Tall Glass of Water

by dschapman

Not everyone seems to be as sick as me. Some people even look healthy. I want to be like them. I want to be one of the healthy ones. Healthy, with health to protect, health I am not even losing, health I have let alone lost. But something has been taken from me, and has kept me apart from them, and there is nothing to be done about that. Maybe it is bad for me, but maybe it is good. Maybe I am one of the lucky ones. What am I? I am a brain in a vat. My vat has arms and fingertips, can do, is productive. It is complicated machinery. A terrible monster made up of tiny little monsters, chewing up tinier monsters and passing them through my system. Carbons, nitrates, streams of oxygenation; it is a curious and capable vat, and I have it, and that is better than nothing. And I am a capable brain. My brain is the power that drives me, guides me, my leisure. I enjoy myself. I play with myself. I talk to myself, and I listen to myself, and I laugh happy laughter at all the things I say. I have many things to say. I create intricate gardens in intricate worlds, brick by brick a castle builder, glassy-eyed dreamer still dreaming, alive. I assume plentiful forms, making mistakes and then bettering. Cause and effect play their dance all around me, causing, effecting, as I in turn effect. I turned around, wide-eyed, and saw for myself a horrible sight. It was momentous, immortal. And of course I was scared; and of course I was paralyzed. I could not move; I was cold, I was abolished, I was new. Submission – new life. Everything they have ever said is true. Every story, every contradiction. Everything you can say is worth saying, you may as well say them. I say things that I do not mean, that embarrass me, that make me sick; but I do not regret saying them. How could I? Thoughts are too perfect to waste. Things are too beautiful not to admire. Life is too good, goodness too plentiful. It is our moment in time, our tour through bliss, through magnificent worlds. It is plain, it is marvelous, and it is relevant. It is all around me and it is beautiful. I notice the beauty standing fast all around me. There are beautiful things all around me, outside and in my home, on me and in me and of me, my things, the things that I own, forests, closets, air; a nest of my own full of wonderful things, the most wonderful objects my universe knew. I gather a substance of kindness around me, something that I like, something suiting me. A collector; an admirer; a part of, a being, an end to a whole. Sometimes, for only a moment, I notice my world that I have made for myself as though through the eyes of an earlier self, a self that knew nothing, a self that couldn’t fathom such a world, could hardly even dream it. And I realize how grand I have already become, how true beyond the scope of my own most hopeful childhood aspirations; good things have come true, I have become, like some prodigy, super capable, super worldly, super wise. How naturally perfect I practically am. I, and I am perfect; I bend and I shift the world around me to suit me, I control and distort my surroundings; constructions, deconstructions, tensions and strings and new theories. I arrange the elements of the world into perfect aesthetic distinction. I compile great things into circles, orderly words torn from glorious books, new and ancient instruments, toys with the aim of total abandonment, souls spun like strands around outstretched fingers; pleasurable shapes and timeless antiquities, meaningful forms with measure, the immeasurable true form; functions, unities, potentialities, realizations come full circle; wicker, brass, lacewood, and light; cotton, linen, woolen skin; a man and another man, a chance and another chance at a mystery, a hound and a wardrobe and resounding selections of comfort; antlers, mirrors, jute and a pistol, drawn from the dresser with rounds in the chamber; potions, prayerful motions, marble slabs and blooming gardenias; simple things, infinite things, arranged in their places around me, like satellites, surrounding me, palisades of wealth; a world within worlds, a fear without horror, a gladness without happiness. Everything in the world is something to be reckoned with, is something to wield, every substance surrounding me is mine, I own it, I turn it into many different potentials, wielding many different tools; fickle me, desires swirling, disappearing, scares surfacing up from recesses, an external world, not quite fine, but manipulable. Everything stands to be reckoned with. Everything means something real, means something personal, is perfect only in personal ways. Beauty is the state of things, like mathematical relations, proportions and ratios, superimposed, inherent and real and spanning the nature of the whole observable macrocosm.

Meaningless verses. Mask me my face with many different colors; I will always look the same to you. But meaninglessness is nice. It is nice here, after all. Everything is pretty; things are in their places, set nicely in their niches. Living, learning, a series of choices, to choose between one and an other, tiny and finite choices pulling and pushing the cosmic fabric apart and together, affecting forever the rest of the world in each and every instant that passes, each reality turned down and each new being assumed, each new person acclaimed and unrealized. Choices between better worlds and lesser worlds, and choosing the betterment; but, once better, how would you notice? Once better, what then? I wonder. I wonder about how I came into this room. I wondered coming into it if I should have come in that way, how completely the universe would have changed if I had done so, should I do so now – but to do so then would have been a new course, different still than all the past possible choices; I had already been choosing, had chosen something new. Here again, in newness, depicting possibilities, uncertainties, pleasant illusions; in the midst of my dreams, I do not mind dreaming. I see familiar faces; I dream I see a bad man’s face, but he is young, and he is soft on the edges, and decorating a tree in a hallway; the background is a crackling black diffusion, sharp and eloquent and full of certain colors, certain distinguishing praise. Someone is sleeping in my bed; I did not invite them. I crawl into bed with them. The sound of the shadow as it trickles through night; I breathe the breath of life like nightfall, fleeting may it be, and absorb in the stars a burning profusion; purplish clouds, two perfect legs, two perfect people in tandem. Life is a multitude, and say whatever you will, you will always be right. Speaking is something to do, and doing is always worth doing. Learning doesn’t exist; it is mere familiarization. Everything in the world is familiar with the world around it; everything has learned, has knowledge. Dutiful people, serving their dues. Dutiful abusive people, mistaking things for other things, forgetting to water the flowers; forgetting the names of flowers; forgetting the reason we came into this world, the voice of the cherubim quivering; the whispers of youth, fallen to silence. I mistake the greatness for misery around me. I mistake the world for something useless, life for something pitiful. Withholding pity. Withholding concern. Divine intermission; let rest the weapons lay, the angels of day turn their backs on the dead; good days, let live them, let unto goodness people reap. The babes are asleep in their blankets; no one will harm them now. So I signed my name in the wet cement. Wet cement, and hardening. Hardened names, a valley carved out of the stone. I pushed my way through the crowd, even though it hurt me, even though there was blood puddling up in the toe of my shoe and screws twisting into my spine, and then I started climbing, even though my bones were crackling. All I had to do was be smarter than the rest of them, to think more, to think better, to think all the most truest thoughts. True thought; good thinking, unquenchable, unending, is the the singular tool of the new modern man, the battle where all wars are fought, where men are laid into submission and women are submerged into love; three steps ahead, four steps ahead, five; the numbers disappear, the whole pictures merges together, whole victories, whole losses, the way of the world after victory, the way of the world after losing, meanings, separate meanings, old meanings. You cannot lose if you are trying. Things are easy; things are familiar. Conversations are easy to hold. Compulsions are easy to act on. But soon true thought turns itself inward. The single level of existence, the whole merged totality of all thought that makes itself manifest, the next move in chess in the next move in chess made indistinct and absolute, won or lost or never even played, and then it is never enough. Questions arise unto questions; layers form layers of doubt. Actions are functions of thinking; why bother when actions, when thinking is the premiere mode of being? Preoccupations with thoughts over action, actions diminished, potential and thoughtless realities falling away, never to be heard from again… thought or action, you cannot have both. Ignorance; movement; realization, actualization. Clearly I have made my choice. And now I will live with it.