I’m aware that my time is long overdue. How could it not be? Even though I started counting time by a different scale sometime ago, I can still grasp the sense of time as experienced by men. And I can say that I lived enough hours to fit in five or so lives.
I’ve tried to die. Several times. Nothing dramatic – no cliffs or midnight shots. I did it by becoming an accomplice to internal degradation, to the most absolute (and dissolute) negligence. But I’ve never been an unrelenting and persevering type of guy. Inevitably, I would also end up being the accomplice of my defeats. That is: I produce them.
So here I am. Understanding so much for nothing: I’m tired, I have no one to talk to (conversation is a source of frustration: it’s like trying to speak with people that haven’t yet learned the language and the minimal skills to reason).
Now that I think about it, I said five or so lives, but it is probably more than ten. I have vivid memories of being outside the Pennsylvania State House that July 5th, 1776. Yes, it was July the 5th, not the 4th. I don’t know why they dated the Declaration as signed the day before. Maybe because someone didn’t like number five – odd, prime, wounds. I must have been around twelve. So, there you go, some three hundred years, give or take a night or two, as one of the only three friends I’ve had used to say – but talking about more venereal, interesting subjects. That small talk, plagued by pleasant silences, is what I most cherish in my whole life. Not the intellectual knowledge. Not the historical events I witnessed. Not even the time I was given by mistake – as I’m making pretty obvious, that time has actually been a burden for about a hundred and fifty years, more or less. Completely unnecessary duration. And absolutely useless: more than once have I tried to serve my fellow humans, but always with the worst of luck – when they didn’t take me for crazy, they had me for a prophet of doom or for an agent of who knows what powers. People don’t like to learn from past mistakes, they want to fall for time’s deceptions as if they were unpreventable events. Problems are just slight variations or gross adaptations of same old problems.
You can imagine my bewilderment at this persistent existence. What for, I keep asking myself. And if I have learnt something in this futile sojourn of mine, it is that no one will answer that, or any other inquisition thrown or slipped into the air with a believing vocation. I wandered through the possibilities of a theological justification for my peculiar extended existence. But as decades went by the evidence of my loneliness became self-evident, since mine was a double solitude: surrounded by humanity, I wasn’t part of it anymore; and I had no divine or mystical, or whatever you want to call it, company. Besides, even without looking for them, I acquired other knowledge, through which I came to an approximate theory: aberrations, mutations occur in nature, triggered by environmental conditions, factors, elements. I have run some tests in a lab I used to work, at the MIT. My cells are (at least used to be some… forty years ago) mainly embryonic: that is, I’m an embryo. My brain has developed new specializations and build up more connections (crudely put, I use far more brain matter than any other living being). So, as you can see, I’m trying hard to explain my circumstance. More and more I have a hard time with words. They are so elementary. So worthless. This new language has been growing in me. I had the rudiments: I had studied mathematics ages ago, in Helmsted, where I cultivated the friendship of another of my friends. But back then I didn’t have the capacity that I have today, nor the one of my dearest friend Karl. If only I could go back in time and tell him all I came to know, to realize. But time’s a stringent bitch. Oh, it was very long since I last swore. That was… yes, the 1946 World Series. The Red Sox lost in game seven… How I loved baseball. Not anymore. Not this thing they play now. It was a beautiful sport to see, to talk about. You even learned statistics. All that’s gone.
I was tempted many times to go and check my cells. Now they have even better equipment. But I don’t need to. I remember the information I got from my last observation and I’ve run different models of aging in my mind, while I’m in bed (I don’t need to, really, but I keep lying down), my eyes closed but full of numbers and graphics.
I’ve heard that, or something so similar, many times. I’ve flirted with those forms of evasion myself. It’s almost impossible to escape from the strategies of the environment that one’s forced to inhabit every day – even, when it’s just for a determined number of hours each time. We are permeable to moods, to the attempted explanations that constantly cross our paths, to the desperation and wishes. No matter how brief their existence, nor if we consciously acknowledge them, they penetrate us. And in a place such a this, you can imagine that the flux of all of these things, and even more manifestations of the remains of human condition (I’d rather say of human limitations), is utterly overwhelming. One you get used, or, more correctly, when you acquire the, so to say, skills proper of the being here, you get to see that colorful fluidity moving under no known law (nobody has yet considered it an important subject of study).
I know it’s part of the process. I went through some analogous form of that desperation. That’s what it is. Or, better still, a way of avoiding its more dramatic manifestation. If only I had known back then that no one would have cared if I just let myself go into the deep domains of agony and fear, I wouldn’t have bothered to put on a show like the one I did: just for me. I would have accepted my condition sooner. Though, that wouldn’t be much gain. Sooner, later. That’s completely irrelevant when you have no references to compare with. No time here. Not even eternity. An entirely different thing, concept – beyond that what something simple as a, vivid, vital, all in all living mind may presuppose. That’s it: this place – or no-place if you prefer – is apart from life. It’s not above or below. Simply put, it is parallel – and that is as far as the metaphor goes (no multiverse nor any of those rather theological desperations). Things are, they don’t just happen. Like an infinite (as far as I can tell) warehouse for parts that will never be used again. At first I thought it was hell – I still have doubts, if you want to call that almost concept-less things we start to “think” and “feel” here.
Those are just a small sample of the variety of delusions around here. There are those, like the ones you mention, that are linked, that interact in some way, although the patients never converse. It’s fascinating to see the process. We are obliged to stop it as soon as we detect it, but I must confess that sometimes we let it develop (in part, because of a professional interest; but mostly, out of entertainment). It’s quite simple: one of the patients overhears the musings and ideations of some other inmate, and progressively adapts his own illusions as if doing so, it would unconsciously acquire some sort of validation, confirmation. It’s as if the one who adapts is fishing for an attractor to which his system of delirium will tend to evolve. Really fascinating. And there are simply mediocre, crude common places of a psychiatry manual or the tritest literature. So, you can understand why, from time to time, we let those chaotic symbiosis to happen. We are prudent enough to stop it as soon as we identify a slightly potential inconvenient, whatever it is. After all, we are physicians.
Look at them. It seems that they are studying and rehearsing a theatrical staging that’s never going to be part of any play – and somehow, they do it even with more eagerness, with more dedication: their whole life becomes that part. And one is tempted to expect them to modify the script through time, but their obedience is absolute… What if all of us actually do something very similar? Just struggling to learn our role as if it was the instructions to life. A pretense of a pretense that consumes us.
Could you try to relax? If not, your brain looks like a disco in the seventies in the MRI. Close your eyes. It’ll be over in no time.
Oh, come on. Just in “no time”, now he brings me back to the beginning. Where was I? Ah, yes, my eyes closed but full of numbers and graphics. Would it be possible to concentrate so much on visualizing prime numbers as to discover the law that governs their distribution? I can see them… They dance in front of me, like infinite Nureyev’s. Oh, no, it’s not infinite. Prime numbers are finite! Good lord! How come? But then, it’s reasonable to think that numbers are finite. If so, the universe is finite… But then, to us, it doesn’t change that much. Actually, nothing. For our finitude, that other is, to all intents and purposes, an infinitude. I might even be wrong about my observations. Problem is, that’s not reproducible in an experiment; no falsifiability is possible…
Ok, it’s over. You do some thinking or daydreaming, my friend. Here, I screen-shot an image of your brain’s activity. Illuminated like the Times Square. You should really try to unplug it from time to time for a change. Just a bit. Maybe even just a change of subject.
© Marcelo Wio