’s all relative, you see.

 

How does that make you feel, I hear you ask. How does it make you feel to be unceremoniously moved on as an undesirable by the veritable dregs of society? To be shunned and ostracized by those who are themselves outcasts, on account of their abject lowliness, their utter lack of respectability? You know well how that feels I fancy, you just want to hear me say it. You want to hear me come out with the actual words, so that nothing is left to the imagination. It’s like slowing down to observe a traffic accident. You want to see it for yourself. I’m so lowly that even the unclean spirits that hang about in cemeteries and public parks band together to drive me away. Get out of here, they say. You can’t stay here. Be off with you, tainted one. Go on, move off and afflict somewhere else with your presence. Don’t bring your bad luck here to us, say the unclean spirits.

 

So how does that make you feel, you ask. Keen to hear me say the actual words. Keen to hear it from the horse’s mouth. How does it make you feel how does it make you feel how does it make you feel how does it make you feel how does it make you feel? How does that make you feel? Your Highness, your Lordship, your Majesty…