An Ontological Discussion With Matt [Short Story]

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.

The Puppet Shaman – An Ouroboros Short Story

“Einstein proved that time is relative and that there’s no reason why time should always be moving forward. There’s the time’s arrow thing; that something happened before and it caused this. But, what if they’re not sequential moments in time but are momentary snapshots that we, because we have memory, phase into and out of in a linear way,” Alex said excitedly.

“Okay, maybe I’m just high, but I didn’t understand any of that, Alex,” Greg giggled. After the service, those of the Mokeyists who indulged in hallucinogens stayed behind for a kind of second service. Usually, it was only Alex, his girlfriend Faith, and Greg. Nathan and Laura usually attended the second service but he hadn’t heard from Laura since the breakup and Nathan would only just be arriving in Korea.

“Okay,” Alex paused. “What if every moment in time exists simultaneously however we can only experience one snapshot at any one time and after we phase through that one snapshot it goes back to the whole where every snapshot in time exists simultaneously.”

“Sweet!” Greg’s unfocused eyes were almost completely dilated. Alex knew Greg had grey eyes. But the three of them had just taken mushrooms so now the colour was swallowed by pupil. Part of Alex wanted to check the mirror to see if his eyes looked like Greg’s but he knew that mirrors were often unfriendly on psychedelics. While all that was going on inside his head, he’d forgotten that he had a body outside of his thoughts and just sat there with a slack spine, staring into Greg’s eyes.

“Posture!” Faith reminded him sweetly, stroking his shoulder lovingly. Continue reading

the thing behind it.

exerpt from OUROBOROS: III – The Watchers

Alex Sunderland :

I am being confronted by a discouraging and uncomfortable realization. As I scroll down through the posts, links, and photos that populate the various newsfeeds on the platforms through which I consume social media, it hit me. These shape how I view events in my life. This is what I think is going on. What’s most important. What’s real. And most of it is negative and depressing. It shapes how I feel and it shapes how I treat others and how I make them feel. I’m still writing this as I’m figuring it out and working through it. I feel like I’m only just barely treading through this stream of consciousness and take in its meaning all while waves of information keep slapping me under. Each waves brings greater clarity, mind you, but each time the next one crashes over me the landscape of the stream is altered. Hmmm, reading this back make me sound insane. I’m pretty sure I’m not, but bear with me. Maybe we’ll know at the end . . . Okay, so a moment ago my mind just gave out and is kind of rebooting. While that’s happening and I pick up where that thought ended, I’m going to ponder why that awareness took so long to recognize it. Once my brain reboots of course. Then I’m sure I’ll decipher its meaning, or at least I hope I will) Why didn’t I see it? Hmmm. Forest for the trees I guess, right? Although, it… It? Before it wasn’t an it. It just was, and maybe it got tired of waiting on my coming to its awareness on my own. I see it now though. (I finished rebooting) It. A thing. A being. A purposeful entity, trying to passive-aggressively influence change while at the same time evading the consequences of intervening in a direct and measurable way in our 4% universe. I do think its’ impatience and exasperation elected to disregard any possible rules that may have kept it from intervening before. Now it screams to me. It screams an irritated and disappointment. Not in English. Possibly a precursor to language as homo-sapiens understand language. A means of communicating, unworldly to us in this 4% universe we like to think contains everything, though to it, this precursor language might be a rudimentary, pig-latin-like bastardization of pure communication that it is forced to use in a desperate attempt to communicated with such uncomplicated beings that inhabit the 4% universe. Hmm, yah, this makes me sound insane. I don’t think I am, but then again, I wouldn’t right? I don’t feel insane. Although, I’m not sure what that feels like. It’s the way I’ve always felt . . . so maybe I’ve always been insane and I just thought that was what normal felt like. Then what would sanity feel like to someone who is insane? . . . . hmmm, I don’t really wanna think about that right now. . . . okay, anyway, please bear with me, I am going somewhere. Really I am. I’m still trying to articulate what may not be possible at all. But I’m going to try really hard. I guess, I could liken it to being one complete concept; formally existing as abstract, corporeal information imprinted inside the purposeful electricity sparking about my mind, (but since growing impatient with my inability to understand or to see it on my own) it gathered itself together to puncture its way into my material universe and assume tangible form. Though not physically visible, but a kind of cognitive visibility, which I argue is as equally as real and as artificial as the five answers we’d need to scribble down to award us full marks on the standardized tests by which we define an individuals intelligence and ultimately what role they are intelligent enough to perform in the machinery of homo sapien society. Anyway, this isn’t a rant on institutional education, I’m getting further and further away, but I’m trying to get back. . . . Okay, so that moment, I saw it. That’s a good point for us to reconnect. I saw (but didn’t, but did) it thrash its’ arms around in exasperated impatience, trying to flag down my . . . hmmm . . . okay, another thought I believe I am failing at articulating coherently (and I’m sure this entry will likely be interpreted as powerful confirmation that I am mentally ill. That’s all. Here, purchase this pill. And maybe a padded jacket. Probably a padded jacket. But don’t forget those pills. That’ll be a monthly cost that will come out of your paycheque after rent, food, gas, car insurance, car payment, utilities, taxes, uh, yah but if you wanna feel better you’re gonna have to pay us for that though. We don’t want you to be mentally ill, ‘cause you might mess with the normal people, but yah, you’re gonna have to pay out of pocket ‘cause yah, the pharmaceutical companies want to see profits in the next quarter higher than they were this last quarter. Thank you and come again (and again and again and again). Okay, wow, now I’m off again. Alright, that cord was here somewhere . . . oh, there it is. Okay so it was waving and I saw (or didn’t see, but did) well, I did. I did see it. And peeking out from behind it, was something that had followed through the punctured skin into the 4% universe. I wonder if it could see the thing behind it. I’m sure it did. But the thing behind it (though smaller) was louder and got my attention first. The thing behind it was the realization that this experience (MY experience) would be dismissed as some mental hallucination that needed to be flushed out with pharmaceutical chemicals (but only the ones that would boost profits in the next quarter, don’t self medicate . . . that would hurt our profits) If you’ve read this far, in my mind, you are still reading for one of a few possible reasons. Possibly, you wanna see exactly how nutty and irrational my rant will become, or your feeling pity and sadness and you’re staring at the screen with your head tilted to one side and your eyebrows scrunched up like hairy sloped roof of some empathic house. There’s probably a lot of reasons you might still be reading actually, but maybe you read this and you understand. Maybe you read this and you relate or you see something in this that reminds you of someone close to you. I don’t think I’m insane though. But maybe sanity is more of a spectrum than it is an absolute. Maybe I’m swinging along on the pendulum that arcs its way back and forth to extremes, and right now I’m swinging to one side. (I’m just not sure which side) But . . . maybe I am only experiencing some misfiring spark of arcing electricity that buzzes through an incorrect channel through to the third eye as if it were some existential taxi with a corrupted gps navigation system. Okay, that was the final tangent. I promise. (as much as someone like me can promise something) When I finally acknowledged the physical, yet invisible, complete and concentrated concept that resided inside it (equally real and unreal, true and untrue, sanity and fantasy) I was engulfed in the bright flares of awareness that suddenly mindful of the malevolent dark thread of subtle, manipulating  weaves through my newsfeed. And I realized this darkness that colors my perception is completely self-imposed. I am the architect of the information I consume. I decide to subscribe or to follow users that contribute to my experience of reality. I can see the thread clearly now. Just like it. Real and unreal. Physical and immaterial. The thread connects each sad piece of the collage of meticulously crafted information that exists to serve a specific purpose and a specific segment of homo sapiens who benefit from said information. I realized, I need to start a newsfeed negativity cull. **and further along this tangent, (I know I promised, but I might be insane) I hope I’m not contributing to that same negativity by the posts on my own timeline. I only endeavor to promote discussion regarding relevant issues and ideas. I know in the past I’ve taken a more antagonistic approach to how I relay those points and I now know that my intentionally offensive and combative attitude only ended up charging the animosity between opposing views and only made the other side close themselves off even more from ideas. And regretfully, my original purpose of facilitating discussion by poking the snake really only served to bolster the stereotype of the cynical, condescending, pretentious liberal atheist, jerking off his ego while reciting irrelevant and impotent words with the self-satisfied delusion of significance. I had once believed that that role I’d scripted for my online persona was helpful, possibly even important and courageous, but I’m one person. One person with one subjective experience of our 4% universe. I don’t know shit. You shouldn’t listen to me. But you also shouldn’t listen to anyone. We make our reality. My telling you what MY reality is shapes and distorts your perception of reality. No ones interpretation of this 4% sliver of physical reality is any more or less valid than anyone else, but none are the same. We are all arguing about different subject truths that we have witnessed and experienced and are devoutly and unfalteringly sure of what we have experienced with our five, socially accepted senses. In all this, my intent was not to discourage or dishearten. This should empower and encourage. Or you finished this rant and you’re more than confident that I’m insane. I’d like to know if I’m insane, though. But I’m pretty sure I’m not insane.

Zeros and Ones – A Philosophy Of My Personal eLegacy

After my time in the universe reaches its end, the values and arrangement of zeros and ones that have made up my digital existence will live on far far longer. (and thanks for the NSA data storage program, maybe infinitely) I really hope that if some future being should ever decide to trace the events that made up my digital life, he, she, it, or they do not stop reading at my immature beginnings and  decide against following the extent of my experience. I want the electronic legacy that extends beyond my own life to be one full of meaning, of compassion, of love, integrity, of acceptance, of understanding. I want to uplift not tear down, to support not discourage, to expand and extend my awareness not shield myself from being challenged in my ideas. In short, I want to be proud of the  way I have conducted myself if, in the far off future, some cognizant beings ever wished to recall the information imprinted in my chosen arrangement of zeros and ones.

*to future beings: I want you to enjoy reading the arc of my eLegacy and I want my story to end happily. I hope I didn’t disappoint.

Re-Purposed Puzzle Pieces

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.

ersatz – short story (from the ouroboros universe)

They sat silently together on the couch, watching the news. Alex frequently stole short glances over at Nathan who’s sombre default face stared vacantly over at the television screen in front of him. Alex saw the aura of synthetic unreality had come to envelop Nathan as well.

What’s the point? Alex stared back at the TV. The news anchor was saying something about bike lanes or something about rapid transit but Alex was conscious of the sickly film of dream-like imitation that seeped into all the pockets of matter and imbued them with a profound ersatz.

Neither of them talked about the woman in the apartment next door. They didn’t remind one another that they’d pulled her out of the ground. They didn’t talk about the time traveling drug box that had been the catalyst of their existential collapse. They didn’t talk about Seth’s suicide.

Both Nathan and Alex were numb. Death seemed to be constantly present in their awareness and their lives had taken on a subdued, unimportance that left them both lethargic and detached.

Alex had separated himself so much that he no longer believed any of it was actually happening. Everything he experienced exuded an artificial and illusory glow that seemed to emphasize how fabricated and immaterial this version of reality was when pressed against the unknowable other world from which he now believed was the source of his consciousness. It seemed like some unreal inner fantasy that he was watching unfold, emotionlessly, detachedly. The contrast was so emphasized in his mind that it would’ve been comical if it weren’t so wholly and cripplingly terrifying.

He wasn’t eating. He wasn’t really sleeping. He even stopped going to work. They just sat in the apartment, staring at the television.

Well, he was. He could only be sure that he was actually sitting at the television. Alex’s anxious thoughts had made him so discouragingly isolated that almost every moment was spent acutely aware of the division of his body and the impenetrable barrier of the material beyond.

The dishearteningly persistent feeling of déjà vu re-emerged, clasping tightly the once limp and meandering attention for control of Alex’s conscious awareness. Although this time it was paired with a kind of parallel memory that swatted menacingly as it tried to infect his mind; to insert a memory he knew couldn’t have ever truly had. And yet, still, he was sure it had. He remembered he was in a living room.

My living room! In that brief fraction of momentary memory Alex felt unwaveringly confident that it was absurd to even consider the memory as being illegitimate; impossibly absurd. Of course it’s my living room!

Alex’s thought seemed to stutter and flash around jerkily as the awareness that the separate memory was also irrefutably true.

In this other memory that couldn’t have ever happened, yet had, Alex was sitting with Seth. He was aware of that same feeling of utter disconnection from his experience and the reality that was the medium of that experience. He was massaging his wife’s shoulders and . . .

Wife?

      He battled with his equally unwavering confidence that he did not own a home, but instead co-rented an apartment with his roommate Nathan. A roommate who, until that instantly preceding moment, Alex was fully convinced existed only in the impenetrable state of artificial otherness. He’d acknowledge in that moment that there was another Alex; an Alex with a dramatically different life. The other Alex had also come to that same discovery of the otherness. Both were considering if reality was one solid substance through which each separate Alex navigated.

A bright, nauseating flush of déjà vu crashed on top of Alex again and he could feel his throat tightening.

The grating dissonance of the two alternate memories crackled with an ominous potential energy. As the conflicting memories jostled for supremacy, superimposed over a single point in his brain, Alex began feel dizzy. He feared the awareness of the reality collapsing paradox. The growing intensity of the two opposing sides cast off brilliant sparks that burst soundlessly about the room.

Most of him was fearful, though part of him was anxiously anticipating the collapse of reality. Pleading for it.

There was a jolt of a feeling his static filled mind tried to label and quantify.

An acceptance, or a connectedness . . .

Alex was too busy trying to latch on to the rediscovery of feeling to accurately describe what it was. He’d already accepted that those feelings would remain unceasingly absent for the rest of his life. Their unexpected rediscovery caused his body to convulse in another warm spasm of bright, protective, wholeness. The filter of synthetic unreality through which Alex had once viewed himself and his surroundings, began to disintegrate and dissolve away. Every atom in the room seemed somewhat brighter, as if each light were casting off a subtle glow of serenity and purpose.

Nathan was still staring at the television expressionlessly.

Everything looked different. He knew he couldn’t put it all together in that moment, but something bright, something good, something benevolent had revealed to him the knowledge of an unalienable connectedness that exists between everything. A connectedness that while at some times feels illusive is always present and persisting eternally inside every atom.

He found that he was holding his breath and he exhaled loudly and kind of coughed. Nathan didn’t seem to notice.

Alex knew that his newly acquired knowledge was frustratingly fragmented in terms of the larger understanding of the exact mechanism of the connectedness, but something told him that when he needed to know, the universe would enlighten him.

The newscaster threw to a commercial and Nathan hit the mute button.

“I fucking hate commercials,” Nathan was still staring expressionlessly at the sequential flashing of the quickly rotating still images that soundlessly bled together. Alex was conscious of every one of the individual thirty frames in every second that flashed by. Time slowed and Alex became aware of the connectedness of everything that had been captured inside the single, still image. The position of everything inside the individual frame: the placement of the actors, the lights, the colour of the countertop, the font choice for the logo the ad was attempting to coax the viewer into purchasing, it was all one.

When the news came back on, Nathan still had the TV muted but Alex immediately recognized the picture of the woman.

Under the woman’s picture was a police hotline phone number.

Wanted in connection with weekend homicide.

“Turn it up!”

“-lp in finding information into the shooting death of building superintendent Jacob Phillips this past weekend,” the newscaster said as the image cut to an establishing shot of the outside of their building.

“Holy fuck!”

Alex’s eyes began to burn and he realized he had no idea when he’d last blinked. He’d been so disconnected that he didn’t even know about Jake.

Does death follow me? Or do I follow it?

“Police are trying to locate a woman whom sources say shared an apartment with Phillips. During the course of the homicide investigation authorities discovered the building’s basement was being used as a marijuana grow op. Right now it is unclear whether or not the homicide is connected with the basement grow op although, it is alleged that Mr. Phillips has past ties to gang activity stemming as far back as the 1980s.”

“Holy fuck,” Nathan reached over and grabbed the pipe and began filling another bowl.

Alex felt the full immediacy of reality as his awareness of the present moment expand. There was more of reality than he’d ever been aware of before. He was part of something larger. Something important. And he began to feel something that had been ripped from him long ago.

Optimism.

Grey Spade’s new album: Sol

in the year 2284, the last homo sapiens reside in the underground city of Atlen. After the great global war, the surviving humans built Atlan as a refuge from the machines. Over the generations, Atlen devolved into an oligarchy. Years of corrupt leadership has left the populous on the verge of revolt.