16: No Signal

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“The best way to kill a snake is to set a lethal trap.” — Barber Coleman, Into the Outback, a Survival Guide for the Adventurous

The tyranny of chattering characters and tattletales had to be overthrown. But even anti-narrative had to have a narrator. The language of transaction was disingenuous, so the problem’s solution would have to be the same as that of the non-self.

In this episode, after a meeting with unity, misrule, phantasmagoria, and various anomalous artefacts, we would be met with a seer whose un-knowledge would finally unravel the confusion engendered by the sign of “no signal”.

While the Social Bureaucrat Party distributed indicators of generally accepted behaviour, the Identity Study confirmed terra firma as the prime location—not ideology, and far less consciousness. Those who claimed they were changing the paradigm and disrupting the status quo were the Party apparatchiks and FreeDomination’s corporate flunkies. So, Nas knew his escape from the factory-prison was bound to be imminent.

A study of the schizophrenic transcripts showed that the hallucinations were not hallucinations. A paranoid analysis was more accurate than the facts, which were not incontrovertible. This was fiction after all. No fact was incontrovertible!

Dr Veal asked a curious question: had N at one time been a member of Gambit? The psychiatrist’s transcripts were the result of daytime soap opera fantasies. Perhaps she was on the side of his persecutors? After admitting that one or two of his acquaintances had been lurking on the fringes a decade ago, he deduced it was rather Veal who had been involved not in Gambit but an even more clandestine group known as the People of Faraway which had disbanded in the early 1990s.

N detected in phrases used by Dr Veal the casual, seemingly unconscious use of loaded words and jargon such as “consolidating” (as in, “I take a consolidating approach”). This made the psychiatrist seem less credible in N’s eyes.

If one could help oil the wheels of the machine of the regime then one might consider oneself productive and above all, sane, because everyone could equally be made useful and not being useful was only ever due to disbelief, which equalled sanity.

So, the madness of the true poets was indeed sanity, even as they were driven to suicide and mutilation, even as they threw their bodies upon the wheels of the machine of the regime and were crushed to death.

Perhaps the voices emitting from the walls of the cell were not those of our schizophrenic echo chamber after all? Maybe the regime had blocked them out and maybe what we heard was the voice of N himself? Although he was our target of novel research in suspended disbelief, he had not evolved beyond homo economicus. But he did welcome Grace which he wore like a halo or rabbit’s paw. A sonata of mountaineering was syringed into his heart by a gramophone needle with certainty, with courtesy, and inspired a lament for the lunar abyss where the sweat of Grace was holy water.

Emerging from an alarming spike in Artaudian virtual reality, Belladonna revolved, eclipsing herself, mask upon mask. From inside the nerve centre of the novel’s strategy, her precious and blessed body was attached with sensors, GPS and cameras, and radiated a cryptic wisdom.

Every single little thing B encountered in her immediate environment appeared as a distinct, granular object. Squirrels, birds or humans and non-beings such as carpets, gates or grass—each thing, animate or inanimate, was specific, definite and separate, and for B none had any sensual, emotional or intellectual connotation. They were self-integrated, whole and distinct forms, yet B could not understand or interpret their purpose or meaning. The usual reasons were arbitrary. Any fact or practical truth conveyed by their form or content was impossible to comprehend. It was as if any given object was unknown and unfathomable to all except the vast, incommunicable intelligence of nature far beyond the grasp of any individual.

All this happened in the past tense, probably due to the peculiar social atmosphere engendered by the interminable recording by everyone of everything that ever happened every hour of the day or night, which made it seem as if whatever occurred had either been predicted already or was a repetition of previous events.

Documentation as a way of life, but what for?

N rolled off the laminated surface of the hooligan pitch, a chessboard strapped to his back. In a ripple of justice, he embodied the anti-narrative as if it were a rare and elusive postage stamp or a melting cube of confection.

However, both B and N’s surrender to their characterisation did not produce the expected result and triggered a breakdown of the capacity of the reader to distinguish fact from fiction and vice versa.

The world ended. Vain attempts were made to relocate it in cyberspace, a military outpost where communication was accelerated to increase the buying and selling of the properties of leisure and labour. Efforts were towards constructing parallel universes out of the recycling of mathematical codes endlessly trafficked on the information superhighway.

Yes, the regime attempted to subject me to sexual and physical torture, to have me falsely incriminated and imprisoned, to render me poverty-stricken, crippled and paralysed. They used the oldest trick in the book and tried to have me admitted to a mental hospital, marked down forever as a mad man.

Art was attempting to critique culture but floundered on two accounts: a) one that made sentimental stabs at eliciting pathos and empathy for oppressed citizens and b) another that conveyed cold depictions of the problematic policies of the regime which were wryly observed or laughed off with an air of intellectual recklessness.

Since when was critique the province of fault finders and scandal mongers?

When N heard the apparatchiks of the Social Bureaucrat Party say they would change the paradigm and disrupt the status quo, he knew he was on to a winner. Who were they kidding? Such fools!

Art was indulging in aesthetisisation of educational, psychoanalytical and journalistic matters. It tended towards an unusual decorative effect pointing to the default narrativising subject standing stock still in a room illuminated only by the light of the moon.

Everywhere the reports were the same. The world had ended, and culture along with it.

“Changing the narrative” would have been futile. It would only further profit with weasel words of public relations and spurious rigour, and whether one permitted oneself to follow or alter the narrative, the regime’s predictions would always come true.

The consensus mechanism gave higher numbers superior status while lower numbers were viewed as inadequate or worthless. The higher the number the greater the status of the enumerator who themselves were another high number.

Narrative was a ritual acted out to uphold the status of the narrator, a jobsworth trading in narrativisation. It was premised on sequences of incidents that would convey the narrator’s self-appointed authority as a prophet of profit. But as if to conjure an unseen future, as if to redeem the representation of a present-day knowledge of facts that “tell it like it is”, we found that the true location of Earth had been in the non-profit sector all along.

Suicide had value in the modern world. Fashion dictated everyone was royally fucked.

You failed to reply to the email. The cognitive error subtracted a subject-appointed heading, a sentimental context trap: mystification of the albatross of scientific materialism. All the consultancy could tell you was that you were correct in so far as you could be hypnotised by quotas.

The overseer could see the complete picture within the interlocking pathways between the players in this game—past, present, and future—and anything symmetrical could easily be made more beautiful in some other fiction.

The schizophrenic transcripts showed that the voices were correct. An analysis of the paranoid tendencies showed that if you were clever and swift enough off the mark, then success would equal failure. Taking up a position meant the failure to synthesise.

Being a children’s cartoon animal meant having one’s senses about one. The hand of the Fox wore a talking glove. The hand wanted to reach out to the glove, but the glove spoke into a void. The Dog, the Cat and the Deer stood behind the Dolphin, pressing forward for the removal of the Fox’s glove. As the snout of the Dolphin began to slyly unpick the glove’s threads and the Dog, Cat and Deer whispered low into the Fox’s heart of darkness, the monitor became opaque.

Villagers found a NASA probe stuck in a pit. They claimed it brought birth defects, poison water, extinction or slow death. The price of money rose higher but reverse engineering the sum you could see that its value had no perimeter. A monetary value could not be placed on love, pain, death or thought, but as the engines of profit moved to synthesise, manufacture and quantify passions, feelings and emotions, the abomination of consciousness—an optical illusion at best—was widely advertised as the ultimate goal.

Desire had become an indifferent and anonymous ghost. A ghost was not a living being but an echo of one. Even ghosts were ghosts. The paranormal may well have gone out of fashion but in a certain quarter of the town ghosts could still be rented out on VHS. They were visions of memories and, like VHS, memories could be fast forwarded into the present. The regime had many uses for nostalgia.

Consciousness was either a mistranslation of the mind or God or a product of the advertising industry. The mind was a figment of the imagination and God its ruler and compass.

Transmitted via paranormal escape units housed in the subtle anchor, interfacing with libidinal-imaginal forces, the supernatural conduction of pressure caused by data mismanagement made for the subject’s identity to be obviated and re-made in the far-flung future in an outward form of objective alterity.

Once all eyes were off the skyscrapers, the dim, dank and scornful shone brightly with an infra-cosmic opulence with no shadow and no graven image.

Smooth as polished Plexiglas, the Dolphin lit upon the gloved hand of the Fox.

Media flunkies pumped out more panic shots and maudlin afternoons. News anchors had their gloss tarnished by bad boy proletarians. The universal panacea stood in the hallway like an insomniac child as cop helicopters vanished into the Bermuda triangle.

To the sound of loud explosions, N was reminded of a dream he’d had many years ago which until that moment he had forgotten. Was he that same intruder perhaps, gasping, panting, retching?

Local bureaucrats tried to make sure that everybody in the vicinity upheld the codes and customs of the logoic entities. If you were not doing their bidding by making sacrifices and offerings at the appointed hours, then you were probably a criminal.

It was during time N became subject to or aware of it. Duration demanded sequence when all was said and done. The durational aspect of time was less a rule than a formality and less an idea than faith, but it could be taken for granted that true believers would be played by such arbitrary rules.

Giving data value blocked it, which was its curse and saving Grace. No commentary necessary. No-one was subject to diagrams.

The feeds terminated at the office blocks then encircled them. The digital cameras moved quickly but the feeds mistook the betting shop for a diary or noticeboard. Entering deregulated space and running a skin trade the aestheticised numbers regurgitated sameness. The human mind was re-housed inside an enormous virtual brain which oozed morbid pictures of the world as it once was. Memories were replicated, dead images of pancaked faces and ghostly aircraft.

Consciousness was said to be a vapour that rose from a murky stew cooked up in the lab rat brain, a metaphorical computer workstation running exotic software. Consciousness was said to be a natural symptom of a condition caused by the lab rat brain which emanated a job for its self in the manufacturing industries.

“Remove the glove.”

The Owl transmitted joy, daring, wit and patience, yet naively mistook evil for good. All good came from evil but in the Owl’s eyes sight of evil indicated a threat. The Owl was a creature of night whose ideal was day.

Eye-bodies and boot-faces felled all the vain hope and spittle. A seance replayed on Necropolis on a loop. The chroniclers were on the spectre phone flaunting the rules. Perfect for late-night viewing on repeat.

“I expect you’re wondering what happened after what you read about me in the newspaper?”

Flora and fauna adopted the enunciative position. Mythical creatures were fanciful apparatus employed as crude illustrations, but they proved their efficacy and we would all benefit. It grated mildly with sectarians but the plants, birds and other wildlife, as much as we would allow it, were waiting to pounce and overturn the regime and would become our successors.

Found in the savage part of town where the filth went undercover, like a hoard of coins found in the cellar, it was plain and simple.

Why say more?


The Conversations 16 | No Signal | text & image © A. A. Walker

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