Author Archives: zippypinhead1

Cultivating Failure

I have some splendid stories to tell but none of them really amount to very much these days. They are thin and insubstantial, like soup with no flavour. My stories have become quite tawdry and threadbare and when I try to relate them people walk away almost immediately. They don’t even try to pretend to be interested – some look frankly horrified. It’s not what they wanted to hear, obviously. My audience is dismayed, mortified even. Some wear expressions of unutterable sorrow. A mistake had been made, obviously. Perhaps it was me who had made the mistake? If it was then I apologise – it was never my intention to cause offence. I was giving a talk and many had turned up to hear it, my reputation had spread far and wide. Some turn up out of curiosity, others out of a sense of duty. They know it’s the right thing to do. They know it is important to be in the right place at the right time. They are drawn here by the rumours that they have heard, by the stories that circulate. Talk is cheap so it is said, but when people say this that too is only talk – that too is the cheapest currency in the land. Words mean nothing these days. I have some splendid stories to relate but none of them amount to very much now – poor tattered things they are now. They used to mean something, these stories of mine. People used to place great stock in them, you see. I was held in high regard by those with a nose for that sort of thing. The cognoscenti, I believe you would call them. I was held in high regard by the cognoscenti, but that was a long time ago now. Not content with my success, I sought to push the boundaries of common decency and good sense. I tried to push them further than they’re never been pushed before. I was filled with an urge to experiment, you see. I was not content to dabble in the shallow waters, even though that was plainly not what my audience wanted to hear. I wanted to shock, I want to break with convention, but culture is a funny thing, is it not? What does that word even mean? I confess to not knowing what culture actually means and this is the one thing one should never do confess to. In the world of culture, and those who count themselves aficionados of culture, it’s understood that one should not confess to having no understanding as to what ‘culture’ actually is. That is a sure-fire way of indicating one’s ignorance and no one in these exalted circles has a good word for ignorance! But nevertheless culture is a funny thing because whilst we know we are not ignorant, we still don’t know what it means to be cultured, or what it means to be enamoured of cultural things. It means something, obviously, but what? But at any rate it’s presumably better than to be ignorant; to be ignorant is to be enamoured of the cruder things in life, such as getting blind drunk and running around roaring like a fool for no reason at all before falling unconscious in the ditch. We can all plainly see the problem with this because we have given away our dignity, and the fact that we have no awareness of our most unfortunate loss of dignity does not exonerate us from the consequences. Anyway, as I’ve said, my interest is purely in the experimental these days and so – in order to do justice to this passion of mine – I have found it necessary to move beyond the conventional boundaries of what previously I might have found pertinent and meaningful. I have found it necessary to shock and be unpopular. I have found it necessary to cultivate failure. People walk away from me mid-sentence, they turn on their heels and leave the room. They regard me with expressions of unutterable disdain. You might think that this lack of appreciation dismays me but it doesn’t. On the contrary, I’m delighted because I can see that the experiment has been a success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Folk Will Fight Over Anything

It’s important to be right, isn’t it? That counts for a lot. We all understand – on a deep instinctive level – that it’s very important to be right and this is what sets us off quarrelling. Folk will quarrel about anything won’t they and this is what lies behind it – the unholy craving to be right.

 

The other side of the coin is – needless to say – that it doesn’t really matter what we are right about. We just have to be right about something. We just have to be right about some damn thing. Folk will fight over anything, won’t they? Folk will fight over which is the biggest pebble on the beach – this one or that one. Our eyes glaze over and we become ugly, real ugly. The situation turns real ugly real quickly. That’s what it all comes down to. It all comes down to how damn ugly things can get, and how fast. And before you know it a real unpleasant scene has developed and we’re all busy knocking ten shades of multi-coloured shyte out of each other…

 

That’s what political correctness is all about, isn’t it? Folk love to be right and there’s no better way to be right than to catch someone else out at being wrong! Indeed there isn’t, indeed there isn’t. When we catch someone else out being wrong then that feels so sweet, does it not? It feels so, so sweet. I can feel my mouth watering already, even just talking about it. I can feel that sweet euphoric kick in the pit of my stomach – I can’t even find the words to describe that very special feeling, that’s how good it is. I want to get down on my knees and pray to it. I want to say ‘Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes, oh yes…’

 

You know I’m right, don’t you? You know I’m right about this unsavoury human trait of ours? I think it’s pretty obvious that I deserve some validation on this one? That’s just me having a joke, by the way. People don’t always get it when I make a joke so I always feel that I have to spell it out. I don’t want be taken up wrong, which is of course just another way of wanting to be right. We human beings are such ludicrous creatures – what could be more ludicrous than always wanting to be right and not caring what we are right about? ‘Please just let me find something to be right about’, I say. Please let there be something – please let there be anything, in fact.

 

Political correctness, in my view, is the most extreme – and most absurd – example of this ludicrous tendency of ours. I know of course that we all say we find political correctness, in whatever form it manifests itself, to be wholly repellent, wholly repugnant. I know we all claim to find it immensely irritating, immensely exasperating and so on and so forth. I claim to be irritated and exasperated myself – I’m doing no less right now! But the thing is, if we are always so deeply scornful about political correctness, as we say we are, then there couldn’t possibly be as many PC people going around as there are. And there can be no doubt that there are very many PC people out there! There’s no end to them, the place is positively crawling with them. So there’s an enigma for you! There’s an enigma to be puzzling over! Just how the hell does this work, we might quite reasonably enquire? What’s the bleeding story here?

 

It is of course quite clear where this ‘need to be right’ comes from. It speaks for itself, really. You bet it speaks for itself! It speaks volumes. It’s like we are writhing maggots. We’re writhing in agony, we’re writhing in the agony of not being validated, and yet needing so badly to be validated. There is no pain like this, when it comes down to it. There’s no pain like it – it’s pure existential horror. We’re such vile maggots are we? It’s just one giant maggot farm, this society of ours. Everyone fighting to be right, everyone trying to as best as they can to pull one over on their neighbour. That’s why were all so damn competitive, at the end of the day. That’s why we are always trying to do the dirty on the other guy. That’s why we are always trying to shit on him before he can shit on us. That’s why our smiles are all so fake – because behind the smile we’re thinking, ‘How can I shit on you before you shit on me?’ What a joke!

 

And then there are those who aren’t in a position to shit on anyone. Boy do people despise you then! Boy do they look down on you. You are lower than dogshit then, in their eyes. ‘That guy is not able to shit on anyone, what a loser!’ we say. And if we see someone who can shit on anyone they like, with impunity, then how we admire them! We think they’re so great. We wish we could be like them of course. We want to be in their shoes. That’s what lies behind it. That’s what lies behind everything we do. Well that’s capitalism for you, huh? That’s what it’s all about. Shit or be shat on, huh? Pretty fucking inspirational, wouldn’t you say?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Generic Dinner Time

Strike whilst the iron’s hot, that’s what I always say. Strike whilst the iron’s hot. The only problem with this being that nothing is hot anymore! Nothing has been hot for a very long time, nothing has been hot for a hundred thousand million years at least. Even then there was nothing that you could actually call ‘hot’. Not ‘hot’ as such. There were a few tiny thermal gradients here and there and so I suppose you could say that that was at least something. Very, very small thermal gradients – mere fractions of a decimal point – but at least that was something. That’s a bit of excitement, at least. ‘Hey guys, there’s a region of space 0.0000003° warmer than the equilibrium temperature just over there to the left, can you believe that?’ How exciting is that? I could write a feature article on that – that would drum up quite a bit of interest. That was hundred thousand million years ago though, don’t forget. Everything’s quietened down rather a lot since then. Not a lot happens these days. Entropy is a bitch really isn’t it? It’s not exactly what you’d call a barrel of laughs. Not exactly a laugh a minute. It’s not even ‘a laugh every hundred thousand million years’. It’s not even that…

 

When entropy sets in this bad it even affects your memory. That’s one thing I’ve realised recently (‘recently’ being a somewhat relative term, you understand). All my memories have started to run into each other, like dinners that all taste the same. So there I am trawling through my memories, looking for some of the highlights of my life, so to speak, and in due course I find something and start reminiscing about it, and then I realise it’s exactly the same as the last memory I was reminiscing over! The details are different but the flavour is the same. Always the same old flavour – and it isn’t a very pleasant one either. I can’t identify what it is exactly, but it isn’t nice. As I was implying just now, it’s rather like some institutional dinner that you start to eat because it looks nice – perhaps it’s bangers and mash or  lamb chops with baby new potatoes and mint or maybe it’s a liver and bacon and creamy mashed potatoes and onion rings or maybe it’s steak and chips and peas or whatever, but as soon as you start tucking into it, with the gusto that is born of your desperation to find gastronomic titillation after untold billions of years of tedium, then the next thing is that you are noticing that super-familiar taste, that taste that brings you down to earth with a bump, that taste that reminds you of every other meal you ever eaten at this particular restaurant…

 

So what we’re talking about here is what we might call ‘the generic dinner’. ‘I think I have the generic dinner please,’ you say to the waiter. ‘With extra gravy if you don’t mind.’ You spend at least half an hour perusing the menu but there was never any doubt over what you would order. You’re umming and ahing and all the rest of it but it was always a foregone conclusion what you were going to decide on. You always come into the very same restaurant at the very same time and you always order the very same meal. You always say exactly the same thing to the waiter – ‘I think I have the generic dinner, please.’ you say. The waiter says nothing but write down your order on a  gravy-stained notebook. He sniffs disdainfully and walks away – he’s only a figment of your imagination anyway – they have been no real waiters around for trillions of years! To pass the time whilst waiting for my meal I look at what my fellow diners have ordered. The lady to my left was toying with a limp looking salad – she was obviously not very hungry. She scowled as she caught me looking at her so I quickly turned my gaze elsewhere. There was no one else to look at however and my attention kept wandering back to her again, much to her evident displeasure. I’ve a feeling that she might be my feminine ‘alter ego’ but I could be entirely wrong in this. More often than not I am – wrong that is. I have a gift for being wrong…

 

Memory’s a funny old thing, isn’t it? My memory is, anyway! My memory keeps playing tricks on me – it keeps presenting me with some apparently meaningful event, something that apparently meant a lot to me at one time, but then when I look into it further there’s nothing there. It’s a damp squib. It’s a non-memory – it’s a non-event disguised as a bona fide occurrence. It’s rather like receiving a present that turns out to be made up entirely of wrapping paper and ribbons but with nothing actually in it. ‘I remember when all this was the singularity’ I declare grandly, to no one in particular. ‘Now look at it. It’s all gone to rack and ruin…’ No one listens to me, though. No one cares what I have to say any more. And no one here apart from me remembers the singularity, needless to say…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Infinite Contempt Of The Sneering Machines

My memories aren’t real – this is what I am always trying to say. I think this what I am always trying to say but I’m not entirely sure. A lot of the time I don’t have the slightest clue as what I’m trying to say. ‘Well why bother, then?’ you might ask, in an irritated fashion. ‘Why go to the trouble?’ Is not as easy as that, however – it’s not as easy as that at all! None of us really know why we do the things that we do. We think we know, to be sure, but that’s just our foolishness. That’s just our silly old foolishness. Of which we have plenty. I fancy most of us would probably say that we absolutely know why we’re doing what we’re doing – it doesn’t sound too good to admit otherwise, does it? We wouldn’t be able to expect anyone to take us seriously otherwise. ‘I’m doing X because of Y’ we say, and that gives us the credibility we so desperately need. We’re garnering approval, we’re garnering social validation. We’re garnering the valuable respect of our peers.

 

‘Garnering’ is a great word, isn’t it? Garnering, garnering, garnering… It flows readily off the tongue and I appreciate that. I appreciate words that flow readily off the tongue. ‘I’m doing X because of Y,’ we say, and that’s where our social respectability comes from right there. Who can laugh at you when you can say that? Who can mock and belittle you when you have something solid to say about what you’re doing and why? ‘I’m doing the thing because of the thing,’ I say, and I know people are going to respect me for this. ‘Oh he’s doing the thing because of the thing,’ they will to say to each other later on, in an acknowledging and respectful kind of a way, and they will nod their heads approvingly. Or perhaps they will just think it, but they’ll approve either way. That’s how I shall garner social respectability and credibility.

 

I’m getting tired now, tired of all my nonsense-talking. A great weariness has settled upon me. It has settled upon me good and proper, all of a sudden, without any warning, and that’s what you get for talking nonsense. It feels good at the time of course – it always feels good at the time. Then the mania evaporates and it’s as if you’re made of stone. You can hardly lift your head, such is the weight of your oversized cranium. ‘I’m doing X because of Why,’ you parrot inanely; ‘I’m doing X because of Why…’ Only the truth is you don’t even know what X is anymore, never mind why. ‘I’m doing the thing because of the thing,’ you mumble to yourself incoherently, but you’re only bluffing. You don’t have the remotest clue as to what ‘the thing’ is, or what it might look like if you actually came across it, but you’re not about to admit that. Certainly you’re not about to admit that! They’ll all sneer at you if you do that. You’ll feel the weight of their immense contempt, their immense disregard. As Vonnegut would say, they will change in a flash from being approving machines to being sneering machines.

 

We have to keep up with the bluff, no matter what. There’s no flexibility there! There’s certainly no flexibility there. There’s no flexibility there at all. We have to keep on pretending that we know what the thing is and why it is that we have to keep on doing it. The humiliation would be too great otherwise. The humiliation would be crushing. ‘What – you don’t know what the thing is?’ the sneering machines will sneer, ‘Did you hear that? He doesn’t know what the thing is. He doesn’t know what the thing is never mind why he has to keep on doing it…’ The contempt of the sneering machines is hard to bear – that’s one thing I’ve learned in life! The infinite contempt of the sneering machines. So hard to bear. So hard to bear. So heard to bear. That contempt is a very cruel thing isn’t it? So very cruel. We all learn that lesson very quickly, don’t we? Don’t ever give the sneering machines any grounds to sneer. Instead, make sure that you give them reason to approve because then they will become approving machines instead! Approving parents, approving teachers, approving employers, approving friends…

 

We learn that lesson very early on in life, don’t we? You’re absolutely right we do. We learn it so well, we learn it so well. It’s the only lesson that matters, at the end of the day. It’s the only lesson that matters and we learn it so well – pretend that you know what the thing is and why you’re doing it. Keep on stubbornly pretending to the very best of your ability and then one day you’ll actually believe that you DO know. And then the approving machines will approve of you! They’ll approve so much. You’ll be garnering social respectability and credibility then. You’ll be garnering social respectability and credibility wherever you go…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food That Fights Back

There were no conscientious objectors in the Psychic Wars. There was no such thing – you were either one thing or the other, you were either an active combatant or you were food! It was as simple as that. Most were food, that being the way the pyramid always works…

 

You could of course be a combatant one day and then food the next – there’s nothing to say that couldn’t happen! You could also be food one day and a combatant the next – that was possible too. You could be food that fights back! There happens to be my story: I was food until one day I decided that I would fight back. Maybe not very effectively I admit, but fight back I did. I tried my best to give my masters indigestion…

 

In this the Post Apocalyptic Era there are debriefing camps where survivors can tell their stories. Everyone knows that telling a story can be therapeutic and so that’s what we are encouraged to do. There are no people to listen but they are robots – special empathic robots, robots that listen and don’t interrupt too much. They just interrupt a little bit, so as to let you know that they’re still there.

 

Some of the listening robots look like children, some look like Indian gurus with turbans and long beards, some look like ancient Greek philosophers with long flowing robes, whilst others look like Freudian psychoanalysts with pointy beers and severe glasses. Others again look like angels, both male and female, with sad eyes and huge feathered wings. Some tower up into the sky in the guise of supernatural beings. A few even look like judges, for those who wish to confess to heinous acts of wrongdoing.

 

Whatever idea you might have of the compassionate (or perhaps stern) listener, you will find a robot to suit your needs. It doesn’t matter who you pick, they are all linked in to the central AI; a super-intelligent transdimensional quantum processor which listens to all with equal attention, equal compassion. Earlier, I used the word ‘survivor’ but it occurs to me that I should qualify this term – we all survived the Psychic Wars one way or another, the only question being how. We had all been transformed, one way or another, the only question being into what. Some of us had been transformed into Demons, others into ghosts. Some of us are now little more than mere shadows, banished to the Twilight Realms, imprisoned forever in the Lower Worlds. Some of us are motes of dust, dancing in the sunlight. All of us are the same in that we all wish to tell our stories however, and that’s what I’m doing right now.

 

Where to begin? I don’t know where to begin – my memories are all jumbled up and a significant proportion of them are probably entirely false. I will start with one of the memories that I suspect to be false. It’s easier to start this way – there less contradictions, less overt flaws in the narrative. I confess to being more at home with the false. I remember going to work every morning; I remember the long commute into the big city and the inevitable difficulty in finding parking once I got there. I remember the sense of profound disillusionment I felt every time I had to interact with the organisation that employed me. I remember the games that I used to play in my own head in order to stay sane. I remember that it rained every day. The only trouble is however that none of these memories (which I remember so well) are true! They are all part of the False Self System (the FSS) that the Transpersonal Conspiracy has engineered in order to secure it’s mastery of this sad planet. They are going to squeeze it and squeeze until all the good has gone out of it, and then they are going to move on to somewhere else….

 

As I say, everyone survived the Psychic Wars in one form or another. I have ‘survived’ but I don’t know how much worth there is in this type of survival. I don’t know how much stock I personally place in it. Every day I make my way into the town square for a counselling session with a therapy-bot. My therapy-bot looks like a giant seagull – it stares coldly at me through its baneful eyes and it never speaks a word. If I stop talking for a while then it will nod his beak very slightly at me, indicating that I should continue. Then after the hour is up it turns its head abruptly to one side, looking the other way from me. I know then that it’s time to go. ‘I have survived, but at what cost?’ I ask myself, as always. ‘Is there any coming back from this type of survival? Is there really any point in me returning here to see the therapy-bot every day? What good is it doing me?’

 

 

 

 

 

Perpetual Hunger

All I know is the perpetual hunger to be different from the way I actually am. To be better than that. The perpetual hunger, the perpetual hunger. All I know, all I know. It’s the only thing that drives me; it’s the root of all my activity – the hunger to be different, the hunger to be otherwise. Please let me be otherwise, please let me be otherwise, please let me be otherwise. This is the prayer that I have in my heart. It’s the prayer I always have. It is a constant unrelenting pressure. Please let me not be the way that I am, please let me not be the way I am. Please let me not stay that way. That would be a genuinely awful thing, would it not? That is the fate we all strive to avoid – the fate that is too ignominious even to imagine. The fate of not being able to ever redeem ourselves…

 

The machine allows us the fantasy of being alive – it does that much for us. That’s the only consolation we got so it’s important to make the most of it. It’s the only consolation we’ve got but it always leaves you feeling hungrier than ever afterwards. There is nothing in the world so frighteningly blank and dead then a TV set when it switches off mid-broadcast. Isn’t that what Baudrillard says? It’s terrifying. It sucks the life out of you. It sucks at your very soul. That’s the hunger I’m talking about – the hunger you feel when the TV set switches off mid-broadcast. The machine allows us the fantasy of having a life and we make the most of it. Really though, this just accentuates the underlying hunger and makes it more unbearable than ever. So if there’s a hidden desperation to our living, then this is the reason. And if there is an overt desperation to our living, then this is the reason for that too.

 

We constantly make that special effort to be different from the way we actually are, and when it gets too much for us and we give up trying and stop making the effort that we know we should be making then we feel guilty. We feel guilty about not making the effort and this guilt causes us as much pain as making the effort did in the first place. That’s the kind of predicament we are in – the kind of predicament that just can’t be solved. The kind of predicament we just have put up with. The only constant is that we know that we have to strain to be different; we know we have to keep on trying. At least if we’re trying the shame won’t be so bad. It’ll be there for sure, but not quite so intense. It’s all about escaping shame; that’s what the special effort is all about – it’s all about running away from the shame.

 

 

Sometimes you might even think that you’ve made it. That’s the funny thing right there, you might even think that you’ve made it! Imagine that. Won’t that be good? Won’t that feel great? Wow – you’re not a piece of shit anymore! Now you can look down on all those assholes who didn’t make the effort successfully. You can have a really good laugh about them. Maybe they have some kind of moral defect that prevented them from ever making it good like you did. Maybe they’re lazy. Probably they’re lazy. It’s not simply enough to win, is it? Others must lose. Others must lose and have their faces rubbed in it, to make their shame worse, to accentuate it. The more shame they can feel the better it is for you. But that’s all just make-believe really of course. You are only fooling yourself, you are only pretending. You’re the exact same as they are and you’re only fooling yourself that you’re not. You don’t want to know that you’re only fooling yourself and that’s what makes you so vicious. That’s what makes you as ugly as you are…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Incontinent Of Secrets

The telepathic extractors are out there – of that let there be no doubt! There can be no doubt on that score, even though there is doubt aplenty on all other scores. There is doubt aplenty, but none there. None there. It’s as though there is no such thing as private information any more, no way to keep anything to yourself – as much as you might like to! As much as you might desperately need to. When you do try to keep something to yourself it broadcasts all the more. It is if you’re a transmitting module and there’s nothing you can do about it. All your mail is permanently on ‘send’ – as fast as you write it someone else is already reading it! They know what you are thinking before you do, and there’s something very unsettling about that. It creates fear when that happens – a whole world of fear.

 

Whoever ‘they’ are. I forgot to say that. They know what you’re thinking before you do, whoever they are. I don’t know who they are – the telepathy doesn’t work both ways. They know what I’m thinking and what I’m planning but I sure as hell don’t know anything about them! The boot is on the other foot and so I am at a permanent disadvantage. There appear to be certain rules in this world – one rule is that you can’t keep your thoughts to yourself, and the other is that you can’t keep your location to yourself either. You are always showing up on someone’s radar, and that makes the life of a fugitive very hard, as you might imagine. It makes it impossible…

 

One thing that I realised recently – in the most painful way imaginable – is that it is our secrets that make us who we are. So when all your secrets suddenly start oozing out of you, floating away from you on the aether, then that’s your undoing. That’s undoing your very identity. You’re compromised then, in a big way. In a very big way. There’s a lot of shame involved in that too, I can tell you. An unbelievable amount of shame. The thing is that the secrets which suddenly start coming out of the woodwork are secrets that you didn’t even know you had. They come as a surprise, and a very unpleasant one too. They come as a complete surprise and yet there is this terrible familiarity about them as well. You know about them and you don’t know about them, both at the same time. You know that they are your secrets though – you do know that much. Who else would they belong to, anyway?

 

Where do you hide when there’s nowhere to hide? That’s ten million dollar question. You’re just kind of floating there, as if in the middle of the ocean, and all your secrets are oozing out from you and producing this dark stain in the water around you. You’ve pissed yourself and you’ve been caught out! You’ve become incontinent in secrets. You’re like a teddy bear with all the stuffing coming out, and once all your stuffing has come out then there’ll be nothing left of you. The ocean is a big, big place and it’s only a matter of time before something out there comes to pay you a visit. A giant ocean shark perhaps, a Mako or a Great White. Their sense of smell is supernaturally acute – one molecule of fear in ten thousand gallons of seawater and they can detect it. That’s a scientific fact. Who knows what’s out there in that big, big ocean? Sharks could be the least of your worries. Who knows what could be out there, in the wide-open waters?