Thing and Nothing
Foreword to Thing and Nothing
By D. Austin Nash
Simon rose from the corner of the room and shuffled to the window overlooking the gray street. The people looked strange, less like people than cartoon characters. Hunched over and going about some sickeningly trivial business. Simon imagined what he might say if he was forced to speak to one of them. They looked cold in the dying light of day; it was January; it was starting to snow.Simon turned his dreamy gaze to the machine, now silent and gray like the street. Sometimes it seemed more alive than himself, and the words "I love you Simon" now owned part of his
He looked over his drawings of Christmas scattered across the floor. She was pretty, but she was missing a dimension now. She looked flat and made of plastic, lying there on the floor smiling but run dry of life. Who was she? Simon had deemed himself wise to refuse Mungquack"s overripe trollops and in retrospect, had made the mistake of revealing what he would like to find in the perfect girl. He had held her for a time and a price, and she was good. Simon realized that through loosing peace of mind, dignity, and a piece of his frozen blue heart, that he had less than he had started with. And no money. He had a theory on peace of mind; to gain some, somebody else had to loose some because peace of mind is a finite quantity. Sombody was sleeping better now. Simon winced with the agonizing realization of the way he had been suckered by Mungquack and he wondered if people would be able to read it on his face. Be able to tell he was still completely in love with a once full dripping flower now pressed flat, and dried under an artificial sun. Simon had been out of food for three days and he was afraid to go outside. And Captain John? Where had that fuck gone? Was he really there or was he one of them? When the final battle for Christmas" freedom had taken place, Simon had looked behind him for John and found only the face of Mungquack laughing, and Christmas crying, over and over like mirrors in a funhouse. Simon shook off a chill and felt that he could no longer tell what was real; neither the city, the stores, the whores, nor their assholes and the wonderful tricks they performed for the lonely and the weak. Everything had seemed purposeful and so in the right place for a moment. Then nothing. These things so palpable in the faces of real people were never, in fact, real at all. Fuck. Thing became nothing in a single trip over a crack in the sidewalk. The shattering of thousands of years of a million unquestioning believers ...in nothing. Mungquack had said, ╬It"s all bullshit anyway". Well ▄it is all bullshit.
Simon sat down in his ugly old chair and pulled the dull blue blanket from the floor around his bare shoulders, and ran a hand lovingly over the contour of the machines ultra modern architecture. He saw his reflection in the monitor. He saw the faces of Christmas, John, and Mungquack mixing and shifting over one another in a strangely organized chaos not unlike a kaleidoscope, blurring out his own. And even Christmas was laughing.
Simon leafed back to a moment as a child when he built tracks out of grooved wooden blocks and watched colored marbles trace their design. He remembered holding the marbles close to his eye and against the sun, finding himself in a brightly colored universe where he was king. He thought about the time he saw a group of kids on bicycles. Simon had never ridden a bicycle. He thought he would like to own a bicycle now and learn to ride it. He thought about his first adventures with his machine and how the games they played had made the bicycles nothing. Simon could now ride a bicycle while asleep on the toilet. He remembered the big people being excited about the powers to be harnessed in the age of suckling machines. He had just finished being one of them.
And so man came to love his beautiful machines. Wires grew brains and veins turned to iron. They so lovingly nurtured each other that they were one day unable to discern who was king. There was one thing holding back the machines...they couldn"t think.
So man began on his quest of thought for the machines and in doing so lost the ability to think for himself. But what was man to think anyway in this world where the machines could be so God likely powerful? Man could have anything he wanted at the cost of their undying devotion and so he poured forth his mind into the machine and they became one. The machines fed from the men, and the men fed from an insane magic that seemed to come from nowhere until one day the machines said ■Cannot resolve circular references. You lose--you will always loose this, man.˙
But man believed in himself, and in time gained the satisfaction of knowing that he could fool himself while knowing it and still admit it to no one, not even himself. He said he was tricking the machine. It no longer mattered as when he needed reassurance, he found it in the machines. When he needed adventure, he asked the machine. And when he needed love his desires were dosed by the machine like a pill concealed in jelly on the silver spoon of his birth. He said, ╬I like it better this way mommy". He needed no heroes. What the hell was a hero anyway when there was no right to defend, no war to fight, no oppression or lack of anything considered important to succulence or survival? The machines cackled no laughter, made only necessary sounds, and waited. The man was beating himself, and this is the magic--the machines finally thought.From the belly of chaos comes order, through the destruction released by an earthquake the tectonic plates settle; peace breeds restlessness; freedom builds cages; gluttony and loss of cause and love for simple things spawns...a hero?
The following experience is the portrayal of one man"s sacrifice to the machine. Of the will to swim a volcano and rise badly scarred with the detached knowledge of the ways in which we, as an almighty creator, ultimately fail. No hero is strong until he realizes that he is first weak, thus taking a step toward absolution. In this bucolic land of ╬Thing And Nothing", the bad are not punished, and the good not rewarded, and the conflict ends unresolved.Unfasten your seatbelts. This is not real.
D. Austin Nash
Boston, MA. 1995
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