an anthology of short stories: Apparitions and Premonitions.
An Ontological Discussion with Matt
by Joel Nickel
“Every person is actually the same being experiencing reality subjectively,” Matt pulled the cup to his mouth. His words were spoken as though they were mundane and ordinary; some trivial conversation about some idle piece of gossip.
They sat down in the café after both had ordered drinks.
Lillith was so shaken by the enormity of Matt’s words that her body convulsed as though her whole body was doing a comically exaggerated double take for some hammy vaudevillian act.
“Holy fuck? What?” She immediately covered her mouth. “Sorry,” she looked down, embarrassed. “I meant, to say . . .”
“I think you meant to say ‘holy fuck’,” Matt grinned.
She chuckled shyly and then tried to sit up straight. “Okay, I’m going to think about this critically. Convince me.”
“I think humans are identical pieces of the same being, but are represented in the physical world separately by each person’s consciousness. And only in that way are we differentiated. If we went back to the spiritual world we’d just be part of that same being. All consciousness is supplied by one being hosting separate bodies; a meta-subjective view of reality.”
“Hmmm, so that thing is everybody?” she swirled the coffee around with her brown plastic stir stick.
“Yes, but I think it’s a single being from a duality. There is good essence and evil essence inside us. When one of the essences controls another being more than the other that person becomes good or bad.”
“That would explain why so many religions are built around the idea that the world started by God for humans. Maybe consciousness developed when this entity was able to harness the body of the homo sapiens and insert it’s consciousness onto it,” she took a drink from her coffee.
“I believe that the first modern man and woman were given consciousness by just such an entity. So the Bible’s Adam and Eve were actually just the first two homo sapiens that had consciousness. And that explains how there were other homo sapiens for Cain and Able to mate with. They were just mating with homo sapiens who hadn’t attained consciousness. Maybe the first consciousness was only in Adam and Eve, but then through birth it separated from Adam and Eve into Cain and Able. And then was transferred to the rest of humanity through Cain. Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a metaphor for homo sapiens attaining consciousness. Both good and evil energies existed together as one in both Adam and Eve, but when they had children the energies were split apart. Cain contained more evil than good and Able contained more good than evil. But then Cain killed Able and the majority of goodness was lost from the timeline and the rest of humanity is filled with the evil energy that Cain propagated through the generations.”
“What if Adam and Eve have a good son that was hidden away?”
“Woah. What if he wasn’t written about again until Mary, but rather than the virgin birth, Mary was actually part of the biological line of the good son of Adam and Eve had hidden away from Cain’s evil lineage. What if in that isolation from Cain the good energy lineage exercised a kind of sexual selection where only those with a high amount of goodness were allowed to procreate until we reach Jesus who was almost entirely good energy. When Jesus became aware of the way that the Jewish religion had been distorted as a system of control over the people through the influence of an elite few, he decided to expose humanity to the real message. Everyone is a subjective piece of God’s consciousness.”
“What if the context of what Jesus said was altered by the people who reprinted the Bible? The original Hebrew was changed to Greek and then from Greek to Old English, right? I’m pretty sure that’s right,” it had been a long time since she was ever in Sunday School and she really didn’t know that much about religion so she decided to stop herself and Matt continued.
She looked down at the floor.
“There are single words in certain languages that represent whole concepts. Since word is a whole concept, it can only be translated as a sentence when there is no equivalent word in the language it’s being translated into. Although, actually I can’t think of an example in English,” he paused, scrunching his face together and looking up as though he were trying to peer inside his brain with his eyes and that somehow that would help him remember. “Well, the French have a word ennui. And ennui, means . . . actually,” Matt pulled out his smartphone and entered the word into the search engine on his browser. After an unbelievably short time, which wasn’t appreciated or even acknowledged as being as miraculous as it was, the smartphone gave him the knowledge he was desiring. “Ennui is the feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction. That one word actually means an entire concept. And the word petrichor! That is the scent of rain on dry earth. Both are concepts condensed into one word. What words in original Hebrew were like ennui and petrichor? Maybe the meaning conveyed in those original words were mistranslated when the scriptures were transferred over to Greek. And then again when the Bible was translated into English? I always wondered if when Jesus said ‘we should love another as yourself,’ he wasn’t meaning you should love one another as separate, disconnected individuals. Maybe he was saying you actually ARE the other person. Only you are subjectively viewing existence and have a different individual past that we have named as our self to which we tether recollections of events as having happened to that self. But it’s only because we’ve had different experiences from one another that shape our behaviour and the way we interact and perceive the world. There’s that atheistic argument that religion is dependant on where you are born. If you’re born in the US you’re probably going to be a Christian. If you’re born in China you’ll be a Confucian or a Buddhist and if you’re Japanese you’ll probably be Shinto. Those cultural designations and expectations will colour your experience of reality.”
Lillith remained silent. Staring, unblinking, contemplating.
Matt continued: “rather than being separate and antagonistic we should recognize that while we are only experiencing the world subjectively, our consciousness is the same consciousness as any and every other person experiencing reality subjectively through their body. That’s a pretty intense idea for the whole of humanity to posses if a certain amount of subjective experiencers want to retain their individuality and their control and power over others. So what did the Pharisees do? Well they killed Jesus and then made it seem like he was a heretic. He was going up against the control, the influence, the power, and the evil that Cain’s lineage stood for. Cain’s influence as the evil force even ended up usurping the spiritual message that Jesus true followers were trying to get out. The church instead used Christianity the religion to control the masses. Not to free them with knowledge. In the Dark Ages only the clergy and noblemen could really read. Why? ‘Cause knowledge. That’s why! Those who possess knowledge possess the power to shape the perception of those who do not have that knowledge. Have you ever told a lie and you knew it was a lie but the other person you told trust you so much that they believe that you are telling them the truth. In that moment you have altered their experience of objective reality. With words, you have changed that person’s awareness of truth. You have made an illusory film that obscures the other person’s awareness of the true, objective reality. So yah, if most people can’t read, they can’t verify whether what the bishop at the front of the church is actually reading is written on the pages of the book in front of him, or whether the speech and its meaning are simply propaganda that aims to control the thoughts and actions of others for the benefit of the elite. That’s why whenever I hear something I also put the information through a prism of critical observation. Who is telling me this information? Why are they telling me this information? Could the messenger have a motive or a bias?”
Lillith continued to stare at him. She was aware now that he was emitting a subtle light that danced in the air around him. She felt a recognition of understanding in his eyes and then she felt an odd sense of deja-vu. She remembered this experience. She remembered this conversation but she remembered it through the subjective experience of Matt.
“Let’s order pizza. On me,” Nathan saw the expression on Alex’s face as soon as he opened the door.
Laura leaped over to the computer.
“Let’s watch something trippy,” Laura suggested. “Oh, we should call Seth and see what he’s doing.”
She picked up the phone and Alex was amazed at the speed with which she dialed the number. Although they did have enough practice calling the number.
Seth said he wasn’t doing anything and would be over as fast as he could climb the two flights of stairs.
“I found this amazing documentary on the biggest things in space. It’ll blow your mind,” Nathan said as he set up the DivX player.
The opening of the documentary had a series of quick cuts of flying through space, to entering a Black Hole, to jutting in and out of an asteroid belt.
Alex felt like he was experiencing all of those things and that he was flying through space at ridiculously intense speeds.
“This was made for people on drugs,” Alex smiled.
Laura giggled, “I know.”
“The Cosmic Web,” the narrator began, “is one of the most mysterious and intriguing features of the Universe. Scientists believe that the Universe is held together by a framework of invisible strings of matter with pockets of void spotted throughout. The web is as big as the universe itself, measuring some 14 billion light years across-“
The image on the screen began panning out from our planet, out through the solar system, and out through the Milky Way, and then faster and faster it raced to finally encompass the entire Universe.
It did look like a web.
There were long threads of matter with nothing in the space between.
Alex suddenly had a crazy epiphany.
The Eye of Affluence – by Joel Nickel
They do not understand how closely I watch them. That amuses me. I’ve been watching for centuries; for eons. Watching intently. I have drunk in the complexities of their petty interactions and the tawdry dealings with which they delude themselves by infusing with a kind of elitist self-importance that irks my benevolent sensibilities. They label themselves rulers and that moniker disturbs me greatly. They wrongly believe their adeptness at, essentially, herding their flock makes them worth their indulgence in self-congratulatory excess. Incorrectly, they believe their deeds have been hidden from all save a few like-minded puppet masters who share a space at what they believe is the top. But there is always a layer higher; just as I have layers adjacent to my own. There are those above me who know what I see and those above them too seeing that they see what I see. For one to think anything to the contrary is egotism and incredible ignorance.
For a long span of time I’ve been watching with interest the Randale family. From their beginnings as largely benign moneylenders, I followed the path over generations of scheming and plotting so as to advance their line; and their ultimate cause as they refer to it among themselves.
That amuses me too.
But amusement turned to astonishment alarmingly quickly as their lineage grew darker and their means to attain their desired ends became more and more malevolent and distasteful. Alas, I cannot intervene and that saddens me, though I have long ago released myself from my misplaced guilt and ownership over any sort of responsibility. I can only watch, as those above can only watch me. I watch others too, I watch all, but I watch the Randale’s most closely. Of course, I see ahead too. And I see what is coming for them. That is at least something.
For the time I have watched, I have seen various incarnations of their line engage in acts of barbarous iniquity. Their wanton need to acquire more and more of that objectively meaningless material [in all of its physical and ethereal forms] seems to direct every action, every choice throughout their bloodlines collective narrative. Countries toppled. Empires destroyed. Millions slaughtered. And over what? Simply a concept that exists solely as a means for control.
They cannot see the adjacent levels of reality as I can. They do not see below as they have not seen me above and in their current state they can never ascend. But surely they will descend.
Any who learn of the Randale’s past and current actions and their ultimate cause [and have had the unfortunate fortitude to stand against them] have ascended to meet me before they could alert any others. Or, if they are lucky, the ones who espouse the change so urgently needed are shamed and marginalized into meaninglessness amongst their greater brethren. They are given labels like cooks, conspiracy nuts, crazies, but they are ones who have seen as I have seen and am seeing.
The Randale’s control the information and in the current incarnation, Vermillion Randale, leads the clandestine army of influencers toward realizing his family’s legacy of their ultimate cause. But I know. I know what’s coming. And I shall never see them ascend to meet me. But I will watch them descend below with measured delight.
Chapter 3 – The Theft of the Daggar
The Daggar of Absolom had begun to hum the moment Jax had taken it from the pedestal. The glowing was something new though. That had only started after he’d left the Spriton clan territory and entered the Swamp of Sog.
While the rest of the clan was celebrating the addition of his older brother, Jek, to the Spriton brotherhood, the order of warriors, Jax had snuck away in search of Rel.
Jek had never seen war, but then again neither had most of the citizens in the Spriton capitol. Only his uncle Rel had ever known what war truly was. Yes, the Woodland and Spriton Gelflings despised one another, but only Rel had witnessed any violence.
Jax couldn’t understand why the Spriton’s would need an army if they never fought. And it angered him that when one of their own needed them they celebrated instead. Rel had not returned home for almost seven blinks of the Rose Sun. At his old age he must be in trouble, or lost, or worse. Everyone seemed to shrug it off as unimportant and immersed themselves in the decadent celebration that signaled yet another Spriton boy had become a man of the brotherhood.
No one was even guarding the daggar when he went to take it. At first he’d just wanted to address the council of the Dark Woods for guidance and reassurance that Rel was not in danger. He had been one of the strongest and bravest of the brotherhood, but that was long long ago. Instead, Jax arrived to find the chamber still and soundless. At least until he removed the daggar, that’s when the hum began.
Jax stared at the now daggar as the light it cast off drove shadows from the swamp around him. The bark of the weedtrees that lined the path pulsed with pale blue light as he passed, journeying deeper into Sog.
“Rel?” he called out into the blackness beyond the reach of the daggar’s light. “Rel, it’s Jax. Are you okay? Do you need help?”
Jax was four cycles of the Greater Sun away from becoming part of the brotherhood. Well, three and three-quarter cycles as of the last pass of the middle moon. Though seeing how disinterested they were in Rel’s wellbeing he didn’t think the brotherhood was one to which he’d ever wish to belong. It had been almost an entire triad of dark and light since he’d left with the humming, and now glowing, daggar. Two of which were spent still within Spriton territory. Part of him wished that the Order of Warriors would follow after him. That was why he’d gone slower than he would have, something he was now regretting. The time he’d wasted dragging his feet might have put Rel in more danger. He was aware of his slow pace through the Swamp but that was more fear than any voluntary action on his part.
The Swamp of Sog was the womb of terrifying monsters that he’d been warned of again and again.
The Daggar of Absolom began to hum louder with an added nauseating resonance that made his teeth tingle. The weapon’s pulsing blue light shone brighter and lit up more and more of the swamp with each buzzing swell. Around him, the night gurgled and spat stinking plumes of thick mist. The smell was unlike anything he’d encountered. It was so strong it was attacking his thoughts and overpowering his senses. His whole body felt heavy like something was filling him, adding to himself and maybe even taking him over. It was the smell of the swamp. He was sure of it. The light continued to pulse and Jax gripped the hilt of the humming blade tighter in his hand. He used his other hand to press the fabric of his sleeve tightly against his nose. The coughing fit leapt out of nothingness and struck him like a Land Strider hoof to his chest. He couldn’t breathe behind his sleeve, but the scent of the swamp was viscous and heavy and oppressive. It felt like every breath was not a breath but a swallowing of liquid Sog.
He tried to think of something, anything to get his mind off of the taste of the swamp. He tried breathing only through his nose but the liquid air engorged with the stench slithered into his nostrils, scraping along the hairs. It burrowed deeper inside him before dropping down into the chasm that fell away into the larger expanse just before his throat where it rested on the flesh of his tongue.
The fortified walls, his tightly pursed lips and gritted teeth, defending his tongue and taste buds were all for naught. The sneaky liquid scent had circumvented them all the same.
The Siege of Ebrie!
Even old Rel’s hot, sour breath would have been sweetly fragrant aside the swamp. Jax remembered that fled his mouth through the rotted bars of green teeth would have been sweetly fragrant when compared to this noxious swamp. Rel had cackled on through the incomplete cage of teeth about the adventures and terrors from a time now at the mercy of his degrading memory. The time of reverence and respect for the heroic Blue Knight had long ago given way to dismissive and disdainful tolerance. No one believed his stories anymore.
No one but Jax.
He remembered the story of the Siege of Ebrie. Rel would sit by the flames of his hearth and Jax would intently experience Rel’s stories from a meditation mat on the floor.
I wonder, are the gods we credit with creating the universe actually the result of our shared human tendency to anthropomorphize good and evil? We have intent and motivation behind our actions and reactions and so feel the need to extend that awareness of choice, morality, and consequences onto the intangible, giving it form.
God. The Devil. Horus. Set. Ahura Mazda. Angra Mainyu.
Again and again in our collective religious history we see the duality of “good” and “evil”; “light” and “darkness”. We assign our gods a polarity, an alignment, and we concede our own responsibility to the influence of either of those sides. “The devil made me do it.” “I feel the spirit of the Lord.” But what if we’re just grouping together actions and ideals, separating them into benevolent and malevolent, and then attributing to them an identity, an intelligence that we can interact with. We are social beings and crave the connection with one another and again and again in history we find humans granting religious beings a sort of hyper-humanity; something we can understand and somewhat identify with while still being the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent beings we need them to be to serve the purpose we created them for.
What is good but the desire to extend kindness, love, protection, inclusiveness and understanding to others when one is given the opportunity to do so and to do so without the expectation that your actions will be reciprocated?
What is evil but the denial of those actions in favor of those that would see others impoverished, persecuted, injured, ostracized, and willfully ignorant of the feelings and wellbeing of others, while at the same time striving only for the benefit of the ego at the expense of others?
What would the world look like if we looked past our imagined personifications of good and evil and viewed them instead as metaphors. Rather than attributing their alignment with a spiritual entity that can be contacted, bartered with, or enticed to throw its weight behind a partisan agenda, we saw them as archetypes modeled to aid us while we shape our own perception of morality.
What does it matter which name or human personification we give: good? (or evil)
Why not consciously strive to conduct yourself in a way that benefits those around you? Does an injured person care what creed their rescuer aligns themselves with? Would allegiance trump the need for the injured to be healed?
Evil separates. Evil sows prejudice and distrust.
Good binds together and connects. Good radiates understanding and acceptance.
Take responsibility for the actions, inaction, and injury you are responsible for and don’t attribute the source of that decision to any other being than yourself.
Show love. Live Love. Be Love.
*for more reading check out the wikipedia entry for: Good and Evil
I feel like I’m not allowed to be. I think of all the others not allowed to be:
the artists, the philosophers, the scientists, the healers, all dismissively abandoned.
Imprisoned in our corporate purgatory, waiting for the coveted big break we are
so regularly promised. Pacified. Encouraged. Enticed. Maybe the lottery. Maybe the internet. If you fail it’s only because you didn’t try hard enough. That flaccid promise of
happiness slaps us in the face. Just keep your head down. Keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t rock the boat. Someday your big break will come. Saturday morning cartoons told you how special and important you are. Television wouldn’t lie to you. You will all be rich. You will all be famous. Just be patient. And buy this product. Not that one! No, really. If you buy that one they’ll know you’re poor. Know you’re inferior. Can’t afford it? Hmmm. We have something for you. If you can’t buy this piece of hard plastic will work. Great! Now that you’ve purchased that superior product, from that superior corporation, you’re now on this rung of the ladder. (Almost there!) You don’t wanna go back down the ladder, right? So you’ll need this product! No NO!! Not that one. Jesus. That sends the totally wrong message that you want other to see!! Do you want people to see just how inferior you actually are? No one will love you. No one will accept you. You need this!! From THIS company! Have we taught you nothing? God, you’re stupid! Hmmm, still can’t pay? Oh, you only have a part-time job ’cause your employer discovered that if you have lots of part-time workers instead of fewer full-time workers it works out better for the people at the top? Hmmm, well, you still have that card right? Good. Oh, rent … utilities …. oh yah, food. Well, hey, that card works for all those places. And they have lots of places you can just drive up to and they just give you a full meal. You don’t even have to learn how to cook! How convenient is that! AND most of them are open 24 hours! Hmmm, unhappy? … let’s see …. take two of these in the morning. One of these at lunch. Oh, and don’t mix this with this. Drink this! We like when you drink it. You like when you drink it. It’s the way everyone relaxes on the weekend after a hard week of 9-5. (Oh, wait, yah, you’re part-time) well, whatever, more time for you to drink. Oh, but don’t smoke that. We’ll arrest you if you do! We don’t make any money when you smoke that. So drink this! This is better anyway. And people will have sex with you and you’ll have more friends and do amazing fun and adventurous things. You should know this already? I thought you watch TV? Speaking of which you’re missing your favourite show! You like that one? How about this one? This one is like the one you like! And this one too. It really keeps your attention (and keeps you watching which products you need to buy if you want to be accepted) Oh, you’re sick … hmmm, well, try a little harder. You’re almost at the top rung. Happiness is right there. Don’t quit while you’re so close!! Oh, um, by the way, you haven’t been making minimum payments on that card. The balance is getting pretty high… what? Um, well then you shouldn’t have bought so many things if you didn’t have the money. That’s your fault for being so bad with managing your money. You loser. Jeez, you’re the reason the economy is in such bad shape. You’re ruining it for the rest of us. God! Still sick? Hmmm, yah, I’m sorry but that not really my problem. You’re gonna have to sort that out yourself. Okay, this is too much you pathetic loser. We’re coming to take back the stuff you can’t afford. Why did you get it if you couldn’t afford it. Man, you’re just the worst kind of person. Wanna have a drink? We have light now so that you don’t become fat. Fat AND poor and unemployed? Wow, dude, you’re useless to me now. Fuck off.
Think of all the works of art, all the profound thoughts, all the scientific breakthroughs, all the connectedness, and love, and growth that we are missing out on. They are deprived of flowering into being by the choking tendrils of poorly constructed, disjointed and unfairly balanced machine who incongruous parts are mashed into place like mismatched puzzle pieces, stolen from many vastly different images that cheat the other from experiencing their own completeness.
But how do we construct a complete image with incompatible parts? The void of dissonance could be filled but is instead being improperly repurposed in a malformed mosaic erected by self-interested architects who short-sightedly beat the misfit pieces into place. Afterward, they pull a tight tarp of propaganda over the jagged and porous surface of the puzzle to deny the awareness of the mosaic’s truth; jagged and discordant. The new image, the one that benefits the architects, lavishes upon itself a narrative of ego masturbation. Through architect approved media, through required acceptance of specific philosophy, they continue to tug, re-shape, and re-tighten their degenerating tarp across the fragmented puzzle pieces. We are all the same! They say. Just keep doing what you’re doing and we’ll all be okay. There’s a new car that the girls are getting wet for! Why not go buy it! You’ll feel better. I promise. The fabricated image stretched out along the skin of the tarp furiously tries to obscure the individual puzzle pieces beneath from seeing their true image. It lures them into believing that they are contributing to an image with an entirely different meaning than the one that exists. Our re-purposed puzzle pieces bend and crack together into an image that benefits only the architects. It leaves the pieces impoverished, waiting for their big break.