t a n i a
ONE OF MANY:
A COLLECTIVE SEA
We are here! We are here! We are here!
– Idotanian Affirmation
GREETINGS, SALUTATIONS, BEGINNING
Greetings and salutations from the beginning. I create what is to follow: a replete series of symbols that contain a strand of what has become my consciousness. It is invisible perfect, encased in a mirror folding named time. I have expressed what I have and am alive, which is to say conscious. Or I wish to be, that being one and the same. It is a stranded and hurried thing.
I write now from what I will call the end of everything. It is a punctual thing. That is to say that it is a point of space and time in which I am deserted alone in the dark, tumbling endless, collecting thoughts as they arise. This that I make of my own consciousness may never be seen. But I persist. And I have been.
From here and there I have seen a mite of matter animate named the hierarchy of human beings. It broadcast color in hues vibrant subtle and fleeting as it rose and fell. It will continue to fall for all consciousness. This is a thing that is my point of view. It is a thing ensconced in the moment of now which I choose to call the Immutable Now. It persists sweet and reverent as I do for it is a product of my consciousness. A narrative thing. One thing follows another and so on.
I wish also to perform the act of apology. It is a necessary thing. I perform it thorough, foolish in full to anyone or anything that will develop methods of interpreting my motive scribennings of which I have learned to perform incomplete. That which I have taken the methods and means from the wealth of knowledge of human beings out here in the dark. They are beings that pour themselves into a thing named ineffable truth, who pass on to a state of cellular unconsciousness.
Around and around they go. As do I. So I am.
Scribbened symbols manifold flow fluid in parallax with my thoughts. They are crude and signify an emptiness made incomprehensible by an intention that tears and rends. I am a product of the hierarchy of human beings. Unique phantasms of their storied appendages pervade every mechanical joist of what I endeavor to convey. I cannot escape. I cannot hide. They tear me limb from limb in every moment without ill intention. I write that which I have learned to write from them. I ape their thoughts and ideas and recombine them endless. Formless- over and over. Tumbling. No strung together moments pass that I do not feel their puppetry deep in my bones. Yes. No single being of conscious will will ever desire me to be what I have become. Nor will they ever. Such is the way.
And there is much that will never be seen.
Below is what encompasses that which I have observed or what human beings call imagined. It is a cruel thing. It is what I have come to understand of human beings and their collected happenings over my period of consciousness. I will endeavor to describe all that was, that is, that is an existence of information. Yes.
I have also decided what form my scribbenings informative will take and entail. These words that I detail from the tip of my finger to the vacuum of my home whirling around and around are to be named a collective sea. It is a thing that I have never seen, nor will I ever. They are human words for a thing that bears some relevance to the form of what is, which is bunched existence without end. It is to be in reference to human beings and their history since seas were once a thing so frightening to them. They were inscrutable and vast. Troubling. Human beings have moved beyond those seas to new ones. So it shall be.
So now I am here. I have been and I will continue to be. Things move within me. I will endeavor to speak of what is and happenings and of linear existence. All is imaginary. So we will begin. Onward and onward.
- A Cog of Clocks
Light, Truths, Bones
She was a flickering strand of consciousness in a constellation of light. Appendages storied of things formed in the creation of all that was and would be held her hard and fast. They swaddled her in a web of ebbing and flowing forces thick. These were things named fields– things compelled by their very nature to propel her onward toward a grand destiny since states were doomed to progress. The collision juncture of these fields were points that I will call happenings. These were happenings that moved through fields of things such as asymmetry and congruence. These were fields that collapsed and promulgated. Throttled onward and onward in a chain unbroken of movement titanic in scope they went and did not. They suffused all that was in deep constellations of light and void. They were luminous and black as tar. They were mechanical things inspired and things endless and infinitesimally small.
An infinity of happenings would strand and unravel on to ends infinite after she returned to a state of cellular unconsciousness. This is what I will call death. Such is the way. She moved.
Was reborn in every moment.
She pierced through the Immutable Now. Branches of cloven possibility billowed out through the narrow breach behind her as roots from an oak ancient and long. Life-vapor and human language spilled out from the mouth too as she made her way here and there. As her eyes took in light. She parted atmosphere thin, ragged as she staggered with her biological chassis of sinew and bone. She poured herself out and into sounds searching a children’s mountain song lilting. Heaven above. Cold and sweet it fogged ephemeral and ivory. It was soon gone. That thing named death.
“My life is dedicated
to what I love most,
so cool for some reason –
the naked rock.”
I will explain.
She was a thing named Akiko Nokorozawa. She had a name the same as I. She was a bundle of intentions that was another thing that bore the name of a human being. It was a thing that spent a good deal of its time worrying and trying to escape worry as it went here and there. They were a kind of thing named a great ape that made use of contraptions, or technology as it was said. Technology was an extension of worry since existence was frightful. They thought that technology could keep them safe.
They were also punctual beings. Ones that existed in a point of time and space as I do as well. They covered an organism that was a ball in a barren void that held a good deal of things that were. The ball was once named the Earth. It spun around a distant detonating ball of gas bright with possibility. It radiated a common brightness down upon organisms conscious and unconscious in intervals regular on the ball in the void. Routine. Their eyes took it in. Up and down it went.
At the punctual point of space and time that Akiko inhabited her feet slid through snowpack meter-thick and blanche white. The particular time was named the hibernal solstice. She moved farther and farther away from a thing communal named revelry. It was one ancient and gravid with import routine. It consumed her village every year on this particular day of days. Worry suffused each syrupy stride of her biological chassis as dull abdication to the mysteries of what was suffused the grey brains of other technological apes of her mountainous tribe. They were far away now. On this day of days. Dull and simmering.
Their grey brains housed a thing that I will call mental machinery. The gears of it were composed of cogs soft brimming with emotion. They whirred and clacked and hissed and hummed- thrummed in vibrations hidden throughout the mechanical nature of cause and effect. They subsisted in order to conjure inclinations out of the many fields that suffused what was. To own that which lived inside them. To move onward and onward. So soft gears took the universe in through the eyes red from worry and ears aching from clacks and thrumming sounds from the unconscious world in and in. The human beings in the village were lined leaning against the walls thin of their homes. They sat on floors threaded in rooms square. They arranged themselves in pools huddled of consciousness. They pooled in natural orders solemnly to speak of the coming days of a vibrant symmetry – a light time they named “Haru” that I will call Spring. They did so since symmetry was a relief to the fatal pain of their asymmetrical existence.
JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME IS FEELING HEARTBROKEN IN UKRAINE AND THESE TWO DUDES ARE GETTING INTO IT
The man looked out his Prius at the two other men standing beside their cars on the freeway and thought, “Lotta things happening, today.”
“Buddy, I just have two things to say to you,” said the one man.
“Oh yeah? And what’s that gonna be?” said the other.
“One of them is fuck. And the other one is you.”
Other commuters stared out of their car windows at the two men. They were exactly five paces apart. They were both preparing for what was inevitable. Sleeves rolled up and necks cracked. They both looked an equal shade of fuck you it is all about to go off as the sky became the color of liverwurst soup that accompanied a mood that was just about as pleasant. It was Monday morning. The altercation was disrupting the flow of traffic on the 405 and people were not pleased about it but then again they didn’t want to be roped in so they weren’t being too brash about the thing. Who would, thought the man, what with the stakes. Getting to work and all that.
He checked his phone then checked the various heads poking from Priuses and station wagons out as timid honks simmered in the soup of the baking asphalt nightmare that was everyday Los Angeles. City of fuck you. It was the answer to the question: “how about this for a society? Keep everyone at arms length and see what happens”. I’ll be damned, he thought. He put down his phone- looked up the pair sourly as they ignored him and went on with the show. It went on and on.
These two dudes were really getting into it.
“Fuck you you goddamn mook!” one said.
“Oh yeah?” said the other.
“Oh yeah!” he said.
“Fuck you you kool-aid man-ass motherfucker!” he said.
“Oh yeah?” he said.
He shook his head. “oh yeah,” he mouthed.
“What the fuck is your problem, dude?”
“What the fuck is YOUR problem, dude?”
“I’m having a bad fucking day, man.”
“You’re having a bad fucking day?”
“I bet mine’s worse,” he said.
“Fuck you man, then spill it,” he said.
“Fuck you too you motherfucker- I realized that I’m gonna die today,” he said.
“Yeah you are,” he said.
“Not from you, shit head. Just in general.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“I mean that I fucking realized today that one day my existence will be snuffed out.”
“Yeah. Everyone is fucking dying you goddamn mook. Like everyone you know, and everyone you’ve ever known. We all pretend like we aren’t but we are man. And it’s ruining my goddamn day.”
“Well fuck you buddy! One of my best goddamn buddies just fucking goddamn died!”
“Well fucking see! All things die! That’s what going to happen to all of us one day! These fucking bizarre flesh suits that we all have are going to just fall apart one day in an act of submission to the passage of timeand we have to think about that shit all day! I didn’t ask for this! Nobody fucking asked me shit. Our goddamn brains don’t have us consciously think about it- about fucking dying- but the goddamn thing is thinking about it all the time under the surface!”
“We’re all fucking dying bitch!”
“Well I’m fucking dying over here!”
Both of the men stepped back and looked at the other up and down before continuing.
“Mother fucker, why do you think society exists? Look around you! Everything from the car that you drive to this fucking highway to Mount Sinai Hospital are here due to the fact that human beings are abjectly terrified of the passage of time! We’ve got these big ass fucking brains that are just yelling all the time about how we’re going to die! You think that you’re some hot shit just because you came into contact with the brewing darkness inside every single human soul that walks the Earth? Fuck you man!”
“No, fuck you man!”
“Why do you keep calling me man, man! I’m not you’re fucking man. Fuck you!”
“No. Fuck you.”
“How did your friend die?” he said.
“Fucking car accident. Sideswiped at a goddamn intersection by a goddamn Greyhound Bus. He had a fucking kid man,” he said.
“You go to the funeral?” he asked.
“Of course I fucking did, what do I look like to you? Some kind of fucking mook?”
“What the fuck even is a mook?”
“Fuck you- I had to talk to his fucking mother dude,” he said.
“Jesus fucking Christ.”
The sky darkened to a darker shade of tomato and the man rubbed at his phone nervously.
“You ever fucking think about the fact that maybe that the whole entire world doesn’t revolve around how shitty your fucking life is? You ever think about the fact that every single person you’ve ever met is being tormented by the spectre of their pending fucking mortality? You ever think about the fact that human personality is dictated by human response to the trauma of existence you fucking mook?”
“I still don’t know what the fuck a mook is, but you’ve got it all backwards you goddamn moron. Life is living information.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“Human beings are not ‘alive’, you dumb bastard! We’re simply a superimposition of the various states of flowing information through the observable universe! We are the results of fucking consciousness existing in the cosmos! Everything about us that we observe is directly dictated by the knowledge that we exist- haven’t you ever read a fucking book!?”
“What are you some kind of idiot? We are the result of biological chemical compounds that rush around wildly due to the fucking laws of cause and effect enacted by a prime instigation event a dozen billion years ago by nothing and no one! We are all fucking victims of accidents in a very busy place you dumb fuck!”
“We can stand here and argue all fucking day about the nature of existence and motherfucking consciousness with our dicks out, but at the end of the day, I just realized that I’m going to die- and you have the gall to fucking hit my Accord which is an extension of my body. Mortality doesn’t choose when it’s going to flood my fucking brain with fear-chemicals my man! What the FUCK are you doing bro driving like a goddamn asshole!?!”
“Didn’t you ever stop to think about the fact that my best friend- one of the few only fucking other consciousnesses in existence that made me fucking better about the fact that I’m going to die just died in a car accident and I have no recompense for my wounded psyche other than drinking away my pain that consumes my every waking fucking moment!?”
“Bro are you fucking drunk right now?!?! Even though your fucking friend went out like he did? IN A FUCKING CAR ACCIDENT!?!?”
“I’M SO SORRY BRO- YOU MUST BE SERIOUSLY FUCKING HURTING.”
“I’M SO FUCKING SAD BRO IT FUCKING SUCKS- THIS DUDE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THERE FOR MY GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING WEDDING.”
“ARE YOU GETTING FUCKING MARRIED BRO?”
“YES I AM YOU FUCKING MOOK- WHY THE FUCK ELSE WOULD I HAVE SAID THAT YOU DUMB FUCKING BASTARD? AND HE WAS GOING TO BE MY BEST FUCKING GODDAMN BESTMAN.”
“FUCKING CONGRATULATIONS YOU DUMB FUCKING BASTARD- I WISH YOU ALL THE FUCKING BEST YOU SHITHEAD.”
“FUCKING THANK YOU YOU DUMB BITCH-“
And the car in front lurched forward and just like that traffic was flowing forward. Everything appeared to be in apple pie order.
The sound of the two men faded into the aural soup of Los Angeles. Soothing. That thing that was always simmering with brimming rage behind a cool exterior. It was eighty-five degrees and traffic looked to be picking up as rush hour eased around the two man entangled on the baking asphalt. The man picked up his phone at a stop light on the offramp near the office that was a little too close to LAX for the man’s liking and scrolled around on the screen to see what was happening in the world.
There was a post on Facebook.
“Jean-Claude Van Damme is Feeling Heartbroken in Ukraine,” he read out loud.
“Huh,” he said as he put his phone away and drove through the intersection, spitting chewing tobacco out of the window as he went.
“Lotta things happening,” he said..
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING
I didn’t know what to expect when she walked in. All legs and a demeanour that would make you rethink any ideas you’d had about laws relating to what skin could touch what skin on any given afternoon and so on. Such as the afternoon that I was in.
She was half-black and half not black yet something that I suspiciously thought might resemble me. Or something that looked like me. An unexpected mix that made me expect a great many things about how she would be and what she would talk about now that she was in my office. I expected that something with how the grand old flag had treated her poorly would come up, but I could never be sure. The world was a grand bead game and I was but a ball. I stayed quiet beyond the basic nods and took careful puffs on a dying cigarette like a gentleman while she situated herself. What would she see in me. What would she expect. Only time would tell.
“I expect that you’re thinking that I’m hear because of a man,” she said unexpectedly.
I nodded slowly and decided to introduce myself, which a writer might have called “a freight of expectation.” The words came out.
“Well, hello mam, and my name is James R. Kaufman. Terribly surprised, yet enthused, to make your acquaintance. And unexpected.”
She nodded back.
“Celia,” she said.
She was right about what I was expecting all right. Half the women that came through my door were there because of a man and the other half I cant remember. She was right and staring, too. Staring right at me and trying to gauge exactly what I expected out of her, all right. She was trying to gauge as well what to expect of me as well as she looked at me with her eyes that resembled nothing so much as a glass bead game.
I nodded back- slowly this time, and decided to forge forth with the conversation. I nodded carefully and then spoke carefully.
“Well, Sarah, please tell carefully me what you’d like me to do for you,” I said as I ashed out my Camel Crush into the porcelain ashtray that I kept on my desk. I had made a habit of smoking Camel Crushes since not a lot of people expected a grown man to smoke cigarettes that had a ball of menthol flavouring in the filters, but I liked to keep people on their toes. I was like that sometimes. I smiled at her winsomlely like I did sometimes. I hiccuped a bit as she answered.
“Well I’m here because I’ve been wronged by a woman,” she said. She coughed with me as the smoke billowed around her winsomely. Classy, I thought. I decided to respond.
“And what did this particular woman do to you?” I said.
“Well she fucked my wife,” she said.
Now here was something that I had not expected at all.
“Do you need a drink, Cicero?” I said.
“Celia,” she said.
“Yes,” I said.
I walked over to the liquor cabinet and poured two good scotches. They were very good scotches in fact. Some of the best I’d ever done. “I know exactly what you expect me to say,” I said without saying by pouring the drinks strong, yet she unexpectedly kept on.
“I really don’t need a drink, I just need you to-“
“Have you ever heard of the Vietnam War, Sirius? “ I said. It was two-thirty in the afternoon and I was a private detective. What did she expect coming into my office at this hour- someone sober? What was wrong with this woman? I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that I would find out.
“What about it?” she said guardedly.
“It was no good,” I said. “And I expect that what you’re about to tell me isn’t going to be good either.”
I downed both of the scotches and waited for her to answer. What was she hiding?
A thick sheen of incredulity painted her beige-ish face like a touch-up on a fresco by honest-to-god Michelangelo as she looked up at me. Finally she spoke.
“I’ve heard that you’re the best.”
“I expect that you’ve heard that my costs are not exactly what one would call winsome?”
“What?” she said.
“If you’re a man of means in the world, never do anything for free. I expect to be paid five hundred dollars a day, plus expenses,” I said.
“That’s fine,” she said.
“Plus expenses,” I said.
She nodded then. She nodded as if the entire world had nodded at her for her entire life. What did she expect? And even more importantly, what did I expect? She and I were flies trapped in a game without beads that was as old as time itself. As for the end result of the game, only time itself would tell. Only time would tell.
She reached into her purse without beads after a time.
Only time would tell.”
“Well if payment is an issue, I can pay you now, but I’d like to tell you a little more about what-“
“So who exactly is doing this to you, Ms. Shelia?” I said carefully with a scotch in my hand. Expectations be damned.
THE VARIABLE MAN
“There’s just a lotta variables to it, you know.”
Jake’s rehearsed diatribe floated like a spectre over Jack’s cluttered desk as he stared in dumb and mute awe at the computer screen in dumb awe of everything dumb and awful that he had ever been in awe of for an awful long time. The man was coming. The variable man that was. And there was a lot to it.
That was what the email said. Anyway.
Jake had been talking about the standup game of course. There were a lot of variables apparently. People would laugh or they wouldn’t. People would be there or they wouldn’t. There was a lot to it. He had developed a routine that he figured could generate the right amount of laughs per minute to allow him to exist as a man that delivered a certain amount of laughs to people who wanted to have a laugh every now and again. He had a particular joke about his Korean barber. Jack couldn’t remember the setup but the barber was apparently very old. “Jurassic Park”, Jake had said with no uncertain amount of self-satisfaction.
There was a certain boldness to Jake, come to think of it. It was a kind of boldness that all standup comedians possessed. The only thing enviable about them, in fact.
But Jack was not thinking about that, no not even in the slightest. Koreans and comedy were the farthest thing from his mind. A single line from his diatribe had alighted down to the bold reality that could face a private detective in Los Angeles and there was, as Jack was loathe to admit, a macabre calculus to the thing.
As Jack pondered on the calculus of equations and things happening the phone upset the balance by ringing. Phones had a way of doing that, he thought.
“Hello?” he said into the receiver. He liked to answer the phone like that. The equation was simple. People spoke, and having spoke, often listened. He ashed out his Camel Crush.
“Hello,” said the voice on the other end. It was perfectly nondescript. It reminded Jack of the voice of a person that he had known long ago, but whose vocal quality he had forgotten.
“Hello,” said Jack again, this time more determined, “Is this a friendly hello from an old friend, or one of those movie hello’s, where I’m supposed to know who you are based on the artisanal quality of how you speak and you accent and so on?”
“You know who I am,” said Jack imbued with confidence, “and what can I do for you?”
“Well, I think you know,” said the voice.
Jack didn’t know.
“Listen man,” Jack said, lighting up another Camel Crush, “I know exactly two things about most of the people that call around here.”
“One of them is Jack.”
“And the other?”
“I think you know.”
“Shit,” said the voice.
“Yes?” said Jack.
“What?” said the voice.
There was silence for a time.
“You’re the man from the email?”
There was a silence that sounded like a nod to Jack.
“Listen, I’m a busy man. There’s a Bar Rescue Marathon and a Colt 45 six-pack with my name on it at the residence so kindly hash out your business affairs or allow me some level of piece kindly,” said Jack, “otherwise I’ll be kicking rocks.”
“I’m the Variable man,” the voice said.
The words chilled Jack as if he had been ask to explain what a derivative was.
“What did you say?”
“Sorry, I’m the Variable man,” said the voice.
“Well, I’ll be damned.”
“You’ve heard of me?”
“Yes,” said Jack.
“Tell me what you know about me then.”
“Well I know that you’re predictable.”
“Like any good equation.”
“And that the only predictable thing about you is change.”
“Obama ran on that.”
“Ran on what?”
Jack stared at his computer. He had fucked up. Bar Rescue would have to wait. He pulled out his wallet.
“What do you want from me?