Do you know that thing do you know that thing where you turn into the machine of yourself? That’s a terrible thing isn’t it? That’s a bad thing. That’s definitely a bad thing. You turn into a machine of yourself and you never notice it happening. You just carry on carry on carry on because that’s what machines do. They carry on. Machines are great at that aren’t they? They’re good at carrying on right up to the point when they can’t. Right up to the point when they don’t. Right up to the point when they break. Life simple when you are a machine, I guess. I’ve often thought that. The only instruction you need is ‘carry on until you reach the point at which you can’t carry on any more’. Or, ‘carry on until you finally break down’. Then stop. Because you have to. But it’s not really a good thing to become a machine. I didn’t actually mean what I just said there. Obviously. Being a machine isn’t as good as it sounds, despite the evident and undoubtedly highly appealing simplicity of the situation. It’s actually quite horrible – that thing that matters more than any other thing (that thing which is the only thing, when it comes down to it) is lost and we carry on regardless, never noticing a thing. Never noticing a thing. Who carries on regardless, that’s the point I’m getting at. Just who is it that is ‘carrying on regardless? Who’s living that life? You see, if there’s one thing we know for sure it’s that it really isn’t anyone – it’s only an echo. It’s only a ripple travelling on the surface of the pond after the pebble gets thrown in. The pebble has long since gone – vanished into the depths of the pond – but the ripples keep on moving outwards nonetheless. They always keep on moving outwards. The ripples are only echoes of us and we ourselves have long since gone. They not us at all, they’re just a mechanical disturbance. That’s left behind, a mere mechanical reverberation! That’s what ‘the machine of us’ is – it’s a residual mechanical disturbance. We leave a trace of ourselves, a footprint, a kind of imprint in the dead mechanical world, and that imprint then plays itself out, plays itself out, plays itself out. Until eventually there’s nothing left to play out. There’s just the desert wind, blowing everything away. The desert wind that never stops blowing. Blowing away the little piles of dust which are all that’s left of us, all that’s left of our hopes and fears. Scattering the dust far and wide. Dispersing it. To the four corners of the world. The hot dry desert wind. The machine of us is so superficial. So very superficial. It lives in the blank world. All there is in the blank world is the surfaces, all there is in the blank world is ‘appearances’. Nothing beneath them. Never anything beneath them. But we never notice. We don’t notice the blankness. We’re not really there to notice, we just think we are.
‘What would it be like,’ I wondered, ‘to be trapped helplessly and for the most part unknowingly in a congealed cluster of personality reflexes, twitching involuntarily with unwanted thoughts and behaviours, and heading slowly but surely the whole time to hell in a handbasket?’
Such questions as these don’t really need to be answered, as I’m sure you’ll agree. Would you really want a blow-by-blow account, documented down to the last tedious detail? The general outlines will suffice, in my opinion – the actual details are a pain. Often enough people will want to tell you about the actual details its true, but all that stuff’s a drag. It’s only of interest to the person themselves in my opinion, and perhaps not even them. Almost certainly not even them.
It can seem OK for a while. The process I mean. We all know that, I guess. It can seem OK for a while, perhaps even more than OK… I find myself falling into a bit of a reverie at this point, recapitulating my youth. Isn’t that what we all do? There is usually a kind of honeymoon period, as we all know only too well. We’re all wise to that at this stage, I’d say. You bet we are. It’s easy to cast a nostalgic eye by over the old honeymoon period, when it really did seem that this conglomerate of personality reflexes constituted some kind of authentic identity. I’m sure you remember those days as well as I do – that’s how we generally like to think of ourselves, after all.
Those were heady days. Though I’m not 100% sure, on reflection, that I actually know what that word ‘heady’ means but still. I’ll stick with it, even though there’s part of me which is worried that I’m not using the word correctly. If I were to be totally honest I would have to admit that I can’t entirely remember what those days were like – all I know is that I have some sort of association going on there which makes me come out with such statements as ‘those were heady days’. Whatever in God’s name that might mean…
I suspect that it doesn’t actually mean anything at all. Not in my case, anyway. That’s rather pathetic, isn’t it? It’s pathetic that that’s all I can come up with – the nostalgia-tinged memory of some earlier (and probably unreliable) memory. Which in turn was itself based on some other memory. Or something someone once told me. Not exactly the most substantial basis for feeling good about one’s identity, is it?
And then the next thing you know (and you never really knew anything anyway when it comes down to it) the honeymoon phase is over and you’re left helplessly drifting downstream entombed (I was going to say ‘enmeshed’ but entombed is better) in a tawdry inauthentic personality construct heading straight to hell in a handbasket. What a bummer, huh?
I know I said ‘slowly but surely heading’ earlier but that’s a load of bollocks – I was just trying to trade on the alliteration, clichéd as it is. There’s nothing slow about it really – it’s about as slow as an arrow released from the bow heading straight for its target. It’s already there, to be honest. It’s an illusion that it isn’t there yet. It’s an illusion that it isn’t there yet, and we all live in that illusion.
If it’s actually true that we’re all embedded in a mechanical personality construct that we foolishly take to be ourselves, that is. Maybe it isn’t true. Maybe that’s all just a big bunch of bullshit. A lot of people will tell you that it is exactly that – bullshit. It’s only a conjecture, after all. Just a thought – I don’t really know if it’s true! I don’t actually know anything really – I’m just mouthing off to pass the time…
But then again – perhaps it is true? What I just said. Maybe it is all true that we’re all helplessly trapped (entombed, even) in a moribund personality husk, reflex thoughts and actions firing off constantly in a grotesque caricature of true autonomy. You’re mouthing off like a fool, saying a lot of dumb shit you don’t really mean, your head full of ridiculous dumb-ass thoughts that aren’t even your own…
I mean, you’ve got to ask yourself – haven’t you – just what the hell would that be like? Not great, I’d say…
How much does it cost a man, or a woman, to stick within the bounds of their prescribed personality, to abide by the rules of their allotted ego construct? This was the question that I asked myself, in all solemnity. This was the question I always asked myself on these occasions. It was five o’clock and we had gathered, as usual, to hear the story-telling machine unfold its stories. How sweet are the fruits of the deep, I whispered softly to myself, how sweet the fruits… No took the slightest interest of me and my murmurings, of course. Everyone was waiting to hear the story-telling machine unfold its tales, in its usual hypnotic fashion. Once it started speaking there wouldn’t be a sound from the assembled crowd here in the dusty town square. It was a ritual that played itself out the same way every day. How much does it cost a man, I murmured softly, how much does it cost? I felt that my consciousness had left my body and that it was floating high above the square, looking down on the enraptured crowd. I looked down at the faces of the assembled devotees, each face I saw wearing the very same expression. I was observing everything from above as a disembodied presence. There was an air of hushed expectancy – expectancy like an electric current that spread from person to person. No one had their own story anymore; all stories belonged to the story-telling machine. The ritual was about to play itself out again, as it always did. The sacred ritual. How much does it cost, I asked myself again, sadly, knowing as I did that all traces of wisdom had long since fled from the earth. Long since fled. Long since fled. Wisdom had fled and no one missed it, I told myself. No one would miss it because all eyes were on the show. What value is gained, I asked myself, when a man or a woman stays always within the allotted bounds of their predetermined personality-construct? What merit would accrue? The story-telling machine was about to speak, it was about to launch into one of its tales. The story-telling machine owned all the stories; it owned all possible stories. We were all but one small part of its story. It told us the story of ourselves. It told us the story of ourselves and we hung onto its every word. We drank its words. Until it told us who we were we could not know – we dwelt in darkness and dressed in cobwebs. We crawled on the floor and drank from stagnant puddles. The story-telling machine restored us to ourselves; it gave us life again. A type of life, at least. A semblance of life. What will it cost us to stick like glue to the tawdry rules of our allotted personality-constructs and never venture beyond them, I asked myself sadly. What terrible price will we have to pay?
The scary space noises were starting up again. ‘No, no, don’t make the scary space noises come again,’ I wanted to say. I didn’t say it though because I was too scared. I didn’t say anything. Don’t make the scary space noises I wanted to say only I didn’t. Did you ever get the feeling that you were stuck in the oral gratification stage but you didn’t have a mouth? I wanted to eat the world but then the world turned on me and started eating me instead. I wanted to eat everything in sight but now I was on the run, beating a hasty retreat. I was in the unreal universe too frightened to see anything, too frightened to encounter anything. ‘Don’t show me reality, don’t show me reality,’ I blubbered helplessly. I didn’t even know that reality was reality. I didn’t know what it was. I just thought that it was the scary thing that I didn’t want to know about. It popped up in unexpected corners, startling me out of my wits. It popped up like a jack-in-the-box. It was very, very spooky. It was very, very spooky, very, very frightening and it scared me more than words could say. I didn’t even know that it was reality – I just thought it was the thing I had to run away from. I just thought that it was the bad thing. I was in the unreal universe, the universe that was made up of my own running away. Everything was rubbish in that world including me. I was frightened by the manifestations, frightened by the unearthly phantasmagoria. I was terrified beyond measure – giant horses with strange spooky eyes galloped by. They made loud terrible neighing sounds as they went and their eyes rolled fearsomely. Foam was coming out of their mouths in great yellowish clumps and this foam became worlds, fecund and feverish. These worlds were full of furious activity. They were teeming; they were boiling over with frenetic, feverish fecundity. This was the power of life itself, I realized, and found myself overcome with an even greater terror than before. Life itself was the enemy, it occurred to me. Life was the horror that had to be curtailed at any price. Instead of terror I now felt immense hatred, hatred on an unprecedented scale. The hatred gave me strength. It was my task to stamp out life wherever it arose, I told myself. It was my solemn duty. I would become a customs officer, or a minister of religion, or perhaps a manager in Human Resources. Then all of a sudden the dream was over. I stepped out of the Dreaming Chamber and made my way slowly back to where the others were. No one looked at me. They looked away, embarrassed. I knew that I had let myself down again. I had failed the test.
I had been swallowed up by the horror of the meme wars and very little of me remained. Practically nothing. A token residue, I shall call it. “Pleased to meet you,” I say brightly, “I’m the token residue…! I am the token residue of who I used to be – I have a name, an address, a national insurance number, a list of hobbies and interests, but that’s about it. I have a favourite colour. Well, that’s actually taking it a bit far – I have to admit that I don’t have a favourite colour. The concept of a favourite colour is profoundly meaningless to me. I don’t really have any hobbies or interests either. Who has hobbies or interests these days? I suppose I could at a pinch say that my interests include distracting myself on a full-time basis by whatever means come my way. By utilizing the infernal distraction-machines that our age is so very good at mass producing. Instead of leading us in prayer the High Priests of our horribly corrupt culture lead us in self-distraction. No longer is it ‘Let us pray’ it is ‘Let us distract ourselves for the duration of our vanishingly brief lives and remain as profoundly unconscious as it is possible to remain, as frighteningly numb as it is possible to remain. Such numbness as ours is not easily come by – this is something that we need to work very hard at! Dedication is needed. In numbness we trust, we intone humourlessly, in those dreadful flat mechanic voices of ours. Sometimes I think we sound like robots. Sometimes I think robots have more personality than we do. Ours is a very pure form of numbness – laboratory grade numbness, you could say. Free from all impurities. Free from those nasty impurities that one so easily picks up on one’s travels. From toilet seats and the contaminated handles of shopping trolleys. Contaminated with the truth. There’s no poison like the truth, is there? Cherish your numbness, say the High Priests of our modern age, for it will disclose unto you horrors the like of which you could never have imagined. This frighteningly pure essence of numbness – the pure isolate – is as addictive as heroin. No heroin addiction could ever be as terrible as this. We gobble up our stash in minutes and go looking for more. We gobble up our stash in a second and start nodding furiously. We’re furious nodders. Rows upon rows of furiously nodding nodders, nodding our lives away in unison. It would be enough to hypnotize you just looking at it – you’d start nodding too. I’m not joking here; I’m really not joking at all. The sight would put you nodding in a flash. You probably think that you’d be able to look upon the ranks of the nodders and yet retain your integrity. You’d be wrong though. If that’s what you thought then you’d be wrong. Everyone thinks that. It’s a type of universal fantasy, I suppose you could say – we all imagine that we’re not like the average person. Everybody despises the average person – isn’t that true? Everyone despises the average person and yet that is exactly who we are…
Bad minds were hanging around in their droves on the lower astrals, waiting for their chance to bushwhack the unwary traveller. Waiting for their chance to joyride some poor mug who has wandered unknowingly into their terrain and left their vehicle unattended. Never do this. Never do this my friend. Never leave your vehicle unattended. Can’t you just feel those bad old minds out there, clamouring for a free ride? There’s no good in them at all, you know. Not the slightest trace nor vestige of goodness. Those bad, bad old minds. Thinking nothing but bad bad thoughts, the lowest possible thoughts. Can’t you feel those bad old minds thinking their bad, bad thoughts? They are the lowest of the low; they have no redeeming features, no redeeming features at all.
I can hear them out there. Not so much hear them as feel them – I can feel their thoughts, I can feel their constant clamouring. Their loathsome unholy clamouring. There’s a dreadful intimacy to it, a dreadful familiarity. It’s almost as if they are my friends, my confidants. I feel like I’ve known them forever; I feel like they are me – that’s how familiar they are to me! Aah the friends, the friends. The good old friends. The good old boys. The good old bad minds, oozing like open sores with wickedness and malice. Don’t you know them so well? Don’t you, don’t you, don’t you?
‘Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa,’ I burst out, full of religious dread. I wanted to harm myself so as to show my repentance, I wanted to stick thumbtacks into my flesh. I had taken my eye off the ball and now the bad old minds were running the show. They were in the driving seat. They were having a field day, they were having a party. They were partying as if there was no tomorrow! They always party as if there was no tomorrow – that’s what they do. That’s all they are able to do! Although come to think of it that’s not strictly true – there is one other thing they can do and that is to hang around forever in a dormant state waiting to party as if there was no tomorrow. They’re good at that, too. And actually there’s one more thing that they can do as well, a third thing – they can clamour and clamour and clamour and clamour and clamour in that unholy way of theirs when they get the scent of fresh meat…
Then I was back in Chancery Lane with my mates Terry and Alan and Fag-ash and Smiling Michael, drinking endless cans of Tenants Extra and passing around a bottle of Temgesic. Having the crack. Passing the pipe around. Smoking Lebanese hash and rollies. Listening to some sounds. Taking it easy. Shooting the shit. Getting wasted. We were partying like there was no tomorrow. We were having a good time. We were always having a good time – apart for the times when we weren’t.
‘Here’s a nice world, why don’t you live in it?’ Hysterical laughter. ‘There you go, there’s a nice world for you…’ Insane laughter booming out from on high. ‘Why don’t you go right ahead and adapt yourself to it? Why don’t you make yourself right at home?’ Can’t you just hear the vile sniggers in the background? The vile unwholesome sniggers of the Demiurge.
Have you ever noticed how very adapted people are to this world? How very comfortable they are with it? Don’t you think that this is the most peculiar thing ever? I mean, how do they do it? This gets me every time. Some people (most people in fact) are just so damn comfortable with the simulation. They’re just so damn au fait with it. It’s enough to make you sick, isn’t it?
Maybe you don’t get that from people. I do, though. I get it big time. That super casual ‘oh yes I’m so damn adapted’ vibe you get from them. That ‘oh I’m so bloody intimate with the simulated world’ vibe. It’s arrogance really, that’s what it is. Vile despicable arrogance. And yet this nauseating arrogance – which people see as ‘confidence’ – seems to be the ultimate currency in life. If you’ve got it then all the doors swing open for you. They swing open for you on lubricated hinges.
Doesn’t that totally sicken you? It really ought to you know. You surely can’t be OK about that? And yet I know people are OK about it. More than just OK, people love it. They go for it big time. That’s what really sickens me I think – it sickens me that this is what is what you need in order to be accepted by the world. This vile implied intimacy with the illusory construct, the thing no one is ever going to admit is illusory. Because we’re all far too cowardly and untruthful to admit that. Not in a million years will we admit it – we’re never going to admit that it’s bogus.
Feel the fear and do it anyway – isn’t that what they say? Only they don’t, do they? People, I mean. Those people with all their sickening confidence. What have they got to be confident about – that’s what I want to know. Exactly what is it that they’re so confident, so bloody confident about? It’s a form of badness, if you ask me. A form of pernicious malignancy that blights all of our lives…
The Demiurge always gets the last laugh, doesn’t he? He gets all the laughs, come to think of it. That is quite possibly the purpose of the illusory construct world – to create laughs for the Demiurge. He gets off on human stupidity. When I say ‘stupidity’ I don’t mean people who aren’t super-intelligent and who can’t join MENSA on this account, I don’t mean that at all. I mean all those people who by their manner implicitly claim to know all about life. All those cocky bastards – you know the ones I mean.