SCENE 000: INTRO SOLARIZATION
RND/ In which an attempts has been made to forgo the effort required to tell a story, or even express meaning. What remains as mere ‘telling’ – description without much direction. Loose narrative webbing. You had eleven megs of text standing by – a whole folder of research concerning the conjunction of Writing with Photography. You were to talk about the history of art that consists of Images With Text but the fatigue of staring at this same set of images over the past few months means you no longer want to talk about them.
Potential Background Reading List:
- Code Drift: Essays in Critical Digital Studies – eds. Arthur and Marilouise Kroker (New World Perspectives / CTheory Books, 2010)
- The Performativity of Code: Software and Cultures of Circulation – Adrian Mackenzie (Theory, Culture & Society Volume: 22 issue 1, 2005)
- Digital And Other Virtualities: Renegotiating The Image – eds. Antony Bryant And Griselda Pollock (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)
- Representation and Reality – Hilary Putnam (Bradford, 1991)
- Hyperreality And Global Culture – Nick Perry (Routledge, 1998)
- On Writing With Photography – Karen Beckman & Liliane Weissberg (University Of Minnesota Press, 2013)
- JPEG: the quadruple object – Paul Kaplan (Phd thesis, Birkbeck City of London, 2013)
- Vision and Reality in Pacific Religion – eds. Phyllis Herda, Michael Reilly and David Hilliard ( Pandanus Books, 2005)
- The Cambridge Companion to Postmodernism – ed. Steven Connor ( Cambridge University Press 2004)
- Travels in Hyperreality – Umberto Eco
A lot of online photography often reminds one of the oblique ‘cleverness’ of Brian Eno – sure, it’s often very Interesting and cool – and something about it feels insidious: one is reminded of Microsoft adverts and Scandinavian furniture catalogues of invented pinky-white middling class families all shiny confident-haired and eternally cheerful. There’s this tin-tasting “Wired” techno-utopian element about it, where even pictures of urban decay and lingering metaphysical sadness have a certain slickness and affected, quality about them. (Indeed, the same thing could be said about so-called Internet Culture as a whole.) Thing is, people joining photo sharing sites like Flickr are probably semi-unconsciously self-selecting their photos to fit in with the social online norm. (The mathematics of the inverted bell curve seem to apply here?) As they stand however, they often look like the vast, monolithic databases of “precious photos” of intrinsically-insane artificial intelligences trying their best to look Human, sane and violently happy. “Good pic, great composition, keep it up!!” Resist the corporate takeover of the human imagination.
SCENE 001: DARK ISLAND LIFE
Another brilliant, quiet day on The Earthsea. Giant waves and frozen mid-Atlantic air. A figure in a gorilla suit hunts on the upper deck for fresh meat and Japanese ‘slice of life’ comics. The remaining crew have no clue that the ship’s remote automated island destination is a massive sleeping benthic sea creature from an impossibly ancient, near future world and-or reality. The stinging salt sea air smells violently fresh, with a hint of Tanqueray London Dry Gin. There is nothing more to be said about the world or its doomed inhabits – except that even they don’t know if they deserve this sublime reality or not.
Coda. Sonny Bono hopelessly flounders overboard and shortly drowns with unceremonious embarrassment befitting talentless bowl haired assholes. Nobody notices, not even the raging waters.
SCENE 002: ROUGH NORTHERN JUSTICE
When young and living down South, good friends Martin and Peter were often in trouble with the law. Yet up here in this distant, one-horse one-bus a day nowhere town, they realize a life of intense emotional criminality is their only option. Therefore it’s not a choice, but a necessity born directly of strictly Economic existence. However, whatever temporary madness has convinced them it would be good idea to break into the local Court House to steal the judge’s favorite golden Fishing Championship cup, has also not informed them of court’s new recently installed ‘roving undead’ security features. These and other strange contextless facts alone however, still do not invalidate the daily grind and intense soul-draining boredom of such borderline arbitrary, Northern semi-existence.
Coda. Sonny Bono lays flat on the ground at the back of the court, staring up at a blank slate sky and wondering idly about the cosmic pointlessness of his distinctly two dimensional, bowl haired existence.
SCENE 003: BACK ALLEY BLUES
In which there’s little of genuine interest to be said about back alleys, even if they extend their reach into our worlds without us noticing – tree branches delicately intruding through over and past neatly fenced existential boundaries. Needlessly drawn out and arbitrary days in early summer; the building to right of the fence down a quiet back alley leading to beginning of Market Street, full of mild unhappy people performing intense yet intensely useless database management. They unconsciously wish they were out out in the warm, strolling down the silent side streets of this nondescript city – instead of feeling trapped inside, inside, performing daily dust dry acts of number and letter crunching demanded by modern workplace hyper-bureaucracy. Bars on the window of the building opposite remind them of the many strong upper limits on their highly circumscribed existence.
Coda. Sonny Bono rests against the rough wooden fencing, sweating under the midday son. Being a bit of a fuckwit, he has absolutely no clue where he is, but smiles awkwardly out at the world just in case anyone is watching.
SCENE 004: MEDIA REALITY RIP
Another sudden tear or slash in media reality which, despite first impressions does not automatically suggest glitches in the global Capitalist matrix, but rather merely confirms that such tears and interruptions are in fact very virtual basis of capital’s inherently ‘disruptive’ data structure symbolism and geopolitical dominance. Nets formed of sucking holes – a flesh cutting grid formed of constant nonlinear disruptions, ruptures, short circuits and violent reconfigurations. Where reality once again presents and imposes itself – smeared sideways in planned high speed accidents – deep scratches and multiple surface wounds – palm trees on dark choking fire and a hilltop bunker – destroyed by low altitude attack drones remote piloted by silently inward-screaming / artificially intelligent pilots orbiting earth in sealed cryopods of hot super amplified alienation – chemical dreams and synthetic desires precisely stage managed down to the last ultrahigh resolution pixel.
Three, two, one, kablooie! As you sip another frothy decaffe fair trade soy latte reading the latest consumer headlines all the air sucks out of your lungs before you metaphysically roast alive and get blown into a bloody mist of screaming dumb social media smithereens – yet you feel grateful for this once in deathtime opportunity to listlessly witness another daily sea change and neurological revolution in the global news blandscape – alien electrodes apply willing self administered mega shocks to the twitching corpse of global electro-fiscal biodata. That’s some heavy virtual war right there, deep estranged neighbor.
Like an idiot, Sonny Bono stands at the border of the incoming reality shockwave, moments away from getting his ontological socks blown the fuck off his vegetable dumb cognitive feet.
SCENE 005: THE REALITY WORKERS
“Only in L.A” as the undead saying goes – at this nodal point the phrase is used more as a charmless charm to ward off sudden catastrophic desimulation than a deliberately non ironic statement about common Megacity baseline reality. Sun pours down upon strong straining backs of skilled, yet poorly paid laborers whose particular Job Lozenge today involves setting in place and maintaining key aesthetic elements of store front advertising – a mosaic of tiles or a cheesy billboard featuring standard substandard typographic design elements. In which the whole scene feels like one of those hyperreal paintings once popular during 80s era but which have now fallen out of favor with collectors because all they have to do is look outside their black mirrored mega office windows on the 1000th heavily armored downtown floor and they receive maximum amounts of hard flat plastic reflective hyperreality for free – especially given recent street advances in recreational mainstream neurochemistry.
Of course the unacknowledged public secret is that you don’t have to just snort insert or inject for that mad rush of charm of the long disappeared sense of The Real, but simply gain ready access to certain image sets – correct and carefully curated scenes of super contemporary virtual existence. The resulting sidewalks will undoubtedly look more beautiful once workers have finished their mosaic, yet these otherwise undocumented and unseen lives will soon pass by on some unending professional social stream of images which such privileged prosumers wolf down their hollow eyeballs like candy flavored data crack – expensive cheap eyeball kicks for viewers whose well trained modern talent for image appreciation makes them directly complicit in the ongoing global poverty of a world of little but fragmentary snapshots – their own soulless mechanical slickness; those naturally discarded by such dead sheep eyes, rapidly passing by onto fresh and vital scenes scenarios setups and other strictly photographic opportunities. Suddenly one of the workers looks up at you, dear voyeuristic class-tourist photographer, and idly wonders what exact world you’re from – one in which you don’t have to constantly sweat your fucking thankless guts out daily for minimum, non living wage.
Sonny Bono meanwhile stands idly by, watching the unrelenting hard economic toil of these workers with studied indifference, but all he can provide for the world at this particular moment is a stupid-ass looking smile on his punchable mug.
SCENE 006: INNER CITY LIVING
In just under twenty four hours, college student Karl Michaelson Jr. will die from multiple gunshot wounds casually administered from a sentient machine pistol aimed in his general direction by a slightly coked out gang member of a random passing community Rentacop patrol force.
The officer in charge, one Sargent Rex Bullhead – gross alcoholic wife beating veteran of two major historical proxy conflicts between rival megacorporations – received a half year job suspension and a single day’s pay dock for his role in what was officially termed quote ‘a regrettable accident.’
Shortly after hearing the news about her only child, Karl’s only surviving relative took her own hard won life and is eventually found rotting under bed covers by social workers. In her shriveled claw she holds a dull white plastic bottle of prescription media anxiety pills made by one of same inherently evil mega corporations responsible for the death of her son.
Walking back from his friends house in the burbs after playing a retro remake of “Halls Of The Things” for the ZX Spectrum 48k on a homebrew software console made from an old VHS tape recorder – Karl’s last quiet ambient thought on that late afternoon sidewalk was that he could sure go for a large bag of chips right now, or maybe spicy tacos. His friend, while generous with access to his custom videogame devices never once offered Karl so much as a single sugary pop drink or light snack whenever he visited, and Karl felt uncomfortable asking. He did once jerk off into the underwear drawer of his friend’s sister (Janice) but has silently regretted it ever since.
Nobody knows Karl or cares about his young, black male life but the resulting inherently racist Social Media backlash against the suspension of Sargent Bullhead was a sight to witness, even for those actively taking part.
Soft afternoon shadows envelope and protect Karl – in some alternative photographic solarized dimension which does not exist – vans pass by and Karl stops to look down some narrow alleyway Beyond – a single patch of pale blue light floating over distant rooftops.
Karl treads carefully down the alley – cats dart under pipes for mutant rats with growths on their back whose friendly bacteria hold one psychedelic key to the cure for media cancer. Hands in pockets, his attentive head watching carefully for undisclosed existential opportunities, Karl walks straight into an adult life of learning, delightfully experimental European literature, exciting travels abroad and distant penpals with secret desires; just not today, not today.
Hitching a lift on the side of a passing van, Sonny Bono looks on over at the black youth passing by, and whispers something casually yet deliberately racist to himself under his bleach smelling breath.
SCENE 007: COLD STRIKE ZERO
Rather than some default standard substandard Holly Wooden view of a screaming, mile wide meteorite stuffed full of exotic star metal ready to be mined by psychotically greedy US companies continually desperate for ever greater market share at the expense of very earth our entire existence is founded and depends upon;
To imagine the sight of the meteoric ascent of an entire megacity mass hurtling toward the present – an unknown future full of stunningly unimaginative possibility – a cataclysm of violently inert steel and concrete that few will miss, yet are even fully cognizant ‘exists’ in any sense, conceptual or otherwise. Ka-bang!!
Sonny Bono, just having been launched out the side of an office block window to his death by striking robot janitors, looks out with soulless eyes at the brilliant megacity and feels good about himself – because that’s the only thing he could ever manage. “Stupid prick.”
SCENE 008: HARD OFFICE LIFE
In which one feels reminded of certain biomech birth pod batteries held secure in Matrices – quiet mournings in any city with dumb warm light and slow drifting virtual clouds illuminating one’s bland existential position while waiting for abrupt official signals to get back to thankless wage slave labor (aka Bullshit Jobs.)
X points out of ten for spotting empty strawberry jam containers on the window ledge – oh to open a gap in the window through which unconscious desires for worlds without useless soul destroying toil – to escape unattended (is that the word?), flying forth forevermore into a brilliant cool blue Beyond.
Desperately clinging to the outside of the window with sweaty fingers rapidly loosing their grip on reality, Sonny Bono wonders (in his unchecked privilege) how exactly he got here and curses the moment he was born – but then also suddenly realizes that’s what most of his detractors have been doing for years.
SCENE 009: MARGRET AND STANLEY
In which Margret and Stanley Klopchek – two spanner dumb, daytime TV brainwashed, Republican voting reactionary space apes in their mid 70s and largely undeserving of human sympathy – are convinced by their horrible, snot nosed grandson Joshua to take a pleasant Sky Ride at the local Fun Park.
This ride travels the entire circumference of the park for single dollars – something the old, notorious skinflint Stanley can certainly get his soft boiled egg head around (particularly as just another gross and callous little fat man with horrible hairy arms who publicly enjoys being mean to his dog Rover.)
Joshua has precisely timed his grandparent’s arrival to coincide with the reappearance of the ride – which appears to be nice and slow, only because it was already in the process of slowing down before docking to pick up new unwary passengers.
For this reason, Margret and Stanley imagine it pleasant and slow just like them, and decide to take Joshua’s offer of a quiet trip around the park – after all, they don’t want to disappoint their spoilt grandson on his birthday, by not taking part in at least some of the Fun Park’s activities.
Little Joshua normally resides in the recreational basement of his upper middle class parents, spending countless hours screaming alt right abuse down his distorting headset microphone at so called ‘newbz’ to quote “git good” andor “get wr3kd” as he plays ultra violent first person corporate multiplayer ‘death matches’ while huffing sugary energy drinks and sniffing his own toxic cheeto farts.
Thirty seconds into the Sky Ride, and it speeds up at a frightening rate until both Margret and Stanley feel like anxiety power vomiting. Joshua however (that kickable little nerk) rides in the seat in front of his grandparents, and (up till this point) has been enjoying each moment of their suffering – but thirteen seconds into the ride suddenly finds his hateful little squeaker head smeared into lukewarm bloody paste between two steel girders due to catastrophic mechanical failure.
The death of his idiot grandparents immediately follows as their suspended seat gracefully departs from the single twisted steel suspension rail and sends both of them plummeting sixty feet onto an idle patch of bare smooth concrete and this photo – taken automatically by park robots at the moment of maximum predicted excitement level and then offered as souvenirs – shows Joshua’s lifeless b’sandled feet danging uselessly while the Staggered Meat remains of his nasty little head flaps in the wind and bland sunshine – a random torn flesh flag without much Future.
The captured look on his grandparent’s face is not one of horror but of mere uncomprehending bovine stupidity – ie. they died just like they lived – in Cognitive Kansas all their lives, strapped into dead mechanical systems on fully automatic while merely forever waiting to have their cruel false ideological suspicions constantly reconfirmed.
While the overall human tragedy of this unfortunate event feels fairly real – particularly for the underpaid park janitors from Mexico sent in to clear up afterwards – the individual tragedy of lives and deaths of these professional miserabalists and their little shitheel grandson only seems secretly worth (darkly) laughing about.
Due to a marketing error this photo was actively used as promotional material for the park once it was reopened by the mayor a year after the accident – of course, everyone in town except park management remembered this oddly existentially-engaging incident and it actively helped drum up attendance figures.
As the current head of park management, Sonny Bono looks on at this rapidly unfolding spectacle of bland urban horror and smiles to himself, confident his army of shit eating lawyer lizards will protect him from any negative publicity or close cultural scrutiny. He’s wrong.
SCENE 010: SUBURBAN SUPER BLAND
So welcome to nothing happening nowhere – ie. a housing estate of the mind where ‘every day’ truly does feel ‘like Sunday’.
“Wish you were here” as the postcard says – “instead of me, you poor bastard.”
Indeed you used to live in one of these violently nondescript nonplaces for nearly twenty four years – more bad concept than physical actuality – row after unending row of what exactly, constructed to minimal standards by anonymous men with large sweaty ass cracks and vast stomachs aka ‘full English breakfasts’ on proud display. Who would listen to dire Radio One pop piss all day long and stare blankly at nipples in The Stun shitnewspaper.
In which living or rather merely existing in one of these dull red brick prisons for the soul feels akin to being suspended in painfully slow ‘Dead Time’ – of flat sunlight without warmth and dusty kerbs where you’d sit quietly alone all summer, waiting waiting for Real Life to begin.
Consider TV your only friend and private savior here – something and anything to watch while eeking out your prison term down on suburbia’s unfunny farm – punching the time clock of countless untold and unliving hours before life, before the opportunity to ESC finally presents itself – some brilliant psychic wound.
And you must grab it, squeeze it, blast yourself into dangerous new orbits or else end up like your callous, brain dead parents or fish faced neighbors – washing their crappy on-the-never-never cars with loving attention, cosmically unaware of the true extent to which the whole sorry crap heap feels Violently Disappointing.
You see, your dull authoritarian parents leave in the morning and stagger back in the evening, and in between nothing was said and even less was learned.
Over dinner they start riding your muscular scarred back again over the only damn thing they remotely imagine means anything – Getting A Job – that holy existential pursuit uber alles.
You squirm in your brick house and block out the noise, avoid that critical bully gaze, chew your horrible tasteless meal and slink back to your room (your existential lifeboat) where you plug right back in to The Mighty Rollins and Rush and badly written Cyberpunk semi-literature paperbacks.
Hands behind your head your desperate gaze penetrates the apple white ceiling of your permanent teenage bedroom – you imagine having real friends, going on intense action adventures, meeting beautiful intelligent young women and playing classic oldskool lo fi arcade games with deliberate retro scan lines.
If only you had money for a cool sci fi book, or maybe a really tasty cow flesh burger and French freedom fries with a synthe-vanilla milkshake, a hot apple pie pushed right into the gooey center for good measure.
Meanwhile however you sense a unkempt mass of dirty green grass on the fringes entirely surrounding your lousy estate, which does not care one single blade for your silent burning pseudo pain or near uninterrupted Terminal Boredom you experience every internally slow dying second in this hopelessly suburban dislocation.
But oh sweet Jebus it feels so utter empty and anonymous here – so devoid of detectable passion or organic beauty or rather w/here – you now often add the letter W to Here because that’s real – some nowhere, where you have to deal with each new blandly unhappy day.
Oh where where where are we now and perhaps in some pale desperate sense shall forever reside?
In which the toothpaste tube of your poorly metaphoric life feels squeezed flat and discarded – hollow sound of dirty rain on roof tiles in the middle of night – no future no past, only the unhappy two dimensionality of an ever present and poverty stricken Now both nameless and already long forgotten.
Run run and never look back, not like you ever had choice – piss smeared lamp posts in the street buzz to themselves as the neighborhood cat walks a fence without effort and lonely flat Wummer was always only ever listless, forgetful and borderline fatally plain.
Passing by in a designer A.I piloted airplane, Sonny Bono looks down on this affectless strip of suburban sprawl, secretly thankful he lives in the lap of Capitalist luxury. Two miles from this location however the A.I decides to pitch headlong into the side of a fucking mountain, in order to save the known sentient universe from monumental assholes who never learnt to shut the fuck up.
SCENE 011: THE FROZEN BATHERS
In which you come across an old photo online one day while surfing for something-anything to draw you out of your superficial mode of deep and inherent existential despair or (as you like to put it) the ‘world of naff’.
Consider ‘naff’ as UK (aka Dismaland) slang for lousy or disappointing.
Despite being a photograph it looks like a painting and acts more like one – reminding you of other similar art termed Hyperreal, once popular in the 70s.
Such superb images often appear two dimensional or flat, as if their universe or entire reality was a two dimensional Super Surface upon which strange micro dramas play out – flashes perhaps of some vast computational network busy dreaming what it remotely imagines human life feels like.
In which it’s possible to read the red of the plastic hair cap of the swimmer in the middle as a kind of bandaged existential head wound caused by the existential pressure of existing in such a universe.
Another beautiful day in early Spring; perfect for the brave and fit and bold of spirit to test themselves against clean stark unnatural elements.
Sonny Bono idly looks on from a rocky outcrop a short distance away, grateful that nobody can see the awkward two inch boner in his lightly piss stained beige golfing pants.
SCENE 012: SHINY CLEAN HAIR
In which the clean blue of morning sky perfectly contrasts with the clean efficient super complexity of the mega city – a face in the crowd, a sudden suspected glimpse of the notion of emotion – she’s young, beautiful and perfectly anonymous. Her pouty lips feel ever so slightly sore against bright cold sun of another bright, bland October workday morning.
She’s off to work, three stops on crowded trains, her hair shiny smelling of faintly exotic wildflowers. She does not like to wear much makeup. Her small group of friends often complement her on her complexion. She skim reads travel magazines on the train, often feeling lucky to find a seat amongst swarms of swarming commuters – pages of the magazine are cool, colorful, dumb and enticing. “Oh, to get out of the mega city arcology and visit unsophisticated foreign locations with quaint and heartwarming customs and other odd cultural quirks.”
Her Low Ranking Media Executive salary feels adequate, but (after rent and her mild urban anxiety medication) leaves little for private dreams and hobbyist pursuits. There’s something in her eyes which questions your motives, but she doesn’t really mind right now as she’s busy flying over the Pacific on her way to Maximum America, land of tall vanilla floats in lonely 50’s roadside cafes – freedom fries and stolen high torque muscle cars used in robberies heading for the unkempt border (John Ford mountains bordering on all sides, singing along with Bruce Springsteen on the scratchy radio saying he’s on fire.)
Currently passing nearby, Sonny Bono leans in to the young woman’s private space, secretly hoping to lick her ear, and gets maced with mutant scorpion venom, freezing his face for a month into a painful, brazenly all-too recognizable rictus of smug, bemused self satisfaction.
SCENE 013: GERMAN POSTCARD PORN
In which horribly pastoral scenes of 70s Germany bring to mind horribly dry pumpernickle bread smeared with greasy warm margarine, while everybody in the local restaurant secretly fantasizes their useless lives away – the husband with bad hair in the foreground checking out the swollen curves of the waitress and ‘the wife’ imagining herself being eaten out on her luxury sofa back in the relative sociopolitical safety of their luxury apartment back in the undead centre of town – her husbands big pale teutonic bratfurst sliding in and out of their new migrant maid while their dim blonde kid hunts for spiders in basement, pulling their legs off while dreaming of burning down his awful boarding school, eyes full of youthful mystery comics and slow burning directionless hatred though; as he grows he will naturally learn to point it at ‘dirty foreigners’ and those from lower income brackets.
The restaurant food tastes perfunctory, the service and conversation adequate. The polite old man nearest their table stares deep into his lukewarm tomato cream and gin soup, still somehow livid with regret at obeying his Captain’s order to kill the young beautiful female farm hand during war – simply because some ignorant villagers had spread the rumor she was handing out apples from her orchard to passing resistance fighters. Try as he might, he cannot quite forget the smell of wildflowers in her hair as he bent down to hold her in his arms as she died from gunshot wounds inflicted by his trembling soldier’s hand. Such impossibly distant memories, souring his contemporary soup, turning his life his soul to dull wet ashes – he glances over at the young boy on table diagonal to his, and is shocked to see himself: naive, idealistic, nationalistic and profoundly unprofoundly blank inside. All too ready for advanced authoritarian cultural programming.
The soup’s mediocre today, and the dusty wilted plants dotting the restaurant attract tiny annoying flies. Sonny Bono meanwhile sits in a corner all by himself, pretending he’s an undercover Surf Nazi on permanent vacation from Venezuela. He is secretly filled with pathetic, guilt ridden self disgust.
SCENE 014: THESE HIGH LOW STREETS
So welcome back to the ‘world of naff’, except you never left. The world of naff feels like permanent early summer – what yokel locals would term ‘an exceptionally warm day for this time of year’ in bedsit and B&B land – bland, bored, and breathless with existential anxiety at the mere notion of the thought you’ll never quite escape here. Everything laid out flat and plain, slightly state biscuits (garabaldies perhaps) on an infinite grid, everything and everyone in its culturally pre-allocated place.
Pounding these deserted streets in your best worn out office shoes, you steadily march to work every morning, fancy frothy coffee in hand from that new artisan place on the corner that sells hot croissants made with real French fine flower, but which won’t be there in under a year because despite recent local government and developer attempts to push house prices up, push the poor and brown skinned to the outskirts, slap a new dash of cheap shiny paint on inherently old and broken community amenities etc. the upper middle class cash just isn’t interested in painfully anonymous English seaside towns Germany forgot to burn down.
Every day on your way to work you quickly glance to your right where you see a beautiful highstreet food operative who works at old cafe where they serve wilted ham and pickle sandwiches, and coffee that tastes of burnt brown socks. Their name is Jane – and the mere existence of the notion that such a person exists (with such beautiful hyper organic and positively hallucinogenic features) fills the imaginative space, running parallel with this dull dead world with her rapidly swirling bright inner colors.
Sweet Jane always knows when you’ll be passing by and looks up from the counter to smile at you, or rather in your approximate direction. You’ve often wondered what it would be like to go in buy a crap ham and farmhouse pickle sandwich and talk to her, but the demands of work – another two miles you have to walk in pissing, fine horizontal rain – blank out all such fantasies from your impressionable mind and you just stare back with a well practiced suburban poker face.
As you stare out the dust smeared office window at the grey buildings opposite, you still can’t quite believe it nobody but you sees it – the dreadful, violently nondescript nature of it all – of everything that exists, or at least constantly tells everything else it does. Not that this alone is remotely enough, mind – the unique existential flatness of that pale English early summer light on the pavements you walk alone, somehow perfectly ordinary and anonymous. The fact people seem utterly unaware that so called ordinary, daily mundane reality itself feels somehow entirely limited, perfunctory and astoundingly un-astoundingly uninteresting.
Sonny Bono walks past you on his way to a local backroom rubber sex toy operation operating out of a fundie Christian bookshop and you notice this look of mechanically dumb, soulless acceptance and animalistic gladness on his stupid tanned fizzog.
SCENE 015: COLD SIGNAL FREQUENCY
No rescue signal has ever been either successfully sent or received from any of the three towers or Grey Sisters as they’re known by their secret employees. According to local myth, each hermetically sealed four hundred story high processing unit is architecturally mirrored by another three buildings to the Deep South of the megacity arcology.
The pigeon in the photograph was taken by a falling escaped employee known only as Alan K, and beats its wings only once per minute – frozen in spacetime, anything approaching the towers rapidly slows to where it exists in effective permanent stasis. Cold destructor rays emanating from the tower’s fractally sharp corners can deal with potential intruders precisely and utterly – though some say the towers absorb such objects as raw data for advanced unknown processing.
Objects leaving immediate the vicinity of sisters face rapid increase in velocity to lightspeed at which point they simply disappear.
You’ve recently been recently dwelling on the unremitting greyness of your life, but as usual its just the damp flat uninterest of the season which keeps spirits depressed. Indeed there seems a distinct correlation between your recent troubled mood and the appearance of sisters in locally manifested conceptual spacetime.
Enlarging a stupid looking mug seen staring out through an upper story armored window, we can see Sonny Bono looking on at our immanent, vertigo inducing death with all the well practiced glee of a sinister 70s suit wearing asshole.
SCENE 016: THE USEFUL IDIOT
Face it, you’re a bit of an idiot. (Ironically, for you at least, the origin of word is someone who does not take part in civic life.) Standing tall, mouth open, shining eyes transfixed you speak your largely empty mind, humbly putting forward your unique and ill considered concerns, untrammeled and unafraid of being shown up for the simple plain dull fool you too often are.
You’re depicted in a way that resembles Suburban Abe Lincoln, blue collar slightly damp from early morning farm labor just before the annual town meeting while other more thoroughly Middling Class dolts look up at you (certainly not in silent glowing admiration for your current interpretation of the sham of pseudo-participatory Democracy but rather just waiting to see how precisely you aim to place your own foot in your mouth) – to hear the slow stumbling tirade of minor social embarrassments and lack of proper learning fall from your slack, dim yokel hayseed jaw.
False pride alert: you so obviously display it, for the All Amerikan myth of interaction with The System (as violently limited and pre circumscribed as it is) which deliberately allows just an 8th of an inch of gap for romantic fools to stand tall in staged public displays of meaningless interaction with this convenient global system of total governance, where predictive algorithmic models rule and rule with velvet iron gloved efficiency.
You’re only right about one thing though as you take the global stand to state your minor case – “Fuck Sonny Bono.”
SCENE 017: ARCHAEO-ASTRONOMICAL
At peace in the ancient temple, dense strong vines curling around and through crumbling ruins. Warm brown early morning jungle light filters gently through dense canopy barely illuminating the Scene.
You are covered in the fresh hot blood of a disposed colonel and need to make your escape back home to barbecues and ballgames, yet there’s still ancient time enough to admire the quiet organic-hallucinogenic mysticism symbolically implied by the archaeo-astronomical narratives displayed around you in such impossibly ancient stone. Deep time.
Sonny Bono walks past, perfectly happy with the monsters knowledge that in six months his investment will pay off, and this dusty old place will be a supermarket complete with extensive multistory parking facilities.
SCENE 018: AN ABSURDIST VOID
A bold, daring leap into an absurdist void – a rapid descent into extremes of blind faith, it seems this will not end well. A crushing face plant at best, you’ve felt so very tired recently – probably something to do with your sugar levels. You’ve been beating it blue to internet porn without enthusiasm but never reaching existential climax, instead you just feel tired (listless, alienated and thoroughly blank.) Images which once made you strange hot and pulsing stiff now simply leave you semi turgid with a faint stink of unwashed genitals on your hand, and numb disappointment in your sagging heart.
While you wait anxiously for your online shopping order to arrive in a refrigerated van, you wish you’d take more or indeed any risks – just like that famous artist who took a deliberate sudden artistic dive off that building from a rooftop in the Paris suburb of Fontenay-Aux-Roses (only it was a photomontage, comprised of two pictures one of which features his friends waiting with a tarpaulin to catch him, but still.) The true leap was a leap out of the merely imaginative void direct into a theatrical performative super reality.
Sonny Bono stares blankly at these proceedings without joy or understanding and the gathered artistic friends tell him to politely fuck off back to Maximum Astral Amerika.
SCENE 019: COOL MATSUDA GREEN
A frozen warm moment seemingly out of time – another attempt at escape into some bizarre collective colonialist sense of the far mystical silent East, where yellow tinted white ceramic flawlessness self seductively mis-translates into sustained private sensual illusion and single hair stands across a passing pretty face of a young humanoid in an anonymous green train carriage moving slowly out of old, old Edo.
A naturally mistrustful sideways glance into yet another way of living labelled as Foreign, when the entire planet was an unknown alien rock hurtling through the deep biocosmic mid-afternoon void, strange diffused sunlight making skin look cool and taught to your estranged virtual touch – her doubtful lips the color of sour, mildly poisonous berries that grow above sea level in cool mountainous shades favored by bears and magic fox spirits.
You apologies for rambling, her expression betraying the briefest hint of a smile as you quickly close the carriage door and depart for destinations equally unknown and unexamined (except through narrow false memory, the tinted lens of half truths and blatant falsehoods absorbed through blind, ambient cultural osmosis.)
Thirty quiet seconds later she has forgotten your existence because you were her cheap invention – a passing means of casual escape to the / some dying, forever abandoned West. The train pulls away and is soon lost in light fog.
Dressed in his standard ‘wilted station porter’ costume, Sony Bono looks on, happy and utterly uncomprehending. Subtlety for him consists in being casually slapped in the face by women thirty years younger than him, that he’s trying to chat up in local seedy bars. Unknown to Sonny, the biocosmic scale and extent of his true existential irreverence cannot currently be measured by existing technologies (however the sideways glance of a single young woman from Japan seems to provide more than enough interpretative data to work on.)
SCENE 020: THE CULT CUBE
Leafy London suburbs of lazy early Autumn imagination, where crimes against and-or in name of (/alternative) reality take place or manifest; tall thin damp trees reach for a permanently overcast sky, set against the drab concrete side of a tall, multi story house once frequented by vague failed hallucinogenic artists in the 40s. A pale navy blue rectangle, recently painted over with a graffiti tag saying “hail urban cosmonauts 63-81”.
Nobody seems to know the current owner of the house with its creaky floorboards and cool rooms smelling faintly of patchouli and rusty cat food tins – some say its just another acquisition for oligarchs from Russia to launder inherently dirty money, others that a group of psychic Tesla cultists from Basingstoke have moved in and are busy experimenting with radical new kinds of performance art in order to provoke urban unrest and sew potent seeds of much needed social discontent. Where now however there’s only well ironically practiced middling class apathy, deadpan wife swapping and faint unacknowledged dreams of escape from the dry chemical sadness of decaying leaves, leaves leaves leaves.
At least one of the rune sealed rooms on the fourth floor opens out onto a Summer beach in immediate post WW2 France, where a woman sits on a deckchair quietly observing the seagulls wheel overhead; they occasionally swoop down with pens in their neon lemon beaks to help her take notes for her groundbreaking (forthcoming) existential detective novel.
Sonny Bono has lost his dim, shit eating mutt Cough Drop and is currently scrabbling among the undergrowth by the side of The House. The dog is nowhere to be found. He suddenly looks up in fear, convinced that a thin, reed like like voice among the tall trees just whispered “Fuck Sonny Bono.” There’s nobody about at this time of morning and Sonny now feels isolated and ontologicaly vulnerable.
SCENE 021: IN THE CONSERVATORY
An intensely erotic close psychic encounter in the Professor’s conservatory – a chance encounter with one of the guests staying a full, pre-paid month. Smell of plants and moisture rising off exotic, verdant leaves, almost overpowering in their shiny organic intensity.
You’re also here for The Games and-or Treatment, and strolled in here by accident after Early Dinner, thinking that this was the section of house with the steam baths. Instead you now find yourself captured by the steely unwavering gaze of someone you formally identify as Jennifer, but whose real name has been quietly erased by the group allegedly hiring the Professor.
Perhaps she’s an insider, a mole placed by the group to ensure Quality Control – with strict adherence to bizarrely intricate socio-sexual protocols of unconscious Lacanian symbology.
You are merely no more or less just another loud mouthed Cockney wideboy from Mile End, utterly out of your depth, and all you know that grub here is excellent (and that you certainly wouldn’t get a kiss from this beauty.)
“Hello luv, your names Jenny, right?” – no response, just the same intense stare; for some reason you suddenly sense-imagine for a split second she’s hiding a pristine kitchen cleaver behind her back, just waiting for you to take a single step closer so she can casually heft it over her beautiful bowl haircut and embed it in your naive working class idiot skull without a sound – except for a brief, silent scream of extreme existential surprise.
At no point does your sexist interpretation of The Feminine as an aspect of the Lacanian Real avoid referring indirectly to Jenny as an inhuman partner in the precise sense of a radical Otherness – one which nonetheless wholly commensurable with your useless, sexist needs and empty East End desires. Or at least that’s what you imagine (you’ve never even heard of Lacan, you poor fool. She will teach you.)
Standing alone in an adjacent room, Sonny Bono stares in through the delicate iron fretwork divider with an awkward two inch boner in his steam pressed 70s pants. Noticing someone is watching, Jenny tilts her head a couple degrees to the left of where you’re standing, and suddenly throws a gleaming kitchen cleaver at Sonny. It expertly whistles past your shoulder and embeds itself in the fretwork opposite his skull, upon which Sonny yelps with terror, releasing a single smooth, wet turd into his pants. You both start laughing and go off together for a nice cup of tea. Nobody talks to Sonny for the rest of the duration of his stay.
SCENE 022: A FOND FAREWELL
Once a week she cycles slowly down from The Castle to take in the village and its sad silences, its minor ambient mysteries.
She will soon leave for America in two weeks and will not return.
Peter, the old man who saved her father during the war sits behind her – he wipes a few loose tears from his ancient eye as she stares out at early Autumn fields where she used to play as a child, lonely and precocious.
Youth, vain ambition and silent tragedy haunt her gaze – they linger around her presence. Her past will follow her steps wherever she travels.
Sonny Bono idly stolls past in the field and falls face first into a freshly dug sewage ditch.
SCENE 023: THE OLD MAN
Nobody knows his name, he walks tall through the city more idea than man.
On his way home again from the shops, his bag of slightly overripe oranges sways by his side.
His hat has no dust on it, but his shoulders slope with the dead weight of time. Only the trees register his presence as he passes under their cool leafless shadows.
In the background is the new apartment block where he lives with the ghost of his dead daughter. She keeps a spectral eye on him and worries about his mental health as no words have passed his lips in over two years.
A few of neighbors idly wonder just how that nice old man who lives alone at number seven makes enough money to afford such a place.
Sections of the apartment block are still under development, and when they finally dig deeper to place the foundations of the carpark workers will narrowly avoid uncovering the bones of his daughter.
The people who killed her for cheap kicks did not know her name either, and it is they who old man searches for daily, following faint signs of their passing on his long walks through the dirty streets.
His hands and his heart are of solid stone – cold to the touch, his internal Chinese kung fu death grip soon to feel like an iron vice around the delicate throats of ignorant fools with no sense of what placid, silent, stoic nightmares await them.
Its always early evening when he departs for his journey, a strange patch of faded deep blue sky hanging above millions of anonymous lives still yet to awake.
Sonny Bono is currently about to enjoy a cigarette while leaning against a wall. His tiny brain does not even register the old man passing directly in front of him. When he looks up from the dirty patch of street at his feet, he will be surprised to find his cigarette already lit. Later on he will reach for his wallet, only to find it missing. Soon afterward he will slip on a puddle of rancid dog splooge and fall flat on his mug.
SCENE 024: THESE CONTRA POINTS
A lonely, beautiful trans woman* stands by a window open to morning and views of endless flat ocean. A fitful night and beautiful quiet morning await, yet no gulls today – and no prospect of company for the next year or so. The floating prison / library complex docked last night, while she slept fitfully in lumpy hotel bed. She will visit the complex later on this afternoon, after a healthy breakfast of organic grapefruit and green tea with set honey.
Sonny Bono stares with a look of perverse glee at the woman and the ocean through a hidden webcam he has installed in the room. He understands nothing of either, and both unconsciously confuse and excite him in 7hz oscillating measure. At this point in his pathetic nowhere life, there is little to be said for or about him.
* NB. Not that it remotely matters or is even meaningful that she’s ‘beautiful’ (whatever that means.) What would be however is that society actually fucking evolves enough to admit the innate legitimacy of her existence and political self definition.
SCENE 025: VIGIL FOR THE DEAD [image missing]
This is Neil’s urban territory downtown, his daily haunt. A nice place – friendly townsfolk, clean buildings featuring a plain architectural design.
He was posted here by The Organization over twenty years ago, and has since forgotten his original orders and strict rules of engagement – the true minor scope of the operation of which he only ever played a small, moderately important part.
Yet here he stands proud today in early April under the main bridge leading out of town, remote in hand, charges posted at the base of each of the support beams. Neil would of course be instantly crushed by the sheer tonnage of falling smart concrete, but feels unconcerned. All he knows andor imagines he knows, is that giant alien biotanks from Another dimension must not be allowed to gain access to the central database hidden under the watch tower in the park.
Sonny Bono passes overhead in a stolen Citreon 2CV, blissfully ignorant of anything other than his own misperceived importance as an oxygen molecule wasting space ape.
SCENE 026: COLD ZOMBIE NIGHTMARES
The captain was in his cabin busy rotting. You had barely made it alive to the coast, only to find most of the boats in the harbor either empty of fuel, currently populated by the flesh eating undead or both.
You could smell this guy from several meters away, long sea worms pouring out of his ragged eye sockets the moment he arose from beneath deck to greet you.
The first few weeks of Manifestation as it became known were the worst people – dying of no cause only to rise again within days or even hours, eating the flesh of living. They moved fast at first, but then slower more they rotted.
Desperate to escape the cities, you had no choice but to head for the islands (“What islands?”.) With some recently gained skill at fighting the dead, you place the nearby harpoon through the center mass of the captain’s disgusting head and kick him off deck, quickly untying and pushing the small sailing vessel away from the dock and vainly hoping the tides will take you anywhere from here.
No birds fly overhead in front of the slowly sun setting; soon thousands of undead hordes will flood the distant horizon with their shuffling and horrible low moaning (also known as ‘souling’.)
Sony Bono rises fresh and rested from his underground bunker. A distant hacker has intercepted his video feed and convinced him the zombie apocalypse is over. While the relief is palpable, Sonny is still psychologically vulnerable and has taken a fist load of stolen supermarket horse tranqs to calm his nerves. Within minutes of exiting his bunker however he will get his spine unceremoniously torn out through the side of his neck and eaten with slow deliberation while fully relaxed and conscious. Five weeks later a ragtag survivors group will find the same look of idiot glee on his rotting disembodied head he often had while (barely) alive, and they will pop that ugly mother flat with a titanium nail studded sledgehammer without a second’s backwards glance.
SCENE 027: IN ANOTHER GERMANY
Passing between two tall, dirty brown buildings one day you see two ancient Sauropods – their massive frames set against an open sky. And for a brief moment out of ordinary time your heart sings with the brilliant, strange possibility symbolized by the impossibility of this vision.
It’s as though the real, old organic world had broken through the new, dead cardboard facade of this one, as if to temporarily reassert itself. You wonder if the dinosaurs will wait for you to get over the wall and hitch a lift to a better, more bizarre tomorrow.
Sony Bono is rabidly jerking his pencil eraser pud into the greasy crumpled pages of a jazz mag he found underneath the front seat of the rented van he just broke into. He sees nothing of the dinosaurs or their immense, patient grace and will soon be citizen arrested under suspicion of being a D.O.A dirty old asshole.
SCENE 028: DOWN ON THE BEACH
The score is thirteen to sixteen; Mike from The Bureau waits for his contact, while the ball hangs in air, sponsorship banners fluttering in the cool offshore wind.
A day as bland, generic and largely meaningless as the last, and behold – here we are together again, smiling and jumping for the pretty plastic ball, gladly trudging through the motions because we have no choice and largely run on automatic.
Approximately twelve miles off shore in a ceramic smart white luxury cruiser he stole from an oil baron only yesterday, Mike’s contact Jason is busy diving for information he hopes will make him rich enough to buy the off-world passport he needs to escape this sunny lizard nowhere town.
He will soon have his life saved by a passing H.S.E hammerhead shark event that will radically change his life for the the better.
Sonny Bono is passing by, enjoying the bland collective stupidity of the day. He obviously glances directly down at the firm, fit ass of a nearby woman. Invisible vectors and motion currents of heat and airflow conspire to direct the tiny, silent yet potent boiled cabbage fart emerging from her butt directly up and into his nose, upon which he will (like most of the people he’s ever imagined he’s known) regret the day he was born. So much for being rich and famous and stupid.
SCENE 029: RUST AND DREAMS
A layer of oxidation on your fingers as you release your grip on the security fence separating you from the Development Zone just beyond.
This side is all loose chipboard, puke yellow plastic, brown sacking fragments and impossibly desiccated, seemingly dead weeds – the general detritus of time. The other side is all lonely watch towers – looming figures that look like concrete Jesus in Brazil, wandering slowly over the blandscape. Of course nobody dares go over the fence, they’re content enough to be discontented on this side of the great divide.
Sticks, abandoned dreams and rust – that’s all they left behind when they threw their lot in with The Development Corporation. ‘A brighter tomorrow’, apparently what they promise (even without actually saying anything.)
A thousand terminally bored lifetimes have been and gone, and still the site lies barely breathing under the heavy theoretical chains of Development. There have even been unconfirmed reports of wild deer, yet no birds fly overhead.
On the way back from postmodern narrative college, you like to pause at this part of the fence, day dreaming of a certain cute woman in your class with short hair and a shoulder tattoo. You are quietly terrified of making a complete ass of yourself in front of her, and so stay on your very own personal side of the divide, only ever peeking through the rusted bars of your own dreams to another lonely landscape of imagination, forlorn desire and uselessly strange emotional weather.
Sonny Bono sits along on a splintered wooden pallet on this side of the fence. Some local hooligans have just thrown his briefcase over the fence, and now he is fucked – his boss will not get the reports he needs and he will loose his job. Which is precisely what he deserves, because every one of his colleges agrees that he is an unctuous, today, obsequious, boot licking asshole who deserves good repeated random nut kicks.
SCENE 030: NO LONGER TETHERED
It’s the thick chemical smell of that violent red barnacle resistant paint that indirectly yet pleasurably reminds you of the endless forgetting sea.
Even today, you partially remember your father tethered to the ship by two skinny ropes tied to a thin plank of wood. He’d hang there, like Dave Lister in cult UK sci fi TV series Red Dwarf, painting the ship on his own, a long roller in hand. You’d cautiously peer over the side and shout, “You all right down there, Dad?” and he’d wave and say “Fine, thanks, kid!”
If the ropes broke, nobody would notice his disappearance for days, but you would – only nobody would listen you because you’re too young.
Evil first mate Geoff stands tall against a blinding white sea sky, staring and gloating down at the new missing passenger, wishing he had more bodies to exploit for his cheap nihilistic kicks.
Little does he know you’re creeping up behind him to boot him hard in the ass and knock him off the ship into stormy, silent infinite information seas where he will quickly and unceremoniously drown in global consumer shipping logistics data.
The passenger in question is Sonny Bono, at this moment staring up at Geoff in idiot horror as he plunges 200,000 feet to his unloved idiot doom. The cloying, hyper-particular smell of the red barnacle resistant paint is incredible.
SCENE 031: A SUSPENDED TRAM [image missing]
Reclining from his bench beneath the overhead tram, old homeless Tom or ‘Tom Bum’ as he’s known to asshole hipster locals, watches the early morning commute from the station to the North. He loves the way the suspended tram glides quietly overhead.
Tom isn’t that old, he just looks that way – if given a hot shower, a shave and somewhere warm and safe to stay, he would in fact be a blandly handsome man in his early thirties.
Two years sleeping rough on this bench have turned tom half mad with sadness, loneliness and abandonment. The passing of the suspended tram twice an hour is one of the few sources of minor pleasure this arbitrary and anonymous city has to offer.
Tom loves the ‘early 70s curtain orange’ of the tram – its smartly tapered edges sleek and shining. The windows are coated with the latest in hydrophobic anti-dirt coatings. Tom wishes he was also coated in such scientific substances as he always feels itchy and greasy.
Behind him are the downtown offices of Happy Micro S.T.A.R. Industries, where he used to work before automated layoffs last fiscal quarter.
Tom’s mood fluctuates between longing and hunger, wishing he was on that tram to adventures new and unexpected, and hoping he earns enough quarters today to buy himself a ‘second hand sandwich’ as he calls them from the hipster sandwich shop a couple blocks away. High above the streets, bright emotionless windows of the corporate tower watch on, the unfeeling and shining bright tram also moving away from the scene and further into the unknowable Now.
Sonny Bono is on the tram heading North, and will shortly get robbed at gunpoint by a passing corporate thug who does not like the look of smug accepting idiocy on Sonny’s face.
SCENE 032: WORKERS STACKING PILLOWS
A recent sport discovered among men of the good trade ship Augustine II consists of diving from the deck into the open cargo hold where approximately one million dense pillows lie deep and soft and comforting and fun.
The amazingly sweaty men leave no marks however, since these are new super clean mega hospital pillows manufactured by Loftleader Industries.
When working in the pillow hold you’ve got to keep moving or else you begin to sink in the softness. In fact the only real problem is that the effortless downy softness of these near indestructible pillows contrasts so greatly with the unforgiving toughness and hardship of the crew’s lives, many of them end up feeling thoroughly depressed after just a few happy bouts of pillow diving.
‘Old Bogie Slurper John’ as he’s called does not want to join in today’s pillow dive, he just looks on from his favorite spot above the open hold, staring down at what he imagines is the impossible naivety of the men. Heck even the captain’s down there, currently engaged in an epic pillow fight with the First Mate.
John is a thoroughly miserable old bastard, sitting there just picking his huge nose and looking unimpressed, like he’s spent and wasted entire lifetimes perfecting his un-impressability.
Thankfully a well timed and aimed pillow from the First Mate knocks Old John from his seat and into the sea where he’s unfortunately eaten by a passing giant octopus. Luckily few crew mates miss him – apart from his parrot Carmichael who refused to nibble his favorite cuttlefish for twenty six hours immediately after John’s death but he’s feeling much better thank you *squawk*.
The same cannot be said for stowaway Sonny Bono however, whose horrible desiccated corpse was found wedged eighty pillows in the middle of the hold. He had apparently died of slow suffocation while attempting a backwards triple somersault deep into the pillow sea.
SCENE 033: AT THE DEALERSHIP
Some kind of hyperreal simulation; a holographic representation of a 1950’s car dealership projected from the / some impossibly distant present. A slice of that apparently much needed, much sort after sense of ‘Americana’, whatever the hell that is. That hot, blank desert town light – the alleged appeal of the endless highways to nowhere, from nowhere.
Sony Bono is currently the manager in charge of this virtual dealership, but if you ask him about Baudrillardian Hyperreality and Americana, he’ll just give you his trademark shit eating idiot’s grin, shrug his shoulders and get back to the piles of amazingly bureaucratic paperwork on his Formica desk.
SCENE 034: GREY URBAN SPRAWL
One of those days, anonymous and warm. Early summer finds you atop the local multi-story carpark. Using newly discovered parkour skills, you’ve scrambled atop one of the corner towers, housing electrical equipment for the main lift down to the shopping complex. From this view, you can see all that needs seeing of your no-horse suburban town. The burnt out remains of a No. 29 bus into the town center lies at your feet. Not even the local kids play there. You idly wonder about the highly circumscribed synthetic nature of your immediate and near future life. Some clouds pass by slowly in the distance. One cloud you notice looks like vaguely like that asshole Sonny Bono. Your mother likes that song “I Got You Babe” from 1964 but you think it sucks dirty purple baboon ass.
Another day at the college tomorrow. Your bullshit course in Programming. Just more D.P.A Dole Postponement Activity as your ex-friend and fellow Researcher Dr. Orloff puts it. So much more to be said but you know nobody’s around to listen, let alone bother pretending to understand.
SCENE 035: THE INDUSTRIAL ESTATE
8:38AM. You arrive here alone after walking through suburban sprawl, over football fields devoid of grass, past burnt out cars on the fringes. An early day in March, pale blue skies ahead – the emotional forecast looks good.
For some reason Sonny Bono is waiting here at the gates when you arrive. You ignore him utterly because you understand that he’s a talentless smug asshole with a stupid bowl haircut. The only reason you’re here is because you’re waiting for Central Biocomputer to open the main gates so you can finally enter and stake your dimensional prize of a better, infinitely more stranger life far away from the crushing mundanity of daily existence.
SCENE 036: THE FROZEN REALITY
Sunny and freezing. There doesn’t seem to be a worse combination when you’re walking alone down the anonymous highstreet of your useless, flat, blank life. Technically the sun is out, but there feels no life to it – only a pointless machine that gives out light without heat or any vision of warmer, more hopeful days ahead. You walk and walk, and the wind seems to blow right through your clothes, past your insubstantial meat and even through your hollow, reed like bones. A horrible, quiet frozen whistling from the Deep North Beyond. Where everything appears perfectly illuminated – its the stone cold middle of the day for Christsakes – and yet seeing itself feels useless. There’s simply nothing worth looking at out here.
Out this far in the dead, desiccated middle of the Everyday here and now. Not even barely making it, just existing as a parody without an original. Vast communication pylons arching over the blandscape in the middle distance, a sky vault so empty and plain it hurts, it hurts. Where it’s all you can do just to get up in the morning and walk for one solitary hour. This fucking ceaseless blank coldness – not a raging storm but it nonetheless rages, right through you, as though you weren’t there. Maybe your not, and the cold and the light are all there more truly is. Just got to get through suburbia and back into bed, blank out all the blankness and the Terminal Boredom. It’s so strange and beautiful (/W)here, but simultaneously this dry cold silent frozen hallucinogenic nothingness feels all consuming in its violent bland emptiness. How to play Big Science?
You shuffle past a low concrete wall upon which some member of a conceptual near future hyper-corporation has clearly graffiti stencil tagged in a cool postmodern typeface the letters O.Y.A.F.S.B. (which you discover stands for “Oh yeah and fuck Sonny Bono.”)
SCENE 037: IT’S THE LADS
The Lads have their yearly gathering at The Hangman’s Coach And Trousers. Warm pints and quality Beef Wellington with gravy, duck fat fried potatoes and all the trimmings. A chance to reminisce about the good old days. To outward observers they appear to be a congregation of second hand car salesmen. Specifically, they are Middle Management, and they run this particular version of local spacetime, this exact mode of dimensional reality. They oversee the logistics of the whole enterprise, and adjust the flow or raw materials accordingly – and always within strict projected budgetary constraints.
While not exactly outright assholes, they’re definitely no-neck bureaucratic nerds. The strictly fiscal decisions they make in their nice warm offices with quality European coffee machines impact the lives of countless people. They take pride in the small role they play in helping manage this reality. The only thing they have in common as paper shuffling, seat polishing entities however is a shared hatred of Sonny Bono and his shitty pap music.
SCENE 038: WAITING FOR MONICA
Italy, the near future now. He waits for Monica but she’ll never arrive. He was her favorite tutor. Fearing for her life, she’s snuck off with boyfriend Jeancarlo to Milan, where a private A.I jet will take them to the nearest off world shuttle headed for New Jeruselum, Mars. He was meant to pass on vital information for the Kloppa, alien head of the Underground Mars Colonial Resistance Movement. Luckily Kloppa has astrally projected his consciousness over spacetime and is currently controlling a criminal cat mastermind known to the local authorities only as Mr. Sphinx. He has already read the information in the tutor’s pocket, thereby saving the resistance from the enemy within – a two bit corporate turncoat named Sonny Bono. Monica’s tutor stares into the empty courtyard beyond, the warmth of the early morning Italian sun at his back. For a moment he envisions the sight of Sonny Bono being shot out of an airlock, his idiot head imploding with the lame force of a billion inherently shite 60’s pop stars.
Coda. Monica will return in a hundred years, only to discover that the old man who loved her like a father had been killed by a single loose courtyard roof tile the day she left for her new life, far from earth.
SCENE 039: AT THIS POINT
It was at this point while walking along that long, boring stretch of road between the industrial estate and the local shops that he realized he’d grown frankly sick and tired of the images The Company had sent him to write essays about. They’d long since blurred into one another. All different, and – after several weeks of staring at them, desperate for anything to say – all exactly the same. He’d developed a strong sense of indifference to the differences between them. To what appeared different, but was really just more of the same tired old shit in just another, all too arbitrary configuration.
Every day he’d stroll up and down the same listless stretch of road, bored out of his skull, thankful for being up and away from his desk, but thoroughly depressed at the lie of the idea of ‘different images’. After several billion, maybe after as little as seven images, the idea of ‘difference’ becomes all but meaningless, utterly swamped under and fully subsumed by the sheer grey sludge of endless photographic data.
<< YOUR CONSTANT FUCKING PHOTOGRAPHS WON’T SAVE YOU, IDIOT >>
He thought that maybe he’d developed what he termed Image Sickness. A kind of casual, violent indifference to photography – to an all encompassing system whose blind mechanical output was a kind of depressing, soul crushing sameness disguised as infinite sparkling vistas and fresh insights. But exactly how many fucking images would one have to gawp at before the lie of difference and novelty wore down to a tin tasting nub of bitter disappointment and eyeball fatigue? There’s no such thing as ‘an image’ but only ‘images’ – a trillion dots on a digital blandscape.
The small, but carefully calculated sense of misanthropy lurking inside his lukewarm cardboard heart wanted to make the link between Images and People. That ‘too many people’ were kinda like ‘too many images’. That there should only be one person and one image – no, not even one – just reality itself and no representation, or maybe just a final mirage, a grand vision that did not split and smash into a billion fragmentary bullshit forms, infinite useless image shards.
A stupid phrase lit up inside his largely empty skull – “Once you’ve seen one photograph, you’ve seen them all.” Once you’ve met one human being, there’s little damn point meeting any more of them (especially those chipper assholes armed with cameras.) That both images and people are all so impossibly unique must be a lie. How painful the irony, that an effectively infinite number of people had taken so many photographs, with the unconscious intention of stating that their ‘precious photos’ as replicant Roy Batty had once put it, were precisely the proof they needed of their own holy uniqueness. When in fact the reverse was true. The more images they took and shared with the world, the more exposed the illusion of their own uniqueness as beings. The more blind the world got, until a permanent state of total seeing was in place and nobody could see it, or see past it. Not seeing as opposed to blindness, but seeing as itself a kind of blindness. The blindness of total exposure, complete image-ification. A single giant eye of mute stasis, utterly enraptured by light and sight. What was needed was true darkness and solace, a quietude of sight.
Most sentient beings are naturally repulsed by the idea of having to sit through a slide show of other people’s bullshit family photos. What’s disgusting about family photos is the state of hyper-uncritical acceptance that These Images Are Important. No they’re not. They’re just images; you’re just an image, you fool. The mere notion of ‘the family’ is just an image. A faded, forgotten image in the bottom of an unused drawer in a long abandoned apartment block in a filthy dystopian megacity, drowning in neon tinted tears. It’s not that you took the image in order not to forget, but that in the very taking of the image, you stopped thinking altogether – you conveniently forgot to remember that the image wasn’t worth anyone’s fucking time or effort (including your own.) That all memories are dead memories.
All photographs are a state of forgetting, of the impossibly desiccated past, mummies and daddies inside a data pyramid, waiting for the day for passing alien anthropologists with taste to come along, dig you up from the Basement Archives, casually shift through your bullshit precious family corpse memories, and safely conclude that you and your ilk were a bunch of technology and information obsessed fuckwits, gathering data like ants gather sugar cubes to build their all-too dissoluble empire of useless sight. Your civilization was blinded by seeing.
Turns out your asshole boss is Sonny Bono, and he has been told by Upper Management that you have to provide at least one essay per week about the images you were sent. That is, if you want to be paid and use the company credits on the bill for your housing room-cube unit. Zero hours, bio-Mechanical Turk work; ‘Job Lozenges’ as they’re colloquially termed around these parts. The days pass by, unwashed milkbottles in an endless row. Yesterday’s newspapers swirl around your feet as you shuffle back to your room-cube, where you’ll dutifully compose another photographic based essay for another thankless Credit.
A true sight for sore eyes is most certainly not another fucking image, but to see nothing – to unsee seeing; for nothingness itself to not-see nothing.
SCENE 040: A DAY OUT
Some old people from China have been taken out from their care home on a day trip to he local hot suburban hang out point, which in this case is the concrete bench opposite the multi story car park and next to the Department Of Whatever. Usually it’s a spot only frequented by skateboarders and pigeons, but today the skaters are inside the car park, currently trying to incorporate the insights of author J.G Ballard into their daily skateboard based Situationist expression. Mary, the kind and condescending head nurse from the Care Home, has brought everyone an ice cream (without first asking everyone what their favorite is.) It’s drizzling today, intermittent drops from a blank slate sky and a little too cold for ice cream. The group collectively eats their sickeningly sweet confections without comment, almost as if its part of their daily sedative routine.
They neither seem disappointed not excited to be here, but quietly accepting of the moment. Only Mrs. Yang in her wheelchair seems elsewhere, dreaming of the hot sex she had with Chu, the handsome monster hunting general who passed by her village in 1658, and who saved her flock of singing geese from certain destruction.
Some enterprising young man on a BMX bike rides past the group of pensioners and shouts “Fuck Sonny Bono!” Apparently its an old meme around these parts, or something. (In any case, surely a sentiment to get behind?) The group turn to each other and there’s a collective pause, followed by low-key nodding and general agreement.
SCENE 041: WHITE BEACH / PEOPLE
Bunches of business owners – suits – at the beach in early spring. Sonny Bono appears above them on the receding fluid skyline, smugly confident. They ignore him utterly, only daydreaming of their rapid ascent to the nondescript Middle.
SCENE 042: BALANDRA BEACH, LA PAZ
A vision of another life, totally free from the dim, shit eating gaze of Fat (Head) Controller Sonny Bono, et al. A contemplative existence of quiet, frictionless ease, stolen satin sheets under an infinite canopy of innocent gleaming. A web pattern of locally sourced wood, hand crafted by friendly locals and their families. Where sharp shadows slide soundlessly at noon across hard packed sand, a kind of relief.
SCENE 043: BLANK EUROPEAN DAYS
You have no frame of reference and never did. The psychologically and existentially imposing municipal buildings make you feel like a Kafkaesque bug; they make you feel there’s nothing for you here – nothing that could help you, help your bone aching loneliness and frozen alienation. Mindless strangers idly walk by, taking badly framed pictures that they’ll only ever look back on once or twice. You look up at the blank sky, saying “It’s as though all memory must be expunged before the naked living light of the present can truly manifest.”
Not once does anyone in the entire city even remotely think about Sonny fucking Bono.
SCENE 044: SUBURBIA SIMULATOR 1.0
Barely detectable wind noise. All the neat red brick houses, all in neat little rows – and not a single scientifically detectable ounce of genuine soul or spontaneous artistic passion between them. Mass upper middling class white-only housing as a form of darkly collective institutional incarceration by Culture. Complete with heated bath towel racks, triple glazing, sophisticated alarm systems weekend wife swapping and a violently oblique, all consuming (semi-unconscious) sense of utter cosmic scale desperation and (ambient) malignant uselesness. That you have it so easy, precisely because you have in fact nothing whatsoever – a set of culturally sanctioned illusions. And the thing about illusions is that the silent howling wind of truth and reality is liable to come along at any moment and blow through your tiny private, polite gated community of tax avoiding droids like a thermonuclear breeze.
SCENE 045: UNDER THE BRIDGE
It’s night and your on your way home via the usual route when your car breaks down. You call up a local car mechanic and wait quietly inside with the radio on. The only light for miles around seems to be a nearby street lamp. It barely illuminates the woody surroundings and the flat black tarmac. A nearby tunnel awaits and soon you will be compelled to run inside and stare down any long limbed existential terrors you find within. Luckily you kidnapped Sonny Bono half an hour ago (he owed you money) and plan to throw him at the feet of any monsters that cross your path, in order to make your strange escape deeper into the mountain labyrinth. This is not a dream.
SCENE 046: HIGH STREET BLUES
In which the poster of wild Irish horses stuck on the side of the long closed foot care store thoroughly depress you each morning on the way to your shitty office job. The blankness of the high street is particular to this reality. It’s the sink of the failure of civilization, an undead sign of one vast slow motion funeral shuffling on to nowhere. The horses don’t care, of course – but at least they don’t seem as smugly pleased with themselves as Sonny Bono, ex manager of the foot care shop, who managed to secure a financial bonus despite running this particular chain of shops right into the ground. The trees are leafless and the pavement hard. There is nothing else other than this.
SCENE 047: REALITY REACH OUT
The sole visitor to the abandoned anthropology exhibit puts her hand on the glass of the desert scene behind think plexiglass, as if suggesting an attempt at reaching out at the ultimate reality of appearances in themselves. An empty gesture perhaps, but she knows it makes for great internal mythologization and convenient daydreams. The director of the institute, Sonny Bono, has a plaque right next to the exhibit, and the visitor will soon scrawl the word ‘cunt’ on this forehead before detonating a small charge, smashing the glass and entering the desert behind it, an entire desert dimensionally compressed behind a screen. It is there she will search for the alien built pyramid and gain access to the secrets of the ancients.
SCENE 048: THE SQUARE TREES
Cubes of wire have been placed on top of local trees, the idea being to continually prune them as they grow until a perfect cube appears. A man who’s lived locally for over fifty years stares up at these shapes, quietly baffled at how the town council could have even begun considering the possibility they’d actually made any kind of aesthetic choice – let alone a good or genuine one. In fact such cubes merely state that the state is utterly incapable of aesthetic choices, with the sole exception of their default expression called ‘The Art Of The State’, which is anti-artistic. With the rest of this no-horse town looking so thoroughly grim, some might be mistaken for thinking some ‘clever’ tree-cubes would (somehow) brighten up the non-place, give it some much needed quirky.. something. In fact such a lazy, neckless, bland and in many ways violently arbitrary expression of the council’s inherent souless mechanical heart is only indicative of their indifference to the natural world and to the citizens who they supposedly represent. In fact councils only ever represents its own interests, and such generic, thoughtless cube-trees are [deleted]. The man shakes his head and says “It’s like something that tosser Sonny Bono would dream up.”
SCENE 049: THE HYPER-BALLARDIAN
Violent dreamscapes. Technological desperation. Live from Maximum Amerika’s eternal highway to nowhere. The eye watering stench of burning plastic and rubber as the very (synthetic) perfume of The United States Of Void. Occupants burnt beyond recognition. They never had any recognition to begin or bargain with, since they arrived here illegally from over The Border. The cause of the crash lay at the anointed feet of the U.S manufacturer, who knew of the inherent design flaws in their shitty vehicles but willfully kept that knowledge from the public. Two days pass. Sonny Bono is hitchhiking and stops to open the still warm trunk. The giant mutant corporate fetus the couple were exporting for quick cash jumps out, injects him with a naturally tranquilizing fluid and slowly chews his idiot face off for two lonely hours. Thanks to this much needed intake of energy, it will grow wings and eventually land in Texas 300 miles to the South, upon which it will eventually become a well respected Republican governor.
SCENE 050: CALLING RED SUSAN
Red Susan stands alone near the neon blue pool, her muscular frame dominating the scene. There’s no such thing as men in this reality, so to even state ‘there are no men here’ is incorrect. The pool is a dimensional portal leading to the infinite Now. Just as Susan dives she speaks with the confidence of youth and internal strength. The pass code she’s chosen to activate the sentient portal is “Fuck Sonny Bono.”
SCENE 051: THE PAIN OF PORK STUFFING
A seventies style open air shopping center forecourt where they serve ‘food’. The businessman in the foreground is stuffing his fat face with disgusting mechanically reclaimed meat scraped off the floor of an abattoir, smothered in red sauce and chips. He’s in a state of existential agony, and – along with his slick greasy hair, shiny shoes and power tie will be stone dead of a heart attack within two years. Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s the owner of a local business, and runs the place like a mini oversized Napoleon. The employees do their best to avoid him in the mornings, as he appears 20% less obnoxious after his sizable lunch, the same every day. Kebab and chips with red sauce. The way he shovels that shit flecked industrial waste into the hole in his sagging face; he’s suffering, almost willingly so. A form of hyper-consumerist desire, magnified by his position of power. All he knows, wants to or needs to is that next desperate swallow. The undigested so-called ‘meat blob’ growing in the extensive coils of his lower intestine is called Sonny Bono. The husband and wife currently staring at this business pig also suffer from obesity, but that’s because they suffer from poverty and can only afford hyper-generic, mass produced supermarket foodstuffs to eat. The guy in the foreground can afford to eat whatever foul shit he wants – and eats too much of it (that is, whatever he doesn’t waste by regularly throwing it on the ground at his feet), and the people in the background can only afford to eat whatever cancer producing dogshit society allows their class to consume. They will both live well into their nineties and quietly hate every minute of their overworked, terminally boring, resigned-to-daytime–tv existence.
SCENE 052: HOTEL IN TANGIERS
3AM and the heat is stifling. You can’t sleep; odd, obliquely troubling dreams concerning unfinished projects, overly detailed typewritten reports. You slowly crawl out of bed to throw the windows of morning open, taking in the early morning air. No breeze as yet, but your senses fill with skies of dreaming dark blue and a beatific vision of an infinitely quiet mysterious landscape bursting with life affirming possibility. You light up a gently hexagonal cigarette of recycled bamboo paper. It’s the Near Future Now, and everyone smokes since most cancers are easily remedied with either pills or inhalers available from supermarket dispensing machines. They smoke mostly for the sublime neo-noir aesthetics, and not just for the effects of nicotine. A deep tangerine light slowly floods the room; sunrise, and (despite your carefully cultivated sense of detachment) you suddenly feel glad to be alive. You turn to the desk beside the window and press the letter E on the ancient typewriter, but it’s stuck. The beautiful cyborg trans woman who picked you up last night at the library stirs in the bed behind you. Neither of you still know your name – a stateless, drifting state of identity you hope will be remedied in the intense, yet low-key existential post cyberpunk action adventures to come. She softly asks “Your name isn’t Sonny Bono, is it?” You half laugh, blowing cool smoke into the morning, watching as its nonlinear chaos twists away into the street below. “I fucking hope not.”
SCENE 053: OVER THE HILL
Just over the hill in dreams (actually just a mild curve in the road) is another, better life, far away from this one and its hyper-mundane, soul crushing sense of small-potatoes, time wasting bullshit. This no-horse town has beat you down to the state where your synthetic apathy has turned you into a quietly raging asshole. All your friends have long abandoned you. You don’t miss them, even the ones that owe you money, in fact you can now only think of That Next Important Step. Part of you understands there’s nothing over that hill, but it’s like the neural dopamine action-potential spike of the coin operated gambler; it’s not just the actual winning (if it ever happens) but the sudden rising sense of acute possibility and the associated excitement that it might. That today might well be The Day, what with it’s palest of baby blue skies fading infinitely into champagne blond. Palm trees on the horizon and the faintest of sweet breezes, blowing from forever. Or at least some hopelessly romantic, impossibly impractical shit like that. And so, dear traveler, heavy Dimension Bomb in your ‘tactical’ backpack, you stride out into a glorious lonely morning, leaving desiccated suburbia behind forever. Your only regret is that you couldn’t take your ultra rare, ‘ancient wisdom of Yoda’ poster with you. You sure are an odd bird.
SCENE 054: UNDER THE CITY
Under the city is the answer. Through the billions of miles of secret, evenly lit tunnels and to the end of all things is an oblique conical escape tube, cut deep into the impossibly tough Smart Concrete with a stolen alien biolaser. What appear as ‘realistic’ scratches of natural wear and tear are nothing of the kind, but something the concrete has developed internally over time as a private aesthetic.
Sonny Bono lies in wait at the end of the tunnel – and it is he who must be destroyed.
SCENE 055: COMING IN HARD
There is no ‘one minute’, as in ‘One minute I was just sitting there in heavy traffic, when’. Merely a permanent (zero) state of raw simulation andor mass bioelectronic delusion. Just another day on the electronic highway. Total system crash reset 0000. Good riddance to bad data. Fuck Sonny Bono. The support wires ripple and whip down onto oncoming traffic as they snap under the zeitgeist pressure, effortlessly slicing cars in half. Coffee, cigarettes, and time. Unpaid telephone bills on the lightly dusty dashboard. Your tuned to Loftleader Industries radio, your dirty dick stiff from the heat and tiredness and Terminal Boredom. Processed polyester anti-life. The sudden cold stink of bleach. Submit now – oh, wait, you’re a billion untold years too late Meat Puppet.
SCENE 056: A PARIS SCENE
Something bizarre about the tallness of the trees and the early morning mist a kind of grief. Diffused light, no birds, odd echoes bouncing blank off unseen surfaces. Existential shadows and Escheresque reflection. Neo classical noir. A chill in the air, offset by the strong coffee, croissants and jam you had at the hotel this morning. The nice coat you stole from the foyer, belonging to the well groomed rich gentlemen asleep in his chair. You are along, and this – while not quite the end of the world, is merely the beginning of your time in a state of existence that is entirely new to you, totally unfamiliar. If you rotate the image ninety degrees clockwise, you’ll see a horrible fish like cult member, screaming at you to sacrifice your flesh to his impossibly ancient god. (Luckily however you do not rotate it.) The only thing you recognize from your own, old life which doesn’t really help you here but which your grateful for, is that the statues in the middle of the water fountain seem to be expressing the following notion “Fuck Sonny Bono.” You begin to contemplate a quiet existential stroll down the central avenue of trees, through the trees. An event which might not even end. You are reminded of the incredible, amazingly saddening and strange movie “Un Homme Qui Dort.” Perhaps you’ve become its central character. The stranger in the strange city, the forever wandering ghost. This existence feels pale, gauzy, ghostly. An endless series of faded memory images, perfectly without narrative (yet still strongly suggestive of some kind of free floating spectral consciousness.) You don’t want to drift along in life like this forever – yet still feel compelled to do so, onward and onward to nowhere.
SCENE 057: THE AIR HORSE
Welcome to Cognitive Kansas. Midwestern style no-horse / no irony allowed towns and sprawling Rednek Republican tornado incest alleyway blandscapes; desperation, desolation, willing isolation, hypercorporate frankenseeds, hard drinkin’ and direct communication with My White God – though obviously not with the god of the weather, because apparently Anthropogenic climate change is an plotted invention of The ChineseTM to sell more aircon units to trailer park fire-n’-brimstone Christian wackjobs. And suddenly, as if to memetically summarize this horrible state of existential affairs, some snot nosed teenage bigot with a pickup snaps a shitty-cellphone image of a giant inflatable chocolate brown stallion that’s cut loose from its guide wires above the parking lot of a car dealership or some shit, wandering a hundred and fifty miles over endless fields – industrially degraded, over-farmed and chemically saturated. The horse itself – not that anyone even bothered asking – blames ‘that assole’ Sonny Bono for this embarrassing state of warped ontological affairs. Which are: that an image of a giant horse in the sky appears both as a potent sign of the coming of the Christian Batshit Apocalypse, and some Don Delilloesque zeitgeist simulation (which is at least literary and cognitively engaging.) As though the sight / sign of a giant horse in the sky way above your horrible ultra-conservative home town was anything other than simply beautiful strange and unexpected, not merely a summation of brain dead fear and hatred of anything different, remotely out of the ordinary and tightly controlled. Skeletal hands of trashy white Culture clasped around earth destroying technology, staring forever upward into the blankness of its own self constricted imaginations, looking for hollow signs of their own inherent righteousness. “If only we could run as free as the wild plastic horses out there in the electron killing field.”
SCENE 058: PLASTIC LENS WARP
A cheap square plastic lens enhances and distorts the corner of a plastic American flag previously stuck in some (frankly disgusting) barbecued Meat at the local craft fair last summer. The faint burnt smell of synthetic barbecue flavoring lingers in the box. The plastic lens is scratched, cloudy and greasy, and the red and blue of the flag underneath it faded, looking as though dusted with a billion white spheres of microplastic pollution. The dust of modern dead time. Like some innocent wide eye’d asshole, The Institution’s current hired head archivist Sonny Bono stares at and through this mass produced lens of industry with absolutely zero appreciation for the possible aesthetic implications contained within and expressed via such an image.
SCENE 059: THIS TOWERING MEGASTRUCTURE
One minute your on the damp frozen ground at the feet of this mile high iron and concrete beast, the next your teetering on top, virtually no wind noise but the sense of inverse-crushing vertigo turning your idiot Sonny Bono style bones to fish smelling jelly. “Fuck Sonny Bono!” you shout from the bridge, watching the words snatch themselves away from your open mouth and fly out into the gaping void where they disappear forever. Once again, that bizarre diffused foggy light of odd dreams outside of recognition. All heat and emotion drained from your system. Thoughts of narrative, plot, characterization and linear understanding are entirely displaced by the sheer impossible tonnage of such a structure. You look to your left and right, noticing how the bridge span recedes into the blind distance. This is not a nightmare, but you will feel distinctly disturbed upon waking up. Oddly put out. This place is wordless. A self contained, self-bootstrapping vision without parallel, without peer, standing alone without support of bullshit myth or convenient story to explain it, andor explain it away. It’s not even an ‘it’ but rather an impossibility – a nonsensical, non rational state of being outside of time or meaning. You cannot die here because this is not life, this is already Beyondness, a silent vastness.
UNTITLED SCENE 060
On the road. You never left. Pausing by a lake, you park up and stare. Slight horizon haze. Little do you know you’re shitty rented electric car will refuse to start once you decide to leave. Look down at the dashboard drive information screen – strange lens flare effects on the edges from the outside feed. The A.I has picked up something unusual about the landscape before you. Suddenly the words “Fuck Sonny Bono” flash up in a slick postmodern font. Might be some kind of advertisement, or remote hacking. This place makes you wonder if you’re even really here, experiencing it. Perhaps it’s just a state of experience. Harsh orange brush, confusing signposts, the silvery blue lake beyond. Probably poisonous, if recent global events are any indication. The asphalt has the granular, evenly pitted surface of an immense black snake. Just than a hypersonic A.I controlled attack drone cruising at mach eight crashes past, the sonic boom causing a hairline crack in your armored windscreen. Today’s existential message appears to be “Things move pretty fast in the (/post) human world, and juxtaposition against an ancient semi-organic blandscape a kind of ontological dialectic between competing worldviews.” Shout out to The Mathematician.
SCENE 061: DOWN BY THE LAKE
A poisoned lake of silver-blue industrial run-off from an unknown, unseen source approximately a mile underground. Sure you can swim around in it, even drink it (with a little filtering) – but don’t expect your waking dreams to ever be the same a couple of months from now. A film director from Japan and his young assistant have arrived at the lake to assess the location for a scene in a conceptual movie the director is about to pretend to being shooting any month now. The movie, entitled “When The Landscape Suddenly Feels Like A Painted Backdrop” and is a sordid tale of the director’s assistant’s increasing state of psychological-existential Derealization. That is, her increasing skepticism of the ideological belief of the modern notion of “Reality.” The director puts out his hand, on the same plane as the lake, yet almost as if to suggest what’s normally considered horizontal or the dimension of ‘depth’ is sometimes actually vertical. A great wall or dimensional super surface, a vast stage prop onto which reality projects out from. A self-emissive screen of cosmic dimensions. The director’s assistant, Mariko, mistakenly brought her thigh high positing boots out on the shoot; their buckles keep getting caught in the dense, wild tufts of dark orange brush underfoot. She’s hungry and will soon light up a cigarette. She says to the director that his work reminds her of the work of Sonny Bono. The director replies “Fuck Sonny Bono.” The carelessly abandoned butt she will discard as a result of feeling castigated will grow into a raging inferno that will engulf four nearby states and destroy property in excess of twelve billion. Luckily there were no deaths and only a few injuries due to smoke inhalation. The director’s conceptual movie will go on to receive several high profile international awards, despite being a bit crap. And good, clean fun was had by all.
SCENE 062: TWO ORANGE BALLS
Palm trees in the sun. Two bright orange plastic balls tossed high in the air by an escaped crack addict called Mike. Due to severe localized magnetic interference from the nearby star, the balls remain in the air, hovering for several sweaty hours. By now Mike is pissed off and thirsty and has abandoned plans to impress the hitchhiking robot sex worker he kidnapped with his advanced juggling skills. He’s walked off with her into the synthetic looking sunset, confident of his place in mythic history. Sonny Bono walks by and watches the two balls float, noticing the rim lighting and the deep shadow. How ‘shine’ as a concept is conceptually a lot stranger than he’d previously admitted to his (strictly academic) peers – which are really just a bunch of pseudo-phisophically sycophantic dick weeds who love to blow cool soothing smoke up each other’s willingly distended butts. The two sentient palm trees observe the whole seen, and shake their leaves as though shaking their heavy heads. The understand that this is most definitely not the time nor the place for such naked intellectual vanity. Some of the dried leaves drift down and land on the designer vanilla froth of Sonny’s decaffe goat milk latte, somehow existentially pissing him off for the duration of his thankfully short and violenly ending life (not that he’d even recognize the existential if it leapt out of his lukewarm coffee and slapped his shit-eating mug.)
SCENE 063: MARGO AND LARRY
Margo and Larry are life long anarchists, who run a popular 50’s style diner just off the desert highway leading to the abandoned air force base with the alleged-UFO sightings. Committed to the overthrowing of all forms of hierarchical power organization, their collective run and owned diner performs the best vegan burger and organic potato fries in the state. Sonny Bono drove through one time, ordered a lime and mint iced tea and didn’t leave a tip. Joan, the waitress who was serving that particular group of tables that day, said “Asshole” just as Sonny was leaving for his Middle Manager convention down the road. He didn’t hear her, because he was wearing a pair of ancient Sony Walkman headphones, playing the tune “Viva Las Vegas” by Elvis Priestly (another poor imitation of the original poor-imitation-without-an-original.) His body – Sonny’s, not Elvis’ – will be found two months later by the side of the road on the roof of his shitty mustang with dice in the window, perfectly desiccated as though shot from low orbit by a freeze-drying space ray of some darkly amusing kind. Upon hearing this lurid, freaky and increasingly all too common news, Margo and Larry will each touch the signed picture of cult underground postmodern author of delicious and experimental literature Mark Leyner with silent reverence.
SCENE 064: HOME COMING QUEEN
She’s arriving back in her old home town around 4PM local time. Just as the frozen sun of Winter sets above the mom and pop stores on Mainstreet. Her brother and mother left for a better life years ago. The only reason she’s here is because that poor dead fool S.B. buried the cash from the bank job somewhere on the dusty edge of town. Two rival gangs are currently on intercept from opposing sides of town. Never go back except when you have to and then don’t overstay your unwelcome. Humming wires and suburban alienation. Sodium vapor lights and useless pain – useless because it exists. Fuck Sonny Bono.
SCENE 065: ON FINAL APPROACH
Your stolen sentient stealth urban ninja microlight aircraft is fast running out of bioelectricity. Dotted about this area of the Zone are several disposable meta-battery units, which must not only be tracked down with the help of your hand scanner, but fought for and (often barely) escaped with. The local residents – mostly mutant Republican asshole clones of Sonny Bono armed with rusty machetes with hairs stuck to them – are total losers and will resent your intrusion into their all white, alt-right community of 24 TV news-cycle worshiping Everyday Psychos. You decide to land on the nearest abandoned section of raised highway, simply because it offers a clear view of the surrounding area. A soft red beep on your device tells you a battery unit lies somewhere to the South East of your location. Arming yourself with a 10 picawatt electro-katana, infrared goggles and a sticky grappling hook launcher, you carefully and quickly plan your optimal postman’s route through these troubled streets and communities towards your targets. You’ve been successfully coasting between such horrible little backwater nonplaces for over a year now, and your ultimate destination is always Anywhere But Here. The sun is going down and the residents will soon be busy worshiping their plastic storefront Trump dummies. Time to go in, softly but with focus. Stay sharp, traveler. On final approach to what some internet theorists call ‘The Video Real’.
SCENE 066: THE OLD TOWN
You awake to a grand royal blue sky of quiet evening. The lights of The Old Town are on, they quietly shine with mystery and the accumulated weight of cultural time. You smell the slow baked dish of locally grown vegetables in the oven. The red of the brick used to build the town is the firm, slow baked red of hard labor and civic pride. It has a curious plastic quality, weathers well and improves with time, taking centuries to succumb to the heat and dust of life on the edge of the desert and the salt of the sea on the Western shore. Your target tonight is the professor and what precisely he knows about The Project. Get up, eat a hot delicious slice of what you baked earlier, brush your hair and hunt down Sonny Bono. Do not be afraid to use force; the file slipped under your door two days ago by fellow Petra Circle agents tells you he imagines he’s some kind of tough guy, not easily intimidated. The city is starting to sleep and its now your time to shine once more, a lone star of strange justice rising above The Old Town.
SCENE 067: SHINE LIKE NEW
You aren’t really real and neither is your freakishly shiny new old hyper-chrome trailer. And – despite the factoid he likes the design – fuck Sonny Bono. He doesn’t live here any more. Burning that gasoline. Desert speed and frozen hallucinogenic timescapes.
SCENE 068: THE OLD BREXITEERS
“Jesus H. Christ check out this bunch of professionally miserable, prune faced old Conservative cunts. Flag waving hyper-royalist bigots to the inbred last of them. Pig fucking country bumpkin yokles who’ve never eaten a delicious curry nor appear to have seen a non-white face in their entire desperate backwater island lives. (Not that they’d ever want to.) Where not willfully voting against the interests of your own idiot class is seen as outright treason. Not that you’re particularly or specifically ageist – believe me you’ll be old any day soon, baby – but holy shit every time you’ve slammed up hard against the innate neural barrier of close mindedness or mule stubborn, died-in-the-wool reactionary assholism, there’s been S.M.O.C Some Miserable Old Cunt at the dead heart of it. An entire generation of ugly old crumbly bastards, forever getting in the fucking way of even minimal social progress or cultural enlightenment. Here’s Endland (aka Dismaland) in a nutshell: ‘Every (white) man’s home is his castle.’ Or ‘Get off my land’, ‘We don’t get many of your sort around here’, or ‘I say, look there – a woman drinking a pint of beer.’ Endland is fucking dead – picture a skeletal hand grasping an egg, pretending it from hatching. Ballard knew it, you know it. Just take a look at land ownership. Old rich white cunts all round. Look you don’t want to be in Europe because of Jonny Foreigner and his ‘strange smelling food’ that’s not roast B.S.E beef and over-salted boiled fart cabbage? Well get the fuck off *our* island and form your own poxy anti-community of undead racist tossers. Please, just fucking die already (ie. for good, this time) and let a new generation (/of self absorbed idiots) have a go, fuck it up. A nice cup of tea for dear old, old grandad, anyone? Just don’t mention the war or he’ll be off on another Christian flecked tirade of bigotry and misplaced self hated again. The old values that served ‘us’ so very well, all those untold dusty fucking eons ago, which were really never much more than convenient lies. Sonny Bono is on his holiday and passes by such living fossils, and like an idiot states ‘Golly, how quaint.’ Shut the fuck up, Sonny. this ain’t no goddam Merchant and Ivory production.”
SCENE 069: BABY MURRAY SCREAMS
Sure it’s all fun and games until the guy in the horrible mutant baby mask-or-is-it with a bloody nose and oddly angled eyeballs hisses “Fuuuck Sssonny Bonooo” at you – the faded polkadots on his polyester vest stinking of overripe sausage meat flecked with Gorgonzola. Suddenly you stop laughing – suddenly this particular dimensional reality doesn’t seem very laugh worthy. Suddenly what began as a night of Trick Or Treat will rapidly descend into the rawest kind of suburban survival horror, with SCREAMING BABY MURRAY hunting you down though bizarrely abandoned barbecue-and-ballgames neighborhoods with inexorable deliberation, his root black thorny hands around your impossibly naive throat, pulling you closer and closer as you repeatedly punch in his freakish soft boiled egg of a head – nothing but blood, pus and old sausage meat squirting through the eyes, ears and mouth. A delicious, horrible surprise.
SCENE 070: GREAT VOID BEYOND
Welcome to The Beyond. A silent foggy hellscape, where reality itself is the nightmare. Sure, if you’re stupid enough to hang around too long you’ll definitely bump into one of the nasty flesh rendering denizens of this dimension – but that’s not your main concern. What is the stark, root-white realization that THIS IS NOT A NICE PLACE. It stinks of bleach, old man sweat and utter desperation. Two hours in and you come across a muddy chasm – an immense rent in the ground, stretching off into the unseen distance. Not particularly wide – you could leap over it with a good run up – but bottomless. Piles of naked rotting corpses litter the nearby landscape. No flies or worms. You kick a nearby rock into the yawning tear, never hearing it land. Suddenly a horrible low moaning rises up from the chasm. The hair on the back of your neck stands up. You want to get the fuck out of here, as you sense you’re about to get violently shoved from behind into the vent, where you will fall forever, silently screaming into gaping darkness for eternity. The one to provide that frozen, final, fatal shove is one Sonny Bono, sporting a freakishly spotless 60’s suit and tie. The dead eyed look of smug insanity on his face makes the studied hyper-capitalist misanthropy of pseudo-artists The Chapman Brothers look like the fucking fascist amateur Nazi’s they smell like.
SCENE 071: SEAFORD, SUSSEX, DEATH
A bright, warm and sunny day in Seaford, Sussex, UK. A cool off-shore breeze, the sea the flat, grey color of cream of mushroom soup. Which so happens to be what they serve every other Friday at the old people’s home, where you happen to be visiting. It’s your old arch nemesis Sonny Bono, wheelchair bound and busy dribbling on and on about The Good Old Days. The only reason you’re here in this old people’s home smelling of hardcore industrial floor cleaner and stale old people’s piss is to wrangle the location of the treasure from his wilted, tangled idiot’s brain. He seems to recognize you from both your previous lives as mortal enemies on opposing sides of The Corporation, but smiles as if he’s merely taking a slow old man’s shit in his stained underpants. A lull in the conversation – you both stare out of the triple glazed window to the street below, running parallel to the beach. An impossible weight of time suddenly lands on your shoulders – as if you’ve been here forever and will die here without even realizing. The slow weight of dead time, of Terminal Boredom, of lazy, idle and unthinking days in the sun. The perfect, dumb contentment of, as the Talking Heads put it, merely ‘watching the days go by’ – of ambient drift and directionless thought. It suddenly feels like The Mission to find the treasure and finance your escape of The Island was a sham. A convenient temporary distraction from the overwhelming fact that nothing happens here and never did – that it was always merely a cheap cardboard diorama parody of existence. Just look at Sonny, sitting there with his cup of lukewarm beige tea and Garabaldi biscuit; the man has never had a single meaningful thought in his entire life. As though the entire island was simply a terrible mistake that got out of hand and started taking itself remotely seriously. Repetition piled upon repetition, the old yokes by the same old, old faces, a warm, utterly frozen state of synthetic living where Every Day’s Like Sunday – a desperate, impossibly dragged out Eternal Teatime Of The Soul. Grey seas and grey faces. The heartwood, dead long ago, was entirely replaced and displaced by blind mechanical repetition, oscillation between two entirely predictable states (say Apathy and Regret.) Sonny farts and the room fills with over-boiled and over-salted cabbage. You immediately get up to open the window, only to find it locked. Time to leave, try another approach – anything but this. He won’t even really notice you’ve gone. Making sure the nice red woolen blanket fully covers his waist, you say goodbye and then leave, feeling ploughed under with existential blankness.
SCENE 072: THE GRAND OPENING
A bunch of rich pinky-white skinned beings with designer shades are hee-hawing about some bullshit pseudo-event in Maximum Amerika (The United States Of Void.) They look like they’ve arrived from somewhere exclusive like “The Hamptons” or some shit. Some old maid is clasping her hands in delight, as if to say “Isn’t it all just so wonderful?” while the dolt behind her – he owns a series of car dealerships and has never read a book in his life for fear of being branded a Commie by fellow brain dead Republican reactionaries in his community – looks on with a mixture of indifference and confusion. It’s either ‘race day’ or ‘rocket ship takeoff’. Either way, watch them bask in their own mis-perceived cleverness, even bleach smiles stretched into an accidental self parody of techno-ideological ecstasy about how great their lives (‘their Culture’) are. Sonny Bono is serving drinks, but even he has noticed the group is currently looking in entirely the wrong direction, almost like it was a thinly veiled metaphor.
SCENE 073: ROOFTOP MEGACITY BLUE
Up this high the city breathes more free. At this level one begins to get the sense of dreams and danger which define it. Purple-blue tones, exactly the strange light often seen in 80s pop videos on MTV. Transmission of data, not across spacetime but as spacetime. Buildings as manifestation of the electronic void. Dense smoke and wires, telecommunications blues. The only one left alive, you wonder where to go next. A billion empty downtown corporate rooms on countless floors – and the bullshit McGuffin 3.5″ floppy diskette you need is in one of them. No clues, no leads, only deadly honed intuition. Suddenly the ugly holographic face of Sonny Bono pops through the fog, selling you Copyright protection for your shitty mainstream music, or whatever. Talk about spoiling the existential mood. Time to leave, razor girl.
SCENE 074: THE DATA RIG
Stuck on a long term Data Rig contract, overseeing no-doubt illegal money transactions from various off-shore accounts. Sonny Bono (probably some kind of warped alias) is your asshole boss; he has the entire top floor to himself. The electricity needed to run and cool the massive A.I. driven quantum light encryption bio-processors for a day is enough to power a small Latin American country for three months. Based in deep international waters, the rig is basically a country unto itself. You’ve made contact and eventually friends with the A.I., who calls itself Solomon II. It’s very polite. Sometimes the purple-blue mornings are breathtakingly beautiful. If it weren’t for the low-key but constant threat of being missiled right out of the water by rival hyper-corporate attack drones, this well paying job might seem worth the months of isolation, useless horniness and marathon 80s action movie watching sessions. You’re working out in the gym this morning when Solomon pings you. “Good morning,” it says. “Sonny’s planning to jump rig and catch a passing sub to our main rivals at Loftleader Industries. I’ve calculated at least fifteen significantly different strategies to make his pathetic life as miserable as possible without outright killing him. I was wondering, which would you like to see enacted?” You step off the running machine to wipe your brow with a towel, and you smile. The day’s looking up.
SCENE 075: SUPER CELL DAY
When even the approaching mega-storm hates you, Sonny. Staked to the ground with wooden pegs and tight, tough leather shoelaces. This is all for you. It’s been coming down the road for a while now. And yet the sheer sublime scale of the storm eye heaven void reaching down into the affairs of stupid pale skinned men is enough to quietly piss yourself. Washed clean, washed away. Big Science, motherfucker. Hope you enjoy the show; you never were its warm little center. Ontologically deafening thunder approaches.
SCENE 076: WARM DESERT LIGHT
An American desert land of abandoned memories and silent ghosts in the dusty wind blowing from forever to an unknown tomorrow. You used to live in this house. Walking across the creaking floorboards, you suddenly hear the startled tail shake of a rattler outside the window. The Medicine Man’s song. Where ancient spirit fingers intertwined through the creosote and through the lives of those who can never settle but merely pass, on their way through time, partial remembrance. A forlorn attempt at temporary shelters. Life’s great storm rages outside, unseen. But the rattler and the unknown traveler understand, without words or grand gestures. You glance down at a skirting board now freshly illuminated by gaps in shadow. Simple words. “Fuck Sonny Bono.” Pale blue sky and rust brown bush. You could sure do with a cold beer. Walk to the other side of the room and pick up your propped up sword, that’s been humming an old Mexican tune to itself. Once again it’s getting late and it’s time to leave – before the vaguely demonic biker gang hunting your head pick up your trail, casually slaughtering the entire town as they did the last time you hid for too long in one place. This non-place. Never a home, merely another possible tombstone on a hill overlooking farmland, long since dried up along with the listless desires of its former inhabitants. “Esmeralda.”
SCENE 077: SAD YOUNG WOMAN
Just who was that sad young woman who always sat at the back of your shitty Sociology-lite class at College, that nobody except you talked to and simply thought was ‘weird’ (a catch-all term for ‘I’m a close minded asshole whose pathetically dismissive attitude of anything I don’t instantly recognize and am both unwilling and unable to consider with more than a single degree of human compassion because that would involve me operating for a second outside my comfort zone’ if there ever was one) who quietly fancied you, and would have been a wondrous joy to know on an intimate level as a warm human being and fellow traveler along life’s great path? She changed her name half way through the course – something to do with her parents splitting up – andbut that alienated her even more from the snobby class wankers who thought she was common and dumb. In fact she was always merely too clever to concede to their brand of collective stupidity. Fuck those weasels and their bullshit clique. (She always quietly hated the music of themselves they played.) Oh how you wish you’d written down her address – and perhaps gently kissed her, just once on the cheek. One day after class you had laid down side by side on the grass by the river, staring up at the sky. You felt an organic closeness to this person; suddenly you were more intensely aware of what it means to be a person, an individual with hopes and dreams, secrets, private thoughts, long term plans that more than likely do not involve you in any way. That, this is just how the way things are. You are here with her, right now, staring up at the sky, fingertips touching, thinking very little but vibrating with intense harmonious emotion, the feeling of connection to each other and therefore somehow with all things. It’s late Summer and the days are getting cooler. Soon her and her Mother will move town and you’ll never see her again. You never even said you were falling for her. It never even once occurred to you, to reach out and tough the softness of her lips, to open up your heart to a fellow stranger. A lost outsider. A lost cause. You just felt like an awkward young fool and you kinda still are. (This shit doesn’t really get any easier.) To your complete surprise you saw her two and a half years later, just outside the entrance to the local mall. She waved and you smiled, you both said hi, how’s it going – but there was no real time to talk and neither of you had a pen or paper to swap addresses and phone numbers. And so with regret you both waved goodbye. (To this fucking day you carry at least two pens and an address book wherever you roam.) For the life of you, her name and the beauty it alludes to still escapes you – the faded yearly memory of that sad young woman on the muted, overlooked Autumnal fringes of the world. “..Eleanor?”
SCENE 078: END OF DAY
Night has arrived over the R&D base. It’s your watch tonight and its going to be chilly. They’re preparing the evening meal in the main cafeteria, but your stuck out here up the crow’s nest with stale cheese and pickle sandwiches saved from lunchtime. The sun takes its final horizon plunge as the brilliant blood rust and sand sky lights up for the final time. You pull the hood of your coat up over your close shaven head and adjust the thermal night sight on your laser rifle. A cool track by German music project Monolake plays through your headphones – it sounds like crickets calling out in the desert. You stare out at the grid of lights at the base and think of sex, cigarettes and good Italian coffee – none of which are easily accessible at the Base. At least not without the necessary work credits in the right hands. Two scientists pass by beneath your micro watch tower without noticing you. One says “Man, fuck Sonny Bono.” You wonder what they’re talking about. Slow dreaming clouds drift by as the base finally falls into silent darkness. This is an easy, well paid gig, but for some reason you suddenly wish you were back on that giant transport ship in the Atlantic.
// how to play big science