Wednesday, September 15, 2010


One day I finally decided to do it, to actually do it.
I created an altar on the east wall of my room, the one wall with the least amount of junk scattered on the floor in front of it. On this altar I placed photographs of myself, a sequence of images progressing slowly from infancy to adulthood. At the center of the altar I placed a photograph of my father. I made something like a throne for this picture to rest on, some thick books covered by a piece of red cloth and a couple of small figurines to guard it. It was enough like a throne that I could see it as a throne and that was enough for me.
When the altar was ready, I lit candles and incense. The room got thick with smoke and strong scents from distant lands I had never visited. Then I sat in front of my altar to stare at what I had created. It would have been easy to overlook that step. But I didn’t. This was the time when I would finally do it. I couldn’t jump over any step.

Drip drop went the secretions of certain glands that helped me to modify my view of reality.
Drip drop.
The Real.
That is what we were searching for, isn’t it? Some of us, not all of us. Sometimes, not all the time.
It was important then to understand that not everyone wanted to discover the Real. Some did seek it out, but when they found it they recoiled in terror and sincerely hoped that they would never have to see it again. Some said that they wanted it but they really wanted other things, private pleasures that would never be disclosed in public. I had to understand this. I had to remember it.

In those days I had come to understand that I was a robot. (It may seem obvious to you now, but it was a great shock to me when I first saw it. Don’t forget how different things were back then. None of what we know now was so clear, it was all kind of fuzzy, like looking at a vast landscape through piece of cellophane wrapped around your head.)
I was some kind of bio mechanical doll. I was made of meat and not metal but I was still a robot. A sophisticated meat doll. That was all I was. Nothing more, nothing less.
All that I liked, all that I disliked, all that I believed and disbelieved, all that I wanted and all that I feared, these things were not ME, even if they seemed like it. They might have seemed to come from me, but they didn’t. They had all come from somewhere else.
These things were programs that I ran, within my wet circuitry of coils of bloody guts. Or rather I should say that these were programs that ran me. I was merely a strange unconscious puppet in their hands, an empty receptacle for their various microscopic products.
I had no hand in creating or choosing all these programs. It was strange circuitous process that occurred long before I knew what was happening, or that anything was happening at all. Most of it was quite accidental. Accidental programming. It just happened. In my case, it happened to me. You understand? So it seemed natural, eminently natural, so it seemed real, so it seemed normal, so it seemed as the way things should be. What else could they be? This was me and everything around me fit perfectly with me. Almost everything, I should say. Almost everything.

Strawberries were good, black licorice was bad. Men with facial hair made me wet, so wet that the juice ran down my thighs and made it hard for me to sit still. When the sun was shining, I was happy and because I was happy, I twisted my face into a kind of frozen grimace that I called a smile. Cats were better than dogs. It was never okay to steal. It was okay to lie sometimes but only in particular situations. Killing was okay but only when you were threatened. Christians were good and Muslims were bad. I had to sleep in a bed or I wouldn’t feel right in the morning. The bed had to have sheets and blankets, all of certain colors. I had to make a certain amount of money a year. I had to have a car to drive so I could go places, places where there were other people like me.
All of these things were arbitrary. I didn’t know it then but it was still true. None of these programs represented anything that was objectively true. It was just things that were said and they got repeated. Linguistic viruses that came into me when someone spoke too loud too close to me, when my senses were wide open and vulnerable. They were a kind of sonic self reproductive demons that inhabited my shivering temple of wet and tender walls, strange non physical half living creatures that swayed me to do this or that, pushed me to do things in a way that complied with their secret directives.

So I made a crown. I knew it couldn’t be too simple, it shouldn’t be. Some effort had to go into its construction. But I also couldn’t make it too elaborate. If I made it too difficult I would never finish it and it was of utmost importance that I should finish.
I knew it had to fit upon my head. That was most crucial. I made it out of twine and placed some leaves and flowers all along the perimeter. I was very pleased with my work.
I placed the crown and a robe on the simple little altar I had made earlier. I placed it all before my father’s throne. It seemed as if he was looking down at it but it was really just a photograph. Still, it really did seem like he was looking. Looking down. At me.
The robe was an old terrycloth bathrobe, light green in color, nothing that special really. Not until I made it special. And then it was. It truly was.

Everyone around me was the same. This took some time for me to recognize. For so long I had assumed that everyone else was different, that they actually knew what they were doing and why they were doing it. It took me a while to accept that they knew as much as I did, maybe a little less since they couldn’t look directly into their own robotic nature, since they still believed they made decisions on their own, since they still believed they were unique and capable of deciding their own course in life.
The fact was that we simply collided our way through an accidental obstacle course that we called existence. We bounced off of each other like bumper cars. It became clear that they were all the same, Hebrews, Romans, or Barbarians. In fact, I had lost track of what had once distinguished them from each other. Suddenly they all seemed the same to me. Not in a good way, either.
One genetic trait was not better than another. Some things made a particular genetic line of robots live longer. That in itself was not “good”. The entire perpetuation of the species was neither good nor bad. It was simply a thing to watch happening, like the firecrackers on the fourth of July or black birds flying in a flock over a calm lake in summertime.
Survival was all that mattered to them, to us. The survival of the meat bots. All the meat bots like me. We thought we were superior to every other thing that bopped around on this planet. We thought we were the best.
Somehow, what we thought to explain our own presence here, was what made us better. One thought justified another in a circle that we were never inclined to unwind or examine closely.
We were somehow better than dogs because when we fucked, we would do it within the bounds of holy matrimony and we would then produce children to please GOD. GOD, which was itself a construct of our bewildered and imaginative minds which we molded into our own image. GOD, mad scientist, creator of broken robots out of old discarded parts.
We were better because we could see the difference between right and wrong. And we got to decide what was right and wrong based on what was best for us. And we were told what was best for us before we even knew what was being said to us. So we decided nothing. Nothing at all.
An accidental obstacle course and nothing else. It was hard to see it back then. But you have to understand, we didn’t know hardly anything.

When everything was prepared and the scene was set, I bowed to the four directions and crossed my heart, just as I had learned so long ago, back when I had thought I knew so much.
I approached the altar carefully, almost with weariness. In a loud and clear voice, I said:
"I have come to bear the burden"
I said it two more times slowly and carefully. The sound of my voice echoed through the room and came back to me thicker and stronger than I would have imagined it.

We were machines run by programs created by unnamed authors, long lost biological hackers who had maybe succumbed to their own devious traps.
We were ruled by Accident, Chaos, Chance. Our main directive, our only real wish was to survive at any cost. Everything else was secondary. No matter what we said, no matter what we believed.
That is all we were, all we were, all we were. But we didn’t know it. We didn’t want to know it.
Now you understand, just like you do. It wasn’t easy to see through it, through the great charade, the great game. It wasn’t easy for me, it wasn’t easy for anyone. Nobody starts out with a taste for silence. It’s an acquired taste. Something to be developed.

I removed my father’s photograph from the throne and placed it face down on the carpet. I then replaced it with one of my own. My photograph up there on the throne looking down at me just like my father had been doing before. I put on the robe that I had chosen and I placed the crown upon my head. I placed it slowly, suddenly aware of what I was doing, suddenly curious, suddenly afraid.
I extended my arms to both sides palms facing upward. Then I brought them together over my heart in a prayer position, palms together, fingers pointing upwards.
I looked at myself on the throne. I looked at myself and my self looked back. I recognized myself. I recognized my self. There. On the throne. I had come to bear the burden. It was time to take my rightful place. It was time to leave the charade behind. It was time to know.

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