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TERROR WARNING: The weak of spirit would call this a waking nightmare; they who have so diligently abraded all traces of spirit against the lathe of heaven must recognize it by now as merely the latest page in a choose-your-own horrorshow.
In chilling duality to that recurrent sensation wherein the final peace found at the end of freefall is merely sudden resumption of consciously sensing the equilibrated support of one's own somata, one of the worst states of mind into which to awaken is the panic of an uncontrolled dive from full comprehension of plexure hypervalent than the waking state: final grips at an idea's full graph alternate with sense data, and soon enough the tendency of entertaining the illusion of control compels the counting compulsion to reveal that the two sequences tend in opposite directions. Punt that observation of how the Zeroth Impersonal is less lonely than the person into whom I now awake, in favor of hinting the local nabla, that it may guide tomorrow's turn...
Imagine an amphiphilic fluid near criticality, foaming as it struggles to contain the nucleated vapor phase within at least two surfaces of liquid. The liquid itself churns, oligomers forming and vanishing while enthalpy dances between the phases. Consider only those oligomers lasting longer than the relaxation time of the pressure imbalance across a punctured membrane; and consider only those regions of the liquid sufficiently thin to contain no more than a single layer of so-called bulk separating the surfaces. The arrangement of such units is enumerable, whether the fluid is water or words.
I can't quite recall how I ended up there; although the immediate surroundings were unrecognizable, their nature hinted at an unforgettable compound where the scarcity of water paled in comparison to that of shade. I scrambled partway up a slope of loose earth, pausing to squat by a cement cube crumbling to expose iron loops rusted far past their original usefulness. My rest was soon interrupted by a procession of cadets, clothed in nondescript uniforms and carrying all manner of equipment: rifles, ammunition, stretchers, tents, people.
After they had assembled into formation, a uniformed officer's familiar face materialized at my side.
"How did you get here?", asked his puzzled look of recognition, as though eight years had meant nothing and I belonged with the others. Recalling where I'd seen him last, I answered: "After giving up on the military career quest, I am currently in the academic career quest, although about to give up on that one too, and am wandering alone at the edges of Known Space in search of a tangible goal. What about you? You, too, are almost where I left you, but not quiet."
He smiled, the same smile polite to the point of bashfulness that had earned him so much scorn from the cadets, as though he wanted to grin yet was afraid the aerosol of flies, mosquitos, and desert dust would fill his mouth should it ever open without a simultaneous exhalation, and the dreamtime vacuum energy filled my mind with his hypothetical predicament:
"When you met me, I prepared artillery men for officer training. Now, I prepare officers for artillery training. I do not know whether I entered this revolving door forwards or backwards, but it spins too fast for me to leave."
As I wonder how I would navigate out of his boots, I find them gone, replaced by my own bare feet, gathering dust at the gateless gate of Abulafia's missing art; there is a war in heaven, yes, although the angels and demons are all our own.
- A Compass Blooms
- Head Of The Lethe
- Rhetorical Vocative
- Pervalent Brane Cancer
- Encoding For Survivability
Sometime in the hours after that last incident, I found myself balancing the perfectly reasonable yet mutually exclusive demands upon my time and location from people who do exist, although have never met each other outside of this particular hell. For reasons likely influenced by current events, my conversations with them collided at an overgrown cathedral rudely interrupting an otherwise perfectly serviceable maze of urban alleyways, which had turned my would-be escape route into a surprise pilgrimage.
I juggled excuses at the first two pursuers, although one would require an actual conversation rather than just a quick response, and such commons is no place for conversation. We arranged to meet at one of the nearby gardens to talk things over, and I realized that I'd taken off my shoes upon entering the holy ground. While putting them back on, the third pursuer appeared above me, inquiring about my conversations with the other two:
"Have you always been bilingual?"
I answered in the affirmative, and he followed up with a question that was regrettably lost during the subsequent confusion, although my answer survived:
"Thinking in two parallel languages is a blessing turned curseful by the overlap of their phonemomes, an interference quite unfortunate."
I was awake and typing by the time the response to that thought had crystallized, wondering how much credit I could consciously claim for ideas that my unconscious mind had presented as those of another: if two languages have no overlap whatsoever, are they truly distinct?
The beaded raindrops, quivering as they waited their turn to slide earthwards, diffracted the outer confusion past the point of senselessness from my dry vantage point within the car, yet eventually I discerned a woman's face in profile at the driver's window, facing forwards as she spoke to another person just outside my mind. Try as I could to focus on her words, they remained unknown, although an urgency rising from within compelled me to brave the elements and crack the window. To my surprise, human confusion drowned out the weather, as the second woman snapped into focus facing directly at me.
"Finally you're responsive. Do you have any idea how long we've been here?"
I glance at the passenger side, where my wake of consciousness already blends seamlessly into the nighttime traffic. The car is empty, other than myself, and the moments of my confusion cost me another beat of conversation.
"Still no answer. We've been tapping on this side for longer than I care."
The two women, almost indistinguishable: blue uniforms, precise hue undiscernable through the airborne damp and urban darkness, black hair flowing to blend with the shoulder-clipped radio mouthpiece and hip-holstered pistols, obscuring their nametags on the way down. The one previously in profile has now turned to face me directly, and the focus left by the retreating glass blurs the other into the wake sweeping around to meet its counterpart at their aphelion.
"... I was talking to someone at the other window. You know, something about you reminds me of him, beyond the fact that you're all cops, although you do all dress the same. If you know who I'm talking about, he'll confirm this fact."
Now it was her turn to pause in confusion, puzzling through my answer: I'd answered neither her question, which I hadn't heard, nor the one I had, although my manner suggested that my words bore relevance to the situation.
"Sir, please explain to us what you're doing here. Traffic has reached a complete standstill for reasons unknown, and our colleagues are still failing to establish rapport with operators of other vehicles. How did you reach this part of the city, and why?"
Had I a quick ready answer to toss her way, I'd have given it without the second thought that warned of an innumerable multitude of questions surging beneath the invisible surfaces of aquatic equipotential realigning themselves to the changes in my cabin's airflow. Wary enough of her tired temper and scant patience for slow talk to overcome my regret that such action would certainly lead to the dissolution the passengers who had filled the car only moments ago into the partially unsortable blood-red-shifting context, I bought myself some time by revealing the topic fluttering out of existence as my wakefront converged:
"Have either of you ever heard of a closed timelike curve?"
Lying along the shoals of inattentiveness, listening to each phonon (yes, I know how to use that word uncorrectly, too;) surf along the pitch black glideway, way below, I realize I've begun overhearing yet another conversation that never happened.
TRIGGER WARNING: IF YOU KNOW ME FROM SCHOOL, YOU MIGHT KNOW THESE PEOPLE TOO; ONLY THE WORDS, LEXEMES, AND CORRELATES HAVE BEEN CHANGED, TO PROTECT THE PRIVACY OF THE UNNOTICED AND THE SANCTITUDE OF YOUR MIND.
Three doctors - of philosophy, naturally - are quibbling over which rights to violate when administering the exam, in the hope that one will be sufficiently distrauchted by some best jest that a quick bid for the silverware could be made.
Quoth the theoretician: "First of all, the exam must be as fair as possible; all students who are required to pass the exam, must have an uncorrelated likelihood of passing the exam, and any students who wish to pass the exam, must have an uncorrelated likelihood of passing the exam, and any correlations arising unintentionally must be uncorrelated with each other correlate, in so far as --"
He's been interrupted by now: "That's a load of nonsense. You've written the exam by now, so why don't you tell us what's unfair about it? Noone will be judging you. Why don't you... do it in the code?"
Before he can deliver the correct, coherent, counterpoint, the third one suggests: "Any unfairness unavoidable in the exam should be biased in favor of those students who have attended lectures, in some power per portion of time wasted together."
"WHAT!?" is the inevitable reply, so he continues, explaining exactly what he means: "The exam is unfair, and always will be, so I'd rather at least encourage us to all waste our time together. I don't want academics to devolve into each student spending a semester in a silent sterile cube with a pay-per-view port to some quintessence datahose and a shelf full of dead-tree graffiti painstakingly curated by some long-dead Adlai."
Silence. You could hear a pin drop, land right-way up, and blow up the tire of the next hrududu blundering down the street (and what a fine alarm clock that'd be!).
"Did you just use a student's name as an expletive?", asked the practician of theoretical jurisprudence.
"Yes, because we all know exactly what I meant by that; if you have a problem with what I said, say whatever you want instead, but let me finish my gottanjecture."
ONE NOTE SAMBA: Some of the facial recognitions in this dreama have been scrambled, to protect the innocent and leave the guilty enough rope to figure out which way the savage swings without even reading Huxley.
It was halfway through meal chat with a barely-recognizable homozygotion between Naked Emperor and The Comedian that I realized the self-important shmuck across the table wasn't exactly watching my six.
"Enschule-digger my shbitte!" I opened with calm loudness, turning towards the moving shadow. "Obwohl meine Deutsch ist nicht also schecht zu keine verstehe, es ist sehr impolite to behead a guest against their knowledge, without even letting them know why; and incidentally, that's not even the respectful arrangement for this kind of execution, if you honor the same codes as I've read."
My would-be assassin, lowering her scimitar-shaped lightblocker, vanished from the dream. She'd played a similar role earlier, and may have been insulted that I hadn't spoken to her much about languages, or too much in the wrong ones, but that didn't matter anymore, for I never saw her again. At this point, the plot quickened, synthesizing Wink Murder, Russian Roulette, and Garbage Contortion in a pathetic parody of how well Tim O'Brien makes war stories true by sheer force of repetition... yet it unfolded somewhat thus:
Once I'd realized my skull was so full of actors that they were about to start killing each other for the sheer joy of cooking, Old Faithful blurted out the escape coordinates: "I've got a joke in the oven and you're not afraid to tell it!" I had some trouble following that impersonal instruction, wondering whether I should just call to tell the MC "the band is just about ready, oh no,", the bassist that the guitarist forgot the chords but will be "countin' the names o' the modes until he's free", or the pianist that he should just show up taking care to bring himself - the self, and nothing but the self - and most importantly, assume the drummer hasn't practiced in a long time, until Old Faithful blurted the escape coordinates again, this time in the right projection:
Is your band named Bluesic? ...cuz you're the only blues I hear!
PLEASE DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT IF YOU ARE A JUNGIAN, FREUDIAN, ANALLYSTERANT, OR ANY OTHER SORT OF TWO-BIT CROCK-SHIT WITCH DOCTOR.
Naturally, I was in some rather open campus environment: too many people to know many personally, let alone recognize faces at a glance. Sure, sometimes someones seemed familiar, but life's a bitch, innit? Until I recognized... her.
One of the few truths I'll ever label a lie is that in this dream, her identity caused a stale stack resurrection (or perhaps a register collision, if you swing that kind of metaphor) with someone I've not met in a long time; last we spoke, she likely got justly insulted by some connotation of exactly what I said to her about a guy she fucked.
(at this point, the lies resume)
We made eye contact, and I'm quite sure she recognized me back. Maybe she winked, or smiled, or let her eyes linger; but she was in a flock, and such flocks flow. I saw her again a few times in a similar manner and concluded that there must be some performance of a visiting dance troupe, because I remembered her as a skilled dancer from a young age. Maybe I could verify that conclusion, and thus actually talk with her, rather than just smiling at eachother across the void?
Needless to say, such dreams do not collaborate with that other kind of dream. My quest led me to a room full of unrecognizable acquaintances who just got visited by a jolly fat holy man of stereotyped ethnicity. I could tell he was holy because he dressed like a hobo, yet wore an immaculate turban, and because he was there to sell drugs. Naturally, I asked him whether he accepted the only kind of coins I had kicking around as unallocated spending cash, to which he laughed and twinkled out of the story.
No worries! Salesmen don't travel in vain, and the buncha fukken junkies now gladly split the purchased wares among themselves (and everybody got two share). Perennial outgroup member that I am, I wondered aloud as to the kind of flower they had bought, and whether any one of them felt like reselling. Before I even repeated the name of the coin, I realized that it would be in vain: they ignored me in favor of their greedy delight at crumbling that golden brown between their fingers.
My momentary disappointment didn't quite hit rock bottom, though: although I prefer vaporizing active essentials from Cannabis blossoms purchased uncut, the remembrance of hashish's complementary advantage of greater edibility reassured me... as I awoke to the sound of a pigeon alighting at my windowsill.