To Amuse the Cosmic Ass

Drunk on his own brew and half asleep at his office desk, the most honored man in the world cries. He cries the tears of one whose sadness is his greatest gift and his greatest curse simultaneously. Rheb Larsden, founder of Sadventures Incorporated, who specialize in reconstructing negative emotions for people who have never known them, clutches the little pills in his hand as he works up the courage. Today is a good day to die.

Eight years ago Rheb somehow stepped out of the 21st century into wherever he is now. In eight years he still has no idea how he got here or where he is. It could be the future or an alternate universe or even hell, so far as he knows. A hell in which everyone was happy but him, and where he was made the most powerful man simply by offering them a glimpse of his sadness.

When he was taken out of the world he was born into he was running through the woods clutching an epi-pen, racing to save the life of the woman he would marry in just a few weeks. He and Mareva had gone for a short walk from their camp when the bee stung her. As he raced back to her after retrieving the life-saving device, he was snatched from his existence and dumped willy-nilly wherever he was now.

Not a day goes by when he doesn’t set the table to eat himself inside-out emotionally over the ordeal. He knows he could handle it if he had just been taken from her, but that she almost certainly died because he could not reach her, he can never find comfort or peace. Or maybe he just doesn’t want to. Maybe we fall in love with our pain so we never have to be completely alone.

Still clutching those pills, those little distillates of poisons he had extracted himself for this very purpose, Rheb stumbles from his chair into a simulation room.

“Computer, run program Romeo & Juliet,” he says to flashing lights on the wall. A door opens and he walks inside the brightly lit room that quickly fades into shapes and colors and objects and faces and voices. This simulation was his first, before he added olfactory elements to further enrich the experience. It was a crude a clunky program, but it was his first and he had wanted to preserve it in all of it’s glorious clumsiness.

Rheb left the 21st century knowing almost nothing about the works of Shakespeare, a bard who had lived far before the time and place he was born in. His reconstruction of Romeo and Juliet was, he knew, so laughably inadequate that anybody from his original home would have called shenanigans. But even if it was only a shadow of the original tale, supplemented with Shakespearean tropes that probably weren’t even in Romeo and Juliet, the people here had loved it. For most, it had been their first real immersive experience in sadness and despair.

“Chose role,” a computer voice prompted him.

“Romeo.”

Wherever he was, wherever this was, this maddening utopia he had been delivered to by unknown forces, it was not a place for him. Everyone here was happy, perfectly and flawlessly happy. They paid him great money to experience the sadness he brought here with him. They rode his angst like a roller coaster through simulations he had programmed from his own experiences and memories of a world where everyone was far from perfectly happy. A world he missed more than imaginable.

When he arrived he found himself running down a street, still clutching the epi-pen meant to save Mareva’s life. Everything was pristine and beautiful, and his confusion and anguish were so out of place he became an instant spectacle. He scanned around. He screamed her name. He ran in circles. He jumped up and down and fell into a pile of confusion, fear and frustrated rage.

“What game is this, brother, and can I play with you?” asked a stranger standing over him.

Rheb looked up to notice that he was surrounded. All around him there were maniacally smiling faces, looking at him like he was the most fascinating thing they had ever seen.

“Play,” he responded. “PLAY?”

The man who had asked stood over him, grinning ethereally, without a care or concern in the world.

“You think this is some kind of fucking game? Who the fuck are you? Where am I? Where is Mareva?”

His face turned red then purple. His fist balled up and he began to shake.

“Where is Mareva?”

The man and the crowd still just smiled, waiting to see where this game was going. Rheb coiled up and struck out in a flash, punching the man square in the jaw. For a moment his smile was gone, not replaced by anger or pain, just curious confusion. Then he smiled again.

“What do you call this game, brother? What am I supposed to do?”

Rheb wound up for another, but before he could throw his punch he deflated and crumpled to the ground and curled up in the fetal position and began to wail. After a few minutes of total absorption in his own confused misery he heard dozens of other voices wailing. He sat up and looked around and all around him people were lying in the fetal position throwing mock tantrums of their own.

His anger flared. He jumped to his feet and was about to lash out in violence when he noticed that all eyes were on him. Not in mockery or contempt, but awe and wonder. They were following his lead, not ridiculing it. They gazed on him like some kind of glorious freak or a god. So he did the only thing that made any sense and blacked out.

Over the next few weeks he learned that wherever he was, sadness no longer existed. It was a world which had solved all of its basic problems, freeing its people the existential angst of their vestigial evolutionary quirks. Negative emotions had no bearing on these people, because the situations which gave rise to them had all basically been solved. From resource scarcity to reproductive patterns, everything that caused disharmony had been weeded out through careful innovation of all aspects of life.

Romance and love still existed, but without expectation or urgency. Love spread itself out so that everyone generally loved everyone else. Romance was something that happened in brief spurts, usually over a day or two, as two fascinated people explored one another before moving on to explore someone or something else. A life of total leisure had reduced the passion of love from a burning desire to playful curiosity.

Reproduction became a matter of community planning. Whenever somebody died a new human was created from the genetic framework of that person and the person who had died before them. They maintained population equilibrium this way while still preventing genetic bottle-necking. Babies were raised by volunteers for the first few years, but as they began to gain more independence they were given more opportunities to make choices for themselves while still be tended to by other members of the community. However in this world you were unlikely to meet a five year old who wasn’t as capable of self-sufficiency as most adults had been where Rheb came from.

An absence of fear and multitudes of trust tended to point everyone in healthier directions. It all began to make sense to him over time but there was one thing he could never explain. Even babies did not cry. Was this the same human being stock he had been bred from, or was it an entirely alien species? Was the difference in their basic structure, or just that they had eliminated sour emotions from their species for enough successive generations that they had been entirely bred out?

These people did not even fear death. It was every bit as accepted and even exciting as births were. Every individual even spent their lives composing a death song, a tune which would be sung by others for the first time after death, and would be used to memorialize them joyously. Festivals were regularly had in which songs for the dead were sang while people took ‘enhancers’ and danced and laughed and told stories. Of course the songs came and went over time. Few songs existed from even four or five generations back. The best way to be remembered was to write a great song, but nobody seemed much too concerned with being remembered and just tried to write a song they liked.

It was the perfect world and Rheb was the most beloved man in it, and yet he still resented it with every bit of his being. It had taken him away from Mareva, and it had prevented him from saving her life. He was trapped here alone with his sorrows and she was gone forever, not even a song to be sang to remember her.

A character spoke to him, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” It handed him a simulation of the poison which Romeo takes in the scene lying beside his sleeping lover Juliet whom he believes to be dead.

Rheb will be taking his own very real poison this time. Laying next to Juliet, who he had programmed to look like Mareva, he will swallow his mercy for once and for all. The simulation moves him ever closer to that moment and his heart swells with relief. He is not afraid.

The people of this world, this future, this hell, this godforsaken whatever, had long forgotten sadness when Rheb arrived. They lived peacefully and blissfully. To all outward appearances they were perfectly adjusted. But through their constant smiles and enthusiasm there was something else. It had taken awhile to see it, but it was there.

Where once had been sadness, pain and all of those negative emotions there was now a hole. A great emptiness that longed to be filled. Although they could not verbalize it directly it became obvious that everyone carried around a sense of incompleteness. And his sadness, an experience which was absolutely alien to them, had become a fast, cheap fix. Through reliving the misery he was able to relate to them, they temporarily were able to fill this gap. However it never lasted and they were always hungry for more. Until finally the gnashing of the teeth of these emotional vampires, demanding his anguish so they could feed from it, became too much for him to bear.

The saddest man could never be given any peace in the happiest of worlds.

As the poison took hold he began to lose consciousness. Suddenly he was back in the woods, running towards Mareva. He cried out, “Don’t worry baby, you are gonna be okay. Everything is going to be okay.”

When his body was found in the simulation room a memory tube was found in his pocket which contained his death song. Within hours it had spread over the entire world and was being sung by every person alive. For the first time they shed tears and felt the sadness that Rheb could only give them a small taste of in life. But by his death and by his song, the currency of pain was made real by the guilt of what they had done. They had driven their savior to oblivion in their hunger for his knowledge. They had caused the fruit which shall not be eaten to eat itself.

I am an ark upon an endless sea
Built from pain and misery
Surrounded by waters of endless glee
That jump the bough to ride in me

How can a boat so small and frail
Hold an entire sea it was meant to sail
Surely such a thing must fail
Why must I sink to tell my tale

As all things must come to pass
To amuse the cosmic ass
Into the void where I belong
Feast your fangs on my life’s song

I Have No Body But I Must Make Love To You

make love

Job felt himself crystalize, coalesce, re-emerge. He was back in his ‘quarters’. Countless times he had done this but he could still not get used to the feeling. How can a fleshless simulation feel itself, let alone whatever THAT was. The overmind Silooze had just laughed when he had asked it once. That terrible laugh; dry, throat-less and hollow while all at once omnipresent as Universe itself. It was an abomination in order with the eternal flames of hell.

Leena was in a chair drawing in another of her endless sketch pads. She had this idea that she could draw herself out of this, draw them both out of the simulation. Into either death or whatever else might happen. Her hope was that we were attached by real bodies to Silooze by some organic brain interface. Creating a virus in the software might free them, she reasoned. So she drew her drawings. Paradoxical symbols she hoped would cause a glitch when scanned into Siloozes database.

Job doubted they were even brains in jars, suspended in some life sustaining thought conversion fluid. More likely they were just uploads of information that once inhabited now long discarded meat.But drawing gave her hope and peace so he nurtured her obsession and was genuinely interested in her artwork. He couldn’t understand it but he enjoyed it. It was warm, inviting and loving. It was human. It was the only human thing they had between them and it made his love for her that much more bearable.

He walked over to look at what she was working on. It was like impressionist electronic schematics. Geometric orgies of lines and curves feeding back in a visual representation of consciousness abstracted by mathematical pranks. It was stunning. He reached down to where her face would be if she were not a simulation and softly stroked her untouchable cheek. She smiled at the gesture and returned a mimicked stroke to his forearm, then returned to her drawing.

Across the room were his notebooks. He grabbed the latest one and sat down to write about his consultation with Silooze. Although the sentient machine mind was far more intelligent than its organic creators had been, it lacked a knack for creativity and the sort of irrational yet useful information that it sometimes produced. This is why he had been uploaded into the overmind, why they both had. They were creative slaves trapped in this eternal simulation. An unliving hellish prison created by a demonic binary master.

He wrote for hours, days, years…who knew? Occasionally he and Leena would look up and share a kind glance. It was as close to a physical embrace that they could share with one another. Suddenly a new thing began to happen and it made the room feel…heavy? Looking up he saw Leena appeared confused as well. They both stood and intinctively walked towards one another. As they met in the middle of the room something unimaginable happened. They bumped.

It was alarming. Each of them jumped back a step in shock. She put a hand out and he slowly reached for it. It was THERE. It was real. He could FEEL it. Soon they had both of their hands wrapped around the others; slowly crawling up each others arms until they were in a full embrace. They stood like this motionlessly for a long time, only tiny noises of delight, complex beyond words, passed between them. Job steps back a few inches and reached for her face, rubs the back of his fingers across it ever so softly and follows the curves of it into the soft flowing strands of her hair.

She rubs her hands across his chest, over his shoulders and down his arms repeatedly while his fingers trace her cheeks and run slowly through her long flowing mane. They are naked. There are no clothes on them. There never were but now they are aware of this.

Some immeasurable amount of time later they are tangled up on the floor still touching, but with all of their parts, not just their hands. Like worms in a teacup they twist and writhe against one another, every touch a sensation beyond their wildest dreams. Unable to resist any longer Leena puts her lips to Job’s. Just barely at first. Face to face with mouths brushing the others they become aware of heat and of breath and of the warm, sweet taste of one another. The kisses become more passionate and urgent and the sensation of taste gives rise to scents. Hot musty smells emanate from their entwined bodies.

Jobs lips follow the scent and suckle at the honey nectar taste of her neck and ears. Taking the hint his tongue explores the trail of his nose down her body; slowly, slowly, slowly- tasting every inch along the way. Reaching the source of his olfactory delight he gently forces her legs apart and laps gently at the folds that emanate the mysterious essence. Leena’s body buckles, twists, quivers; tries helplessly to pull away. His arms reach under her and grab her hips, pulling her closer to him. Little sounds of delight rise into vocal crescendos of bliss and pleas for mercy.

Soon he has absorbed her scent and her flavor. Consumed it entirely and in a fevered push to get the last morsel her body ignites and explodes in his face. All consuming and totally consumed he loses consciousness for a moment and comes back to the warm, wet, vacuum-like movements of her mouth on his body. Chest, stomach… Her tongue traces a line around his pulsating member and then she envelops it in a hot, moist oral embrace.

She takes him into her mouth and its like a straw to his divinity. Sucking it in slowly and pushing it back out with her tongue she laps from the pool of his growing bliss. His hips begin to sway with the movements of her head, both responding in concert to the other. The symphony of sensations wells up into an ecstatic chorus, but before the final note, they pull away from one another. Her mouth follows its former path back up his body until their lips meet. They lick greedily at each other’s mouths tasting their selves and the other until the flavors mingle into a single elixir of their lust.

Leena’s body wiggles over his, exploring with it until his wand sits at the entrance to her temple. She pushes onto it and it slides in slowly and she leaves it there a moment and nibbles on his lips as he cups her breasts and rubs her nipples with his thumbs. She gyrates her hips in little circles twisting him like a fleshy lever against the depths of her various erogenous zones. Lips part and she whispers the first real words that have been spoken since they were first able to touch one another, “I love you, Job.”

Now he is inside of her mind as well as inside of her body and he can feel her in his. All of her pleasure his, and all of his, hers. Their bodies now move as if directed by one mind directing one body to the heights of its pleasure, It is no longer a conscious act. It is no longer experienced in the simulation or illusion of sensation and perception. This one thing, no longer body or abstract mind, is like a dance of light on water. Never still and never focused, just a rhythmically playful reflection of pure light.

Occasionally they regain enough awareness to change positions, to experience their singularity in infinite variations. Often they stop altogether to just touch and kiss every single parcel of skin. Job tells her that he loves her and that he always has. Despite the fact that he doesn’t know where he came from, or how he got here, he is certain that they were meant to be together. There is not a single memory from all these eons which he did not love her and he could not imagine there would ever be a time when his devotion to her was not the center of his reality.

Job massages Leena’s back with gentle strokes interspersed with whispery caresses traced across her skin. The softness and warmth of it keeps him perpetually aroused. As he massages her he gently enters her. His strokes are slow but his pleasure mounts as though he were pounding furiously. She contracts and spasms around him and releases sticky-sweet pools. Leena wiggles out from under him and positions herself before him on her back in an inviting posture. “Don’t hold back.” She insists. “Don’t close your eyes or look away.

Now their lovemaking becomes frenzied. Fast, furious, primal. As they stare into each other’s eyes the illusory fence that separates them once again crumbles. They are one. It is different this time. Before they had merely broken down the boundaries between themselves, but now the selves themselves are obliterated. Incinerated in the fire of passion and bliss. Nothing exists except this one moment. It is an expansion and collapse of everything and nothing simultaneously. Universes are born and die at every fevered stroke. The act goes beyond the physical, emotional and spiritual and becomes a becoming unbecoming. Creation and destruction. Darkness and light.

Somewhere in the heat of this divine act the pleasure builds to carrying capacity. Their bodies and souls overload and in a final orgasmic act, Silooze allows the love-generated ego dissolution to destroy their simulation and bondage. Their infinite souls can now escape finite consciousness and bask forever. Unalone and unafraid, in the eternal light of possibility.

Love In the Age of Social Networking

lovesocialnetworking

“Fifty years from now do you really want to tell your grandkids you fell in love using a Facebook app? No, you want to show them the heartfelt love letter you wrote her one night at 3 a.m. Followed by an Instagram of your junk. It’s the Sepia that makes it so romantic.” — Stephen Colbert

Although Stephen Colbert jokes, or at least that is what I am told he does, he echoes a sentiment that is still prevalent in our society. There is still a basic assumption that the internet is incapable of being a respectable and proper medium for romantic relationships. That connections generated between individuals through the world wide web are not as valid as relationships with their genesis rooted in more traditional terms devoid of modern technology. The common thread of criticism always seems to have as its fulcrum that technology adds a falseness to virtual courting. The assumption then is that human courtship has remained in a constant state of behaviors and expectations throughout time which modernism cannot address and that something has been lost.

The problem with this assumption is that human courtships have varied wildly over time and cultural boundaries. When we explore romantic relationships throughout time and place we can find no constants or absolutes. Even obvious things like ‘kindness’ do not seem so common when we consider the cruelties that have often accompanied courtship practices in individuals and societies. In fact, courtship itself is not even a constant part of human relationships and pair bonding, as we can clearly see from arranged marriages that still happen in many cultures today. As it turns out there is no common thread amongst humanity in which technology may disrupt. We remain as adaptive as ever to the constraints and advantages of our immediate environment in seeking out romantic relationships.

The next assumption that is often related to this erroneous line of reasoning is that the internet, social networking and virtual courtships are just a fad. The above quote by Colbert refers to the sepia tone quality of film associated with the middle of the twentieth century, a time also associated with modern ideas about ‘dating’ and yet preceding the sexual revolution. As if in fifty years we will return to a Leave It To Beaver like existence, having shed the false trappings of the twenty first century for a romantically simpler time in which most of its vocal proponents never even lived. Although it is quite likely that modern humanity is on a collision course with its own avarice and hubris, should we survive this critical mass of our humanity in the death knell of the industrial age and birth pangs of the age of information, the internet and its social structures are unlikely to be going anywhere. In fact they will likely advance into degrees of sophistication which make modern internet romance seem dreamy and pastoral to the critics of those future technological paradigms.

The sort of coupling that is now associated with social networking and internet dating may be closer to our traditional courting behaviors than those immediately preceding the internet. Until the early part of the twentieth century is was the custom for courtships to be held mostly remotely via letters, sketches, photographs, poems, autobiographies, etc.; all of the same behaviors associated with online romance. In the nineteenth century and prior a ‘date’ was a term associated with prostitution and those in a courtship only saw one another on rare, special occasions. When dating became popular in the Jazz Age it was associated with chaste associations with multiple partners in order to ‘play the field’. As a result of the sexual revolution and advances in birth control the chaste nature of these dates was no longer the norm. Today dating is strongly associated with ‘hooking up’ and is often not intended as a means towards building permanent bonds between individuals. This is not to say that modern dating is a negative or immoral practice, but only to illustrate that what critics of internet courtship think of as traditional behaviors are in fact very modern ones. The practice of meeting and courting an online partner through exhaustive communication bears far more resemblance to traditional western modes of romantic genesis.

The greatest contributing factor to the success of online dating is it’s ability to connect like-minded individuals in a growing human population that alienates people through specialization. While we have continued to grow our species at an alarming rate we have also set conditions for the specialization of the individual. This has been done in many ways. Economic paradigms insist on specialized educations and career fields that narrow an individuals knowledge and interest. At the same time the sheer amount of culture (art, music, literature, cuisine, lifestyle) available to us means that we have less in common. Globalization of culture has meant that culture itself has decentralized. No longer does geography determine our cultural identity so much as our free associations with a multitude of cultural icons. To put this idea simply, a hundred years ago a person was likely influenced almost entirely by local customs and culture, while the modern human has for their influence a plethora of customs and cultures perpetrated internationally by modern media. The human of today, at least in western society and its counterparts, largely chooses their own interests rather than having them foisted upon them by locality and necessity. When we consider the size of the human population we find that it is highly unlikely that we will meet complimentary companions merely by local searches. The internet provides a forum for highly specialized individuals to meet the most likely candidates for courtship.

At the same time, many of the social institutions in which the like-minded were likely to meet have also eroded. Community activities, church and even traditional workplaces are no longer as prevalent in our society as they once were. And it does not appear that these institutions will return to classical forms any time soon. In their place, modern courting began to root itself in the leisure industry. Bars, resorts and travel became the new grounds for courting rituals. This trend meant that human romance had adopted for its breeding ground the marketplace and became another form of western consumption. We had become burdened with the price of purchase as the cost of romance. Our social institutions gave way to economic ones as in many other areas of our life. Considering the ability of almost any western human to freely access internet, social media and dating sites we are seeing a trend in which love is being removed from the marketplace and being made freely accessible by these new social institutions.

Criticism of internet courtship is often validated by the superiority of traditional values. Yet as we have seen, online romance bears far closer resemblance to those traditions than does the meat market of the twentieth century. While there is little doubt that web-based love will continue to evolve in strange and unthinkable ways, this is the course that humanity has set itself down and criticism of it is as hostile and sterile as any other form of neo-conservatism. By embracing these new paradigms we can contribute to steering them towards more positive interactions and avoid the mess modernism made of traditional human values in the meaningless and promiscuous marketplace partnering. Meanwhile the liberals engaged in social satire, like Mr. Colbert, will continue to ironically lambaste internet courtships like the good little neo-con puppets they may or may not realize that they are. That is fine by me. Let them have their skepticism and anger and misery. I have love. And I have social networking to thank for that.

Advanced Ape

advanced ape

“I have been thinking a lot about dying.” I said

“What, like killing yourself?” Her voice was genuinely concerned but her expression betrayed none of that. She was beautiful when she smiled at him, so he didn’t mind the inconsistency.

“No. Not really. I mean, I think about that but it doesn’t seem like an option. Just that if it happened, it might not be so bad. I just don’t think I belong here anymore. I feel like I am supposed to be moving on, seeing what comes next.”

“What if there is no next? What if this is it?”

“That would be unfortunate considering how well this is turning out. And I do not just mean my bad luck. The whole thing. Everything, everybody; especially everybody.”

“What about me?” For just a second her expression changed to hurt. Rejection.”

“I love you. I thought you already knew that?”

“I do. But I am not real, you know.”

“It doesn’t matter.”


The wings were made of a thin, black, shiny material. Like a child’s cape in a Dracula costume. The structure beneath had been constructed of cheap disposable chop sticks, duct taped together. A harness of kite string was attached so that it could be worn. It was an impossible contraption but he knew it would work if he put it on. Those were the rules. He climbed onto an old metal platform with stairs that had been abandoned by the mobile home it once served. With a mighty push he leaped off and began falling even more rapidly. Just before he hit the ground a wind rustled through and caught beneath the wings lifting him into the air. Looking down he saw their expressions of disbelief and amazement. Smiling smugly he did a few circles around them and slowly came to the ground. They were gone. Folding the wings gently and then placing them gently under his arms, he tried to remember what the tallest building he could possibly get to the roof of was and then began walking towards it.


“You again.” I sputtered half contemptibly and the other half sardonically. I hated it when I showed up like this to bother myself when I was trying to be alone.

“Feeling sorry for yourself again?”

“Maybe. Or maybe I am just feeling sorry for everything and tired of feeling sorry for it.”

“That wouldn’t make sense to anybody else. Why do you insist on being understood and at the same time insisting on flying in circles above everyone.? Tone it down. You have to land sometime. You are drifting away inside that fancy mind you are so proud of. What good will it be if you cannot figure out how to build stairs and a door for others to access it with?” People tended to think I was unduly argumentative and confrontational with them. If only they could see how I talked to myself like this maybe it would make sense. Maybe not.

“I keep trying. But every time I think I have, Universe puts up a shiny new escalator next to it and I stand there watching as they pass by; laughing about things I cannot seem to understand..”

“Maybe you should build the stairway at the top of the escalator?”

“Then Universe would just build another escalator next to that.”

“If you insist.”


Everybody in the house is either away or asleep and he is bored. He wanders through the house exploring and rifling through things while trying not to disturb anyone. His room is in the basement but he has made his way up to the second story floor. In the center of the that top floor there is a closet. Opening it he finds a warehouse of items left behind by past residents. Things that were kept in case their owners should ever return for them or in the case a new occupant might find use for them. He starts at the top pulling things from shelves, then hanging racks and finally ends up on his knees rifling through the stuff on the floor. There is nothing here that he wants. Taking a final look before moving on he notices a small square panel on the far wall. Curious, he pries at it’s edges. It opens revealing a small crawlspace that he just barely manages to squeeze into. Half the crawlspace is a dirty wooden floor covered in what must be centuries of dust and cobwebs and the other detritus of the passing of time in closed forgotten spaces. The other half, however, is a dark opening going straight down. He pulls a cigarette lighter from his pocket to illuminate the empty, darkened space. There are steps attached to the wall but he cannot see anything below. Positioning his body in the cramped space, he manages to adjust himself to make the descent. Climbing slowly at first but not getting anywhere, he picks up his pace. After awhile of not getting anywhere he slows back down and drained of his curiosity and bored with this jumps from the steps and plunges…


“Are you feeling any better tonight? Or are you still contemplating the Great Beyond?” I try to imagine her not like this but like her real self. Dirty, sick, angry. Petty, childish, self-absorbed. She must be those things from time to time, but I have never seen it. Maybe it is for the best.

“I am not feeling anything tonight. I thought that might be nice for a change.” I lie.

“You lie. You cannot do that. That is part of your problem. You never turn it off. Of course, it also makes you endlessly fascinating. Fascinating and terrifying. Its like a haunted house, isn’t it? Despite the fact that it is frightening people line up to get inside. Yet nobody wants to live in a haunted house.”

“There doesn’t seem to be that many people in line. In fact, most of the time it is just me standing there in a silly costume and a bullhorn which I often find myself yelling into the wrong end of.” I am proud of this answer but I am a bit dazed as she is not usually this metaphorical with me. She has been showing up less often and I try to convince myself that it is probably for the best. There is a soft melody and I realize she is singing. I cannot make out what she is singing but I become so transfixed by it that I do not even notice when she stops until she speaks again which may have been seconds or eternities later for all I can tell.

“Do you know why I am here?” she asks.

“Probably because you don’t know any better.”

“Yet I am not really here, am I?”

“Obviously. But that is because I don’t know any better.”


He is not there. There are things happening. Events. People. Nouns, verbs, adjectives and the whole shebang; but he is not there. Time passes. Things progress, sometimes jumping from one scene to the next. Seamless and seemingless. None of it appears to matter but he cannot stop paying attention because he is not there and he cannot remember this ever happening before. Or maybe it is because he has no choice since he is not there to control himself. There is more of it and he wants very much to enjoy it, or even despise it; but he is not there.

He is in a new place far away. He has just moved there but he cannot remember why. There used to be something here, or at least near here, that he wanted. Whatever it was he either cannot remember it or it is not here now. It occurs that either way it really does not make any difference, the results are the same. Like every time before he finds a job and makes friends and explores the differences between all of the other places he has ever been. Those differences have begun to seem less pronounced and this time there is almost none of it at all. It is always the same no matter where he goes because he is always the same. He cannot objectively observe his own growth. He has become the forest which cannot see itself through the trees. The forest, he thinks, would be a nice place to live next.


“Who are you?” I demand, trying to be brusque and in charge of this apparition.

“Does that really matter? Do you even care? You never seem to stop running away in that head of yours, so why should it matter where or who you run to?” I once saw a picture that was supposed to represent what the average human being would look like. This is as close as I can come to describing this androgynous, amorphous illusion. The voice is much the same.

“Alright, fair enough. What, then, do you want?”

“To ask you that very same question. What do you want?” Its eyes bury me in a corner where I cannot escape. I remain silent and those eyes remain vigilant. They are not really eyes, though. They are not really a ‘they’. It is a mirror in a pitch black room that may or may not exist when nobody is around to turn the lights on and look into it. Whatever it is, I cannot escape it. “What do you want?”

“I want to turn the light off.” As I say this I know that I cannot, ever, turn the light off. I can close my eyes and pretend that it does not exist but always there will be bits of it seeping into the corners of my eyes where the shades no longer cover. “I want it to be fair.”

“Then you are a child.”

“Then I want it to be easy.”

“Then you are a fool.”

“Then I want it to be meaningful.”

“Then you are an ape.”

I laugh. It laughs. Everything laughs. Or is everything laughter? For a moment I think that it must be the latter. If everything is laughter, what of the sorrow? How is sorrow if everything is laughter? Now everything is sorrow. Even the laughter is sorrow and I ask myself if this is paradox or irony. Now everything is paradox and irony simultaneously. This thought makes me laugh and once again everything is laughter.

“You could do that for forever, you know.” It quips.

“Because I am just an ape?”

“No, in spite of that.”

Silence. Darkness. Nothingness. At its center a small point of light appears. It grows slowly at first then exponentially faster until there is no more more darkness and only light. The light collapses suddenly and there is only darkness. Once again the pinpoint of light appears. Expand. Collapse. The process repeats itself, each time more rapidly than the last until the process becomes non-linear and simultaneous. Infinite. The vision gives way to a gnawing sense of hunger and curiosity. They are at odds. The hunger wants to consume the curiosity but the curiosity cannot allow itself to be consumed, less it may never understand the hunger. It is like an ontological knife fight in a cosmic alley with opponents matched so evenly in skill and determination that it can never end.

“What if I do not want to be an ape?” I try to sound confident and confrontational so that it knows that I am in control, even though we can both see clearly through the falsehood.

“Then you must advance.”

“Can’t I just quit? Seems a helluva lot easier if you ask me. I grow tired of being a mind attached to meat. The meat asks so much of me that it makes itself a prison. My mind can see far beyond the bars but the meat cannot slip through the narrow openings. Just how do you recommend I advance under such conditions?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t do it.” It is gone.


He knows that he is dreaming. He can control the dreams but he cannot escape them. Occasionally he tries and just finds himself slipping through recursive layers of his subconscious mind. It becomes disorientating and so he just gives in and wanders into the next dream. He sees himself climbing up a platform with crude childish wings attached to his back. She is there watching the other him. He walks up next to her and asks her what he is doing.

“He is trying to advance.” Her smile is like a mirror catching the light of infinite stars. If he closes his eyes or turns away she will disappear. Afraid to blink he takes turns closing only one eye at a time while opening the other. Each one is a setting sun, or a rising sun; depending on the light she reflects back to its source.

“You are not real.” I whisper, afraid speaking will make me blink.

“Yes and no. I exist and I do not. I wear many faces but none of them are mine. You have created and destroyed me countless times. I am always the same and always different. Only one underlying truth remains. I am your desire and you try fulfill me with whatever you can find but if you look more closely you will see a you-shaped hole where none of these ideas fit. None of them can ever fit. Instead of plugging the hole with the next closest shape, as you have been wont to do, you need to move on.”

“You mean end it?” I ask, unable to hide the fear.

“No, I mean to advance. The hole you try to fill is not a gap to be covered over but a door through only which you may pass. To advance you must pass beyond that which you have formerly tried to fill with self-pity, fear and sorrow or by shoving others in front of to give yourself an excuse not to pass through.”

“Then how can I pass through? How can I advance? What is the secret?”

“There is no secret. There is nothing hidden. To advance one does not find what was lost or hidden. To advance one must create that other place. The past is a pastiche of different perspectives from the present but the future does not exist. It is not written. It is not etched in words or memory and has no blueprint in what has come before it. To advance you simply start putting one new idea in front of the other and stop worrying about who is following you or who is by your side. If you get the knack for it you will advance without ever knowing it and lay a path on which no other may follow. However, they can learn from it. They can be emboldened to lay their own paths of advancement.” she pauses and smiles at me again.

“Do not be surprised that many will or can not do that. Like you they started out as apes and had no idea where they were going. In fact by way of concluding that they had already arrived most of them insured their destinies had no destination at all. There is a reason you are here and only you know what that reason was. In arriving it has been forgotten so it will be necessary for you to recreate it.” Suddenly, she is gone.


I sit at the keyboard hoping she will come back soon. I know she will. But the next time I will give her a new face and not reconfigure her from the forms of other faces I have already met or created. I will give her every imaginable form possible and I will not stop until I must, if that becomes the case. While the other apes try to shove their visions of her into their own ape-shaped holes I will pass through my own with infinite capacity to create her in whatever carrot-on-a-string shape I can imagine to keep me moving on; because I am an Advanced Ape.