“I am not dead because I was never born. I did not live, and I never died. I am the living death that resides at the center of the world.” — Master Qiang Myeong-Suk, The Unvanquished
If the language of the “novel” was to function at optimal level, this alone would be insufficient proof that words are sounds represented by artificial symbols rather than units of communication.
They could be both, Nasrul figured. Words were noises, grunts and tribal signs that masqueraded as communication and this meant that they must be under the control of certain shady operators for the prophet. Naturally, this implied that another form of justice would have to be enacted so that the illusion of power would be removed from the repressive order of the written and spoken.
“What about you, blossom?”
A ritual experiment was called for, to demonstrate that society could be utterly transformed by just a few words which, if necessary, could be read out loud.
N was already aware that the art of the impossible contained within its purest aspect the art of the miraculous. In carrying out his experiment he researched psychotherapy, the law, and the methods of indoctrination by news media conglomerates. He would interrogate which laws could help convey material “facts” as irrefutable, while placing the history of society’s language under psychotherapeutic observation and subjecting it to a news media-driven course of treatment.
History and society could of course be evaluated in the moral and social senses, but their value defined at a cost price in poetry circles was zero. If it could be shown that the inert material of the world could be altered by mere words and without any prior financial acumen or an educational background in, for example, business studies or quantum physics, then the experiment, which was obviously rigged from the start, would be a success.
If it could be shown that rampant exploitation by self-appointed despots could be remedied by words, then it could also be proven that the earth was not doomed, even if its ultimate extinction would be the evolution of prophetic, that is, poetic justice. So, his blood drove him to use words that were contradictory to thought.
As the sayings went, “nothing is impossible”, “miracles happen”.
N’s character began to flow outwards with a primitive will and heretofore unforeseen golden-hued intelligence. His projected desire was no longer defined by his fictional nature. Instead, it became acquainted with the intentions of the mental focus of the other, more factual characters, both major and minor, who happened to inhabit his immediate environment.
N was no mere cipher. He was fully rounded and fleshed out, just like a character in a proper bourgeois “novel” or “work of fiction”. What he did or wrote or said, however, was no longer formulated, acted upon or thought by or for him, but by the environment of the novel place in which he found himself, which is here in The Conversations.
There was no need to interfere with his surroundings as he found that inevitably they pointed in the general and specific directions of the desired outcome of his new experiment. That is, according to future forms of culture.
An uncanny tingling sensation occurred in the reader. In this novel N was a coincidental factor which in poetry circles is nought. At the end of the day, he was captive to that hierarch made to serve all evaluation.
After all, my god was succumbing to the acrid smell of human sacrifice which emitted from somewhere outside the vacuum of nature. In songs of torrential rain, swarms of insects flew in on a mighty wind. The sights, smells and sounds of murder and suicide prevailed as unruly servants and ruling elites chattered in the streets.
“Equipole. Decentralised. Dedicated. More secure than ever. Real-time feedback for ultimate performance.”
N moved into the forecourt shielding the weapon and holding his breath as he passed the guards. The empty-eyed snarls of the gendarmes were enough to make him wince. He had learned from an early age to distrust all such military personnel.
The German cult known affectionately as Lollipop Land was rumoured to have harnessed a new kind of savage lightning and electrical storms, throwing an indispensable light upon human nature, which was instructive and educational.
If you wanted to plagiarise, then you would have had to recognise what a gendered environment is. You would have had to know a classist dialogue when you heard one. Dialectical, primitive or cultured forms of social chaos were symbolised by academic shoals of fishes swimming backwards and waving in a sort of philosophical masquerade. Nevertheless, towards prophetic justice. Such a mode of life may have been correct or utterly incorrect. Nevertheless, it stimulated a bright new evil.
Jane Lismore upon her yacht, the Quinta Essentia, was on course for Abu Dhabi. She had a penchant for fresh young studs with long eyelashes. She had a barcode tattoo, fondness for the fading empire and laundered money. She trafficked in the politics of riches for the pleasure of the secret intelligence services and sending out exotic signals to the news media conglomerates.
“I know what you’re doing. Please don’t mention the war. It’s boring.”
N’s father had been a pen pusher for an organisation known as Equipole. He wanted a tabula rasa for his son. N had tried to begin again from zero, but there was no unfolding of destiny there, and for his father to seek himself out in his own son was a defeated and counter-intuitive ploy that left them both back where they started.
N taught his father to swim. The scene appeared with the caption, “Don’t swallow the water, says the boy.”
N’s father liked to taunt his son about his inability to get his unfunny jokes.
“I was born yesterday.”
Click-clack went the train, like benzodiazepine. The ticket inspector carried an orange squeezer back and forth in the aisle. After closing the door of the water closet, N took his first self-portrait in the mirror. He had no idea his eyebrows were that close together.
Razor-sharp slivers of wind swept over the Atlantic Ocean. At four o’clock in the afternoon all the English people paused to drink Darjeeling tea and eat sponge cakes.
The column inches got filled up, replaced with trillions of bytes of information, scattering and dispersing with clarity or opaqueness all known ways of just making things up.
The post-knowledge Apparatus was a veritable steam shovel. Yes, very segregated, but it was this paradigm that suggested there was a good chance the coming night would be interminable.
As though of hemlock I had drunk, I took my dirty god by the scruff of its neck right on up to the intersecting planes of geometric representation to scatter the clunky machinery.
When the god came out to play there was always an empty, stifling heat that would unfold within the brain like a laptop. When the god upon its plinth announced the dawn or death or night, there was always a schedule at stake within the palpitating human mind at the very centre of it all, squirming under ether like a butterfly on a pin.
All N could do was fast-forward towards ritual at the hands of the blustering wind called thought. With the customary gestures of pushing the backwards or forwards buttons for whatever snake-like, devious rewards could be gained the servants and masters bellowed, “Great savings, oh Lord.”
N dreamed a dream of a future time, but he couldn’t remember what the future was any more. Why not? He put one foot in front of the other and like a red-tape enthusiast simply fantasised “going forwards”. The sensation of rushing towards a destination brought him to a juncture where the sign read, “No future.”
If either of them would fulfil their childhood dreams, his father or N would not let each other know.
If N was just a frivolous invention whose only purpose was to serve as a mode of entertrainment or God forbid, “Art”, then how could he trust himself? The truth was, by his own admission, N’s simulated reason to simply function. Otherwise, he would only be a fiction.
“He just wants to set the table now,” he thought to himself.
His encounter with Z had familiarised N with his own ephemerality. She did, after all, make him a seed carrier in which he could collect some colliding particles that were tantamount to laughter. She showed that his thirst for post-knowledge could quite easily be slaked with a few abstract and baroque iterations at the end of the bar where they’d sometimes chat about the weekend, politics and movies.
19. INT – PORTER’S APARTMENT – DAY
PORTER is getting ready for work, gobbling down a croissant, brushing teeth, slurping hot coffee, putting on shirt and tie, combing hair, etc. He quickly marches out the front door fully dressed and carrying a briefcase and umbrella.
20. EXT – CITY STREETS – DAY
PORTER rushes through the crowds in the rain swept streets. He approaches a skyscraper office block and passes through the main doors.
21. INT – OFFICE BLOCK – DAY
PORTER marches towards the security barriers and attempts to cross but fails. He tries again and keeps trying, getting more frustrated as it becomes clear his ID card is faulty or invalid.
The uniformed security guard, JOCELYN (45, tall, stocky) who has been observing PORTER from the doorway walks over to him.
Can I help you, Sir?
Oh, yes, my card doesn’t seem to work.
Let me see.
PORTER hands over the card, JOCELYN swipes it through a hand-held device and after a short wait reads the screen.
(handing back the ID card)
That’s not one of our cards.
What do you mean? You know me.
That’s not one of ours.
But you know me.
JOCELYN hands back the ID card.
I don’t think so, Sir.
PORTER glares at JOCELYN, almost willing her to recall him.
I’ve been working here for what, eight years.
Sorry, Sir, but your name isn’t registered on the system. There’s no-one by the name of Geoffrey Porter who works in this building.
PORTER tries the card again and it fails, while JOCELYN moves to stop him.
I’ve been working for Equipole for eight years. HR, twenty-third floor.
Sorry, Sir, but I’ve never seen you before. And I’ve been working here for ten years.
Yes, you have! Of course you have. We had a chat the other week. About your dogs…
JOCELYN stares at him with mild disdain.
I don’t think so, Sir.
Truffles and Harry.
(pointing at the counter at reception)
You can check my ID on that computer.
Uh-hu. But I don’t remember seeing you here before.
PORTER glares at her.
Come on, er, Jacqueline, you know me!
(holding out device)
If your name’s not on this it’s not on that computer. Now…
She moves in front of the barrier as PORTER becomes visibly irate. He looks past JOCELYN and attempts to catch the attention of the man sitting at reception by grinning at him, but he just stares back and picks up a phone. More people rush through the barriers, bumping into PORTER. He turns away, gets out his phone and starts dialling.
If you don’t mind, Sir.
She ushers him out of the building.
PORTER moves outside into the rain and makes a call.
Hi, Declan. It’s Geoff. Look, sorry I’m late but for some reason I can’t get past reception.
Do you have an appointment?
What? No. The ID card. It’s faulty.
What did you say your name was?
Geoff! It’s me. Geoff Porter.
And who are you here to see?
Declan. It’s me. Geoff!
Porter. Geoff Porter. I’m outside the office. I work here every bloody day of the week.
Are you sure you have the right department?
Of course, I’m sure. My desk’s right next to yours!
Pause as DECLAN speaks inaudibly to someone else.
Sorry, Sir, you must have the wrong number.
OK. Right. C’mon, Declan. OK. That’s Human Resources, yes?
Ha, ha. Well, yes, of course it is. As you know, I am HR sub-manager.
No, I’m afraid you aren’t. And there is no-one by the name of, uh… Jim Porter who works here.
Geoff Porter. Geoff Porter!
Which organisation are you from?
For God’s sake, Declan. This one! The organisation we work for. Equipole.
Well, I don’t know you. And if you don’t have an appointment, then I’m afraid I can’t help you.
OK. Are you having me on? Right. Is Maurice there? Maurice Rheinhold?
Well, yes. He is. But he’s busy right now.
Let me speak to Maurice.
Mr Reinhold is… Just about to go into a meeting.
What the fuck is going on?
I’m going to put down the phone now. Have a nice day. Goodbye.
DECLAN abruptly ends the call. PORTER stares in disbelief, muttering at his phone. He begins to march up and down the street, frantically looking through the contents of the phone. He finds the number he’s looking for and begins to make another call.