By Soran Shangapour
Once again I am looking myself in the mirror, no reflection in deep black of my pupils is there; merely a hole, in which someone is watching me. He is in the darkness; I am in the light. He is invisible to me. Maybe no one has ever been there.
Although fear and anxiety of the unknown were previously associated with his imagination, now all emotions have been left out, except an ever increasing vacuum, not a black one, but white. Unlike the black vacuum that has nothing inside, everything is here other than me, as if I have never existed. Seeking a way to him, I touch my eyes in the mirror with my right hand. A wound on my hand turns my attention to a memory, a small scar with a deep effect, a childhood souvenir, a time of hope and joy with a superman inside who would be able to run into any danger. But now all of these have completely faded away to white lifeless memories, with no meaning. I have become hollow, a shell with no recollection and meaning. There are just memories of others, ranging from a cute ten-year-old child, and a groom, to an adventure: all defeats and victories which belong to me no longer. Alone and bodiless, I go toward a wooden handle sofa which I am used to lie on. It is an inexpensive old sofa coated with dark moss green fabric, a blossoming cherry tree painted on its velvet fabric which does not represent awakening and hope, but only a paled memory of "Seville Still Life", Matisse painting. The cushions are very thin and make it hard to get comfortable, always feeling the wooden framework pressure on my back. Such a small discomfort ties me to the real world by an invisible string. From the sofa, there is an empty, white wall in the front and a big, glazed window on the right which only reflects the soulless reality of the room. On the left side- there is a new flat screen television and- although it is on, it is neither attracting any attention nor breaking the silence. The white vacuum is too deep tonight to let any sound escape, even from the slim apartment walls. No noise comes in or out. In front of the television on a rug, a girl with long brown hair is reclining on her stomach with a pen or a pencil in her hand, writing something. There is no more special thing about her, she is always there, quiet and calm as I remember. She is as old as my room. The fine white sleepwear hardly reaching her knees and leaving her back naked, partly covered by her luscious, brown hair. As she is writing, her legs tangled in each other, she seems pensive, trying to remember something.
The way she is trying to write is surprisingly similar to a younger version of me, when I used to lie on a red rug in the parlor, drawing a fantastic nature painting. How we were so similar once. Her life could follow my path, or I could become like her once more. How strange it is, among all possible destinies, among all people’s lives- whether I know them or not- I am privileged to just one, the one suffocating my existence. Enormous possibilities and only one choice, one life, this is not fair. Imaging her time-space landscape does not help, endless possibilities and imaginations that are not necessarily true are the only things which pass through my mind. My knowledge of her is limited to the dim image of her in front of my eyes, the rest is just imagination.
I turn my eyes away from here to notice the room yet again and the world outside. The more I think, the less I recall memories from the world around me. Family, my home, people and my town, all become faint memories, sleepy dreams and finally disappear. Nothing is out of the room, just me and the loyal girl whom I know from before. Loyal? How she could not be, while she has no other choice. With no choice, loyalty is ridiculous. A thought races into my mind: someone else is involved. I know that way of looking, that a secret love in her eyes. How blind was I? We are not alone. There is another man, and yet it does not make me feel jealous, merely curious to know more about him. By reading her mannerisms, I try to find traces of him, signs which cannot be hidden even by a surreptitious mind. Who is this man? Where is he now? Does he exist outside of this room? Can it be possible? A place away from static here and the now that I have neglected? I am frequently reminded my home from a top view, searching all the corners and hidden places in order to trace him. My brain analyzes all the places where he could be hidden. It has same result each time. I find him on an old sofa with wooden handles. He is truly imposter who found the best place to hide, inside of me, in my shell. He should know about all my weaknesses, my Eisoptrophobia. The fear of mirrors gave him a good opportunity to easily grow in my body, pull me to margin, and solve me inside himself. But she could recognize him from me and each time my girl gave me a smile or a look which belongs to someone else. He is everything and I am not. He is full of joy and happiness, thing which I have lost for many years. The more I withdrew from my life, the more space has been left empty for him. As I retreat, I become a shadow and who can be in love with shadows? Who can distinguish them in the blackness of night or even in a white light vacuum? By being in a relationship with the shell, she betrays the shadow and betrays me. I am leaving them alone and will go back to the room, into my white and bright dream. There is no truth out, only me and the room.
The musing of a white shadow on old furniture is raising old memories in my mind. I am going to start to narrate these to someone. As a story where is the best point to start? To whom am I going to tell the story? Who is narrating the story for me and talking about his private experiences? Who am I: the narrator or the listener? I am starting to fluctuate between these two, me and the stranger. And yet the stranger is me. For a moment I am telling a story, and then in another I am listening to it. After a while I realize that my mind has been dichotomized, two characters live in the same place, having access to different memories, talking, listening and drowning each other in an abyss of stories. I remember a book from Daniel Wegner, The Illusion of Conscious Will: we feel that we consciously will our actions, but at the same time, our actions happen to us. It is an illusion, a guide to developing a sense of responsibility and morality. My brain was playing tricks on me, deceiving me a will. I could not decide. I was spontaneously entering silent and solitude, I would not speak. I would not think. I have lost track of the time. When would I awake from my comatose state? How much time passed? A few seconds, a minute, or an hour? I have no idea and I do not wish to know.
By returning to previous mind games, I could remember a child tied to an invisible thread. A stretchable thread which could extend or weave everywhere the went child, and never break. This thread wrapped around a cherry tree in the yard which has been planted in the same day he was born. This thread became more and more tangled as the boy played around it, the tree becoming more and more reminiscent of the home. The wounds on his body, when climbing up the tree, made immortal memories that could not be easily removed. It was an idol that gave his life meaning and a temple for love, joy and happiness. But the tree was cut down to make room for a parking lot in the yard. The child missed his idol, his temple, and his twin. Consequently, all the threads around the tree have been opened up and all the child’s attachment faded away. This experience was hard, and although it freed the boy it gave him pain, made him grow up. But the wound on his hand remained with him. Attachment brings pain, and he promised himself not be attracted to anyone or anything and always keeps his thread straight and free, not twisted or wrapped. After that he was free from memory, pain, and attachment, but remained alone.
The day he forgot his promise, he found himself in a groom's suit and a ring on his finger tangled with hundreds threads. He was in a trap, as a fly in a spider’s web. Beside him was a girl about a foot shorter than him with long light, brown hair and blue eyes.
What am I doing? How did I make such a decision? It does not make sense. All the years from his childhood to now had been extremely condensed into a single present moment.
He jumped from the past to the future and into his wedding. Without any personal memory, his connection to the past, has been taken away forever. Instead of remembering himself as he grew up, there was a sequence of numberless characters little different from one and another, and some with similarities to him. To image himself as a frequency of all these characters over his life was really hard for him. Chronic nightmares would not go away, even when he was awake. The ring on his finger reminds him, of living in a real nightmare. The ring was a cycle of life and a link between his forgotten past life and the life of a girl who still lives in her childhood. It was not a perfect relationship. The bride’s child memories have been replaced with groom’s lost past life and made a strange mixture.
I do not know who I am anymore. Which of these memories are mine and which of them are not? It caused bad headaches and constant vertigo. By putting the ring away, all the nightmares, headaches and vertigos are finished and the thread started untangling. The more the knots were opened, the more the girl’s childhood memories left his brain, as if he imagined himself as like a virgin who has never been married. I have no worries of the past nor for the future. I simply live in the present.
Although this experience was associated with pain, the result was great. It was not sorrow, sorrow is temporal and would not stay forever, but rather it was a step forward to into the room, the frame of being.
A lot of people had great experiences in their life, but only some have got something more than a sorrow. Something more than a pure experience is needed to lead someone to a higher level of knowledge. Where thought is absent, the cycle of the absurd is present. Humans are born, live and die with little difference between each other. They fall in love and nurture children who continue their ways, like sheep follow a shepherd and sing the glory of their elders. They preserve the old rule and do not accept differences. They represent the old order and create nothing new. It is common and has been repeated by nature again and again with the false hope to experience something new, a new generation, and the fittest. What makes a difference is not done by the flock, but only by a few sheep who roamed away by accident. They are puppets in the hands of nature appointed to a special mission to build a new world with new rules. The wandered sheep in the desert, will face unknown dangers. Most of them will die except a few who realize a new order, they survive and make a new generation, and benefit from the results. Nature has three threads: experience, audacity and thought. Three threads in the hand of a dexterous puppeteer who drowns their worries and washes the fears away in the deep, darkest night, and guides them to the light of true understanding. Definitely, thought is more important than the two others, unlike these two which are controlled by the hands of the Puppeteer, thought comes from the puppeteer's own brain.
One who wants to stare into the eyes of the puppeteer should be brave enough to face the worst nightmares of his life. It always starts with an event, the event sets him free from the attachments to the flock and opens his eyes to the new horizons. Belonging to minority groups and free from any religion, gives the adventurer a different sight to criticize the community, and it pushes him a new way, free from the absurd cycle of life. This is a way, full of danger on which only bold persons could step. But experience and bravery without thought are not complete. The man should also have a pure thought to find his way through the stage built by the puppeteer. He knows well whose thought is the only weapon to exceed the existing limits. A perfect mind was the one that had attracted the adventure. For this purpose, he tried different ways, from special nutrition and meditation, to dangerous methods aimed to increase his brain capacity and thereby to realize limitless human potential. To go beyond the barriers of space and time in order to explore other unknown dimensions.
He crossed the boundaries of the mind and put his own life at risk caused drowsiness, constant headache or even fatigue until a night that an extraordinary thing happened. His perceptions of the world became meaningless, with no dichotomy between life and death, everything was both dead and alive. Differences had gone away and monotony had taken the place of variety. There was a little contrast between different objects and it lacked structural details. Everywhere was clear and white, bright and soulless, with no color, even though no light was there. Objects and the material are made from equations, correlated to each other by base laws. What made it so difficult to realize this new world, was not the complexity of equations but rather the large number of them and their close interrelationship.
He touched the wall. It was soft and flexible, and caused a local perturbation in the surrounding material. It scared him that more actions would ruin everything. Everything is fragile like a crystal and nothing is so hard or so big to be safe from changes. What about myself? He looked at himself, no flesh or bones, just a single four dimensional equation. Immediately, he started solving his equation in relation to all environmental parameters. Then all possibilities came into his mind, all the ways he could go, all the ways he could live, all the people he could meet, and all the people he could love. Among all these countless possibilities, he was browsing the truth, without having any knowledge about what it looks like and even how important that is. His brain was completely filled with innumerable equations, he tried to find some extra spaces in his mind but it was vain. Sorrow overtook him, not because of tiredness, but because of losing his hope. Independent from the way he solved the equation, independent from the people he met, or the place he lived, result was always the same. He was like an avatar in a computer game, with infinite choices, but still restricted to the game boundaries, and he could not go beyond them. There was no place for chance, life is not a way to weird, his whole life, and choices he made or he will make has been determined before. All of them were in front of his eyes. He was in a room where the length, width, height and time were extending from his birth to his death, captured in a certain space and time. And also the room was bigger than his brain’s capacity to go further and see more of the future. So that he became tired and slowly fell into sleep.
The following morning, he woke up in the sofa with an old idea, the thread life. What if by shortening the thread length to a normal room, he could make the equation simple enough to be solved! However this idea is not genuine science and even looks a bit insane, yet it exhilarated him. He knows it is not true to present-day knowledge, but it could be possible at some future date, furthermore the real science sometimes rises from "pseudo-science." These thoughts gave him fresh impetus to develop his fiction in a new direction. He started shortening the thread until reaching the radix, the fountain, exactly contrary to the flock who keep ever lengthening their twisted and tangled threads. He no longer desired anything else, nor did he attach himself to anything on the earth. He completely released himself from any attachment until only the room remained.
The room now is my world, restricted and small enough to find the origin. I have never been so close to my answers, and so lonely. The Puppeteer should be somewhere in the room controlling the thread. He thought, an upright bar upside the puppet which always makes it move here is absent and there is only a time thread, so if I want to find the puppeteer, I should search the past rather than looking for it up in the sky.
Finally I am in the room, tracing the thread of time, it is not so far, he is somewhere in this room. Instead of controlling me by a thread, the puppeteer has stimulated me by envisioning different rooms with different sizes, materials and colors in front of my eyes. His action is prior to mine, he is always one step ahead. He always puts me in a situation, shows me a way, my eyes were his eyes, my thought was his thought, I was a mirror in which he realized himself, experienced himself. I have no will, what is here is his will. My will belongs to him. Perhaps I, my conscious will, is not mine, it is his. Perhaps I am him, or at least a part of him. The part which he is not aware of, the part of his unconscious mind. When a puppeteer animates the puppets on the end of the strings he does not think they are animating him. I do not know whether he is directing me or I am the one who is directing the man in the room, am I the puppet or the Puppeteer, or maybe both?
The puppet’s life time, say one hundred years, in comparison that of the Puppeteer, nearly fourteen billion years- or perhaps million years, because we are not sure the speed of light, and consequently time always were constant- is as short as one second is to one hundred million seconds. Cosmos has a rich and wonderful history, from the Big Bang to the creation of atoms and molecules, from the formation of stars and planets to the emergence of life and intelligence on earth. All of this long history from very beginning to now contains enormous pre-written destinies. Destinies like mine, and the puppet’s, one of the billion and billions of puppets who have animated on the shore by a tsunami- big bang-, far out in the ocean. It comes and goes like a reflection on the waves of the ocean only for a short while.
All the destinies are enslaved to the passage of time. If time has an independent existence, and a real phenomenon, a continuous change through which we live, then we can conclude past, present, and future, are all recorded somewhere on a tape- perhaps on the Fifth Dimension – thereby, present is determined only by the sharp point of a recording laser, we are when its needle is there. From the ancestor’s point of view, we are not born yet and from our grandchildren's view, we are destiny.
I am aware of the shaping of the destiny of my grandparents, as are my grandchildren aware of mine. How could I claim that and choose my life path while I would be exactly the same man which someone in the future knows? As I know my grandparents’ life path. We all simultaneously exist on a tape with pre-written destinies. Our current life is only one of many stretching back before birth and into death. Death is not the end, only the beginning of an exact repeating absurd cycle of life. Every time, we live in a way that is our first time, thinking, and living the same thing, with no memory of these repetitions. We are the characters in book, lives as many as someone reads the book, and we repeat what has been written in there again and again. Present time is the page, where the reader is reading now. Our life is an exact copy of the next one. It matters not what we do, how strange we behave or even if we kill ourselves. It repeats endlessly. There is no choice. There is no way out. We are always in. Everything is predetermined by the Puppeteer.
But I am different, I am free from this absurd repetitions. For me, the space and time have been limited to the size of a room, my room. So there is no past and future for me. I live in the present time, and what I do, decide, or act would be my first try. No more the Puppeteer action is prior to my action, what I think is his decision and his thoughts is what I decide. Distinguishing the puppet from the Puppeteer is impossible, they all are the same, in the white and bright vacuum. The room starts decreasing into a single point, a singularity.
Our bodies are not our last boundaries. Our boundaries extend as much as our imagination could go. If what we understood as self is an illusion, then this illusion could go beyond our body and take all the people of a society, earth or even the whole universe. It could reach infinitely. We could be gods or creatures, both of them, none of them, or a reflection in the Maya.