Hello all you faithful fans of In Between Altered States. This is the final episode of 2012 and it is based around the word/idea “Zetetic”. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it has to do with being inquiring. As usual I have left the interpretation of this idea up to each writer to make sense of in 300 words or less.
Just as a note, 2013 will be a different format. I am going from an episode a month to an episode every 2 months. In order to keep all the great projects I have in forward motion I need to pare back on each of them to leave time for my own creative practices. I do hope that doesn’t keep everyone from enjoying the great stories that fly through here.
I would like to welcome back two usual suspects: Cheryl Ann Gardner, Michael O’Brien, and Shawn Misener. New to the IBAS experience are: Evan Myquest, Amy Knepper, Markk, Alexander Santo, and Bakhulule Maluleka.
Enjoy and have a great holiday season.
I couldn’t see a damn thing and I couldn’t move. Whatever was on top of me had a hard time breathing, too. I worried it might die and I’d be crushed under it. After the panic left me I calmed down. I asked what it wanted.
Its weight shifted. It asked if I was afraid.
It asked why it couldn’t breathe.
I don’t know.
It asked if it was dead.
I don’t know.
It asked if I had killed Charlie.
Who is Charlie?
Its voice changed. It was a woman’s voice and it sounded like I was listening to a bad recording—something from an old home video.
And then (crying) And I put my fingers in his eyes. I pushed down and I—
The voice changed back, the ragged breathing resumed.
It asked where it was.
I couldn’t answer. I couldn’t breathe.
It asked again.
It started crying. The woman’s voice again.
It asked for Charlie.
It asked where Charlie was.
Was he here?
Then it was gone and my chest rose sharply and I could breathe again.
I was very glad it was so dark.
I was very glad it had not seen Charlie, in the corner.
Clear your mind like a carriageway, the voice from the cassette tape says, with faint hissing and cracking. I attempt not to think about the line I’ve drawn in the dark. Clear your mind like a carriageway… That’s what I’ll do alright. My arms throb with the effort of keeping still. My hand is starting to get numb under my ass. Just the effect that I’d wanted. I try not to think of Julia lying there in the dark, her head lolling around. Who knew a head could so easily be coaxed loose?
I’m trying to lose all feeling in my arms, chanting the nonsensical mantra from the tape, breathing deeply. The tape is just about to finish. I’ve been listening to it for the past two hours. Outside I can hear the raindrops falling, like tap-dancing spiders on the glass.
“Mr Davies, we know you’re in there,” says the police inspector, through the loudspeaker outside.
Clear your mind like a carriageway…
I remember once Julia and I went to watch Swan Lake at the community theatre. It was a ham-fisted attempt but she enjoyed it. How the ballerinas floated up and down the stage, like they were suspended there, from sinews up high. I remember she laughed at the way I kept on looking at their necks, not believing that swans could be that way. I guess I should have known then that the distance between two points is always the shortest, and that necks, just like bridges, collapse in the wind
I consider it nothing less than the search for the cosmic sub-principle, those singular trace elements that manufacture a sublime unwinding, one revolution at a time, a sort of mind-body current where the mind investigates body nature and the body investigates mind nature, a strategic inquiry into the causation clause, the mean undercurrent of the infinity offering. This is the consideration I demonstrate to my exception of all rules, sort of like the way a moth flies around a porch light looking for the source of the light ready to die a martyr’s death as the cost of the finding.
Last night I removed myself from the vestibule of my traumatization, and walking down to the corner store I was asked for a match by a Romanian-looking woman wearing a ski hat and a monocle. I told her I did not have a match, and she took back everything she said. She disappeared up the sidewalk at an alarming pace. I decided to search for her, but she had vanished. Those things that I find meaningful, they always vanish, appearing once again fresh and unborn in the equivalent of my dire studies, the color of rainbows that have not yet shed their colors for the coming of the autumn retreat.
You would have been willing to spare the change if the court jester, in his polka dot jumper and pointy red shoes, hadn’t been swinging a stray cat in the air about your head. The jing, jing, jongling of bells in your ear was annoying. You didn’t want a mangy cat. That wasn’t why you’d come here. It was teatime for Pete’s sake, and the bronzeberry was piping hot and sparkling off your glass eye with an infusion of dreams eternal. Cherubim, Harps, The Works. You’d put in for it — keep the pennies and everything — so this time you wouldn’t be tricked, stupid jester. This time, you held the cup in a gloved hand so the periwinkles wouldn’t give you a rash, as you sat, barefoot with Buddha, the air filled with the abundant odor of fetid cheese while aged children sang carols and played hide and seek in the cloud of steam swirling in the ether around you.
He was a smile. The rest of him you could see through, no problem. But that smile shone so intensely that it provided a distraction from everything else that was missing.
My mother used to try and convince him to be a politician. My sister begged on her knees for him to give her head. I just needed somebody to help me find things.
I gave him the list of missing items. He looked it over quickly, then swallowed it whole with that magnificent, glowing mouth. “We’ll look for your sense of humor first,” he said.
It took six days in the jungle until we had any leads. He negotiated with birds so colorful they made crayons run and hide. He threatened enormous snakes, and when they didn’t cooperate he’d clench their jaws between his gleaming teeth and swing them around like weed whackers.
We finally stumbled upon the End of the Earth. A beautiful sight for sure, the red yolk of sun framing his levitating smile, bright upon bright. Hovering closer, he whispered “Look in your pants. The secret to humor is nestled softly down there.”
So we began the frightful journey back home. By law I was required to go without my trousers or underwear. To refuse would invalidate the rediscovery of comedy. He took hold of my shaft and used it to point us toward the highway.
In this way he guided us out of the jungle and home to my wife, where I proceeded to make love to her with all kinds of sarcastic thrusts. Orgasmic laughter all around. “I’m sure glad you followed that smile,” she later sighed, sweat dripping from her chin to her clavicle.
We concluded that, faced without an organic body, the mind can not exist independently. Faced with metallic limbs, or wires, where there once was arteries and veins, the mind will reject existence. The infinite freedom that would arise from a non-organic body would be negated by the finite organic structure of the brain. The thought of infinity is too much for an a priori finite organism. Essentially it is the a priori concept of death and the a posteriori knowledge of what that entails, which gives us a necessity to exist. It is as if without death there is no point of living.
This is why we haven’t had any success in our attempts at combining man and machine. The brains we salvaged from damaged bodies were already aware of existence. At first we thought it was because we were using exclusively the brain’s of criminals. Perhaps the brains were already corrupted by drugs and other negative stimulants. But when we secured donations from other people such as doctors, police officers etc, the results were exactly the same. The first chance they got they destroyed themselves, often in vastly creative ways that gave fantastic insights into the chemical understanding of the brain, which subsequently brought neurosciences into a new age.
This is why we started developing the brain independent of the body. We believed that this was the only way forward. I was the most unhappy of all my fellow researchers at this conclusion. I am now in my late sixties, and I am certain my need for biomechanics is only around the corner. But the necessity to move on replaced my emotive stupidity. Perhaps we could develop something from the brains we were developing that could help better our world.
i walk into a wall looking for a light switch & damn it hurts. another time, i walk into the kitchen & cut myself which hurts even under running water. i trip on a loose carpet & it hurts my wrist the way i fall. i bang a knee on an end table & it hurts like hell.
i hammer a thumb & swear it hurts so much. goddam goddam goddam goddam that hurt. i think you smiled. yes. caught you dammit.
i walk into a glass door i didn’t know was closed. oh you know. you know it had to hurt a lot to hit my forehead like that. those people, they could put some stickers or shit on their back door.
i get up out of a chair the wrong way & my back kills me. that is going to hurt me for days
i light a match to light some patio candles & the match burns down before i get all the candles lit. without thought i drop the ember. shit. that hurts.
so why does it seem i am a ghost around you, waving my arms, making arguments on what you do. what you do to me. you do not see me at all.
so i hurt that much more.
It’s dark in the tunnel, except for my candle. I hold the rope for the door, in case I have to open it. Mostly, I just sit and wait. I want to stand but there’s not enough room, even for me.
Ma says there are ghosts in the mine. They try to choke you, she says, but you can’t see them. You can only feel them. That’s what happened to Pa. He got choked by a ghost. Before I go to work, Ma always tells me, “If you feel a ghost, you let him out, you hear me? You open your door and let him out. That’s all the ghosts want. To get out of the mine.” I’m good at opening the doors. That’s why they made me a trapper.
I hear a putter pulling a truck up the tunnel. It’s one of the girls. I smile at her, but I can’t see if she smiles back. The girls rarely do. Hauling the trucks is hard. I pull my rope and open the door so she can get through.
No one else comes for a long time. It’s quiet. I get a weird feeling, like somebody’s watching me. My heart starts hammering in my chest like a wild bird. I feel something thick in my throat, like drinking cream.
“Hello?” I call out. It sounds like I’m underwater. My voice echoes back, only it sounds like Pa.
“Pa? Is that you?” More echoes.
I remember what Ma said. The ghosts just want to get out. I pull my rope and open the door. I feel the air moving across me and out the door, and my throat doesn’t feel so heavy anymore.
“You’re free now, Pa,” I whisper