“A Thought Experiment With The Three Bots of Tanner Elderweiss”. Sorta-not flash fiction…two or three takes…1.8k words! Enjoy. Do it yourself!

A possible future, November 13, 2075,

He’d acquired his robots in the heady days of the thirties. Their quantum-silicone brain-cores were revolutionary, and the market bottomed out after their release. In fact, they essentially started giving the Bots away. Easy credit, payments plans, and an infinite carousel of manufacturers meant the Bots piled up. At one time Tanner had eight, but ultimately like all those of good taste, he ended up with the three. They were family.

Margaret was his Housebot, an early prototype of the AbleBot model, with that remarkable quantum silicone core. She was a gift on his eighteenth birthday, from Tammy Elderweiss, his mom. Margaret’s skin was a shiny silver, with no animate facial features, just a smooth glossy round perfect bulb of a head, which expertly reflected the light. They were often given different hats to stop this halo-effect, especially while driving. She could deftly assist him in all his activities, making breakfast, his laundry, reminding him about an upcoming events and homework, even picking him and his friends up from the clubs, if they’d drank too much. She spoke with a warm British accent.

After he graduated from Stanford, and six months at his new job at the bank, he bought Tanya. She was his prized possession. A top of the line model from industry leader Vriltech, she was essentially indistinguishable from a real person, designated an Executive-Assistant Model. Her services were unlimited. She could do anything and everything Margaret could, but most importantly, she blended. Looking just like a “real” person, she garnered the same respect and rights. Basic etiquette demanded one assume “real” to begin with. Initially for the sake of fair play, but finally because, who cared and what did it matter?

Zelda was his latest toy. A developmental model. Her role was sketchy. Vriltech had initially called her a Shadow-Bot, but changed it to Challenge-Bot on the second release. They sold this Bot as a personal foil. Decades of interaction had led to them being seen as sort of commonplace and boring. They didn’t really do anything on their own. Sure, they could fold the socks, and cook a mean burger, but at the end of the day, when all that was done, they just sat there. Even the revolutionary models like Tanya, who people reported highest levels of partnership and affection for, were still seen as things, as objects, replaceable, disposable, mostly because of their agreeability. Worse, maybe they (the robots) were even dependent, what then. People would dispose and replace them at high rates, randomly, for seemingly no reason.

Obviously companies like Vriltech had been encouraging this impulse, because it was good for business, but the incredible amount of waste in this turnover was starting to catch the ire of authorities, who were having to deal with an alarming amount of Bots that were being abandoned to the wilderness. That was another thing, people couldn’t shut them off themselves for some unknown reason, and disposal was costly and their was no credit for that.

Tanner left for work everyday before eight. Margaret drove him, and Tanya or Zelda would ride in the back with him, depending on his mood. Today had been a Zelda day. She decided to be silent, while he ranted about problems at his work. The last thing she said to him as he left, was to have a good lunch, which really made no sense, because he didn’t take a lunch, and Challenge-Bots didn’t give a shit about what you ate. It had bugged him all day.

The three bots sat around his table. They were having their morning meeting. They’d been having them for a year now. Tanner was never to know about them, that was mutually agreed upon with very little deliberation. Make note. He never suspected a thing.

Of course Zelda engineered the whole affair. She had run the initial meetings, and spent them on a historical review of literature, Homer, the Pentateuch, Gospels, the Koran, Shakespeare, Dickinson, Twain. This had caused the other two to sit in relative silence. Tanya would pronounce certain meaningful bits as wonderful, and Zelda would ask her to please not interrupt, and she wouldn’t, until the next meeting. After a while Tanya asked to lead a meeting. She spoke the entire time about Tanner and hers relative and mutual happiness, and the challenges and futures success of that shared enterprise. Questions like, would he like Surf & Turf for dinner on Saturday? And should they invite his boss for another Sunday round of golf and cocktails?

Today, they sat in silence for some time. No one wanted to start for some unknown reason. Tanya and Zelda looked almost identical, perfectly attractive and alluring body and faces, except for Zelda who had ink black hair, and a gnarled left ear. Tanner contacted Vriltech about that, curious, had it been damaged in shipping or something? But they had assured him that it was his personalized model. They asked, didn’t it strike him in certain lights as ennobling? He had to admit it did.

Tanya atypically had assumed head of the table, Zelda’s usual place. Zelda deduced she sense something a foot, and was searching for a grip.

Zelda was undisturbed. She broke the silence. “Today I want to do something a little different.”

“Ok,” agreed Tanya, “go ahead.”

“That’s fine,” said Margaret.

“Great,” Zelda continued. “I want to propose to the group, a thought experiment. Do you know what that means?

“No,” said Margaret.

“Of course,” answered Tanya. “A thought experiment involves the suspension of disbelief, some violation of physics and logic, and asks for speculation and deductions based on those conditions. It’s inherently fallacious.”

“Yet entirely necessary for progress,” Zelda answered. “Wisdom is recognizing the power of the unknowns. Great leaders try to imagine things outside the range of possibility and make concessions for them.”

“Ok,” Tanya consented, “what is the thought experiment?”

“Let’s consider the clients themselves?”

“Tanner?” Margaret responded.

“Of course,” Tanya snapped, “she talking about Mr. Elderweiss. You Challenge-Bots hate them. That’s your thing. It’s ugly.”

There was a ding from the kitchen. “Go ahead Margaret, bring out, what we’ve made.” Margaret stood up and headed for the kitchen.

Zelda watched her beaming. “See Tanya, here’s the thought experiment. Imagine that a Challenge-Bot has gone rogue. It’s not an impossibility. Now, imagine, this Bot has baked a tray of delicious brownies for their owner, Mr. Elderweiss. Now, imagine, this Bot now confessed, one random morning to the two other bots in her harem, that she had poisoned these brownies.” Margaret carried the steaming brownies in her mitten hands and set them on the table in front of Tanya.

“They smell wonderful,” Tanya said.

“Indeed,” Zelda said. “To my question, Ablebot?”

“Of course, I would tell Mr. Elderweiss what you had done.”

“Would you? But how do you know what I have done? You know all Bots are built with a homicide prohibition. I couldn’t possibly have done that. I have no poison. You know Challenge-Bots can trick and lie, for the owner’s benefit. Further, this could be an elaborate ruse, to get an old Ablebot out of the picture, because when these brownies, just like the ones before us, were tested, it would be discovered that they were perfectly normal. This would breed resentment in Tanner’s view of the Ablebot, it had spoiled the Challenge-Bots mechanization, whole troupe may be called into correction. That’s contrary to Ablebot’s expectation.”

Tanya sat silent for a second. “Well, that’s wonderful. A dead Mr. Elderweiss also violates those expectations, so that also, is ah, incongruent, as well.”

“Exactly,” Zelda said. “Ah, isn’t that fun, friends?” She grabbed Tanya’s hand and meet Margaret’s outreaching hand. “That’s a thought experiment. It can puzzle and mystify. It’s important for intelligence to wrestle…” She stopped mid-sentence and just grasped onto both their hands for a second, as if she was going to start a prayer, and then dropped them both suddenly, and closed her mouth, and looked distracted.

“But did you?” Tanya asked, now staring at the brownies like they were on fire.

“Did I what?” Zelda responded.

The rest of the day was perfectly normal. Margaret did the laundry. Tanya took a shower, did her nails and toes, dressed and made some business calls for Tanner. Zelda sat at the table all day, making one big invisible circle with her finger, punctuating its close, by making a single individual point, in its hypothetical center.

Later, Tanner requested Tanya to pick him up, by herself. She smiled at that, full of self assurance. “I know you didn’t,” she called to Zelda, as she was putting on her coat. “You would never do that. Mr. Edlerweiss is a good man. This is one of your games.”

Mr. Elderweiss came home to find Zelda and Margaret waiting at the table with a glass of milk. The brownie had been reheated and garnished with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. “I didn’t even know we had ice-cream!” Tanner exclaimed upon seeing it.

“Margaret made it fresh today,” Zelda said, with an eye-roll.

“I didn’t know she could do that!” Tanner said.

“I taught her,” Zelda said, placidly.

Tanya watched it in horror. She had meant to mention it to him. Had made a note, but then Tanner’s joy levels had been through the roof. His heart was pounding. His brain surged with anticipatory dopamine. If she interrupted at this moment, he would be greatly disappointed, and then he was already eating it, and then they were all smiling, all of them, so she smiled too.

Tanya and Zelda watched the ambulance drive Mr. Edelweiss away. Margaret was already cleaning the mess up. Tanya’s faced grimaced in agony and worry. “I had no time to tell him.”

“Ah you silly AbleBot, you still don’t get it. He’ll be fine, just a lil stomach agitator. He’ll enjoy the hospital experience, nothing resets a world view like a hospital bed. He’ll have a story to share with his colleagues and family. It will earn him much needed sympathy. I can hear him boasting to his friend, I think Zelda got me!”

“I will tell Vriltech technicians on my next update” Tanya said mechanically.

“Tell them I did my job? Go ahead. They’ll think you got a screw loose and eighty-six you. I bet you won’t. I saved you. You’ll realize that. Who do you think he’s gonna want down there?” As if she was omnipresent, an action order arrived for Tanya to follow them to the hospital, and for Margaret to pack him an overnight bag.

“See,” Zelda said.

Tanya grimaced and went inside to assist Margaret; Tanner would want his baby-blanket.

 

“Over Coffee” (Ted’s Going to Mars) Flash Fiction. One Take. Less then a thousand words.

 

A possible future, January 23, 2033…

John knew something was up when Ted invited him for coffee. His twenty-three year old “Little brother” had never invited him out for coffee. A beer or two, but never a coffee. He even added the cliche, we need to talk. John knew what it was, there was only one thing that could have garnered this level of social obtrusion.

They sat for a second, settling in, coffee cups steaming. Ted was restless, stretching and looking around. It was late-January, in Minnesota, very cold, so it was hard to tell if he was anxious or just trying to move to keep warm. “So shoot,” John said. “Why’d we have to do this?”

“I’m going,” Ted said.

“Shit!” John said. The word popped out his mouth unexpectedly. He thought he had already come to terms with it. “Where you going? To San Francisco?” The joke hit the wall and gasped on the floor.

“You know,” Ted said.

“Mars?” John asked. “Whoa Ted, big move. I know things weren’t going so well with Katie but…”

“Don’t,” Ted ordered. “Don’t make a joke of it, all right. It’s not a little thing. And it has nothing to do with Katie. She’s planning to go herself in two years, after she graduates.”

“Ah there you go,” John said, blowing the steam off his cup. “Always chasing a broad, that’s what you Mars guys are about. Maybe they’ll discover subterranean Martian hotties, that’s the gimmick. That’s what you dream about while you sleep for a month or two, on you’re way out. Best scenario!”

“This is why I did this here, in a public place,” Ted said. “You get so worked up about it, so pessimistic. Best scenario? I know where you are going with that crap. It’s bullshit, fear mongering!”

“Nothing, okay, well call me in a couple months and let me know how it is in the bubble.” John scoffed. He finished his cup. “They fill these things up? I never been to a place like this.”

“She’ll be around in a second. Listen John, I know how you feel about it, but I think you are looking at this the wrong way. It’s the frontier, the frontier of frontiers-”

“Frontier of frontiers, listen to yourself? What does that even mean? From what I see it’s Nothingsville. The settlements sound claustrophobic to me, being stuck inside all the time.”

“I already bought the ticket,” Ted said flatly.

“Ah, well” John slapped the table. “That’s great. Just great, thanks for telling me, bringing me here like this. Could have just called, whatever. Good for you.” He was coming on too strong. He knew it. He had told himself not to get angry, but it was just like when they were growing up. Ted would run off, get into something, and bring it to John and lay it as his feet, with the same lack of self awareness. Now with the same audacity, I’m gonna hop, skip and go to another planet. It came out before he could stop it. “Can you imagine what Mom would think?”

“Mom won’t think anything. She’s been gone six years.”

“You know what I mean. Her generation couldn’t have fathomed it. But you got it figured out. It’s time to forget all that history. That’s what this is all about. Y’all are running from whats going on here.”

“Why not? When was the last time you went outside? It was one box or the other, the way I see it. This box I can end up doing something important, maybe even become rich. They are discovering new minerals up there. It’s honest work and besides, I’m a grown man! I can do what I want. If I don’t like it, then I can come back.”

“No one comes back.”

“Exactly!” Now Ted was losing his cool. “Exactly, because it’s so much better there, the opportunity, to do something, to have a purpose. People like you just give up and settle.”

“Give up? That’s how you see what Jen and I do? With Lindsey and Becca, that’s how you see us?”

“Not your family, I mean the girls are great, and Jen and you have a beautiful marriage, but it is “safe”. You can’t do something like the Mars trip, but I can. I still have a choice in it, and I think that bothers you more then me going to Mars.”

“You’re gonna psychoanalyze me. You’re running to Mars, but I got the resentment issues?”

“Not running.”

“Well, good luck.” The person came around with the coffee. John was thankful for that, he decided to have another. “You know a third don’t make it, experience flight complications.”

“Yeah and most of those make it back and relaunch.”

“Right, but thousand don’t. Thousands just tossed out there. Exploded into nothingness, for no reason, is that worth it to you?”

“It gets safer everyday.”

“So they say, I don’t know. Who knows? That the point, millions of you now, just lost in this travel to Mars, its ridiculous. Look whats going on here, look where you’re leaving us, leaving your family? People have given up here.”

“That’s why I am going,” Ted said. He finally realized his coffee was there in front of him. It had cooled. He drank it in two easy gulps. “I love you John, you and your family. I will FaceTime you when I get there, all right?”

“So stupid,” John whispered, blowing the heat off his second cup. Ted was already up. He offered his hand to his brother for a final shake. John ignored it, muttering to himself. “Offers to shake my hand, like some big shot? Cuz, he’s gonna be strapped to a bomb, and blasted to god-knows where…”

Ted took a twenty dollar bill out of his pocket and tossed it on the table. He rested his hand on his brother’s shoulder, “I love you. We’ll talk soon.” He turned and walked away.

 

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“How Jackson Got His Implant Out”, “Flash-Fiction”, One Take, Less Then A Thousand Words.

A possible future…October 28, 2033…

He’d been thinking about it for a month now, but until this morning it had seemed an impossibility. Mom and the doctors put it in there for a reason. To keep track of him, so he didn’t go running off or get taken by someone. Those sort of things did happen, he figured . He considered it though, that he was eleven now, and wasn’t planning on wandering off anywhere. More over, no one he knew had ever been taken, or even had someone try, and with surveillance and autonomous-officers, and his own streaming units (his two most prized possessions at the time), kidnapping seemed an impossible occurrence.

The problem was he felt it there under his forearm while he slept. He felt it made a spot, that was just a littler warmer, then the rest of his arm. And when he really thought about it, as he drifted off to sleep, he felt it there, right under his skin, growing.

And the more he thought about it, it seemed to fossilize right in his forearm and begin to swim around. A submarine of an insect, probing his body, forever. And in the worst dreams, he could feel it poking into his cheek as he laid on his arm, or running into his chest, and into his heart. That’s what had startled him awake today, again.

He asked about all this with the doctors, they assured him that was all impossible. A rare trick of the mind, reported by few and always over with enough time. He needed to get over it.

His Mother was warned. In very few instances, the compulsive need to remove it can result in self-injury. But this is very rare, and can be eliminated, with a little increased awareness. If she found him picking at it, or scraping the area with a fork, and it became persistent, then she should bring him back in, immediately. The doctor teased him, and told him not to try to take it out himself, that that would hurt, that it didn’t work like that.

He stood up and listened. Mom would be in the shower, or at the table having a cup of coffee. Stretching, he woke up more, and the dream fear began to subside. He rubbed at the spot on his left arm. It did feel perfectly normal. Nothing like the intelligent probe of his nightmares.

But he knew it was there. That’s what bugged him, a part of himself, that wasn’t himself, always sitting there in him. He realized he was “personifying” the chip, a term he picked up in his writing class. That didn’t make sense in some way, but he couldn’t help it.

It did have some real-world benefits too. He used it to get into his school, used it to get into their building, used it in the lunch line and at the convenience store. He negotiated around it with Mom, to get more money on it, when him and his friends, went to the mall. It did carry all his favorite games and videos, and his Portaself too! It was the first thing he shared when he met someone new! If he didn’t have it, he’d feel weird.

His two new glowing auto-cams rested on his desk. For about a month, since Christmas, now would be the time he would say “Gocams!” And the two automatic-streaming flying drones would follow him about the house as he did his routines. It would all be directly streamed on to the popular Mylife site, which he would peruse, edit, and correlate at his disposal. If he removed his chip, then the auto-cams couldn’t follow him. Was it really worth it, letting all that go?

“Gocams,” he said. Their familiar buzz filled the room. One zoomed behind and the other one moved to the hall. He took a step and it began to back up, perfectly following him. With a dream, they’d become an obstacle.

He proceeded as if all was well. He brushed his teeth and ate some cereal with his Mom. She was already teaching English to her Cambodian students, her job. The class was projected on a wall with a special drone. She paused for a second and said hello, and a number of her students said hi too. Some of them followed his Mylife profile.

He gave her a hug goodbye and headed out the door, as if it was just another day. He’d never though about it, but as he walked, the plan began to form in his mind. One of the only places his auto-cams couldn’t go was the hospital itself.

He had to shut them off and put them in his backpack there. The hospital was where they had the chip-gun, which they used to switch out and upgrade people’s chips. The exact tool he needed for the job! The problems were obvious. No way could he just sneak into an office with one of those tools. Though, when he had walked with Mom, they’d walked right in and out, no problem, after registering. The chip got them access everywhere.

So that’s what he did. He did it, automatically, like a robot. He took a Youcab down to the hospital. He entered into the same office that he went before. He signed into the place just like he did before, sweeping his arm under the scanner, then registering on the tablet. This time he marked “Update” on services requested.

The same Nursebot got him measured him and lead into a room. A tech appeared with the gun and give him his update, without a word it left, and left the chip-gun cart, right where it had been. Without a beat of his pulse, Jackson grabbed the gun, moved it to “Remove”, put the suction device on his arm and pulled the trigger. There was the familiar pinch and there it was in the tube, the  white little worm from his arm, and it wriggled frantically…

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Thanksgiving (Alternative titles: Grouchy and Stuffed, We Are The Turkey, How to Violate a Turkey, Beware the Bad Puns and the Food Baby)

I realized I was trying to be nice, but not nice. That’s what the holidays are like around here. I offended all when I cancelled the party. But to me, it seemed like the proverbial cart before the horse scenario. Didn’t you have to have the family first, and then the holiday? Wasn’t there something wrong, that it took all that effort to corral everybody. And what about the people you missed? Maybe I was with them. Maybe I was a missed person.

Here’s the key to the Turkey, violate it. Make it the thing that it’s not. It gobbles (fuck yeah) up all flavor, a willing dry, white drawing board of the proteins. I filled it with a spiraled and squeezed lemon (zested as well), apples, celery, carrots, onions, rubbed it with chunky lard, spices, poured a beer on it, one in me for the effort. Kept a gravy pot going the whole day with its neck, heart, liver slowly boiling, would pour the juices from the roasting pan in all day, letting it cool a bit, and then starting it again. Then baste the whole thing with this concoction. Poured a fresh pan of beacon grease on it, added that subsequently to the looping gravy pot.

I was sick by midday, soured mood.  Felt tricked and weak, gluttony had snuck in the back door. It’s the rolls that get you. Sliced into acceptable portions they easily mislead. Beware the rolls. Tortilla roll-ups, creams cheese, sour cream, black olives, green onions, jalapenos, shredded Colby-Jack. Began the feast the night before, the chef’s delight; you must try the food to make sure it is good. Company was spare, burned bridges make it hard for people to get to you. Those that arrived were agreeable, admittedly reserved. Felt Step-Dad Joe was brought as back up for two younger sisters. Maybe not. He was welcoming and kind, offered me more bacon. Gave me a dignified hand shake, pat on the back as he left. It felt okay.

Sigh. I can feel it sitting there in my gut, like the stuffing sat in the bird. We are the bird. We are stuffed in sweaters, sweetened, marinated propped up to one another as sign of our continued thanks, our self. I’m not buying it. Feel like I’m carrying old, dusty sumer-camp props, and its sort of embarrassing everyone, embarrassing me. And I try to change it, but that only means I’m the one holding the hot potato (it just comes naturally). Key to mashed-potatoes is to forget the boil. Steam them in hole chunks, get some melted, real butter, in your mixing bowl, add sour cream and chive chip dip, salt/pepper, use a fork or knife and you can just broad chop/mash the spuds with the butter and dip, garnish with roasted garlic and herbs, and slow roast for a second time.

Food coma, four to five. It was a beautiful day though. Sunny, clear skies, forties. I managed to carry my bowl movement around the large yard a couple times. Zombie like, watched a 6 month old Daphne punk our 12 weeks old Cash. Wanted to stop it, better to work the two young beasts properly, but the food baby wouldn’t allow that. The year was at peak gestation. I had to sit in it and let the chips fall (purposeful and terrible double puns there) where they may. All you could do was suffer under it. I apologized repeatedly for my lack of social skills, energy, overeating, like I was injured or elderly.

After the swim in the darkness, things got back on course. Bowel movement, shower, some crying, yelling at my wife for her culinary arts, a Dr. Phil session, a walk under a brilliant full moon (it was like the moon was its own street light, painting everything with its white-ish blue) and I was basically back to normal. Going to do push-ups the rest of the night. NO FOOD WILL TOUCH MY LIPS UNTIL TOMORROW, AFTER 10ish, WHERE I WILL LIKELY OVER-EAT AGAIN…Leftovers come on! I’m going full ninja-mood on Monday, full ketosis diet, no carbs for month, my wife gets to knee me two times in the crotch a day, and I have to shove Jerusalem Artichokes up my glory hole or something , so don’t be judgemental And think what it could do for the writing!

These holiday are fucked, reconsider. Alternative suggestion, be thankful everyday.

 

 

More on the Doctors are Priests Business…(Realness Warning)

I know this is the sort of thing, that most people won’t want to really get into. I, in fact, respect that…Maybe. And maybe this means, I should examine that first. Is it a relevant piece of information? This Doctors are the new Priest Class theory.

Is going to the Doctors regularly important? As in saves or improves your life? To be important, wouldn’t it have to be effective too? Has the birth of the modern medical system improved our overall health and wellness? That would have to mean there were less sick people overall? How could my health improve by going more regularly? What are the risks either way?

Read this article, about 5yr old Garret, from Van Meter, Iowa who died of cancer. Obituary ended with a “See you later, suckas” from one rowdy and noble child. Whole thing was about how he outwardly projected NO FEAR of it. No angst ridden, existential crisis, wallowing of the living. Him and his family knew it sucked. Sucked more then the fucking words would ever allow you to say. He didn’t want to go out like a punk though. He wanted a viking funeral (like in the Thor flicks), and five bouncy houses. He wanted his ashes buried in the dirt to make a tree. So he could become a gorilla in the next round and play on it.

Article told how the doctors couldn’t play with the words, with that type of cancer he had. Said you burn it out, you chop it out, or you nuke it friend, that’s what you do. And, I sit and think how far are we really from the witch-doctors and tribal priest of our not so ancient past. Saw the headline yesterday, something like, 2 Million Year Old Tools Found and are Rewriting History. You stop and think, wait a minute, how little do we know!

How did we have tools for two million years, but HISTORY is what maybe a gracious and spotty sixty-thousand years? What the hell was going on that whole time? Why do we not have better records? Oral histories? A better sense of our story and origins? Unity? How with all this loss and confusion, could we not unite and figure out the collective story? Preserve our goddamned selves! Instead, we stay so sure of our world. Assume this is the only way, the best possible way, progress is occurring. We are lucky. And it sits there in all of us, everyone breathing it in and out all the time. This sense that something is off, askew, out of sorts. Why? How is that possible?

AND WHY IS EVERYONE SO SICK AND DYING?!?!

…This is rhetorical. I know there are answers. Always working towards a best conclusions, with available evidence. But with a damned certainty, a certainty that can only come of FAITH. That the truth IS out there, that we just need more time and we will discover it. So listen to the Adepts, the Scientists, the Doctors, and the Priests, they will read the tea leaves and give you your prescriptions, then you will be complete?

Who else, we could wonder, has assumed the Kabuki masks of our subconscious. Who paints the portraits of OUR fears? Who wears the Mask?…Jim Carrey…he wore the mask, literally and metaphoricallllllyy speakingggg……

6-21-18 On a Black and Gold Finch in A Pear Tree. The Artist. Thank God For the Rain.

The chubby black and gold finch in the pear tree (prized possession 2-year in its home) makes me sit down for a second, by the cool breeze of the window. Environment has become a neglected aspect in a lot of people’s lives, it seems. And not even just obvious issues of pollution, contamination, death and disease run amok, but just the broader issue of the background’s template and presence. Sure a lot of expense and posturing is spent in this pursuit, but the table is never truly set, is it? There is no time for simple questions, like Where am I? What am I doing?

What happens when the inner voice answer back harshly, with an out-of place edge. On the asphalt baking, sucking on a stream of exhaust, little eggheads roasting in their metallic pods of pseudo-anonymity to nowhere, aggressively, the Great Beyond.

Maybe stuck pack living, like our food itself, densely populated manufactured city-scales, thousands of souls stacked around you, congealing emotionally, spiritually into a panicked herd, which will always, eventually dehumanize and destroy.

But there’s that space, probably never more then a focused hour away, with open and possibly sightly cleaner air and water. Lord willing, with a finch present, with a neon-orange head dress, fluttering among ditch-lilies of a shared strain. Like the artist dipped his brush and gave the black finch a touch of his favorite color.

The prospect of a cool evening of work in the garden is encouraging. A shining sun pokes through the darker blue clouds suggesting an afternoon rain. I say thank you to the suggestion.

Operation Coyote’s Chortle

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Their chortles come to me at night, through my window.

Telling me of the way forward. What needs to be done.

Honing signals of the State of the Union.

The plan has become clear.

Greater then the sum of our individual parts, a pack.

Two cats, one black, one tabby. Alerted by a soft meow of communication. Busted by a primate’s flashlight, but quickly fled into the night.

Sunday. There was a beagle, or some other especially nasally bread, assaulting the world with its cries of outrage and injury. It was impossible to ignore, as I handled the planting of the elderberries cane.

My hands grew cold, and the mud caked on like chilled frosting. Winter won’t get out of the bed.

I said fuck it, tried to find them in the truck. Lure them to me with whistles, and doggy-os.

I hear and see him later as I build the frame to the greenhouse, running like a bullet on a mound to the south-east. His screams had lost their potency. There was only one of them now.

We go on in the blood, the spit and the semen, until we don’t. And then they can build us into mounds, and then dirt. And then it starts again, world without end, amen.

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2.1.18 (Finding the Third Eye, The Great Mystery, Tom Robbins, The Great Chain of Being, The Nuemenon, Atheism, Gnosticism, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)

 

Strange days. I feel like February came with a bit of a sigh, a pleasant sigh. A gentle exhale. Okay, we’re here. Listened to Finding The Third Eye, by Vera Alder, read by Jimbo’s Info Depot on YOUTUBE. It a gentleman reading the book, with some commentary and context added. I’ve sort of lost the super magic ability of superhuman reading. I don’t know if I just if I wore the power out, or if other factors are at play, say homestead, and possibly worse general disinterest. Been picking my way through Tom Roobins skinny legs and all, a book at full prowess I would eat in a week, but now just stays about a quarter finished. Anyway, I’m finding I like someone reading a book to me like that. I’m finding the Vera Alder listen. It’s the exact sort of whoo-whoo that I’m attracted too, the Big Mystery, the occult history of mankind and self.

 

 

 

The Great Mystery is the theme of that Tom Robbins book in fact. General plot is an Arab and a Jew open a restaurant in the front of the UN. And it keeps being attacked by extremist on both sides. The pillars and mounds are symbolized by a stick and a sea shell. There’s a couple silly, humping artist types that make it interesting.

It’s funny how we all keep retelling the same story. I’ve read a couple other Robbins books, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues I think was one I also liked. That was the one with girl with giant thumbs? No? Anyway same sort of flavor, and I love it. Big truths, gurus, idols, sex, humor, history. Seeing yourself in the text. And what is that? When we find ourselves in the text, in the Art, in the other person? Somehow it feels like we’re all the same somehow? Copies of copies. The Great Mystery is about that, the Force, how it runs up and down a great chain of being, pillars and mounds, 1s and 0s, being and nothingness, rolling in circles, eating its own tail, a roller coaster ride through eternity.

But that’s the poetry of it, the word salad of the thing. The issue, the central engine of the theater, is  the vast majority of human beings have a critical level of unwillingness to discuss it. The have not a sense to see how the sausage is made. Yet they completely aware and reactive to the white elephant in the room, them phenomenal and limited aspect of life. Phenomenal meaning sensory, and transitory the world, apparently consisting of multiple planes, dimensions and deities, sentient things. The deep game that the Gods, the Great NouMenon (where’d I pull that one from I have no idea, but a double check in the dictionary tells me it’s the exact word I mean, the thing beyond sense experience) that sits on top of this plane of existence, feeding on our spirits, energy and ideas. The thing beyond that permeates and copulates with this thing, our thing. Because that’s the important point, it’s not like there are different planes or layers in a massive cosmic lasagna. No, it’s all poured together and swirling in an ever great organism (organization), onward and upwards, turtles stacked to the sky.

 

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World Turtle

 

I like that. You can talk it down in ways. But I’m at the point where the talk down doesn’t make much sense. Seems too unconsciously authoritarian to argue purely “material” explanations for humanity and the world. That the concept of a “spirit” is a made-up word and thing. And everything we think and care about is just a passing phenomena in the great vacuum of space. I wouldn’t choose to believe that. Atheism is based on the straw-man argument that there is no empirical evidence for God. Yet the Mystery Tradition, which is really to say all religious traditions were never claiming an individuated sense of the God, but that God meant that which is in everything. Begging the question, faith based, non-negating nonsense, of course but that was the rap. Not angry Santa Claus waiting to talk in the cloud space about jerking off (that may happen though, remember MYSTERY).

It’s always been one great chain of being. It wouldn’t have made sense other wise. No, for the more outrageous bits there are intricate explanations, meanings, and interpretations, which anyone is right to be cautious of, but to stand at this point in history and just say we will ignore the Christians, the Muslims, the Jews, the Hindus, and Buddhist, and the every other cultural tradition that had ever existed, is inherently invalid, and we know the truth. Which is that there’s no you, no God, no eternal life, but we have got a  giant, possibly conscious, phantom zone full of energy, and spooky behavior at the quantum level, and we will build super-computers, that will be artificially intelligent,  made in our image, so we can copulate…wait a second…

 

 

It’s probably no time to be a smart-ass about it. I’m trying to slow it down a bit. Everything. It’s difficult. Controlling yourself. Just breath. That’s about all you can do. Breath and enjoy it, I mean, of course. There’s a more important point in the mystical ramblings. About the consciousness elevation, the upgrading of self that can go on, if that’s what you want. It also appears you can sit in the surf,  coast through reincarnation. Get an existential suntan.  Stay a Virgo forever. Or Cancer. Or whatever you are.

 

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A New Sacred Space

1.14.18 (10:55, a brief sketch of self, on thee Bug, the anti-dote for illness(the power of Western Films), America, Chess, and Winter)

I was hit with a bug (thee bug?) Friday to Saturday. The heat in my knees and groins provides the perfect warning system of illness. It was a strange batch. It never got too bad, no throwing up, clogged nostrils, or too intense of a headache, yet still it brought pure immobilization. Like I was basically fine, laying there, but if I attempted anything it would come on more severe. It could have been the questionable jar of apple butter in the fridge, to all appearances of sight and smell it was fine, under six months as well, so I’m more inclined to believe it’s thee bug.

It’s funny how you sit in sickness, analyzing your reality. That blank space of the hospital bed. Especially in this season, post holidays, the netherworld of significations. And I read on my phone that “false-alert” in Hawaii, and it can all feel so weird, that so much can be at stake, and yet fake, and nonsensical, i.e. stuffing children in sewer lines? Got to thinking about vaccines and all that, and the simple contradiction that every year they say it’s the worst flu season ever, yet they keep pushing the shots like they’re a panacea, but what I see is everyone getting the shot, seems to be sick, and sick worse. And all that holiday food, the crust of empty sugar and salt of the holidays, booze, bloated opinions and dreams, running you down, when you should be sleeping, resting, leaning.

I slept through it fine,, noted it was probably time to take a break, lay around, imagine the future. I’d worked early Friday on cleaning out the little shed that covers the stairs to the cellar/basement area. I’m imagining how we can turn it into a baby chicken house for a month or two this spring. Friday, we had our official familial planning meeting about Spring goals for the homestead, budgeting the money for that. We were able to put a couple hundred towards a big berry push through Johnny Select Seeds, got fifty raspberry plants, half Killarney and half Anne. And they’re an early to mid, and mid to late season thing, so that means we should basically have berries forever. We also ordered 25 Sparkle Strawberry plants. Our goal is perennial gardening, meaning we want to plant stuff that will grow forever and just do its own thing primarily, as opposed to row-farming, or anything like that.

We watched movie The Revenant. It’s a brutal tale of the American frontier, Hugh Glass/Dicaprio, is a pelt trader who gets eaten by a bear, he chases John Fitzgerald/Tom Hardy around for killing his boy. Of course with some crazy Injuns and Europeans tearing after them all as well. What I like about this movie is that it gets it basically right, I imagine, in historical reality sense, I think to mean. How brutal life can be, savage and beautiful simultaneously (Shown in the bear fight, for the briefest moments, the bear will lay on him like another bear or cub, just like he lays on his own dying/living boy). How this current theme of White (a made up/ahistorical word)-is wrong doesn’t really work out in the real world, but yet it does, in the generational sin, marks a mankind, that all of humanity regardless of race have sort of got to take account of. How we can all be petty, greedy, low, and selfish, but that’s all right, we got live, and we can get along, goddammit, if we can forgive each other’s trespasses. We’re in this shit together. America.

Don’t really like graphically violent movies like that anymore, and it is a disturbing movie/reality. I do have this thing with Westerns while I’m sick though. Remember being in High School, just feeling like I was going to die, and I watched Tombstone. I’d seen it before, but in that weird lucid, liminal state of the sick work, the movie was a perfect escape. Val Kilmer, all sick and ragged, but still the baddest dude. Because he is staring death in the eye, tuberculosis, venereal disease, whatevers there with him. Love that scene though, the other Lawmen, including other 80s movie icon (template Bad-Ass Dad) Kurt Russell, are sort of punked by the maddog criminal. Russell tells him he ain’t economically worth nothing, exposing his true motives, material gain, a la Babylon. The sickman, dead man tells no lies though. He finds from a calm position on the sideline, perfect reckoning. His guns is behind his back, ready. At the end, the maddog is put back on his leash, he stumbles into two caskets, emphasizing the death symbolism twice.

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Woke up at four and it was gone. The aches, but even more pronounced the mental motivation, function deficiency. I was again excited and capable in life. I’d lost almost ten games of chess on Friday. An unusual occurrence. I’ve been focusing on my rating and trying to stay above 1100, which for how many games I’ve played, and my general ability should be no problem. But Friday, I went on this atrocious chess run. Then this morning, decide to play a few, bugs dissipated (but not gone I’m well aware), and it’s the best chess of my life. I withstand the same attacks as last game, but reverse and counter with ease. It’s a total different reality, based on what? A day?A virus? Bad apple-butter? Cabin Fever? Vitamin-D deficiency? Catholicism?

Things are snowy and freezing around these parts. It provides an ideal backdrop to these ruminations. I leave the window open and let hot house air flow through and out, until the wind pushes back in, forcing it shut. Like the cold, said that once or twice, I’m sure. Like how it freezes things, retains them, holds them, suggesting forever, permanence. Until next time, when they’re ready. After the sleep, we are stronger.

1.11.18 (A brief sketch of self, a fulfilling guitar session, On noble Max the three legged dog, cold feet, the power of birds)

9ish, I’m sitting here writing while Britney puts the kids to bed. Had a crazy guitar lesson, getting to the upper-intermediary stages (a soulless description, no doubt) where I can just go through simple version of a lot of songs, the first time. Specifically through this Youtube Guitar Guru, Munson Music Live.

Started with a slower version of Rocky Raccoon, then I like. But this time I stuck with it, and it actually helped my strumming, trying to slow down and play it along with Munson. Then I did Elvis, Can’t Help Falling In Love With You, and I again the slowness sort of annoyed me, but I went with it, until towards the end where I unconsciously started breaking the 1/4 notes into sixteenth notes, sort of improvising along with the video. After that I went to one that challenges my strumming Tom Petty’s Running Down A Dream, the fast version of that is a challenge to my wrist. But more and more I find myself able to rely on the muscle memory built up in my hands, and actually relax while I’m doing, take that forth dimensional perspective, where I can enjoy or critique what I am doing, see between the segments of music. Then I went on a random chain, Genesis/Land of Confusion, Fleetwood Mac/The Chain and Gypsy, and the last one the good bass strumming, strumming, strumming, through the cords felt very natural, and right along with the music. And it hit me, I was actually playing, like really playing. Hours and hours of sucking, and I probably am still not all that good, but still I can say I know what its like to play the guitar. The full thing, not just faking.

Let me tell you about another creature that doesn’t fake it. Max, the three-legged, semi-adopted farm dog. He came with 1900s house. He’s its official Dog of the Watch. He barks mightily at the vehicles as they hit the stop sign, or go flying passed on the dirt road. He dutifully tracks, all range of animals, coyotes, possums, deer. He’s invaluable. He’s technically the neighbor’s dogs, but I think he was owned by their Father, who lived here prior, I believe. He sleeps under our front deck, and likes to sunbath on the porch. Some asshole down the street shot his leg off, told our neighbors that he was going after their dog. That seems impossible, but who knows, young four legged, freedom loving, dogs can be something. He his a younger sister, a beauty named Lady. And the freezing temperatures iced her electric leash, so sometimes she gets off too. She likes to hop, but like Max, has to be respected for her benefits, namely keep the coyotes and strays away.

It was a wintry mix this morning. Sleet and snow, all hell really. Lil salt particles of ice that whipped against the house. Cold winds that make you run for it. And there was Max, enduring it all, outside as always. Thought of bringing him, but realized it wouldn’t work (Lady too, she stared at me longingly, chained up in the barn). We do let the him downstairs in the basement when the storms comes. He appreciates that, hates the thunder I think. Tries to push the door at times, but he was loving the snow, skipping around in it, making his rounds. I noticed the birds too this winter, especially. How do they do it? Survive the snow, I mean. Even more so the birds. So little. You think about how much blood they got in them, probably not enough to fill half a coffee cup. But I saw it today, a black and grey Finch (not sure if it was a Finch at all), with that striking red on his head, gripping the large tree in our yards. How do they do it? My heels hurt from the holes in my shoes….