I was trapped in the reality machine and I couldn’t get out. ‘I’m trapped in the reality machine,’ I called out weakly, ‘and I can’t find any way out.’ An Abba song was playing somewhere, distorted so much that I couldn’t make out the words. I could hear the piano but that was it, and even the piano sounded as if had been fed through some kind of weird filter. People were walking by on both sides of me but they couldn’t see me. They were behind thick, clouded glass. The radio embedded in my skull was playing nonstop ‘Hits of the Seventies’. I knew I was supposed to be doing something but I didn’t know what it was. ‘Am I supposed to be doing something?’ I asked out loud but no answer came back. The glass was soundproof. All around me the reality multiplier was working feverishly, pumping out innumerable versions of the current reality flow. It was as if twenty different films were being shown simultaneously; every time I had a thought dozens of little brother and sister thoughts came into being. ‘I’m trapped in the reality machine,’ I whispered fearfully, ‘I’m trapped in the reality machine and there’s nowhere else to go…’
Some things are real and some things are not real, I said to myself. Some things are good and some other things are not so good; some times are happy times and other times are bad times, not very nice times. I was frightened of the bad things happening then – I didn’t know what they were but I was frightened of them all the same. More frightened than I can say. I could never explain to you just how frightened I was of the bad things happening. I’m sitting here right now in full possession of my faculties and I still can’t in any way convey to you just how frightened I was. My fear was beyond words. It wasn’t just beyond words it was beyond my ability to grasp myself – nonverbally, instinctively, intuitively, or in any way. I was astonished beyond measure at how frightening the fear was – I have never known how frightening fear could be, up to that point. I hadn’t known what fear actually was; I had never truly encountered it before and now that I had done I was astonished beyond measure. Or rather, I would have been astonished had I not been so terrified. True fear doesn’t allow you the luxury of being amazed or astonished at how very frightening fear can be – you are much too frightened for that. In this situation there is no space for wondering or reflecting – there is only space for fear.
‘I’m trapped in the reality machine and there’s nowhere else to run,’ I wailed to myself, full of the fear that is too great ever to be spoken. ‘Suppose a bad thing happened,’ my mind whispered to me, ‘suppose a bad thing happened and it was too bad for you to be able to cope with?’ My mind was full of suppositions like this. ‘Suppose a bad thing happened and it was too bad for you to deal with, what would you do then?’ Suppose you couldn’t stop the bad thing happening even though you knew that if it happened then there would be absolutely no way that you could deal with it?’ ‘If it happened and you couldn’t bear it, how would you cope with that situation?’ ‘Suppose you really couldn’t cope at all with the bad thing happening then what you do then?’ ‘How would you cope with not being able to cope?’ My mind was asking all of these worrying questions and as I listened to them it made me more and more anxious. ‘Suppose you get uncontrollably anxious about the very bad thing happening and how you would manage to cope with it if it did, then what would you do about that?’ it demanded to know.
I’m in a daze. I’m in an altered state. I’m totally dissociated. I’m here but I’m not here. I’m here enough to know that I’m not really here. I’m in the archetypal situation and I don’t want to know about it. Not this, I say to myself. Anything but this. Not the archetypal situation. ‘Why does it always have to come back to this?’ I asked myself. ‘Why does it always have to come back to the archetypal situation? What does it all mean?’ I don’t want to know what it all means however. That’s the last thing I want to know. I’m here but I’m not here. ‘I’m trapped in the reality machine,’ I realise to my horror. ‘I’m trapped in the reality machine and there’s nowhere else to be…’