You can now read The Island.
Long have you sought refuge from these restless hyperlinked seas.
Here, you have found it; on the unremarkable beach of an unremarkable shore, where the light of the campfire is humbled by the brilliant majesty of the stars.
Come and rest and listen with me to the sound of the wind in the palm leaves and perhaps I will tell you a story–not at all once–but enough that you will come to understand the truth of this place.
The boy (who was very sad) combined dark magic and technology, conducting rituals of blood and bone and electricity.
And from these disparate elements he built a humble shrine but knew not which Gods to serve. Instead, he dedicated his creation to an uncomfortable affectation that roiled within him.
And thus, in that dark space (body bg color black), the Shrine of Insanity was created.
There now, I have said enough already. The sun begins to rise and it is time for you to leave.
One day, if you return, perhaps I will tell you the rest. Indeed, I know the story well.
For I am that boy.
And this is that Shrine.
Back. Back again. We always find ourselves back. Back where it began. The carpet. The rug. The walls, the hanging lights. The sound of cars outside, sluicing through the rain.
And your thoughts, always your thoughts, always the same thoughts. Old, new, all versions of you. All still existing. That small version of you. The teenager. All that bravado and energy. All that grief and anxiety. All of it wraps itself around you like wire, like twine, like ropes from which you cannot escape.
For these are the very strands of your consciousness; the very fibre of your self.
Your pain becomes a part of you. Imprinted onto your psyche, a burning brand upon your brain.
To deny this is to deny yourself dignity of your strength.
Like a pillar of ancient stone chipped away at by swords and vandals and the wind and time and vandals; cracked now and overgrown by a field of wild grass. Forgotten perhaps except for the old farmer who grazes his sheep nearby and then, perhaps, even forgotten by him.
Alone beneath the grand sky. Alone and broken and overgrown and forgotten. But still there.
You are still there.
I rage so hard against the uncaring, ruthless universe.
I bring to bear every weapon against it: I slash at it with knives and trigger vast cascading chains of atomic bombs.
This is the quantity of my rage. This is the quantity of my multitudinous arms as I beat at the universe and the sound of my innumerable mouths as I scream at it.
I am blood-soaked: freshly-birthed; freshly wounded.
I am wild-eyed and frenzied, I am so angry.
And we collide, again and again, me and the universe, the universe and me. We are soaked in each other, each wound I inflict on the universe I also inflict on myself.
The pain only makes me more wild and, still, I rage.
I rage so hard against the uncaring, ruthless universe until I break; I come apart.
And yet even disembodied, still.
How do I rage with no hands to strike with? How do I rage when I have no mouth with which to scream?
I am the universe against which I rage and so, once again, I berate myself into existence.
Punching, slashing, exploding, my rage is infinite.
My mind is like a house turned sideways.
Nothing inside the house has fallen: the chairs and tables, the appliances on the kitchen counter, the books inside their bookshelves.
And yet; the house is sideways and I am crouching on a window. Beneath me loom the dark, spiky shapes of an unknown backyard.
The sky is probably down there, perhaps a swimming pool, perhaps paving stones and outdoor furniture all maintaining its logical positions in space like the furniture inside the house; but I don’t know.
I try not to look down. I try not to think about the thickness of the glass beneath me. I try not to think about the thinness of the glass beneath me.
My mind is like a house turned sideways. And here I am, held up by a single pane of glass. To fall would be impossible, after all, one does not generally fall sideways. And yet, it is as though the gravity of this place is different for me compared to everything else.
If I move, does the glass vibrate beneath me. If I breathe? I should breathe and yet, my breaths come in shallow, anxious snatches. What if I inhale too deeply and become too heavy for the window to support? What if the glass breaks? What if I tumble out into that sideways-world, that sideways-sky?
There is perhaps a fence down there. A building. Another window. And yet I am certain that if this pane of glass were to break, none of these would catch me. This is my window. The window of my mind. And although I do not recognise it, this is my house turned sideways.
If I fall I will fall into the orbit of the earth and I will sweep through that sky like a satellite. The earth would no longer claim me. My mind would be at the whim of angular momentum, dragged along a separate linearity.
So I remain still. I inhale small breaths. The glass wobbles beneath me–or perhaps I merely imagine that. For the glass yet holds.
The glass does not break.
In this year, a year belonging wholly to itself… which is to say, a year unlike any other, in the manner in which no year is like any other.
In this year, when the sky fell and we wept for the hole that it left; not only in the sky, but in our hearts.
In this year, when so much was taken, both from within and from without.
In this year, that we have numbered, as we do all others, so as to give it a place in the procession of time.
In this year, of sorrow and discontent, in this assembly of months so fleeting and so endless.
In this year, of truth in which we could no longer hide from hideous reason.
In this year, where we sought and still are seeking some meaning that still eludes us.
We must resolve to keep on seeking, as the thirsty seek for water.
We must hunger for the sustenance that we have not yet found.
We must hope, if only for a moment, in order to let that light in.
That trembling flame, so easily extinguished by the darkness that surrounds us.
We must cherish that light, which has burned in us for all eternity.
A brightness unexpected and absurd when compared against the vastness of the dark.
Let us endure and confess that light, despite the winds that might disturb it.
So that others might see and recognise that it yet burns inside them, also.
And together, a thousand lights, a million, might shine bright enough.
To show the way out of the darkness, not just for one, but for all.
Nicholas approached the tree.
The wind felt the same; it smelt the same. Was it the same? Was he inhaling his own breath, exhaled thirty years ago?
Nicholas came beneath the shade of the tree and memories flickered all around him. Some would call them hallucinations, but he knows they are not real. A child cries out and the sound is swallowed by time.
These are the tulpa of memory and remembering; these are the ghosts of people yet living.
Nicholas touched the bark and it felt rough beneath his palm.
How many lifetimes have you lead, old friend? Nicholas thought. How many have I?
Deep within us are parts, perhaps, that existed then.
But I am no longer the same man.
And you are no longer the same tree.
Is there sadness in these realisations? If so, then who do we grieve for—the tree or the boy?
Or do we simply grieve for the past, an intangible slipping away?
Does the alchemist grieve for the lead that is transmuted into gold?
This is the 72nd time I have done this.
Sometime between the hours of 8.30pm and 10.30pm GMT, while it is still Sunday on the bulk of this dark sphere, I sit with a coffee and I listen to the birds (even now, one squawked overhead) as the sun rises over Adelaide, my little city.
I sit, around this time and I drink my coffee and I turn my mind towards the question of what I should write about. In truth, the content here doesn’t really matter. It’s simply a deal I have made with myself: no matter what else is going on, I will try to find some words on Monday.
And finding words isn’t hard, I mean, they are everywhere. I’m typing this with “fingers”–that is a word. I’m on a “computer”–that is a word. Here, in Australia, it is Monday; while much of the rest of the world is still lurching through Sunday, for us the future has already arrived.
Hah, I’m in the future. Of course, I’m not, not really. Although I suppose to my younger self this would be the future. And so if I were to look upon my current situation with the eyes of my younger self, then yes, I would be in the future.
But the days and hours of routine time, day-to-day time, international time zones and daylight savings and GMT as though there’s some Time God keeping Watch…
It’s Sunday. It’s Monday. It’s Monday. And so I tell myself I need to write. Something, anything, the content here doesn’t really matter. It’s simply a deal that I’ve made with myself.
Life comes at you fast, like a pro wrestler, like a bull. There’s no time to step aside, there’s no alcove to hide in. It’s just you and life… mano-a-mano.
It’s just you and life, a tsunami you can’t run away from. Don’t turn and run–it’s too late for that now–just stand and watch the wall of water approaching. Watch it crush everything away.
But we still stand, immortal in our own way. Immortal until the point we are mortal. Dodging and feinting and ducking and dodging, feet glued to the spot.
We fight ninjas. We fight mad dogs, bad dogs, not our dogs. We weather the tsunami and then there’s another. Then there’s another.
A tornado whips through and around. This one stings your eyes and cuts you to pieces; but you’re still alive. Debris from every other disaster surrounds you and it is a crackling, flooded wasteland of downed wires and metal shavings.
Snakes and shit circle around your feet. You are standing in ankle-deep, dirty water. This is life, this is your life and it’s coming at you fast, already and again. Another tsunami. Another.
A news helicopter hovers above you, there is a camera looking down. A million people are watching you standing in the flood water. The vision is LIVE. They see that it’s too late for you to run and yet they watch, eyes glued to the screen.
You can hear the helicopter. Whep-whep-whep-whep-whep. And on the horizon another wave is coming. You cannot tell if it is bigger or smaller than the last. You hope, at least, it will wash away the dirty water.
You make the motion of rolling up your sleeves, but really your clothes are nothing than rags. No matter what you’re wearing, beneath those flimsy fabrics you’re still naked as the day you were born. And like a baby waiting to be born, you’re waiting once again.
You’re waiting once again for the wave that will break you. The wave that will crush and destroy everything in its path. The wave that strands sea-creatures in takeaway restaurants and boutique clothing shops: the tsunami.
But your sleeves are rolled up. Or your almost-sleeves. And your feet are glued to the ground. And this time, you’re not even trying to move. You’re beginning to understand this illusion to which you are bound–but only just beginning.
Don’t move–just watch. Ball your hands into fists. Grit your teeth if you have to, because this is going to hurt. It’s just you and the tsunami now. Mano-a-mano.