Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Surrealistic Fiction Continued

Closer to My Comfort Zone

By I.M. Acher


          Know this. 

          There are over 7 billion people on this Earth. 

          Let us assume that everyone has free will.  When you need to make a decision, you usually have at least three different choices to consider.  If that decision involves another human, then that decision is compounded by at least another three.  Let us compound that by every choice that every human makes every day.  Let us further compound that by the things that affect our lives, directly or indirectly. 

          Now let us assume there is a higher intellect that somehow facilitates these actions.  That being’s hands must be pretty full.

          Let’s assume said being doesn’t exist?  After all, these words did not put themselves on this computer screen.

          Chew on this:  your universe is not the only one that exists.  Our minds are only wired to think that it is.  It’s probably better that our minds cannot think four-dimensionally.  If we could, our world would probably like watching a scrambled premium cable channel. 


Jonah in the Land of Nod.


          Laundry day. 

          Jonah doesn’t know what got him to go downstairs and use the laundry room.  He hadn’t used the laundry room in over a year.  Come and think of it, he wasn’t even sure if those machines even worked. 

          Cleanliness is godliness, his mother said.  Happiness is a clean pair of underwear, he said.  He hadn’t been happy in weeks.

          He watched as his clothes swirled around in the washing machine.  He could see his vintage Deep Purple t-shirt swirling around.  That shirt was so worn, it’s a miracle that one wash didn’t make it unravel.

          His fingers were stained with grease from his fried calamari and half-a-pack of American Spirit.  Maybe he should have washed his hands. 

          Or maybe, he should not have woken up that morning…

          Go to Ninvus, North of Gehena.  And tell them THE END IS NIGH.

          Jonah just stared at the fish-man.  “Whoa,” he said.  “You really dialed that creep factor up to 11.” 

          His head was still reeling from that sonic boom the fish-man sent into his head.  And he was scared of the fish-man inflicting further pain unto him.

          Go to Ninvus, said the fish-man.  And tell them THE END IS NIGH.

          “Yeah yeah,” said Jonah, “I heard you the first time.  What are you going to do to them?”

          Me?  Nothing!  I’m just a messenger. 

          “If you’re a messenger, why do you need me to tell them anything?”

          If a telepathic anthropomorphic fish walked into your city with a message of doom, would you heed his warning?

          “Well let’s see.  I have one of those talking to me now, and I am not compelled to listen to him…”

          Exactly! said the fish-man.  Then what chance do I have with a whole city?

The fish-man’s Achilles’ heel was the act of persuasion.

          As a young fish-man, the fish-man was bless/cursed with the gift of blarney.  That meant he loved to talk.  But most of the words out of his mouth were empty and did not actually accomplish their intended goals.

          How very unfortunate.  If words are symbolic representatives of synthetic ideas, you would think that one who represents one as important as The Master would be better at saying what he means and meaning what he says.

          “But why me?” asked Jonah.  “Out of all the orators in the world, what could I possibly possess that makes me worthy of such a stupid mission?”

          Because out of all the derelicts in the Land of Nod, you are the one that the least amount of people would miss if you failed.  You have no friends, no family, no job, no future prospect of accomplishing anything important, basically no good traits whatsoever.  Which is exactly why you are the ideal candidate for such a mission.

          “Then how could I possibly convince an entire city to listen to me?”

          Who said anything about convincing?

          “So in other words, you are setting me up for failure.”

          Well, uh, yes.

          Jonah scratched his head and considered the fish-man for a moment.  Then he stuck up his middle finger and said “well consider this my answer.  Go.fuck.yourself!”

          It was actually the fish-man’s dream to be able to gratify himself.

          Jonah never really gave much thought to the prospect.  After all, he wasn’t really the adventurous type; that included sexual endeavors. 

          Perhaps the kinkiest thought that ever entered Jonah’s mind was what kind of tube sock would make the worst condom ever.  It is for this reason that Jonah did not have many sexually intimate experiences in his life.

          These are the words of the fish-man.

          Free will is just an illusion.  But so is determinism. 

          You don’t really control your own actions.  But neither does a higher intelligence.

          The universe is a collection of forces.  These forces are static and dynamic at the same time.  There are definite rules they follow.  But even the world’s biggest supercomputer could never parse all the variables, constants, and operations involved with these forces.

          It is therefore inconceivable that we will ever know anything with complete certainty.

          Science and religion are both human attempts to understand the universe.  They are both equally frivolous.  Both have aided and abetted human conquest of its environment.  They once were two heads of the same coin.  But as science became more methodological, it also became more dogmatic.  And as religion began to disguise its dogma with logic, the lines became more and more muddled.

          In the end, neither side was any closer to the truth.

          I used to think that I understood the truth.

          But thanks to the fish-man, I realized that in fact, there is no truth.  There is only perception and those who are too obtuse to use theirs.

Monday, December 28, 2015

My first crack at surrealist fiction in a while ::Trigger Warning::

Journey Outside My Comfort Zone

By I.M. Acher.


          Sunday Morning, 10:00 AM, Land of Nod, East of Gehena.


          Before you read this, just remember one thing.  You are but a glimmer in the eyes of a non-sentient Universe that doesn’t give two shits about you.  You are the incidental byproduct of a bunch of stardust that coalesced and over a long period (by our frame of reference) caused us to believe ourselves to be sentient.  You are nothing.  There is no deeper meaning to life, the universe, or anything.  You just exist. 

          Is it too late for a trigger warning?


          The Day Jonah Stepped Out of His Own Mind:


          It was the words of the dopamine-imbalance in Jonah’s brain. 

          On that Sunday, like any other Sunday, unlike any future Sunday, but definitely like every previous Sunday he had ever experienced before.

          He was lying in bed.  His room was a dusty cornucopia of books he never got around to reading, posters of various death metal bands, various dirty t-shirts and boxer shorts that hadn’t been washed in weeks, as well as empty 22-oz bottles of cheap malt liquor. 

          He gazed up at the poster of Ozzy Osbourne hitchhiking, holding up a sign that says “Hell.”  Blasting on his alarm clock speaker was “Ace of Spades” by Motörhead.  Just the song he needed; after last night, his liver was dancing the bachata.

          But what even happened last night?

          And how did he even get back into his bed?

          He was neither man nor fish.  Hell, for all I know, he was probably not even of this astral plane.

          He did not move his mouth.  He spoke.

          “Jonah, get up.  Go to the City of Ninvus, North of Gehena.”

          Gehena!  Now it was all making sense.

          One does not just walk into Gehena.  Even people who have business in Gehena do not just walk into Gehena.

          I’ve been to Gehena several times.  I would tell you what it was like.  But you know how the old saying goes—what goes in Gehena stays in Gehena.

          Growing up, I was told that Gehena was a firepit.  I was told that it was a place where you will burn forever.  It is a place full of sinners and other people who pissed off the Master.

          Ladies and Gentlemen, if only Gehena was only that, then perhaps I would be able to bear it.  You see, there is no Master.  And given the capricious rules He expects people to follow, I would much rather spend eternity with those who broke those rules than in that other place—the city in the clouds which supposes eternal bliss.

          No, Gehena is not a place that’s bad because of pain and suffering.

          Gehena is a place that contains everything the mind can ask for.  Except nobody can afford Gehena. 


          Jonah, the fish-man said.  Jonah.  Can you hear me?

          “I’m not sure,” said Jonah.  “You see, hearing usually entails using one’s auricular processes.  But you’re not exactly making a sound wave, so I’m not sure if what I’m doing right now is considered hearing.”

          At that point, the fish-man sent the telepathic equivalent of a sonic boom into Jonah’s head.  It gave Jonah a migraine that still gives him chills unto this day.

          Don’t be fatuous! The fish-man shouted (or the telepathic version of shouting.  If the Dalai Lama shits in the woods and nobody hears him, is he still a Homo Sapien?

          Jonah had to think about that one for a second.  He then retorted “and what do you know about human excretory functions?  And what are you anyway?”

          I am a figment of your chemically-imbalanced mind.  But that’s neither here nor there.  I am here to help you cross over.

          Aw man, Jonah thought.  Why can’t I go back to thinking pink elephants?

          The pink elephant was the mortal enemy of the fish-man. 

          The fish-man hated pachyderms of all varieties, whether extant or extinct.  In his nightmares, he was brutally raped and trampled by a livid wooly mammoth. 

          How a mammoth could successfully penetrate a fish does not make any sense.  But this is Gehena.  And very little about Gehena makes any sense. 

          I’m just here to help you cross over the fish-man said.

          “Cross over to where?” Jonah asked.

          Outside of your mind.


          Jonah coughed.  “Am I in the Matrix?”

          What’s the Matrix? Asked the fish-man.

          “The Matrix, you know, The Wachowski Brothers, ‘I know kung-fu’, what if I told you that Morpheus never actually used the words ‘what if I told you…’?”

          Ah, said the fish-man, yes.  Worst.Movie.Ever.

          “Said no one ever!” Jonah was beginning to lose patience.

          Enough!  I did not come to discuss the pseudophilosophical musings of popular cinematic clichés.  Now listen closely. 


Leave your cares behind
come with us and find
the pleasures of a journey to the center of the mind

Come along if you care
Come along if you dare
Take a ride to the land inside of your mind

Beyond the seas of thought
beyond the realm of what
across the streams of hopes and dreams
where things are really not

Come along if you care
come along if you dare
take a ride to the land
inside of your mind….

--Ted Nugent

          The fish-man parted with one last thought.

          Know this.  The entire sum of your existence can be summed up by our meeting here. 

          We met here for no reason.  You just happened to be sitting on this park bench when I was here.  We had a chance encounter.  I decided to speak to you.  That was a chance encounter too. 

          If you choose to take up my mission and go to Ninvus, the consequences will be inconsequential for the world at large.  Nobody outside of your small circle of friends and family will care whether or not you get back.  Even you, the reader, will put this down and forget you ever read it.  Nobody will give it a second thought.

          Your birth was completely meaningless.  Your death will also be completely meaningless.  You will leave no kids behind.  You will have no legacy.  And nobody will tell your story.

          And you have no soul to reap the fruits of your actions.  There is no higher plane.  There is no karma.  There is no Shambhala.  There is no Valhalla.  And even if those places did exist, I’d be bored to tears in all of them.

          So whether or not you choose to listen to me, you have nothing to gain or lose.  And you, the reader, should not get too invested in this story either.

And what is this comfort zone Jonah was trying to step out of? 

If you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s time for you to step out of your comfort zone.

          Stay tuned for part II.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Happy Sunday, December 6th

          I’m not that offended by Hannukah.  But I’m not going to celebrate it either.

          The Hannukah of my childhood was Christmas’ diminutive, less comely illegitimate sibling.  Any time one turned on the TV, all one saw was Christmas specials, carols, sales, and all sorts of things marketing an image of a holiday full of cheer, giving, and family.

          I’m not going to lie.  Hannukah was a fun holiday.  We got to spin a dreidel.  We would gamble for chocolate coins.  We got to eat latkes and jelly donuts.  And we got to light a menorah and sing some songs.  But Ma’oz Tzur had nothing on “Carol of the Bells” or “Silent Night.” 

          As a kid, we learned that the Maccabees were the great heroes of a miraculous war that chased the Hellenistic Selucids out of Judea.  We also learned about oil that lasted 8-days instead of 1. 

          As an adult, I learned that this miracle of the oil is only mentioned in passing in the gemara, very briefly; nowhere else is it mentioned beforehand.  And the war against the Selucids was not that miraculous.  It’s a very fascinating story, and the Maccabees certainly did have a lot of luck on their side.  But they also had the fact that the Selucids then were getting attacked on the Parthian front, so they had to recall troops from Judea to fortify that front.  We also have various military alliances (Egypt, Rome, et al).  It was a complex story, much of which most Jews don’t even know the half of.  Most Jews aren’t even aware that in the end, the Hellenists won, as demonstrated by the fact that the next generation of Hasmoneans started to have Greek names such as Hyrcanus, Menelaus, et al. 

          Hannukah celebrates a nice idea of the underdog defeating the big bully.  I have nothing against that.  But I have little use these days for holy days of any kind.  While I may take advantage of some sales, and I may have Chinese dinner this December 24th (we shall see), I will not be lighting any fires near my window this year.