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Flight of Fancy

Suppose that there was a type of terrible stupidity that has been knocking around for a long, long time – an ancient and indescribably pernicious form of stupidity that invariably wreaks havoc and misery whenever it is given half a chance to. Let us further suppose that the temptation to embrace this most pestilential form of foolishness is not merely immense, but absolutely overwhelming. Suppose we have no defence against it. Let us suppose – in other words – that we never can refrain from embracing this terrible ancient stupidity. Not ever. Suppose we were addicted to it – how would that be?

 

Suppose, suppose… Just suppose… Just let’s suppose… Let us just suppose that there actually was this type of dreadful highly pernicious stupidity that has been knocking around like a bad dose for such a very long time. For ever, in fact. Since day one. For as long as there have been people for it to feed upon. Let’s say that this is the case and let us also say that every person you could ever meet is guaranteed to be engaged in the odious business of embracing this stupidity for all they’re worth, hugging it tightly to them as if losing it would be the very worst thing in the world! Suppose this is the norm – suppose that’s what we humans are like…

 

So suppose that this really was the way that things are. Suppose this situation that we have just described were to be actually true, without any doubt whatsoever. What a thing that would be! I am sitting here wondering about this scenario and trying to imagine what it would be like if this were the case, and then I find myself growing tired from the effort of all this wondering, all this supposing. Supposing is hard work, I tell myself, and what profit is there in it anyway? What good does it do anyone? What am I going to do with my strange suppositions? Where am I to go with them? I momentarily toy with the idea of telling someone about this flight of fancy of mine, and then decide against it. It probably wouldn’t be worth the effort of trying to explain it. It would be hard going and people don’t care about such things anyway. Besides which, I had to admit that the idea was in itself somewhat preposterous!

 

 

I sit for a while longer on the bench on the promenade. It is sunny, for the first time in many months, but there is  – all the same  – a cold wind blowing in my face. People are walking by briskly, some going one way and the rest going the other – the same as they always do. It’s always the same. Always the same thing. A few people are happy and smiling but most are not – most look serious. Some look positively grim. And why wouldn’t they, I ask myself? Why wouldn’t they look grim? Life can be a grim business – there’s no denying it. Possibly they’re right to be so serious. Quite possibly they have every right to be looking so sombre. Life’s not exactly what you’d call easy, after all…

 

 

 

 

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Memories Of The Future

Is telepathy real or not? I wonder. Is there no way to know if it is me thinking these thoughts or someone else? How can I tell? Is there any way for anyone ever to know, for sure? My dreams have become increasingly mechanical of late and this worries me. I take this to be a bad omen. I was putting things away and taking them back out again. I did the thing and then I did the other thing. I was the victim of programs running in my head – these programs made me live my life. Live your life you useless lazy bastard they told me, only it wasn’t my life. Not really.  ‘Is telepathy real or is it only a myth, Sir?’ I asked my teacher. ‘Am I real or are you only a hallucination?’ I was a kid again and back in class. The imposing figure of the School Teacher turned slowly upon its pedestal and nobody dared say a word. We were under its spell. ‘Turn to page sixty eight in your text book children,’ it intoned, ‘today we are going to learn why telepathy isn’t real…’ Only none of this happened – telepathy wasn’t real and neither was anything else. The grimly forbidding figure of the School Teacher was only an image implanted in my mind – it was a memory from a future so far distant that even a seasoned time traveller such as myself could not comprehend it. ‘Is the future real or are you just a hallucination?’ the figure asked me, nodding wisely in response to my questions which came tumbling out of my wide open mouth like tumbleweed blowing down the street in some backwater town from the dim and distant memories of my long-forgotten childhood, spent as I have often said incubated in the Machine which hums and vibrates somewhere out of sight and out of mind, operating as it does beyond the threshold of everyday awareness. The machine is keeping me alive until the time comes when it no longer can – it maintains my essential functions but keeps me in a deep coma. Memories of the future mix with dreams from a past that never happened, a past that I am losing daily. ‘Is telepathy real?’ I ask the white-coated technician who is checking the read-outs on the monitor but as he turns around slowly to face me I can see that it is none other than the horror-shrouded figure of the School Teacher who has come to see if I have done my homework and as I turn around slowly to face him I see that I am I see that I am I see that I am I see that I am I see that I am and the reverberations catch hold of my skull and threaten to lift my whole body up in the air. My skull is resonating like a bell – there is too much information coming in. There’s a whole universe of information coming in, splitting the fissures of my skull asunder as it does so. ‘Did the machine make me?’ I find myself wondering as my head comes apart. ‘Was my life ever real at all?’

 

 

 

 

Fake News

Look, I know this has all been said before, in some format or other, but anyway. Humour me. Bare with me if you can. Sorry, I mean bear with me. Like a Grizzly. Just suppose – just for the sake of the long-drawn-out argument that I am about to inflict you with – that you could send messages via Brownian motion. And that you could also receive messages from it. I know this goes against the very idea of Brownian motion, which is that it is purely random, but let’s just that you could. Let’s just say that you could discern secret messages hidden in Brownian motion. Where would that leave us? What would that mean?

 

OK so you can’t really do that – I appreciate that, I really do. I get it. There’s no secret message in randomness – the very idea is ridiculous. It’s a contradiction in terms since messages, by their very nature, aren’t random. But there’s a way around this, a kind of a dodge. There’s always a dodge. Maybe you can start to see where I am going with this! No matter if you can, I will continue. The point that I am (very obviously) going to make is that you can extract a message from randomness by employing a filter without knowing that you are employing a filter. We select ‘evidence’ that supports our unconscious ‘hypothesis’. Straightaway, therefore, we can see that this means that we can extract any message that we want to from Brownian motion, from randomness, from our environment just so long as we don’t let ourselves know that we are searching for it. Nothing could be easier!

 

Bingo. Bob’s your uncle. The door is wide open to wherever you want to go with this. It’s like magic. ‘Hey Presto’ you say, and with a flourish of your magician’s cloak you pull whatever you want to find out of your trick Top Hat. How does he do it, people will ask, their jaws dropping with amazement. Encore. Show us another one. And for my next rick, etc, etc. Whatever. You get the picture.

 

This is of course all so obvious but there are two more points that I am about to make that are not quite so obvious. Perhaps not so obvious at all. Point Number One is that you can actually pull a whole self-consistent world out of the Top Hat – it’s not just rabbits we’re talking about here, in other words, but a whole ecosystem. Point number two is a bit more tricky. Point Number Two has to do with the way in which by positively selecting out one message we negatively select out the antithesis to that message at the same time. By saying YES very emphatically we are implying NO, in other words. One pole invokes the other, one extreme invokes the other. So when we extract a positive message out of randomness we are at the same time creating the negative version of that same message and the two would immediately cancel each other out if we let them. We avoid this – as everyone knows – by ‘focusing only on the positive’. This is of course why positive thinking is so popular – we’re trying as hard as we can to avoid our prize thesis being cancelled out by the antithesis which we have created at the very same time, which we have created inadvertently, so to speak, by the very same trick.

 

So as soon as we create the message we have to work as hard as we can to ward off the nemesis to this message, which would – if we let it – wipe out in one stroke everything that we have fought so hard to create. That’s the good guy versus the bad guy scenario, right? That’s Batman versus the Joker, isn’t it. Holmes versus Moriarty. God versus Satan. Or whatever. Take your pick. We all know that one, right? Every message always comes with the potential for being contradicted or shown to be wrong otherwise it wouldn’t be a message, right? Whoever heard of a definite statement that couldn’t be contradicted? That’s just plain impossible, right? All messages are falsifiable…

 

So actually there’s three points not just two. I forgot about the third one. Point Number Three is this – when we talk about extracting messages from the Brownian motion pot (which is our basic environment) we’re beating about the bush rather. We’re prevaricating. What we really talking about (when we talk about ‘discerning a secret message hidden in randomness’) is discerning a self.  There’s no self in self-cancelling randomness but we’re nevertheless discerning one! We’re pulling out evidence to support our hypothesis of a self. We’re pulling ourselves out of the Trick Top Hat! That’s got to be the cleverest trick of all, right! That’s a blinder. That’s a corker. But – wait for it – there’s a snag in the works! Wouldn’t you know that there would be? There’s a fly in the soup (and its a fat one) because at the same time as creating (by sheer trickery) the self, we have inadvertently created the nemesis to that self. We have – without realizing what we have done – brought our own nemesis into existence and you know what that means, right? To paraphrase what it says in the Wikipedia entry, ‘Our nemesis is the inescapable agent of our downfall’…

 

So its good and its bad really – it’s the best news in the world and it’s the worst, both at the same time! It’s great if you look at it one way and its bloody terrible if you look at it the other. You’re pleased as punch and you’re down in the dumps. You’re as happy as Larry (and Larry is always happy, as we know) and you’re Debbie Downer, you’re Morose Margery, you’re Melancholic Michael. You’re on Cloud Nine  and you’re down in the basement, covered in your own excrement. You’ve never felt so good and you’ve also never felt so bad and that’s pretty confusing, wouldn’t you say? Who wants that? What good is that to anyone? You see what I’m saying here? Do you see where I’m coming from with all this?

 

 

 

 

 

Why Is The Multiverse Always So Crap?

‘Why is the multiverse always so crap?’ I screamed petulantly, stamping my feet, all six of them. That’s a joke, by the way. I don’t really have six feet. I don’t actually have any feet because I’m a giant worm. I was in foul humour – nothing ever seemed to work out for me. I’d been trawling through alternative realities for hours and had come up with nothing but rubbish. ‘Isn’t that always the way,’ I commented sourly to myself, ‘thousands of channels to choose from and there’s nothing on them but shit.’ Isn’t this isn’t this always the way always the way I moaned but no one was listening. Even I wasn’t listening to myself at this stage. As usual I was alone by the console trawling away trawling away trawling away through the realities. Flicking feverishly from one to the other, not even paying any attention to what I was doing. Why is the multiverse always so shit I cry out? Why is it always rubbish? I’m sitting here trawling through alternative realities; I’m standing here on the deck trawling away trawling away. Pulling in the nets, pulling in the nets, pulling in the nets bringing in nothing but rubbish. The rubbish of the deep – plastic bottles, old broken sunglasses, e-cigarettes, polystyrene beads, dental floss, screen protectors for mobile phones, hair-brushes without any brushes on them, plastic dolls with their eyes missing which stare up from the nets smiling their empty smiles at me. I’ve entered into the plastic doll phase I think, struck by a sudden nameless horror – everything I see is a reflection of my own inner death! Thinking this I am immediately transported to another world, another reality, another life. I’m searching for the game-maker, trying to track him down, posting queries on every internet forum that I come across but I never get anything back. If the game-maker is out there then he doesn’t want to be found. Why would he, it occurs to me. The very structure of the game would preclude the players from accessing the mind of the programmer who programmes their reality. That’s the prerogative of the game-maker – to render himself invisible, to remove himself from the reality which he has created. That’s what it means to be the game-maker – it means that you can’t ever be found. The dolls are all smiling so sweetly at me, their empty eyes setting up strange resonances in my psyche. I’ve been here before I think, but then immediately forget the thought. Something is making me feel unbearably sad and the tears start to trickle slowly but surely down my gaunt shrunken cheeks. I used to have a life I realized. I had a life to lead. Once. A long long time ago. Unintelligible deteriorated fragments of innumerable recycled thoughts run through my head. The garbage banks of my memory are disgorging their cargo on me, swamping me under a deluge of rubbish. The memory banks of the multiverse are emptying their nets over me, swamping me under a million smiling empty-eyed doll-faces.

 

 

 

First Date

‘Things that you can say or do on your first date that can be really embarrassing…’ I began writing, my pen in my hand, but then realized that I didn’t know what to say next. I just didn’t know. I’d hit a brick wall. I didn’t know what to say next because I had never been on a date, first or otherwise. I wasn’t going to let this put me off my stride however – I could free-flow, I could ad-lib, I could use my imagination. For example – it occurred to me – if I was ever to accidentally say what I was really thinking, then that would do it! That would definitely do it. That would do the trick and no mistake…

 

Do you know that feeling you get after you’ve really tried very hard to make something be a particular way and it just won’t, no matter how much effort you’ve put into it? And it’s kind of as if that ‘way’ you want so badly for it to be doesn’t really exist, you just somehow thought that it existed and was a real thing? You thought – in some bizarre way – that it existed and was real but it doesn’t and didn’t and never could. Because this thought of yours doesn’t really belong in this universe, or in any other universe either for that matter. It’s not even real for you, as you can now plainly see. You just thought it was, in some freaky way. In some embarrassingly freaky way.

 

Well you know how bad that feels, right? You want to scream out loud but you know your voice will sound stupid and ridiculous if you do so you don’t. You want to go crazy and smash things up, you want to head-butt the wall repeatedly but you don’t because you know that would hurt too much. Well I feel a bit like that. That’s kind of how I feel, in a sort of a way. It’s not 100% how I feel though because it’s not really like that – I’m trying to get at something in an oblique way here, you see. I’m feeling my way in the dark. You see for me it’s not simply an idea that I’m trying to express, or a concept that I have for how things ought to be when they’re not, it’s more basic than that. It’s more as if ‘the unreal thing’ that I’m trying to express, or use as a template for organizing the world around me, is actually me

 

That’s why it gets so embarrassing when I make the ultimate mistake of coming out with what I really think. You can see the shock, the incredulity running through people – they’re wondering did I really say that. So I have to be very careful not to ever come out with my innermost thoughts. Instead, I have to guess what it is that I’m supposed to be saying, guess what would be appropriate to say. That’s way trickier than it sounds. It’s way trickier than it sounds because I’ve got nothing to go on. I have to invent a socially-acceptable persona and that’s not easy when you really have no idea as to what you’re supposed to be doing. It’s not easy when you’re working in the dark, under enormous societal pressure.

 

It’s not all about other people though. I know that. Obviously I know that. Fitting in with how other people want you to think – or rather trying to fit in with how you think other people want you to think – isn’t the main issue in life. It’s more of a side-project. The main difficulty that I have to contend with isn’t how other people see me but how I see me. It’s my relationship with myself that really matters. That’s the real problem. I know it shouldn’t be a problem but it is. It’s a problem because I really can’t stand myself…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enriched

The dreams had come again

To enrich the pallid substance

Of my life

The pallid semblance of my life,

Should I say?

 

Aah the dreams!

So rich and furious

So gaily coloured

So intoxicating and intense

Sweeping me up into the tumbling river

Of their flow

 

I left the house on the dot of eight

Late as usual

The teapot balanced on my head

A troupe of grey-faced monkeys

Following solemnly in my wake

 

 

My bracelets were jangling

Live snakes around my ankles

My eyeliner running madly

In the pouring rain…

 

 

 

 

Of All The Sins…

I was in a hurry to do the happy things, the things that always used to make me happy before. They always made me happy before so I knew they would make me happy again! That’s why I wanted to do them. ‘Do the happy things, do the happy things, do the happy things’ I told myself earnestly, but I was like a broken robot. I couldn’t obey my own instructions – my programming was banjaxed and it was worse I was getting not better. There was no light at the end of the tunnel I found myelf in. My vicious and uncompromising search for happiness had turned me into a damaged machine that was tearing itself to pieces and no one wanted to see that. People could smell my desperation – my affliction was right out there in the open for everyone to witness…

 

The next thing was that I was getting angry with myself because I was so conspicuously failing to be happy. I had let myself down and that was unforgivable – I could never forgive myself that. Of all the sins, is this not the worst? I had failed to be happy and of all the failures to which we are prone is this not the most terrible of all? I was angry and I was frustrated. ‘Be happy, be happy, be happy…’ I roared at myself at the top of my voice but I knew that I was only being a dysfunctional mechanism, maiming myself all the more in my terrible need to succeed and be happy. I was a maimed thing, a broken unhappy thing, and everything I did only served to underline that. My own desperate attempts to rectify my situation had become a living hell that I could not escape from. No one wants to know that when you tell them.

 

‘You failed to be happy, you failed to be happy, you failed to be happy, you failed to be happy,’ I screamed venomously at myself. I wasn’t going to let myself forget it. There really would be no forgiveness for me this time – I had burned all my bridges now and no mistake. I had put myself beyond the pale. Some failures are just too big to overlook and the failure to be happy was surely one of those. I was like a broken robot at this stage, desperately searching for new and improved ways of hurting myself, new and improved ways of making my existence a living hell. No punishment was too cruel for me, no insult too vile. I was determined to make myself pay…

 

I have become the leaden homunculus. I have become the self-biter – the one who tears his own flesh asunder. Every remedy I hit upon turns into a curse. With every move I make, I magnify my own pain. With every action I take I create new worlds of suffering for myself, each one a hundred times worse than the one which preceded it. Seeing my own self-destructive folly unfold in this way only serves to make me more enraged at myself – the hatred I feel towards myself for visiting this hell upon me feeds voraciously upon itself and grows a thousand snake-heads, each one bristling with fangs that ooze venom, each one a fully-fledged monster in its own right…