Episodes from further up or down the timeline as they occur.

What I Mean

I mean, we share the same space in time in reasonable proximity in this vast universe and we tend to refer to this big thing we’re in as Reality. We accept and share many foundational conventions of this Reality, whether we understand them or not, like energy and mass, gravity, love, loss, and death. We share questions.

“Why?” seems to come up often.

Our individual reality is filtered and shaped by our perceptions, our experiences, and our comprehension of them, and by what we believe. But we don’t perceive, understand, or believe alike even about these fundamental things.

Imagine we sit on opposite sides of a table. Between us is a candle. Suspended above the candle flame is a stone. Describe the stone as you see it. My description will likely be different. Which of us is right?

Look into the candle flame and tell me, do you see the same light I do?

Do you?

If you have a rudimentary understanding of how light travels and how the human eye operates, you’ll agree the photons reaching my retina cannot be the same ones reaching yours. Same source, different rays of light. We see the same thing, yet we do not. Can you tell me the ray of light I see is the wrong one?

Our understanding and our belief about what we observe will have roots in our genetic code and in our socialization. That is, we will automatically concur about elemental components of this experience we share, up, down, table, stone, flame, but our thoughts and beliefs about it will, at best, coincide just enough to forestall argument.

Once you accept that no one else will ever perceive and believe what you do, exactly as you do, you may then consider that what we think of as Real is only a description of the world from our own point of view, discrete and unique, probably incomplete.

What’s that? Your reality? It is as subjective to me as mine is to you. Ask anybody; I’ll wait.

While you’re doing that, I’ll tell you about how deep subjectivity can go. I’ll tell you as much as I know, and I know more than most about how it was at the beginning of the story. This story.

At the beginning, the boundary wasn’t so fuzzy.

Our bodies may not have been fully devoted to what was mainly a visual experience, but those early ventures down the VR rabbit hole were glimpses into a frontier vast and uncharted, a parallel universe of wide-open possibility and, for the practical dreamers, profitability. Who would not be willing to immerse themselves in such a pristine sea of potentialities, create worlds, and play in them?

The technology has since enjoyed what the ad-men of yesteryear liked to call a ‘paradigm shift’. Let me tell you about it.

Imagine your deepest, sacred attention held rapt, fully absorbed in an environment so rich and visceral, so—you’ll pardon the expression—Realistic that every one of your senses is invested.

When you feel your body move and react to physics you rarely, if ever, think about, your mind will barely be able to distinguish virtual experience from real. Nor will it care to do so. Even knowing at some primal level you’re engaged within a construct and won’t even be allowed to die there, it’s still real enough. The difference is inconsequential to your synapses.

Go ahead; explore the world. Explore other worlds. Go anywhere your nature leads you. Connect to any among a burgeoning constellation of hosted venues, intricately crafted realms in which to conduct real-world business and commerce, or accommodate any variety of amusements, impulses, fantasies, or perversions.

Build your own world if you can afford it. It’s manageable. Make up your own rules. It doesn’t even have to be pretty. Somebody will pay to experience it.

Real is infinite, they say, and immediate and overwhelming and absolutely nothing is assured, least of all your survival. It’s flooded with sensations and emotions and prayers you didn’t even know were prayers. But it’s your story and, in it, you are the center of the universe. You are the Prime Object. The voice in your head says so.

The virtual continuum, conversely, is not infinite. Not yet anyway, but it is immediate and overwhelming and, though constrained by rules, you are still the center of the universe.

Once offered the ability to disconnect from Real and reconnect at will, most will choose to work and recreate in virtua without harboring much angst. It’s safer there, for one thing.

No one contracts disease in vee. That’s a big deal. Also, only a handful of pioneers world-wide have ever died as a direct result of a failsafe anomaly. For another, it feels Real; or so the compelling AsReal commercial presentations assert. In fact, in value-added ways you never would have expected, it’s often better than Real.

Within the Nexus of All Subjective Realities, as the corporate entity refers to itself, “the possibilities are endless”. The cost is as painless and ephemeral as a soul, and as affordable.

True Believers of many faiths consider the virtual realm to be anathema. Some devout sects have demonstrated violent opposition to its existence. A few billion others have come to see it as a necessity, bordering upon a God-given Right. Some have adapted to life there exclusively. Some have had no choice.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself. It’s hard not to, standing in the only reality I know and afraid for the first time in I-don’t-remember-how-many years. I don’t understand what’s happened and I don’t know whose story I’m in now.

It’s been said there are no endings, only new beginnings. I’m here to tell you, some things end.

Spoiler alert: I’m looking at it.

But all of that was now.



~    This is then  

What I Mean Read More »

Lone, I

I hear them yelling. They sound angry.

One of the words I hear is the word they call me.

Have I done something wrong? Are they angry at me? I don’t want them to be angry at me. They hurt me when they’re angry.

Someone is coming, still shouting. Angry Man, I know him.

The word they call me… he’s using it a lot. That’s never good.

I don’t know what I did. I make myself small against the back of the dark place where I sleep.

Angry Man slams open the way into the place where they keep me, yelling the word they call me, and others. Most I don’t understand, but BAD—that one I understand.

No! I’m not that. I’m not!

Another is coming. I can’t see who it is because Angry Man is in the way, but I can see the thing in his hand.

I don’t like that thing.

I don’t want this to happen.

I am alone and I have nowhere to go.

Flat-faced Woman is approaching. Why is she here? She says words to Angry Man and he stops coming toward me and stops shouting and just glares at me, but he waits for her.

They have a word they use to make me stop everything and wait for them to show me what they want me to do. I do it because I understand, but also because if I don’t do it, they will hurt me. I wonder if Flat-faced Woman has a stopword for Angry Man and I wonder what it was. She said many words I didn’t understand.

She doesn’t have a thing in her hand.

She doesn’t need one.

They are both looking at me with hard eyes and I feel my body trembling all over and I can’t stop it and I cry out to them, “I didn’t do BAD! Please!”

They both flinch at the sound of my voice.

I don’t know how to make their words. Mine all come out at once in the only voice I have, one that my fear made louder and harsher than I meant it to be.

For a moment, I see something in Angry Man’s eyes and I have to look away.

He raises the thing in his hand and lunges it at me. I recoil, but the jolting agony doesn’t come. Flat-faced Woman has a hand on him.

They exchange more words. I understand almost none of them. I want to. It is the most important thing now to understand their talk. I have to learn to do what they want me to do and not do anything wrong. I have to show them I can be a… a “goodboy”.

A little one called me that once. I didn’t know what it meant then and I have not seen her again, but I know I could be that if they would show me how and I would do it and there would be no more shouting and hurting and not knowing why and maybe they would call me that word too. “Goodboy”.

But they don’t seem to care. They are impatient with me.

Angry Man raises his voice. Flat-faced Woman does not, but says a lot of words at him and Angry Man’s face gets harder than before and he walks away. Flat-faced Woman stares at me without expression. She doesn’t see him scowl and gesture at her back.

He turns his angry face and gestures at me. I hold his eyes and smile at him. I want him to see I’m not BAD and not be angry with me anymore, but I see something in him I did not expect. I recognize it now and this time he looks away first. He goes away swinging the thing in his hand.

Flat-faced Woman takes a step forward and I lean back and allow her to take the toy I found.

She says nothing. I hear her breathing above me and keep my eyes down. I don’t like her eyes. I don’t like what’s in them, but her silence and waiting for the pain and not knowing how bad it will be and… and I have to know. So, I look at her.

She smiles at me with her flat face and turns without a word with my toy in her hand. She closes the way out of the place where they keep me and goes away.

I lay down and wait for the ground to soak up my quivering energy and I wish I could go away too.

~      ~      ~

Lone, I Read More »

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