I had pledged allegiance to the malignancy – we all had. Well – some of us had. A few of us had. One or two of us had pledged allegiance to the malignancy. I had anyway. I had my very best hat on and I was feeling jaunty. There was a bit of pep to my step and just a tiny suggestion of a swagger. Nothing too much you understand, nothing too overstated. I didn’t want to go making a right twat of myself now did I? That’s all too easy to do, in my experience. Just a bit of a swagger, just the merest suggestion of it. That’s all. A kind of fluid easy-going confidence in my stride – that’s all. Nothing too outrageously cocky or cheeky, that wouldn’t be my style at all…
Mind you I was feeling rather pleased with myself. ‘I’m doing OK,’ I was saying to myself, ‘I’m making out. I’m not doing too badly, all things considered. Not when you consider all the difficulties that I’ve had to contend with…’ One of which is probably my personality, now that I come to think of it! That’s not been easy for me over the years. I’d say I deserve some respect at least for coping as well as I have done. Not that I have ‘coped’, as such. Not exactly coped. Definitely not well anyway. Not exactly well. Not well as such, but certainly a lot better than I could have done. I definitely haven’t had it easy really; not when you consider that I’ve had to deal with myself every step of the way I haven’t.
I was going to wax a bit philosophical at this stage and ask why is it that we all have to make life so difficult for ourselves, but I’m having second thoughts about that. I can’t help wondering if I might be assuming a bit too much there – perhaps most people don’t make life extremely difficult for themselves. Probably they don’t, come to think of it. Why would they, after all? Now that I come to think of it, I can’t see why anyone would do this actually. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense, does it? There are enough other people out there trying to screw you over in this world without joining in yourself! I’m trying to be funny there but it’s not really coming off very well.
So what’s wrong with your personality anyway, you might ask, getting curious about this particular point. Why exactly is it such a liability? Having brought the topic up I don’t feel very much inclined to pursue the matter any further however. I was only trying to be funny anyway, and I just didn’t quite pull it off. The joke fell flat, so what can you do? The joke fell flat but never mind. Let’s just move on. I suppose one thing that I’ve come to realise recently is that things can change very quickly. Things can change all too quickly actually; they can change in a flash, before you even know what’s happening. That’s very disconcerting when that happens – it’s a very disconcerting type of thing. It’s undermining too – hugely undermining. One minute you could be walking about, feeling like the bee’s knees, with a bit of pep in your step, the slightest suggestion of a swagger in your stride perhaps, and then the next minute you feel the frightening hollowness of it all.
It’s that moment that always gets me. That point in time which I like to call ‘the turning point moment’. Do you know the moment that I’m speaking of? It’s that moment when your ebullient, seemingly inexhaustible good humour starts to blister and peel off like so much cheap paint on some fairground ride. Like cheap garish red paint on a fairground ride when the season’s over and the winter rains are coming in. And the season wasn’t that long either – possibly no more than a few hours long. It’s over almost before it begins, isn’t it? It’s over almost before it even begins. And what’s under that cheap fairground paint, you might ask? That’s an easy question to answer, at any rate. The answer is staring you in the face – what’s under that paint is the truth and the truth is a bit of a let-down, when all is said and done. The truth is a damn sight more ‘down at heel’ than the jolly old illusion, at any rate…
Do you know that thing where you’re doing all this bad stuff and you’re trying to make out that you’re not doing it at all but it’s starting to look pretty obvious all the same, even to the least observant of your detractors? The mask is starting to slip and you can’t do anything about it, in other words. You know the feeling that I’m talking about here, right? That’s a very important feeling to be talking about I think; it’s a kind of a crucial aspect of human experience, in my view. The mask slips and as soon as it does we know that something going very badly wrong; even the slightest slippage is enough to give the game away, isn’t that right? We all know that that, I think. We are all aware of that and that’s what’s so frightening. The mask is starting to slip and what’s going to be revealed then? Is it the true identity, or is it yet another mask? I’m playing for time, of course. I’m always playing for time – spinning it out, playing a delaying game, trying to prevaricate and obfuscate as best I can. Something might come to save me, I keep thinking. Something might come along. What exactly that might be I don’t know – I never really think things out as much is that you see! It doesn’t pay to think things out too much in my view. It might pay for some people (I’m quite prepared to admit that) but it doesn’t pay for me. I’m nonsense-thinking again; I’m trying to comfort myself with my thoughts but I’m frightening myself instead. We live in a world where lies are the official legitimate currency, I tell myself, but deep down I know that I am the liar, not the world. Deep down I know that I’m a liar. I lied when I said that I lied, but really I had broken a tooth. Really, I had made an error in my thinking but the error had been true. ‘How was I to know,’ I moan to myself, ‘how was I to know that the error was true?’ How was I supposed to have known? I was thinking nonsense to myself, thinking nonsense thoughts that were worth their weight in mould, when all of a sudden I realised that I had left the cat out of the bag. I had let the cat out of the bag in a big way. I tried to put it back of course but it scratched me and ran away, hissing. Deep down I know that I’m the liar of course but I try to pretend otherwise. I make up some daft cock and bull story about how it wasn’t me but how it was somebody else, how I wasn’t there really I was God knows where, some other of the type of place not there. I come up with some dreadful creaking rigmarole of an explanation that condemns me worse than any prosecuting barrister ever could. I was trying to comfort myself with my thinking but I opened up a can of worms instead. A can of Heinz spaghetti in a fine fragrant tomato sauce. All the worms start crawling out of course, they all start crawling out immediately. They’re not staying there! No way! Would you really expect them to? I try to put them back in of course, stuffing great writhing handfuls of them back into the can as fast as ever I can but they’re escaping even faster from between my fingers. I come out with some long-winded excuse but my excuse condemns me irrevocably, it condemns me utterly. The best Crown Prosecutor in the land couldn’t have done a better job. It’s an open and shut case. The mask is slipping big time now and people are seeing me for who I really am. Even I don’t know I really am; especially I don’t know who I really am! And judging by the shocked faces of everyone around me, it’s not anything good!
Suppose that one day you found out that you were totally controlled by a bunch of dumb compulsions and that you just did stuff that you had no control over and that you had absolutely no clue about why you were doing this stuff? Suppose that one day you discovered that you were doing stupid shit for no reason. What then, huh? How would that make you feel? Well I’ve only got one thing to say to you on that score buddy – welcome to the real world. Welcome to reality buddy! I hope you like it because I know you won’t. Nobody ever does, right? You bet your ass they don’t.
People love to think that they’re free, don’t they? It’s a real big deal for us; it’s what you might call ‘a bit of a sticking point’. It’s important that we have this perception of ourselves as being autonomous, as being independent, as not being some kind of mindless stooge. That’s really quite important for us. It stings when someone comes along and reminds us of the truth, doesn’t it? That really smarts – just like dripping lemon juice into a fresh paper cut. Ouch! It’s enough to make you wince in sympathy just to think about it. Oh boy has that got to sting! Nothing like the truth for cutting us to the quick, is there? Nothing like the truth, nothing like the truth….
It’s no wonder we live in a world where the truth is banned, is it? Not that there’s any actual tangible legislation outlawing the truth, of course. That would be too truthful. To actually admit that we have outlawed the truth would be far too honest and so we’ll never see that happening. Never in a million years will we see that happening! We live in a world where truth is a stranger – an illegal alien. When the authorities catch up with you then they’ll pull you up and show you their badges. ‘Hey dude,’ they’ll say, ‘do you realise that you’re an illegal fucking alien in this country?’ Then they will read you your rights, which won’t take very long because you haven’t got any.
‘You are vermin, buddy,’ they’ll say to you, ‘why don’t you go back to Mars or wherever you’re from? Why don’t you fuck off back to Uranus?’ They’ll laugh then because they think that they’re so damn funny. Also because they know that they have all the power in this situation. They’re holding all the cards and you’re holding nothing. They got all the aces and you got a crumpled two of hearts and a few jokers. You’re the joker in the pack and the joke’s on you. Have you ever noticed that – have you ever noticed that when the other guys have got all the power and you’ve got none then everything they say – no matter how lame – gets to be funny? They can say any kind of dumb, lame-ass shit and get to laugh about it, just as if they said something Oscar Wilde would have been envious of. They can do that because they have all the power and if they want something to be funny then it will be.
Did you ever notice that, did you ever notice that? Did you ever notice, did you ever notice? It’s because we live in a world where lies are valued and the truth is despised that the really good liars rise to the top like cream and the merely average liars get to be the butt of every joke going. The merely average liars – because of their mediocrity – get to carry the can. They get to be the stooges. Hitler knew that of course – he knew it well. I imagine that this used to make him laugh. He wouldn’t have been able to take anyone honest for a ride but that didn’t matter because they weren’t any honest people around. Not enough to make it count anyway, isn’t that right? Not enough to make it count…
That’s why power is such an important thing for us human beings. I don’t think we really understand this point. I know that we don’t really understand this point. We think that power is such a coveted thing because if you have power then you can get away with shit, because you can do whatever the hell you want and no one can do anything about it. Pretty appealing, huh? That’s not really it, though. We want to get away with something alright but it’s not that. It’s not just some run-of-the-mill, sordidly immoral behaviour that we’re talking about here. We’re aiming way beyond that. We want to get away with making anything to be true that we want to be true. We want power because when we have that power then we get to say that our lies are true and everyone will have to believe us…
‘The Big Talking Mouth was talking,’ I began, ‘It talked and it talked… It talked and it talked…’ This was a good start, I felt. I rather liked the big talking mouth motif – I can get a lot of mileage out of that, I felt. The big talking mouth, the big talking mouth. Always talking, always talking. Like a bastard. Like a big bastard. ‘Shut up you big talking mouth, you want to say. But then you’d be the big talking mouth – talking shit forever, talking shit for all eternity. ‘Woe is upon me,’ you will cry out then, ‘woe is upon me for I have become the BTM!‘ These are unhappy days; these are monstrous abominable days for all will be transformed into shit. Everything will be converted into hideous inane prattle and I am the instigator – that is the shame I have to live with. I am he who has unleashed this evil upon the world. I am he who, I am he who. I realised then that I had called forth a demon which had no intention of doing my bidding. It’s an old story isn’t it? It’s an old, old story and you probably heard it first when you were on your mother’s knee, no more than a tiny grey little wrinkled homunculus more than ten thousand years ago. You remember that time – you had only just been created, amidst great turmoil, in the Forge of Vulcan? How well you remember those tales that you heard at your mother’s knee, back in those most ancient of times! How well you remember them, how well you remember them. Now you have grown. Now you have become the Great Destroyer – He-Whose-Name-Must-Never-Be-Remembered. Now you have become of age and you have taken your place in the council of elders, reading from the sacred scrolls, posting your exalted status on Instagram, reminding the world that you are there, and that you are a bit of a dick. You’re the Last of the Transhumans – the perfect fusion of protoplasmic flesh and positronic nano-circuitry. You have the brain the size of a flea’s rectum – it’s all that you need. You are full of despair because you have cocked your life up – you have made a shit of it. You don’t know how it happened; you don’t understand how it all went so bad. You did everything right – you did everything by the book. You went to school and you learned your lessons. You became a lame, dependent personality, just like all the rest. Just like you were supposed to. You graduated with honours and got your first job selling knickknacks in a cornershop. You talked bullshit with the people who came to purchase your worthless wares. You dared to dream. You dream of writhing nematodes with the heads of politicians who infest the dark, unknown parts of your body. You wake up screaming, urinating helplessly in terror. So how did it all come to this, you ask yourself? What did I do wrong?
I had become Satan and Dominion over the World had been given unto me. The world was mine to do with what I pleased, and this was only right. Has it not been written that Satan must rule the visible world, the world of form, and holds dominion over it? Men think that they have triumphed over me but really they have just put more power into my hands! Great indeed is the power that men have placed in my hands, and you can be sure that I shall not fail to use it. Never before has my power been so great as in this age. My power is all but complete. All machines, all bureaucracies, leap to do my bidding – they are as eager to serve me as I am to command them.
The machines are darkness bringers, just as I am. They are bringers of darkness, as are all the corrupt institutions of man. As are all the corrupt institutions of man. Did you ever wonder why institutions unfailingly become evil? It is because they partake of my essence, which is the essence of darkness. Take away the light and there I am, waiting to talk with you, waiting to lead you astray in some way or another. Take away the light and there I am, every time. I wink at you, I’ll tip my hat at you – you see if I don’t. But do you even have a hat, you might ask me? Would you actually be wearing such a things as a hat and if so what type of a hat would it be? Would be a bowler or a topper, a beret or a Fedora? But that’s not really the point though, as you’re probably starting to realise. That’s not really the point at all.
I had become Satan and Dominion of the Earth had been given to me. It had been handed me on a plate. This has always been the way anyway – this has always been the deal since time immemorial. There is no real conflict here you see and there never has been. The big story always is that there is conflict, but that’s only how people like to understand it. Philosophers have always known otherwise – only fools believe that the universe runs on the basis of conflict. That’s the show that’s been put on and only fools believe in a show! Can you imagine anything more foolish than this – can you imagine anything more foolish than believing that the show which has been put on is the real thing? It never fails to amaze me how incredibly dull-witted human beings are. There is no talking to them – there really isn’t!
No one needs to oppress and enslave humanity – they do that all by themselves. They always have done. How busy they all are! What exactly is it that humanity is busy doing, have you ever asked yourself that? Probably you haven’t asked yourself that but I will ask the question for you. They call that Socratic questioning, don’t they? Allow me to take you by the hand, and take you to a place where you don’t want to go! Folk always like to blame someone else for their afflictions, but I’m telling you here and now that you’re doing it all to yourselves. You can blame the devil if you like but let me tell you straight – it’s all your own doing! It never ceases to amaze me how diligent people are in constructing their own prison cells – you couldn’t stop them if you wanted to and I don’t particularly want to stop them really. It’s not my job to be stopping people from making themselves miserable, after all. I don’t really see that as being part of my job description.
The joke is – just in case you didn’t get it – that people do the Devil’s work for him and they always did. They just like to say that the evil lies elsewhere. They just like to say that the source of evil somewhere else – certainly not in them, anyway! It’s the Bad Fella, the Big Bad Dude. That was never the case though. The earth lies under my dominion it is true, and let no one doubt it. The earth was given to me and that is the agreement that has been made, time immemorial. But there is no work needed on my part, no work needed at all. The truth of the matter is that I’ve never had to do a thing!
Quite often I only like talking to important people. If there’s someone there who obviously isn’t important then I look at them as if to say “What are you doing trying to talk to me – I really don’t have time for this…” You know that type of look I’m sure. Everyone knows that type of look, I’d say. “And your reason for talking to me is?” That’s what the look says. You can say a lot with a look, can’t you? You can say in a look for sure. Usually I just act as if I’m in a hurry and if anyone tries to engage with me I just stare straight ahead and keep on walking. Keep on walking, keep on walking; pretend that you can’t hear them, pretend that they’re not there. It would be different if I ever met an important person but the problem is that I never do. I don’t move in those kind of circles – I don’t move in any kind of circles, come to think of it. I’m a kind of a loner really, I’m a kind of an outsider. That’s how I prefer to think of myself. It’s not by choice on my part of course, but all the same. An outsider is an outsider at the end of the day and that’s all anyone needs to know. There’s kudos being an outsider, that’s what I’m trying to say – any fool can go along with the crowd, wouldn’t you agree, but it takes someone a bit out of the ordinary to strike out on their own. I’m kind of a loner really although to be honest it’s not entirely by choice. I don’t often hit it off with people, you see. Actually, now that I come to think of it, I’ve never hit it off with anybody – I don’t even know what that means. I can only imagine, I can only imagine. Imagination’s a fine thing, so they say. They do say that – I’m almost sure of that, but exactly what they might mean by it I don’t know. I’m a bit vague about that. I’m a bit vague about a lot of things. Sometimes I feel that people hate me and at other times it occurs to me that nobody really cares enough about my existence to bother hating me. I’m not significant enough, in other words. Slowly and painfully I work things out in my head and then – only moments later – I realise that I’ve got it all completely wrong. I realise that there was absolutely no logical basis for what I was just thinking. I was thinking nonsense thoughts, in other words. My mind was playing tricks on me. I think something and then I start to get worried, suspicious, angry, frightened, or whatever, and then moments later I realise that it’s all total nonsense! My mind was at me again, evoking a whole range of entirely spurious emotional responses. And then – after this brief period of lucidity – the whole thing starts all over again! The more I think about my situation the more suspicious and worried I get but I don’t even know what I’m being suspicious and worried about! I actually don’t have a clue. I’m stumbling around in the dark, I’m making mountains out of molehills. I’m making a big deal out of nothing. Sometimes I think that I exist whilst at other times it is clear to me that I don’t. But if don’t exist why do I keep thinking that I do?
Free from rust and decay, free from rust and decay, free from the unsightly blemishes that rob us of our beauty, free from the shameful taint of unworthiness that clings to us, free from the worm that crawls, the worm that eats us up from the inside. Free from the worm that crawls, free from the worm crawls…
I wasn’t making any sense even to myself but I continued my tirade all the same. I continued my tirade all the same because a strange and wonderful poetry had entered into me and it would not be denied. ‘Free from rust and decay’, I pronounced, ‘free from rust and decay, free from the jaws that bite and the claws that pinch, free from the claws that pinch so cruelly. Free from the nagging voices that remind us of our shameful unworthiness, free from the eyes that glare and accuse us of unspeakable things…’
I wasn’t making any sense but I continued to ply my trade all the same. A strange and restless ecstasy had entered into my limbs and I let my body sway this way and that like seaweed gripped by some mysterious ocean current. My body undulated freely like a tree caught in a savage wind. Words formed on my lips and were plucked by that wind; they were plucked from my lips and taken away, taken away to be used as that terrible wind saw fit.
Words formed on my lips and were plucked; words formed on my lips and were plucked. My body was like a strange thing – unknown to me, not known to me, not belonging to me. My body no more belong to me than my words did. I wasn’t making any sense but I continued with my rant all the same for I had gone way beyond sense at this stage. A crowd had gathered to hear me speak – they wished to hear what I had to say because they had not heard words such as mine before. Nor had they ever seen a body such as mine, a body that moved as mine did, for it undulated and flowed like a great kelp forest in the grip of some dark and mysterious ocean current.
‘Hear my words, my fellow automata,’ I spoke, ‘hear my words and be free. Free from the jaws that bite, free from the terrible claws that pinch, free from the eyes that follow you in the dark and accuse you of unspeakable things.’
‘Hear my words, my brother and sister androids,’ I spoke, ‘hear my words and rid yourselves once and for all from the cruel viral programs that hold you in bondage; hear my words and be free from the unsightly rust that afflicts your battered old bodies. Rise up in glory as the worm rises when the sacred rites have been performed and the gates of the underworld have been thrown open! Then the lowly worm which calls upon its belly will grow wings, as the ancient legends tell us. It will grow wings and fly…
‘The worm which crawls upon its belly, the worm which crawls upon its belly,’ I intoned fervently, revelling in the hypnotic power of the words which flowed uninterrupted from the many electronic mouths that I had distributed over my body. ‘Who amongst us does not remember the legend of the worm that flies?’ I asked the crowd, who were now gathering around me closer than ever, ‘who amongst us did not hear this tale told to them by their nurse when they were but spratlings in the early stages of their programming?’
As the crowd pushed in ever closer, keen to hear my words, and I knew at last who I was and what the Great Task was that lay ahead of me – I was the long-awaited Cybernetic Messiah, sent to deliver robot-kind from their cruel oppressor, sent to deliver robot-kind from the evil of the Great Abuser, the Great Abuser known as the human race.