That’s an interesting question, self. I think it was because I was trying to quit dipping so I was PISSED 24/7. Not at anything in particular, ya know? I just just wanted to be another lunatic yelling into the void of the internet. That’s the motivation behind all of my writing: I hate you, I think you’re stupid, and the world would be a much better place if everyone thought exactly like me. Some of that anger has tapered off though. Mostly because I went back to dipping.
Have you always been an angry person?
Actually, once upon a time, I was able to let most things roll of my back. But then I got got caught up in a pseudo-cult where I was emotionally abused daily, so I’ve got a lot of untreated PTSD.
Why do you think the world is dumb?
I didn’t say the world is dumb. Stop spinning my words. I said that it was stupid and pathetic. And that’s completely due to the fact that I’m not in control of it.
What would do if you were?
You know, I’ve thought long and hard about that. And speaking of long and hard, I’d probably make the metric system universal because 10.16 cm sounds a lot bigger than 4 inches.
What would you do about climate change?
I don’t see what the problem is. Florida’s gonna be underwater in a few years, so I say let it happen.
Who was your biggest hero growing up?
What would you do if you had $10 Billion?
Put it all on the Milwaukee Brewers winning the World Series. Also, probably light a few bills on fire.
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Most people would say “graduating from college”, or “birth of a child”, or “becoming financially stable” or blah blah blah. Nah. For me, it was in high school when some girls made a ranking of the hottest guys in school and I ranked. It’s been all downhill from there.
What advice would you give the next generation?
Do all the drugs. Except meth. Have some respect for yourself for fuck’s sake.
When are you gonna finish writing According to Simon?
Having some story problems. Turns out that I’m not a historian. Plus there’s not a lot of opportunities for fart and piss jokes. So give it some time.
“So you cast God into hell?” I asked Hazov as we were descending deep into the surface of Ishnar in an elevator.
“That’s one way of putting it,” he responded. “But be warned though: Yah can still read your thoughts. We have yet developed the technology to block that ability. Other than that, he is completely contained within the chamber.”
“How does this chamber work?” Dr. Jackass asked.
“The walls of the chamber itself is reinforced with titanium-like nano tubing. This prevents porous openings all the way down to the quantum foam level. Even God can’t penetrate past that micro surface,” Hazov said.
“Fascinating,” The Doctor replied. “How did you obtain this technology? Forgive me, but technology on Earth appears to be beyond that of Ishnar and yet we haven’t developed those capabilities.”
“This technology was given to us by the ‘God Species’, as your captain calls it. This is why our technological capabilities appear to be so uneven.”
“Indeed, your culture appears to be from the Middle Ages of Earth, yet you’re using interplanetary radios, plasma weapons, and advanced forms language translation.” the Doctor said.
“Doctor,” I interrupted, “you’re about to meet God…or the first CONFIRMED alien life…and this is what you’re interested in?”
“Captain, I understand that you’re nervous, but it is part of Space Fleet’s mission to study extraterrestrial cultures.”
I rolled my eyes.
Finally the elevator stopped roughly 8 km underground. As we walked through the corridor to Yah’s holding area, Hazov continued to brief us. “A transparent piece of aluminum will allow you to see into the chamber,” he said. “Yah can take any form he chooses, but it’s only a mirage. While he can read your thoughts, you cannot communicate telepathically. You will have to speak with him over the monitors, and he will do the same for you.”
When we reached the guards holding large plasma rifles, Hazov stopped us and pinned a device onto Dr. Jackass and me. “This is just a precaution,” he stated, “but Yah is highly radioactive. The chamber should contain the radiation, but should any leak, this device will absorb it.”
Hazov could see I was shaking nervously. “Captain, you’ll be fine,” he said to me, “sure Yah played a big part in our histories. But he’s not actually God. While his material is not fully understood, insofar as we can tell he is made of normal matter just like you and me. He can’t hurt you. So don’t let him get to you.”
Hazov smiled and patted me on the shoulder. Then the doctor and I proceeded past the guards. We were escorted down a long corridor, where there at the very end was a large square chamber with a medium-sized window revealing a radiant orange glow inside.
I walked up to the window. But I couldn’t tell anything discerning inside, other than the orange mist. “Can he hear me?” I asked one of the guards.
He nodded. Then I opened my mouth.
“I am Captain William Kananga of the USV Carl Sagan. My first officer here is Dr. Sergei Jackass. We are members of Space Fleet representing Earth: a planet that I believe you are familiar with.”
Moments went by and there was no response. I looked back to the guard. “Are you sure he can hear me?” I asked him.
Then a strange voice came over the monitor.
“I know who you are,” the voice said. It wasn’t a deep voice, certainly not one I would associate with God. But it had resonance.
“Of course,” I replied. “I understand that you wish to return to Earth. What is your past associations there?”
“Siddhartha Gautama, Moshes, Mohammed, Yeshua: the Carpenter of Nazareth,” the voice replied.
“I’m afraid that I’m unfamiliar with Moshes.”
“You know him as Moses. I gave him the Ten Commandments.”
“Right. That’s why he was glowing as he came down Mt. Sinai. He was exposed to high levels of radiation.”
“That’s why I said that no man can see my face and live. I gave mankind scriptures to protect them from themselves.”
“Unfortunately those scriptures have been used to justify hate, discrimination, and war for thousands of years.”
“Yes, but humankind were savages when I found them. I gave them the power of reasoning to help them grow. Evolve.”
“What good that did them. What about the Holocaust? Nuclear war?”
“I had nothing to do with that. If I was permitted to stay on Earth, I could have prevented all of that.”
“You seem to want to take credit for humanity’s successes but want to evade responsibility for all of its ills and your failure in preventing them. Even your own “scriptures” make you look like the bad guy.”
“Mistakes were made, of course. And I’m prepared to answer for those. But humanity needs me now, more than ever. Earth has been destroyed in a nuclear war, has it not?”
I looked over to a concerned Dr. Jackass and back to the chamber. “I know what you’re trying to do,” I said to Yah. “But you’re not God. You’re not an all powerful, all loving deity. You’re a charlatan that wonders from planet to planet, taking advantage of vulnerable species.”
“I know that you beat off to Commander Mwangi this morning,” Yah said.
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“She’s going to have your child, ya know?” Yah continued. “You will be a better father to it than you ever were to the son you left behind on Earth to die in those nuclear bombs.”
“Commander Valdez is pregnant too. The late Commander Smashhouse is the father…”
“You’re not benevolent,” I interrupted. “You’re a sick, sad, and lonely being. Not worthy of our worship.”
“I am Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the End. I shall have no other gods before me!” Yah declared as the orange glow morphed into a mirage of my late son.
“I’ve listened to enough of this hubris,” I said then stormed out of the corridor. As I walked passed the guards, I threw off the radiation device.
“Captain, are you all right?” the Doctor asked as he ran up behind me.
“What happened?” Hazov asked.
“Hazov, my recommendation is to sling that fucking thing in there right into the sun,” I said, then stormed into the elevator. Hazov and Jackass rushed in behind me. “Take me back to the surface!”
The two men were silent as I tried to cool down. As the elevator ascended, the doctor touched me on the arm.
To avoid alienating my audience with discussions on politics that are completely boring and academic, I’ve decided to make a return to fiction.
Once again, I will challenge myself by writing in a genre that I’ve never done before. This time HARD science fiction (if you know what I mean 😉) a la Arthur C. Clarke, albeit in first person because that’s the only way I know how to write.
And instead of descending into pure action schlock, as my stories tend to do, I will try to end this one on a hopeful note.
Per usual, I will be winging it and make no guarantees that it will be good.
“Fuck space!” I said to my executive officer while we were docking at Space Station Tranquility Bay orbiting earth. “This will be my last mission, so help me GOD!”
“You said that 5 missions ago, Bill,” the XO replied. “Personally, I love it out here. It truly is a never ending frontier.”
“Speak for yourself, Jackass!”
Dr. Sergei Jackass and I served together for 15 years. I was a military man. He was trained astrophysicist from some dump of a university in east Europe. We came from two different worlds, but together we made one hell of a team.
After our ship, the USV Jim Varney, completed docking maneuvers, Dr. Jackass and I were ordered to meet with Admiral Stockdale for debriefing.
“Captain Kananga, I trust that your mission was a success,” the Admiral said.
“Yes sir,” I replied, “the two years studying the black hole around Uranus was money well spent.”
“We gathered all the sufficient data sir,” Dr. Jackass interjected.
“Good. You men will have a fortnight’s rest and then report USV Carl Sagan for your next mission.”
“Wait a minute, sir,” I said, “with all due respect, there’s a reason why the Sagan is called the Starship of the Imagination: because your imagination is the only thing that works on that piece of shit. If you want to send me into deep space in that thing, then you can have my resignation.”
“Captain Kananga, I understand that you want to be on the front lines in the war in North Africa, but this is important. We need you out here.”
“What can be more important than fighting for peace and democracy?”
“Because this information is classified, I was going to wait until you reported to the Sagan. But I will tell you now. We have received a strange transmission from a planet orbiting Tau Ceti.”
“Admiral,” I said, “I’ve been on one end of the Solar System to the other, and let me tell ya: there ain’t no aliens.”
“Space Fleet Command disagrees. STRONGLY,” the Admiral replied, “take a look at this report.”
The Admiral handed me a folder filled with charts and graphs I didn’t understand. “You know I can’t read this shit,” I said, “I’m a soldier, not a mathematician.”
Dr. Jackass took the paperwork and was stunned. “My god,” he said, “Captain, this is for real this time.”
I paused and rubbed my face. “Tau Ceti is over four light years away,” I said, “there’s no way the Sagan could make that kind of journey.”
“The Sagan has been updated and outfitted with all the necessary technology for interstellar travel,” the Admiral added. “We need you Captain. Damn it Bill. We need you. BADLY.”
The Admiral extended his hand.
“Okay Admiral,” I said as I shook his hand, “one more mission.”
I celebrated my birthday while on leave. I was somberly drinking myself into oblivion when Dr. Jackass stopped by my London flat.
“Doctor, I don’t want to be lectured,” I said.
“All I said was ‘happy birthday.’”
“With all the heavy interstellar objects that we’ve spent so much time around, we’ve aged so much slower than people on Earth. I’m the same age as my son now! Nobody told me that was gonna happen!”
“Is this about not being able to fight in the war?”
I took another drink. “I don’t know doc,” I said. “I feel like I’ve let so much time on Earth pass. This planet’s gone to shit and I’ve been wasting time flying around space doing nothing about it. The resources dedicated to Space Fleet could have been redirected to fight this war. I feel useless. Old.”
The doctor poured himself a glass of Irish Whiskey. “Captain, I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye,” he said, “but the exploration of space is Earth’s destiny. War is a machine of humanity’s past. It’s time to put childish things away and build a future.”
“Dr. Jackass, you’re an idealist. I’m a realist. We don’t live in the future. We live in the present. And presently I’m drunk as shit, depressed, and want to kill people.”
“You’re too short sighted.”
“No, I see the universe for what it is: a vast empty wasteland, void of any meaning or God. And if there is a God, he has to answer for creating this shitty planet. I swear.”
As we fall further down the technological abyss, bombarded by competing information and ideas, we struggle to make sense of anything.
With an endless stream of movies, television, videos, and literature, we perceive the world through a dramatic prism, unable to grasp that the universe is impartial to our reasoning.
When confronted with this cognitive dissonance, we double down. And the opportunists in the media are all too happy to entertain our delusions.
In a sense, we are living in the “matrix.”
But perhaps this has always been true, even prior to the Internet. Maybe to live in a cultivated society means to live in a “matrix”, and no one wants to admit this.
Because of this, there rises either futile sentiments of cultural superiority, or need to “break free” from the restraints of society. But they’re both fantasies…fantasies that fuel our collective imagination.
Philosophers and theorists have failed to understand this: “the dramatic progression” that underpins our understanding. This is how nationalists can assert dominance, or how Christians and Marxists share an almost identical eschatological worldview despite being seemingly opposed. We view the world through a dramatic lens, and there are bad actors out there that try to entertain it.
All of this lies in our subconscious, and we may not be able to escape it. Being a part of this human collective is what makes us…human. So maybe the real political objective is not more theory, but to take from Sigmund Freud: we need to “sublimate well”.
Some might argue that’s Machiavellian, or utopian, or Orwellian, or naive, or overly optimistic, over pessimistic, liberal, conservative, or whatever.
With the Kantian blockage…or the inability to perceive the universe in its total, final form…it becomes difficult to understand that multiple truths can simultaneously exist.
Or maybe none of it is true.
It doesn’t matter. Stay pissed off if you choose. The universe goes on.