by J.A. Von Schinzel - Reynolds
A short story on the peril of free thought
Chapter 1 Diatribe
Down the rabbit hole. Watching parallels converge into nothingness if the one isn't readily noticeable. I take it that it's in a controlled fashion regardless. Faith in Chaos, sometimes all you need before it's evident it's all that's left. I've been waiting for nothing, time to hit the reset button on my life it'll be epic. Spiral down, kill the beat poet, he wasn't much more than toothpicks and crazy glue on my Id anyhow.
Which is all that will be left someday...maniacal reveries of lost absolution, time to trample the garden again, the one growing through the cracks in the concrete in the basement where the dead are stored waiting for the Zombie apocalypse or whatever cool catch phrase I wish someone could create to replace that one about the end times or whatever the fuck it is about Mayans that got bored.
Sometimes I understand them, the feel of momentum, then the brick wall in your face. Wear a helmet, life is dangerous. Kill or be killed, we're at the top of the food chain but we're omnivorous. Humanity's warring because we can't even make up our minds about diet.
Some people can't even follow an IM, you don't need to keep up with me. Sometimes I'm Gandhi, sometimes I'm Patrick Bateman; running shoes in bed so she can't get away. Ever try to start a chainsaw while you're in a dead run and nude? Be glad I haven't, but I understand why American Psycho was written, just so many societal ills I've been noticing recently that I just want to be left alone at times. I like you, I like people, I'm good for a laugh and sociable, but I must be a little more human than some of the cannon fodder, text me, IM me, call me, let me check the other format because you just don't come in clearly when you try to, must be the reception, you're making me hostile, why can't people communicate anymore? ...I'm working on it.
Hiccup, must've been a blowjob that got her pregnant, sucking dick cause someone told her it'll make her smart, (Hey, stop being sexist, bitches hate that) so many people coming into life so suddenly, so casually nowadays. We're at the top of the food chain but no one eats the placenta...odd. Might as well stream some consciousness into this black coffee. Anyhow, why are we here? Anyone plan this? I'm just a mind full of questions at times...
Class? Acedemia? Doctor? Demon, anyone? Keep it moving at least, thanks. I feel like I'm here on a day pass.
Voice of my God?
Chapter 2 We're only a reflux of the mental capacitor of the Universe
"COGITO ERGO SUM." The coffee stained walls of my man cave resonate, my vision grays out at the sound of this unearthly voice...Who's the blowhard?
“WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST MUMBLE? I WAS RANTING, DO YOU MIND? Fucking people.''
"I SAID, I think, therefore I am. Jesus, Joe.''
"Oh, sorry, Mr. Dewey."..."Say, why am I talking to a dead philosopher?"
This would pique your curiosity as well, you have to admit. In other words, dubito ergo cogito. I doubt, therefore I think. But he couldn't just let me keep it simple... Let alone stop quoting Rene` Descartes; hate how all the American philosophers just rehash all the time.
Here's the piss in my cornflakes.
"Because this is where all of us dead philosophers reside."
"Dude! I'm not dead, and why you calling me a philosopher? How does that matter? What are you sellin' here? Son of a bitch, if this is a dream, I would've picked someone else, you look like Adolf Hitler, you know that?"
It was then that I noticed a couple of men a few feet away. One of them looked a lot more like Adolf Hitler than John did, and just as I heard him muttering about Germanic sorcery and Aryan Supermen, spouting his own philosophy, Little Nicky shoved another pineapple up his asshole...I thought they were in Hell, must be on a day pass like I am, not that I know where I am. I know I’m not in Hell. Right?
I didn't know where I was, and I was really longing for a pair of ruby slippers to click heels with and head the fuck out. Because I'm not in my room anymore, just an alien on an alien shore, and this man in front of me, who I am starting to believe might really be Rene` Descartes after all...Who else to try to stop my skepticism? I see his soul in his eyes, and he becomes opaque...All of a sudden I have the feeling I would've preferred John Dewey's pragmatism. And I have a passing thought about how not only all thoughts are of the same cloth, but so is the mind. Where’s Jung when you need him?
Chapter 3 Non-Existence
"You have thought yourself out of existence, Joe. It really isn't as bad as it sounds."
"Look bad movie I’m not up for living dude, I've had enough, I usually have much better plots in my dreams, and I dream consciously to boot, so g'bye. Out." I figured I'd wake up to the smell of my pillows about now, I generally wake up when I call "Reality check" when I dream, and of course regret wakefulness when I woke, but something wasn't right. Time to go.
"Joe, I hate to be blunt, but you had a stroke. While you were driving. In other words, while you were clearing your mind, it left your body. Happens." Smiling French bastard, he is so smug. I wanna kick him. Square in the robe.
"O.K. so much for "The rules for the direction of mind”. Your smile tells me I didn't go straight up, did I?" The smile doesn't waver, but the eyes, they seem to crease a bit, as if the smile of pleasantness is about to crack.
"DID I?" Damn, this guy is getting to be obtuse.
Chapter 4 Poetic Justice
Rene` fades altogether. I wander. I see lettering above a doorway. "ereh retne ohw ey epoh lla nodnabA." I'm getting tired of this already...Hm. If I were on the other side of the door, that would say ''Abandon all hope ye who enter here." I don't think that's good, and I'm giving up on us being in Kansas anymore.
"Dante?" Asks a robed man walking through the gates, forbidding me to come closer to what may be freedom on the other side with an outstretched hand.
"UM, no, who are you and are you making a Clerks reference? Really? Because I'm not even supposed to be here today!" At least I asked who this was first, I'm starting to think that some of these people might be important for some reason.
"You are not Dante?" Asks the man, too calmly.
"No, why? Who are you?" This is very agitating.
"I am Virgil. Who are you, who would meet me on my path through the Inferno?"
"WHAT? The what? Where are we what?" I don't even stop to ask him to explain about THE Virgil of Dante's Inferno reference. I'm not liking this.
"I am Virgil, and I am supposed to walk with Dante today. Come, walk with me in Hell."
"You're smoking crack!" I'm met with yet another stare. This one is as knowing as Rene`'s, but much more blank. Much more.
"Where are we again?"
"Well specifically, we are in Limbo. The land of the fallen Virtuous Pagans and Philosophers."
Oh, well. That explains everything.
Chapter 5 To be or not to be, that is the question I failed to answer
“Limbo? I thought that was just for the mild sin of…oh, never mind. The way this day is going, I don’t suppose you’re going to offer anything helpful. Say, where’s the food?” Virgil points into the distance, at a seven spired castle that seems closer now. Across the sands to a well kept field of grass. I cautiously ask if there’s anything else.
“Pray that your time here is nothing if not similar to the Harrowing of Hell and nothing more.”
“Can I have that in English?”
“You are a man who did nothing but think of the answer and reject them all as they were found. I have no answer for you save that you will answer your own question – but will you act upon it?” The man walks off, his eyes averted to the path that he has chosen as the air seems to settle on my skin just a little cooler than before.
I head towards the castle. I may never make it there. But I hope they have Doritos, I think I was on my way to Wal-Mart for taco salad eats if Rene` was right about me driving…oh never mind. I walk.
Chapter 6 A meeting of the minds
I walk. Oddly, my mind is quiet. As if each footstep is all that matters. Stunned, not enough of me left to question my sanity, just this reality. The peace here. Surreality. Many trees to the side of the road. Many vaguely familiar men underneath them. John Lennon laughs and shouts “Hey Joe – Time you enjoyed wasting was not wasted!” and just smiles and waves as I try to ignore him. I recall the time someone told me I looked like him because of my glasses. I had been as sarcastic as I could, told the guy they came off, and to not compare me to a man that was murdered, thank you. At least I gave Peace a chance and didn’t punch his face in. I look again and keep walking. Rene` may have faded, John does not.
I almost have this behind me mentally when around a curve in the path a Boddhi tree rises from the ground. A figure sits underneath in meditation yet he seems aware of me.
“Siddhartha Goutama.” I say calmly.
“Hello, Joe. Sit with me.” Now this time, it is I who fades.
49 days pass. I awaken hungry. I breathe a breath as an aesthetic and try to accept how I feel so as to move on from it. Siddhartha looks at me knowingly. In his hands is a wooden bowl of rice.
He holds it out to me. “Joe, all your life you contemplated an end of suffering, yet you did little to change it and did little to acknowledge when your highest Self had your answers for you. Your self awareness will haunt you. You must come to terms with it. As you are aware of this bowl of rice, be aware of yourself, and that you will continue to hunger for both.” With that he is gone, the bowl is gone, the Boddhi tree is gone. It is night, it is dark, as are my prospects, alone in Limbo, but only for a moment. I wonder if it is my time to set out into the kingdom as Siddhartha did, and I choose to do so with an open heart.
When Lewis Carrol appeared and recited the Walrus and the Carpenter to me, emphasizing every time they talked of eating, I really thought I was going to lose my mind. The dude could write but he was clearly mad as a hatter. I imagined the Boddhi tree in my mind, and it grew, still and rooted, until he too faded.
Chapter 7 Rising Sun on fallen minds
The Dawn broke and somehow I didn’t. I gathered myself, checked my pockets for nothing and walked on. J.R.R. Tolkien would laugh at me for all the walking in this adventure of mine… However, the next inhabitant of Limbo I met was far from laughing.
“Hello, sir. Friedriche Nietzsche, and you would be?” “The last person who would want to meet you!” I say to myself. I politely state “I’m Joe. You mean to tell me that you don’t know my name? Everyone else does.”
“Why no, I was quite insane when I died. Weren’t you? I mean, you think you are here…do you not?” Such a bland expression, such a twisted way to pose a question to me, obviously not here to help me on this path. I choose to not relent.
“Look, I am really not in the mood for reevaluations at this point, do you understand me? If you were of such a great mind and found nothing but weakness in all of Christianity and mankind, that’s great, but how is it you did it in your mother’s care? Insane? Bedridden? Be gone.”
”Ever hear of the Fibonacci Sequence?” I offer a brief explanation, and Friedriche ambles over to a broken branch on the Boddhi tree in the distance, and somehow I can hear him counting the rings. I’m sure that in a few years he will disprove it, but at least I am free of him for now.
Chapter 8 Patience is a Virtue, but she won’t always wait
Free of the madness of the others, but not Aristotle. To be free of Aristotle, let alone his thoughts on the way of human existence, is to be free to do nothing. As if there is some small mercy in this world I have found myself in, he has materialized, full of mirth, freedom of thought, and love of higher ideals. The conversation seems endless, and although much enjoyed, I wonder if this is the right way to be spending the afternoon. Although the table set for us would feed twenty and I gorge, I feel that there is something escaping my attention, and I sense my time to spend wisely is growing to an end.
“Aristotle, out of the philosophers I’ve met here today, I have to say I see your views of moral acceptability and accountability to be the most appealing to me. I’ve had the hardest time defining Virtue to myself, as it seems to be an unquantifiable quality, one that seems to stem from a sublime balance of righteousness and humility, moral correctness and accepting the rigidity and selfishness of others and doing your best with what the world, and its inhabitants, have to offer to you while you just do your best, another unquantifiable. You have no idea how much this concept used to vex me, and how late this understanding came to me in life.”
“Here, try this Greek yogurt. Strawberry, yum.” I take what is offered, but I’m getting edgy again. Damn it.
“You see, Joe, what you’re concerned with? This feeling of purpose? It doesn’t apply here. You’re done. You might as well relax. Parfait?” Why doesn’t there seem to be a trace of normality here that will last? On the other hand, if this is damnation, I do suppose I wouldn’t want to sit here and eat forever anyhow. Aristotle’s manners as a host are unnervingly astute, but I wish he would wipe his beard off. That yogurt looks like… After a while, it had to go sour. “Here, Joe. Put on this toga we’re going to have an orgy.”
Holy facepalm. No. “I think I should get going now, thanks. Even though I’m sure you’re just being Platonic, I’m going to have to pass.” With a knowing wink, I rise from the table. Aristotle rose as well and offered a hand. “I’m sorry to offend your liberality, sir. But just look around you, you’ll see that in this land there very few for me to offer libations to. So many with gifts that were only spoken of, only thought of, men of great renown only for having inspired thought, not action. Men with only conviction enough to think, not to act. To judge and seek justice, but with little courage and barely enough fortitude to know much beyond the length of their arm and where to write what they thought of it. And I AM THEIR KING!”
“Aristotle, I’m kind of following that, but I think I have to leave now. Thanks for the hospitality.’’
He seems to have cooled off a bit; the righteous can get a little lonely at times…but I’m waiting for some oddity to come from him now, way this has been going, don’t let me down now.
“Joe, before you go I have to ask you: Do you understand why you are here instead of Hell?”
“Well no, I haven’t had time to really reflect on that. Time with Siddartha notwithstanding.” I stand there hands in pockets, shifting my feet. I’ve got the feeling this is going to be bad.
Aristotle smiles, “Because of your compassion. Never lose it, continue to share it, let it guide you. And here, take this gun, you’ll be doing me a favor once the time comes. You know who will let you know who. Be compassionate. Put him out of his misery.”
“You know, I understand the compassion part, and thank you. But you really don’t need to do the Yoda speak w me. Is he here? And are you hinting at a division of Self?”
“Who? Yogurt? Who?” He seems genuinely befuddled at least, thank God. About all I could do with the Force now would be to strangle someone. At least I feel calm for the time being.
I like the gun. It’s a Glock, my fave. The woods are far behind me. I set toward the path to the River Styx. “Hey Ari – quick question? Should I just shoot Charon? Got any change? Can’t I take a bus or something instead? So did I total my truck? Where are all the gas pumps? Hell?”
“My son, Charon is the least of your worries, and you should be glad you haven’t had to meet him yet. you really shouldn’t head that way. Stay here. There’s someone who’s a little angry with you further down the path and he’s expecting you. Oh, by the way. You also have the gift of imagination. Use it wisely.”
Off I go…why the Hell (pardon the pun) I didn’t end up an Earth bound spirit I can’t discern; it was kind of an ambition of mine. Lots of people I could be haunting about now, damn it. I feel less like a man amongst giants than like a single thought amongst a library of theses.
Perhaps I still live in the thoughts of the living. But I don’t feel as if I do today.
Chapter 9 Original Thought must be Original Sin
Well, time for another pun, this one being about a Harrowing experience. I know I’m at a crossroads here; will I be here forever?
I don’t know if I trust Aristotle or not, just had to leave. Is this the right way? Towards what though? This path seems to reflect my life yet again; directionless. Pointless, always away from something as opposed toward anything, so much as a goal.
Except for one. Less of a goal than an occasional fantasy of what it would be like to speak with the ultimate mind of our time. As I walk the light seems to dim, and I sense him, I feel an electric in the air, almost as if there is a static about him that is almost visible. Must be why his hair’s so frizzy.
“Albert Einstein?” I ask, somehow suddenly very unsure of who Aristotle was warning me of.
The man’s eyes were blank, glazed over and reddened. The suit was one of the identical ones he always wore in life, but it did indeed look as if it had been worn for the last fifty-nine years. His skin as white as his hair, he still managed to seem to pale when he noticed me.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." He muttered, but there seemed to be a great distance between him and his words, perhaps he was not quite here in the moment with me. This might turn out to be a relief come to think of it.
“Well, yes it is, sir. How are you today?” I still would love to talk to him, although I have no idea I could end up regretting it.
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." And with that he walks off, shuffling rather mindlessly. I hurry to catch up to him, walking by his side. He is staring down at his feet, as if aware of them but with little control of them. As if he’s been drugged.
“Mr. Einstein, are you O.K.?” I walk a little bit in front of him, not to cut him off but to just test and see if he is aware of me. Even though his vision is set to the ground, the crease of his brow at my interruption, the look of utter malice that emanates from his face for just an instant lets me know he is aware of me.
"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." As Albert says this, he seems to look up at me just a little at this point, a sublime tilt of his head, but I could be wrong.
People like us…that’s almost flattering, yet it’s also the reason why we’re both here. I start to wonder if there is any decipherable reason for his erratic behavior.
"God is subtle but he is not malicious." After so long here, I wonder if this is something that Albert has logically concluded. Or if there is any logic left in the man, let alone this place. I wonder if Albert’s really of any concern to me at this point, if I should be trying to intercede by getting him to communicate. We continue to shuffle along.
"Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing." And with that he stopped, straightened his back and stared into my eyes. I saw his consciousness, saw the universe, and wondered if it were he or the Devil I would rather face. There was enlightenment there as well, but it had seemed to lost its kindness, its grace.
“Albert, I have a question for you. I was wondering what you thought of E=MC2 does not equal RM=CTC3? It’s my interpretation of a if not the space/time continuum, that Retrograde Manifestation is the noticing of how something you did in your past will affect your future, and perhaps you will be able to know when the time is right in your past to do or not to do something as you learn it in the future, which of course will be at some point your present. If during the present you can somehow affect your past, then you can in turn affect your future toward a desirable outcome. CTC, Counter-Temporal Causality comes into play here as well, in the words of the lesser Chaos Theorists – but only if it’s cubed, brought beyond the one dimensionality of linear thought into non-linear thought and circular logic applied practically and they just can’t seem to grasp that. Frustrating buggers.”
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." He’s rolling up his sleeves…
“I know.” I’m content to have been able to sputter all that off without being interrupted, but he’s making me tense. Catharsis be damned, here we go again. This is going to get bad.
"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction." And with that said he is moving towards me, very fast.
"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." The push he gives me makes me leave my feet; my head hits the ground hard. I hear a crack then nothing but the old man’s breathing as he looms over me.
To never have answers, that is my Hell. I lose consciousness. It’s a blessing that there are no dreams here.
Chapter 10 Anti-Anticathexis
I awake to see Sigmund Freud and Albert standing over me. Albert is still staring down at me. I shift away from him, and his vision still rests on where I had lain. Sigmund, holding a script bottle, turns his attention to me.
”I don’t know what you said to him, but don’t say it again. This poor man has had quite enough of people like you. I’m going to guess it was that thing?” He traces out in the air with his hands E=MC2. Einstein glares at his hands, but only for a second.
“Well, yes, but I don’t see how that was any harm in asking him a question about it. I have a theory that-“
“The people with the theories…all the same, antagonizing poor Albert here. Isn’t it enough that he was obviously batshit insane in life?” Sigmund extends his hand toward Albert’s mouth, where he places a blue tablet on his tongue. It seems that it’s all that Albert can do to take his tongue back in his mouth and swallow what has got to be quite the bitter pill karmically.
“What do you think nearly sixty years has done to him here? Something good, for a mind like his? Obsessive paranoid psychotic to an extreme. And so grandiose. He blanked out before I met him here, now all he does is quote himself. Other than that he’s one with the Universe alright. Along with all you other theorists and philosophers. That’s why we have him on these.” He holds out the script bottle so I can read it. Valium.
“How about yourself? So you think you have theories of comparable ‘merit’ to those of Mr. Einstein’s? Here, have one of these, that will stop. You can join Albert in catatonia, you’ll feel very peaceful.”
“Is that all you have to offer?” I ask, somehow horrified. The quietness of this man’s approach to original and inspired thought, his lack of emotion and neutrality in regard to true brilliance. I suddenly recall the pistol, feel it biting into the small of my back where I lay on the ground. I think it’s time for my Id to be satisfied by acting out with my Ego.
I Shoot Freud, Father of modern psychology, square in the forehead, right in that what I once thought was that beautiful seat of the soul of his. Blood gushes, Albert cackles manically and claps his hands, dancing an old man’s jig of elation and amusement. I run like I never have from what I’ve done.
Chapter 11 “Virtue against fury shall advance the fight”
Toward the end, when it all started to become a blur, I realized the true nature of my paradise lost, this poetic justice thrust upon me by cruel fate, or a crueler god. The blur of my life spent in my mind, now has become the curse of my existence, as I will be spending eternity here, talking, spouting what all becomes gibberish after a millennium with the World’s greatest minds.
This was no Harrowing, no test. This was merely a step closer to Hell which we all take at times. Mine is complete now. I’m disappointed. I thought they threw better parties here at the rim of Hell.
Out of the maelstrom of faces, Machiavelli appears. “Hello, sir, I am here to offer you my personal philosophy.”
For some reason I am speechless, I feel threatened by his regalia, the sword on his belt…With two quick steps, he is on my left, hand on my shoulder, spinning me in front of him. I feel the cold, the scrape on my ribs, and the pressure on my lung that makes me gag as I feel my trachea being dragged down an inch before the lung punctures.
Hey, it’s not as if by this point of the day I’m going to be upset about the feeling of not getting a balloon you were promised when you were a kid, but I don’t feel as if my lung needs to be popped like one, now that’s a let down of a final thought. I fall face down on the grass, almost relieved when the blade is withdrawn and I hear, said in the coolest of tones, “Learn that others here do not care for you, to say the least.”
As the blood pools out of my mouth, I wonder why I notice that it is. Isn’t it time for me to not be concerned about something so Earthly now, if I am dying even here in Limbo?
…I am yanked to my feet unceremoniously by unknown wraiths of men. Machiavelli withdraws his blade from my back from the front; the handle leaves quite the gape in my chest. He hands me back my heart after he slides it off of the blade and tells me, “Either choose to not have one or don this anew and wear it well.”
I take it back, not knowing how hard to clench it in my hands, just hard enough to not bruise it? “Now what? Can’t I die here?” He fades, and I hear a head splittingly loud voice booming “I would just like to offer an apology for all of the monsters of our time.” ”Ha. Haha, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha …”
Hell awaits me but won’t come to claim me.
It takes me five minutes, face caked in drool, not blood, when I awake, to get all of this off my mind, and promise myself to have a productive day. But of course I take the time to write it all down. And have a breakfast.
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