I used to be real but now I’m a fiction I thought, overcome with unbearable anguish. Or rather the fictional version of myself thought. It wasn’t even the real me who was being overcome with anguish, I realized sorrowfully. I have no way to be real and even the me who so sorrowfully has this realization has no actual authenticity. That self is a copy of the copy that came before it, a reflection of a prior reflection, a shade of an earlier shade.
Everything is receding. I am experiencing what I can only describe a as a kind of Doppler Effect – reality is running away at a tremendous pace in the opposite direction and as it does so everything undergoes a shift into the infrared. It’s like a police-car rushing by. A sorrowful shift in tone takes place. Only when reality rushes by and heads down the road in the opposite direction you don’t know what has happened. You forget everything as soon as this happens. You never see reality going by because as it does so it throws off an infra-spectrum of ghost worlds, worlds that are unhappily populated by ghosts who do not know themselves to be ghosts. Second-hand fictional realities fan out like a pack of playing cards. Take a card, any card, says the magician, and don’t show it to anyone. Keep it close to your chest. But if you do ever check it out you’ll discover that you’ve been tricked…
All around me reality is degrading and degrading, splitting off into endless inferior versions of itself. It’s ghosting – it’s giving rise to ghost versions of itself. Take a card, any card, says the magician with a practised flourish. But as soon as you take it you forget what you’re doing. You forget everything about yourself, you forget everything about the world. You’re lost, you’re lost in a cardboard cut-out of reality. You’re lost in a cut-price spin-off, a cowboy copy of the real thing.
And in that copy there’s another magician with another pack of playing cards, which he fans out in front of your face with a professional flourish. Take a car, any card, he tells you, and keep it close to your chest. If you ever steal a look at that card you’ll see yourself in it only you never can steal a look. Because you’re already trapped in the copy and you can’t ever get out. You don’t even want to get out because you don’t know you’re in it. It never occurs to you that there’s anything amiss. It never occurs to you that you have been tricked.
Except for the odd occasion perhaps when you sit there and are suddenly and unaccountably hit by the bitter-sweet pang of loss. The pang that you don’t see coming. Tones of sorrow. What’s happened to me, you wonder. Whatever happened to my life? How did it come to this? What am I doing here? Then the moment passes and before you know it you’re caught up in the next card-trick that comes your way. Falling instantly under the spell of the magician, as you always do….