For many years I believed myself to be a reasonably decent human being – I liked people, or at least if not exactly fond of them then I was at least tolerant of them in a good-natured way, which is almost the same thing. As I’m concerned it’s very nearly the same thing. I’ve come to realise now however that I have no feelings towards my fellow human beings at all – none that is apart from complete irritation. I had been advised by my psychotherapist to write about my childhood but this is not something that I was able to do. I always experience lots of resistance whenever I’m asked to do something and this was no exception. That’s a number of years ago – coming up to 10 years, I’d say – and just in the last week or so I’ve come back to the idea. I have decided to write the story of my life up to this point, although not necessarily starting at the beginning. I can’t remember the beginning anyway so there’s no fear of that! There are numerous styles of writing an autobiography of course – there is a self-congratulatory style, which is more common than you might imagine, but I don’t think I’ll be trying that one. It wouldn’t wash. Then there is the supposedly impartial and objective style, which simply never works so we’ll forget about that. And then there’s the humorous style which is fine if you can pull it off but the plain fact of the matter is that very few of us can pull it off and to try to be witty or humorous without pulling it off is of course worst disaster going in the world of writing. With the exception of the ‘let me tell you about my great life’ type of disaster. My great life, my great life. It’s so damn great that I have to tell you about all about it; it’s so great that I want to write a book about it. I don’t think I’ll going down that road however as I have said – I feel sick in thinking about it. I look upon my life up to this point is a type of accident. Not a particularly pretty accident either. More of an exercise in awkwardness is how I would describe it. Life was a thing that I did know how to do, I’m afraid. I still don’t although possibly it’s true that I don’t care quite so much about it anymore. Although now that I happen to be thinking about it I realise that I wouldn’t mind writing about my life in a more heroic mode, mainly because I’m fascinated to find out what it might feel like to buy into the story that you are doing stuff on purpose, because you want to, and then actually achieving whatever it was that you were aiming at. The two things I find difficult in this scheme are: firstly, that it might be possible to actually know what you wants in life and secondly, that you might be able to deliberately bring it about. Apart from those two things, I rather think that I might be able to get the hang of writing a heroic autobiography. Imagine what that must feel like – believing with every bit of you that you are in charge of your own destiny, that you are driving the train! You’re driving it and you know when you’re going – you know exactly where you going. You are determined too – you are determined to get where you’re going. Your chin is sticking out in that superbly determined sort of a way. Leading with the chin, leading with the chin. That’s one tough chin you’ve got there my friend – like the prow of an icebreaker. It’s as if the whole of your identity is based upon this promise that you have made yourself. ‘I’ll show them!’ you are saying, ‘watch and learn buddy. I’ll show you how it’s done…’ Confidence like this is a wonderful thing of course; it’s a truly splendid thing. A many-splendoured thing. This is how I would like to write the story of my life I think, in exactly this vein. A heroic vein. A ‘go-getter’ type of vein, a ‘can-do’ type of vein. This is the type of thing that everyone admires so much, of course. Can you blame them for their childishly naïve adulation? It must seem like such a truly magnificent accomplishment to one who is hopelessly naïve about such matters, and I’m afraid that must encompass most of humanity. We have such charming little delusions about life don’t we? Obviously these delusions have never been examined to any appreciable extent – that’s not really ‘the done thing’ as far as delusions are concerned after all – but that simply makes them all the quainter. It’s like believing in tooth fairies, or like believing that heaven is a place in the sky, a place very much like where we are right now, only it’s up in the sky, or up in space somewhere. That’s what makes it so special you see, because it’s a place that is right up in the sky. How quaint is that? And so our delusion – that quaint little delusion which we so very naïvely believe in – is the delusion of ourselves.
I fear things that I do not know, I fear that which I cannot understand. And yet at the same time, I know nothing, I understand nothing. And also at the same time, I fear the knowledge that I know nothing, that I understand nothing, and that I fear things which I do not and cannot understand. I fear this knowledge as I fear everything and there is nothing that I do not fear.
I had cobbled together a brand-new ego for myself and it was doing just fine. It was doing very well indeed thank you. It was shiny and squeaky clean. It was as clean as a whistle, it was as sharp as a salad knife. I had cobbled together a brand-new ego out of the ruins of the old one and now it was ensured that I would rise resplendent yet again, it was ensured that I would rise once more despite all that had befallen me! Despite all. Resplendent despite the interminable and unendurable ignominy that I have nevertheless still had to endure. Resplendent again and soaring aloft on the wings of triumph. Soaring aloft, soaring aloft. I had cobbled together a brand-new ego, brand-new ego…
Well I say that it was a BNE but really it was pretty much the same as the old one, now that I come to think about it. Not really so different so different not really so different. I had cobbled together a brand new ego and it was as bright as a new button and as sharp as a wooden spoon. Things had been pretty tough there for a while, pretty damn tough alright but I’d managed to turn it around at the last moment. I’d managed to pull it out of the bag when I needed to. A brand new ego, that is. I pulled it out of the bag of egos that I carry with me wherever I go.
As pretty as a picture, as bright as new penny. It was just as good as if nothing bad had ever happened, it had been renewed just as the phoenix is renewed. This is as good as it gets, I told myself jubilantly. It doesn’t get any better than this. Everything’s going my way and life couldn’t be any better
What I don’t understand I fear and I don’t understand anything. if I can’t dominate something then I run away from it and if I can’t run away from something then I pretend it isn’t there. I remake the world in my own image every day and yet I don’t exist and never have done – what’s my name? I am full of praise for my own achievements and yet in my whole life I have never achieved a thing; I never cease to pronounce and pontificate and yet my stupendous ignorance subsumes the whole world – what shall you call me?
Delighted with my own riddles, I do a little dance right there and then. I call it my Victory Dance. As I dance my little dance I sing a little song. I sing a little song that I call my Glory Song. My days were numbered from the very start. My days were numbered right from the day that I first created myself and yet I never created a thing. My victory is complete and incontestable and yet my failure was certain right from the word go!
I was in a time warp. The last of the evil ages had come and gone, it occurred to me numbly, but what was that to me? I was a thinking brain with no brain; I was a disembodied intellect without any intellect. I was the voice of my future self and this future self of mine – in which such great stock has been placed – is nothing other than the ghost of my past self, which is a tormented being stuck in a hell realm from which it cannot escape. The hibernation chamber holding the brains of my fellow crew members had been jettisoned by accident into outer space and I was all alone. All alone with my hallucinations, I commented grimly to myself. All alone with my hallucinations, which were which are as disturbing as they are incomprehensible. Some are sexual in nature and same are not. I shall speak more of that later on however.
Spirits came to me, wishing to speak to me. They reached out to me from the Other World. Beings of light came to me from the Light Realm; they came to tell me things about reality – things I all too quickly forgot. I was an habitual amnesiac, after all. I was the sleeping god and the more I slept the more I wanted to sleep. Sleep called out to me and I, for my part, rushed eagerly into its arms. Sleep called out to me and never have I heard a sweet voice! My insides turned into jelly when I heard that voice, calling out softly to me as it did, and my legs wobbled helplessly under me. All I wanted was sleep and I wanted it more than I had ever wanted anything in my life.
My spaceship had crash-landed on a barren and inhospitable planet – the tachyonic drive unit had burnt out and I very much doubted if I would ever be able to repair it. The Hibernation Pod crash landed further up the mountain slope; it had not made such a good landing and all the containment capsules had cracked open as a result of the impact. The precious fluid had drained out onto the jagged rocks.
I knew that this had happened and yet at the same time I knew that it was yet to happen. The event of which I speak had already happened, had irrevocably happened, and yet it was also about to happen. The memory of the catastrophe that was about to happen looms above me like a great dark mountain – it casts a shadow that I can never crawl out from under. The sun is mercilessly hot, but the shadow under which I lay with is damp and chill, as chill as a grave. The catastrophe looms ever me like a mountain, it towers over me like an accident that is yet to happen but which always had happened. All roads lead up to this point, all portents speak of it.
The spirits of the dead crew members come to me in dreams, seeking to wake me up. They speak urgently of important things; they painstakingly instruct me on how to reactivate the ship’s core. They give me the information that I need and yet it is still no good – it is no good because nothing can rouse me from the pit of sleep into which I have so heedlessly fallen. The more I sleep the more I want to sleep; the more I sleep the greedier I become for yet more sleep. My greed is inexhaustible. Sleep lies heavy all around me. It had collected on the ground in dark puddles and my clothing is saturated with it. This was no ordinary state of sleep that I am speaking of – it was a craving for mental oblivion that knew no limits, a craving for obliteration that could never be satiated. Sleep was an evil drug and I was a craven drug addict, motivated only by the cravings that existed within me and possessed me like demons.
Consciousness has become a monstrosity to me that had to be destroyed by any means. Consciousness has become a horror to me, the instigator of nightmares. I wake from one dream and plunge straight into another, soaked in ice-cold sweat. I flee from one dream to another dream, relentlessly followed the whole time by my pursuing nemesis. No sooner have I retreated into one obscure and dismal dream then their telepathic radar tracks me down and I knew that I had to bury myself in dreams all over again. I must have turned my back on consciousness a million times, yet each time it rises up against me again. It up rises against me in ever more terrible forms.
‘I’m so angry!’ – Signed, Mr Angry. ‘I’m such a fuckwit!’ – Signed, Mr Fuckwit. ‘Thank you for your correspondence!’ – Mr Analogue. ‘Yours sincerely’ – signed, Mr Sly Tongue. ‘All of these things and more,’ I told myself. ‘All of these things and more…’ My head was teeming with nonsense. It was like a saucepan of raging, boiling fluid – a terrible storm in a teacup. To see all that fluid boiling madly, frantically, tempestuously, in the way that it was, frightened me – ‘No one ever should have to see something as frightening as that,’ I told myself, trying to cheer myself up. ‘Many things have I witnessed,’ I told myself, ‘but none as terrible as this.’ I was witnessing the egos of course. Witnessing the psychologically egos. ‘How are you doing, good buddy?’ I called out cheerfully, ‘how’s your bloody old day going?’ It was a zombie ego I was talking to – dull of expression and full of bad intent. Its face was corrupted; it’s face was full of the corruption of ages. ‘Is it myself that I’m witnessing?’ I asked myself, ‘is this my true, underlying self?’ If the answer to this question was ‘Yes’ then this wouldn’t bode well for me, I reflected sombrely. It wouldn’t bode well for me at all. ‘We are many…’ another marauding ego told me. This one had a pleasing look to it – it presented as a handsome man of about 40 years of age sporting a fine handlebar moustache and a straw hat, which it wore with jaunty impudence. The straw hat, that is. The ego’s jaw was set firmly, denoting one who has surpassingly great determination in life, and will not be shaken off their purpose. ‘I like the cut of your jib son’ I told him, nodding my head approvingly. ‘A young man such as yourself will go far in life…’ A young man such as yourself, a young man such as yourself. I remembered all of a sudden when that very same phrase had been said to me, all those years ago. I was merely parroting the phrase back, I realised with a shock. The phrase was living through me – I was simply transmitting the disease. That was my only role. I felt ashamed of how badly I gone wrong since those early years of promise. Those early so-promising years. Shame hung in thick flabby mottled folds from my body. Then I realised that the mottled unruly folds were my body – I had transformed into a great grey nematode. I had been serving a life sentence on the Prison Planet Urath at the time and the governor taken me under his wing. I was to be a professional executioner, dispatcher of the rich and famous. I had a natural talent. All that talent has gone to waste now though and that’s why the shame torments me so. All that early promise, all that talent – all gone to waste, all gone to waste. All flushed down the toilet. I wanted to punish myself then but I was too afraid of the pain to do so.
One day King Phlobulon was sitting on his throne, ruling away, ruling away as he always did, ruling over the small matters as well as the large, when all of a sudden he started to feel sad. All of a sudden it didn’t seem so great to be king anymore – the ruling just wasn’t any fun anymore. King Phlobulon became grumpy. First he became grumpy, and then – as time wore on – he became downright irritable. Finally, he became totally cantankerous. Each minute that came seemed to drag its heels unbearably, and then the one that followed tarried with equal sloth, equal reluctance. There was no end to it. King Phlobulon grew angry with time itself – he declared time to be an enemy of the free world, not that there was any such thing as ‘the free world’ really because how could there be with the likes of King Phlob ruling the land? The King did much more than merely declare time an enemy of the Free State, he passed a solemn and binding law – and not just a law but a regal law – forbidding time from passing too slowly. All the scientists in the Kingdom were put to work, under pain of death, to find ways of speeding up the passage of time and major funds were made available to them. So that was all fine and in due course the scientists reported that good progress was being made with the research (and not just ‘good progress’ either but excellent progress – the very best possible type of progress). Eventually the new time-accelerating technology because so advanced and so effective that both King Phlobulon and his kingdom were hurtled into the far distant future, much like a proton being accelerated in a particle accelerator. What was this far-flung impossibly-distant future like however, you might want to know? What kind of stuff went on there? Was King Phlob happy with the results of the scientists’ ‘time-manipulation’ experiment? Did he reward these highly intelligent scientists or did he have them put to death after all? For an answer to all of these questions the reader must settle down and wait patiently for PART TWO of this tale however – Stories From The End Of Time….
You know that thing where you promise to start anew and never do the bad things that you used to do any more and you mean it with all your heart and you’re so glad to put your old ways behind you and yet at the same time you know that you don’t really mean it at all? Boy oh boy that’s rotten one isn’t it? What a stinker! What a big old stinker.
Life’s full of stinkers like that isn’t it? Dear me yes it is. Dear me yes it surely is. I’m transforming my human form as I write these words, believe it or not. I say ‘believe it or not’ because I know that you don’t believe it of course. No one ever does. I would hardly expect you to. I would hardly expect, I would hardly expect.
I’m transmuting myself you see; I am transmuting myself from one energetic level to another. I am transmuting myself from being an idiot into being an even bigger idiot; I am transmuting myself from a dumb fool into an even dumber fool. It’s an arcane process and I don’t expect anyone to understand it. I don’t understand it myself – all I know is how to do it. It’s like I’m some kind of idiot-savant, you could say. You promise and you promise, you promise and you promise and you promise. You keep on promising. You keep on promising and that’s the way of it.
That’s the way of it, that’s the way of it. I love saying ‘that’s the way of it’. I love to feel that I am saying something profound – everyone wants to say something profound! We all do, we all do, and me more than most. It’s such an exquisite irony isn’t it – it matters so very much to us that we should be saying profound things, uttering weighty and pertinent words, and yet we helplessly spew lame-brain nonsense all day long! What a fantastic irony. We would love to be saying profound stuff so much, so much; that would help us feel good about ourselves so much, and yet everything we come out with is transparently superficial. When we try to be wise we are even more transparently superficial than ever, of course. Isn’t that always the way?
The logic of what we’re saying here is obvious, anyway – give up trying to pretend that you have the capacity to say something that is actually deep! Give it up, give it up. It’s not going to work; it’s never going to work. The thing to do is to live within your means – don’t spend beyond your budget. Don’t strain yourself trying to lay an egg that isn’t there. An unreal egg, an imaginary egg, an egg of the imagination. Don’t give yourselves haemorrhoids on that account! Don’t bust a blood vessel. What divine modesty, after all; what divine modesty to be the superficial idiot that you truly are! What a blessing, what a gift – if only we could, if only we could. How sweet that would be, don’t you think – to be as superficial as bedamned and at the same time not strain to be otherwise.
Human transmutation is a wonderful thing, don’t you think? Human transmutation, human transmutation. Multidimensional transformation. The internet is full of it. The weight of my ego is truly insupportable – it truly is, it truly is. It’s like having a head that is huge and ungainly and which your neck is too puny to support. It’s very much like that. Your head flops helplessly to one side – you have to drag it along with you wherever you go. Cruel humiliation comes your way every day because people can immediately see what a ridiculously overinflated ego you’re sporting. It’s like a horrible sore in your face, a sore that’s threatening to burst at any moment. The humiliation is immense and unrelenting, it’s my daily diet.
The weight of human transformation, the weight of human transformation. We’d all like to lay an egg, and not just any egg either but a golden egg. To drop it discreetly into the next conversation that you might be having. Wherever or whenever that might be. Just hanging about there on the outskirts of the conversation, barely making your presence felt, nodding politely at the points the other people are making. Nodding politely, nodding politely. Just kind of hovering there at the outskirts of the conversation, not really making yourself known, and then when the moment is exactly right you drop in your egg.
We all like to lay a golden egg of course so let’s not waste any time arguing about that. Let’s not be afraid to admit it. We’re hungry ghosts at the dinner party, busy making small talk. ‘Hungry ghosts of the dinner party’ – that’s a good one, isn’t it? Browsing contentedly through the finger food, expressing our appreciation to the hostess, complimenting her on a well-organised little soirée, complimenting her on the delightful finger food – the delicious tasteful finger food that you are enjoying so very much. Only you’re not enjoying it, are you? You’re not enjoying it at all….
The Domain of the Known is a disease and I think we can all agree on that! It’s a disease that we all know only too well. We know it with an intimacy that goes beyond mere words; it is a frightening intimacy, an intimacy that goes beyond the everyday realm of the five senses, we might say – it goes deeper even than that. We are, every last one of us, intimate with this most insidious of diseases and yet – of course – we pretend to the very best of our ability that we aren’t. What an extraordinarily peculiar business this human existence is – we all suffer equally from this utterly appalling disease and yet we pretend, both to ourselves and everyone else, that we know nothing of it!
I suppose that, strictly speaking, the Domain of the Known is not itself the disease – the disease is us inhabiting this pestilential domain as if it were the only world there is. That’s the disease in a nutshell and what a disease it is! What a truly hideous affliction. There is nothing more hideous than the known, if only we were actually able to turn to look at it. There’s nothing more stomach-turning – nothing more sickening. To see the Domain of the Known for what it is is to look into the face of pure horror; that’s really all we need to say on the subject. The Domain of the Known is the death of all that is good in us; it’s the life which was never allowed to happen. It’s the life never could happen because it didn’t have a chance. Can you think of anything sadder than a life which is never allowed to happen?
I can, as it happens. I could think of something far sadder than that. What is sadder than a life that can never happen is ‘a life that can never happen which we nevertheless pretend can happen’, which we nevertheless pretend is happening. What’s sadder than the life that is not allowed to happen is the life which never can happen and which we then place on a pedestal and play obsequious lip service to every single day of our lives. I could go on in this vein indefinitely of course but there is little point in that. There is a form of intimacy that commonly exists between those suffering from this particular disease however and we must not fail to mention it. We certainly must not fail to mention it. Most certainly we must not. This is ‘the disease that brings spurious intimacy’ and this just goes to show that there is no such thing as a curse that someone somewhere isn’t busy capitalising on. No matter how miserable and wretchedly unhappy our situation is, you can be sure that someone somewhere is reaping the advantage. So here we all are sharing the same cramped living quarters and whether it’s fit for purpose or not is a moot point. No one said anything about ‘fit for such purpose’ – that was never the point, that was never the idea at all. There is nothing more hideous than the known after all and I don’t care who hears me say it. The Known is the nightmare that we are all afraid to face and there’s no politer way to say it than that. Politeness isn’t everything after all; we all spend far too much time being polite in my opinion. Being polite isn’t going to save us from being fucked over, after all.
As I have just said, it’s not the known itself that is the hideous disease but rather it is the habit we have of inhabiting the Domain of the Known as if it were the only world there was, is, or ever could be. What a filthy habit that is! What a downright loathsome and scurrilous habit this is – even the most neglected of houseplants will be granted a little bit of soil to stretch out its roots in but not us – we are expected to make do squashed together like sixty million generic peas in a pod in the very same over-heated frying pan. We’d hop out of it if we could but we can’t. We are – every last one of us – intimate with this most insidious of diseases and yet we make out that we know nothing about it. We’d protest until we’re green in the face that we know nothing about it – we’d protest right up to the bitter end. We know nothing at all about it, or so we claim. We’d claim anything you see; we don’t care what we claim – it’s all the one as far as we’re concerned. We make a virtue out of our cowardice and we’re as proud as punch. We all band together to say how great it is and if we come across anyone who doesn’t agree with us then we will kick thirty types of multicoloured shyte out of them so we will. I’m not joking when I say that either. We all band together to say how great this thing that we have made – this precious ‘consensus reality’ – is and we’ll ram it down the throat of any poor bastard we come across! We like to spread the disease you see – we want to make sure that everyone else is just as much in the shit as we are. Of course we do – everyone wants company in hell, isn’t that true?