Sometimes we seem to ourselves to be happy and this is called having a happy time. Everybody likes having a happy time. I like having a happy time too. To have a happy time is an important thing therefore and I know this as well as anyone else. Sometimes we think about having a happy time when we’re not having a happy time and this can make us very sad. This is a poignant moment. ‘Where have all the happy times gone?’ I ask myself, and this is a purely rhetorical question. I don’t really want to know where all the happy times have gone – that’s just a figure of speech. If they’ve gone they’ve gone and what more is there to say on the subject? Let’s leave it at that my friend, let’s leave it at that…
‘I’m a person the same as anyone else,’ I say to myself defiantly but at the same time I say it I realise that it isn’t actually true. I realise that it isn’t at all true – I’m a copy made by the machine and that’s not the same thing. That’s not the same thing as being a person. The machine rules the whole world it is true and I have to respect it for that but all the same being a copy that has been made by the machine isn’t the same thing as being a person. It doesn’t feel the same and it isn’t the same. It feels hollow and spooky and echoey and there are all these sensations of unreality that are impossible to completely shake off. When you’re a copy that has been made by the machine you’re always going to be haunted by these sensations of unreality. As I am. It’s not possible to escape from them and that’s not a nice thing. There’s no way anyone can tell me that this is a nice thing. You’re trying to feel real but it doesn’t work.
I might come out with some opinion, for example. I might be sitting there with some people that I know from work – it could be a coffee break or lunch break or something like that – and as I come out with my opinion I can’t help knowing that I don’t really believe in it. I can’t help knowing that is not my opinion at all – it’s just a prop that has been provided for me by some subprogram in the machine. ‘Everyone needs a few props from time to time,’ you might point out to me. ‘There’s no shame in that…’ I know you’re only trying to be kind when you say that but I also know that comments like this only go to show the abyss of misunderstanding that lies between us. This is the abyss that lies between me and all other people. In such a situation we both pretend that this abyss isn’t there yet we know all the same that it is, even if we’re never going to address this fact. You’re sitting there and I’m sitting here and between the two of us lies the Abyss of Misunderstanding. There’s no getting away from that. All you can do is mouth banal ineffectual platitudes and all I can do is pretend that what you’re saying is somehow helpful.
Patience is a terrible thing, isn’t it? We are trapped in the Prison of Pretence – I am at least. I have to pretend because that’s all that’s left to me. I pretend that I really do believe in the hackneyed and shop-worn opinions that the machine provides for me, I pretend that I really do believe what I’m saying – even though (I’d say) it’s pretty obvious that I don’t. The conviction is totally missing from my voice you see, and when we don’t have any shred or trace of conviction in our beliefs where are we? Where does this leave us?
I pretend that the thoughts which pop so predictably into my head really are my own thoughts and I try to feel some modicum of satisfaction from thinking them. I try to feel some sort of ownership towards them. I try to feel proud of them even. ‘Yes – that’s my thought’, I say to myself, ‘for sure that’s my thought, and a very good thought it is too!’ That’s how my self-talk goes. ‘Yes, I’m thinking some good thoughts today’, I observe brightly to myself but all the time I can’t help knowing that this meta-thought (because that’s what it is) isn’t mine. The meta-thought is being conveniently provided for me by the machine, just as all my regular thoughts are.