It will come as no surprise that I have always had a very dystopian take on psychotropic medication. I think that pill manufacturers are in league with the “powers that be” and they are using our fears into doping ourselves into complicity with their evil plot to take over the world and all the people in it so that they can take for themselves all the resources for themselves.
But I don’t limit myself to blaming the pharmaceutical industry. I go so far as to blame those of us who would medicate away the guilt and shame that naturally accrues on us as we are ground to death in this hyper industrialized machine. No, we would take the easy road and wish all those feelings away. We would convince ourselves that we aren’t unhappy because there are drones in the skies and we can’t trust anybody but because our lives are pathetic in comparison to those who profit off of these mechanizations. We won’t admit that we aren’t happy because we polish the same widget every day through the best years of our lives. We’ll blame ourselves and our friends and our families. We will destroy the things that should be most important to us long before we ever lose our jobs.
Worse than the pills is the way that the pharmaceutical industry has taught us to think about our lives. Having a brain is an amazing responsibility. Every one of us is a bipedal emotional super-computer. Our brains are the fanciest things nature has ever produced. Each one is so unique in its design and programmed with user specific life data as reduced through the senses and retained. This process induces behavior. I mean, that is some complicated shit.
But you can walk into any psychologist office this whole great nation over and within two hours tops leave with a prescription for your very own bottle of drugs that’s meant to change your life. The psychiatrist will determine the drug of choice and the dosage in a surprisingly short session of rapid fire questions with the goal of categorizing you into a few very broad categories.
Depression is by far the easiest category to fall into. Happiness is hard to come by these days and we all get the blues. I would submit that this world is fucked up is now an established scientific, mathematical fact. If you need a reason to be depressed you need but flip on your television and watch for one hour as the world unfolds before you.
You are trapped in a world that only wants to sell you things. You are no more to America than the amount of dollars in your bank account and all this nation seems to want are your ever diminishing dollars. To make it you have to polish an awful lot of widgets and nobody likes that. What’s not to be depressed about?
Luckily enough for me I’m a veteran so all my pills are free. In fact they were the easiest resource to get from the Veterans Affairs medical center in Detroit. I got pills from them faster than I got my food stamps. That is service. I was very fortunate to move through the system in the fast lane because my record has suicide written all over it. There were a lot of appointments with social workers and one extremely awkward trip to the Emergency Room. To digress, veterans, never go to the emergency room for psychiatric care. You will leave much worse than you came in.
After a week of these I met with a resident psychiatrist. We talked for about two hours about why I feel so dead inside. All this running has really soured me and it’s time for me to sit down and actually deal with myself for once. I need some distance from my constant self-destruction if I’m going to get any real work done. I just need to dial down the voices, my voice, enough so that I can hear the world again.
She conferred with her boss doctor and he came in to ask me some of the same questions again. Then they sent me down to the pharmacy.
If you’re ever feeling like you need a huge dose of reality take a trip to your closest VA pharmacy. Sit down and watch. This is the pharmaceutical industry at its best. This is art. This is science fiction.
So I’m giving in to the big evil machine because I finally realize that life would just be easier with more serotonin. It might turn me into a zombie. I don’t really care. My brain has produced anything valuable for at least two years and I’m kind of over it so I’d like to put it on the bench for a while and try to fix my body. Maybe learn to eat food like a person again. That’s something the mind tyrant has kept from me for almost ten years.
I’m going to use this blog to track the effects this submission is going to have on my mental activity. I’m sorry to anybody who reads these useless rambles. They’re just the best way for me to capture my mindset at any given time and save that for future reflections. Hey, and maybe get a little extra attention in the process.
Day one has been pretty nauseous. But also noticeably more quiet.
It’s become pretty fashionable to not be a lot of things these days. For instance, it would be considered bad form in modern social climes announce that you were a racist. It might be because the word is so packed full of psychotic hate from generation upon generation of racist bloodlust that we can no longer even hear the term without writhing in disgust. Or it might be that all the cool kids will think you’re an ignorant fuck if you ever said those words out loud. We’re talking about a game ending injury in any hip scene.
That being said, myself being of the school of radical honesty I can’t say “I am not a racist” and not feel like a liar. Between now and the end of this rant I hope to explain why you are too.
Race has become too easy a subject for the American Liberal. Once the rhetoric is learned almost any yokel with a bigoted mind could improv their way into a radical group of friends. Here in the states we have it easy. The racial dialogue here is very black and white. We can put the pin of Not-a-Racist on as long as we can play well with the other races and cultures brought together in our melting pot. It doesn’t matter if we laugh at derogatory jokes when we’re in exclusive groups as long as you treat people of other races the way you think they ought to be treated.
Luckily for us there are several class boundaries which keep the different colors in the pot from truly blending so many of our fanciful notions of our proud fairness are actually ever tested. At a certain point of wealth one can almost entirely opt out of ever making the acquaintance of any person of any race they don’t feel fully comfortable around. These same lucky Liberals will raise liberally minded children who also don’t think they are racist though the multifaceted lives of the multifaceted races are kept from them.
And certainly this country has made great strides in saying that it is not racist.
Yet there are a few things which seem to me almost inherently racist about the very American Way and it really makes me feel like we’re all just a bunch of fucking liars and hypocrites.
Can you, the American reader, remember back to those first days of our great War on Terror? Do you remember how you felt about the sacrifice of those first 3000 some odd American lives, so mostly white? Now, if you will, contrast that for me with all of the feelings you have ever had about the lives of the innocent Iraqi of Afghani bystander wrongly killed or imprisoned by our haywire war. Do you notice any differences?
For me I feel a much greater sense of removal from the lives lost from such a distant culture. I know I should feel for those lives but where that emotion should happen is this vacancy. That is why I am a racist. I don’t have the proper emotions to contextualize both sides of this very race-centric conflict so naturally my emotions differ to the easy, known American Way.
It really pisses me off when people write this off because it is a war (it is not technically a war still btw’s). Civilians are not soldiers. Their deaths are not the same. They had signed no agreements.
You would think of all countries we would still be walking on eggshells after being the first country to use a nuclear strike against civilian targets or at least have learned to have the proper amount of candor about taking innocent lives which never signed up for any war. No, not us. Fuck you. We’ll kill everybody for ten years just to prove a point and we’ll do it in opposition to the desire’s of our own sweet Democratic people and while we do it we’re going to say its not racist the whole time and get away with it because that is the American Fucking Way.
I mean, think how absolutely insane it would sound for a former Nazi soldier to say after the last Great War that they were not a racist and yet now there are whole organizations for the occupational forces to retire into which condone this theory that we were not being racists while we did what we were doing, or that we can wash away those sins now by simply learning the right rhetoric. That’s bullshit. This war is a stain on all of our souls and I’m sick of watching people grasp for quick fixes and telling those of us who know that none of this is worth saving that we’re the ones who are crazy.
If you didn’t jump out of your chair on 9/11 and beg your precious God to spare the innocent children of these countries which were about to pay the price for the transgressions of another rich and powerful political and religious leader than you are a fucking racist and I hope you accept that every day of your life. I hope you quit this very second trying to prove to yourself that you’ve got this figured out because you’ve finally learned that black people and white people aren’t that fucking different. Congratulations. You’ve almost finished processing the emotional toll of the Civil Fucking War and next on your plate is how your very country which is dyed into the very fiber of your soul has used you and all of your family to plunder and kill the people’s of small countries where brown people live to prove to other rich white leaders of the other First World powers that we really good and truly don’t give a fuck.
If we were all sane we would be disgusted with ourselves. We would have killed ourselves to stop the machine which set forward in our name. But we weren’t. We were cowards. And now we survive on psychotropic medication and delusions of the past.
By all means, keep patting yourself on the back because you don’t hate transgendered people. That is very progressive of you. Not hating one of the smallest minority demographics on the long long list. Meanwhile this history books are being written and they will tell of concentration camps under American Flags and pictures of burned civilian corpses piled high and you can try to tell your grandchildren how you were not a racist.
Accept the truth. You don’t want to have the right feelings about these things. You want pleasant happy days with good friends and family and fun times. You want good memories. And who could blame you. It is so easy to deceive yourself with thoughts that you are a good person and you are doing good things here. Maybe, if you work really hard, you can leave some mark on history that stands out more than this disgusting war but chances are it will all get drown out by the waves of sorrow that will wash over generation to generation to come.
I hear the guards coming as they drive their “Gator” across the rocky ground. I see the dust billowing up behind them through the razor wire horizon. I hear them park and when they stop their vehicle I hear them talking. The incessant recitations of the many mantras of their Capitalist society said all with the same absent drawl. There is a certain lack of something here, but it seems almost too plain to say that it is “freedom”. Of course there is no freedom here.
It is a prison camp after all.
The gates to Camp 2 open with blatant and foreboding shrillness. Two new sets of clacking boots join the endless marching of the roving sally gate guard. His name is Johnson. He is replaced every 12 hours by Whitmore. Every twelve hours for last five years these two have “relieved” one another. Neither of them could possibly know the time I have invested into imagining their lives, or the lengths that I have gone to to piece together the story of the world outside of this prison from their few vacant words.
The story seems grimmer than when I left it.
The subtle impression of thousands of voices spoken below a whisper all hush in a great vacuum as the gates of Mike Block opened and in walked two of the meanest people ever put on this planet.
You could feel their anger washing down the corridor. Worse yet, I could feel the righteous indignation of my comrades get washed right away as each and every one of them crawled back into the tiniest, blackest holes in their minds where they nursed memories of when these two came for them.
Their boot heels rang obnoxiously off every crooked angle in this God forsaken cell block. I heard each and every step until the footsteps stopped outside of my rusted and humble cell.
I was stretched out on the metal slab that serves me as a bed and a desk and a table and a place from which I deliver sermons.
“Hey mother fucker.” The taller of the two said to me. “Wake the fuck up, bitch. It’s time for a talk.”
“I heard this fuckin faggot started this whole mess”.
“That’s between him and his interrogator. HEY! I said wake the fuck UP!”
I slowly parted my eyes to stare coldly into his. I will admit now that this act caused me no small amount of pain.
These Alpha Soldiers are real crafty types. Made special to deal with my type Terrorist. Their whole mind is wired to disrupt our whole everything. But I’m no push over in my type of Terrorism.
The beanhole clanged open viciously and I put my thin wrists through it. I could see their eyes taking in the tattoos that peeked out from the long sleeves of my orange jumpsuit. Their faces twisted in a compulsive act of revulsion at the sight of art. That alone gave me a good deal of fear about the current nature of the outer world.
The shackles were clenched tightly down on my pronounced wrist bone. I could feel them cutting in that special impartiality that they alone possessed. Once those were on they handed me the end of the connected chain.
“You know the fucking routine. But please. Make us come in and help you. I fucking dare you.” The tall ones hands were a vice on the chain until he finished with his hateful taunting, and only then did he release the chain.
I spun myself around it and obediantly, but with that little protest we can afford to offer, handed the end of the chain back to them.
The shorter one dropped the feet shackles in and then bent down to undo the bottom beanhole and insert his hands into my pestilence. Some detainees have used this as an opportunity to crush the wrist bones of their guards, but I don’t get their kinds of guards. I couldn’t have broken these wrists back when I was healthy and free. And these men were permitted to kill me. It is a wonder that they haven’t.
The rusting orifice that is the lock to my cell twisted open for the first time in months. Their huge hands grabbed me like dead prey in the mouth of jackles, pulling my frail bones out of my old home and out onto the cause way.
We began our slow walk to my interrogation booth.
Their satellite radio hissed on and the voice of a child asked impatiently: “Gulf One, this is Escort Control. Do you have the package?”
I could feel the irritation in the taller ones voice when he keyed his mike and replied “Roger that.” And as he released his finger he said “you little fucking faggot.” He looked to his friend and spit out “that fucking piece of shit sits in that comfy office all fucking day while we’re out here touching these fucking disgusting motherfuckers. One of these days I’m going to catch his ass out of that office and I’m going to rape his fucking face!”
“Yeah brah. Fuck that dick sucker. I’d help you.”
Apparently I had been forgot about between them. I had to pull my feet up to hop along between them or else they would have dragged me across the stones. It’s a little less than a mile to Interrogation Facility and folks get awful bloodied up being dragged along like that. The common courtesies were the first to go.
It took us all of twenty minutes to cross the barren waste that lies between the various camps. Those were valuable minutes to me. Much had changed about the security here since he had last been out. There were more roving guards between the fences. There were new shacks that had been planted silently by the operator crane. Things change. Everything was exactly as we expected it. What a relief.
The flood lights started to kick on as the sun began to bury itself behind the razor wire and fences that blocked from our vision eternally the cliff that hangs over the sea. They cast the ghastly blue flourescent light, turning all flesh into a sickly white. How I hate those God damned lightbulbs. They spread the shadow of the approaching “Fortress” in all directions at once. The night sky was red over head. These are always somber hours. Nothing could be heard save for my shackles now, and every soul on this camp could hear them. And every soul in this camp knew who was bound by them. Not a one of those souls harbors any fear that I will tell. I know these souls best of all, and they know me.
The door to the horrible ebony obelisk opened swiftly and silently at the touch of a button pressed deep inside this building by a young man trained from birth to operate computers, a young man who watched everything in this camp on a fragmented wall of screens. We have a great fondness for this young man.
Inside our footsteps and my chains were amplified off of every shiny metal surface. All surfaces were shiny and metal. We jangled and clanged and clacked together a nightmare concerto among the labyrinth of corridors that we deftly weaved through. It was difficult to not let my inertia betray that my mind knew this particular maze quite well in such capable hands. I was confident that I would not slip. There are Angels on my side, Fallen though they may be.
Soon we were at the door of what was to be the epicenter of the invasion to come, yet nowhere on that island could any man or device detect a single iota of eagerness. My own heart beat a calculated war drum of fear all for the story that the people who monitored the detectors that have watched me since I was in my cell, or the story that I am trying to tell them.
The real story, this story, is happening in a safe place. This story is actually about that place, but I am getting ahead of myself and that is later on.
The door slid opened and I was pushed into a blinding white room. Between me and a metal desk was only an industrial eye bolt on the floor. Behind the desk was an Agent from the Drug Interests. He wore black goggles which fitted into healthy, white sockets. His nose and mouth were covered by a viral mask, on the insides of which were a microphone and a transmitter which communicated with the chip inside of his brain which allowed his superior officers to communicate with him. He was lanky but his crisp white uniform fit him quite handsomely. There was almost nothing that could be told of this person. On the outside, that is.
My Escorts fastened me to the floor with grace despite their clear agitation in the presence of a human that was barely in the same species as them any more. I could tell that for them this man was as much an outsider as I was. I let only a small amount of smugness show on my otherwise fearful face. I believe it may have aggravated my host. He began our interrogation before the professional men were even done.
“Detainee number zero-two-five-eight from Mike Block, Cell two-two. Interrogation date: zero-five-dash-one-eight-dash-two-three. First Interrogation. Subject was detained along with twelve other men in the VA hospital in Battle Creek Michigan. They were all part of a Terrorist Cell based out of Building 31. Details of the nature of their collective acts of Terrorism are at this time unknown, but the wave of disruption that they set off is currently still growing despite their detention. An effort is now being made to discover the nature of their acts of Terrorism. Chief Technician First Class Reissinger. ISN 0258…”
“Yeah Chief. What can I do for you?” I responded with a manufactured air of sloppy charm.
“Do not interrupt me when I am speaking to you. This is to be an intensive interview and at the end of it we expect to know everything or you will be medically sedated for the rest of your life. Do you understand that?”
“That doesn’t sound half bad there, Chief. Sir. No. I mean. I will tell you everything. I promise. I swear.” Panicked.
“Why were you on Inpatient Care in Building 31 in the first place?”
“I’d been having some really fucked up dreams and it got to the point where I just couldn’t walk along with the way things were headed out there. I needed off the ride.”
“Medical records show that you had been having violent thoughts against authority figures. Those same authority figures that are listed were later found dead.”
“That did happen.”
“But you couldn’t have killed them. Their deaths were determined to be suicides.”
“That also happened.”
“But you swore that you were responsible for their deaths anyway. The Doctors at the hospital institutionalized you on a routine visit for Paranoid Schizophrenia. Why did you think you murdered those people?”
“I made them do it.”
“You could never have met any of them.”
“It turns out I didn’t have to. Look, I’ve had this talk a lot of times back on the Ward. Could you please get to the why-the-fucks, and the what the fuck you wants?”
“It is clear from your speech that your mind surely is not that of a Free Citizen. You speak like a soldier still despite the reprogramming.”
“Yeah. Once and always, I guess. Couldn’t keep a job out there when every other word is full of hate and an eagerness to smite the wicked. That reprogramming didn’t work so good on me, I guess.”
“It doesn’t work on the insane.”
“I guess not.”
“Your military files show that you were classified as Psychological Operations and that you were deployed to this same Detention Facility during the initial phase of The War.”
“There is no irony in the War on Terrorism.”
“No. Of course not. You were saying?”
“I was stating. Your tour was that of an office technician, yet you claim to have been overwhelmed by the burdens of a soldier’s life.”
“My, uh, job… it had its own kind of Hell to it.”
“I’m pretty sure most would call you a coward.”
“They did. But I don’t worry myself about most any more.”
“My job is to find out how you got from coward to Terrorist in such a short period of time.”
“It didn’t feel so short at the time. I’ll tell you, but you’ve got to ask the right questions. I don’t put out for free.” I finally allowed a certain wickedness to pass through my eyes. There was a momentary delay and then I saw him invert as he gathered the news of my sudden change in character through his receiver.
“Why did all those people in the Hospital die?”
“They didn’t all die. Several of them survived the whole ordeal. Only to end up here, unfortunately. But they chose their side of the line.”
“The line between us and you. In your language the line between the Terrorist and the Freedom Fighters. We have different language.”
“Stop being vague. We can sit here until you die. You will not eat or sleep until this is done.”
“Don’t you worry. I’m aware of all of that. Even if I do die.”
“The ones that killed themselves… so did their families. Some of those family members committed acts of violence against Free Citizens. And from them it spread again.”
“And again. And again. Yes. We did that. I won’t deny it. Are you just looking for the right words to charge us with? Or are you scared that…”
“That is enough. What is it?”
“IT is nothing.”
“Evasiveness will not save you.”
“I’m not trying to be evasive. I am just growing sick of doing your job for you. I told you I wasn’t just going to hand this to you if you’re going to continue to be incompetent.”
He paused again to receive orders.
“What happened in the Ward?”
“Much better. We evolved there. The drugs helped. I personally couldn’t have done it, I couldn’t have found the space without Thorazine.”
“What do you mean by evolved?”
“I mean we were a crazy generation. We’d grown up with the keys to the future in our hands. We were the first children of a new and violent Technocracy. We were drugged. We were turned into soldiers. We were the first veterans of a war nobody can remember the beginning of now. We were trained so intensively that we couldn’t make the transition with the rest of society over to the way that you have made things to be. We just didn’t fucking fit anywhere out there. We were all bound to end up in Building 31’s all across the country. But then we found it.”
“It is pretty hard to explain. We call it “The Network”. We found it in our dreams. Somehow, in that building, the 13 of us… we found each other in our dreams. We found a new kind of space. Oh, it was fantastic, those first few adventures into the whole thing. We wasted a lot of time on acts of the most disreputable debauchery. We would snicker through the days each reliving the madness of the night before. The more we did it the easier it got. The clearer the picture came. At first everything was like how you would think a dream should be. It was hard to hold it together. But there is something about the mind of a veteran that makes it easier to hold all these pieces together. It is a little like putting one giant broken mirror back together. But there is a lot of anger in us too. We didn’t know then that when we go there, the anger can come here. We learned that when the suicides started.”
“You mean to put on official record that you and your friends began to collaboratively navigate a “Network” between your minds. And that this is how all of the violence began.”
“Well, no. The story is a lot more complicated than that. We weren’t visiting each others minds. Those places are extremely dangerous. The monsters that reside within the walls of tormented minds are for those minds only. It wasn’t about what we found. It was about where we found. Well, also about what we did when we went there. There is a place that is outside of here. Outside of you. We probably weren’t supposed to go there… but we probably weren’t supposed to hurt other people. And you probably shouldn’t have tried to sedate our monsters away. They will always be with us, you know. They are our burden to carry through all of our lives. They are the guilt of doing things… awful things… things we did under your control. They are the price that we pay for going to War.”
“You are rambling like…”
“A mad man?”
“Do you think you are clever?”
“I don’t know. I think an awful lot of things about myself. I think more than anything I am naive. I think that you should judge me for my hubris and self indulgence. Not my lack of cleverness. And anyway, it is proven that I was not clever enough avoid being caught.”
“But not stopped.”
“Of course not. You cannot stop this. And anyways, you have hunted and caught the wrong thing. You should have been looking for monsters. They have been looking for you.”
“I might have hunted for monsters if I were also a paranoid psychotic and a narcissist. But I am a practical man. The monsters that I hunt are delusional religious zealots who talk thousands into acts against the State. The monsters that I hunt threaten the safety of every human soul under my watch. You and your Satanic cult are my monsters.”
“I wouldn’t call us Satanists. I personally prefer Followers of Lucifer. Others prefer Anarchists. We are all fond of the term Terrorist. Whatever you want to call us, we were just the vessels for something much worst than ourselves. We gave birth to your societies children and your children were monsters and you people and your drugs opened a door inside of us that must have remained locked for all of our evolution so that these monsters don’t get out… but here we are. There is one monster in particular I am very eager for you to meet.”
As I stood up my shackles fell from me like dust. His metal desk fell to pieces like a house of cards. The edges started to disappear from everything. Finally his facial muscles twitched as the walls themselves dissolved into conversation and we were standing, just the two of us, in shear darkness. I could feel the deep, existential confusion he felt when he looked at me and could not tell if I had turned into a man made of broken mirror or folded paper. This was my favorite way to appear. I could almost feed on the confusion that coursed through his every fiber but he had not lied when he said that he was a rational man.
“This is the place I was telling you about. Do you believe me now?”
Without moving a muscled in his face he droned: “If I had not believed you from the beginning do you think I would have tracked you down and detained you?”
“It is hard to tell anymore.”
“I know that I need to kill your monsters. But I need to find them first.”
“You won’t find them. You aren’t their type. They prey on authority figures and you’re just a toy. But they did move through here. I can smell them. No, the only monster you’ve got to worry about is your own.”
Right then we could both feel it as everything seemed to break.
“That was the wall they have built around you. That is the wall that keeps all the bad, irrational things away. All your questions and your fears that maybe you aren’t doing the right thing. The weight of every life that you have ruined. As a special favor my friends and I have gone through the trouble of pulling all those things together to craft for you your very own super monster.”
The sense of order started to blur, strange fragments of memories started to play in various dimensions and a chaotic chatter began whispering in from the periphery.
“Now I’m going to leave you here to sort this out on your own. If you survive that is fantastic. If not I will see you bright an early tomorrow morning to welcome you to your new home for the next few years.”
“How do you do this?”
“Do you really think I know?”
With that I fell apart at his feet and left him to meet himself, making sure to close the door very tightly on my way out.
Sometime around when I was five my family got a Nintendo for Christmas and I began my lengthy love affair with electronic distractions. Little did I know at that time that I was on the cusp of a global phenomenon. A whole society of people vigorously training themselves to deftly maneuver through the tight hallways of this new circuitry with plastic controllers in their hands. At five and amidst the crushing isolation of rural Mid-Michigan I didn’t think anything of it.
As Megaman I spent hours storming the mind-numbingly perilous labyrinth of Doctor Wiley’s elaborate mechanical death traps wantonly killing every moving robotic delight I crossed without blinking an eye only to get to the end and hopefully kill one of my own kind for doing his own thing down in some cave I invaded and kill him, too. What else is one to do with a gun for an arm and only one direction to move?
I formed a very unusual relationship with the space that was provided to me in games which evolved into a survival mechanism and a source of great comfort.
When I grew older I made friends based largely on playing video games with them. We would inevitably meet at Garrett’s house to play video games there or go down to the college library to play on the computers in the basement using Jake’s mom’s access codes because they had the fastest connection in town. At the time Counter Strike was our game of choice and every fraction of a second counts when it comes to the fast paced world of shooting people in the heads in a constant international battle of who had the fastest coordination (and internet speed) on the www.
This introduced me to the world of social gaming in which one either cooperates or competes and was a hallmark of my integration into a technological society, albeit a kind of beta version for what exists now.
It wasn’t until I was deployed that I was forced out of my comfortable marriage to gaming for an extended period of time. But in that time something funny occurred which caused me to think very critically of this technological indocrination that had occurred to me.
As many people know I was deployed to a detention facility during the war and this detentions facility ran on a computerized system. Every bit of information that was necessary for daily operations was stored in one big program and thanks to spending a majority of their lives out in the most abysmal written off plots of land running field exorcizes most of the senior enlisted personnel and officers didn’t know how to use these new fangled glowing boxes. So they looked to the units out in the camp and they made a call for all the nerds, and low and behold I was transferred unto the Detention Operating Center to be a part of their new batch of computer monkeys. This unrestrained access to the neurology of this insane place gave us, as underenlisted and hardly professional soldiers, a kind of authority over many of our superiors because although we answered to them, they were still forced to answer to the computer in the end, and we were the heralds that brought forth the computers message.
All of this turned in me a great deal of distress and I found myself irresistably turned towards Dystopian science fiction and its eery predictions that all feverishly warn of the worst than apocolyptic futures could lie hidden behind the false promise of a technologically perfect utopia.
Being at least partially academic in spirit I found myself thirsting after some kind of hardened academic response to the rise of geek culture and its strange position in the military industrial institution but found the subject lacking any serious attempts to address the issue. In fact, the most serious source of video game culture is the online community itself, which is renowned for not being a credible source of academic information for very good reason. On the broader subject of the advancement of a technologically based society there was one voice which posed the important questions that were starting to arise in me. Herbert Marcuse captured in his “One Dimensional Man” the framework of the paranoia that was building in me. I would like to try to follow in his footsteps and begin a series of essays which may begin a more thorough critique of the modern era of technological advancement in our society with the soul goal being to try to contribute to a lacking philosophical deconstruction of how technology has come to alter our lives, changing us each fundamentally as human beings.
I think I need this me now. As much as I ever have. The sacred oneness of creation and self-reflection. I hope to make words work again in my favor. So: be there now please, magic.
I’m doing my best to get right with the way things actually work. I found a job outside of Detroit of all places. There are a few blooming suburbs here where money grows fatly from happy vines, even in the bleakest of winters. I came here with a strange attitude for me. The lesson that I came here with is that if I could just get my hands on a few thousand dollars I could finally buy for myself that crucial place where I can afford to be myself and to make art without having to answer to anybody. To do so I have to rely on the skills that I have.
One of the skills that I have is that I am a rabid ninja busboy. Give me the most cramped and small floor and I will dance around it with my arms full of plates or coffee and water. I work well in chaotic environments. I have a strong sense of order which applies itself well on these floors. I think that part of me really flourished during my deployment when my brain was most taxed with how to make it all work… and the sense that people depended on me coordinating these things efficiently. The urgency and the calm that must be maintained. This dance quiets my mind. It also makes a lot of money. Well, a lot of money for a guy who has grossed about five thousand dollars over the last five years. And how nimble I was with those five thousand dollars. All the stories those dollars bought me.
Learning to live cheaply is the best thing you can do for yourself.
So I came into this town with a few hundred dollars and by the second day I had a job at the hippest little lunch spot in town where the floor is almost always turning and burning. I should emphasize that we are very little. There are nine tables and eight seats at the bar and they are often all full. There is usually a line at the door during our lunch hours. People wait because the food is awesome. My job is to do the people at the door the justice of cleaning the tables as quickly as I can while maintaining all the shake and rollup duties as well and a million other things that come along. I work from six-eight hours a day five days a week.
It is incredibly demanding work both physically and mentally, but if you can figure out a rhythm between the physical and the mental there is an awful lot of money to be made. So I work my hardest and I like to think that I do a good job. I’m a little short if not sometimes downright unsociable.
I learned how to bus amongst the hispanic community in the hip joints of Chicago where we were paid to be unseen. We weren’t allowed to talk to the customers because some of us couldn’t speak English and we rarely talked to each other because talking was a form of wasting time in the sleak machine that is Wicker Park. We are calm faced and graceful and dressed in all black. The best of us are never seen and you never even said thank you. We didn’t mind.
But here I’m not a Mexican. I’m your status quot hipster with a background in art. And I’m saving every dollar to buy my freedom back so that I can return to my one true love without having to report for someone else s duties. It might take years. I’m ok with that. I have to be. I have all the faith in the world that I can manage it.
I don’t know quite what this freedom is going to look like yet or where it will be. All I know is that it will have me with my machines in my hand and skin to work on. If I can make 50 dollars a day I can live well. I’m proving that to myself every day right now.
I’m sure there is a large market for people who would want a days worth of tattooing done for 50 dollars. I’m worth that.
I can make good lines and I can shade and I can change you forever and better yet I can guarantee you’re not going to regret it. I’m an artist. I take that very seriously. I have it tattooed on my neck. A paper bird and three paper flowers above “Lifer” so that I never forget who I am and why I came here to this place of creation to begin with.
I paid good money to have it finished. It looks beautiful now… like I knew it could be. Obviously I’m not saving every dollar. But the majority of them. Getting tattoos is part of my business now, too. It could potentially land me an apprenticeship at the local shop. Passing through their doors would guarantee a quality of work that could get me in in any city. Who knows. Maybe this could be a reality by the time I’m 30. Probably later.
But not having art in my life this last month as I’ve been adapting to the new job has been kind of depressing. I find that when we are just workers in some machine our lives are so simple they hardly merit any advanced thought. You are, after all, just performing a set of duties that you agreed to for some amount of pay. Some days I worry that I will inevitably be eaten by the machine, to become just some pacing drone like I’ve been running from for so long. To happily go back to that for a more comfortable, sedentary life. And I am happy now aside from being brutally ill for the whole last week. Every day there is the question:
What happens next?
It’s become pretty obvious that my magical fantasy had begun to wither and that my life was in need of some drastic changes. It became time for me to return home. Maybe to tell this story I’m always failing to tell. Probably to get a job, though.
I did. Two days after moving to a suburb of Detroit. Not quite home, per se. My home is deeper in the brambles of this offensively bleak state and like many people from Michigan, the word home is a pastiche of various trailers and the lots that they occupied. One plot will always stand out in my mind. I digress.
The first good job I ever hard, back before the war, was Tim’s Pizza in Olivet. I learned that small businesses were rewarding work places for a number of reasons, but most importantly because I could see how my work effected the community around me. It feels good to give somebody a pizza. And extra good to receive a cash reward for doing so.
What I’m trying to say is that I did enjoy working once. Really.
But like I said, that was before the war and Combat Paper. I wanted so much more then. Greatness. A way out.
I could give a damn about greatness now. All I want is a warm bed and some money for hording.
So like I said I got a job. I now work at a hip diner bussing tables. The owners of the restaurant work almost every day. The food is amazing. The staff is incredible. I am blessed to work with a handful of motherly waitresses who are all hardened professionals, seared in to the trade by years of turning and burning. They are molding a perfect bussing machine of me and I have given myself willingly.
I like to bus tables. I approach them as a ninja would. Graceful and swift, professionally. I linger in the small beauties. The lights flowing through the flowing water. The perfect pastiche of colors. The myriad stories happening around me every day. Always vanishing, leaving behind clean tables and full coffees. Maintaining a constantly changing list of priorities, always impossible but never letting on to a feeling of defeat. It is just me and nobody will help me. The day whirls by and I watch all the money change hands and while I’m there I almost forget what it is that I came for and then the day is done and the ninja gets tipped out.
It makes me ashamed to think that now I am ecstatic to be in life where I was four years ago, bussing tables. But there are all the things that happened in those four years.
Nobody knows that side of the story here. I like that. Here I can be whoever I want to be and for once I’m not interested in making a name for myself. I feel like I have a chance now to live a humble life dedicated to art the way that I really want to and with the means to afford that and a schedule to build a routine around.
There is a big part of me that worries and waits for the dropping shoe. What if I fuck this job up, too? I’ve had other jobs but I either quit or was fired in a pretty short period of time. Granted I saw working as an impediment to the life I would rather be living and now I don’t prefer that lifestyle. This has greatly changed my work ethic.
So maybe this is the end of the travellers blog. Lets all hope so.