The ship had sustained damage, serious damage by the feel of it, but it was impossible at this stage to see just how serious. The nature of the damage was unknown. I attempted to run a systems check but nothing showed up. Misleading information was coming up on the screen – it was telling me that everything was normal. It was reassuring me. It was telling me that there had been no damage. But if there had been no damage then what was it that had just happened? There had been an event, a serious event and yet for some reason it wasn’t registering. All systems were normal, all systems were normal, all systems were normal, no matter how many times I ran the check. And yet I knew they weren’t…
And yet I know that they aren’t. Aren’t what, I wondered, catching myself unawares with my own thinking. My own thinking process coming at me out of the blue, coming out of nowhere. Jumping out at me. Catching me by surprise. Everything’s fine, everything’s normal. And yet at the same time I know that it wasn’t. Isn’t. Normal, that is. Things carry on as normal but something has changed and I just can’t put my finger on it! I ran a systems check just to be sure, just to make sure that there was nothing going amiss. I needed to find out what had just happened.
I was shopping for myself in the supermarket of modern life. A little bit here, a little bit there, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Gathering together a few morsels of substance in this place, a few morsels in that place. Trying to put it all together so that everything would all come right again. Trying to put together some kind of a plausible picture of myself. Who I am. What it’s all about. Trying to make some kind of a coherent statement. I was trying to second-guess reality – trying to fit together a plausible picture of myself. Trying to arrive at a plausible picture of reality. Some way to make it all fit. When actually there was nothing. No reality at all. A complete loss of signal. White noise. Static on the screen. Like a snowstorm in the Antarctic.
I ran a systems check one last time, well aware that I was running the risk of sliding into full-scale neurosis. The system check came back as normal but I still couldn’t trust it. The system was being tampered with. False information was being fed to me. I couldn’t believe it – I couldn’t get rid of the ominous feeling that some kind of incalculable disaster had overtaken me. But what kind of incalculable disaster can remain invisible like this? What kind of incalculable disaster is it that leaves no signs?
And yet I knew I couldn’t afford to keep looking for a disaster that I couldn’t see. I couldn’t afford to doubt the ship’s own diagnostics. If I couldn’t trust the ship’s systems then what could I trust? The ship was all I had. It was my reality – I had no other. And it was telling me that everything was fine. It was reassuring me that everything was normal.
I remembered hearing somewhere that when a great white shark bites you its teeth are so tremendously sharp that you don’t actually feel it. You don’t know that anything has happened. You might feel the physical shock of the bite, but you won’t that you have lost part of your body. Perhaps most of your body. You won’t know until they pull you out of the water and you look down, to see how much of you is left. That’s how I feel – I don’t want to look down. I’m not going to look down. I’m just going to ignore what I know has happened. I’m going to believe the false information on the screens.
I’m going to reassemble a new identity, a new reality. I’m not going to try to find out what happened. What the catastrophe was. What the damage was. I’m going shopping instead. I’m going to go and shop for myself in the supermarket of modern life…