I was trapped in the reality machine and I couldn’t get out. ‘I’m trapped in the reality machine,’ I called out weakly, ‘and I can’t find any way out.’ An Abba song was playing somewhere, distorted so much that I couldn’t make out the words. I could hear the piano but that was it, and even the piano sounded as if had been fed through some kind of weird filter. People were walking by on both sides of me but they couldn’t see me. They were behind thick, clouded glass. The radio embedded in my skull was playing nonstop ‘Hits of the Seventies’. I knew I was supposed to be doing something but I didn’t know what it was. ‘Am I supposed to be doing something?’ I asked out loud but no answer came back. The glass was soundproof. All around me the reality multiplier was working feverishly, pumping out innumerable versions of the current reality flow. It was as if twenty different films were being shown simultaneously; every time I had a thought dozens of little brother and sister thoughts came into being. ‘I’m trapped in the reality machine,’ I whispered fearfully, ‘I’m trapped in the reality machine and there’s nowhere else to go…’
Some things are real and some things are not real, I said to myself. Some things are good and some other things are not so good; some times are happy times and other times are bad times, not very nice times. I was frightened of the bad things happening then – I didn’t know what they were but I was frightened of them all the same. More frightened than I can say. I could never explain to you just how frightened I was of the bad things happening. I’m sitting here right now in full possession of my faculties and I still can’t in any way convey to you just how frightened I was. My fear was beyond words. It wasn’t just beyond words it was beyond my ability to grasp it myself – nonverbally, instinctively, intuitively, or in any way. I was astonished beyond measure at how frightening the fear was – I have never known how frightening fear could be, up to that point. I hadn’t known what fear actually was; I had never truly encountered it before and now that I had done I was astonished beyond measure. Or rather, I would have been astonished had I not been so terrified. True fear doesn’t allow you the luxury of being amazed or astonished at how very frightening fear can be – you are much too frightened for that. In this situation there is no space for wondering or reflecting – there is only space for fear.
‘I’m trapped in the reality machine and is nowhere else to run,’ I wailed to myself, full of the fear that is too great ever to be spoken. ‘Suppose a bad thing happened,’ my mind whispered to me, ‘suppose a bad thing happened and it was too bad for you to be able to cope with?’ My mind was full of suppositions like this. ‘Suppose a bad thing happened and it was too bad for you to deal with, what would you do then?’ Suppose you couldn’t stop the bad thing happening even though you knew that if it happened then there would be absolutely no way that you could deal with it?’ ‘If it happened and you couldn’t bear it, how would you cope with that situation?’ ‘Suppose you really couldn’t cope at all with the bad thing happening then what you do then?’ ‘How would you cope with not being able to cope?’ My mind was asking all of these worrying questions and as I listened to them it made me more and more anxious. ‘Suppose you get uncontrollably anxious about the very bad thing happening and how you would manage to cope with it if it did, then what would you do about that?’ it demanded to know.
I’m in a daze. I’m in an altered state. I’m totally dissociated. I’m here but I’m not here. I’m here enough to know that I’m not really here. I’m in the archetypal situation and I don’t want to know about it. Not this, I say to myself. Anything but this. Not the archetypal situation. ‘Why does it always have to come back to this?’ I asked myself. ‘Why does it always have to come back to the archetypal situation? What does it all mean?’ I don’t want to know what it all means however. That’s the last thing I want to know. I’m here but I’m not here. ‘I’m trapped in the reality machine,’ I realise to my horror. ‘I’m trapped in the reality machine and there’s nowhere else to be…’
I had a giant hallucination. I had a giant hallucination and yet it didn’t seem like a hallucination at the time because I thought it was real. I had this big, big hallucination and they said it was the world. They said it was my life, they said it was my mind. All a big, big hallucination they said. A frighteningly big hallucination. So big, so big…
It was so big that it swallowed me all up. It was terrifyingly big. It was everything to me. It was the whole world. The hallucination was that I existed. That’s what they told me, anyway. They told me that I was a victim of a hallucination and that none of it was real. I had been mistaken when I thought it was.
‘Who are ‘they’ ?’ you ask. That’s always the question, isn’t it? Who are ‘they’, who are ‘they’, who are ‘they’? I hate it when people say that to me. They is they. They is always they – the Alien Conspiracy, the Spooky Unseen Presence, the Otherworldly Tribunal, whenever you want to call them. The Star Council, if you will. The Cosmic Adjudicators. The Mind-Manipulators. The ones who put their thoughts in your head. They told me that I had had a hallucination, anyway. None of it was true, in other words. None of it was true but I thought at the time that it was.
I wanted to ask them if there was something terribly wrong with me because that’s what it felt like. It felt that there was something frighteningly wrong with me for having such a huge hallucination, such a total hallucination. How could that happen? I hallucinated the whole universe, apparently. I hallucinated my whole life and yet I didn’t know it. I’m very frightened by the thought of that. Everything felt so real, and then the next minute it wasn’t. I couldn’t understand it and I couldn’t talk to anyone about it either. How can you talk to someone about the world being a hallucination when they are part of that very same hallucination? Obviously you can’t….
There’s something terribly lonely about it. Lonely and sad. You know that you’re not really there. You understand this and it makes you sad. You understand it but you also know that there is no one you can talk to about it. You know that only too well. It’s that spooky feeling that someone could pull the plug on you at any moment – none of it is real and it never was. You aren’t here at all. Something else is going on but you don’t know what that is. You’re afraid to find out. I wanted to ask them if perhaps I was very sick and maybe dying. Was that the reason? Was it something wrong with me? Was I on a life-support machine?
There is no ‘they’ really of course. I made them up. There is nobody. There is nobody of the sort. There is no conspiracy, no psychic commentators, no star council, no cosmic tribunal, no nothing. There was more no one I could ask; no one who could tell me anything. All there was is this awful feeling of loneliness. ‘Maybe you were on drugs?’ you might be thinking. ‘Maybe that was it.’ But no – that wasn’t it. I had no body, you see. My body wasn’t a real thing and so drugs aren’t real either. My body was a hallucination just like everything else was. Just like my life was. Mind-altering drugs are a hallucination, everything was just a hallucination. I know people like talking about hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD and LSA and STP and ALD -52 and all the rest, and that makes it sound as if it’s the drug that makes the hallucination. That’s not true though – it’s the hallucination that makes the drug. We’ve got it the wrong way round. The drugs are the hallucination and it’s a mistake to think otherwise. LSD is a hallucination, along with all the rest. So no – I wasn’t on drugs…
There was this one day when I realised that I was having a very big hallucination. The biggest hallucination ever. I was hallucinating myself. I was hallucinating my whole life. I was hallucinating that there was such a thing as LSD but there wasn’t. You can’t blame the drugs this time I’m afraid. It’s bigger than that. It’s much bigger than that, bigger than you can ever imagine. It’s as if you’re smoking some extra-strong hallucinogenic drug in a pipe and you’re holding a match to it and taking a deep breath. You’re filling your lungs to capacity. But the drug is too strong, too potent, and you realise that you’re not smoking the pipe but that the pipe is smoking you. You’re just a bit of white smoke twisting around in the air. You’re not real at all – the pipe smoked you, that’s all. It’s you that’s the hallucination.
I was trying to maintain the ego-construct in a viable – or at least halfway viable way. ‘Maintain the ego-construct, maintain the ego-construct, maintain the ego-construct…’ my thoughts told me in their characteristic stentorian tones. It was like having someone roaring in my head with a megaphone. I was doing my best of course. We all do our best, don’t we? We all have that in common – we all do our best to maintain the ego-construct. We succeed – or we fail – to varying extents of course, but we do try. God loves a trier, so they say, but I don’t know how well that applies in this case. I’m doubtful about that. ‘Try harder, you bastard,’ my mind snarls at me, ‘you’re letting things slip. You’re letting the side down. You’re making a complete mess of it…’
My mind had turned vicious at this stage you see. Vicious, vicious, vicious. It turned toxic on me and that was bad news. It’s bad enough struggling to maintain the ego-construct when you sense that the tide has turned against you without having the toxic abuser-mind screaming at you and telling you how pathetically worthless you are. ‘Is that supposed to help?’ I’d like to ask that toxic old abuser mind. You stupid fuck. Do you really think that’s going to help?’ How the hell is non-stop abuse and recrimination going to help in the job of maintaining the ego-construct, right?
It’s gone beyond trying to help at this stage of course. I realise that. This is the stage where there is nothing but abuse and putdowns. The stage when the mind really lets fly. It’s given up on you at this stage and it just wants to put the boot in. This is such a dismal situation to find oneself in of course – thoroughly dismal, frighteningly dismal. I know no one likes to talk about dismal situations. I know we all like the upbeat stuff –the stuff fantasies are made of, shall we say – but there you are. Reality has a flavour all of its own and it doesn’t necessarily agree with your fantasies. Reality has a flavour all of its own and you don’t necessarily want to go thinking that that it will be a pleasant one. It may not be and please trust me on that! Please trust me. Please trust me on that one. It may not be so pleasant at all…
There are times when I can’t actually remember what I’m talking about or why. Many times, as it happens. Many, many times. My mouth races on ahead and leaves everything else behind, so to speak. It’s like an army division that advances too fast and outstrips its supply chain. Who knows, maybe they are on military-grade Methedrine or something like that. Like the Nazis were. That’s bad news when you do that, right? That’s very bad news. Trust me on that because I know. You’ve left reality far behind in your foraging ahead. Forging ahead I mean. You’re out on a limb and that limb is about to give way. It is giving way. ‘What the fuck am I doing?’ you ask. And then you realise – you’ve outstripped your reality supply. You’re out there, way out there in your private fantasy and none of it makes sense. Even to you it doesn’t make sense. No sense at all.
My ego was going mental. Totally, totally mental. Like, really mental. It was wanting to do that good, good stuff. The great stuff, the awesome stuff. Etc. etc. ‘I’m going to do the great, great stuff,’ it said. ‘Get out of my way – can’t you see that I’m going to do the great great stuff? Get out of my face.’ There’s no holding it back when it’s like that – there never is. It was as if it had rabies or something. It was frothing at the mouth. I’m gonna do the good stuff now it said only when it came to it couldn’t. When it came down to it it was one hundred per cent useless, embarrassingly useless. Hideously useless. It couldn’t do anything, it couldn’t even let out a convincing fart, but that’s the way it always is isn’t it? The decrepit old ego-construct finally has its long-awaited moment of glory only it’s not really that glorious when it comes down to it. When it comes to the crunch. Far from it.
Share the experience they say. Share the experience because everyone else wants to know too. You get validation that way, they say. But no – that’s not true. I can tell you that for nothing. You are entombed in shame. Personal and private shame that’s no longer so private. You ever had that happen to you? You know what that feels like? You’ve been caught out in a private fantasy and even you’re shocked by what you’ve been caught out doing. Even youcan’t believe it. No way can you believe it. How the hell did that happen you wonder? How the hell…? That’s not a good situation as I’m sure you will agree. The unendurable ongoing pain and frustration of egoic existence is no joke, is it? It’s not exactly what you’d call a pleasant situation is it? Not pleasant at all. You to all the trouble of maintaining the bloody old ego-construct and then that’s what happens. That’s what you get for it.
The sky was black, black with rage, black with frightening malevolence. I was more terrified of that sky than I am able to express. I knew no one else could see it – only me. ‘Who can help me’, I asked myself, ‘who can help me? Can anyone help me?’ I knew very well that they couldn’t. I was trying to remember the sort of things I used to think about when I was still alive but it wasn’t really coming back to me. I was nostalgic for the old thoughts that I used to think. I wasn’t sure if I was remembering the thoughts right or not – I had no way of knowing. They didn’t feel the same somehow. I was going through the motions of thinking my familiar all thoughts but somehow it didn’t feel the same. The tentative feeling of nostalgia was giving way to panic instead. I was clutching madly at these old familiar thoughts of mine, the thoughts I used to think so much, but it was like grabbing at smoke. Black, acrid smoke. Toxic black acrid smoke. The smell of burnt insulation from a burnt-out electrical machine.
Tears were streaming in rivulets down my face and I wasn’t sure if it was the smell of the burnt insulation causing this or if perhaps it was because I was sad. I’ve never been very good in connecting with my emotions, even when I was alive. Especially when I was alive, it occurred to me. Especially then. That had always been a big problem for me. Not that I’d ever been particularly bothered by it at the time. What you don’t know you don’t miss and there’s a lot of truth in that phrase. Perhaps too much truth for all I knew. If it’s possible to have too much truth, which I assume it may be. I’ve never been particularly good connecting with the truth either, come to think of it. Not very good at all. I was always secreting my own patented brand of mental bullshit and I spent my time relating to that instead. Not that I would have seen it like that of course. Not that I would have seen it like anything really.
I had to escape from the sky, I realised. It was pressing down on me with murderous intent. It was leaning heavily on me and I knew it had plans to crush me. The murderous sky, bristling with colossal animosity. The angry, angry sky. So big and so angry, so big and so angry. I was like a poor futile housefly, struggling to find a way through an invisible window pane, unable to register the fact that my tactics of buzzing back and forth just weren’t going to work this time. They might have served me well enough in the past but they weren’t going to cut the mustard in this particular situation. The situation where the sky is black and angry and where you want very much to escape from it. ‘Oh that situation,’ you pipe up enthusiastically, ‘naturally trying to escape from that situation is never going to work. Of course it won’t. Everyone knows that…’
When people talk about me – if they ever do – they’ll probably say something like ‘He was a man whose own bullshit eventually got the better of him. That’s why the sky is so black and angry and wants to crush him.’ I don’t know whether this was a reasonable thing to think or whether it was just an example of one of my typical bullshit thoughts. When everything is just a bullshit thought then where do you go? How do you know how you stand then? When you realise that all your thoughts are bullshit isn’t that thought itself not bullshit? Or could I be fooling myself about that too? When you fall into the life-long habit of fooling yourself it’s hard to know anything very much. You don’t really know shit, to be honest.
‘When you are desperately seeking comfort in a comfortless place then that’s not a very good situation to be in’, I told myself. I knew it to be true anyway but I still went ahead and told myself it. If I didn’t talk to myself then no one else would. No one else knew that I was there. I had a duty of care towards myself therefore. A duty to keep on talking, to keep on stating the obvious. To maintain my hideously-distorted personal narrative in whatever shape or form I could. I had to escape from the sky, I realised. It was looking down on me angrily with murderous intent and I had to escape it.
I created a rudimentary world out of six bottle tops and a crushed can of Orange Fanta. It was all I had to work with. I created a rudimentary world out of the limited materials that I had available and then I stepped back to admire my work. I hadn’t made a bad job of it at all. I felt like letting out a big old “Whoop!” – I’d pulled it off, I’d made a sterling job of it. I walked around the brand new world several times, checking it from all angles, inspecting it, probing it carefully in my mind. Finally I felt satisfied – against all the odds, under what were very difficult circumstances, I had succeeded. Dizzy with the heady perfume of my own unexpected victory I sat down and mopped my brow. I’d done a good job, that was undeniable. I deserved a bit of a sit-down, I reckoned. No one was going begrudge me that…
And then, just at that precise moment, evil quickly darted into my newly created world and contaminated it. It happened so fast I could barely register it. “How does evil get to move so fast?” I asked myself. “How can a thing like that even happen?” I’d taken my eye off the ball, I’d relaxed too soon. I had congratulated myself prematurely. I wondered how I could have made such an obvious slip-up. How come I hadn’t been expecting this very thing to happen? Isn’t this what always happens, after all? It’s an old, old story. It’s the oldest story there is in fact – the contamination of evil. You make everything pristine and pure and then the next thing you know evil darts in under your very nose and spoils everything. What else is evil for after all, if not this? What else would you expect evil to do? I could have kicked myself at this point – how could I have been so stupid as to take my eye off the ball at this crucial moment?
Following on from this unfortunate ‘accident’ I was left with only one possible course of action – I had to split off an avatar and send it into the world that I just created. Then I could take tackle the problem from the inside, as it were; that was the only way the problem could be tackled without having to destroy the infected world. I didn’t want to destroy the affected world, miracle that it was. I resolved therefore to split off an avatar to locate the evil and expel it. Eliminate it if possible and expel it if I couldn’t. Of if my avatar couldn’t, to be more accurate. As it happened this didn’t turn out to be too easy a job at all. It turned out to be very difficult and very problematic indeed. Forbiddingly so. The whole thing was a very bad experience as far as I was concerned. It turned into a real disaster.
I incarnated as the Eternal Warrior, as always. It is always the way – the Eternal Warrior, in many different guises, has to be on incarnated into the world so that he might give battle to the forces of evil. Otherwise – were he not to appear in the world – evil would run unchecked, evil would proliferate, as is generally the way with evil. Ordinary mortals are far too easily hypnotised by the power of darkness – they are fascinated by it and all too often they wish only to serve it. ‘Our only wish is to serve you,” the hypnotised ones say, “just tell us what we have to do…” They then proceed to dress themselves in the garments of oppression, and serve the purposes of evil without ever questioning their actions. That’s the way it is with evil – ordinary folk just aren’t any good at fighting it. Most don’t recognise it (most are too afraid to recognise it and just act dumb) and of the ones that do, a significant proportion wish only to serve it. They somehow come to the conclusion that this is a good idea…
I persisted throughout the long dark millennia, coming off the worst at every encounter and then hiding until I had recovered my strength and sense of purpose. Camouflaging myself as best I could, lying low, licking my wounds, biding my time. Losing every round, coming off worse in every encounter. I don’t think that the Malignant One, who likes to call himself the Great Saviour of Mankind, even notices my stubborn opposition – he swats me away automatically, heedlessly, as one would swat a gnat. Then back into hiding I go, leading an ordinary life, trying to keep up the pretence that I’m no threat to the system, the pretence that I’m just the same as any other aimless Joe Soap drifting from day to day with no greater goal than to pass the time as pleasantly as possible. Or at least, with as little unpleasantness as might otherwise prove to be the case. In my darkest moments I wonder if perhaps I am no threat to the system. “What’s the point?” I ask myself. And then at other times I remember who I am and what my mission is and I ready myself for the next battle, the next encounter…
I was having one of my famous days. ‘I’m Zippy, I’m Zippy,’ I sang, ‘everybody knows my name…’ I was full of good cheer and at peace with the world. For once, the world was a good place. A warm place, a welcoming place. People recognise me wherever I go course, but they say nothing. It is understood by all that there is no need to actually say anything. That’s understood, that’s understood by all. People recognize me but they play the game. They don’t let on. I have a big smile all over my face – I’m delighted to know that everyone is playing the game so well. I have such a big smile that it’s hurting my face. I dance through the streets singing my little song, my face practically cracking in two from the giant delighted grin that I am wearing.
I was operating on a strict ‘need to know’ basis. ‘Do I really need to know?’ I asked myself and the answer was no I don’t. Say nothing, I advised myself. The least said the soonest mended. I had turned into a giant crab, walking sideways down the street, gesticulating wildly at passers-by with my outsize pincers. If anyone looked at me sideways I swivelled my eye sticks and looked at them sideways too. ‘How you like that buddy,’ I said to myself, ‘I’ll rip your damn ears off so I will.’
My head was jammed full of semi-digested thoughts. A single soggy unwholesome mass of turgid good-for-nothing go-nowhere thinking, sitting right on top of me, crushing the life out of me. I cried out in pain but no one took any notice of me. They continued to walk right by me, not even sparing a single glance in my direction. They seem to be repelled by my suffering more than anything else. ‘Is there no compassion left anywhere in the world?’ I wanted to cry out but I couldn’t. I had lost the power of human speech.
I was so vulnerable that I felt threatened and intimidated and bullied by every living thing that I encountered. A small bird edged up tentatively towards me, looking for crumbs no doubt, and I immediately shrank back in terror. I didn’t feel able for the contact. When you are as vulnerable as this you send out invisible messages to the world, I realised. Informing the predators in your immediate vicinity of your presence, informing them as if by loudspeaker of your frighteningly painful vulnerability. You’re grassing yourself up despite yourself. You can’t help sending urgent telegrams out to the Predator World. You can’t help summoning your own doom. With your nascent semi-developed telepathic powers you feel them making a beeline towards. You can actually feel their surprise and delight – ‘Why, here’s some soft, weak and timid creature signalling its terrified vulnerability to us,’ they think.
Their thoughts are grim and dark and their only joy is inflicting pain. I’m swimming in a dark, dark ocean, an ocean so deep that goes on forever. It’s an Ocean of Fear and I’m a little skater insect on the surface of it going around and around in frantic little circles, trying as hard as I can not to be aware of the dark depths beneath me. If I break the delicate water tension I’m finished. I have to try to think of something safe, to try to stop myself emitting fear vibrations. My fear vibrations are summoning the very thing that I’m afraid of. Not that I know that I’m afraid of – all I know is that it will be terrible beyond all imagining…
It’s absolutely essential to accomplish the Hero’s Task and this has to be very clearly understood – it has to be understood without a shadow of doubt. This – not to beat about the bush too much – is what life is all about. People may tell you it’s about something else but it is that’s just a dirty lie put you off the scent. That’s just a lie put about by the Great Liar Himself. If you don’t accomplish the Hero’s Task then that’s not so good. Not so good, not so good at all. You’ll regret that bitterly, when the time comes. You can’t imagine how bad that will hurt…
The product was telling me that I was enjoying the product. The product told me that I wanted the product and then the product was telling me that I was enjoying the product, enjoying every single mouthful. Enjoying it so much. Enjoying it so much that I could cry. When you finish the product then you look back and experience nostalgia for the good times you had. The good, good times. Just you and the product – having a good, good time.
You can’t see straight anymore because your eyes are so full of tears. Swimming with tears. You’re stumbling along feeling all choked up. You miss the product. There’s no more product and you’re missing it. You’re missing it real bad. You’re yearning for the good old times that you used to have, the happy joyful times. Society has broken down; civilisation has disintegrated and the End Days are nigh. That’s why you’re missing the product so much, because no one knows how to make the product any more. The skill has been lost, the technology no longer exists.
The people are happy because the product is telling them that everything is great, that everything is fine. They are happy and smiling and so am I. The product was telling me that everything was great, that everything was fine. My life had become very small and meaningless but what was I do? I’d forgotten about the Hero’s Task. I’d forgotten that there was ever such a thing. I’d forgotten so completely that I didn’t even try to remember anymore. I wasn’t even sad that I had forgotten it. I thought life was all about enjoying the product. That’s what we’re told, after all…
I’d forgotten everything that was decent and wholesome about life. I’d long since forgotten. I thought life was all about being a well-behaved narcissist. How are we supposed to know any different, anyway? Isn’t that what we are told by friends and buddies? Isn’t that what the ads on TV tell us we’re supposed to be? Isn’t that what the Great Liar Himself tells us every single day of our lives? How are we supposed to know that he’s only a liar? No one ever told us that.
The product was telling me that I was loving the product. Loving it so much. Loving every mouthful, loving so much. Loving it so much that I could cry with happiness. Realising how lucky I was to be enjoying it. The product tells us everything, doesn’t it? It tells us the story of our lives. It tells us who our friends are and who our enemies are. It tells us who to admire and who to despise. Who toady up to and who to be mean to. Who to please and who to hurt. The product tells us what to think. It tells us how lucky we are to be enjoying the product in the way that we are.
We all want to be good, don’t we? We want to do the right thing. We all want that pat on the head that means so very much. The warm smile of approval that means everything for us. I know I do. I want people to know that I’m good and that I’m doing the right thing. That’s very important. That means everything to me. Loving it so much the tears come to your eyes and you can’t see straight anymore. Helplessly blubbering and blubbering, not even trying to cover it up. We all want to enjoy the product, after all. We are afraid of the bad thing happening when we can’t enjoy it any more…
Time flies and it also crawls and there’s not much we can do about that. We’re at the mercy of it, after all! We are at the mercy of time and that’s all there is to it. Like it or lump it, type of thing. Time rushes and it dawdles and it twists and it turns. It’s taking us on a trip and we have to let go along with it no matter whether we want to or not. Come with me, come with me, time says. It whispers and it roars, it brays like a jackass and hoots like an owl. Sometimes it never stops talking and at other times it never says a thing. It is time I’m talking about or something else, I wonder? Am I losing track of myself? It’s the most terrible thing ever, to be a mechanical doll person in the mechanical world – you shouldn’t think that there’s anything worse because there isn’t. You see your arms and legs move but there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re dancing to the beat of someone else’s drum, only it’s not so much dancing as shuffling. You’re shuffling dismally. You’ve been an inmate of the sacred institution of your own mind too long and it’s made you shuffle. It’s broken your spirit. You’ve been obeying rules too long now you’re shuffling despondently to the beat of your own lame thoughts. You’ve been following procedures too long and now you’ve come unstuck. You’d be happy if you knew how but no one ever told you. Your own thoughts are telling you stuff, one thing after another, and you – gullible as you are – are falling over yourself in your hurry to believe them. Tell me some great stuff thoughts, I say, tell me some great stuff. The game soon wears thin however. I was in a strange space and no mistake, it occurred to me. My mind-body identity was a dystopian robot and everything I said was psychobabble. I was drowning in an ocean of psychobabble. I’ve been institutionalised by my own mind far too long. I ought to have known better but somehow I never managed to never get around to doing anything. I failed to act. What can I say – my attention was elsewhere. ‘What on earth were you thinking about?’ you ask incredulously, ‘you just sat there and let it happen to you!’ I don’t know what I had been thinking about of course, I can’t remember that. Nothing in the least bit significant anyway – you can be sure of that. It’s not easy finding things to be sure of but that’s one of them. ‘That’ll learn him’, you’re probably thinking. ‘That’ll learn the bastard. Why wasn’t he paying attention, after all? Why was he wasting his time thinking nonsense thoughts the whole time? What kind of stupid behaviour was that?’ Yes I know you are judging me. You’re thinking I shouldn’t have wasted the whole of my life up to this point thinking nonsense thoughts like a dog chewing on an old bone and that if I ended up being institutionalised by the thinking mind then it’s my own fault. I’ve got no one else to blame, obviously. I can only blame myself. That’s what you’re thinking, I know. ‘Serves him right’, you’re probably thinking. ‘Serves the bloody bastard right’. That’s all very well but where’s the compassion? Where’s the compassion in that, that’s what I want to know?
I was frightened by the frightening noise. I was frightened by the frightening things. I was afraid that the very bad thing might happen. I was more afraid than I’d ever been in my entire life. ‘Obey the fear,’ I bawled, ‘obey the fear, obey the fear…’ People looked at me of course. I hadn’t meant to shout out loud like that. Defiantly, I continue to repeat my mantra only quietly, only in my head this time. ‘Obey the fear, obey the fear, obey the fear,’ I said angrily in my own mind. ‘Obey the fear, obey the fear…’
I decided to go for the Meat Supreme. ‘When in doubt, go for the Meat supreme,’ I told myself wisely. When all else seems to fail, when the shifting sands of your fears and insecurities threatens to give way under your feet, then go for the Meat Supreme. I was lonely of course. Always so lonely. I was too afraid to talk to anyone else, you see. Far too afraid. Much too afraid. I was gripped by a fear that was just too great to articulate. No one could see me anyway – I was an intangible and as far as the solid ‘chunky-monkey’ folk of the earthly world were concerned I simply didn’t exist. That’s what it’s like when you’re an intangible…
I wasn’t always an intangible though. I would like to be clear on this point. I used to be just like anyone else – I had a lot of physical interactions with the material reality. You bet I did. Just as you probably do. I say ‘probably’ because I don’t really know. I’m not in a position to say with any great authority. Or any authority at all even. That was a long, long time ago of course. It was an awfully long time ago and to tell the truth I can barely remember it any more. I actually can’t remember. Sometimes I wonder if I’m making it all up, but I try not to go down that road. That’s a bad road to go down, as I know from experience. It’s the worst road to go down. The road of self-doubt.
Self-doubt is a constant companion of mine, you see. Self-doubt and loneliness. I’m an expert on that, you might say – a renowned expert, a world-class expert. I’m a renowned world-class expert but no one has ever heard of me. Naturally no one has ever heard of me – I’m an intangible, after all! I’m one of the intangibles. Not that I know of any others, come to think of it. I wouldn’t know them anyway. Obviously I wouldn’t because they are intangible to me to. Or maybe I’m the only one. On the other hand maybe I’m not. Either way it doesn’t make any difference to me – I’m on my own in both cases. Just me and my thoughts. Just me and my never-ending hopes and fears.
I still have hopes and fears, intangible as I might be. We all have our hopes and fears, don’t we? Even we ghosts still have our hopes and fears. You might not know that but I do. That might not be part of your daily experience but it is of mine. I spend all my time lost in my hopes and fears. I don’t really know what my hopes and fears are, mind you. If you asked me I couldn’t tell you, my hopes and fears are empty of substance, just as I am. They’re intangible, like me.
‘Does time passed quickly where you are?’ you might ask. ‘Does it pass quickly or does it drag?’ The straight answer is that it is both at the same time. That’s a strange thing, isn’t it? I think that’s a strange thing. When I look back, I’m conscious of her time has fled, how quickly it has sped by. It flies, just as they say. It flies like a bird. Like a very fast bird, not a slow one. It’s frightening how fast time goes by. Like some sort of crazy train. Like the Ozzy Osbourne song.
And yet at the same time that time flies, it also drags. It drags unbearably. It drag so much that it doesn’t seem to move at all. You could say that I’ve got the worst of both worlds therefore. You really could say that. How can time fly and drag at the same time?’ you ask, speaking – no doubt – out of a deep and abiding perplexity. That’s just the way it is though. That’s the mechanics of the situation and it doesn’t matter a damn as we understand it or not. Why would it if we understand it or not? That’s what life is like here and let no one tell you different. They don’t know anything anyway. What would they know? People are utter fools when it comes down to it and they simply can’t tell you anything. They want to but they can’t. They’re yapping imbeciles. They are utter yapping imbeciles but I envy them all the same. I envy them so much that it eats into me. It’s not only self-doubt that eats into me therefore but envy too.
Time flies and it crawls but there’s an awful lot of it either way. There’s an endless amount of time here, where I am, but it’s not real. It’s unreal time. There’s an endless amount of ‘un-real time’ here, for what that’s worth. Is that a good thing or a bad thing – what do you think? What are your thoughts about that? Not that you care, of course. Why would you care? You don’t give a damn and I know that very well. I’m under no illusions there. So anyway here I am. I’m sitting here in carriage Number 4 of the crazy train and there’s no stopping. There are no stops. The train is racing through the night, its engines whining insanely like an mad crazy out-of-control turbine, and it’s on its way to nowhere. It’s on its way to nowhere fast.
Old Father Crow is crowing in the garden. Cawing, I mean. He is cawing his head off, cawing fit to burst. Old Father Crow. Can you hear him? You probably can’t, but I can. He’s in my head; he’s cawing fit to burst. He is a spirit guide you see. He comes to see me when I drink the tea that’s made from the sacred root. That old sacred root…
I was afraid of reality. I was afraid of reality in a big way. ‘Why does reality always have to be so very frightening?’ I asked myself. ‘Why? Why? Why?’ The bad dreams are back again. The bad dreams always come back. Reality is catching up with me wherever I hide you see. My hiding places are good, if I say so myself. My hiding places are superb but reality always manages to sniff me out just the same. Reality has a long nose and it’s very good at sniffing. It’ll sniff you out wherever you go.
I get that electric tingly feeling all over my skin when reality starts to get my scent. That’s how I know. The hair stands up on my head. Or it would if I had any hair. Or if I had any head. ‘Why is reality so good at sniffing me out?’ I want to cry out. I don’t however because it’s important to stay very quiet. It’s important to lay low and not draw any attention to yourself. It’s important to be like a stone, as R.D. Laing said in his book.
‘How low can you lie? How low can you lie?’ I wonder. I can lie very low indeed as it happens – that’s my secret art. I can live very low indeed but it’s never low enough! Never low enough, never low enough. That’s my superpower you see, but reality always finds me out just the same. It almost always finds me, that is, but just before it does so I break cover and flee like the wind. I flee as if Satan and all his devils were on my tail. What a sad spectacle.
‘Why is reality so harsh? Why is reality so harsh?’ I ask myself as I flee. It seems unfair that reality should be as inimical to me as it is. What chance do I have? The odds are stacked up against me and all I can do is run. What I can do is run but even my running is doomed. My endeavours are always doomed. Everything I do is do is doomed.
Everyone else has their comfort zone to hide in. Comfort bubble, should I say. They are the bubble-people – they’re always living within their nice safe bubbles. They are bubble-heads. They are the bubblers… Look at how happy they are; look at how content they are. Reality isn’t persecuting them, clearly. Oh no – reality is leaving them well alone. Wouldn’t that piss you off? It pisses me off!
‘New look, great new taste! New look, great new taste! New look, great new taste!’ The Filth of Satan, that’s what I call it! The Filth of Satan permeates this poor wretched world of ours. It permeates every corner of it, every nook and cranny of it. Now that’s OK in a way. I am prepared to accept that this is OK in one way. What’s really disturbing for me however is the way in which we all pay no heed to it, the way in which we are actually quite fond of it. We’re so habituated to the Filth of Satan that we think it’s perfectly good and wholesome. That is super-disturbing – how can the Filth of Satan be good and wholesome? Answer me that, if you can…
I can get so long out of a hiding place, but it’s not so long really. It’s not long enough to allow me to relax, anyway. Much as I’d like to. I’m always looking out for the signs that reality is on to me, I was gearing myself up for the next mad dash for safety once again – as always. Another mad but ultimately doomed dash to safety. It kind of makes a mockery of the idea of hiding doesn’t it? If every time you hide you have to think about running again then that takes the good out of it. It takes every last bit of good out of it.
The running man, they call me. The man who runs. Or rather – the man who runs and then hides and then breaks cover and has to run again, in an eternal repeat. The light is pain for the shadow dwellers, as we all know. The light is pain and all we can do is flee. As a poet said, ‘flee the light, for the light is pain.’ ‘What poet was that?’ you ask suspiciously. I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore, wretched shadow-dweller that I am. I can’t stand by anything I say and neither should you…
It’s a very hard life when reality itself rises up against you as an enemy, as I’m sure you can imagine. Where does one turn then? What hope can we cling to? What allies can we rely on in our struggle? But you know the answer to these questions as well as I do, I expect…