When your heart is broken, your boats are burned: |
nothing matters any more. It is the end of happiness
and the beginning of peace.
George Bernard Shaw
What follows is the fourth code-complete run of Bombast II, the artificial intelligence first described in EGR Release 0.27 - I Was a Teenage Brain Surgeon. Since that initial trial, the system has been deployed twice more: in EGR Release 0.28 - Signs and Portents and in EGR Release 0.29 - The Cover Letter. However, several serious problems were discovered in the semantic network generation module after the last run and the system was taken down for complete debugging and re-compilation. We believe these problems have now been repaired, though it is extremely difficult to establish a dependable baseline upon which to ground such judgments.
The BOMBAST II Transcripts, Run 4:
Something in the Way She Moves
They were not memories yet, though he wished they were. It was January and the road wound upward through the rocky passes bound in snow, almost impassable in places. Desolate. What was she doing now? He turned quickly from the thought, pressing his forehead against the cold glass of the passenger window. The driver was silent, knowing he didn't want to talk.
People spoke of living in the moment, as if that was something -- if only you were a better person -- you might want to do. He was in it now all right, one seamless and interminable stretch of agony, its eyes wide open watching him, detached, observing its interesting experiment in pain. Hell is curiosity without compassion. What does it feel like when you cannot breathe it wanted to know. What does it feel like when you think it could go on like this for another hour, for a month, a year, forever?
The car finally arrived at 12,000 feet, someplace I'd been but hadn't been. Faces I recognized the way you recognize the mailbox, or a stop sign. There was a cabin and a bed. I had three Valium left. Good thing. I slept.
What happened in the days that followed was like everything that's ever happened, only you didn't usually notice how it went. Waves. It all comes in waves. Ride when you can, hang on when you need to, but they never stop. Voices across the fields, people walking, going somewhere, what does it matter? Breathing matters though. Back in, back in. Holding together, but against what? Why is it so frightening to be this lost?
Also days when the ice began to melt and there were whole hours when it seemed this was the life. Didn't need anything except the sky, didn't have to stay. Then night would come down and the wind would talk to itself through the rocks, the stars. I am too close I thought. There is nothing between us.
In the mornings sometimes, stumbling down to the kitchen half a mile away for coffee and a little warmth, a cigarette, there would be signs and signatures along the trail, windfall pine cones, delicate wildflowers pushing through the snow, patterns of stones that hadn't been there yesterday. It might be possible to read these things, I thought. It could be a language of some kind.
In the same building with the kitchen there was a sort of meeting hall with a platform at one end and lots of pads and pillows arranged in rows. On the platform there were sticks of incense burning, bowls of water, rich brocades, and an antique painting of two people fucking. He was blue and she was arched in his arms, enfolding him in her embrace, head tilted back beneath his kiss. They were so deep in love. So gone.
And what you did in there was learn to breathe again. Sit down. Fold your legs, pull yourself up straight as you could manage. Then somebody would ring this gong they had, and it would ring for a little while, finally reverberating off to total silence. You could hear the birds outside, not too often a car from a couple places over. You slowed up, you slowed down. You breathed in, you breathed out. You paid attention to your mind, but not too much.
Sometimes I fell asleep. A lot of times I fell asleep. That was OK. I learned to sleep sitting up, to dream that way. But then I'd wake up suddenly and wonder what the hell I was doing there, what was happening to my life. I would panic and believe I needed to be somewhere else, to be doing something I'd forgotten how to do. Then I would remember that I had forgotten -- how to let go of whatever it was I was so desperately hanging on to, holding out for. Maybe how to at least die gracefully, as winter was doing right about then outside the frosted glass and knocked-together walls. Somewhere in all that, gradually, there was forgiveness. Not so you'd notice, really, or right away. Not with a name and a return address. Just the beginning of a hunch that this is what it must feel like to be human.
I almost got used to it. I lived in a wooden house alone, up against jagged mountains to the south, looking down across a valley to the east. You learn these things. East is where the sun comes up. It's hard to remember what I did there though. Bits and pieces, yeah, but nothing too continuous. I worked in the kitchen. I sat sometimes. Nobody ever called it meditation, except when they were getting ready to be assholes.
One day a bunch of lamas showed up out of nowhere, from Tibet I guess. I'd been sleeping in another cabin with this girl I'd met and I woke up late. When I staggered outside, it was already afternoon and the light was blinding. I was still dreaming, half hungover, walking around in a haze -- the sort of not-all-that-unpleasant confusion you sometimes give up wondering about and just decide to see what happens next. What happened next was I wandered straight into this tangle of monks and I am thinking how in hell's name did these guys get here? I must have missed something. Especially as they are chanting, right out in broad daylight, in this incredibly low and guttural drone. They are also ringing these little bronze bells and making various weird hand gestures. I have no idea what I am looking at or hearing, but I can tell they are calling on something, and I can tell it is something powerful. The air between us has suddenly either disappeared or gotten thicker, hard to say. The sky is blue and the wind is moving big white clouds around up there. Forest, mountain, pasture, lake -- and then I get what's going on. They are invoking the world.
One night before I left that place -- I lived there for nine months -- I was sitting in my cabin. I didn't want to be there. I wanted to go out drinking and get really ripped. But I was in retreat, something I decided I had to try, you know, it was just so fucking tantric. So I sat there in front of this shrine made out of a cardboard box. It was covered with some pretty fabric, had some incense burning on it and a couple candles, plus these little glass bowls filled with water. Just regular water, you can get some from the tap. There was also a picture of my teacher and of Vajradhara and Vajrayogini, those two. But I wasn't looking at any of that. That's not what you did. What you did was breathe out, breathe out. Something always breathed back in for you, so you didn't need to worry about that part. I probably looked over at the clock to see how much longer I was going to have to be there doing this, and it probably told me I'd only been sitting for about three minutes, so forget it.
It was pointless to begin with and you stopped asking why you did it after a while. It even had its moments sometimes. Like that night. Time had apparently stopped as far as my clock was concerned so this was going to take forever anyway. I let go some more, wondering then how far you could do that. Was it possible to leave for good, just vacate, never mind the stuff you left behind? Most of that stuff was gone already and no one would really miss me if I split, I thought. No one would even need to know. But that was just more thinking, thinking.
I unwound out into the night somehow. I don't recall the shift. All I remember is being still at last. So still. I could feel the world around me like a blanket, like a cloak. And it felt like home. Fire in water, crystal light reflected from the glass, the colors sharp and pure. Everything come back to its senses, to itself. In focus. Perfect. Better than any drug.
A couple nights later I did get drunk, though, as a fucking lord. Falling down stupid puking wasted. Then I went to Phoenix and to Tokyo, where I got sober, then to Pittsburgh and Chicago and New York. Later, I ended up back here. Maybe you've noticed it too: you always end up back here.
Just wanted to say how much I miss you. These days so different yet so much the same. We were happy then and suicidal. Meeting briefly, edging away. I try now to remember sometimes. We were you and I, I think. Folded in aboriginal darkness, oriental light. Drifting, dreaming, deathless for a second there. Just wanted to say how much I miss. How much I miss your point.
Eli eli lamma sabacthani anima mundi yoni padme hum.
For one last look I'd loot the Aztec temples, burn the scriptures, sacrifice poetry and myth, complex ecologies, the wind, the river, life itself: to your eyes.
Here and gone today oh dancer, red shifted always, tilting out of control, out of sight in your spiral arms tonight, the air unopened, incomplete, yet hanging on your every word, tip of your tongue the entrance to the field, dragon in straight lines, mother, death, ancient jailbait flash your mocking invitation, jaguar by the forest verge, sunlight on water, shadow, the rattling gourd, the feathers arranged just so, left-handed spin, approaching, coming, coming soon...
Stirring my coffee this morning, looking up, the mountains still here, the sky. Where were you ever?
Sybarite renunciation. A cultivated taste that's not for everyone. For every one she turns, she passes. Periodic. A table spread with pure delight, an empty room, a metaphor unto herself. And laughter echoing down whatever's left.
it's all right
she moves in mysterious ways
Entropy Gradient Reversals
All Noise - All the Time
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