Pandora’s Chocolates

Before any new history of imagined time can be written, there must be revelations or epiphanies which are unique yet so enveloping that the dreamer must in some sense become the dream. Like the apostle John, whose visions in a cave on the Greek isle of Patmos foresaw a possible end to the world, at once cryptic and symbolic, I too found my own cave at such a fulcrum between worlds. This nook or dungeon of unexpected terrors is familiar yet universally feared. Associated with loss and pain, with prayers and imprecations hurled at whatever gods might be attending, it is a place from which most life now emerges, and to which all mortals inevitably return, in the end, to an understanding of their illusions.
I do not profess any merit for my election, or even that such favor was granted. Certainly I feel no such worthiness or distinction. And it is quite natural that those reading these words may wish to dismiss what follows as the ramblings of a traumatized accident victim, given their own predilection to maintain the canon of beliefs in which they are vested. There is comfort in faith, however misplaced. What I will admit is that I do believe, if there is any basis for ultimate hope, that the human mind may never grasp it on this side of the veil.
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BANK GOTHIC

The first of my series of visions occurred in semiconscious awareness of my physical limitations. While nurses monitored my status and doctors consulted charts regarding my head injuries, their faces seemed to ebb in peripheral focus around me, their words mere snippets of sound, estranged and disconnected from meaning, like glass-trapped vapors uncorked in the tide. Unable to decipher phrases or facial expressions, I closed my eyes, and quite abruptly drifted down into the vision of another reality which seemed oddly more realized or intricately perceived than the one I could no longer clearly remember. Could this be a possible future, somehow constructed as though by Japanese design? What appeared to be coffin-like chambers were seen in the windows of banks: chambers promising pure oxygen and a drug which causes the subject to become autistic, so that his subconscious inner life may exclude the pressures and tensions outside it. Somehow I knew that, should I desire it, my emotional needs would subside within into some relaxing void of non-awareness. So, too, I felt this need, and also suspected no other such refuge existed outside of these banks of coffins in which one might deposit themselves. My vision was that in our desperation to escape what was coming we would, like those who now seek succor in cyberspace, move deeper into our solitude than we already have. . . and trust these new bankers with our most valuable possession of all.
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CHALKBOARD

Einstein, right in many ways, wrong in others, seemed to believe in God, albeit not the God which creationists cherish, whose Earth is young, and whose God plays an inexplicable game of apparent age. Einstein the man, and Time magazine’s Man of the Century, was a fallible soul, a grain on the beach of spacetime, quickly and easily erased from this world, (itself a speck in a whirlwind which is a dot in the vast, expanding bubble of a fabric no one has yet explained). Still, if anyone had the right to indulge ego, it was Einstein. But he did not, for the most part. And he does now no more at all. What, then, to make of any ego, except that it is a phantom conscious state within a quickly recycled body?
To say I saw Einstein in a grocery store, on the cereal aisle, and that such a revelation transpired in a sharply summoned epiphany is only partially true. There was nothing sharp about the vision, moving in and out of consciousness as I was, medical staff like ghosts stalking the hall to my left. Einstein indeed seemed real, it is true. Perhaps, in this alternate reality, he was and is as alive as anyone can be. What I mean is that I did not feel it bizarre to see him. Even when he spoke to me, saying, “hello” in perfect English, his slicked back white hair held tight in a pony tail as he turned his grizzled face toward me, I was not startled. His eyes twinkled a bit at my lack of surprise, and then he winked and turned away. In his cart were several boxes of oatmeal, some eggs, some milk. A solitary apple, large and green, lay beside these. And so I thought of Sir Isaac Newton. Was he in the fruit section? I went to see.
He was. Both men were declared wrong, however, by a younger man sucking on a lime. This younger man told me that a fact linked to limes will be invaluable in curing cancer, and that a unified field theory will arise from a thought experiment involving sunspots. The young man was a high school dropout. Schools themselves, he claimed, were obsolete.
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PLAYBILL

The proof that evolution operates in “leaps,” explaining why we haven’t found many transitional species, will be augmented by the discovery that such a leap is already in progress, involving the lowering of the human attention span and the loss of our former level of comprehension related to written language. Eclipsing even this, scientists will then discover a way to input the memories of one man into the brain of another, thereby making it possible to induce instant friendship with a stranger. Nefarious corporations will exploit this technology in targeting people against their will to be socially attuned to buy products and ideas, unaware of their influence. Business partners and sexual conquests may both be achieved by the invasive manipulation of memory. Love, for sale through a realignment of neurons, will precede an evolutionary adaptation against it, resulting in an interim dark age of image-driven, non-verbal thought processes, and the reduced ability for the working class to think critically. Gradually, they will lose the ability to read altogether, and their slavery will be complete.
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HELVETICA NEUE

When a popular travel blogger is discovered to be a paralyzed spinster who never went anywhere, her story will inspire development of a social network of linked computers in which participants all over the world share experiences in interfaced iPod chambers, only to live out real time relationships on a non-verbal, experiential level. Sports fans in Cleveland will be able to experience soccer matches in Rio, their consciousness and individuality subsumed into a crowd identity in which they feel some sense of belonging, however transitory and illusionary. The reason for the popularity of such chambers will eventually be felt outside, in the real world, as monster hurricanes and rising waters inundate much of Florida and other coastal states. Yet in the midst of worldwide famine and economic collapse, a pill will be patented which can extend human life by thirty years. (The breakthrough will come when scientists extract a bristlecone pine tree gene and deliver it to the human brain utilizing a modified AIDS virus. Alas, only the very wealthy will be able to afford the resulting pill formulations, although an adulterated powder version will sell at street level at roughly twenty-five times the cost of cocaine, and include the rush of that archaic drug.)
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MARKER FELT

Suicide clubs will come into vogue, but these will be eclipsed by sporting events in which teams play to the death on gridirons that become more electrified the closer one gets to the goal. This, in certain third world countries vying for media attention, will imbue a new meaning to the phrase “end zone.”
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PAPYRUS

It will be discovered that the Mayans were exterminated by a comet similar to one which fell in Siberia in the early 20th Century, and that the ancient Egyptians began building their pyramids when lifespans dropped from over a hundred years to a mere 45 years due to the evolutionary effects of increased solar and cosmic radiation. A newly discovered and translated Egyptian text will then reveal a prediction that the world will end in 2086. But this prediction will prove to be off by almost fifty years.
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COMIC SANS

In 2017 the world may indeed end for many celebrities and politicians in America, but not for reasons previously postulated. Toward the end of that year a drug cartel’s don will be captured by a rancher whose property straddles the Mexican border, and this don will be offered to the United States in exchange–not for money–but for carte blanche in freedom of movement within America for one year. The rancher, a recipient of access immunity by a direct act of Congress and executive order, will be legally unrestricted in his movements. The cartel will indeed be crushed, but this will go largely unnoticed, especially by the wealthy cocaine users whose residences may now be entered at any time for any reason at the whim of one man. Entrance cannot be denied to this man, who may, at his leisure, request police or military backup to achieve it. No residence in Hollywood or on Miami’s Star Island, no condo in Manhattan or Washington will be off limits. Should he desire it, he may enter the White House at midnight and search the Lincoln bedroom. By Presidential fiat, backed by a majority vote from beleaguered and otherwise ineffectual lawmakers, this one man, among hundreds of millions, will (at long last) be exempt from having to obey the words “Keep Out.” And for him, the most famous and feared man in history, this, (and for every despairing American citizen), will make all the difference.
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J Lowe)

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