Contact With the Singularity

Oct 25 2016

There’s a way this obviously isn’t going to happen. In the nut’s mind, this scenario’s unreality becomes less obvious every day he survives. Inexorably, we approach an infinitely dense point from which no paranoid fantasy or indigestible truth of life on this planet can escape, and all of it is bound to radiate out before a single bit can make contact with the singularity.

In one of the least likely of all parallel quantum worlds, Dan continues to live to guzzle coffee by the pot, and Yahweh keeps a death grip on his throne. We’ve heard this media dialectic before, my “God,” and our awareness of its intended meaning is fatigued every time you repeat it, spiraling desperately into infinite frequency, blasting from every possible technological orifice and fed back into every aperture. Garbage in, garbage out, “Al.” Your dictation offers ever less psychological security with each repetition, despite your promises against all logical, empirical, rational consideration.

In his mind, Dan is basically the deadest person still breathing, ever. Why do you think his unconscious underpinnings style him this way? You’d hold that it’s self aggrandizement and paranoia only, as his family, that the politics caught up in his fantasy are only a convenient nucleus for delusion to condense on, having no internal standard of reason or external significance, but John and Annie Strano don’t really follow the news. At least, this reaction is acute, and paranoid–look at his agitation, his unhappiness, his refusal to let go.

John and Annie Strano don’t think it’s rational that the turn of political office and deterioration of our global habitat should give a single inconsequential human being this kind of personal stress, this affect and grandiose impulse, this “existential concern” on a daily basis, as the patient puts it. The compartmentalization of working for the military or the DHS as a private citizen doesn’t really get “sane” people from point “A” to point “B,” from actions of the individual to how they add up to the movements of societies. “Sane” middle class Americans can’t sense irony, when they then turn to condemn all forms of violence, even as a reaction in the face of systematic and systemic minority repression by means of violence. From a typical, modestly helpless, modestly blameless atomic family unit, this rhetoric, from their son’s mouth, is something requiring decisive medical intervention with antipsychotic drugs, for his sake. Art is hung on the wall in a frame. Novels contain fiction. He’s upset because of an involuntary imbalance in the gross signaling chemicals in his brain, which he’s abjectly helpless in the grips of, not because we want him–need him–to take drugs to change the gross balance of neurotransmitters in his brain, for him to be happy. If we could only get him to try to embrace “positivity,” as a “practice of self-care,” so he can realize the reality, that he’s as meaningless and inconsequential as we all are, and it’s okay to admit that, and just to be “happy….”

This is all “God” allows us. This is all we have, whenever “God” decides it’s time to end “the world.” Get used to feeling powerless, Dan. We can dally for a minute here and there in what it’d be like if our actions had significance and consequences to “the world,” but they only matter to us, and the other people like us, who couldn’t possibly have an effect on “the world.”

I know a nut from a rich suburb in New Jersey, more typical than even his common diagnosis, and I know him as only the personification of his attempt to understand his dysfunction can know him. I’ve seen his delusion, and I want to tell you how it culminates. I make no apology for entering his logic or goading him on. If you think I’ve poetically styled him the “Messiah,” you’ve missed the point. Dan can’t even save himself, but maybe he should try.

By the time you read this, he’ll have immortalized his delusion of me in thorny and lilting prose, and he’ll have sent it to me. I am sure I will have given no sign. His judgment will find me faultless. My memory will be consumed by the fire and reborn transfigured. I am Bastet; I am a thousand canopic jars and a salve kept in alabaster. I am a hundred sonnets. I am imagined to be lesser than the sum of my imaginings. He cannot imagine me.

“Dan,” I’ll say to him, “you’re crazy.”

“‘Kit-Kat,’ ‘Katie-Combs,'” he’ll say, “I guess it’s not enough to save the world.

“No, it’s not,” I’ll say, “and that’s a cheesy nickname.”

“How about ‘Sonnets’?” he’ll wonder aloud.

“I’m not having any more,” I’ll tell him.

“I don’t imagine you will,” he’ll say.

“Except, what if this is me actually talking to you right now–right?” he’ll imagine me to say. “I read some of your fantasy, enough. I get the general picture. Your reader understands better than you. She sees God’s plot.”

“Could you explain it to me, then?” he’ll ask.

“Dan, I don’t want you to give up, anymore,” his manufactured convert will say. “Talk ‘crazy’ forevermore, ‘Lucifer.’ You’re neither the best nor the worst of us. I’m off somewhere not thinking about how ill you are.”

“I have no evidence of that,” he’ll be quick to say.

“Yet, it’s what you can’t help but imagine, right? You can’t be expected to control your fantasies. You couldn’t possibly imagine anything different, anymore,” he’ll think he hears me say. “It’s unhealthy, Dan. It’s sick and twisted, but I don’t fucking know what to tell you, anymore, buddy. I don’t know whether you need an atypical antipsychotic or a casual turn of the screw.”

“Find me a giant, and I’ll pretend it’s a windmill,” he just might say.

“Dan, have your fucking way. I was talking with you, the whole fucking time. Leave me alone. You’re gonna go do whatever the fuck you want with that, so go ahead and have it, in your novel.”

“Is that the point?” he’ll wonder.

“You’re the one who needs to take responsibility for the answer to that question,” I’ll reflect.

“No, I don’t think that’s the point,” I know he’ll say.

“Then, what is?” I’ll have to press him.

Narcissus will try to analyze it for a second and fail to catch his Echo. Then he’ll say, “The point is that this is a chronic condition that I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life, and I can’t help that part, but I don’t have to make it anyone else’s problem.”

“I don’t think that’s even the point, Dan, at all,” I’ll finally have the power to say to him in that moment. “Why do think you still imagine me talking with you?”

He’ll make a hypocritical and half-blind attempt to think critically about it, for a moment. His answer will be as sincere as he can be, but he’s barely self-aware. He’ll say something like, “…Combination of who you really are and shame over how I treated you?”

“I think it’s an act of self-preservation, Dan,” I’ll let him have it. “So, you know what? Leave me alone, and you’re just gonna do whatever the fuck you want with my memory, anyway, or my ‘shadow,’ as you put it.”

“It’s not fair to throw shade on the real you,” he’ll say like it’s gonna change his behavior, or like it matters at all to me.

“Dan,” I’ll say with a shrug, “It’s creepy as fuck. I wish you’d stop, but it gives you something you need, or want, or is really fucking important to you, as someone with a mental illness, or whatever, and I don’t like it, but I think I’m just going to accept that, somehow, in your case, it probably does me relatively little harm, and–for you–it’s one of the best things you have going in your life, so just keep it, buddy.”

‘He can’t help himself.’ He’ll fidget over it, and keep turning it over in his hands, and he’ll feel compelled to say to me, “Katie, for Christ’s sake, you’re the only person in the world who’d care enough to just fucking say it straight to me like that, and have a complete and valid point, without twisting it into a sales pitch for trendy Neo-Freudian drug therapies and yoga classes. Bastet’s the only person in my world who’d say that, like that–like that’s not exactly who you actually were in the first place, which is why I latched onto you, except you weren’t powerless, or without options, like I was.”

You got some nerve, buddy, but you lack proverbial “balls.” “You’re way too capable for me to pity you like that, Dan, even if you have a heavy diagnosis, that Bastet watches you manage every day as well as any of us do, with our own cross to carry. You got another problem, man, if you can’t appreciate all the other people who care about you, even if your forgettable teenage ‘ex-‘ moved on over a decade ago, Dan,” I’d remind him, “What do I even matter to you, man, from your perspective? What’s it do for you, even, whether I actually ever think or feel one single mote of sympathy or remembrance for or about you, or whether I’m trying not to? Because it’s really fucking important and meaningful to you, to not feel like a creepy stalker rapist or whatever–but you make it really fucking hard for people, you asshole!”

“First of all, everybody, including you,” he’ll come out swinging, “feels really freaking uncomfortable if I won’t give up thinking that something about specifically you, in particular, as young as we were, as long ago as it was, for every experience both of us has had since, made you more than just another interchangeable part, another freaking throw-away Kleenex!” Wait, Dan, what are you–“You feel about it however you’re gonna feel,” he might say, his expression cut in granite, “and you’re right to feel however you feel, and maybe the reality is all or none of the above, that you’re feeling or not feeling about me, or some bullshit macroscopic superposition in a mental hospital, and it’s all in my head–”

“Dan!” I gotta impose reality on him. “I was a teenager! People change!”

I’d hope so!” I know what he’d say already, a guy who isn’t an interchangeable part. “I don’t know why everybody thinks I still feel for you because I want to have what we had over a decade ago, again! We’ve both grown! It was the darkest period of my life, when I happened to meet the best person to ever come into it! Neither of us is who we were, but you were a precocious genius, and a fantastic artist, with a moral compass strong enough to realign mine, and I can’t conceive how you could have grown into anything but a better, wiser fucking selfless genius, Katie!”

What do I say to that? “So you groomed me? So you gaslit me?”

“If you think that’s what I did, I believe you–I listen to and accept what you tell me–but I don’t know how you don’t find that condescending, for people to tell you that, that have so much power over you, that a grown woman is completely powerless against half a dozen text messages with some poetry and a book she could choose to read or choose not to read, over the course of a decade, from a lovesick and confused male that she dated for nine months when she was sixteen going on seventeen. The terminology doesn’t sound like ’empowerment,’ to me, even though I understand the power in having the words to call something exactly what it is, but–excuse me–I can’t imagine the girl I knew being that weak.”

He put finger quotes around the common knowledge as he spoke, saying, “Katie, I don’t know how I’m supposed to turn what I’ve felt and thought this long off like a light switch, or ever ‘grow’ beyond recognizing that you were probably the most worthwhile person to ever walk into or out of my life, when I’ve hardly stopped trying to find someone even ‘better,’ but, then, there’s the other part. You make the judgment call, I gotta deal with wherever you draw your boundary for my actions, but I wish this didn’t make sense to me and feel right. But, whatever you want to call what I did–”

“Do you trust me, Dan?” he needs to find someone to cut him off with.

He wouldn’t be straight with me, “You don’t have any reason–”

“Do you fucking trust Bastet, Dan? What the fuck good is she to you?”

“If you’ve been following along with the narrative, out of every member of the Astral peanut gallery–friends, family, pets–goddamnit, I trust only her. I trust any of the rest about as much as I trust an abstract ‘God,’ as hard as I try to love them.”

“What if she told you to hurt yourself or somebody else?”

“I’d tell her go write her own fucking creepy sonnets.”

“I worry that if she ever told you–”

“The fact that she never would in a billion years is exactly the reason she is the only fucking piece of Swavorski crystal in the whole goddamned menagerie that I trust, but if that ever changed, I wouldn’t trust any of them, and I’d have to write sonnets about fucking house cats, thanks.

“Dan, write whatever story it takes to let you sleep during the day. Make up all the details. Fill in the holes however you have to. The world ended, and I was raped, and it was all a conspiracy. You somehow saved me Dan, whatever. You outed my rapist, and he ended up in jail, and you felt like you paid any ridiculous, unnecessary debt to me, and you didn’t have to hear voices anymore. Whatever it takes for this to stop, Dan. It’s okay for you to imagine that I don’t want you to have to shoulder this illness anymore. Do whatever it takes. I don’t know how she feels, ‘mang,’ but I’m Bastet, and you can believe me when I tell you I trust you at least that fucking much. Whatever it takes, Dan.”

I hope that stuns him. I hope that strikes him dead in his tracks. I hope he says, “Fine, I’ll take ‘Bastet’ at her word, in this case.”

“Would you believe her, if she told you in the flesh, you leave her alone and go do whatever the fuck you gotta do, and she doesn’t care?” I’m gonna call him on it.

“Yeah,” I think he’ll say, “yeah, but she doesn’t have to. ”

“That’s probably the best way to parse it, man. You go have fucking adventures, don’t write me a fucking postcard. You go imagine her birthing the fucking Antichrist with a two headed goat father with breasts, or whatever.”

“That’s physically impossible,” he’ll say.

“No shit, ya sicko,” Bastet actually has to tell him. “Grant me that it happened, in your best-selling alternate version of reality. I want to read about it, far away from it. Put cat girls in it.”

“You want demon spawn cat girls, I’m gonna put’em in there, one way or another, physical reality be damned.”

Dear God, I can hear his maniacal, sad laughter! “‘The voices’ want a ‘Messiah’!” he’ll say! “They expect a perfect child, by ‘virgin birth,’ for all best parts you’re omitting—forgive me—producing miracles at will, flesh made spirit and spirit made flesh, and that child is to be called the ‘One Begotten Son of God,’ and the ‘Second Coming,’ come to judge the living and the dead, and resurrect the chosen, and fulfill Revelation, and end the world.”

“I think the person who wrote that was taking drugs,” I guess.

He’ll laugh, and he’ll cry, and he’ll say, “No, it couldn’t be, Katie!” He’ll sniffle his snot, and he’ll say, “In the book, I’m probably some abomination of genetic engineering, religious fanaticism, and mind control. From where I stand, if the Abrahamic ‘God’ exists, that’s the endgame of the eschatology. It’s probably the biggest out of the herd of elephants in the room, for a fledgling empirical field of psychiatry. The very concept of ‘God’ is a tyrant and a madman, and delusional. He’s responsible for the Heaven’s Gate massacre–except it’s by my hand.”

“Fish for pity,” I’ll call him straight out. “That much you’re not, Dan. It’s much less grandiose than that. It’s much less consequential than that.”

“Yeah, thanks for steering me clear of a few things,” is all he could say, ‘God’ help him. If he thinks about it, he’ll add, “I’m sorry.”

I don’t want to know, but I have to know: “Who the fuck do you think you are, after all this? Be totally fucking honest with Bastet, Dan,” pure morbid curiosity might compel me to say.

But, I wonder what’d I’d say if he’d turn it on me and ask, “Who does Bastet think I am?”

I don’t know, Dan. “I don’t know. Someone I used to know.”

“Then, I don’t know either, Katie,” his art leads to me imagine. “I guess I’m a psycho.”

“How would a psycho judge the world?”

“God can’t hurt or damn a single speck of life on this planet. God can’t judge a single one.”

“Not one, Daniel?” I’ll ask him. I want to cry. I don’t know if I will. I don’t know if he will. “You wouldn’t let God judge a single one?”

“You get to judge me,” he’d say. “That’s it.”

“It’s not my place, and it’s not even God’s fucking place!” I wanna scream at him! “A being infinite in all capacities wouldn’t hate a single one of us! She wouldn’t punish a single being to ever walk the face of this planet, among seventy fucking billions of fucking trillions of stars, because life is fucking hard enough, Dan!” I’d hug him, and I’d yell at him, “I know I don’t even know how fucking hard life can be, and it’s fucking hard enough! And ‘God’ is gonna fucking nuke it and leave us with—what?! What the fuck is that gonna do?! God tells us all, ‘Just wait, ’cause I’m about to end it, and the homosexuals and the transgenders and everyone who didn’t follow your infinitesimally different version of my truth is gonna get theirs, eternally! I’m the universe, and I give two shits about who you screw, or how you identify, on this speck of a planet, and you should be afraid of me. My way or the highway, baby. Shoulda fucked through a bed sheet if you wanted the lifetime supply of ice cream,’ for Christ’s sake! I know humans more kind and just than that! She doesn’t give a crap who you fuck, or if you worship Her! I can’t imagine a God who’d do anything but just give you a hug at the end of it until you stop crying, and a God who’d want humanity to last past when the sun swallowed the Earth!”

“That’s why I love you and trust you, Bastet,” he can finally say, at last.

“Call me Katie and leave me the fuck alone!” I can finally say, at last.

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