Our Disease 9

Mr. Anonymous

Like every noted social-commentator, Harry would receive hundreds of e-mails everyday from loyal listeners, some praising him for preaching reality in such a distorted world, others demonising, even threatening him for poisoning the minds of others.
In the beginning, Harry would spend days replying to them but in the past few years, Harry would only peruse them and in the occasion he would find a thoughtful e-mail, he would reply in the best way he could.
In some cases, it was Harry’s fans that bothered him the most. Many of them misconstruing his words. His criticisms about Islam would be perceived as endorsements for the current president, who had the tendency to placidly endorse white-supremacists, or at the very least, would not go all the way to condemning them. His critique on the government has often been seen as endorsing anarchy or a Randian style government, much like it is now, where the elites are playing the free-market to become unimaginably powerful. Harry’s mission was to bring some much needed nuance in society, to show the people that both sides, all sides, had their miscreants and misguided viewpoints. Instead, being harsh on side, on an issue that seemed so obvious, would be perceived as being for the other side and the side that’s being critiqued would see him as a traitor. It never seemed to the end. You had to choose a side or else you didn’t belong anywhere.
Harry perused his e-mails (he had two e-mails, one private and one public, but somehow, most of his e-mails managed to get into his private e-mail). These were some of the things he read (more than often times they included monstrous spelling errors):
You are the last patriot of America
Lying snowflake piece of shit!
You bring much needed sanity into an absurd America…
I know you are working for the deep state….
It’s hard to be a sane American and you give me much needed solace…
I totally agree with you that we need to get rid of Muslim scum!
I’ve heard you are single…
The president is just trying to save our souls, I’m glad you see this…
Harry was perusing them while gulping from a flash containing some potent liqueur, he wasn’t sure what, but it came from Stone, so it was probably something exotic and something that would, hopefully, get him drunk very fast.
Eventually he came across a cryptic e-mail from an Mr. Anonymous. There was no subject title. It just had this sentence:
YOU’VE SLEPT LONG ENOUGH.
Harry didn’t know what to make of it and frankly he didn’t care. He replied to the e-mail:
whatever.

He got up from his chair, turned around in his living-room, where Stone lying back in Harry’s smoking a joint, was having a lengthy conversation with Dale who was sitting on a chair across from it.
”…I don’t need people to hear my music man,” said Dale, ”I just want to play it. When people listen to it, they will want a piece of it. It will change and I like it the way it is. Art is always focused on what other people think of it. But what about the artist himself man? Why doesn’t the artist matter most?”
”Because art like anything else in this world, is nothing more than a commercial commodity,” said Stone handing Dale the joint, ”it is distinguished by the fact that it doesn’t serve any practical purpose, nobody really needs music or letters or images. But we create them because they give meaning to our lives, or better yet, it makes us feel special. That’s all that art is. Art is a business that gives people mental hand-jobs.”
”Yeah I don’t believe that man. The music saved my life. If I didn’t create music I don’t think I would be able to stand myself.”
”You just proved my point there Dale. You create music because it makes you feel better. Cos it makes you feel more special. You know what also could make you feel more special? Having lots and lots of money.”
”Don’t listen to him Dale,” said Harry, sitting next to Stone on the couch, ”this man is the devil himself.”
”I’m not the devil, I’m just a symbol of human nature,” grinned Stone, ”So why don’t you let other people hear your music? Why don’t you me hear your music? I know some people Dale. I know the right people. If they see potential in your music, they can make you very rich. You won’t be as rich as the musicians were in the good old days, the Internet stole that away, but there are ways to tap into the market correctly.”
”You never ever heard my music, what makes you think you will like it?”
”It’s the feeling I have with you. I think you are special. I think you are the real deal. So many people think they can make music or art, but most of them don’t. You’ve given a great deal to the music, I can see that. That’s why your music will be something special. I can feel it.”
Dale smiled, thought for a while and handed him the joint, ”thanks for your confidence in me. But I prefer to keep my music to myself.”
Stone nodded and took a big drag and handed it to Harry, ”I can respect that. You don’t want to sell-out, even though I don’t really believe there’s such a thing. Maybe it’s better that way. You don’t wanna know how many losers become famous and then regret it afterwards. Perhaps the integrity of the music is best served for your ears only.”
Harry took a big drag, laid back on his couch and closed his eyes. There was a vision of Sheryl, his ex-wife. Her face against naked chest, her mouth agape in an orgasm. There was a smile on Harry’s face. Then came the vision of her hiding in the corner as he was destroying the living room, punching holes in the wall, demanding her to love him.
”You going to pass that joint frendo?” The voice of Stone bursts through his vision. Harry opened his eyes. ”I’m sorry,” and passed the joint to Stone.

That night, the three of them were each lying on a separate garden chair, looking into the starry night. Dale had already fallen asleep, with headphones attached to his hear in which his own music crescendoed him into a peaceful slumber. Harry was on the verge of falling asleep when Stone suddenly asked about his mother:
”You ever miss your mother Harry?”
The memory of his mother, caressing his forehead.
”I don’t want to talk about my mother.”
Stone ignored him, ”She was a stone-cold bad-ass. All my peers feared facing her. She was an idealist like you, but she was tough. She would not back down for nobody. She was a force of fucking nature. If more like her were around…”
The memory of a young twenty-eight year visiting his mother’s place, calling out his mother’s name. Hearing sounds upstairs….
”…the world would be a better place. People like me wouldn’t win so much…”
Harry entering his mother’s living-room, seeing his mother siting naked on her bed, shivering. Her skin red as if it was scraping it clean. She looked at Harry, her eyes moist with tears. ”I’m sorry, it’s happening again…” she said.
The memory made Harry get up from his chair, turning around, heading back into his house. ”We have to face our memories Harry!” Called Stone after him, ”We can’t reject them when they visit us! We have to be honest about their nature or they will always come back!”
The memories of Harry’s mother came flooding into his mind:
I’m sorry mom, I don’t know how I can help you. I’m sorry, I just don’t know how I can help you…

Before Harry went to bed, he checked his e-mail again. From Mr. Anonymous: I’M SORRY, IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN.

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania painting lost highway lynch
Artwork by Massimo Carnivale

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Our Disease 8

Goodnight 

”It won’t be long before they find a way inside our heads,” started Harry in a special podcast broadcast after a massive school-shooting took place in Pennsylvania the previous day, ”and you might be thinking that they have already infested our heads, that our reality has already been shaped by them. But I’m talking about the next step. I’m talking about invasive commercials in our dreams. I’m talking about forbidden thoughts being suppressed by hostile memes. I’m talking about a world where there is no safe place to go. Where every thought is monitored. Where you would walk the streets and if you happen to think something outside the agenda of our current administration, the mind-scanner on the streets would raise alarm, a voice would call out your name: ‘seize such creative thoughts right now! Continue the appropriate means of thought or you will be arrested and reprogrammed…”
In the sound-stage Stone was on the phone to someone important, making notes. Dale, his sound-assistant, was smoking a joint, listening intently.
”…Every new election, the newest president would endorse more creative thoughts. One would ban these thoughts, the other would ban other thoughts. The newest Ap would warn us whenever we are getting close to forbidden thought. We would teach our children to conform to the appropriate perception of reality. Our TV-shows would change. None of that edgy stuff anymore. Nothing that would endorse forbidden thought. Maybe the world will be less violent this way…”
The regular despondency of Harry was getting to him, the violent protest a few days ago, the school-shooting yesterday and there was this creeping feeling that something bad was going to happen. ”The solution to the constant epidemic of violence is the loss of our freedom. The suppression of our humanity, is the only way to keep our world safe. It’s not the world I would want to live in, but you have to wonder if all this freedom is doing us any good.”
Harry pulled a deep drag, moved in to the final thought, ”all we want is to be safe. Most of us aren’t revolutionaries or artists anyway. We just want to be left alone and do our own thing. Make some money. Go on vacations. Feed our children. They can do what they want. Just leave us alone. Whatever grand scheme the intellectuals will think of next, we will end like we always do. On a loop, creating hell out of another paradise. The human animal will reject a rational world. We are seduced by the madness because it gives us more comfortable answers. After everything we know, so many people still believe in ghosts or Gods, after all this time, the most failed political policies are still being fought over as if they are going to save us. I’m frankly tired. So fucking tired. Fifteen kids dead. It was just some guy nobody paid attention to. He wasn’t a some lonely geek, some inconspicuous sociopath. And I know what you are thinking. The madness was already there, stewing and getting stronger. And you’re probably right. But even so. We have all the means to communicate with one and other, to express ourselves. Why didn’t he find a way to express it before it went to such a dark place.”
A deep drag, ”maybe that’s a pointless question. The question we all asked after such a news. But all I hear from the people who knew him is: ‘nobody saw it coming.’ Besides his final cryptic message on Youtube the night before…”
The Bug is in my brain….
”it’s like mental illness sprung on his mind just like that, a thirty-three year old healthy, sane man, suddenly without verging on a psychopathic breakdown… ”
The bug is telling me things. I’m not supposed to listen to it.
”…talking about the bug in his head, how it keeps coming back to the places where he’s supposed to be safe…”
It seems to go on forever.

”…and that’s what will happen to us all. Our safest place, our mind, will be hijacked. More men like him will lose their minds…”
You think there’s an escape but there is none.

”…and it will be a bloodbath. It will be one pointless bloodbath after another. They will talk of alienation, the loss of community. But we have all the means to be closer to each other than we were ever before. We are closer to an era where we can enter each other’s mind. But in the end, despite being able to come so close, we just can’t do it…
Reality is the prison.
”We prefer to dream…”
A pause. Harry took a deep drag and wished them goodnight.

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania painting loneliness
Art by Edward Hopper

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Our Disease 2

     Podcast 333

”I’m scared just like the rest of you,” said Harry, gulping from his highly caffeinated energy can, ”that one day nothing will make sense anymore…”
He was sitting comfortably in his soundstage. It was his most favorite place of the world. In here he would release everything. His daily agonizing dose of melancholy would simper away a bit. He would often nap after he was done.
If he would talk enough in this place things made more sense. A sense of purpose would return. In the world of information warfare, with billions of voices trying to reach a large audience, this soundstage filtered them all, leaving on his voice. The sane voice. To him, talking to the microphone was like talking to God.
Today’s topic was the mystery about the hacking organization known as Oblivion…
”We all fear being their target. Nobody knows whether they are good or bad. Like Wikileaks, its members are all over the world. Some have ideological reasons. Some are being paid. Some just like to raise some shit. We don’t know if the majority of their members are being paid by the government to propagate some perception, to dim the rising tide of leaks from the presidents office. It could very well be that the latter is the case. Over the years they’ve finally taking heed to Russia. Former president Vladimir Putin knew the kind of world we were heading towards. A true visionary, even if his vision was monstrous…” Harry crushed his empty energy can and threw it succesfully into a trashbin in the corner of the room.
”I guess for all my critiques about the president, it’s fair to say that he’s aware of this too. That doesn’t mean I like it though…”
Harry lights up a cigarette, takes a calm puff. In front of him, behind the soundproof glass, sits his sound-assistant Dale. Dale, with his long greasy hair and glazed eyes, had been puffing from vape-pen. He gives Harry the thumbs up. Harry nods back.
”…But it could also be ideological, perhaps even religious reasons of why Oblivion are doing what they are doing. It might be one of the many data-cults we’ve been getting over the years. Perhaps they want to really help people. There have been examples, such as the case of Jerry Greenwald, a drunk who was hounded by a Oblivion hacker who found himself in the end being reunited with his long lost daughter. There’s also the case of a rape victim, Jay from Pennsylvania, being led into the scenario of a Oblivion hacker and it ended with him avenging and eventually forgiving his abuser. There’s even a case of a abusive father targeted by an Oblivion hacker, just to oust him and save his daughter from his grip. One case involves an Oblivion hacker playing cupid. Two lonely people even thank Oblivion for meeting each other. There’s naturally been countless cases of secret files of government and corporate corruption and many of them involve our current president. Sadly, none of them seem to reach mainstream audiences…”
”But there have been plenty of examples of malice too. Such as the dentist from Alaska, an avid hunter of wild-life, who was found in the woods after having shot himself with his rifle. The police found examples of Oblivion bullying all over his apartment. His computer had been assaulted with a virus that would continually show him images of an animated dead deer screaming at him,” Harry paused to inhale his cigarette, ”and nobody will forget congressman Pence doing a chickendance in front of reporters after a Oblivion hacker threatened to release his humiliating choice of pornography into the public- which was released anyway. He would kill himself too…”
”There’s been support groups for men and women who have been the target of Oblivion. People would find themselves ostracized from their community. Social media conversations, filled with scathing details would be given to friends and family. Footage of people jacking off would be filmed on webcams and they would be pressured to pay to make sure it wouldn’t leak out- this is why I always tape my webcam. But it goes further than just the computer. Some of these people would find messages, in their house, in their car. The FBI has reported that they are not sure whether this is a definitive sign of a cult or whether these people have also been targeted by the Gonzo organization. We can’t be sure. Some people would say that the world they knew was gone after being targeted. They would find messages that would destroy everything they’ve believed in. Scientologists would find sources of information about who the real L. Ron Hubbard was. Mormons about Joseph Smith. Aspiring writers would find their work rewritten, its message being: ‘you don’t have it. Quit while you still can.’ Historians would find alternative history sources. One Muslims would constantly run into pictures of beheaded infidels. Sometimes the members of Oblivion want to expose the truth, other times they just want to destroy what’s left of it.
”Some find themselves hallucinating. Psychotropic substances would be found in their coke bottles. Some violent cases have been attributed to people being targeted by Oblivion. In some instances, some people think they are using this organization to orchestrate political assassinations….”
Harry presses his cigarette into his already crowded ashtray.
”So what does Oblivion want? The original founder, or what is apparantly the original founder cos even this is mired by contradictory stories, Max O’Blivion is missing. A son of a wealthy technocrat, he apparantly emobodied a living troll. Nobody knows where he is or why he disappeared. He just vanished. Some say he’s in hiding. Other say he’s long been murdered by a disgruntled target of Oblivion.
So if it was up to Max, Oblivion would be just be continously fucking with people. It all depends whose doing the targeting. They can be angels or demons. It’s a scary we live in people. The generation before the dawn of the Internet is dying off, but some can still remember how it was. All that privacy, all that freedom, gone forever…”
Harry lights up another cigarette and continues: ”we might have been supervised by an Oblivion hacker or two, to see if we are desirable candidates. I’m even taking a risk talking about them. I could surely give them a motivation to hack into my life and alter it in exciting or disturbing ways. But I don’t like to live in a world where we live in fear. America, for all the freedom its lost over the decades, still has this freedom. I refuse to give in people. I refuse to give up the truth…”
A deep puff, a sigh and then: ”everyone could be a target. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor. You’re just a project to them. And the only thing you can hope for is that they want what’s best for you.
Cos if they don’t, it’s a long way down the rabbit hole. It’s the darkest place you will ever be. And there is no escape. There is no escape…”

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania ralph steadman 1984
Art by Ralph Steadman

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Our Disease 1

Plot: in a dystopian world which nothing is true and everything is permitted, a lonely Podcaster doesn’t know whether there’s a conspiracy against him- or if he’s just losing his mind, along with the rest of the world. 

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History is a symptom of our disease.
-Mao Tse-Zedong

The Answer to Everything

One day you don’t want anymore help. One day you’re done. You’ve done everything you are supposed to do in a moment of crisis. If you’re sick you go to a doctor. The doctor sends you a psychiatrist and the psychiatrist prescribes you medication. When this doesn’t work, he prescribes you another medication and another. Some of them make you sleepy, others make you fatter or thinner. When medication doesn’t help, you commit yourself to a place full of crazy people like you. You begin to love them but you know you can’t stay. Psychotherapy always boils down to two essential questions: do you get enough sleep? Are you exercising? The end result is always the same: you have to deal with yourself and move on with your life.
This did not satisfy Harry. It did not satisfy him at all. He had always imagined coming across a mystical answer to the suffering of being. In his 37 years of life, he had dabbled in various forms of religious worship and spiritual realignments. Things seemed to change for the better, but quickly turned back to normal. He never managed to reach the ultimate transformation, though he seemed to get close, so close.
”There’s a truth out there guys,” he would tell his loyal listeners of Truthbombs, his mildly infamous if not always for the right reasons, podcast, ”but in order to find it we must look deep within us. Be open to all the scary facts about ourselves, the dark side of our soul. We must never run from ourselves, we must confront ourselves, be beaten near to death by ourselves. If gazing into the abyss means certain death, then leap onto death instead of running forever. It’s better to die in peace than to live in war. One day we will look deep enough within ourselves and the war will be over. I’m working on it, sometimes there seems to be no end. But there’s an end, my brothers and sisters. There is an end.”
Being a purveyor of contrarian political views (with its healthy dose of paranoid conspiracy theories) was not easy, especially in the world he lived in, where the market is flooded with loners entailing their darkly vision of the world. For most of them, it was a mere act and in truth, that’s how he had started his career: he knew about his knack of political philosophizing and spinning the truth to his advantage and with his reasonable knowledge of history (some it pertaining from a failed attempt at getting a political science degree in UCLLA) met that this was a market, he could potential succeed in.
It was all an act. Just another Howard Beale in the air. Mad as hell, can’t take it anymore. But in time, it became something different. Something more important, personal, life-supporting, considering all that happened. He had a lost of a lot of things in the past few years, a great part of this was his will to live. This podcast and his small but dedicated following of listeners was all he had.
Besides, more and more, the world seems to crumble and the voices that used to be sane, are starting to sound a lot like the current president. It seems like he was convincing everybody, despite his obvious odiousness. Sometimes it felt like he was the last man standing. In his own way, he was just doing this to save himself.
He was doing this to save the world.Podobny obraz
(Art by David Lynch: Google Keresés)
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