I have of course a certain reputation to uphold, to live up to, even if it is only in my imagination! I don’t actually know anything outside of my own imagination anyway, so I don’t see any problem with that. I don’t see any problem that wasn’t already there and so there is hardly any need for me to go troubling myself any further on that account. Maybe my reputation only does exist in my own imagination but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have to live up to it! I can’t go letting standards slip – if I did that then I wouldn’t know where I’d end up. Sorry, that was stupid of me to say that – I was trying to be funny but in rather a lame way. It was a stupid joke. Even in saying that I was letting standards slip! I was letting standards slip, and when they slip they slip, isn’t that the way? Is it not true that we all don’t know anything outside of our own very limited imaginations? We don’t know and we don’t care either. But does it really matter? Is it a big deal or is it not? Or should we all just forget about it? Forget about it. Should we forget about it? Forget about what, you say. Of course, as soon as we start with this craic then standards start slipping like fuck all over the shop and no one gives a shit because giving a shit isn’t what it’s all about. No it isn’t what it’s all about and it’s a very sad day for you if you think that it is! What is it all about then, we all want to know. Only we don’t, we don’t want to know. What’s it all about? What’s it all about? When standards start slipping like crazy all over the shop then that’s when all the fun starts. That’s when all the fun starts. A type of the fun, anyway. A type of fun at least. A special type of fun. The special type of fun that we all love so much only we don’t really love it. We just think that we do. Isn’t that just as good, you want to know? Only you don’t. You don’t want to know and none of us want to know. It’s a type of fun anyway, a type of fun. It’s fun for some, of course. It’s nice if you like it my friend, it’s nice if you like it. Is it a big deal or is it not a big deal? Is there anyone we could ask? Some kind of world-renowned ‘expert in the field’? Excuse me while I piss myself laughing. It’s time for the Grand Experiment, that’s what I wanted to say. We’re all part of the Grand Experiment. I forgot what I wanted to say but that’s it – now I’ve remembered! It’s the Grand Experiment, which is proceeding very nicely thank you. Only no one knows what the results are. We’ve kind of lost track of that. No one knows and no one cares but that’s kind of the point really isn’t it? It’s fun for some people of course and that’s what happens when you let standards slip. It’s fun if you like it my friends, it’s fun if you like it.
They were farming me for my cool ideas and using them for radio shows, TV programmes, newspaper articles, topics for debates in the House of Lords, innovative technological breakthroughs in business and sensational developments in the world of fashion. People on internet forums were constantly parroting my ideas without ever giving me any credit. They are getting it all off me – they’re practically running industries off me. Meanwhile I was sitting there in my flat completely drained, completely exhausted most of the time, not a new thought in my head, not even a flicker of inspiration or initiative in me. I was dead wood. I was barely able to string two sentences together. Mood-wise I was as flat as a pancake – I had definitely lost my spark, my raison d’être, my joie de vivre. I did pretty much the same thing every day and I never came out of my shell. I was a creature of habit. I definitely wasn’t living my life to the full and yet I knew I had so much potential. They’re using me as a battery I realised, and they’re using all my potential to run their industries off me. They were draining me dry and never giving me any credit. Far from giving me credit, they probably thought I contributed nothing to society. I don’t know that for sure of course but when I go to the post office or to the chipper or to the local shops I get the feeling that I’m being ignored as someone who doesn’t matter very much because they aren’t one of the key important people in society or source of great creative inspiration. I’m given no respect, in other words. Or at least, not very much. I’m treated with indifference. I’m side-lined, marginalised. And yet I am a source of inspiration. Life flows through me – I can feel it! I can feel it but it’s being diverted, it’s being siphoned off. It’s being exploited to the hilt by shadowy mechanisms the nature of which I am as yet unclear about. I am the Source of All, I realise. I am the Light Bringer, I am the Ancient One of legends. I am Adam Kadmon – the Original Man. I am the Macroanthropus. Knowing this – as I now do know it – only frustrates me more however. Why can’t I break free from the invisible shackles that hold me, I wonder? Why am I so bound? Why am I so powerless, so disrespected? Attractive women look at me coldly as they pass by in the street. Small children mock me and are rude. Men of no consequence, wearing smart suits and expensive watches, sneer at me as they go about their business. Perhaps they are insurance underwriters or hedge fund managers. Perhaps they are insurance salesmen or executives in a pharmaceutical company. Perhaps they work in marketing, or perhaps in retail. I don’t know. I only know that I count for nothing in this world. Even the dogs on the street disdain me. Every now and again one of them stops to urinate insolently upon my shoes. How did I fall so low, I wonder? How did I fall so low?
‘Oh come on, you dirty fucker,’ I swore at the car in front of me, ‘come on you dirty fucker, come on you dirty fucker, come on you dirty fucker, come on you dirty fucker, come on you dirty fucker, come on you dirty fucker…’ As usual, I was impatient. I was irritated with life in general, I guess you could say. I came across this great phrase the other day: ‘the malice of inanimate objects’. The malice of inanimate objects. This phrase – I have to say – really resonates with me. My version of that concept is where everything always seems to be getting in your way and you’re always tripping over stuff or banging into stuff or finding stuff where you didn’t expect it to be. Everything is against you, basically. Nothing ever goes your way and you would just like to shout ‘Just fuck off would you!’ to the whole world, to absolutely everything. You really do wish it would all fuck off as well – you’re not just joking or letting off steam you really do want the whole physical universe just to FUCK OFF and leave you alone because everything would be so much easier then – the source of all your pain and frustration would be gone! But you don’t carry on like this too long. You can’t carry on like this for too long because it’s just too damn hard! So you reason with yourself, you try to talk yourself around. You rationalise the situation and tell yourself that things aren’t as bad as all that. Who hasn’t been in this situation, after all? Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t, you tell yourself. Comme ci comme ca. You have to take with the rough with the smooth. These are the sort of things you tell yourself. You’re looking for some kind of sense in the universe, you see. You’re looking for things to make sense. Not even a lot of sense – just a little bit will do. Just a bit of sense is all you want. Just a little bit. But that doesn’t happen, of course. Naturally it doesn’t happen. That’s when you realise that you dealing with the malice of inanimate objects. You’re dealing first-hand with the malice of inanimate objects and inanimate objects are all there is! What else did you expect to find out there, anyway? It’s all just inanimate objects and so are you. You’re one too. Who’s kidding who anyway? What else did you think you were going to find? You were looking for more. Of course you are looking for more. We’re all looking for more! That doesn’t mean that we’re going to find it though, does it? Just because we want it doesn’t mean that we’re going to find it…
I was playing the Spin and Win game. Everyone plays the Spin and Win game – I’m no different to anyone else in this regard. I’m no exception. The Spin and Win game is a bit of a craze these days – everyone is playing it! I just said that, didn’t I? I’m sorry, I’m repeating myself. That’s what happens when you play the game of Spin and Win too much – you become rather forgetful! It takes up too much processing power. Let me start again, let me start again right at the beginning. I was in the world. The world existed – evidently – and I existed in it. I had my place in it, although just what sort of a place that was I wasn’t sure. Some kind of a place, anyway. Consciousness was slowly dawning on me; the warm rays of the sun were thawing my cold, cold brain out. I had just come out of the storage tank. We had all just come out of the storage tank. I was appraising myself of my situation – slowly, not rushing it too much, not wanting to bite off any more than I could chew. I only had small, weak jaws, after all. Consciousness was dawning, consciousness was dawning. I had to be patient. I was trying to appraise what all this meant, but I couldn’t. At this point in time it was proving too much for me. I couldn’t take it all in. I had to thaw my brain out slowly or else I ran the risk of getting the bends, I told myself. This was a bit of a stupid thought, I realised. I had to get back into the decompression chamber in a hurry. As soon as I had this thought I felt myself starting to panic – suppose I had left it too late? That it was only a thought, only a panic thought, only an anxiety thought. It was because I was afraid of being in the world, I knew that much. It was because I didn’t know what it meant to be in the world, as of yet. It had not yet come clear to me. I was in the world, I was in the world and I didn’t want to rush things. All around me people were playing the game. They were playing the Spin and Win game – they were spinning and they were hoping to win. I was taking a break from playing the game. I was all played out. I was all spun out. I had been spinning too much and I couldn’t stop, I realised. I hadn’t been able to stop. But now I had stopped and I was slowly coming back to my senses. I had failed to make it back the decompression in time and now I was in trouble. I had failed to get back to the base in time and now the spaceship had left without me. I had been abandoned and on an alien planet and I had no way of knowing what dangers I might face there. I had no way of knowing if the environment could support me. Someone smiled at me as they walked by and for a moment I didn’t know where I was – I didn’t know if I was on an alien planet or not. They weren’t playing the game either, I realised. They were taking a break, just like me. I wondered if they knew something I didn’t and that was why they were smiling at me. My brain was analysing everything that happened – it hadn’t thawed out yet. Its core was still deadly cold, like a dead planet. It was probably true that they knew something that I didn’t, it occurred to me. It was probably true because I didn’t know anything. Maybe they were smiling because they knew that I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know if this was really the reason, however. I kept getting anxiety thoughts – I kept worrying if I had perhaps been in the decompression chamber too long. There could be errors in the deep structure of reality, I realized. There could be errors concealed where we couldn’t see them in the implicate order of the universe itself. Errors that would one day reveal themselves. The anxiety was now getting a grip on me – perhaps reality was itself an error, it occurred to me. Not for the first time either… Or perhaps it’s me that’s the error and reality is just fine? That thought has occurred to me before as well.
History will remember me as the discoverer of the felicitron, of course – the so-called ‘atom of happiness’. Philosophers have, as we know, conjectured about the nature of happiness from the very earliest of days, but now we know that it comes about as a result of the presence of these strange particles. My own research has of course played no little part in this astonishing paradigm shift. At last the felicitron has been detected, and – at least temporarily – isolated under laboratory conditions. The unfortunate thing is of course that there are so few felicitrons around anymore – the felicitron radiation has died away over the life-span of the universe until now it is little more than a mere background hum. Many theories have been put forward to explain this striking deficiency but my own intuitions tell me that it has something to do with the original break in symmetry which separated all the positrons and their twin electrons, and all the anti-tachyons from their twin tachyons, in those brief few picoseconds of the universe’s first existence. My theory is that the felicitrons were siphoned off into an alternative reality leaving us in a world that is sadly deficient in them. I use the word ‘sadly’ advisedly, needless to say. Humankind has long spoken of the so-called Golden Age and I suspect there is more than just a grain of truth in these legends. It’s hard to put a precise figure on it but if we provisionally estimate that the Golden Age existed between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago then it is a good bet that the background felicitronic radiation was of a significantly higher level then. Why wouldn’t humanity remember this time as a golden age, therefore? Why wouldn’t such a time pass into myth and legend, as it has done? We may think of Hesiod’s famous words in this connection, of course:
Men lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief: miserable age rested not on them; but with legs and arms never failing they made merry with feasting beyond the reach of all devils. When they died, it was as though they were overcome with sleep, and they had all good things; for the fruitful earth unforced bore them fruit abundantly and without stint. They dwelt in ease and peace.
One explanation for the end of the Golden Age has to do with Pandora’s actions in disobeying explicit instructions to the contrary and opening the box with which her name is now always associated, thereby releasing evil and pestilence into the world. I find it more likely to link current conditions with the relative scarcity of felicitronic radiation. The conclusion that we inevitably have to draw here however is that ‘things can only get worse’ and this too has long been mentioned in mythology. We need only think of the Kali Yuga which started – it is said – roughly five thousand years ago. If I may reproduce the line from the Wikipedia entry:
Common attributes and consequences are spiritual bankruptcy, mindless hedonism, breakdown of all social structure, greed and materialism, unrestricted egotism, afflictions and maladies of mind and body.
Anyone reading this would immediately realize that this unhappy situation has now become the norm and – not only this – only the briefest perusal of social media activity demonstrates in a manner that is beyond any doubt that these qualities are now regarded as being highly desirable personal attributes. We are actually proud of our spiritual bankruptcy! We revel in our unrestricted egotism. This is perfectly clear to me, at any rate, and I have long since been moved to delete my Instagram account, precisely on account of this most regrettable inversion of values. The only question I am left with is the question of what life will be like without any appreciable felicitronic radiation at all, and I am very much afraid that we will not have to wait too long to obtain a conclusive answer to this question…
People sometimes ask me what it’s like to be living in the Equilibrium Zone. People sometimes ask me that, only they don’t – they never ask me that and that’s the whole point. The whole point is that when you are in the Equilibrium Zone you don’t know that you are. That’s the nub of the matter – that’s what it means to be in the EZ. It means that you’re not very curious as to what it means to be in the EZ. You’re not very curious at all. You will be interested in various kinds of other stuff to be sure, but not about anything that actually matters. That’s kind of what it’s like, you see. That’s about the size of it. That’s just about the size of it – no bigger and no smaller. So no, people don’t sometimes ask me what’s it like living in Equilibrium Zone. It’s just dawned on me that the EZ is a dream state really – it’s all about dreaming, nothing more. When you’re dreaming the dream is what you are interested in, not the fact that you are dreaming! Whenever would you meet a dreamer who is interested in the fact that they are dreaming? That must count as a rather unusual eventuality, I would say. There’s a question here that has so far eluded me. I now realise that the question – as I understand it – is “What is it like to be in a dream when you don’t know that you are in a dream?” Or as we could also say, “What’s it like to be a dreamer who doesn’t know that they are a dreamer?” This is as fascinating a question as it is elusive of course, and I’m still no closer to answering it. “What’s life like in the Equilibrium zone,” you ask thoughtfully – “what’s the real story here?” Buy the book, watch the documentary, read the article in the weekend colour supplement, why don’t you! Get the real story here – if you’re interested. What I’m trying to say is that the only real way to know what it’s truly like to be living in the EZ is to jump right in – how else are you going to know what a dream is like unless you are lost in that dream, right? Wouldn’t you agree that the only way to know is to get down and dirty? I mean you can’t just read a bloody book about it, can you? So you do that – you do just that because the logic is inescapable. You go for full immersion. You immerse yourself in the dream state and then you become 100% incurious and so you still don’t know what it’s like to be living in the Equilibrium Zone. You don’t fucking care, anyway! You don’t care because you’re far too busy dreaming. So what can I say? What can you do? What you can do? This is rather frustrating, isn’t it? It’s a bit of an awkward conundrum, wouldn’t you say?
This is the true story of a demon who got tired of being a demon and became a human being instead. The demon’s name was, variously, Demonhead, Screwhead, Scabhead, Skudgehead, Demonspore, Crudhead, Scrubhead, Hotmonkey, The Homonculoid, Scrungeface, Fuckface, Bollockbrain, The Scutterer, The Scumsucker, The Puppybubbler, The Skudger, Molluscboy, Slimehead, The Guzzler, Weaselboy, Pusfeatures, Tombworm, Maggotbrain, Pus-head, Munculus and Skunkulus. He had lots of names. Tiring of these names one day he became Steve instead. He became me. Demons have lots of names you see – it’s a kind of a thing with them. They never have just the one. They pick up names as they go along. They pick them up like you or I would pick up bad habits! They pick them up like badges. I was going to say ‘they pick them up like badges of honour’ but that would be wrong – there is no honour involved, needless to say. But I gave all of that up and so now I’m just plain ‘Steve’! Purely and simply ‘Steve’. ‘Steve’ with no frills on. I have turned my back on all that demon stuff. My name is Stephen and that’s nice and simple. No frills, as I have just said. I derive a surprising amount of satisfaction from that fact! If I were to knock on someone’s door and they were to enquire ‘Who’s there?’ then I would then straightaway reply ‘Steve’. Steve’s here. It’s me, Steve. It’s Steve, let me in… Of course that never actually happens. That never actually happens because I never actually visit anyone but you take my point, I’m sure. You get where I’m coming from. You get the drift. I don’t get on very well with people, on the whole, but I still get to socialise though. Every now and again. Some of my old demon acquaintances drop in from time to time and stay for a chat. ‘What’s your favourite negative emotion to feed on?’ They might ask me, conversationally. ‘Envy, self-hatred, despair, anger, greed, frustration, bitterness, lust, vengefulness, arrogance, jealousy, anxiety, or resentment?’ I usually tell them I’m a vegan, just as a way to get them off my back. I don’t want to go down that road. I’m actually not a vegan though really. I eat a lot of fast food and I’m particularly keen on kebabs. I must say I’m very keen on kebabs! I’m never happier than when I’ve got my face stuck in a large lamb doner. Life’s a funny thing old thing really isn’t it?