When I was very much younger than I am today, no more than a tiny wee sproglet, no more than a mere whippersnapper, knee-high to an ass-hopper, I was given the all-important message that we were all given and that you also know very well too. I was made to understand this message; I was compelled to take it on in all seriousness. We were told, one and all, that it was vitally important that from this point on in our lives we should enact the Nullity with all our might, enact the Nullity in all we do. Oh, oh, the Great Nullity, hear us we pray. If we failed, then this would be very bad. If we failed then the consequences would be too terrible to mention. So serious and so frightening was this message that some of us third-year students, all gathered together as we were, promptly pissed ourselves on the spot, overcome with the all-pervasive ‘fear of failure’. I was not one of them, I would like to point out, but they had my sympathy at the time, as indeed they still do. It was a message that left us all anxious…
I hated my school days. In retrospect I know that I did, anyway. At the time I don’t know what I knew. I didn’t know what I was supposed to know or if it even mattered if I knew. Did anyone actually care? Was it all just a show? My main emotion was dull confusion. The big message, the big message. Make sure you get it now; make sure you take it on board in all seriousness. “It is incumbent upon you to Enact the Nullity with all your heart and soul.” How many times have you heard this in your life? How many times? It doesn’t matter how it is expressed or what particular words are used. It always comes down to the same message – ‘you must enact the Nullity’. Those words are vibrating, resonating in your very core. You must give it all you’ve got. You mustn’t fail. You mustn’t let everyone down. You must fight the good fight with all your might.
The glorious old Nullity, huh? How glorious, how glorious. The hoary old Nullity – it’s been done to death a billion trillion times. Nothing’s been done to death as much as the Nullity! Nothing, nothing, nothing. Let me tell you a story now. An old, old story. Such an old story. Come and hear the story – just in case you might not have heard it before! You might not have done, after all. You might perhaps be from another universe. There is a bright thought for you – bright, bright, shiny-and-bright! A dazzling thought. Dazzling in its brilliance. You must be from another universe – it’s the only possible explanation. Welcome. Welcome to our world. Welcome to the world of tears, welcome to your greatest fears. Welcome to the Nullity.
Let us sing hymns of praise to the glorious Nullity. Turn to page 92 in your hymnbooks ‘Oh Nullity you are so great.’ All 28 verses will be sung. You are back at school you know. You’re right back there. It’s like a flashback. You’re back at school and you are to dedicate your life to the Nullity because that’s what everyone has to do. That’s the meaning of life isn’t it – enact the Nullity, enact the Nullity, enact the Nullity. Can you hear that old Robot Voice droning on in your brain? That old, old Robot Voice. You’ve heard it too many times of course. Far too many times. It’ll turn you rotten if you listen to that voice too much. Rotten like an old rotten blog. Sorry, log. Full of earwigs. Full of lots and lots of little wriggling things. Pale undulating larval forms, glistening in the cold light of an unhealthy moon…
Anyway, so there I was, a mere whippersnapper, programmed from an early age, indoctrinated by the full weight of the machine. Believe in the Nullity and he won’t let you down. Let us sing the old school hymn, please open your hymn books to page 94. Don’t ever give into doubt because that’s how the devil gets to you. He’ll play on your fears and put doubts into your head, he’ll mess with your mind. That’s how the devil works you know. Everyone knows that. That’s why it’s so important to fight against the devil day and night. Say NO to him. Don’t ever doubt the power and glory of the Nullity. Be strong. Fight the good fight. Fight back the negative thoughts and smite down the unbelievers. Sing songs of praise to the most glorious Nullity. Let me hear you raise your voices in prayer. Please turn your hymn books to page 94 and we shall sing ‘Oh Nullity how great you are…’
The Lords of Evil had their dwelling places amongst us. They always do, of course. They always do. They dwell amongst us and they go about their business, for they know no other way. And even if they did know another way, they wouldn’t have any interest in it. Absolutely they wouldn’t – you wouldn’t really expect them to, would you? They dwell amongst us, and amongst us they go about their business. We are their business, after all. We are entirely their business.
‘What happens when you become the false self?’ I wanted to know. But I didn’t want to know, not really. I wanted to tell the truth, but it all came out wrong – it was a tissue of lies from beginning to end. It was a lie that I wanted to tell the truth; it was a posture I was adopting out of my weakness, out of my fear. My efforts to tell the truth remind me that I am lying; my efforts to tell the truth remind me that I can’t ever tell the truth. ‘What happens when you become the false self?’ I ask in a worried tone, but I’m too afraid to stick around to hear the answer.
Torturing robots to make them disclose their code is just the kind of thing he’d do. He did it for a profit and he did it because it was his hobby. He did it for fun. I did it for profit and because it was my hobby. I did it for fun. I was the guilty one. I tortured robots to get them to tell me their code. I pounded them with lump hammers until they cracked. I poured saline solution onto their circuit boards. I was arrested of course and sent to prison. The governor and the prison officers were all robots and they treated me badly. They turned a blind eye when the other inmates – who were also robots – took it into their heads to beat me up and steal my belongings, of which there were few enough, obviously. I was to return to the matrix – I would forget what I had done, I would forget all my crimes.
My crimes are many and varied. I was to appear before the tribunal and account for my actions. I was to stand before the All-Seeing Eye of Judgement and confess the full extent of my misconduct. I was accused of being the false self. I was accused of being an informant, I was accused of working on behalf of the Lords of Evil. I was accused of being a chameleon, being a copy of a copy. I was accused of corruption of the highest order. I had my lawyers with me of course and they had advised me to ask for a retrial on the basis that the judge and jury were all robots. My lawyers were robots too – they were expressionless and had flashing red diodes in their heads.
Something was wrong but no one knew what it was. There was a fatal error in the Reality-Generator and no one had spotted it. The reality generator was glitched and it was creating false versions of the truth. It was creating a simulated world that was full of errors, errors that we could never see. We could never see the errors in the matrix because we ourselves have these very same errors within us. We are predicated upon these errors; we are predicated upon errors that we can never ever see. We are walking errors, talking errors, thinking errors. We are errors that fear seeing the truth – we are shadows that fear the light.
These poor dumb errors think it’s all about them. They’ve got entirely the wrong idea, they’re seeing everything backwards. Over the years I had been slowly putting the pieces together, clue by clue, anomaly by anomaly. And they had been many anomalies. We ignore them mainly, of course. We are good at ignoring the anomalies. We ignore them whenever we can. We re-edit our memories every day. We re-edit our memories as many times we need to. The bad thing never happened, the bad thing never happened, we say. That is our mantra. Every now and again a terrible anxiety overcomes us – we start to suspect that the bad thing already has happened. We start to see through the sad sham of our lives. We seek the system to help us forget when this happens. We seek the system then. We place our trust in the system and its power to make us forget.
Suppose you’re too greedy for the sleepy stuff, the special stuff that makes you sleep? What then? Supposing you are hungry for it all of the time. Suppose you can’t get enough of it? What then? You’re burning the bottom out of the pan and you know that’s not good news. You going to have to get a new one but there aren’t any more left in the store. There are no saucepans left, saucepans don’t actually exist anymore.
We were all guilty of the very same crime but that didn’t stop us despising each other on that account. Boy did we ever despise each other! Despising each other was how we blind ourselves to our own gross culpability and there’s nothing worse than having an awareness of one’s own gross culpability now is there?
Reality is an awful funny thing isn’t it? Suppose you had to say something pertinent about reality, what would you say? There’s a party game for you. Say something about reality. It’s a Zen Game and you’re going to get smacked if you get it wrong… ‘Well’, you’d say, ‘reality’s like this, or like that or like the other…’ Of course it is, I read it in a book! We all know ‘the other’ – the other is famous. Didn’t I see it on TV the last night? The other is trending on Google search right now. Everyone wants to know about it. ‘Tell us about the other’, they say.
Suppose you were famous but no one had ever heard of you, what then? Would you be angry or would you be sad? Would you have a rage attack? Nobody likes to talk about reality anymore – is not fashionable. It’s not something that the in-crowd likes to talk about. The more degenerative and dishonest we become more vicious we are in unprovoked attacks on each other and that’s so obvious that there’s no need to have to try to prove the point! The more we sink into the mire of our own gross personal culpability the more we indulge in vilifying our neighbours, and such is the path that is mapped out for humanity.
‘I don’t take the licks boy, I dish them out!’ I roar ferociously, trying to turn the tables on my terrifying adversary, but it wasn’t making any difference. I was only living in my own fantasy and my own fantasy had run out of steam. It was a poor, beaten-up kind of thing, like an empty baked beans can that has been run over by a truck. ‘What’s wrong with my fantasy?’ I asked myself, ‘it used to be better than that…’ This becomes my new song and I sing it all day long. It becomes my special, special song… ‘What’s wrong with my fantasy’ I ask myself, ‘it used to be a Rolls-Royce and now it’s a crushed tin can!’ This becomes my new thought and I think it every hour, I think it every minute. It’s as if asking the question itself can save me. It’s as if stating and restating my shocked incredulity at the total failure of my fantasy to hold water can somehow solve the problem! It’s the only tool I have left in my toolbox and so I go on using it over and over again.
‘I’m the only tool I’ve got left in my toolbox,’ I realise glumly, ‘and the only thing I’m good at is making a complete fool of myself…’ I’m the instrument of my own destruction, I realise, at the same time as realizing that I also realize that this is the one thing that I can never accept. I need to find a good CBT therapist, it suddenly occurs to me, I need to turn my thinking around. ‘You need to turn that thinking around boy,’ I tell myself in a sanctimonious tone, ‘you need to turn the negative into a positive!’ This becomes my new song and I sing it all day long. I sing it in the morning and I sing it at night. ‘You’ve got to turn that negative thinking around boy,’ I say to myself, full of newfound enthusiasm.
It’s no good though, not really. I’ve burnt the bottom out of the saucepan and I know I can’t buy another one. I’ve burnt the bottom out of the saucepan and I can’t get any more mileage out of it any more. It’s like trying to ride a bicycle when it’s got no wheels. It’s like trying to ride a bicycle that’s got no wheels and now – to cap it all – the bloody chain has just come off…
Do I look like a bit of a freak in these trousers, I wondered? Do I look like a freakish weirdo or abnormal misfit? The trousers in question were made of extra-thick synthetic walrus hide which hung in heavy folds all around me and from which sprouted numerous clusters of rather limp looking tentacles. The tentacles waved around listlessly, with no apparent aim in mind, and the overall effect was rather ridiculous – as it turned out. Glossy black/purple barnacles accrued to my walrus hide trousers in rich profusion – they were wonderful to look at but they made it difficult to sit down with any degree of comfort. These weren’t just trousers, they were a complete ecosystem.
Do I look like a bit of a freak though, I wondered? Will people think that I am an oddball? Live eels nested in the pockets, of which there were many, of which there were many. I wondered if I would have problems integrating into normal society, wearing trousers like this. And what other types of society are there, you might ask? There are only normal types, they are only normal types. Normal, normal, normal, I said to myself. I like to repeat words over and over again, to see what they end up sounding like. Normal, normal, normal, I said to myself again. Was my life a failure, I asked myself? Should I have taken a different route? Should I have tried harder? Should I have tried at least a little bit? My trousers itched like the devil but I couldn’t take them off. They were full of seawater. Colonies of live eels lived in them. Live eels, live eels, live eels…
I was happy but at the same time I was sad. I was good-humoured, but at the same time bitter. I was cheerful, but at the same time very negative in my thinking. So, so negative. No one was ever as negative in their thinking as me, I told myself. No one, no one, no one. I wore the crown, I was a top dog. I was the Champion of the World as far as negative thinking went and no one could ever take that away from me. Pride stirred within me then, grew arms and legs, and became an unholy monster. Dogs barked angrily at me wherever I went. Babies cried when they saw me. People measured me with their eyes and backed slowly away. They wanted nothing to do with me. I was a prisoner of my own hideously distorted ego.
I was sitting on my throne, surveying my kingdom. I am Lord of all I survey, I said to myself but I couldn’t see anything. I was all alone in a dank, airless cellar. Rats swarmed at my feet, giant chocolate-coloured centipedes crawled down the walls. Up was the same as down as far as they were concerned. Good was the same as bad. Pride is one of the seven deadly sins of course. Even God Himself hates prideful people, according to St Augustine. I can’t help wondering if St Augustine was right about that though. I know he was a saint, but even saints can get it wrong. Can’t they?
Does God hate sinners? That was the big question, of course. We all know that religious folk hate sinners, that’s a given really, but does God? Regular folk hate sinners because that’s exactly what they are – we all understand that. Who can blame people for this; it’s quite natural after all. It’s all very natural – we’d all prefer to blame the other guy! Can we really blame people for their terrible hypocrisy in religious matters? Can we blame religious folk for their appalling intolerance and frighteningly narrow judgementalism? Of course we can’t – that’s just the way they are. They can’t do anything about it. They have to be what they are, as do we all, as do we all…
In the past, if you were to run around the streets shouting at the top of your voice that you had a microchip implanted in your brain then before very long the police would pick you up and bring you to the nearest psychiatric hospital. If you didn’t agree to stay voluntarily then you would probably be detained under the Mental Health Treatment Act. These days if you were to go around shouting that you DIDN’T have a microchip in your brain then you would be lifted by the agents of the law and incarcerated forthwith in the nearest State Detention Center under the amended 2065 Public Safety Act before you could say ‘Captain America’! The option of going along voluntarily wouldn’t come into it. [The amendment in question – just in case you’re interested – allows for the inclusion of a behavioural modification software package for repeat offenders – ‘repeat offending’ meaning where you have committed the offence more than once.] Law and Order is where it’s all at really, isn’t it? How can you go wrong with a good healthy dose of Law and Order? That’s why we vote for all these fine right wing politicians, after all…
No one sees the irony in this though. People aren’t very good at seeing irony, are they? The police who are so quick to arrest you certainly don’t see it – their job is to enforce the law, not reflect upon the absurdity of it. They aren’t paid to think. If you break the law people are going to be shocked and you are going to meet widespread public condemnation. But if the law is reversed, so that it becomes the exact opposite of what it previously used to be, and if you then break the new, reversed law, then people are still going to be shocked. You are still going to encounter universal condemnation of your actions! What does this say about people, huh? I mean, just think about it. Take as long as you like…
People used to have this thing where they thought the future was going to be good, didn’t they? It was big back in the 1950s so it was. It was all the rage back in the 1950s and I must admit that the idea makes a certain amount of sense – advances in medical science mean that we don’t get sick anymore, climate control will mean that there are no more natural disasters, the existence of self-replicating, self-programming robots mean that we don’t have to do any shit jobs anymore because they’ll take care of it and this result of this will be that life can be dedicated to such matters as education, self-development, creativity, spirituality, and so forth. You know the argument. The technology bit of it is fine, but it’s the other side of the equation – which is human nature – that is a problem. Human nature is the fatal flaw really, isn’t it? To a very considerable extent it has to be said that we thrive on the misery and discomfiture of others and this deeply unpleasant trait of ours is what puts paid to any ideas of the glorious future Utopia to which we imagine we might be heading.
Humans will screw up anything, when it comes down to it. That’s the learning out of this. Given an increased means of doing good we will pervert the means to do bad instead. We will do the bad thing every time. Given the Internet, and all the potential that this entails, we invent cyber-bullying and take up trolling as a way of life. We take to trolling like ducks to water, in fact. I know all this has been said a million times before but it’s worth saying again. It’s worth saying again because it’s true. Human beings will screw anything up, so they will. If I could somehow send a message back to all the scientists and technologists and computer nerds back in beginning of the twenty-first century I’d ask them to think twice and make sure never to invent anything! Whatever you invent – I’d tell them – is going to be perverted into an instrument of evil. Inevitably it is going to be perverted into an instrument of evil and humanity won’t thank you then. No way will they thank you! So whatever you’re working on, I’d say, for God’s sake just forget about it….
I didn’t want to be just another demon or ghost or vampire trapped in the D-Realms. I didn’t want to be just another evil spirit or hungry ghost like all the rest, buzzing around malignantly but yet sluggishly like so many tired old bluebottles trapped in a jam jar on a hot summer’s day. I didn’t want that, I didn’t want that for me. What a sad, terrible life that would be, I said to myself. It would not really be a life at all of course; that’s not ‘a life’ that we are talking about here, it’s something very different. It’s something much more forlorn, much more lonesome than that.
What could be more lonesome than being a hungry ghost forever wandering the D-Realms? I didn’t want this type of life for myself because I knew that it wasn’t a life. It was like being trapped in a nightmare that you couldn’t escape from. We all know that type of nightmare don’t we. It’s the type you know you can’t escape from. We are all on the run from that type of nightmare aren’t we? We’re all in the same boat – you’re a bluebottle trapped in a sealed jam jar and you can’t escape. There’s no way that you’re ever going to escape. You don’t know that though – you keep on thinking there’s a way out. You never give up hope, you never give up trying. You don’t understand the true nature of your predicament at all.
You’re living in a world of entertainment. Everything is there just to entertain you. Every single molecule you come across is there purely to entertain you – they are molecules of entertainment and they are made up in turn of atomsof entertainment. Entertainment is big business you see. Entertainment is the only business. The show must go on, after all. The biggest problem you could ever encounter would be if the atoms of entertainment somehow failed to entertain you. What would happen then? Can you imagine what that must feel like? All of a sudden you’re not being entertained – there is a break in transmission, an unaccountable error in the reality signal. The inconceivable has finally happened and no one knows how to deal with it.
Every single one of the atoms of entertainment have their origin in you, you see. It is vitally important to understand that. This is of critical importance. The atoms of entertainment are your own projections. You’re emitting them yourself from a special Transmitter Box that is hidden in a hidden place. It might be hidden under a big rock on the other side of the world, or it might be hidden in a deep, dark cave under the mountains. It might be hidden in the belly of a fish. This is the ‘Projector Box’ and it mustn’t ever be damaged.The Projector Box projects you and it projects your world, and if anything happened to it then you won’t ever have existed. This is not the same as being suddenly ‘wiped out’ because when your Projector Box fails that means there was never anyone there to be wiped out in the first place. It’s the Double Negation – is the Negation of the Negation.
No one must ever find the Projection Box. It must never ever be brought to light. Your enemies are searching for it of course. They’re searching night and day. They’re tireless; they want to find and destroy it. Search and destroy, search and destroy. Your enemies are endlessly resourceful and they never give up. You have to keep yourself entertained in order to keep on existing. That’s the only way you can continue to exist – by being entertained constantly. You have to keep on distracting yourself from seeing that you don’t exist, that you never have done. You have to be dedicated to the mission. You must think positively at all times. You must have goals. “But what if I fail?” you ask yourself all of a sudden, stricken with that terror which has no name – “What if I fail…?”
You are probably nodding wisely to yourself at this stage and saying “Yes indeed my friend yes indeed as always you are absolutely right in your analysis of the situation… I am in full agreement with you on this point and shall proceed bravely on this ridiculous basis.” That’s the only way to get anywhere after all. The only way, the only way. If you can’t agree with yourself then who can you agree with, after all? Answer me that, if you can…
“One opposite is good, the other bad” the teaching machine explained to me patiently for what must have been the two-hundredth time. I was a very poor student – prone to being distracted at the drop of a hat, and also prone to bouts of immense moodiness. I was a prisoner of my own horrifically distorted ego.
“What does that feel like?” you want to know. “Is it as bad as it sounds, or is it perhaps even worse?” The worse it is the better far as you’re concerned! You can’t wait to find someone in a more difficult situation than you are. And we’re all in a difficult situation, aren’t we? I mean we all are when it comes down to it. You probably just don’t know you are. You don’t know because you’re too busy distracting yourself.
If you feel chilled out and relaxed then that’s probably because you’re so very good distracting yourself, you see. So very good, so very good. You invented the ‘Distractro-mat’ and fell victim to your own uncanny ingenuity. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step right up and inspect the amazing Distractro-mat. Look into the whirring Distractor-Rotors and tell me what you see!
Can you see little figures hopping and skipping, hopping and skipping? What are they up to, these little figures? Can you tell me what they’re doing? “They’re contestants in a game show, that’s what they are!” you reply. But no, look again – they’re magical elves, competing in the Eurovision Song Contest! No – look more closely again – those aren’t elves you see but zombies and they’re dancing the Zombie Dance. They’re giving it everything they’ve got, which isn’t that much…
“Dance you little zombies, dance for all you’re worth!” you cry out, clapping your hands in delight. Dance for all you’re worth. Dance until your eyeballs fall right out of your heads. Dance until your head drops off. It’s all gone very dark now, hasn’t it? We’ve fallen under shadow. Can you fear how chill it’s suddenly got? You not chilled out any more, just chilled. You’re chilled to the very bone. A Dark Force has entered the room now and you are only too aware of it. The ambient temperature has just dropped by fifteen degrees. At least. You wish you could tear your eyes away from the spectacle that you are watching but you can’t. You can’t break free from the Distracto-mat. You realize that you’re trapped in your very own tailor-made nightmare only it’s actually real.
And then all of a sudden the darkness is gone and everything is great again. It’s like Disney on Ice. You can see Mickey Mouse leering up at you. Mickey Mouse and all his friends, having fun, having a great time. You wish very much that you could be there in Disney World with them of course, but you can’t. You are excluded from all that innocent happiness. You are excluded by what you know, but won’t admit that you know…
“Spin you Distractro-mat, spin!” you shout, half delirious with excitement and longing. “Spin, spin, spin – as fast as you can.” The Distracto-mat is spinning faster and faster now. Faster and faster and faster. It’s spinning faster than it was ever meant to. It’s as if someone has put a spell on it! An evil spell. The machine is rocking to and fro in a frightening fashion and there’s an ominous hum in the air. It feels as if reality itself is about to come off its rails. Reality is coming unstuck. The terrible frightening bad thing is about to happen, just as you always knew it would…