Making Sense Of Dreams (2/5/1)
This journal entry is about the difficulty of picking up little fragments of yourself across the multiverse and the blending of dreamscape with waking reality. It is also part two of the previous chapter.
Overlooking the Victor Hugo Plaza rests a rusting fountain with its tap turned off. The installation a collection of different pieces; a large golden chain, a silver chair, a bronze waterfall diving into a cauldron, and a stack of green and orange thrones out of which the water usually flows.
Successions of parcel delivery trucks drive up and down the main roads of this small borough of Northern France, rows of bankrupt shops whose only use is now for the occasional pedestrian to catch their reflection through the breaches of the boarded windows.
The main Boulangerie is still open; you can’t take the importance of good bread out of French culture, and no delivery service will be as good as collecting a warm baguette from around the corner and eating a third of it on the way back home like a sandwich that hasn’t been made yet.
A bunch of kids are loitering outside the bread shop pretending to smoke chocolate cigarettes.
“I remember, when France won the World Cup in 98,” says one of the kids, “people were partying on the streets till sunrise, and the baker came out of his shop at 4 o’clock in the morning, when his goods were fresh out of the oven, and gave everybody free pain au chocolat. Those were the good days.”
“OK, and what else do you remember?” asks the other kid.
“There was a supermarket, some taverns, all the usual things.
There was even a lake nearby… It was a pretty special place, carnivals would come, I came second in a rollerblading competition that I wasn’t technically allowed to enter because I was too young, so I didn’t win the money. My consolation prize was some pastries…
This town was big enough to have its own movie theatre, so over the Summer, I’d go watch movies, but there were plenty of moving pictures at home what with my grandmother’s walls of VHS cassettes in the upstairs hallway; Louis De Funès, Brigitte Bardot, Les Inconnus, and some foreign movies translated in the family’s language.
Yeah, that little town… had a Cinéma… a hospital too… just no major roads to the big city… a cherry tree in the garden… We also had – The blowing of a bugle interrupts.
The rapid movement underneath his eyelids draws to a close, and he flicks them open to find himself in one of the vacant upstairs rooms, in his childhood home.
Today is the 16th May 2019 and he’s back in his hometown to visit his Mamie & Mémé, his grandma and her Mother; who he’s never called by their first names because that’s weird and he’s not going to start now at the age of 32.
The sound of the struggling Bugle bellows again; a tradition forced on our family by our prankster Matriarch who had grown tired of climbing the steep stairs to wake The Three Sisters and I.
That was when we all lived under the same roof.
This is Exposition.
Is it poor reasoning that leads to the hero’s misfortune?
It is a strange trap getting caught in a story you’re writing about yourself.
The task is to disassociate oneself from the character in the story even though he is based entirely from one’s own memory, and the challenge is to not let the story I write bleed into the real World, because it is clear by now, for me the Writer at least, that this character, a version of myself, wants blood, and the Actor in me is thoroughly enjoying the play.
Is it strange to you that I am manipulating you, the Reader, by laying it all out on the table?
The Verfremdungseffekt effect; a technique I learned while studying Theatre Arts at University in order to alienate the audience from the narrative, giving them an awareness of what they read in order to make more conscious and critical observations.
This is Exposition.
The insertion of background information about a space, a time, a character, plot events, necessary for the story. It’s the stuff you have to learn about the protagonist, the World they inhabit and what is missing from their life, to get a better understanding of what drives them.
It’s an equation.
Some people know the result they want, but don’t know which question to ask.
Others know the equation, but can’t figure out the answer.
What does X want? Are their desires primal enough to be fundamentally relatable to the reader or viewer?
“O tormenting voice, give me freedom, for I know not how to solve my own problems let alone the Worlds.”
“OK, settle down, how is everybody doing?” asks the nurse, looking around to offer all the patients a chance to speak.
“When can I have my cigarettes?” asks the crone.
“After this session, Valeria.”
“It’s the same thing, all the time, repetition, boo hoo, I have a problem, help me, help them – ”
“I quite understand. But we aren’t all blessed with your knowledge and some us do need a little help every now and then. Would anyone like to share how they’re doing?”
“Why do you do the job you do nurse?” asks the large fella with the broken arm, eyes gaunt like he was wearing more skin atop his own.
“Call me Jacqueline.”
“Yeah, Jacqueline, OK,” he continues in his strong Brooklyn accent, “I know you’re helping and all, and I’m grateful for it, I don’t mean no disrespect, but she makes a good point, it never stops, police have criminals, doctors have the sick, what’s the point for you if somebody just takes my place when I leave?”
“Well,” she pauses, giving herself time to best articulate an answer for all the sensitive ears in the room, “we all need something that brings us joy and a sense of purpose, and I find that guiding people through their difficulties brings me a sense of belonging to something larger than myself. What’s something you enjoy doing?”
The man with the broken arm pauses a moment to think about it, some look around for others to chip in, these others dormant in their chairs, and that quiet one in the corner drawing and not paying attention.
“Money & sex, all day, and all the trimmings that come with it,” says the jock one with chiseled cheek bones and the portrait of confidence.
“You gotta have power if you want pussy, and you ain’t shit,” says Ophelia, “You in here like all of us, broke, and nobody wants to fuck you.”
“Yeah, we’ll see about that”, he replies blowing a kiss in her direction.
“Ok settle down.”
“What’s the supposed to mean?” She retorts.
“It means what it means. We’ll see… I ain’t gonna be trapped in here forever.”
“Erwin,” leads the Nurse, “Welcome, you’re our new guest, what’s on your mind?”
He looks her in the eyes, and then around at the other patients, these strangers who are also far away from home.
“It’s a long story,” he replies, “or I’ve made it long.”
“We have time.”
Amnesia is a narrative cliché in literature that forces the protagonist to rediscover the backstory, but seeing as this affliction actually happened to me, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, I was not only forced to reconstruct myself back together but given the opportunity to be more than a clown. Having a sense of humor has its advantages however, for memory has become an elusive gremlin playing about with my neurons.
I write my account of things so that maybe, maybe, I could help others who have struggled with Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia and other memory-based traumas, but if I am honest, I am just terrified of forgetting who I am again. And paradoxically, the more I start to remember, as I crawl out of the collapse of my reality, the more I lose sense of what the self is, and my bygone days fades away as though they were not real.
The scene is to be imagined in black and white.
Two women, of no particular gender, no particular sexual orientation, nothing discerning, it’s even difficult to tell what their age is, are chatting at a bar to one side of the government approved Square.
All we know about them, is that they appear to be women, of a certain class, whatever that means, sat a table with a bottle of tequila, a couple of glasses, some salt, lime, and copy of Eric Lampaert’s book on their table.
They have a name which I do not know, but for the purpose of this exercise, I will name them.
“So what did you think of it?” Asks Georgia.
“The man reads like an amateur,” responds Kate.
“Ah, you failed!” exclaims G with a huge grin on her face.
“This Béchamel Test is frustrating,” she laughs.
“Béchdel. It’s called the Béchdel test.”
“Whatever.” Kate dips her tongue straight into the ramekin of salt and downs her El Patron, “why can’t we speak about him?” Biting into a wedge of lime.
“Because it is forbidden!”
“So what’s the rule again? We speak about the book, written by a man, about a man who’s essentially learning to be a man, but we’re not allowed to say he’s a man or anything to do with the penis?”
“Yeah and you drink if you lose.”
“Oh for fuck’s sake. OK…So just the book’s theme and shit?”
“OK…” She thinks, the pause interrupted by a cat hissing on the restaurant’s balcony overhead. “Georgia, why don’t you tell me what you think this book is like?” she chuckles at her own intelligent solution.
“It feels staccato, or pizzicato, whatever the correct word is.”
“I agree, absolutely and totally pizzicato,” she repeats in robotic fashion, nodding at her friend to emphasize that she has no idea what “totally pizzicato” means.
They both laugh.
“So come on,” continues Georgia, “what do you think? Is one bound by Murphy’s Law according to Block Universe Theory?”
“What, like, if we do live eternally, are we meant to experience every perspective to truly understand existence?”
“It’s feasible, theoretically, that in infinite time, each experience of consciousness visits and revisits the theatre of being, but if you ask me, I believe it is possible to do so by simply observing the external World.”
“Like in movies and songs and that kind of stuff?”
“Yeah, and just watching other people.”
“I suppose so, but I get what – ,” she stumbles, “ – I almost said it then. I get what the writer with no specific gender is aiming at though. There is a difference between observing, reading or imagining what life is like in one set of shoes, and the actual act of living in said shoes.”
“Yeah, there’s a moment, I can’t remember what chapter, when he said that there…”
She sees Georgia’s smug expression.
“Oh for fuck sake, I did it again!”
“I’ll have one with you, loser.” Georgia laughs.
They grab a wedge of lime from the saucer, lick their fist, pour salt on the wet patch and toast with their refilled shot glasses, continuing their tête-à-tête.
Meanwhile, a fight starts in the middle of the Square, between a man and a woman of no particular skin color.
He punches her in the stomach.
She retorts with an upper cut.
This is not the kind of beating where anyone has a clear advantage, or some sad street rumble resembling a drunken hug with an unloving parent, no, this is a proper scuffle, with audible hits and spilling of blood.
Watching the match, two men, we assume they’re men, it’s just hard to tell what outer packaging really means nowadays, are standing along the edge of the Square opposite side of the two women and their drunken book club.
They observe the centerstage quarrel through their marijuana smoke, and although mighty high, these men are, dare I say, professionals. In their backpack are snacks, water for their drying mouth, eyedrops in case they have to remove their sunglasses, and a disciplined cycle of breathing in and out.
“I am misshapen”, says the First, “I can feel my body change inside, but I struggle with the exterior skin because I know not what I know not, and what I know now has mixed me up.”
“Do you not trust what you see?” Replies the Second.
“I don’t even trust what I hear, Brother.”
“This loosening of priors really has you swinging up and down.”
“Up, down, side to side, in and out, it’s exhausting to say the least. What am I meant to comprehend from my eyes being cameras and projectors? Here, I’ve given you technology, but there’s no manual, enjoy evolution, you silly dunce.”
“Yeah, isn’t it fun? Best not to worry about the inevitable. Here, smoke some more.”
“Gladly,” the First takes the joint, hesitating for a second.
“Do you not trust me Brother?”
“Would it be so terrible if I told you that I struggle to?” remarks the First. “I am starting to know myself and what I am capable of. With that, it makes me wonder wether I know you and what you’re capable of. And with that – ”
“What should one do with the sight in front of us?” interrupts the Second, looking at the fight in the middle of the Square.
The First looks centerstage, taking in all the details, all the sides of the Square, eyes flickering side to side, returning to the epicenter which the Second speaks of.
“A man and a woman are fighting, blood is being shed, it is likely one will lose a tooth, but there is clearly a choreography, an equilibrium between the two, do we intervene?”
“Everything I once knew tells me yes. What is their reason for fighting?”
“Is it any of our business?” He asks, pulling popcorn out of his fanny pack, “maybe this is just chemistry personified. This is what reaction looks like when the two are drawn together and we get to watch a show.”
“I’ll observe for now, but I hope you appreciate I am troubled by your carefree sense that all is preordained like lines of dominos.”
Meanwhile, during the popcorn chewing, alcohol drinking, cat hissing, owl hooting, pigeon cooing, the female brawler bobs and weaves around her opponent’s attempts, looking for an opportunity to get to his chin.
On the third side of the Square, a man is screaming at a tree, distracting the professor’s outdoor class.
“Ignore the man, students, he knows not what he is doing. So, as I was saying, a couple are in Love, arguing. One of them says – ”
The professor points to the first sentence written on the blackboard, ‘Tell me something only you and I would know’.
“And the other responds with – ”
He slides the pointer to the second sentence, ‘You see, this is something I worry about.’
He looks at his students to see how they behave after hearing the set up to this lesson.
“How did each one of you read the above? What genre of narration exists in your head? How was it heard to you?” pausing to let them consider the questions, “Did one express it in a certain way, but their face suggested something else? Which direction were their feet pointing? With your hands up, tell me which one of you has been in Love?”
Hands go up at varied speeds, some stay where they are.
“Events have ways of contorting the way we view things,” continues the professor, “I was in Love once… or twice, thrice perhaps, there was also that weekend in Vegas which felt like Love, but she then asked me to pay her fee and it ruined the illusion. Look, it’s complicated. And no, that isn’t my status update on Le Livre De Visage.”
The students laugh, except for the new kid.
“What did he just say?” asking the student next to him, the girl with the plaster cast around her neck.
“It’s his translation for Facebook in French,” she replies, hissing at the pain of turning to face him “but it doesn’t have the correct ring to it. It’s like that one time we were studying Jaws, and how the movie’s title in his native tongue is ‘Les Dents de la Mer’, which retranslated into English, is the ‘The Teeth of the Sea’, which just sounds weird when you’re so used to Jaws.”
“Am I distracting you back there?” asks the professor.
“No professor, I was just telling the new kid about the time – “
“Well not in my,” he pauses at the oddest moments, “class, what I am teaching is likely more effective than anything you, or any of you, have to say.”
He observes the students with a furrowed brow, making notes in his cahier.
“And please continue to ignore the man screaming, the two fighters in the middle of the Square, and these incessant pigeons who have no moral code and rape as they please. ’Tis the Season I suppose, but I am not impressed.”
He takes a sip of water and returns to the board.
“Memory is a tricky little swine,” the professor continues, “I don’t even remember everything about the topic. Police report from eye witnesses who brew the story in their mind until asked to share, retelling their version to authorities who ask specific questions based on their agenda, resulting in a concoction, mixing and mélanging toutes les choses d’une façon qui suggère… qui suggère… Ah merde, j’ai oublier.”
The class laughs.
“… the police officers have to filter information through their knowledge, you get my drift, laws become very difficult the more universes are born into the World. The act of remembering is a challenge, and now let me ask you, are results different if this sentence was said first,” pointing to the second sentence ’You see, this is something I worry about.”
The majority of the class take note as the professor bows, and the man screams, and the pigeons mate, and the owl watches the cat, as the brothers smoke, and the women laugh, and the fight taking place in the middle.
Meanwhile, on the banks of the fourth side of the Square, an androgynous creature is staring at the glowing orb in the sky, mesmerized by the energy it gives off. His winglike pectoral fins pulsating from his calves.
But he doesn’t turn around.
“Father… Dad!”, she snaps, pulling on his heel.
“Look what I drew.”
In the sand, three lines starting from a single point of origin, taking different routes to the same direction, flowing as waves with eventual overlap.
“I like this sweetheart.”
“Why do the lines become so different after they lap over one another?” Indicating the intersections.
“Be… Because…. Because, Daddy.”
“I’m just curious, it came from your mind, tell me your thought process.”
“Because each line takes a journey through different space, despite the similar direction, and the disturbance created when converging alters the knowledge of how to move forward – ”
“Knowledge? Are these lines sentient?”
“Not necessarily, turbulence doesn’t need to know why it is, it just is. Varying and evolving, flourishing, dividing, eventually creating their own points of origin.”
“But those branches aren’t different origins since we can trace it back to the first point.”
“Correct, these branches are,” pointing to the protruding limbs growing out of the lines, “but I ran out of sand to show my further calculations, which, if are correct, would create parallels.”
“But aren’t those parallels created because of the original genesis?”
“True,” she replies, deflated from not having thought of this.
She observes her work for a moment.
Her face scrunching up before responding.
“I suppose, what I meant to say was that the parallel creation would have no awareness of the previous branch, because although its existence appears alongside a line attached to the point of origin, it technically isn’t attached, and would therefore be, from its perspective, an original point.”
“Just because said point thinks it is an original doesn’t make it so.”
“But then I would retort that this original point,” circling the beginning of her drawing, “is itself a point of origin created from a parallel, and you were only fooled into thinking it was an origin.”
She smiles at his dumbfounded expression, making them both laugh.
“Hey habibi,” he cocks his head back to speak, “come and have a look at what our daughter drew.”
“Mom’s not here, Dad. Remember?”
“Ah,” he nods, and nods more, and continues to nod as if trembling, “yes that’s right… Sorry honey.”
He flicks the briefest of smiles in her direction, slowly returns to the orb in the sky, and he remains transfixed at the ball of light as tells her “you know darling, I have the oddest feeling that somebody is stealing my memories.”
She returns to her drawing, as the brawl continues, and the students study, the animals behave, the women drink more, and the two stoners cough themselves into a frenzy.
“Look at that creature over there, Brother,” says the Second, “what’s he doing looking directly at the sun like some maniac?”
“Perhaps he is drawing patterns in the darkness of his pupils using starlight as ink,’ the First replies. “It adds color.”
“It’ll make you blind that’s what it’ll do.”
“Aren’t we all a little blind?”
“Don’t start your philosophical meanderings with me, I grow weary of your dissecting. In any case, my eye is firmly on those two beautiful women out yonder.”
They admire the two on the other side of the square, one laughing so hard she spits tequila on her friend.
“… OK, OK, OK, so if I don’t know what I am,” Georgia responds, “it’s feasible that I don’t know how it is to live.”
“Yes yes, quite, and also, man, penis, man man!” yells out Kate, “Bite into my citrus you slag! Garçon, please,” beckoning the waiter, “and sorry for using garçon, another bottle of tequila please.”
“Ah, yeah, book club baby!”
The woman high five, and the cat jumps from the balcony onto the approaching garçon.
Meanwhile, beyond range of the Square, ashes from the volcano plumes into the sky.
“It’s that time again,” says the professor, “remember…”
His wisdom is muted, as the camera is close up on the students packing up their things.
“What shape are you going to do?” asks the student with the plaster cast around her neck.
“What for?” asks the new kid.
“O my, you really are new here.”
A third student in the row in front turns around and shares.
“I’m going to be ‘Mother protecting her young from fire’ shape.”
“That’s so Goddess of you.”
“Thanks. And you?”
“Oh you know me, ‘Protecting the Dragon’ shape.”
“What’s that one?” asks a Third, with the New Kid listening in intently.
“Arms out in front of you,” showing them with her palms facing out, “like you have the power to shield yourself from the incoming magma.”
“That’s a lovely one, yeah.”
“And what am I supposed to do now?” pipes in the new kid.
“Get yourself that sweet rebirth shape, you deserve it.”
“Classic baby deer position,” ends the third.
The volcano erupts as the booming of a Bugle wakes the protagonist back up in his Grandmother’s house.
“Why are mornings so hard?”
The mattress is covered empty bottles of Belgian beers and pencil shavings.
“Was I naughty last night?”
The bugle again rings out.
“J’arrive!” He shouts in an appreciative way, “une minute!” so he can write in his notebook.
Did they even exist?
I had a dream last night, or a nightmare, about a volcano erupting, and there were people there I recognized, but I can’t remember who. These sightings I have in slumber are difficult to comprehend, and with my world fragmented, I wonder wether dream simulations are of significance to my waking reality or whether they are a sort of movie for me to enjoy without any significance? A way for my body to rest as the brain re-arranges the day, detailing what it needs and doesn’t for the next.
Also, something about Toxiplasma Gondii? I don’t know, something about cats.
He gets up out of bed and puts on the same clothes as yesterday, having brought no spares, not even fresh socks or underwear, and heads downstairs to join his Mamie for breakfast.
How have you been reading all this? What tempo? What mood are you in, dear Reader?
“What else do you remember?”
Location: London, United Kingdom.
His head rises as the station’s escalator brings him to the surface.
Various computer-generated posters line the walls, changing with the traveling customer’s biometrics, so no time is wasted telling the customer what they want. Each screen with the metro’s tagline; “Every Journey Matters”.
He shuffles through the pedestrians, once so alarmingly slow, and taps his Oyster card to get out of the Underground, stopping briefly to read a poem posted on one of the walls.
What language can tell us
What no other tells?
In the ultimate word,
Only music excels.
By Agnes Lee.
“I hope TFL credited the correct author,” he thinks, taking a photograph with his phone, “so I can pass on the compliment.”
Beauty displayed by the transport system cancelled out by the tannoy’s reminder that “begging is illegal and should not be encouraged”.
A paper cut to his hypothalamus.
He moves through the downpour with speed and strides of his long legs, mostly hidden under the checkered long-coat he borrowed.
A nomadic life has its shortcomings.
He rushes to the Dolphin pub in East London in the city’s iconic heavy cyberpunk rain, past the cables bursting from the grounds and clutching along the walls, piping energy across the city’s vascular network, spurring questions of where the line is drawn in matters of consciousness.
The windows are steamed up from the sweaty gatherings of people inside enjoying a post-work pint. He strides in and is immediately slapped in the face by the change in atmosphere.
It’s like a sauna composed of the patrons breaths, but he wouldn’t ask for anything better from a British tavern. Strange what some people miss.
The music in the pub is the typical pop hits of the week, which can be altered with the jukebox in the corner. The floor clings to his shoes, syrupy from sliding through the systole and diastole of punters, who barge you side to side, making you slip and flip a portion of your alcohol; an offering to the surface that keeps us grounded, in honour, nay, in respect for Gravity.
This space is seething with life that would make anyone futuvitaephobic seethe under their skin; There’s people with different haircuts, skin colour, tattoos and piercings, sweaters and beards, canes and pipes, men and women kissing women and men, with men men and women women. One of those places where everyone’s welcome, even those who don’t welcome everybody.
He looks around this living painting for his friend, tall enough to se above the crowd, allowing him to comfortably voyage through like a Man DeLorean, to find his friend at the other end of the watering hole.
He shuffles his way to her, admiring the ceramic tile mosaic decoration along the wall, decorticating it in order to find possible meaning. The mosaic is of some ripped dude playing the harp and wearing nothing but a red toga, surrounded by sirens, in the middle of a storm at sea.
“Mmmmm, a metaphor perhaps, O my, what could it possibly mean?”
“Hello mate”, she greets him with her light Irish accent & a peck on the cheek.
“Oh my goodness, if it isn’t bloody Desiree, and in the finest elevator outfit I’ve ever seen.”
“Shut up fool, this is vintage. You like?”
“Mate, you have the ability to make all the clothes look good, but yes, this specific one has a lovely floral pattern and…I don’t know yes, well done, you look great. Which way are you taking me, up or down?”
“In reference to the elevator outfit, doesn’t matter. It’s a bloody pleasure to see you.”
“And you my pal, you want?” pulling out a joint from her pocket.
“In here? Such mischievous and wicked actions.”
“I don’t see no cops. Plus it’s one of the perks of owning the pub.”
“Yes, I suppose that has benefits. Oh my days, you wouldn’t believe the pleasure it is to see a friend after this mental year,” he sighs.
“Maybe I do, try me”.
“You been good?” He deflects with a forced smile.
“Not much to report”, she confesses, “got you a cider and…” she adds, turning to fetch two shots of gin.
“Bloody Hell, we doing this are we?”
“Cheers,” quick toast & down the gullet.
“You wanna break?” she asks, pointing to the triangle with her weed stick.
“Oh, yes”, grabbing one of the cues and looking for the limestone cube.
“So,” she hesitates, “do I have to be careful with you now?”
“What do you mean?” he asks, sliding down below the table in search of chalk.
“Well you’re crazy now. You might stab me with a piece of broken glass or something,” she says with a coquettish grin.
“O” he replies, popping his head from underneath the table, and offering a slight pause to accentuate the tension, fixing her eyes, “I wouldn’t say that if I were you.” His voice almost a growl, “he disapproves of the word ‘crazy’,” a large smile on his face; the kind that reveals his equestrian grin.
“And anyway, I wouldn’t stab you. If anything, I’d protect ya, mate.”
He lets out a noise of satisfaction upon finding the cube and gets back up.
“What happened then? Why’d they lock you up?”
“I didn’t go to prison…”
He lines up behind the white ball and chalks the cue tip, blowing the residue like a cowboy with a smokin’ gun.
“Do you believe in free will?” he asks her in order to calibrate an appropriate response to her question.
“Don’t know, yeah, I suppose.” She hands him the joint.
“OK” he replies, filling his lungs, “it might not even be coincidence we’re playing this game. So, let’s say I strike the balls” which he does, followed by commentary on the break shot and its movement, “it’s chaos right, unpredictable chaos. But – ”
He grabs the rack, collecting the balls to position them back in the triangle, chucking one in her direction which she expertly catches.
“If somebody knew the weight of the billiard balls, the speed the white ball travels at, its spin and angle of impact, as well as the material properties of the table – ”, he says, fondling the eight-ball, “ – then somebody could calculate the exact final position of the balls on the table. It’s a deterministic system.”
She rolls the final ball back to him, and he plops it in the triangle’s gap.
“Where are you going with this?”
“Honestly, it’s a dead end, I’d much rather talk about you if we can please. How are you doing?”
She shrugs, “you know, comme ci comme ça. Not sleeping very well.”
“But you look fantastic.”
“Oh stop it.”
“You tried closing your eyes and just sleeping?”
“Oh is that what you’re supposed to do? Ah, ok, I hadn’t tried that one, thanks. No, it’s just my recurring nightmare.”
“Remind me again.”
“I have this bird’s eye view of my parents and a younger version of me walking across parked cars on a ferry. My Dad is leading the way, Mum is at the back and I’m sandwiched between the two,” she says seriously, “… and Dad then stops by a car with tinted glass… Not sure why, so I turn to my Ma for answers, but she doesn’t look at me, like she’s embarrassed. And then, they both just grab my head and gently push it through the backseat window of this car. But it wasn’t glass, it didn’t shatter, and there was no pain going in, it was like bubble.”
A shiver climbs up his spine and visibly moves him.
“You OK?” she asks.
“Yeah, just a weird déja-vu. Carry on.”
“And so, I don’t put up a fight. Like, why would I? I have no reason not to trust my parents. They put my head in the car and I willingly go. I see very little through the pitch black fog in the car. I look around searching for why I’ve been forced in here, and then, I hear a snarl, something unfamiliar, unlike any animal I’ve ever heard before, coming from the darkness, on the opposite side of the backseat. I squint to get a better look at it, and I don’t get scared until I see it glistening from the shadows. This skeletal humanoid with petroleum skin, sharp teeth and long claw-like fingers. He looks a bit like you actually.”
“Ha ha, good one. Think you’re funny yeah?”
“Making fun of you is a crowd favorite. Anyway, I try to get away, I scream, louder and louder, but my parents have me pinned against the car, their hands holding my head firmly in position, as this creature approaches and is face to face with me.”
She places her hand directly in front of her, palm practically touching the tip of her nose.
“It then opens its mouth wide… I usually wake up screaming and sweating before it eats me.”
“Eats you out?”
“No, gross,” she pushes him, “I didn’t let the demon eat me out thank you very much. Gotta buy me dinner first. And a dessert, definitely a dessert.”
“Well cheers to your parents for messing you up,” raising their pints of cider for another toast.
“Cheers to that. What do the French say?”
“Santé! To our health.”
They take a sip of their drinks.
“Anyway, what were you saying about your smelly balls?”
He positions himself to the horizontal cue, lining up the first shot.
“OK, yeah, so recap, the break of the triangle, looks like chaos, deterministic system, blah blah blah. But now imagine, that when I hit the triangle with the white ball, that’s the Big Bang.”
He takes the shot breaking up the pack with that distinct sound of multiple phenolic resin spheres colliding into one another, eventually slowing down to their final position, having used all the energy from the player’s thrust.
“But unlike a game of billiards, these balls never stop and go in all directions, balls hitting balls hitting balls, there’s balls everywhere.”
“What, so, existence is like one big Turkish bathhouse?”
“Yeah basically,” he chuckles, “And all that suggests that, erm…What was I saying? Ah yeah, using the law of cause and effect, somebody, you, a super computer, if they knew where all the balls were now, then it’s completely feasible they could predict where all the balls were in the past, and how they might look in the future, and thus, know all things to be unified.”
“God, you like to testiculate don’t you?”
She bends down and nudges him out of the way with her body to line up for the next shot.
“What does testiculate mean?”
“Waving your arms around talking bollocks.”
“Oh” he chuckles, “I like that word,” he says, metaphorically grabbing the word in mid-air and pretends to eat it.
“So what you saying? That you were always meant to be in the cuckoo’s nest? That it was your destiny?”
“Well, yeah sort of, I could go into details, but for now, I’m just comparing the actions on this billiard table to those of the human mind. Balls hitting balls, neurones activating neurones, atoms colliding into one another, and so me, you, the conscious you, can’t change the movement of these balls, because you are the result of the trillions upon trillions of collisions before you. So the person you are today, your identity, is a result of all the things that happened in your past, which you weren’t in control of.”
She looks at him with the far away expression of a boy who’s just been dumped by his first girlfriend.
“If you can’t alter the trajectory of the balls, if consciousness is objectively unverifiable, and if the physical law of cause and effect are what actually generates our thoughts and our behaviours, then…we’re all just zombies with delusions of sentience.”
He downs the rest of his pint.
“Fuck me.” She says.
“Yeah I know, madness,” he replies, not having heard what she demanded. Typical of him to not listen properly. Maybe that’ll be his story arc or something.
He looks up at her and she shakes her head, baffled.
“What?” he demands defensively.
“Playing pool with you is a nightmare.”
They laugh. She poises herself down to the table, pots a second ball, and chugs her drink.
At which point, a group of lads start chanting the chorus to Shaggy’s “It wasn’t me” and everyone in the pub gladly joins in.
And that’s when the Bugle really wakes me up…