quasi-random excerpt from the rough-draft unfinished prose-poem/novel Wargasm

Copyright Ben Goertzel 1996

    Discovering nothingness.

    Out of the chaos of the world, the fluctuating bodies of man and woman, ill-defined chasm of the mind, we have to create characters, plots, scenarios, dreams and visions.

    We have to because it has already been done. It is our mode of being.

    Incredible beauty of the self-supporting system. The world sustains itself; each part lifting the others in a kind of perpetual motion of forms. I am that I am; the world is because it is; everything is a pulsing.

    There's nothing more to say. There's nothing left to say at all. There never was anything to say in the first place.

    But still we make stories. Demented stories, ordinary stories, stories of soaring to the heavens or descending to the pits of hell. Stories of nothing; sparks and patterns labeled people.

    Discovering beautiful abandon. The taste of a clean, aroused vagina. The movement of air across two bodies in the night. The movement of minds through each other's spaces; the generation of collective mindspace; the bold battling of nothing with weapons of nothing; the impossible quest to understand.

    I can write it all. I can't write nothing. I can only write anything. There's nothing to write about at all.

    My name is Chandra, Dahlia, John, Marcia, Alex, Alexandra, Julie Delpy, Michelle, Frigyes, Gyula, Zero, Zarathustra, Ben. It doesn't matter. Names and bodies are just delusions. Everything is nothing; there are only sparks surrounded by patterns. Patterns of sparks.

    Everything is duplex, multiplex, sexplex.

    Everything is beautiful delirious plexisy.

    Beauty is just an illusion.

    You know that I love you.

    The two poles of existence, man and woman, are created to make an illusion of solid being against the nothingness.

    You know that I love you.

    Let's try to feel. It's not possible not to feel. The feeling is spark.

    Inspiration is a dead codfish. Really nothing is new or old. Everything is absolutely original and absolutely derivative. Movement is everything but all things are still.

    Stupid paradoxes. Sophomoric games. Sub-imbecilic internal dialogues.

    But there really is nothing else.

    Discovering chaos, beautiful chaos, beautiful intricately structured chaos, in the warm friction of a lusty cunt. In the symphony of words flowing out from the nothing in the form of these lips. In the furious geometries of ideas, equations and nations.

    This is Psychotopia. Sexplex.

    We are pregnant with topology. Our boundaries burst with death and shape. We are soft love incarnate.

    This is Psychotopia.

    And I understand it. I understand everything. There's no way to get across your feelings. No way to speak the spark of mind. It's all a mission inconceivable.

    But that's no reason not to try.

    Angel-devils are singing. The wire is humming. Everything is yours to understand.


    The telephone rings. I pick it up; a fish leaps out of the receiver, with wires hanging out of its eyes.

    Julie Delpy? Hello? Is that you? Are you moaning an orgasm on the telephone for me, like in that movie, Three Colors: White? Or is that just the ticking of the hands of the clock? Something is exploding in my brain, I think. I haven't understood this well in ages.

    Julie Delpy. The most beautiful actress in the world. And not untalented either. But that doesn't matter. Somehow her face has been selected to crystallize the demented spires of my vision.

    Why not, say, Greta Garbo? Or someone modern, Leyla Patten? It isn't only external beauty, it's inner honesty. One face hasinner truth, the others look even more made up when the makeup is taken off.

    So maybe it wasn't Julie Delpy who was sending me telepathic messages. Or maybe it was and she didn't recognize it; who knows what happens in the subconscious mind. No, rationally, I know this actress had nothing to do with it. But the point is that what I see in her face, in its subtle gestures and expressions, represents the deeper inner world, the world which these dreamed telepathic messages represent. Dreams, daydreams, nightdreams, what's the difference?

    And I'm Alexandra. I am a man. My true self is suddenly revealed. I lived in a woman's body, it's true, but my inner self was less female than male. The inner truth is that I am a man. The universe in which I was a female was the result of a cosmic error.

    The wire, the plex, has seen the truth. This is the universe of plexisy, which is not a disease, but a kind of inner wisdom. There is tragedy to come; the mind cannot survive this insight. But this does not matter. I am a man and Chandra is a woman. Everything makes much more sense that way. But we are still moderately sick.

    Chandra is Dahlia. Dahlia is Chandra. Dahlia is Chandra, in his genuine female essence, viewed through me. The whiteness signifies my perspective, inseparable from the event. Chandra really is a woman. This casts a whole new light on my beating him. It changes all the statistics.

    This is the inner truth.

    I can see it in the face of Julie Delpy.

    Her face is the face of an Hungarian grandmother, transmogrified into another dimension.

    Dahlia is inner truth. The fractal multiplication of selves. This is a more honest representation of reality than the bloodbag bodies we drag around with us and so stupidly and fervently identify with our minds. The duplication of Dahlia was a return to the reality of wirespace, to the underlying plexifying dreamworld from which all this structure was originally spawned.

    Do you understand?

    I can see it in the face of Julie Delpy.

    Do you understand?

    It's in her body, Chandra's body, in her luscious little breasts and the curve of her buttocks. Everything is in there, in a code that you have to have lust to understand.

    Grandmother Earth waves around her magic penis-wand.

    And something is slipping. Something has happened. Something is gone.

    You begin with reality: places, jobs, significant events. Plotlines fold and unfold. Everything, solidity. Hard evidence.

    Then reality disappears, you only have subjectivity, perspectives. Everything viewed through one or another distorting lense. Everyone's mind floods through you, amplified and averaged by the wire, a sort of cacaphonic symphony of thoughts, lusts, feelings, dreams.

    But then the subject too is a fiction. And what you areleft with is not even a perspective. Just a shifting, a refraction of one event by another. A local description, where every one thing is a doorway to every other. We're always opening doors, which lead to others, and there is never anything but doors, and even the pattern of arrangement of the doors is just a doorway to some kind of abstract space. It's all the curvature of mindspace; it's all a dirty dream.

    Something is slipping.

    I see it in Julie Delpy's breasts; I admit, I like her body too. She's a very sexy woman.

    She is the personification of dream. I see her and reality decomposes. I don't know why she has the power to accomplish this. She is the sex in sexplex.

    Something is not correct here, obviously. She should have no more power than any other. What is so cosmologically special about this lovely French actress?

    But what does it matter anyway; why is it important? It was this kind of random error that gave rise to the universe.

    And I see everything fading. The names, the skin, the plot, the places. Even the feelings. Even the wire. It doesn't matter. Just a man and a woman, maybe two bodies, maybe within a body, male or female, maybe more than two bodies, a whole damn world; none of it matters. Just a man and woman caught up in a wide, delirious dream.

    Patterns spark out of the void. The feedback between inner sparks and patterns is something I'm trying to understand. These breasts that I see are such beautiful patterns.


    Wait. Here is the scenario.

    There is a person. He is definite.

    His name is Special Agent Zero.

    There is a time. The past.

    The indefinite past, verging on the present.

    There is a story, almost a story; a quantum superpositon of stories.

    There is a something.

    I call this thing Insane Dessert.

    I call it WireFire.

    But its time has not come yet.

    Time does not exist.

    There is only a spherical organization; moving rings of inner and outer reality. Closer to the center, further from the stultifying, habituated structures of the consensus world, the solid, physical real. But in truth each part contains a little center. There are concentric rings emanating from every single object. The outside has secret passages to the middle: quantum wormholes, mysterious tunnels in the deep. There is no exhausting the subtle structures of reality.


    The telephone rings again. The clocks springs forward a hundred years; it turns into an infowire.

    This time Julie Delpy swims on out from it, with the tail of a dolphin. She speaks to me in dolphin songs. I understand her automatically. She reproduces; there are two dolphin Julies there beside me. Three, four; that is enough. Four dolphin Julies, speaking my mind. They are speaking my inmost thoughts. They are within, without. Taking turns speaking, so that I understand every single word. Every single word is a world. Experiences I've had but long forgotten. Bringing me backwards, ever backwards, so backwards I go forward, so forwards I go backwards; bringing me out in every direction towards the core of my being:

On certain damp mornings

in my structural forgetting

I just don't understand it

                                There is a light

                                that surprises

So many motions

So many motions

So many definite things abandoned,

in favor of chaos,

sexual chaos,

with its phosphorescent lungs

A million clones of each of us


inside everyone else's mind

But none of it matters

Progressing forward

always brings us further back

Back toward the beginning

        My mother lurks over me

        like a phantom;

        the ceiling hangs

        like a flesh balloon

        And me lying comfortably in my crib

        staring straight into the darkness;

        alive yet abandoned by my flesh,

        a nowhere voyager --

        waiting for everything to melt

        waiting to feel the infinite


        tasting the fullness

        of the empty

                            Information kisses

                            red like death

                            Knowledge explodes

                            in supernatural wombs

                            The feral axiom

                            surrounds me

                            Exploding brain;

                            cacaphonous carcass;

                            primordial speech

                            of skin on air

                            The sun is talking

                            Everything talks

                            At moments everything


        I didn't know what to call it then --

        I didn't know very many words

        I know a lot of words now,

        but I still don't know what to call it

                            And I,

                            your beautiful illusion,

                            your sweet,

                            intangible delusion

                            Your slice of animated


                            adolescent dream

All the women I see are just beautiful apparitions

Julie Delpy, the actress,

floats in front of me

like a billion fluorescent eyeballs,

radiant with a beauty that is impossible

to understand

I feel she is sending me

telepathic messages;

her glances massage my ephemeral flesh;

this is a stupid delusion;

I can't even feel its shape myself;

its sweet vibrations pervade me and elude me

                            I don't exist:

                            it doesn't matter

                            Nothing is solid

                            Fluorescent eyeballs

                            pulse around you:

                            the universe is seeing

                            Nothing is ever

                            what you imagine;

                            everything is imagined

                            by you

                            My delirious breasts

                            caress your incandescent


                            they follow your flesh

                            through space,

                            they embrace time

                            in slipknots

                            Lingerie woven of oceans

                            and gales;

                            suns and planets emanate

                            from your multicolored


        From that moment onward,

        I had this feeling

        for where we go after we die

        People would talk about heaven and hell,

        or about ceasing to exist,

        but I always knew better

        The angel-devils spoke to me:

        my ears

        aroused their music

        to new levels of clarity

                            Impossible beauty

                            swirls around me

                            like a flock

                            of erotic days;

                            pornographic chessboards

                            copulating and conjugating;

                            removing shells

                            of galactic music

                            from tyrannosauric electrons


        Your thoughts and passions are still there,

        but they're enmeshed with everything else --

        by an infinitesimal amount,

        you lose the will or power to separate them

        It's like when you touch someone else

        and your bodies start to mix;

        you can't determine where one flesh leaves off

        and the other begins

            And then the angels buzz around:

            the ones John Glenn saw

            while orbiting the earth

            They have sensed that my mind

            is just another kind of spacecraft

            Their Brownian motion

            makes me blend into the wall;

            it makes the air thick,

            like some kind of almost-transparent jello;

            in the center of each one

            I see a simulacrum of myself,

            looking out at me laughing;

            the blur of the world ceases to exist

            and I feel myself launching off

            at an impossible angle

            toward an invisible planet

            populated by cellophane rabbits

            and ejaculating bullets

            and lemonade hearts

        Today I'm twenty four years old,

        about a third of the way toward death;

        but it feels like I was in the crib

        only a moment ago

        The clock is a farce invented by devils

        The dance of memories,

        the technicolor parade

        of dreams and images and fears,

        is like a distant howling wind

        I have the sensation of awakening

        from an endless sleep,

        but I know it's an illusion

        The sleep can never end

        The dreams flash in and out,

        and no matter how hard you try,

        you never get them back

Birth and death;

brilliant nothings

And I, just sitting here reflecting,

when I should be doing work

The universe is working:

working to bring itself into the condition

it is already in

Everything is futile;

everything is beautiful;

wonderful chaos

            I sit and sit there for five minutes,

            afraid to close my eyes,

            afraid to get up and walk away

            and re-enter the solid world,

            afraid that the luminous eggs will melt,

            afraid I will return to the world of the shadows,

            the world of the visible and tactile,

            the world of death --

            afraid that the angels will disappear --

            but I always return,

            I always get up,

            my mind always wipes the bliss away,

            and scrawls in its place

            something solid and definite,

            something with height, mass and girth,

            something that can be accounted for

                    such as admiring her olive brown skin

                    and the blue of the bruise

                    which she put on her leg

                    by whipping herself with a hanger

Everything is beautiful

The pain is inside all the wonderful love

The love is inside the pain; everything is rotten

There never will be a final answer

Even a partial and tentative answer will cost you your soul

You must be a chameleon,

soaking up being from everything around you,

drinking up sparks

from the objects and air

Understanding is impossible

Death is the ultimate form of love;

to understand this you must put yourself

inside the testicle at the moment of conception

A smack on the ass can sometimes bring on an orgasm;

a kiss at the wrong moment

can give rise to a mutated flower

It's impossible to feel something

you haven't brought into existence

So many variants of delirium;

the ones that hang together best

become the mysterious real

I know these words are patterned nothing;

and patterns are nothing as well

I know that man and woman are identical;

apples and oranges are not planets;

development follows mathematical laws;

the stars are confusions of the pointlessly virile sun

But as I extend myself into the atmosphere,

my teeth taste the luscious flesh of Venus

and the strong meat of Jupiter

I cannot accept my delirious knowledge

I feel I am shifting into a galaxy

where her breasts are the only suns

                    I pull my penis out of her

                    and feel nothingness has exploded    

                    Delirium has moved, and in its place

                    a soft pretzel has found its way

                    to my lips

                    Her image is gone;

                    her body a sultry, warm, vivid reality

                    Each theory of the universe

                    is just a mood of me,

                    the creator

                        The angels vaporize

                        my wonderful knowledge

                        and together we

                        laugh, laugh, laugh

The light is blinding but irresistable

I clench her buttocks with an enthusiasm

that is inseparable from her brain

She moves around me like a renegade

galactic cluster

I see the spark at the center

                        And then the explosion:

                        the vacant explosion:

                        the death of a million

                        empty lives

                        The end of the world

                        and from it the birth

                        of a million

                        vaginal explosions

                        I can't understand

                        what is coming to life;

                        it is a kind of form sculpture

Without beginning or end;

without measure, dimension

Yet still its stark nothingness

must take on a shape:

it must because it has to

It has to do with the angle

of her incorrect tooth

and with the curve of her buttocks

She is Julie Delpy;

she is not Julie Delpy

She is my wife;

she is not my wife

I have no wife;

I have two handfuls of nothingness


                                So many definite things


                                in favor of chaos

                                sexual chaos

                                in favor of dangerous

                                delirious dreams        

                    The creative force

                    will persevere

                    preserving nothing

                    but its force of creation

Time is a sphere

radiating out in all directions

It is centered at every point

                                It is our skin

                                that is the infinite

It is our skin

that is the infinite                    

        It is our skin

        that is the infinite

            It is our skin

            that is the infinite

                    It is our skin

                    that is the infinite


                            It is our skin

                            that is the infinite


    An extra dolphin has appeared toward the end; a dolphin with the face of an ancient grandmother. These things are beyond my comprehension. I can only sit and be moved. Knowing that in some way I can't fathom, it is I myself who am doing the moving.

    This is the end. The final end. Nothing comes after this.

There is only this insane invisible sun.

     -- FINIS --

i was yellow fresh and childlike

    floating invisibly

rabid horizons

        full of solar beneficence

    it takes an eternity to count up to one

and she was gourmet chocolate ice cream

melting delicious cold insouciance

exciting the rivers of my tongue

                        and touch the one sense

                        the divine sense

                        too profound for words

                        defining our position

                        in the world

                        and my position inside her

winking at all the other stars in my category

breathing smooth and delicate flesh ladders

stretching light-years beyond her brown skin

and the brown skin of the earth

        her lips a symphony of whipped cream

        Mahler chords, teakettle laughter

        her skin and my skin raptly moving

        in illogical forms

        melting melting

            colors smeared on faces


            unsolvable equations

melting my buttocks

            raising my eyebrow

        i gesture her other brain

            to come




the soft breasts of Jupiter press on my cheeks

and suddenly everything is white

                            but her skin

                            still warm brown

                            and angelically vivid

                                    the air

                                    still pulsing

                                    still pulsing

                                    and pounding

                still melting and melting

                melting melting


                                    still pounding

                                    our impossible


    Special Agent Zero leaned up against the back wall of the nightclub. In his right hand he held a bottle of Miller Genuine Draft. Over and over again, he knocked the rim of the bottle against his teeth, absorbed by the barely audible ping.

    He removed a tape recorder from the back pocket of his jeans and spoke softly but clearly. The tape recorder floated into the air and out of it materialized Julie Delpy, in black lingerie. Her mouth was gagged with infowire. It was all I could do to remain in my seat at the bar. Meanwhile Special Agent Zero just kept on talking, oblivious to the transmogrification of his tape recorder:

    "I want to hear the music that beats inside her throbbing hips as she moves her flesh through the smoky air, breasts slipping out of her skin-tight dress,

    "the constellations emerging from the shadings of the skin on her olive thigh, the look in her eyes piercing through my balls like a psychopathic laser...."

    When the music from the loudspeaker stops, Julie keeps on bouncing from toe to toe -- swiveling her large hips back and forth -- displaying the soft tan of her thighs and the bulge of her buttocks --

    He keeps on speaking:

    "I want to hear the deranged geometry of her smile --

to gorge myself on the tonic note of her fresh-shaved underarms

and their mystical vibrations -- to comprehend the brilliant corners of the beat that makes her thrust -- "

    He clicked the tape recorder off. The faster Julie danced, the harder he knocked the rim of the bottle against his teeth. Eventually it started to hurt. He guzzled the rest of the beer and put the bottle down.

    Suddenly Julie Delpy evaporated. It was Chandra instead, Chandra in her true form as a woman. She was tired; she left the dance floor and walked over to the bar to order a drink. Her boyfriend, with whom she had been dancing, headed toward the mens' room.

    Special Agent Zero sensed an opportunity.

    He walked over to the mens' room, following close behind the boyfriend. He waited for the boyfriend to go in.

    Then he removed from his back pocket a tube of industrial-strength superglue.

    He opened the door a bit, dripped thirteen drops of glue on the edge of the door, shut the door and held it for fifteen seconds.

    Special Agent Zero walked over to Chandra, and said, "Let me buy you a drink."

    She shook her head no.

    "Okay," he said, "then you buy me one."

    Chandra looked around nervously for the bartender, who was busy talking to his friends at the other side of the bar. Special Agent Zero reached over the bar and grabbed a bottle of Bailey's Cream. "Here you go," he said. "It's on the house." He took a swig from the bottle, then put it down in front of her.

    She grinned and took a long drink. The bartender was oblivious. Special Agent Zero put his arm around her waist, and she moved a little closer. He took another drink, and she took another one.

    "I'm Chandra," she said shyly.

    "I'm ... Alex," said Special Agent Zero, without even thinking. As soon as he said the words he regretted them. His thoughts zoomed through his mind in spirals. Alex, or Alexandra? I'm a man now; wasn't I a woman just a moment ago? Who am I, really? I thought my name was John. I was an editorial assistant at a publishing house. There were Hungarians harassing me; my girlfriend was multiplying inexplicably. Then I was a woman, clever as Einstein, getting whipped on the ass by a crazy black guy. Understanding nothing despite my brains. What's my name now? I don't understand it. What does it matter? It's all the same principle, isn't it? Everyone is the same. A small spark of awareness surrounded by a hunk of floating patterns. The patterns change, the patterns change, the patterns change.

    "Let's get out of here," he suggested briskly, trying to wipe away the crazy flood of thoughts.

    She nodded yes.


    After they made love, she fell asleep. Their clothes were lying by the side of the bed; he reached his arm over and removed his tape recorder from the back pocket of his jeans. He spoke in a tired voice, as though discharging a moral duty:

    "The ferrous tunnel of her breath, the luminous cathedrals of her fingertips, the vigorous earthy laughter of her muscled thighs. Between her legs, the folds and wrinkles, the intangible details -- the smell! the violence! the greed! the fire! the hatred!

    "The world expands and then contracts with her body's motion

    "The stretch marks on her belly are a range of fleshy mountains, and the crinkles on the wing of a radiant butterfly

    "The spiral of her navel is a whirlpool in a sea of boiling blood"

    Julie Delpy rose, ripped the wire off her mouth, and pointed her finger at him. "Get me some clothes, you perv! I'm tired of being in this fantasy. Let me go home and get some rest!"


    Special Agent Zero was lucky. He had found a live one, an uncorrupted specimen. I myself was not so fortunate. My girlfriend read the Greek philosophers, and was addicted to a variety of drugs. She used a dildo made of melted-down infowire. She laced the milk in my breakfast cereal with hallucinogenic toadstools, and then seduced me. Her name was Alexandrea.

    She said, "When I was too young to be sick of the flesh, there was a certain smart violence in conceiving of myself as a shadow."

    I replied with a kick to her voluminous posterior. She undid the buttons of her shirt.

    I inquired regarding the symbolic dynamics of her breasts. She laughed, and on her tongue appeared the face of a lizard. "Today my motions are an amorous science. My understanding is nearly crippled by the thought that somewhere beyond this is something solid."

    I grabbed her firmly around the neck and squeezed until her face turned violet. She dropped her skirt and with a giggle softly poked me on the chest. I toppled backwards, overwhelmed by the force of her anger.

    I lay there sprawled on top of the ghastly orange bedspread. She stripped her panties off and, grinning, ran her fingers through her short hairs. A translucent wire, almost invisible, dangled down from between her vaginal lips. She said, "Your tongue thrusts in and out of my pink madness."

    I spat in her face. She kicked me in the balls, again and again and again. When I came back to my senses I was staring up at her buttocks. She said, "Delirium is the only sizeless number." I threw her off of me, and turned her body over my knee. I whacked her again and again, until I couldn't stand the screaming. She took my cock in her mouth and clenched my balls in her fingers, whispering "Relax." Defrauded, I reflexively obeyed her.

    I felt the burning fluid surge up through my stalk. And then her teeth dug in, and I squeezed her neck so hard I thought her eyes were going to pop out. She lay there limp, as if in the deepest dreamless slumber. I spread her out on the floor and entered her.

    After ten or fifteen minutes, I felt some motion in her thighs. Her eyes peeped open for a moment. She rolled me over and writhed rhythmically on top of me, palms flat on my chest, eyes up toward the ceiling. She said, "I feel that I am moving toward something big. I feel very good about this union." I clenched her buttocks with a drained, exhausted smile. "The equations of emotion are insoluble," she continued. "There is solidity in the overwhelming moment."

    She twisted around in tiny circles, faster and faster, until she was sure that I was dead. My body gave one final thrust, which cast her halfway across the room. We got up, showered, and dressed in silence.

    As she passionately kissed me goodbye, it felt as though her lips were mouthing words. I asked her what she was saying, and she removed a switchblade from the back pocket of her Levis. She made a small slit in the tip of her tongue, and kissed me again, this time with even greater vigor. I said, "You are an angel." As she walked away, the swaying of her buttocks made me dizzy.


    Julie Delpy rose from the dust by the side of my bed. "I'm sorry, Alex," she said. "I tried to avert this, I really did. But I just wasn't strong enough. Even my powers were not sufficient against a force like this."

    I looked at her questioningly.

    "I really was sending you telepathic messages. Only I didn't realize it at the time. It was just my mind field, spreading out, reaching its tendrils to anyone who had a close connection with its subtler patterns."

    I nodded. "But what are you sorry about?"

    She looked at her feet and fidgeted. "We ... have a visitor."

    He walked in; he didn't have horns or a pitchfork or a tail. He wore an expensive grey business suit. But it was obvious who he was; you could tell from his expression.

    He started speaking and then suddenly he disappeared. The words were just in my head, just words coming out, as if I were thinking of them myself. Julie disappeared suddenly too, and I was embarrassed to note that I had ejaculated while she was talking. I hadn't even felt it; how this orgasm had escaped my notice was extremely mysterious to me.




out there: You


whose inner nothingness

I'm somehow supposed to understand --

I'll never forgive you your inability

to prove the solidity of your existence

To demonstrate with numbers and equations

the superiority of your being

to that of a piece of chocolate cake

or a musty eraser

or a shit dissolving in the toilet water

or the feeling of a fuck just about to explode --

Screw your cell walls,

your hemoglobin,

lips, livers, pancreases,

assholes, cunts, penises,

hair, knees, shins, eyes,

elbows, bellybuttons, wombs....

Screw the whole damn slimy factory of your bodies!

All the geometry and the arithmetic of your machine-flesh

                                        sums to zero...

All I ask is this:

A single sign

A single penetrating motion.

A single proof, that I can hold in my hand,

that I can taste and weigh and balance,

a single proof that there is something beyond a machine

in this stupid body,

in this stupid farce of a bloodbag factory,

of an eating, shitting, fucking factory,

of a birthing, dying, killing factory

that you try to pass off as a glow,

that you try to compare to the glow I feel

when I exhale, when I vomit or move,

when I tickle my arm,

when I crawl across the floor,

when I open my mouth to speak idiot words

to the bloodbag in front of me,

when I stick out my tongue to lick salt off your flesh,

or to lick blood off your wounds...

I see a jar of honey and my mouth waters.

I see a naked ass and my dick stands up.

I hear someone talk and my voice wants

                    to say something stupid back. --

Are these not the three laws of motion?

Someone show to me, someone prove to me,

that this is not truth but shit.

The only real question is why there's a question: what desperate sickness in the shape of my being impels me to doubt the laws of logic, which tell me that there is nothing bright within you, that there is no unspeakable Alive! in the animated contraption that you call your body, that you are no more vital than the waves in the ocean, or the lace on your nightgown, or the five wads of jelly that I dropped on the floor when I made a sandwich yesterday, or the smell of an onion, or the taste of your underarm, or the orbit of the moon...

Why should I so deviously search in you for what is already there, in me?

But the answer is obvious.

You others, out there: you deluders --

You imperious packages

of slime and bone --

Today I have discovered your deepmost secret:

Yes, at last I have found you out!

It has taken me twenty-seven years,

but at last I have done it,

and I find that I knew it all along,

but was only prevented by my own robotic bag,

by my mechanism body,

from ever admitting it to myself.

For my own amusement I will tell you what I have learned

(although I know you are not really anyone):

you are not merely demented, dementing germs --

you are a congenital disease.

And that is the only sentence of truth that has ever been spoken.

And this is not hyperbole or metaphor,

it is the glowing, vibrant truth,

which you will never understand because you are a robot,

because you are a bloodbag full of

pancreas, gall bladder and genital grinding lust,

but empty of consciousness.

And that, dear robots, that --

is the meaning of the word alone.

Write that in your stupid robot dictionary,

graffiti it across your robot walls,

or ignore it entirely,

flush it down the toilet with everything else

that your machinery finds useless.

It doesn't matter to me, because --

at least, you fucks! -- I am alive! --


    When the Devil and Julie left, the toadstools were just beginning to sink in. I hate to trip alone, so I left my apartment, walked down the hall and knocked on Special Agent Zero's door. There was no answer, but I tried the handle and it turned, so I let myself in. As I opened the door it occured to me that I was Special Agent Zero, so that I had been stupid to be surprised that he wasn't in. But then I remembered something about Alex, or maybe John, or Alexandra, or Zarathustra, and put the whole thing out of my head.

    The woman was lying on the bed asleep, and he was standing at the bedroom window, his nose pressed up against the glass, speaking into his tape recorder, a wire dragging out of his naked ass like some kind of demented rat-tail:

    "The contours of her flesh are an invisible planet. The sun removes itself from view. Her eyes are hideously undefined, her mouth a deep red vault of rock. The temperature: two degrees above absolute zero. Her arm moves toward me slowly, slowly. Civilizations rise, collapse along the crease of her breast. Her thighs creak open like an old door in the wind."

    I looked at the woman more closely. Her flesh was pale and motionless. She appeared to be dead.

    "Have you ever fucked a dead woman?" Special Agent Zero asked me quietly.

    I felt dizzy all of a sudden. "No," I said. "No, I haven't."

    "You should try it sometime."

    I looked at her again. She was beautiful.

    "Physically it's not that great; there's certainly something to be said for warmth. But psychologically, there are definite advantages. You don't have to worry about pleasing her -- she doesn't give a fuck, she's dead. Think about it. You can doanything you want to her, without worrying about her reaction."

    I stood there staring for perhaps half a minute. "Did you kill her?" I asked finally, regaining a bit of my composure.

    I couldn't take my eyes from the pores of her skin. They were all of a sudden as big as I was; tremendous canyons like inverted breasts, heaving and shuddering. Dead, dead, dead, dead.

    Special Agent Zero shook his head disapprovingly. "You know me better than that. It was alcohol poisoning."

    I heard a distant yell. It was my girlfriend. "She's come back again," I said. "I have to go. I'll be back later."

    Special Agent Zero nodded. "I won't be alone."

    I gestured towards the body. "She's not much company."

    He waved me away, saying "That's not what I mean."

    I looked at him curiously, but he just said, "Go on, go to your woman."

    When I turned to leave he took out his tape recorder again. He spoke with a strange lilt in his voice:

    "Invisible people live among us, communicating by psychic radio ... blind, invisible, deaf and silent, growing invisible crops, making invisible love, working invisible machines. They brush against us now and then, but we ignore it, ascribe it to nerves or to the wind. Each one of us has an identical twin in the invisible world. Occasionally an invisible woman will give birth to a visible child, but within seconds such a child inevitably explodes, destroying invisible trees, houses, and villages, killing hundreds of invisible men and women. This explosion is felt in the visible world as a psycho-social disturbance: we beat each other, insult each other, murder each other, suddenly are possessed by an urge to wring necks or to scream at total strangers. Invisible scientists have discovered us and determined that we are the dark side of creation, that contact with any one of us would be an experience synonymous

with an eternity in hell."

    I didn't leave Special Agent Zero until he was done recording. By the time I made it to my apartment, my girlfriend was shrieking like a banshee. She looked exactly like Julie Delpy. But something was just a little bit off. She was Julie Delpy's double. Someone had switched them on me. I didn't mention it; why let them know I was onto them?

    "I have a scenario," she told me, soaked with sweat.

    "A scenario?"

    "That's what I said. Listen."

    I listened. She was silent.

    "Close your eyes."

    I obeyed her. I heard her move a chair up next to me. She removed her shirt, then placed her nipples in her mouth to wet them. She stood on the chair and traced her damp nipples across my face.

    As she performed this sensual ritual, I heard Special Agent Zero walk into the room, and click on his tape recorder. He spoke in a low voice:

    "The wind throws my hair in my face, and my curls look like diamonds. For a moment the air smells of white wine. Drunk onthe glow of the sun, I turn my face to yours, smiling. I accept your ovarian assault. Your lips touch my neck and your leg slips between mine. In the language my pain has devised, I salute your lost cunning. Something moves from me to you, across the sea of invisible blood, and I reach out to grab it but find only a vivid silence."

    The other Julie came into the room and stood perfectly still, her body glowing like crystal. Light passed through her flesh and made colored patterns on all the surfaces in the room. It was a beautiful thing.


    "You can open your eyes now," Julie said. Only now she was Chandra. Chandra's body with Julie's face. Or was it only Julie's smile? Julie's smile and her facial skin color? Already I was becoming confused.

    She stepped down from the chair, but did not put on her shirt.

    "That was quite a scenario," I said.


    I pulled her toward me, but she resisted. "Where were you?" she asked accusingly. "When I went out. Where did you go? Did you go to see another woman? You went to see another woman, didn't you. Did you make love with her? Answer me -- did you make love with her? Was she good in bed? She was good in bed wasn't she. Was she good in bed? Was she better than me? Answer me, will you! Was she better than me?"

    "I went to see Special Agent Zero," I replied. "He just killed a woman. He poisoned her."

    She kissed me hard on the mouth. "You're a liar."

    "Believe what you want," I said. "There's no way to convince you."

    "The toadstools are kicking in," she observed. "I can see it in your eyes; your pupils are dilating. You'll be peaking soon."

    "I really wish you wouldn't do that."

    "What? Look into your eyes?"

    I laughed. "You really are crazy."

    She was seriously annoyed. It was a pet peeve of hers; she couldn't stand to be called crazy. "Will you please tell me what you're talking about!"

    I said, "I really wish you wouldn't put toadstools in my breakfast cereal."

    She pouted. "I can't talk to you when you're straight. You're too judgemental."

    "You mean when you've got me all fucked up on toadstools I can't see the holes in your logic. In your crazy scenarios. But the holes are still there, whether or not I have the presence of mind to detect them."

    She smiled and touched her breasts. "It's kicking in," she giggled. "You can talk all you want, but you can't stop it."

    "Make love to me," I said.

    She rubbed her chest against mine. "Not yet."

    "Why not?"

    "First you have to listen."


    She promised me to rip apart the web of thought and language.

    Squatting on the toilet, she told of a vision of a golden fairy goddess who gave birth to herself, then became entangled in her own umbilical cord and died.     

    She caressed her breasts and called them magic lanterns.

    She promised me liberty from illusions, a purer life!

She fed me delicate crystal images of enchantment.

    She took her nipples between her fingers and asked me to suck the genies out.

    She promised me everything. She left me in a cave without a flashlight, smashing my head against the stalactites and the walls.

    She called her marvelous buttocks launching pads for invisible alien starships. She promised me, for Christmas, an asteroid of my very own.

    She called me a walking apocalypse. She told me the juice between her legs was an ancient elixir, derived from fruits that vanished with the continent of Mu.

    Her muscles promised me allegiance in twenty languages.

    She left in a symphony of shadows, forgetting nothing but her bones.


    I picked up the crumpled skeleton that had been my girlfriend and put it in the trash. Then I walked back over to Special Agent Zero's apartment. Sirens sounded in the distance. When I walked in through the door he immediately accused me of calling the police.

    I protested innocence, but he ignored me. He turned on his tape recorder and spoke. His voice was troubled, panicked, hurried:

    "Intrepid partner! I had thought us born for victory.

    "I had dreamed us at right angles to the world, proceeding violently along imaginary axes, parting the nothingness with ill-conceived machetes, illicitly altering the schedule of the tides. Thrusting our badly confused sex at the invisible enemy. Piercing our nipples with the tip of the arrow of time.

    "Instead you pretend to be an insect. Eventually the others will uncover you. The perfection of the insect will always be one step beyond."

    " You're calling me an insect?" I said, angrily. " You're the killer."

    "You're pathetic."

    The woman in his bed opened her eyes. She was not dead after all. In fact, she was radiant. Beautiful Julie, Chandra,Marcia, Dahlia -- beautiful, beautiful! She leapt up out of bed stark naked. She planted a long, wet passionate kiss on Special Agent Zero's lips. He inserted his finger in her rectum, and she giggled. She pulled the tape recorder out of his pocket, and threw it across the room. It bounced off the wall and started speaking:

    "Sometimes her mind ties itself in knots, and her body takes over the cognitive centers. She gives off a whole new kind of light. She reasons like a young and happy child. Dead occurences remain peacefully unremembered. The cinema screens of her imagination and worry are covered with simple, elegant, shifting, multicolored geometric patterns. Her thoughts venture out of her mouth naked, no longer clothed in killed desires. Her body glistens with its new power. Her limbs become muscular and supple. Her odors change ever so slightly, attain an irresistable spice. She moves like an healthy, hungry animal. Her lips puff, and her cheeks assume a perfect tawny red. Her lust becomes clever. Her eyes become emptier and fuller. She looks at me and incomprehensible drums sound in the distance. Something unnameable inside me clicks into place."

    The woman turned to me and said, "He's got an obsession with that tape recorder. I think it should be smashed into bits." Her large tan nipples were standing on end.

    I heard my voice say, "Your flesh is a chaos that must be kissed with lips of acid."

    There was a knock on the door. Special Agent Zero called, "Come in."

    It was a pair of Korean police officers, one thin and one fat. The fat one was holding a beat-up paper bag. He walked over to me and showed me what was in it. He said, "We're investigating a murder."

    The bag was full of my girlfriend's bones.

    The thin cop asked me if I recognized them.

    "I've never seen them before in my life," I lied.

    "Look carefully," he said. "We don't need a positive ID, we're just looking for clues. You sure you've never seen these bones before?"

    "Never," I repeated.

    "Thanks for your help," said the fat cop. "Come on, Harry."

    The policemen left.

    I turned to Special Agent Zero. "How come they didn't ask you any questions?" I asked him. "Do I look particularly suspicious for some reason?"

    Special Agent Zero chuckled.

    "Why are you laughing at me? What's so funny?"

    He looked at me intensely, as if studying me. "The reason they didn't ask me any questions is because I don't exist. I am a projection of your unconscious mind, an effect of the toadstools your girlfriend put in your cereal this morning."

    I didn't know how to respond. Finally I just said, "All right."

    We looked at each other for half a minute or so. Then I said, "Since you don't exist, you won't mind if I make love to your girlfriend, right?."    

    He shrugged his shoulders. "Not at all."

    I turned toward the woman whom I had referred to as his girlfriend, the woman he'd picked up the previous night, who was who was standing there naked. She didn't look like anyone all of a sudden. But then I realized she was Julie, perfect Julie, in her makeup from Beatriz. "He's cool," she said, putting her arms around me. "He doesn't give a shit about me anyway. All he cares about is that damn tape recorder."

    As I made love to her, Special Agent Zero put his tape recorder up to my ear:

    "No body, in no place. Too alive for interpretation, too close for feeling. The scent disappears a fraction of a moment

before it is detected. Her face is not an exploding star. Her breasts are not hallucinogenic toadstools. Her touch is not a touch. It is not a taste. It is not a feeling."

    Annoyed by the intrusion, I threw the tape recorder across the room, and continued fucking. When we finished, she lay beside me on the bed, resting her head on my chest. She said, "I love you."

    I said, "I love you too."

    We lay there for awhile, soaking up heat from each others' bodies. Then she said, "I have to tell you something."

    "Okay. What?"

    She took a deep breath. "I am not human. I'm an android."

    "That's okay," I said. I was in a good mood; there was nothing she could have said to upset me. I gestured toward Special Agent Zero. "At least you're not a projection."

    She kissed my neck, and said, "It's not what you think it's like, being an android."

    I paused, watching the plaster on the ceiling swirl around in tiny spirals. "How do you know what I think it's like? I'm not sure I even know what I think it's like."

    "I know what you think it's like. You think we're somehow colder -- emptier. Lacking in empathy, emotion."

    She lifted her cheek from my chest and sat up. I didn't say anything.

    She looked straight ahead at the blank wall. Her back became rigid, and her body covered with goose pimples. She said, "In order to learn what it is like being an android, you are going to swallow your own penis."

    I started to laugh, but the sound was choked back in the middle. I found myself obeying her command. I unzipped my fly, bent down and took my penis in my mouth -- amazed at my new flexibility. I swallowed it in one humungous gulp, and felt my gonads and the middle part of my body follow along with it. I would have swallowed my entire body, and ceased to exist -- but I was saved by my size thirteen shoes. My feet wouldn't go down my throat. I just lay there flailing on the floor, a grisly half-digested ball. The world grew faint. I felt myself sucked into the wire coming out of the wall. My new spherical shape was exactly the shape of a wireball. I was part of the plex, the worldwide infonet; I was a quantum of the cosmic dream.

    I came to lying on the bed, perfectly intact. "Is that what it's like being an android?" I asked her warily.

    She replied: "It's not a tape recorder, it's an intelligent alien life form. A telepathic parasite, that feeds on human minds. The actress Julie Delpy is just a means that it has used to spread itself effectively throughout the human population."

    My brain refused to process that piece of information. I had to escape. I grabbed her legs and turned her around so that she was sitting on my chest, facing my head. I kissed her vagina, savoring the tang, trying to drown myself in her flesh.

    I ate her out, until she reached a furious orgasm. Then she lay down on top of me and fucked me again. After I came, we both fell asleep.


    This time when I woke up the world was filled with viscous red. I realized that my eyes were still closed, that what I was seeing was the sun filtered through my eyelids. Suddenly two spots of purple emerged from the red; they assumed the forms of myself and my girlfriend, Alex and Chandra, or was it Chandra and Alexandra? Amorphously, mockingly, they were acting out a familiar romantic scene. She leaned back lustily against the pillows piled high on the bed, spreading her legs wide open and running her fingers through her cunthairs. The smell grabbed hold of me like a huge invisible fist and pulled me toward her. But as I reached out to touch her flesh, we both dissolved into a lavender mist. There was nothing but red, with streaks of orange, pink, deep violet....

    I opened my eyes, and my throat filled with vomit. Special Agent Zero was nailed to the wall in front of the bed, by his wrists and ankles. HIs mouth was gagged with wire. His guts were spilled out of his abdomen, and he was bleeding from the holes where the nails had been pounded.

    "He had to go eventually," said my girlfriend.

    I looked at her in shock. If I had not been lying down already, I would have fainted. I said, "You're dead."

    "An android can't be killed," she replied. "Only deactivated."

    "You died in my apartment," I continued. "You withered away; there was nothing left but your bones. And those were taken away -- your bones were -- by two policemen."

    She smiled at me condescendingly.

    "You died in my apartment," I repeated. "Then I came here and made love with Special Agent Zero's girlfriend, who turned out to be an android."

    "This is your apartment," said my girlfriend. "Look around you -- your books, your records, your furniture, your posters. Special Agent Zero does not exist, and never did. There is no such thing as an android."

    I considered what she said. There was Special Agent Zero, hanging on the wall in front of me. But on the other hand, here she was, back to life after she'd withered away before my eyes.

    I said, "Don't do this anymore."

    She stroked my elbow. "Don't do what?"

    "You know."

    "I don't know." She kissed my shoulder. "Come on, tell me."

    "You know what I mean."

    "Tell me. Say it."

    "Put toadstools in my breakfast cereal. I don't like it. Please don't do it anymore."

    "Oh honey, don't be such a stick-in-the-mud." She kissed me passionately on the mouth. " Everyone's doing it these days."

    "I don't care what everyone's doing."

    "It makes you so much sexier," she continued, trailing her breasts across my chest.

    I pushed her off of me. "You like it because it gives you all the power," I said slowly. "But you only have the power because I give it to you."

    She looked at me, frightened.

    "Look at this," I said. I walked over to Special Agent Zero and removed the tape recorder from his back pocket. I ripped the wire off his mouth, stretched his lips open, placed the tape recorder in his mouth and turned it on. Then I stepped aside -- not quite sure why I had done what I had done, but filled with a thoughtless sort of confidence.

    We couldn't hear what the recorder was saying. But it must have been some sort of magical incantation. Slowly, ounce by ounce, gob of blood by gob of blood, his guts crept back up into his abdomen. The wounds on his wrists and ankles grew shut. The nails fell down to the floor. Special Agent Zero stepped away from the wall, and spat the tape recorder out of his mouth. He said, "Thanks a million."

    I nodded modestly.

    He walked toward my girlfriend, whose mouth was gaping in surprise. "She's a defective model," he explained. "I'll have to take her back to the factory."

    He turned her over on her back and reached his finger in the tiny indentation above her buttocks. Her lower back flipped up, revealing a control panel. He pushed some buttons and turned some dials, then closed her back again. He picked her up and draped her over his shoulder, then turned to me and grinned. "She won't be causing you any more trouble."

    Special Agent Zero walked out the door.

    A moment after he shut the door, I noticed he'd forgotten his tape recorder. I picked it up and ran toward the door, but he was nowhere to be found.

    The drug was wearing off. I was alone.

    I realized, with a cold and morbid clarity, that my girlfriend had been an illusion. This insight made me shake all over; it was almost more than I could handle.

    Special Agent Zero had been an illusion too, but a secondary one. He had existed only as an adjunct illusion to her. When she had disappeared, he had had to vanish also, as a matter of logical necessity.

    I walked over to the window and turned the tape recorder on. It felt good in my hand. I pressed my nose up against the window, and spoke into it slowly. I didn't know where the wordswere coming from:

    "Raped by space, the brilliant patterns of my vision de-evolve. Their bones grow weak; they shake and lose the power of motion.

    "Where she stood only a fraction of a thought ago -- there is only the empty, vivid world that once conceived her.

    "The sky arcs over me like the inside of a huge blue eyeball.

    "She violated my density.

    "Before she came, I was coherent, self-contained, like a group of friends in a crowded room.

    "I failed to instantly wrap my legs around that eternity."



    Julie Delpy was gone; the female Chandra was gone; even Dahlia had disappeared. Special Agent Zero had deconstructed. The only ones left were me and the Devil.

    He held his penis in his hand and spoke as follows, with the tone and diction of a Shakespearean actor:

As much as I despise

the barbaric tradition of circumcision,

I must admit that there are some advantages

to having a circumcised cock.

For example, if one holds the one's penis up

so as to face the sky,

and then rotates the tip by ninety degrees,

while rhythmically squeezing it in and out

in the direction parallel to one's body,

one obtains a very convincing illusion

that one is looking, not at a urethra,

but at a mouth;

one is then presented with the question

of what this mouth is saying --

in vain one listens for the incantations

of this eyeless, noseless, earless companion,

this friend who looks like a sacred fish-god

and slowly expands as you make him talk.

Is it possible that this mouth,

and not the one on your head,

is the one that was originally intended

to have the gift of speech?

The mouth on your face,

which says so many stupid things,

is just an usurper, a johnny-come-lately;

whereas this fish-mouth,

if it had not been robbed

of its ability to vocalize,

would articulate the profoundest truths.

But instead it is reduced to communicating

by the crudest means:

by the expulsion of urine and semen,

by tiny tremblings and contractions

that nearly always pass unseen.

How much more meaningful is semen than spit --

a thousand times, a million?

Is there any doubt that the words of this cock-mouth

would exceed the words of the face-mouth

by a similar percentage?

But instead it just gawks there,

mutely wiggling its fleshy lips,

forever straining and struggling to do

what the Devil has forbidden it.

Perhaps if I sit here looking at it all day,

and again tomorrow,

and again the day after that,

and on and on until my skin grows wrinkled;

perhaps then, at dawn on the day of my death,

its exile will be broken,

it will be given leave to speak --

it will tell me the secrets

of its serpentine world.

It will sing me a song

of all the cunts it has kissed,

and their throbbing softness

will form a new poetry;

a new kind of poetry so vivid and laughing

that all the Great Books of the World

will instantaneously decompose.

Come on, mouth, speak!

I don't have fifty years to sit here!

Suck your damn greasy semen back in --

I've had enough of that;

I'm ready for the real thing --

Speak, speak, speak!

    These exhortations become somewhat frightening. But they seemed to take effect. Before long his penis was speaking. Its urethra somehow shaped itself into the form of lips and it declaimed its lines with modest vigor and enthusiasm:

One time I looked at her

and saw luminous eggs

bursting with purple lust.

Today I look at her

and see a puppet

molded of shit.

But today is already gone;

it's already next year,

or maybe the year after,

and she is a dolphin,

splashing playfully

in the semen pools of my spirit,

whistling gleefully

at the moon

of my unsteady emotion.

She's not a robot;

I can feel it,

There's something quiet

behind her eyes;

something that watches me

and doesn't need to speak.

You others out there

don't mean a thing;

and, God and Satan,

you can both eat shit;

Her body understands the language

of my other mouth.

She understands its serpentine song,

and sweetly responds with a song of her own,

a song that is nonsense to her brain

and comprehensible only to me.

She wraps the technicolor parade

of my dizzying dreams

up in the folds of her navel.

My knees slap together

as she fucks me,

sending a ripple down her thighs,

and suddenly I feel it --

the luminous egg has hatched --

and what emerges is a fractal sound,

composed of a million tiny clones of itself,

resonating all the secret bones and muscles

of my body.

Suddenly I'm absorbed in its dance,

and she and I no longer exist,

and the force of its life

extends a laugh through every atom,

through every tiny speck of world,

through every liver and every pancreas,

and every gall bladder,

and every cream puff bowl of ice cream.

Every one of my wicked delusions

screams its lust through me,

but even their hatred is absorbed

in the deafening harmony.

I reach my tongue out

to lick her shoulder

and her brown flesh

tastes like chocolate.

I know there is no way

to make the moment last,

but it doesn't even matter,

time is just a rusted cuntlip,

and this stupid shitty world

will never be dead for me again....

    Quickly, before it has finished, I take a knife out of my pocket and cut off the Devil's cock. Immediately a wire grows in its place; I try to sever the wire but my knife isn't strong enough. The Devil leaves the room, howling. I look out the window and see a car approach. I know who is in it. It is Julie. She has come back. She was just waiting for the Devil to disappear. She can't stand his nonsense.

    It occured to me that I was Alex, or Alexandra, or Alexandrea, and that this telepathic communication with Julie Delpy was just an illusion. An illusion just like Chandra's imaginary lover whom he met at the strip bar. A classic symptom of plexisy. A delirious illusion.

    I almost felt myself return to normal. I decided I was tripping on some drug. I would come back to myself pretty soon, I felt. I would be Alexandra Reog, computer science professor, again. Or maybe Dahlia Rose, Karen Raymond, flautist and waitress par excellence. Or John, Dahlia's lover. It didn't really matter who. Just to be out of the realms of forms and abstract flowings, back into the domain of the real. I wanted some bones in my body, not just this amoebalike, vague intimation of collective reality. I felt all the wires in the world sink into my mind and spontaneously ossify, assume the shape of the skeleton. I reached out to hug and kiss the wires, in infinite gratitude for having made me human, but I couldn't reach them, they were already inside my flesh. I felt myself spinning like a Mobius strip rollercoaster inside a black hole. Everything was blank space.

    And then I felt it happen. Return from vision. Carla, Carla, Carla.... It wasn't any of those names that I had thought of. They were all part of the dream.


    As Carla removed the electrodes from her skull she noticed that her body was covered with sweat. It had been a very intense session.

    She shook her head back and forth rapidly but the images remained. The multiple copies of herself, swarming around and around on the desert island. While she, like an eye, sat there in the middle of herself, watching and frozen in erotic amazement, clenching the manuscript called Mindspace which contained, among other things, the story of her self. Worn out and exhilarated from being John, she found it difficult to return to being Carla.

    Her apartment, a very expensive two-bedroom unit on the 3123'rd floor of one of the most desirable high-rises in Greater New York, seemed somehow dull and ridiculous. Emotionless and drab, despite the four-dimensional intelligent artwork adorning the walls.

    She had a craving for Hungarian food.

    "How do you feel?" asked the session monitor. Its voice, so perfectly human in tone and inflection, struck her as mildly annoying. She had, after all, just come from a world where there were no such things as voice simulators or sentient machines.

    "I ... I don't know."

    "It was an unusual session," prompted the machine. "The intention was much simpler, merely for you to experience yourself from the male point of view. The...."

    "Dahlia's duplication wasn't part of the initial template?"

    "No. You introduced that yourself."

    She stood there quietly for a while, thinking.

    As she walked out of the room, the session monitor called after her. "Are you sure you'll be all right?"

    She didn't say anything back to it. If she had, it would have been something like this: "No, you stupid $50-credit-a-month AI therapy unit, no, of course I'm not sure I'll be all right. If I had been all right in the first place I wouldn't have bought you in the first place, now would I? You stupid, hyperintelligent thing. I've just been freaked out by the weirdest damn realie therapy session of my life and you ask if I'm sure I'm all right, as if I were sure of bloody anything...."

    She went to the livingroom and called her friend Sally on the vidphone. Sally's eyes bulged as her friend's image materialized on the screen. "Christ, Carla, what's the matter with you?"

    Carla just smiled weakly and swayed her head.

    "It's that therapy machine, isn't it? I told you that thing would come to no good. Why don't you just use the regular realie tapes like everyone else?"

    Carla just stared, at a loss for words. Well, she tried to say, I maybe.... I think I.... It's not.... The words refused to come together in coherent configurations.

    "You're really bad off, aren't you."

    She wiped the sweat from her brow and shook her head again. "Actually it was really good," she said, with a sudden burst of energy. "I want to go back. It was just...."

    Sally scrutinized her expectantly.

    "You know the haunting...? The feeling you get, inside the realies, inside the machine, that it isn't not quite real, that you're, well, you know....?"

    "Yeah.... Of course I do. Everyone's got the haunting sometimes. Especially much on rental tapes when they've been used too many times.... So what?"

    "I have it," said Carla tersely. She forced herself to take a breath. "I have it now."

    For a few moments Sally looked confused. This information required processing.

    "The therapy machine is making you crazy," she finally concluded. "I think you should send it back to the company. They'll refund you for the rest of the lease period. They have to. If they say they won't then you can call Consumer Protection. Like I did about that car, the one that kept breaking down."

    Carla shook her head. Sally just wasn't getting it. "Thisis different. This isn't like the therapy sessions were before.... Those were just ... obvious, I guess. Just working out of problems. Like with the rape, I got to relive it where I could avert the rape and beat the shit out of the guy who was trying to do it to me. Or with childhood stuff, I could go back and tell my family exactly how I felt.... Obvious stuff.... This was different. It was like the world was ... shaped by me, somehow. By parts of me I don't even understand. Part conscious, mostly not, I guess.... I'm not sure what I was doing and what was just happening to me. My personality was shaping the whole world. The craziest things.... It just got out of control. I didn't use it right because I didn't understand it. But I have to go back."

    "For Christ's sake, Carla, the machine is defective. It's supposed to help you work out your problems by putting you in the right simulated realities. It's not supposed to make you nuts even worse...."

    "I want you to come in with me."

    "Me come in with you?!"

    "I'm going in, Sally. You can come in or not, it doesn't matter. I'm going back in. Come over if you want to."

    She switched the vidphone off, and walked into the bathroom to brush her hair. But she never did get around to brushing. As soon as she picked the hairbrush up, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She didn't look the way she was supposed to. She looked like -- like ... Dahlia.

    Karen Bowman ... Karen Rose. Dahlia Rose.

    Sally, she thought, you were right. The machine has invaded my brain.

    Or maybe I never was in there at all.

    But what does it matter, anyway.

    As she walked into her bedroom she knew exactly who she was going to find there -- lying naked on her stomach in bed, the sheets thrown to the side, her nightgown bunched around her waist, revealing her curvaceous legs and buttocks.... She peeked through the door expectantly. But things were not quite as she expected. It was a dark-skinned woman lying there instead. She checked herself in the mirror and she was now dark as well. She was Chandra. The female Chandra. There were two Chandras. The dream had somehow moved itself in the direction of reality. But it would never actually get there.

    She cried out, "Sallyyyy!!" But it didn't make any difference. She knew it wouldn't make any difference. After all, what good could Sally do? Sally was just a lump of floating pattern, just like the rest of them. A spark of life, of living consciousness, and a lump of diverse pattern somehow crystallized around the spark. The wholistic unity of the pattern held a certain beauty. This held the universe together. But everything was basically a flowing. No point to look for stupid answers to intelligent questions.

    She snapped her fingers and transformed into Julie Delpy. Two Julie Delpys. If you understand the nature of the illusion, then you can grab the power. Special Agent Zero rematerialized and spoke into his tape recorder, which was invisible this timeand did not even exist. He no longer had a human body, but only a simulacrum of one. When scrutinized carefully, his body could be seen to be woven of thousands of strands of ultrahighbandwidth infowire. He sighed, whether from pleasure or from exhaustion I couldn't tell; maybe a combination of the two. He said:

    "Understanding why the distance between her nipples divided by the distance between her knees to the power of the distance

between her eyes is an irrational number, I felt her belly press against my inner thigh. I felt her breath drift across my ankle.

I felt her thigh slap against my ribs. I understood the subtle trajectory of her vagina, the surreal angle of her nose, the continuous algebras of her never-quenched desire...."

    His words became realities as soon as they were spoken. An indistinct orgy appeared in the air and disappeared in a kind of haze. Julie Delpy smiled at me with her infinite grace and I smiled back lustily. I was Carla, Carla was me, and we were both Julie Delpy as a skin around Chandra as a skin around Dahlia. It really didn't matter. It was a beautiful moment.

    Suddenly we were liberated from the dream; everything was perfectly clear and vivid. The rigid world on the outside tunneled into the center, the light at the center of it all. Perfection breathed from every elementary particle. All particles were connected to each other by invisible plexing wires. Problems posed by individual minds were de-existed. The fusion with other minds rendered each individual person wonderful, spherical and whole.

    We knew it wouldn't last, and we also knew that it would never go away.