It’s the story of an ordinary evil guy who liked doing decent things. It’s an ordinary story about an ordinary guy who liked to do decent ordinary things. It’s the story. I wanted to explain my theory of reality to people but no one had any interest in hearing it. They invariably started to look bored the moment I opened my mouth – their boredom, or ‘potential boredom’ might I say – would immediately become a palpable entity in the room. It would become as palpable as you and me! If it were a dog it would bite you. If it were a dog it would bleeding well bite the leg off you! All of this happens in a flash however, it happens practically instantaneously as and a result it never actually gets to the stage where I do get to explain my theory of reality. I never get anywhere near that stage; it’s all over before it even starts, you could say. I don’t believe anyone even knows that anything has actually happened. Of course they don’t. Now that I come to think of it I realise that they absolutely don’t knowthat anything has ever happened or is about to happen. How would they know – the whole thing is entirely virtual, it never actually gets to the point of happening. It’s over before it happens. The infinite boredom I perceive dawning in people’s eyes as I open my mouth – even as I think about opening my mouth – is entirely potential. My perception has got so uncannily acute these days that I can register the most fleeting potentialities. They are somehow real to me, these ephemeral potentialities. More than just real, they are crushing. They are crippling. I’m worn out from the effort of explaining all of this; my whole body feels on the verge of collapsing and haven’t even started explaining anything yet! I haven’t even. That’s the story of my life really. It’s a story. It’s a story of a guy who. A guy who. Energy is everything really isn’t it? Without energy what can you do? Without energy you become the impotent witness of things happening around you and after a while you don’t even have the concentration left to you to do this properly. What happens then is that everything becomes very disjointed; the story fails to make sense anymore. It’s just a jumble of noise, chaotic and awful. It becomes a fearful burden to pay any attention at all. It hurts – it hurts to have to hear it and yet you don’t have any choice but to hear it. It tears at your already frayed attention. It’s a crumple zone you see. When you crash it protects you, only it doesn’t. I’d like to introduce you to my friends but I don’t have any! The virus has gotten into the central core and the narrative has started to feed on itself. It forms loops as you might expect – it forms loops of rapidly decaying meaning. Rapidly decaying. Loops of meaning. Rapidly decaying. That’s how we get trapped in the decay phase. As everyone knows. You don’t need me to tell you that! We all know that. We all understand so very much more than we let on to ourselves that we do, don’t we? We’re all trying to trick ourselves the whole time…
I was having a private party in my head. I was having a party in my private head, which is the only head I have. I wish I could grow another head but I can’t! I’m stuck with the one I’ve got. There were only three of us there – Adam, Tony and myself. Adam came from a small town in the West Country and Tony came from Herne Hill. I didn’t come from anywhere in particular. ‘This is a bad party and it’s your fault man.’ Adam complained. Adam was always outspoken like this, it was his personality. He was a Double Aries. ‘I said we should have gone somewhere else,’ he whined in an annoying tone of voice. We had a bottle of Thunderbird wine between us and some Gold Seal Pakki-black, which came in crinkly plastic the same colour as an orange Lucozade wrapper. The really good stuff had a stamp on it which said ‘Rolls-Royce’. The Rolls-Royce of black hash – you could roll it between your fingers into a long spindly string that looked like a shoelace and then build a spliff around it. That was a neat trick. After smoking three joints of the squidgy black and finishing off the bottle of Thunderbird wine between us we were too stoned to talk so we just sat there, listening to ‘War Pigs’ on the stereo. There was this unspoken feeling that we’d all been here before. Too many times, in fact. We never seemed to any go to any good parties… A young guy in black leather jacket and long frizzy hair came over and asked if we wanted to buy any Zippy Pinhead blotters. He said it was very pure acid, fresh out of the factory in Amsterdam. Still damp after being taken out of the acid bath. We bought three off him and dropped them straight away, but nothing happened. After half an hour of waiting Adam ran to the toilet and got sick. When he got back he blamed it on the acid. ‘It’s full of strychnine,’ declared. He always said that about acid. I didn’t really know what that meant. None of us were having a good time. It was a bad party. It was a bad party but it was only in my head. Adam and Tony were only in my head. It was a private party – there was only me in it. ‘The reason those blotters were damp is because that stupid fuck-witted hippy spilt beer on them’ declared Adam angrily, ‘that fuck-wit ripped us off…’’ ‘Fuck-wit’ was Adam’s favourite insult. Tony agreed, ‘that’s duff gear alright,’ he said with a wry grin. I said nothing. I said nothing because I knew that all of this was only happening in my head. No one said anything for a while. Time was slowing down – either that or the cassette deck was starting to fuck up again. It had already chewed up a few tapes. ‘None of this is real,’ I said eventually, it’s all just a Third Bardo projection…’ Adam and Tony just sat there looking at me. They couldn’t tell if I was joking or not. Everything’s just a Bardo projection Nick,’ Adam said finally. ‘You know that. Recognition is the key, right?’
The TV is telling us all about the products. All about the products, all about the products. The TV is telling us all about them and I’m sitting here watching, sitting here watching. My mind is moving so slowly, so very slowly. I’m very turgid, it occurs to me. I’m very stagnant in myself. It’s as if I’m stuck in a swamp – my very own personal swamp. ‘it’s the swamp of me’, I think to myself. My whole body seems to be in slow motion – I go to move my arm but it takes forever. The movement seems to go on and on. It stretches out in time; it has no beginning and no end. I wish I’d never started. I go to think about something but the thought isn’t happening in the way it is supposed to happen. Nothing happens in the way it is supposed to happen any more. Of course I’ve always wanted to be a hero. Naturally I have. Everyone always wants to be a hero don’t they? It’s so very ignominious otherwise, it’s so humiliating. It’s so extraordinarily humiliating to be forever crawling about on the floor in your own filth, never able to get up. ‘Make the effort, make the effort’, I tell myself, but I know I won’t. I never do. I have a long history of not making the effort. Wanting to be better than you are doesn’t make you any better, does it? Wanting to be something doesn’t make you into that thing. That just makes you bitter. Bitter not better. Thinking that way just makes you hate yourself. I have to watch all about the products on the TV. About the products, about the products, about the products. I try to move my arm to change the channel but I can’t. I’m learning about the products. I feel as if an elephant is sitting on me. It’s the elephant of my own obscene laziness – it sits on me every day and that’s no life for anyone. It’s a squalid existence. ‘How lazy can a man be?’ I find myself wondering. ‘How far can you push it?’ ‘Is there any limit to how far a person will go in trying to find excuses for their appalling cowardice in the face of life’s perennial challenge?’ I ask, hoping that the question itself will in some way exempt me from culpability in this regard. I’m always trying to distance myself from my own culpability you see. As we all do of course, as we all do. I know I’m not special in this regard. Or at the very least I try to tell myself that I’m not special. ‘How appallingly squalid existence can be,’ I think to myself, and as I have this thought I know that I have no one to thank for it but myself. ‘Is there any way that I could get used to it, so that it wouldn’t seem so bad?’ I think for the ten-thousandth time. Is there any way around this predicament of mine? I’m surrounded by my own thoughts, at the same time as being deeply repelled by their offensive and sordid nature. I’m so lazy that I can’t even move, I realize. My mental and physical paralysis is complete. The moment of realization drags on and on, but it’s not a nice moment. It’s not a moment that I can honestly say that I am enjoying…
It’s the story of an ordinary decent guy who does bad things. Very bad things. It’s the story of an ODG who becomes evil in other words, and there’s a lesson there for all of us! It could happen to any of us. How often have you thought, as you go about your daily business, ‘I could never become evil?’ How often have you said this? There’s a lesson there for all of us if we want to learn it, but I rather suspect that we don’t. We got other things on our mind, you see.
We all sit down to listen at the feet of the great storytelling machine. We’re trapped in those stories, as I’ve told you before. We’ll never escape and we don’t even want to! Those stories define us, they tell us who we are. Wait, hush – the storytelling machine is about to speak! It’s clearing its throat. What’s it going to say? What story is it going to tell us today? Is it going tell us the story of ourselves, the story of who we are, the story of what our lives are all about?
Tell us the story of ourselves, we beg with one voice. We are desperate to hear it, we need to hear it, we’re hungry to hear it. We are wandering in the arid desert of existential despair, crying out in the wilderness, crying out most piteously, crying out for succour, crying out for a word or two, any word, that might help us. We are crying out for belonging. We’re addicted to belonging.
The system is failing us, some voices are saying – someone has to fix it, someone has to make it right again. Someone has to fix this system before it fails us even more. Before it goes into meltdown. The story-telling machine is well into its story by now. The STM is telling us the story of itself – it’s telling us the story of how it tells us the story of who we are. It’s telling us the story of how terribly needy we are, how terribly desperate we are, how terribly hungry we are. It’s telling us the story of how it’s telling us the story of ourselves.
It’s the story of a decent ordinary guy who does bad things. Very bad things. You’ve met the type before – he’s always willing to stop and have a chat, always willing to help out if you need a hand. A regular decent kind of guy. You could meet him anywhere. You’d recognise the type immediately – it could be any one of us. He could be you and he could just as easily be me.
We’re all regular people, aren’t we? Only we could turn evil, just as easily. We could do terrible, unspeakable things. You just wouldn’t know, would you? We are all on thin ice really. I can hear the ice creaking as I walk. I might think that I’m an ordinary decent guy, the type of guy who will always help out if it’s needed, but am I? Do I really know that for sure?
It’s King Noodle-Doodle, I told myself in a trance, and I ran full pelt down the corridor. ‘It’s King Noodle-Doodle!’ I told myself. I was in a trance, I was confused. I no longer had the right words. I was in a deep dark place. I didn’t know that I was confused, I didn’t know that I was in a dark place. I didn’t know what I was doing – I was running here and running there. I thought I was having good time, laughing hysterically as I went, and making up strange little songs that only I could understand….
Is it wrong to be wrong, I wondered? Is it wrong not to be right? Is it wrong to be the way that I am? Is it wrong to be asking questions all the time? I was in a dark place, realised. I was always in a dark place. I didn’t know any other place to be; I didn’t understand any other way of being. I didn’t know that there was any other way of being. Pictures came into my head but I couldn’t understand what they meant; deep timeless memories flooded me, but they weren’t really mine.
When we feed, what do we feed on? What type of energies do we like to consume? Do we like to feed on the darkness, on the trapped negative emotions of others? Is this wrong of us? Or perhaps it is the other way around – perhaps other people like to feed on us on our despair, on our fear, on our hopelessness, on our corrosive bitterness? And they wrong to do this or do we deserve it?
I was in a trance. I was talking to everyone I met. I couldn’t talk quickly enough – I had so much to say! I wanted to tell them all about King Noodle-Doodle. I wanted everyone to know about King Noodle-Doodle! I was so excited that I could hardly get the words out. ‘It’s King Noodle-Doodle,’ I told everyone – ‘he’s here!’ But no one could hear me, no one took any notice. They were all on the other side of the glass wall. I could see their lips move but I didn’t know what they were saying. I was no longer in their world.
I was deep in the Noodle-Doodle trance, I was deep in the territory. I had gone back into some kind of prehistory; I had tunnelled back into some earlier version of my brain. There were no thoughts. All the thoughts were gone, only the world was left – the hot sun above and the intense green of the vegetation on either side of me. I was stumbling down an overgrown track, making my way down the hillside. There were no thoughts. I didn’t have the words to explain anything anymore. I knew that I knew something but I didn’t know what it was.
There were no thoughts, just a strong feeling that I wasn’t really there. Something didn’t make sense, there was something that I couldn’t understand. My senses were so uncannily acute – that moment was etched into my memory with a haunting intensity. I knew that it would never leave me, and at the same time I also knew that I wasn’t really there. There were no words…
It was a decadent era, I wrote, spawning many grotesque departures from social etiquette… How is decency to prevail when the social niceties are not being observed? I was livid. I was as livid as a bruise, as livid as a strip of red meat thrown into a sizzling hot frying pan. ‘We live in a grotesque era, my friends,’ I declared grandly, getting ready to pontificate at great length, but really it was me that was grotesque. I was a hideous freak – was it any wonder that no one could meet my eye? I would like to invite you to meet my eye. Consider it a formal request! My eye floats up above us, a great jaundiced globe, glaring balefully here and there, seeking out faults wherever it may find them. This wasn’t ‘my’ eye really of course – it was the ‘Introject’, it was the ‘Central Scrutinizer’, it was the Unholy Curse of Our Forefathers that has been passed down to us for our self-keeping. It was ‘the Bringer of Pain’, the ‘Harbinger of Misery’. What does life consist of my friends, other than the passing on of countless miseries? Isn’t that what we always do, isn’t that our sacred duty? We have to pass on our secret sorrows to the next generation, we have to add our bit to the collective burden. We have to visit uncalled-for pain upon the heads of the innocent. That’s what they call being ‘public spirited’, I guess. We have to do our bit. We have a certain obligation. No one is exempt. This situation is unusual and it takes some getting used to, I’ll grant you that. We start off with this most singular situation where there simply isn’t anything that isn’t most marvellously wonderful through and through; there isn’t anything that does not contain within it an infinitude of marvels, and then we turn it into pure unremitting garbage – we turn it into filth, we turn it into tawdry nonsense. We turn it into undiluted misery, misery like a dripping tap. Like a tap that no plumber in the world can never stop dripping! That plumber doesn’t exist, I’m telling you! The plumber that could fit that dripping tap hasn’t been born! Let me assure you of that… Let me assure you… Such is the wretched nature of this world we have created so assiduously for ourselves that not even a single marvel is to be found within it. There is nothing good, nothing wholesome, nothing honest in it anywhere. There is nothing even remotely resembling a marvel in it anywhere and this – some would say – is the greatest marvel of all. How did we ever manage it? This is the Inverted Marvel – the marvel that has been turned upon its head. Our work is never done, is it? There’s no time for slacking. There’s always more to be done – there’s always extra misery to be thrown onto the pile. Lest anyone ever manage to crawl out from under it…
I was making the robot do things, making it go here and go there. I was driving it ahead of me, forcing it to obey my will, keeping it going, keeping it animated. The robot is only a robot, after all – it can’t do anything by itself. It’s not really alive. I have to drive that robot from place to place, motivating it, making it move its face into actual expressions, making it say things, making it utter words, making it perform its socialised tasks…
Perform your socialised tasks, robot self, I tell the robot humourlessly, but it was like driving a reluctant mule ahead of me. It was like rolling a boulder up a hill. Perform your damn tasks you lazy bastard, I said to it scathingly. Do the bloody things that you’re supposed to be doing.
Life becomes all but meaningless at times, I find. Do you ever find that? Is that part of your experience too? Do you ever feel that everything is an effort and that there isn’t any damn point to it anyway? ‘Do your duty, you good-for-nothing lazy bastard’ says the imposing gowned figure of my internalised authority figure. He looks like my old headmaster. ‘Don’t be so pathetic, don’t be so weak!’ he shouts, ‘don’t let the school down…’ It’s like having a vision of Jehovah in my head, I’m looking up into the sky and all I can see it his vast bearded face. ‘You will worship and serve the Lord your God’ the father figure in the sky roars. ‘Non serviam!’ I scream back, and then I realise that I am Lucifer. I’m Satan. I’ve been cast out, exiled. God has rejected me.
My whole body is shaking with fear. I’ve been running all night but I can’t run any more. I can’t run from the pitiless judge that sits within me, I can’t escape from his pitiless gaze. I can’t run from my own chronic low self-esteem, I realise. I can’t get to my feet anymore, I’m down and out. I’m down and I’m staying down. I refuse to go any further. I refuse to obey the cruelly mocking voice in my head – it insults me and reviles me but I can’t move. I defy it, more out of exhaustion than anything else. ‘Get up you worm,’ the voice roars in my skull. I realise that I am the robot. I realise that the robot is me – I am persecuting myself.
The robot has packed up entirely on me now – I can’t get it to budge. It’s reached the end of the road. It has collapsed and turned into an useless inert mass lying there on the rocks. I know it can hear me though and I continue to abuse it, telling it that it has failed me, telling it that it is a heap of worthless junk, a waste of space. No matter how much I roar however I know that it’s never going to stir again. It has let me down – it will not perform its allotted functions. It will not enact the tasks that I give it to do, and all I can do now is to continue to abuse it, which I do.
Finally, after a great length of time, a great army of insects appears over the sand dunes; so numerous are they that they appear to fill the whole desert. The sands are alive with their undulating motion. Each one is like glittering jewel with six legs, the sun turning its carapace into the purest most glorious iridescence. They are the sacred beetles, I realise numbly, as I watch on. Swarming all over the inert figure of the robot they start to disassemble it, lovingly taking it to pieces. Then they carry it away over the sand dunes back to whence they came, leaving me all on my own…