“The wireless, the automobile, the airplane, the telephone, all these marvelous inventions are indeed, as you put it, ‘re-inventing the human being’. But I say that if this most fundamental of truths displeases you so, there is no choice: your interpretation of this truth will be rejected. You claim to live without these things but the free society requires the freedom of science to pursue its goals.” — Prescott Conrad (in conversation with Roland Windsor-Young, 1942), The Free Society, Radio Broadcasts, 1940-1963
At 873 Emerald Way, Nasrul was found to be all the stranger for his fiction. After he left the premises and walked into a bar on the corner, amongst some small business owners, landlords, local shop keepers, and some of the office staff from FreeDomination, he drank seven shots of tequila then went back to 873 Emerald Way.
With the help of a convenient dispenser I was compelled to document these events.
Criminal gangs were getting through a loophole, stealing DNA and trading in clones of celebs, politicos and other VIPs. The Entertrainment Consultancy demanded it, although they never would admit to it. The Society of Watchers was placing its faith in the big-time illusions of the big game psy-op and seeking out some new attention seekers. Compulsive viewing had become compulsory.
I joined the Counter-Intuitive Literature Investigation Team (C-ILIT) as a sleeping partner, in the hope of an irrational explanation for the anomalous content of these outpourings. If I could not be described as a function then I was a plain tonal pattern that signified a stereotype. In the context of commerce, I was a set of perceived characteristics to be qualified in accordance with historical tropes. Otherwise, I was a business card for a psychic reader.
Whichever era they lived in, the modern person was always modern.
Nas was given new directives, instructions and methods that would be transposed and re-communicated through both fleshly and mechanical mediums. The motivations for his actions were provided by the entity of language. He had no emotional investment but members of his family still had a few things to say about it many years later.
Satellite dishes collected interstellar data. A twelve inch box set of “Pajamas & Custard” was at 12.99. There was repetition of slogans and people walking in or out of a shop or walking down a street, and instructions on how to obtain money by doing something no-one wanted to do. A kite was released from a prison. There was a moral dilemma with infants involved, liberties taken by journalists, some winners and losers, a big villain, a political monster, a long event-string of more trite bland slogans, and for the satisfaction of the martyr-mirrors, some loud noises.
In a permanent state of noir, melodrama was in concrete and cars. A primate in a dark suit with a deep brow furrowed with Hollywood tungsten clasped the trigger of its weapon, a dialect with mellifluous tones that burst out of the treasure chest as an iteration of the throat, ears and nose at the threshold of a great chasm — right there between transmitter and transmission.
“Your job to catch it is in two, but not quite.”
Art as mind control as propaganda: When the neo-liberal mission was seeded in brains as if words were numbers or scientific facts, then YOU may as well have blown YOUR brains out.
From the POV of N’s mother and father he had discounted any contribution he could make to the family. N’s crime of rebellion, his refusal to comply with the philosophy of education, having deliberately failed his school exams and rejected university, was such that by the time he was twenty-three none of his family would speak to him. In their eyes he had disgraced them because he had failed to adhere to the standards they upheld in public and social life, as reflected in their achievements in the philosophy of education and their commandeering of a large business empire.
It was Summertime and the twelve-bar blues were reclining in a golden aura. A warning chimed in sweetly with a midday argument. The aroma of beeswax caught between the hinges of a memory. Essence was extracted from the fallen angels.
The outside-in was a transfiguration of counter-intuitive motive articles.
Propaganda produced a visceral reaction. The populace were on a knife-edge of permanent panic, hate, terror and horror. But after another bout of electroshock and some sleep deprivation, N was no more bound or liable. He had escaped the programming of the antic Institution and re-configured the planets at will.
Petrified, Phantom #1 stared into darkness. The abattoir smell wafted in. Phantom #2 beckoned, foxy like a sinister pulp romancer in clips and feathers and jewels. Rocking back and forth on the high bed, Phantom #1 reached out to Phantom #2. Parts of the body of Phantom #1 re-positioned themselves in cube-shaped chunks: a shoulder replaced a part of thigh, a piece of head was swapped for a knee, a forearm replaced a buttock, and so on.
“Ladies and gents, as you are undoubtedly aware, murder these days is big business. With the right assassin who can work discreetly, eliminating common targets like your rivals’ essential workers, depriving competition of needed manpower and disabling the smooth operation of their day-to-day affairs, then you can be sure you can always stay one step ahead of the game. It’s common sense… That’s where I come in.”
For N, the loss of guidance afforded him by the worthless crystal object which had attracted his penchant for bygone eras, was not so black and white after all. Closing his eyes on the bench normally reserved for the homeless, he exhausted all possibilities and was shown a dream in which he was taught the difference between fiction and non-fiction. He had nowhere else to go but the next day. When it arrived he was determined to outlast the conflict between truth and lies.
Night got past the guards and purged the psych ward of all austerity, bringing on some furtive, accidental longings that splintered in constellations at the terminals. The fascist creep winced as his leather jacket glistened in its reflection in the window of the fish and chip shop. Like a semiotic criminal, Night was unpacking the libidinous carnival and raking in lots of intellectual capital.
“It is inevitable.”
“I quite fancy Cantonese.”
Through the mildew of lies, Paradise was drawing closer to move with the flow of increased statistics, and the energy spike dataflow brought flair and panache: dataflow, carrier of the surge of currents and units of discharged agents.
[The camera angle had switched transports within the time-expulsion pyramid.]
It was not through rational description that the new landscape would be built. It would not be the result of the gimmick of narrative.
N was no mere symbol of a societal fault. He represented the transhistorical adaptation to coincidences that were unprecedented, neither fictional nor non-fictional.
[Error corrected: Faith remained with the strangeness of fiction.]
Language was surface tension, one of several transmitters of the present state of affairs. Inherent in its wording was dogma and ideological bias, yet simultaneously encoded in the immediacy of the chance word or phrase was the simultaneity of thought and emotion that engendered further imaginary impulses. The mere uttering of a phrase or a word was a celebratory act and celebrations abounded in their every outpouring. The surface assimilated properties of the given environment which enabled it to transform into another environment parallel to or coinciding with the present. Going forward, the elemental strengths and weaknesses upon the surface did not so much reflect as compel.
Two middlemen in suits nodded with blank looks on their faces. After a short silence, the client said, “I don’t get it.” The suits were astonished. For the first time, an emotion seemed to show on their faces. They could not believe the client would be of that view.
The conformist strategy coalesced with the bureaucratic. If it was generally understood that tea was at four then YOU took it. THEY would say straight to your face that although YOU was a customer THEY were not selling YOU a product but at the same time THEY behaved exactly as if YOU and THEY were products for sale. That’s how THEY tricked YOU, to divert attention away from what went on at the Institution behind closed doors.
More instructions, this time in a small booklet. Phone numbers, codes made of numbers, letters and special characters, winners and losers, and caricatures of members of the public projected onto the side of a Social Bureaucrat Party building. An irreverent look at middle class mores and customs, the equality gap, and to wrestle from the heart its will, the branding signals that conveyed the concept that communication was key.
Impaled upon the season’s cruci-fictions and once again defiling the decimated logos, in every second of hearing and speaking N would stake his heart on the origin of beginnings and the value of worth. He was captured on VHS riding dawn’s sleigh through an anonymous aperture as the dust of his voice lay fallow on the reindeer coast, as he was given and forgiven, given and forsaken.
CityZen had a revival within the corporatist enclaves, in use for policing purposes. It came with a warning not to grumble. The temples built to finance did not require worshippers, only their edifices to symbolise their holy war against unbelievers.
In one bleep of his wanton dawn-heart, N saw through the zoom lens his softly skewered tele-corpse riding on a broomstick through the Grey Zone. It was layered, flattened, had been coaxed out of its thrashing, and was about to go deeper.
The ornaments on the shelf said the corporate dream had died. The Aubrey Beardsley collection told a story that was full of holes. If you peeked through the net curtains there appeared swathes of randoms searching for money, like sea-horses on the charm offensive bobbing along a trapeze wire, occupied with photocopies of exoskeletons, some jobsworths gathering at the civic hall in an octagonal formation. The statues that upheld the façade held their arms open to the sordid soul of public relations management.
There was no representation without a medium and no medium without an identity. Identity was always pointing to a place that was written as a shape and a sound, as if to say, There I am, but the abandoned writings did not accept the world as it was. Characters could only be generated from the gender-neutral position. Organs were just organs, not of one or another gender, and imagination always rose up from tabula rasa as bliss, no moral or social position required.
When he was twenty, N had refused to marry a woman one of his aunts had chosen for him as a suitable wife (although she never would admit to it), a woman whose academic achievements were only partially eclipsed by her position as a bureaucratic advisor to the Party on matters of protocol.
The pseudoscientists didn’t like Art unless they could re-formulate, fix and prescribe a moral use value, whether for or against the gospel of arbitrary material values. To the pseudoscientists Art was troubling and frankly, suspect, a problem to be solved by means of a rational philosophy of education — for or against the Society of Watchers. So Art was placed in the hands of the FreeDomination bureaucrats and LogicNoTech entrepreneurs to be massaged like clay or statistics.
It was assumed that information had utility. It was assumed that the future and past were defined by recognisable images of the present. Due to the dominant pseudoscience and its obsession with psycho-social explanations for individual actions, it was assumed that a particular mind with a presumed identity had originated from a set of social circumstances and produced or created the heretical writings of its own volition. This was all very well, but we were without skulduggery, and had emerged from the otherworld, which according to pseudoscience is in the realms of science fiction.
CityZen whipped up some anti-gravity vessels to move the dignity of labour towards a floating and rotating cocktail and sushi bar, towards existential fragmentation, more finite rewards at a more granular level.
The drive to become software had begun.
N surveyed a vast array of rifles, including a Ruger, a Savage Arms and a Smith & Wesson.
Further across the sea of weapons lay the heavenly realms which were said to be inaccessible to mere mortals.
Unfit for average consumers, gem-stoned Ferraris shot across the esplanade above the gardens, cutting into the phosphoric attainments of silvery Botticellis on plasma stilts and resplendent with delonix regia. Interiorisation was built into the slavery bargains, thrown to swine as normal carnage.
To get the liar in the cross-hairs meant to caress and cajole it to furnish it with more lies. There was no gimmick in pure fiction. Scoping out the lie of the language, there was no way of knowing how to implement the communicative strategies. The organisation of human resolve required human sacrifice, metaphorically speaking, but there was a better name for it: murder of the human race at the point of arrival.
The egregore looked on, taunting the enterprise to produce more phenomena: material evidence of uncanny events, anomalous circumstances and objects, some distinct and recognisable as every day things or scenes, some indistinct and less definable — all revealed as the kinds of mortal curiosities that were usually reserved for the most special clients. But on this occasion, opened out to all and sundry for immediate delectation.
The acknowledgment at a given moment of what had been gleaned from that moment onwards was supposed to be a recognition of “the competition”. But the mind was just a rudimentary machine to describe thinking. It was assumed that it provided the means by which language, thought and meaning could be utilised to effect communication, but nothing was further from the truth. The communicative legacy of past centuries, seemingly driven by the forces of thinking, activity and language, were a mutating stream of energy projected through time, warping and folding to manifest and re-manifest changing facts, figures, names and places, but language existed outside the machine of mind, and as an ethereal engine of coherence and chaos it generated phenomenal effects which in turn had inspired that human by-product which was itself the mind.
In the future, there were no deadlines, only electronic countermeasures.
N was hungry and we were quiet. He was full of lies and we were reasonable and responsible and factually correct.
“How do I live with myself?”
Released from anticipation of the great unknown, the cosmic horror of pseudo-consciousness had evaded the diseased puppets, and as they swirled about in an ecstatic overthrow of all dogma and authority, the transmission of their sacred offerings reduced toxicity to nil. The continual celebration of the apocalyptical was automatic unknowing of the here and now. There was satisfaction in unknowing that in doing penance for the corruption of the mental illness of pseudo-consciousness, disappearance of the binary attributes had brought co-existence with their opposite that was no longer opposite but a positive alterity.
Once more under the glare of the interrogation lamps, this time accused of he knew not what, N demanded to know what the charge was, but all THEY wanted was the answer to the question, was he a hired assassin or working on his own?
Retiring to the blazing grass, the mountain air, to the wilderness of love, with companions of peace, truth, beauty, justice, security, belonging and understanding, all thought turned to prayer because all it ever did was hope and wish and know.
The oblique asymmetry of divergent counter-veils returned to its resting place. Captivated by pre-ordinance, it sprawled across the kitchenette, bathing in the luxurious light of lemonade, elevated in a top hat and pushing the envelope. As the presiding acrobat took another bow, photographic evidence produced twenty-four hours of more fun and games.
Angels and demons travelled through a cylinder and came to take up space. As they wondered what to do with him, N was perplexed, immobile, transfixed. He scratched his brain with an old toothbrush and said nothing. Rather than please the bourgeois family, N had placed all his faith in invisible creatures that were apparently now visible.
Changing the code brought the sinner to atonement. Taking spirituality as an anaesthetic, a few bromides and truisms were all it took.
To be able to perceive meant to transform the space-time continuum. Thinking was never thought. From eternity all things emerged and returned. Rooted in eternity, the cultivation of the capacity to receive impulses from outside any concept of the imitation machine was what transformed the language of the space-time continuum. When the key to eternity unlocked, thought arrived from outside the mind where no-one was unknown. Transformation was possible and things happened.
The energy tablets took effect. Beneath their thin outer shell was imperceptibility, quietude and clean air, a calm and deep satisfaction. If there were travails they were mild, short and very light. A Burberry raincoat rustled as a radio crackled in the heat. The violence of action as purpose and reason had indeed been perpetrated upon the Earth, imposed by life-like and believable characters, but the thief of Earth remained cloistered in the university, the servant of its own weird hierarchies. It was no longer academic: the thief of Earth may not have been an animal or an imbecile but they were not immune to self-destruction. The change in the weather that brought natural disaster was due to a moral flaw that was suicidal.
Phantom #1 had no means of justifying existence except in so far as they could try to reach out to Phantom #2 for reassurance, but was Phantom #2 really there or not? At one moment, it appeared to be in a corner of the room, next outside the window, and whenever Phantom #1 tried to plead with it, all it heard in reply was a growl that seemed to be saying, “I will purify you by reconfiguring your body into another shape.” Phantom #1 cried out to be strapped down. The disconnected limbs of Phantom #1 grappled with each other as Phantom #2 tantalisingly flitted about the room, appearing and disappearing at a frantic rate. This was the torturous routine they went through every night. It was unsettling to watch. Phantom #1 and #2 were dead images.
Language was supposed to have been invented to imitate thought but it existed apart from any one person’s thought or speech. The Sephirothal dance ritual had released the dolls. Inanimate objects were living things. Everything that caused language was beyond it.
“What makes you say that?”
It was hard for the control apparatus to decipher. The parasites were gathering around political hooligans, feeding off their chaotic style. The artificial intelligentsia were rewarded for synthetic solutions to imaginary problems. The Institution bureaucrats were filling up the electro-parks with instructions to try to return any hijackers back to source, but the foundation of the Institution had already been penetrated and completely dislodged.
The individual practitioner of Artism was given a pseudoscientific role as an authority figure whose job it was to critique the suffering induced by LogicNoTech and offer a solution with rational proposals suggested by abstract impressions that would indicate the required moral attitude to appear to comply with or resist the suffering induced by LogicNoTech, FreeDomination, the Party, etc.
Instructions for reader: If certain events had not occurred then you would not have read this. This writing emerged from a glitch in the space-time continuum. It was through a deliberate attempt to stimulate such glitches and to hack into the fabric of the time-space continuum that coincident factors contributed to such suchness. We tested the mortal current and found that if a faction problem occurred it could be re-automated, so you were able to relax, everything was under control, it was just that you sensed no sense objects, and please, there was no need to feel compelled to know, you just perceived whatever and noticed anything that stood out to you, you underlined or highlighted it, acknowledged its suchness and saw your capacity to perceive existed apart from what you perceived as it originated from the very library from where you attended to this reading.
The solemn music which accompanied the dark night of the soul was a symphony for a world infected with want and for N a pleasing reminder of the past doctrine of a culture that was inconsequential and throwaway.
Humans were said to have consciousness, but not inanimate objects. Humans, the great imitators of the so-called mind, saw themselves as superior to animals because they thought they had more consciousness than them. Humans were made to think they had descended from apes. Consciousness was invented by the pseudoscientists to satisfy the demands of the Institution.
The Society of Watchers liked to be patronised, talked down to and given orders. They were always preoccupied with something vague and indistinct. It made them feel important while waiting for more instructions. Fans of the smorgasbord, the eat all you like buffet, the Society of Watchers were fans of the latest and best.
As the music changed and a dirge began, the lyrics described the plight of a young man who left behind his sweetheart to join the army and how he promised to return a hero. Due either to the slow burn of vanity or a hegemonic shift he was later found face down in an anti-vehicle ditch clasping a bio-weapon, mutilated beyond recognition. An ascending scale pressed its eyelids up against the tragic incongruity of interpersonal desires as the liquidity of the song penetrated the echo chambers which called on the clouds to transform into a tremendous flood.
The former Chief of Affairs at the antic Institution had made an outward show of rebellion. It was a win-win situation and after the conference great savings were made. No-one who worked for the Institution was not an innovator of the fine art of selling techniques of selling techniques.
“Yes, you failed to assert your place in the hierarchy. Therefore, you have been promoted. The price you have to pay is negligible. Consider yourself lucky you don’t have to work for LogicNoTech.”
N went to the election booth with a plan to exit the spectacle of crises management, as if to protest.
“We are living propaganda.”
At age fourteen, N had told his parents and their siblings he had no interest in education, marriage or children, and openly confessed to them that all his knowledge and experience thus far had told him that he was unable to conform to the conventional social world as they saw it. Except for Uncle R, his parents, aunts, his cousins, his sister scoffed loudly. In the ensuing years they decided that he was a blight upon their reputation and legacy, and should be cast out as an outsider, an alien, a traitor against the cult of the family.
The readers’ superlatives did not suffice. The days of characterisation were over. The arachnoid psycho-sphere had gamified us at the depths of verbal attributes and there would be no turning back: Fiction was indeed stranger than truth. Only the stranger could survive the un-verse and you don’t want to go there.
The miracle was taking place at the site of the resurrection where the big homunculus had made a big comeback, clad in furs of its homeland, blood coursing through its veins.
Remarks in the boardroom later were priceless.
The simulation of business-as-usual was enough to make whole paragraphs an orgasmic bareback horse ride into these canyons.
Someone said that Art should pursue beauty and not glamourise suffering, as if suffering was not beautiful, as if beauty was not terrifying, as if suffering was not bliss, as if beauty was always compliant and tender and never ugly: shopkeeper talk, the opinion of wheelers and dealers in ornaments and home furnishings. But the smiles on the faces of the customer service team were remarkably comforting.
At the seaside, amongst the hot dogs and candy floss, N lacked a coherent vision and struggled while attempting to articulate toffee. Although he was surrounded by history, he didn’t feel part of the historical landscape, just delirious. In that state known as oblivion, he jumped off the ghost train. The delirium of oblivion rid him of all linear thought, placing him more firmly in his role as fictional character. N had at last become at one with the anti-narrative.
In a sublime ironic mood, I made a few more notes on camp. Surface was style, a literary or verbal statement tending towards a smile as N pulled the trigger.
The philosophers were full of shit. They had sold out to economics. The poets had gone AWOL, wasted and wandering about aimlessly at Canary Wharf looking for a microphone stand.
Bringing sparkle to the varnished coins, planetary shapes like luminous pearls bounced off the architexture of the tabernacle. N would travel there in ecstasy, sunken and slack and totally immersed, tracing his way through the forest towards the lake, axe in hand, teary-eyed, as he left behind a withheld remark.
After he became everything, N proceeded from a position of opulence to optimize the pleasure zone.
The Institute escapade had proved that trying to fix the unfixable by creating problems that didn’t exist was surplus to requirements. The Entertrainment Consultancy representative had described events accurately. So, it was a choice between the air-conditioned compartment, the beauty parlour or the country club.
The confessional facets of this article were contained outside the interpretation of its content. No-one could say it was a record of events, but the article did have independent existence apart from whoever wrote or read it.
The Conversations | The Liar’s Kiss | text & image © A. A. Walker