I’m just an ordinary everyday sociopath so if you would kindly refrain from giving me such a hard time about it. I don’t what you expect from me, I really don’t. Muttering to myself, grumbling away to myself. Blowing sticky saliva bubbles without meaning to. I’m panicking and there’s this voice in my head telling me not to panic. It’s the voice of the panic speaking to me – it’s the panicky voice, the panicky old voice of that old, old panic. ‘Stay calm now’, the voice tells me, ‘stay calm now.’ It’s not a very calm voice, I can tell you that for nothing. It’s loaded with stress. Muttering and rumbling, muttering and grumbling. ‘What’s the mutter with you, for God’s sake?’ you ask me, pissing yourself laughing at your own cleverness. I am full of anger. What you expect from me? What you want from me? Why are you hounding me like this? Free from rust and decay, free from the unsightly blemishes that disfigure us in the eyes of our peers. Free from rust and decay – I’m shining and clean. My face is made of steel and I polish it every day. My elbows are made of vanadium – light but durable. My nostril hairs are made of filaments of the purest most exquisite magnesium. In my own mind I’m a hero of course; my actions are legendary. My eyebrows are legendary. My eyebrows made out of tungsten filament – they can cut through anything. My voice is resonant, melodic, and startlingly pleasant to listen to. I could charm the apples straight down from the tree if I wanted to. I wouldn’t need to shake the tree at all. I could charm the wool off a sheep. My eyebrows are made of frozen light – one of the rarest substances in the entire universe. ‘Stop looking at me like that,’ I whine, ‘can’t you see I’ve got stuff on my mind?’ I’m being eaten alive by guilt of course – guilt about all the things that I didn’t do. I never did anything, you see. Free from rust and decay, free from rust and decay. We all need to learn to mask the evil that is within us do we not, my pretties? Mask it and hide it, mask it and hide it. Mask the evil – until the day comes when we can no longer mask it. And that day always comes does it not, my pretty ones? Of course it does, of course it does. That day comes around before you know it. ‘Mask the evil, mask the evil, mask the evil’. Mask the terrible evil. This is refrain I know so well. A mantra that is always on our lips. And then eventually, through sheer perseverance, we forget about the evil. We clean forget that it’s there and we will swear blind to whoever will listen to us that we are as pure as the driven snow. We will believe it completely, unshakeably, until the day of the revealing draws nigh.
Transform your world with new World Transformer™. Upgrade your lifestyle with new Lifestyle Upgrader™. Turbocharge your career with new Career Turbocharger™. These are the supreme words by which I live my life. Was there any doubt of this, this which I hold to be most self-evidently true? My eyes behold wonders – I look through the electronic portal onto a world that beckons me onwards. It’s a world that beckons us all onwards. ‘Come, venture forth,’ a silvery voice tells us, ‘seek you the treasures that lie within my domain’. My eyes are tired from looking through the portal. My sight has grown dim and weariness writes deep furrows upon my brow. All around the Treasurescape lie the glittering skulls of those who had been tempted and had failed. All who are tempted fail – they can’t help from failing. They always fail. The skulls are gaudy and inconsequential and I walk by them without a second glance. They are cheap and tawdry trinkets, they vanish as I passed by. My eyes behold wonders but these are not them. These are the glitzy, gaudy skulls of the terminally unwary. Children understand but we adults rave and froth at the mouth. We are sad useless creatures. We seek fulfilment in fantasies and delusions; we seek fulfilment in the unspeakable drivel of the master mind-manipulators. We vomit out our loneliness and despair into the darkness. There never was any hope for us and I think we all know that. That knowledge adds to our delirium. We cough dryly and make ironic sophisticated comments. We buy the latest kitchen appliances. Our souls are black; our souls are always black. Our foolishness defies description. Our foolishness defies the limits of the physical universe; molecules creak and groan under the strain. ‘The experiment has failed,’ the voice in my ear tells me, ‘the experiment always fails. It was in bad taste anyway…’ The voice belongs to a robot fly. It’s a drone operated by the Faceless Ones, an ancient order of mutant mantids. There are predators but very ineffective ones; they are cruel but also incompetent. All they can do is eat away very slowly at the periphery of our attention, fraying the edges, unpicking the threads one by one, turning everything into a bleary, inconsequential mess. My life is a bleary, inconsequential mess. I shout angrily at the skulls of my enemies. I speak the forbidden words. Shadows dance frivolously on the very periphery of my vision. I have to do the thing and yet I don’t know what the thing is. I don’t want to know. I am afraid to know…
Enlightenment’s a great thing of course. It’s a very great thing indeed. It’s a great thing needless to say and we all know that. No doubt about that, no doubt about that at all. Truly it’s a very great thing – as we all know. Not all of us are destined to be enlightened in this lifetime – needless to say – but that’s just the way it is. That can’t be helped. That’s just the way things go. That doesn’t mean that we can’t give it our best shot though! Keeping up with the jolly old meditation practice, doing a bit of yoga here and there, signing up to a few online spiritual seminars and all that kind of stuff. Doing a bit of the old mindful walking when you can remember. It all helps, you know. Doing a bit here and there. Tipping away at it. Trying not to be discouraged. Keeping your spirits up. Not falling into the old bad ways. Not falling into distraction and all that rubbish. Not being a lazy slob. Enlightenment is not always what you expect it to be either – no sir it isn’t. You think it’s going to be one thing and it turns out to be another. It blindsides you – ‘I didn’t see that coming,’ says you. Boy oh boy oh boy. No sir, you surely didn’t see that coming. Bit of an old curve-ball, you might say. Catching you unawares, kind of. It’s no good planning for it either, so it isn’t. You just can’t do that. Enlightenment is a funny old thing for sure. It’s important not to be distracting yourself with the thinking mind, that’s the thing to remember. We all love talking shyte to ourselves in our own heads of course. There’s no use in denying it! The bloody old thinking process – thinking about this, thinking about that, thinking about the other. Going over and over it in your mind. Getting excited about nonsense. That’s the kind of crappy stuff that makes sure you never get enlightened. Discursive mental activity – that’s the killer! We’re all bastards for that, I’m afraid. We are addicted to it, not to beat about the bush too much. We’re yapping like maniacs in the privacy of our own skulls and that’s not helping our case any. So as you can see there are lots of problems there to be sorted out. That’s the name of the game however – that’s what it’s all about. Getting rid of the distracting thoughts, getting rid of the delusions. Getting rid of all those delusions. They’re everywhere, needless to say. That’s the force of samsara and you’ve got to be on the lookout for it. That’s very important you see. Looking out for the jolly old samsaric delusions. Looking out for the illusory self and all its perennial grasping. The way it keeps trying to grab hold of everything for itself. That’s what it’s all about – not identifying with the illusory self. Not falling into the trap. We all know that of course. That’s the name of the game isn’t it? Not establishing an illusory or samsaric identity. It’s all very tricky stuff and it’s easy to get put off. It’s certainly not easy and that’s for sure. Damn right it isn’t…
I’m having a happy time in my happy place. Having a happy time, having a happy time, in my happy place, my happy place, I tell myself, trying my best to believe it. I’m having a happy time in my happy place only not really. I’m having a happy time only that’s a lie. That’s a big lie. Everything is always a lie with me. That guy is a bit of a liar, people always say of me, a bit of a charlatan, a bit of a phony. A bit of an old fake. I spend a lot of time pretending to be great but everyone knows I’m not. It’s written all over my face. We all like to dream of better things of course; we’re all alike in that respect. We like to dream, we like to dream. Reality can be an awful strange place to hang out in when you’re totally unfamiliar with it – that’s one thing I’ve come to learn. It can freak the shit right out of you. You might think you’ll like it but I’ve a feeling you won’t! We all have these romantic notions about reality, so many romantic notions, but they are all fantasies that we’re running in our heads. Quaint really, isn’t it? It’s so quaint the romantic notions we have about reality – how wide of the mark we are, how very wide. Fantasies about reality, huh? But I thought it was this, I say. But I thought it was that. I thought it was yellow with purple spots, I thought it was pink with wavy green lines all over it! It’s all such shit, isn’t it? In my own mind I’m a really nice guy – you’ll never meet a nicer fella. Charming, urbane, well-informed. I’m well-intentioned too. No bad thoughts. I’ve got it all going for me – in my mind, that is. Such a treacherous beast, the mind. You can’t rely on the bugger. Reality can be a very cruel place when it comes down to it. It can be diabolically cruel. Cruel and strange. Strangely cruel. I’m nice, but I’m also ruthless when it comes to my enemies; when someone crosses me then that’s it – I won’t rest until I’ve evened the score. That doesn’t mean that I’ll say something straightaway though – I’ll wait for years for my chance if necessary, my chance to get even. Don’t get mad get even, that’s my motto. There’s no point in me getting mad because I don’t have the physical strength to back it up. I’m very weak, physically speaking and I’m also something of a coward. I’m afraid of being hit. I’m terrified of being hit. I’m not afraid of everything mind you, only some things. A lot of things it’s true, but not all things. I’m not afraid of the things I make up myself in the safety of my own mind, which I call the ‘safe things’. The safe things are okay. I know that they’re not going to harm me because I created them myself and I didn’t endow them with the property of being harmful. That’s not a capacity they have. I created my very own private universe according to my own highly specific specifications and then I booted it up in ‘safe mode’. That’s a little joke of mine, by the way – I’m not totally without a sense of humour, you see. I do like to have my little joke, from time to time. People don’t think I’m funny but I am. I’m funny when you get to know me. I’m funny, but I’m also totally ruthless when it comes to anyone who might make the mistake of crossing me.
There are two totally different worlds that I live in – I know that much but I know no more. One world is joyous, happy, overflowing with benediction. It smiles at me fondly and that makes me feel happy – all is good with me when I am in this world. There is an all-pervasive feeling of acceptance, belonging – approval even. I know I’m good. Everyone knows my name and everyone likes me. That’s the nice world. The other world is glowering and mean and withholding of any type of approval. It’s a savage and cruel and malignant world – it scowls angrily at me as I shuffle apologetically around the place and I feel unwanted, rejected, demonized, terrorized. I know that I don’t belong, I know I shouldn’t be there. I also know that I am hated and despised by this world. It resents me being there, it finds fault in me no matter what I do. This is the evil world.
It might seem strange to you that there are two worlds (and not just the one world) but I’m only just reporting on the evidence of my senses. I don’t like it any more than you do. When I’m in the good world, the nice world, the benedictory world then I’m happy and when I’m in the rotten world then I’m going through hell, not to put too fine a point on it. Everything about my existence is painful then. There is no joy, no happiness, no subtlety, only endless sullen endurance. Endurance for the sake of endurance.
‘People call me the Demon Lord and they have lots of good things to say about me,’ I blurted out loudly at random, to no one in particular. It doesn’t really matter that I don’t ever speak to anyone in particular because no one can hear me anyway – I exist only in my own mind, as the troubled, incoherent product of my own thoughts. Sometimes I think that I do exist and sometimes I think that I don’t, but it doesn’t actually matter which way round I think it because the truth is that I exist either way. Either way I know damn well that I exist because here I am thinking the thought – if a person didn’t exist then they would hardly be going around telling themselves that they didn’t – they wouldn’t need to bother themselves doing that, obviously enough! It would be unnecessary. So I know very well that I exist, even though it’s only my own thoughts that tell me so.
My thoughts tell me that I exist because otherwise what would I be doing going around the whole time wondering like an idiot whether I exist or not? The logic is indisputable. So my thoughts tell me, anyway. My thoughts tell me everything – they tell me whether I exist or whether I don’t exist. whether I’m good or whether I’m bad, whether I’m great or whether I am a sad freak who doesn’t deserve to exist. My thoughts tell me all these things. It’s some roller coaster, I can tell you! One minute my thoughts are telling me that I am supreme and that all other people are losers and then the next moment they’re telling me that the lowliest worm that ever crawled across a footpath has more dignity and sense of purpose than I ever will. How do you figure that one, huh? One minute I’m a demigod resplendent in all his glory, the next I’m cringing, cowering shell of a creature, afraid of everything that moves, constantly apologising for its own wretched existence….
I don’t really exist though, and thought is a lie. That’s my solace in these sad and troubled times. I still go along with the old rigmarole of what my mind is telling me to do. I couldn’t actually tell you why, though. Is it a sense of duty, or loyalty perhaps? Am I superstitious that bad will happen if I break with tradition? Something awful? I suppose the answer that would be closest to the truth would be to say that I’m going through with the rigmarole of believing what my thoughts tell me because I haven’t got what it takes not to. I don’t actually have a lot of willpower of my own – I’m too used to being told what to do, what to think, what to believe. I’m just wandering around looking for someone to tell me how I should behave and what I should think. ‘Tell me what I should believe,’ I cry out piteously – ‘I don’t care what it is, just tell me…’
I’m making a right ejit out of myself here I know. I’m not really like that, in fact I’m just a regular guy – as regular as you please, as regular a guy as you might ever hope to meet. Not a sad abnormal freak at all. I’m not some spook who exists only in his own crappy little mind. His own crappy little mind that doesn’t even exist anyway. Sure I’m not. I was only spoofing you when I said that. Maybe you fell for it, huh? Maybe you did because I’m pretty good at spoofing. Pretty damn good altogether. I wouldn’t blame you if you did fall for my little trick, my little manoeuvre. I know I can be quite convincing. No sir I’m just a regular guy – I wear trousers and shoes and socks and a shirt and I like to drink lots of beer just like any other guy. I drink it until it comes out of my ears and then I fall over into the ditch and piss myself. Then I wake up the next day and go to work. It’s a mad crazy merry-go-round. They call me ‘the Demon Lord’ and they say lots of good things about me…
How do you operate your body – [I] via an encapsulated ego-mind unit, [II] via randomly distributed muscle memory, [IV] via non-local networks or [IV] via the wind and the clouds and the gravitational pull of the moon? These are just some of the many and varied questions that I like to ask people when I’m doing my research. I’m a very keen researcher you see – I’m collating some very important information. The endeavour that we are engaged in is the endeavour of engaging in the endeavour of engaging for the sake of engaging. Those are some questions from one of the questionnaires I give out in order to obtain the valuable information that I require. It has to do with people’s relationship with their bodies.
I had moved on from considering the first thing that I had been considering and now I was considering the second thing. The first thing had been infinitely tiresome and the second was worse again. Time dragged as I considered the thing that I was considering and I felt half faint with weariness. ‘How slow the weary millennia creep’, I moaned to myself, ‘how very slow’. The first age of man had come and gone, as had the second, the third and the fourth, and things were worse now than they had ever been. I wouldn’t have thought it possible but there you are. Life is full of surprises. How very slow the weary millennia creep by, and how full of rubbish is my head…
This gave me is something new to consider – I could (if I wanted to) consider the rubbish that was filling up my head. Not only could I consider the particular type of rubbish that was passing through my head, I could also consider the fact that there was and is all this rubbish! That constitutes the existential fact of the matter to me. This existential fact is a very interesting thing to consider to be sure, absolutely it is. Why is there so very much rubbish passing through my brain all the time – what’s that all about? What’s the essential significance of that fact? Here is my head, like a pumpkin blown up out of all proportion – and it’s rotten to the core with garbage filthy rotten stinking pestilential garbage. My head is a planetoid, vast and bloated, and it is infested with the vilest garbage known to man. Bad thoughts swarm all around my brain like flies swarm about a pile of gone-off meat and I’m wondering why this always has to be happening to me. Why do these thoughts target me like this? Did I do something wrong?
That’s the old guilt trip coming on, of course. What crime have I committed? Am I being punished? Was it a very bad crime? I arrived on earth on a comet. The comet carried me across the silent cosmic vastnesses and then dumped me unceremoniously here. On the planet Urath. Was that because I was a criminal? For a long time I believe myself to be a hero, sent to protect the human race from all the foes that are ranged against it. The vampires, the undead, the psychic parasites, the bad aliens, and so on. The false gods and the false messiahs. The workers of evil. Although physically weak, I could fool my enemies by pretending to be stupider that I really was, and this almost always worked. No one ever saw through my disguise.
And then the next thing was that I realised to my horror that it wasn’t a disguise after all. I hadn’t been fooling anyone; or rather I had only been fooling myself. I was up for being fooled and so I was the right candidate for the job. My skull was vast, like an ancient dilapidated music hall or amphitheatre, and it was full of ghosts. I had crash-landed from space under unfortunate circumstances, confused as to my real identity. I was a giant planetoid, crumbling slowly but surely into rubble. I came through a dimensional portal and as I tumbled through it I heard a great voice that cried out ‘This is the universe of never-ending decay – what part will you play?’ There was a joke of course, there was never any doubt on that score…
What they do is that they implant impulses in your mind and these impulses go on to be actual people, actual entities that have to be taken seriously and which end up – of course – having the run of the place. They vote and have opinions. They ‘own the world’, not to put too fine a point on it. Not to put too much of a fine point on it. So all the seeds (or should I say spores) are sown in your mind, and in the minds of everybody else, and they grow into people with names and careers and everything like that. Only they’re not real people, you understand. They’re not real people at all and that’s the frightening thing about it. They’re all imposters. They’re the Midwich Cuckoos.
They’re selling the dream and you are buying it. But maybe you’re not buying it; maybe you’ve got pretty fed up with the dream at this stage. They’re beaming messages directly into your mind: ‘This is your brain on LSD’ the messages all say, and then there is the obligatory shot of an egg frying like crazy on a hot iron skillet. That egg is hopping. That egg is jumping up and down in the pan. ‘This is your brain, this is your brain…’ the messages keep saying. Look at your brain hop. It wants to hop right out of that pan but it can’t. Hop brain, hop. Hop for your life. Hop like you mean it. Here is your brain on conventional society – look at it writhe like a maggot – look at it writhe like a goddamn maggot…
This is your brain, this is your brain. It doesn’t have much to say for itself, does it? It’s been turned into soup – a fine consommé, fragrant and yet at the same time as turgid as hell. You could stand a spoon up in it. Do you ever get the feeling that someone, somewhere, is trying to sell you something? It’s not a very comfortable feeling, is it? Not a very comforting feeling. First they plant the goddamn impulses in your brain and then the next thing is that they all start hatching out and before you know you’ve become a fully-fledged piece of meat with a nasty attitude and a Visa card. You’ve got to have a sense of humour about that of course because if you don’t you’re in for a very miserable time. Your days will be weary and devoid of light. You need to cultivate a real dark sense of humour and then you’ll be laughing all the way. You’ll be laughing all the way to the supermarket.
They’re selling and you are buying. You’ve got your Visa card in your hand. ‘Outside in the real world, the dead are stirring.’ Did you ever hear that saying? It’s a well-known saying and it’s true too. Outside in the real world, the dead are stirring. Hear them stir, hear them stir. First they implant the impulses in your mind and then they hatch. They go out into the world to make careers for themselves. They feed like crazy in the ever-living carcass of consumerism. They pursue the right to happiness, as is their right. Their brains are hopping right out of their skulls of course. Their brains are frazzled and when they speak they no longer make any sense. They chitter like insects, their bodies pale and elongated. They drive cars and apply for the appropriate permits. ‘But what about the life that has been suppressed, the life has been denied?’ you want to know. ‘What of that?’ I can only give you the same answer I always give: ‘outside in the real world, the dead are stirring…’
I lambasted him for that. For the thing that he did. I lambasted him thoroughly, as was my right. As indeed was my civic responsibility. I do have a sense of justice and fair play, after all. So I lambasted the hell out of him but it didn’t do any good – he was the same stupid bastard after the lambasting as he was before. Or rather – should I say – I was the same stupid bastard as I was before. The crowd of people that had gathered to watch me had been egging me on the course – they always egg me on – but it wasn’t as if I really needed any encouragement. I gave myself one last vicious punch on the jaw and I gave up, exasperated and exhausted. My arms were so tired I could hardly lift them and I was black and blue all over. Same stupid bastard, though – always the same stupid bastard. I had no compassion for myself at all. The crowd drifted off in search of some other entertainment whilst I dusted myself off and tried to remember what I had been doing before this totally unprovoked attack on myself. It was hard enough though because I had punched myself so many times in the head that I was somewhat punch-drunk. Punch-drunk and slap-happy.
I was determined to punish myself for the bad thing that I had done. That’s it, basically. I was recriminating against myself. Sometimes I try to focus on the positive of course, just like it says to in all the books. I never get very far with that however – I think I’m getting somewhere and then the trail sort of goes cold. The track peters out amongst the briars and nettles, so to speak. I just can’t get any further with it. And I can’t even remember what the bad thing was now. I don’t want to remember, I’m frightened to remember. It’s like a dark room that I don’t want to enter. I can work hard on finding imaginary virtues or imaginary good deeds, but nothing is ever going to change about that dark old room. Imaginary good deeds, huh? I’ll just have to have a think about that. I’ll just try to think of a few examples – I’m sure one will come up sooner or later! Oh yes, there’s one. I created the universe. Now it’s coming back to me. It’s finally coming back. That’s got to count as some kind of good deed, surely?
Or perhaps it doesn’t count as a good deed. There is a school of thought that says that the Creation isn’t a good thing at all, as I’m sure you know. We all know that school of thought. I have of course always tried to encourage the view that it is the ultimate in favours to create the universe in the rather ostentatious way that I did. I have intimated on more than one occasion that I would like a little appreciation for this splendidly altruistic action of mine. In my heart-of-hearts however I must admit that I can’t really buy this story; everything was getting on just fine before I came along did the whole ‘Creation’ thing, after all. It was a pretty cool scene, as I remember. There was certainly no one actually asking me to do it. So whilst on the one hand I do rather like the official story that ‘creating something out of nothing’ is a great and wonderful thing, I’m afraid that I’m also secretly rather aghast about the thought that I might have made a very bad mistake – the ultimate bad mistake, in fact. That’s when I tend to turn on myself and give myself a lambasting. I take it out on myself because there’s no one else to take it out on. Someone has to be blamed for this mess, after all.
Life’s a lot like that, of course. We never get beyond what we started off with. It’s like the story of whatever – you know the one. The story of whatever. It’s just like that story. What good is the thing you started off with anyway? The fantasy which I have of myself is busy having fantasies and these second-order fantasies have taken on more reality for me than anything else in my life ever did. Oddly enough you might say, because there is a degree of peculiarity here that we can’t entirely disregard, no matter how much we may like to. So maybe I’m a fool; maybe that’s what you’re thinking. Maybe I’m just some jackass talking shyte. I’m just like anyone else though, I’m no different from any other gobshyte, I can promise you that. I’ve got a fantasy going on and in that fantasy I’m dreaming, in that fantasy I’m fantasising. The fantasy me is having the hallucination that it’s human and that it’s got a life. That’s one hell of a thing isn’t it? I’ve got problems in my second-order fantasy – problems that are keeping me up at night. Everyone’s always got problems and I’ve got them too – bad ones. That’s what I mean when I say we never get beyond what we started off with. We’d like to, that’s for sure, but we can’t. We spend a lot of time trying but it doesn’t do us any good, not in the long run it doesn’t. Not that we care very much about ‘the long run’ of course – that’s not on anyone’s radar, least of all mine. Except for the fact that I’m just about already there. I put my money on fantasy escaping just the same as everyone did and now the fantasy-escape has gotten worse than what I was escaping from ever was. Play’s got no limits, isn’t that what they say? Pretty exciting stuff, you might surmise. Pretty damn exciting. No limits, isn’t that what we all want to hear? We’ll pay good money to have someone tell us that and they always do. ‘There are no limits here,’ the voice says, ‘you can keep on expanding your bullshit forever. It just keeps getting better…’ I arrived on the scene just the same as anyone else: wearing a suit and tie and shiny black shoes – shoes you could see your face in. I was confident, cocky. Convinced that I knew what life was all about. Cocaine from the Devil’s own personal stash, right? You know there’s no buzz like it. Look at me now though. It’s a bit of a different story now, wouldn’t you say? You can be honest – no need to worry about hurting my feelings. Nose candy from the Devil’s very own stash. Yes sir. You’re feeling pretty fine, pretty fine altogether. It’s fine to be feeling fine – that much I do know. I don’t think anyone’s going to argue with me on that point – it’s fine to be fine, so fine to be fine. I could write a poem about it. I could but it would be a very empty one. Frighteningly empty. So very, very empty. I don’t think you’d like it. Our whole world is like that of course – very fine and very empty, very fine and very empty. I could write a poem about that too but I won’t. You’re in the world with no limits, you see. Shoes so shiny you could see your face in them, if you wanted to,. You wouldn’t want to though – it’s a very frightened face and you would be frightened to see it. It might remind you of something you don’t want to know. It might remind you that you are at the end of the line. It might remind you that the game is over. That the game was over right from the moment it began.