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Every Face Tells A Story

‘Reality can be an odd kind of thing,’ I remarked wisely, but no one took any heed of me. ‘Folks just aren’t ready for my wisdom yet, I guess’ I told myself. I wasn’t at all upset at this. I took it in my stride. ‘Reality can be a tricky customer,’ I said again, in a conversational tone. I had gifts course, I knew that. I had several psychic gifts – gifts which very few other people have. The gift of tuning directly into people’s auras for example. It’s as if I’ve known them for years, it’s as if I’ve known them forever. It’s as if I know them better even than their best friend does. Better than they know themselves. This last statement is redundant of course – who knows anything about themselves? We are all strangers to ourselves, when it comes down to it. ‘The stranger within,’ isn’t that what they say? The stranger within generally stays a stranger, in my experience! Never to be discovered, never even to be glimpsed. ‘Reality can be a strange bedfellow,’ I piped up, to no one in particular. No one saw fit to answer me. I was throwing pearls before swine obviously, but that was okay. I didn’t mind, I was just sitting there enjoying the late June sunshine, just watching people walk by on their way to their various destinations. Walking by, walking by. ‘Every face tells a story,’ isn’t that what they say? Every face tells a story. So what were all these faces saying? So many faces, so many stories… I got up then to walk away, looking for a change of scene, and that’s when I realised that I didn’t have a body. I couldn’t get up from the bench where I was sitting because there was no one sitting there! What did I expect? I had taken the Hero Dose, after all. That was another psychic gift to add to the list, it occurred to me then – the gift of not having a body, the gift of not actually being physically anchored in any one particular place. No wonder no one ever answered me – no one could hear me! They probably couldn’t see me either. Perhaps I could communicate telepathically, I wondered. That’s one of my gifts, after all! ‘It’s just another day in paradise,’ I thought then, somewhat incongruously. Just another day in paradise. Nothing to get unduly worried about. Or indeed, worried about at all. Just another day in paradise. ‘All possibilities are allowed in this Endless River of Change,’ I told myself wisely. Even the possibility that this little word ‘allowed’ might provisionally ‘mean something’ is allowed. Everything is allowed. Although of course when we look into it more closely we could see that this word ‘allowed’ doesn’t really mean anything. ‘Allowed’ and ‘disallowed’ are the bars on the window of our prison cell, after all. That’s what we can never see, that neither ‘allowed’ nor ‘disallowed’ mean anything! That’s just so laughable – the inexplicable foolishness of thinking that things could either be ‘allowed’ or ‘disallowed’, ‘permitted’ or ‘prohibited’! The extraordinary, unfathomable, fantastical foolishness of believing that anything could either ‘exist’ or ‘not exist’…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Weary Millenia

I was full of cringing inferiority, but I was also a god. But I was also a god… I hadn’t left the house for weeks – I couldn’t face meeting anyone. I couldn’t face being seen by anyone, even in passing. I couldn’t face being seen even by someone who wouldn’t even register my existence. And no one ever did register my existence. How is it right that a god-being such as I should have to live like this?’ I asked. How is it right. How is it right. How did I ever develop such a terrible sense of inferiority? Even the dogs in the streets were better than me. Even the dogs on the street were higher up in the pecking order than me – and they knew it too! They knew it well. They were higher up in the Divine Chain of Being, and yet there were only lowly curs. I was a god, and yet the curs of the street would regularly cross the road to piss on me. One day I will stand up to them, I told myself. One day – but not now… Now I wait. I would wait out the weary millennia…

 

In my dreams I feel the Greatness spreading slowly throughout my body until it permeates every cell, every sinew. My flesh no longer cringes with shame and inferiority when someone walks by. Instead, I am lit up by the Inner Sun. Once more will I walk the dark places of this earth, afraid of nothing. Once more will I… And then – inevitably – I would wake up, my body full of aches, my mind full of misgivings about the day that was just to begin. I would wake up, slowly coming to my senses in the squalor of my bedroom, wondering for the millionth time how it had ever came to this. The foetid smell of my unwashed duvet hitting me like a brick wall, making me gag. Remembering the Greatness that had let that I had felt within me. Momentarily remembering what it had been like back then. Back in the days of my Greatness. Back in the days when I’d walked the earth as a god.

 

The memory soon fled however. It fled as all dreams flee – it evaporated like mist in the heat of the morning sun, leaving me with nothing but a sense of something lost. Something forever lost – so lost that even the memory of it had faded and become something else. Had become something else. Had become something squalid. Dwelling on these thoughts my mind clouded over with despair. My mind clouds over with despair like this every morning. Every day was the same day for me; every day was the same day and it was not a good day. I reached over to the carpet by my bed and fumbled around amidst old mismatched socks and last month’s underwear. Eventually, after much cursing, I found the plastic pouch of chickweed that I’d thrown there last night and, with shaking hands, rolled myself a hasty and misshapen joint.

 

I sparked up and took the thick white smoke deep into my lungs. Within seconds I was doubled up coughing and retching. Then the chickweed hit and I could feel the molecules doing their work in my brain. A cunning mixture of scopolamine and mandragorine, laced with a fair amount of atropine. A rough drug but a potent one. A drug for those who no longer have the will to live very long. A drug for those that no longer count their life as being worth very much. Why else would anyone smoke chickweed? Even the most desperate addict in the street would draw the line at this fearful drug. No one has the stomach for the fearful hallucinations and dark obsessions that come about as a result of its use.

 

Outside in the hall lay my weapons and my armour, covered up with a thick blanket of cobwebs. Covered up under a thick musty web of cobwebs and the dust of the weary millennia. I no longer look at them anymore. I no longer see them. What do they mean to me, after all? They belong to a god. They belong to an Ancient Hero who no longer walks the earth, they belong to one whose name has long since been forgotten by men. His name has long since been forgotten by me too. That god, that Ancient Hero, no longer exists, and what little memory I have of those days only serves to taunt me further in my ongoing misery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conditioned Reality

A conditioned reality had been created for me and I was to move in immediately. All the appropriate forms had been filled in, all the required emails had been sent, all the necessary telephone calls had been made, and so on. This was a very exciting time for me, of course – I could hardly wait. I could hardly wait. It was a custom-made conditioned reality so I knew I would get on great there. It had all the things that I liked and none of the things that I didn’t like. I had written a very long list of all the things that I didn’t like and I had been promised that none of them would be in it!

 

‘All of the things I like, none of the things I don’t like, all of the things I like and none of the things I don’t like…,’ I kept saying.  Intimations of wonderful things came to my mind unbidden and then drifted slowly out again. I wasn’t sure if I had made up or not. ‘Great things are so great aren’t they?’ I said to myself. ‘Wonderful things are so wonderful. Wonderful things are so wonderful and great things are so great.’ My mind was monotonously marvelling over this fact, obsessing over this fact, and the more I obsessed and marvelled the better everything seemed! All of the things I like, none of the things I don’t like,’ I repeated to myself. It was my little mantra.

 

My friends were all very sceptical, of course. ‘Well, what kind of things will the conditioned reality have in it?’ they asked. I wasn’t entirely sure but I was wasn’t going to admit this to anyone! ‘Well,’ I replied thoughtfully, ‘there the leather sofas and IKEA lighting and tasteful pictures on the wall, and there will be coffee tables dotted here and there with interesting books laid out on them. The air will be very fresh and fragrant and there will be lots of houseplants. Possibly there will be a large aquarium on one of the bigger tables with exotic fish tropical fish swimming about in it. Siamese fighting fish and neon tetras.

 

I was warming to my subject and my description of the conditioned reality that I was about to move into was becoming ever more detailed – ‘yes and it will have all of these bright purple squeezy balls embedding in the walls and when you squidge them a musical note will sound and anything you want to immediately come into existence via a special type of multidimensional port. All sorts of wonderful things will come into existence, more wonderful than you could ever possibly imagine! There will be lots and lots of very good things and never any crappy or dull or rubbishy things. Everything will be so great and so wonderful and it’ll be super-cool there…’

 

My friends were staring at me in frank disbelief at this stage. ‘That’s not a conditioned reality you are talking about, you fool,’ one of my so-called friends told me scornfully, ‘that’s just a pathetic lame-ass fantasy! That’s just the very same pathetic lame-ass dumb fantasy that you always come out with…’

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Idiot’s Guide

I read the manual on how to be a human being, you know. I studied it from cover to cover. I read it twice. I watched the e-learning tutorial on my laptop and I learned a lot. I learned plenty. I learned the right things to say, the right brand of clothing to wear, the right attitude to have, and all that sort of stuff. I bought the book in Easons on Shop Street – The Idiot’s Guide To Being A Human Being! ‘How hard can it be?’ I asked myself. Everyone else seems to be able to do it okay!

 

That thought was my downfall however. It all started to go pear-shaped very shortly after that. Pride comes before a fall, isn’t that what they say? The old sayings are always the best, aren’t they? The old ones are the good ones.

 

Being a human being is a hell of a lot trickier than it looks on the outside, as I soon learnt to my cost. Just because everyone else can do it without any apparent bother doesn’t automatically mean that you can too! Why would it mean that? That’s a false inference. Life is tricky enough anyway without making a whole bunch of false inferences. Or without making even only one, for that matter, if it’s a big enough one. Even one false inference can sink you.

 

So that’s my situation – everyone else is able to be a human being, apparently without any difficulty at all, apparently effortlessly, yet I can’t. I’m struggling. More than just struggling, I’m failing. People love that word don’t they? Oh you are a such a failure. ‘Failure failure failure failure failure failure’, go the echoes in my head. You’re a sad failure and so that’s it. It’s all in the word, isn’t it? What more needs to be said? No point in over-egging the pudding – there’s no point in over-egging the pudding because then it turns out to be a pretty shitty pudding! Pretty damn shitty altogether…

 

So here I am struggling away like anything behind the mask, trying to figure out how to be a person, trying to work out what it means to be a person, and the mask is stretched very thin. It’s stretched as tight as a drum skin. It’s stretched so very tight that is not even a mask any more – it’s very far from being a mask because it’s not covering up anything! Far from covering up the struggle, it’s actually highlighting it! It’s putting me under the spotlight, it’s putting me under the magnifying glass! Everyone can see my struggle.

 

Everyone else gets to be human being automatically, without seeming to make any struggle at all, and yet here I am engaged in a titanic struggle and I’m not even coming close! My failure is written large in large letters all over my face! No wonder people are repelled and horrified and disgusted when they see me! No wonder they avoid me like the plague – my situation is just too hideous to behold and so no one wants to know…

 

It’s is very important to cope, you know. That’s what my therapist taught me – he patiently taught me that it’s extremely important to cope. If you can’t cope then that automatically makes you a bit of a failure, doesn’t it? That cruel phrase echoes nastily around my head – ‘bit of a failure bit of a failure bit of a failure bit of a failure bit of a failure’. When you visibly fail in your sad attempts to pretend to be a human being then just what the hell does that make you?

 

 

 

 

 

Virtuality Crime

‘Can I have a Wowtastic meal deal?’ I asked, clutching a crumpled voucher in my outstretched pseudopodium. I was a shape-shifter, I was a polymorph! I was on a bit of a high! I was also a seasoned street philosopher, if I may say so myself. I’ve been hanging around the malls and pedestrianised shopping precincts for many years now, biding my time, puzzling over the big questions, and now I felt that I’d reached a certain level of understanding – a transcendental level of understanding, you could say. ‘What are you doing here?’ I asked myself sharply, trying to catch myself out. ‘How would I know?’ I answered back smartly, as quick as a whip. The simulator would have to get up pretty early in the morning to catch me out, I grinned, full of the awareness of my own near omniscience. ‘Supposing you were famous but no one knew you?’ I asked, testing myself to see if I was as good as I thought I was. ‘Suppose you wanted to buy something but you didn’t know what?’ My mind was jumping like a cricket – it was jumping like a big fat brown cricket in a meadow full of long, long grass in the full heat of the summertime. ‘Are demons real?’ I wondered, ‘can they possess you and make you come out with stuff that doesn’t make any sense at all? ‘Keep smiling’, I told myself, ‘it’s important not to know to let them know that they have you spooked’. I recently learned that there was such a thing as ‘virtuality crime’ – crimes committed in the virtual realm which can never be traced back to you; crimes which break no laws and which have no appreciable impact on the real world. A whole new dimension of crime and criminality, hitherto unmentioned in the statute books! No victims, you see – how can you be held accountable when there are no victims and you yourself are no more than fast-fading pattern of digital impulses? Can one ghost harm another? Can a person be sentenced in a court of law for misdemeanours committed in a dream? Someone somewhere will one day invent the ultimate product and at one stroke capitalism itself will become redundant. I knew this as well as the next man did but if you asked me to explain it I couldn’t! The words just wouldn’t come – I just stood there, grinning like a fool. Someone somewhere will inadvertently invent the ultimate product and this will spell the death knell for consumerism as we know it. Consumerism as we know it. ‘What’s your purpose in life?’ I asked myself out of the blue, trying to catch myself out again. This time I succeeded – ‘Leave me alone, will you?’ I whined, ‘can’t you see that I’m having a bad day?’ I had learned everything I needed to learn on the street you see – that’s the only education that counts in my book! I had learned everything I needed to know in the shopping malls of my own diseased imagination. I’m a veteran at this stage. I’m a seasoned veteran of the Dream Wars – I’ve been around the block so many times that it’s all become a bit of a blur, a bit of a blur, a bit of a blur. I tried to explain myself but the words wouldn’t come. They just wouldn’t come. I haunt myself relentlessly, I never give myself a break. Late at night you can see me sitting there in some anonymous fast food outlet, my head down, eating my meal, struggling to come to terms with the big questions, struggling to come to terms with the enormous absurdity of my own existence. Life took one fork in the road and I took another and having gone so far I feel obliged to continue in my folly! ‘Can I have a Wowtastic meal deal?’ I pipe up enthusiastically, clutching an out-of-date voucher tightly in my outstretched pseudopodium. I am a shape-shifter, I am a polymorph! I am The Undisputed Lord of All I Survey! Whatever I think of comes into immediate phantom existence and I always end up regretting it…

 

 

 

 

 

Not Just Dumb But Superdumb

Not just dumb but superdumb – that’s the story of my life. You know that thing where people like to imagine the situation – hypothetical, of course – where they can go back in time and say something helpful to their younger self? Some kind of deeply inspiring message, or whatever crap? Well I wouldn’t say anything to my past self – I have no inspiring messages whatsoever to pass on! For one thing I know that there’d be no point – nothing anyone could ever have said to my younger self would have made the slightest bit of difference to him because he was just too dumb. I know it doesn’t sound very kind or very compassionate to say this – it’s not politically correct to say of someone that they are ‘incredibly dumb’ but since it is myself that I’m talking about here I think I can get away with! Who’s going to object, after all? I’m not going to object because I know that it’s true. I have the inside-story on that. In retrospect, I can see that I was not going to change my course for anyone – I simply didn’t have the capacity to change and that’s the long and the short of it. People talk a lot of shyte about making ‘poor life-choices’ in my opinion. They are such wankers! When did they get that shit from, I’d like to know? Where do they dream that up? I’d like to grab one of those people and give them a right good shaking. ‘Get it into your head asshole,’ I’d like to say, ‘for you they are no ‘advantageous life choices’ – you’re going to be an asshole whatever choices you make!‘ Can an asshole choose not to be an asshole? Can a dumb idiot choose not to be dumb idiot? Is that a choice that is open to us? Think about it for God’s sake. Just think about it for a minute. Do yourself a big favour! All of this sounds like an insult of course, but it isn’t. It’s a pure statement of fact and there’s no judgement in it. How can we object to something that’s a pure statement of fact? If you stub your toe then you stub your toe – end of story! It’s not an insult to say to point out the fact that you have stubbed your toe, it’s just painful, that’s all! Not an insult just painful. The same thing applies with being incredibly dumb – it is a state of being that brings a lot of pain with it (boy does it ever!) but it’s not an insult. If you think that it is an insult that is simply because you are dumb – incredibly dumb in fact – and that isn’t an insult either! It’s just a statement of fact. Please don’t get offended – just think of it as some kind of kindly passerby noticing that you stub your toe and expressing sympathy – ‘That’s gotta hurt, buddy!’ they say with an encouraging smile, ‘that sure must hurt, my friend…’ So what can you do when you are incredibly dumb, you might ask, missing the point entirely. The point being that you can’t do anything. You can’t even believe it for a start! You won’t take it on board. No way will you take it on board – if someone pointed out the fact to you then you would interpret this as meaning that they were being horrible to you, mean to you, and you’d be angry with them. All you can do is carry on being an idiot, carry on being dumb, and pay the price that you inevitably are going to have to pay for it. And maybe once you have paid your dues – twenty, thirty years hence – you won’t be quite so dumb anymore! It’s not a process you can rush, needless to say – much as we might wish it was! You can’t rush it – you can’t take a shortcut out of here. All you can do is suck it up…. You didn’t choose to be an asshole and you can’t choose not to be – what’s so hard to understand about this? We don’t understand it though – instead we keep shouting our big dumb mouths off about ‘poor life choices’ and recriminating against ourselves for having made them, trying in this way to fool ourselves that it ‘could have been different’. Or that it will be different, if only we could manage to make an ‘intelligent life choice’ for once, an ‘informed life choice’. Well good luck with that one buddy – that’s all I can say! Good luck with that one…

 

 

 

 

 

The King Of Buzzes

I was talking about that old King Buzz again. I was always talking about that old King Buzz! The truth was of course that I didn’t really know anything about the King Buzz any more. ‘You don’t know anything about buzzes until you have had that old King Buzz,’ I said, speaking to anyone and no one both at the same time, ‘you might think that you know what it feels like to be buzzing but you don’t.’ I stopped to chew my lip for a while and then continued gamely, ‘That old King Buzz  starts somewhere in your elbows funnily enough – that’s where you feel it first.’ I was making it all up of course – I didn’t know anything about the King Buzz, I was only just mouthing off. I was mouthing off like a gobshyte. ‘And then the next thing is that you feel it in your tailbone. When that happens you know you’ve only got ten minutes before it hits.’ I was mouthing off like a big moron, I was mouthing off like a fool. I wasn’t even a human being any more at this stage – I was a self-perpetuating bundle of rusty reflexes, I was a puff of stale air, I was a badly-deteriorated residual body-image struggling to maintain itself against the overwhelming tug of entropy…

 

‘Do you know that thing where you suddenly realise that you absolutely hate yourself for wasting your entire life being a total utter asshole?’ I commented. I was fishing for group validation but immediately realised that I’d misjudged the situation – they weren’t going to validate me at all, pretty clearly! ‘Validation’s pretty thin on the ground around here,’ I commented wryly to myself. I’ve been here before of course – I’ve been everywhere before. Do you know that thing you know that thing, I gabbled hysterically. The room was full of silence – no one wanted to look me in the eye. Validation was pretty thin on the ground around here, I told myself – even the unclean spirits couldn’t wait for me to move on, even the unclean spirits felt bad being near me. They feared contamination…

 

I am always having to move on, that’s the story of my life really. ‘Do you know that thing when you have become a stinking deteriorated carcass and you’re totally infested with malignant psychological egos that make you walk around and say things that don’t make any sense?’ I began conversationally, trying to inconspicuously merge into another group. Just dropping it in there, in my very best conversational tone. Just dropping it in there, so very casually, so very easily that you’d hardly even notice me doing it! You wouldn’t notice me doing it. You would almost think that I had been there all along, a cherished and accepted member of the group. Not an outsider. Judging my moment impeccably – just dropping it in there. Ripples of interested conversation spreading outwards; other related conversational themes being sparked up. I didn’t even need to say anything else after this. I had timed it perfectly, I had judged the moment to perfection. No longer was I the outsider, no longer was I the pariah. The intense gratification of social inclusion – that most exquisite of elixirs, that most fragrant of ambrosias… Was there ever anything sweeter?

 

I was no longer fully human at this stage of course. I was a faded stain on the carpet. I was a perambulating bundle of rusty reflexes, a creaking hollow shell that still managed to walk and talk and act as a human being. After a fashion, of course! After a fashion, after a fashion… I still had my good moments, mind you – it wasn’t all bad. I had a good job in the HSE, I had a responsible and meaningful role in society. People looked up to me. Well, maybe that’s overstating it a bit, but you know what I mean. You get the picture. I knew I still had a valuable role to play.

 

My jacket was coated with mildew and my beard was down to my knees; my breath came in long ragged infrequent bursts and there was moss growing on my trainers. I didn’t know how long I’d been sitting there lost in thought, trying to work out my winning strategy. The physical part of me was here but my spirit was elsewhere. It was time for me to come in out of the cold I realised – human kind had need of me once more! The Forever War was still raging unabated and I had my part to play in it….