And Then I Thought I was a Fish

IDENTIFYING INFORMATION: Peter Hunt Welch is a 20-year-old single Caucasian male who was residing in Bar Harbor, Maine this summer. He is a University of Maine at Orono student with no prior psychiatric history, who was admitted to the Acadia Hospital on an involuntary basis due to an acute level of confusion and disorganization, both behaviorally and cognitively. He was evaluated at MDI and was transferred from that facility due to psychosis, impulse thoughts, delusions, and disorientation.

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Observations of a Straight White Male with No Interesting Fetishes

Ever wondered how to justify your own righteousness even while you're constantly embarrassed by it? Or how to make a case for your own existence when you contribute nothing besides nominal labor to a faceless corporation that's probably exploiting children? Are you clinging desperately to an arbitrary social model imposed by your parents and childhood friends? Or screaming in terror, your mind unhinged at the prospect of an uncaring void racing to consume the very possibility of your life having meaning?

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This is the story of a boy, a girl, a phone, a cat, the end of the universe, and the terrible power of ennui.

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The Episode, Part 15: The Light and The Void

Composed on the 8th of August in the year 2011, at 7:32 AM. It was Monday.

Emotion trumps reason. Always. You can stop yourself from screaming and curb the urge toward violence, but your thoughts are shaped by how you feel. You can throw some feedback into your hormones, but the impetus for even that effort is rooted in your mood. If you take someone and cut the link between the cerebral cortex and the emotional centers of the brain, that person can no longer make choices. Nothing has any more or less value than anything else, so judgements are pointless.

Regardless of the symbolic system I was entertaining with my brain meats, the feelings of the moment directed my actions. Sometimes I like to think I was regressing through a human ancestry to the point in time when we thought the thunder was angry gods, and we didn’t have the spoken word map of reason and science we have now. As much as I say our brains haven’t changed in millennia, I wonder if they have, and psychosis is a form of regression. Then again, I’m also sure that the kind of experience I had, unchecked, leads to religious and cult figures, between whom I make no distinction. The sureness of purpose and the complexity of the experience, once its translated into language, bespeaks infinite existential mystery. Deciding what caffeine vehicle to buy at Starbucks bespeaks the same existential mystery, but you can describe the basic transaction in a sentence. When the basic transaction is some amorphous movement of semantic energy, it sounds a lot more exciting. And when this mystery exchange is described by someone who has lost the ability to distinguish between their dreams and needs, it can be as charismatic as Jim Morrison. But all this rewired meaning is still the slave of emotion. There are a million descriptions of love and hate because there have been a million people trying to rationalize and contain the temperature of their blood. It’s still the same thing in the beginning.

Part 15, or “The Light and The Void”

My return to college came in the nick of time, just when I was running out of women with whom to develop deranged obsessions. Trinity lived downstairs from me, and, just as good, and a girl I’ll call Sirius was nearby. Sirius was another Native American, though you wouldn’t know it to look at her, since she was a tiny blond girl with freckles. I’d recently read the Sandman end to end, in which Lucifer, the Devil, is commonly referred to as “The Morning Star, The Light Bringer,” and Sirius’s real name pertains to stars, so this set the stage for a very consistent delusion that Sirius was the Devil, and a burning star in the heavens, creation and fiery destruction rolled into one over-caffeinated little girl. Sirius was, predictably, The Light.

We’d been friends the previous year, and she, like everyone else at the school who knew me, had no idea I was nuts. We hung out once or twice during this spell, and at one point she drove me and a couple of other kids out to her place, to hang out and maybe play video games. We went for a walk for whatever reason, possibly none, and Sirius was coasting along on a long board, darting down alleys ahead of us, vanishing and reappearing, like devils do.

Because she was a flirt and had always been vaguely evil, she played her part perfectly. For instance, it was fine to hang out in her room while she was in a towel, as long as I could put up being teased about women in general. I remember few of the actual conversations, but it felt like it always feels to be teased by cute girls: like you’re being bounced around on a fishhook. This was a fairly platonic interaction the previous year, and I’d gotten used to it, now it was Lucifer herself testing my qualities as a plaything.

Of course, I was also God, so when I was more confident, I had other plans for her.

Trinity should have known how far gone I was, but she later claimed not to. I can think of two possibilities: she was so unused to normal social interaction, she didn’t know what was involved, and couldn’t tell crazy behavior from all the other annoying human behavior she avoided. The other theory is she didn’t care. It was probably a mix of both.

Trinity’s uniquely extreme emotional barriers were just mountains to climb in normal circumstances. Now they were evidence that in the darkest depths of her soul, there was nothing. Being crazy, I could look deep inside reified metaphorical constructs, so I tried to look further and further into her eyes until I found the bottom.

This took about two weeks, during which I saw her more than I’d seen her the previous year.1[1] Our interaction involved a lot of me staring at her face while she stared at the floor or the wall or her computer. I thought she was communicating to me with all the tiny muscle movements in her face. Occasionally we’d have a vaguely normal conversation. She decided to dye my hair, and since this was physical contact, I let her dye it red white and blue, which stands as the single patriotic act of my life.2[2] I did get a patriotic trip out of that until my next shower, since it was easy to wash out. It was boring. Sort of like being a Fox News show for a couple of hours.

She fluctuated in her ability to put up with me. I’m surprised she put up with me at all; a normal girl would have called the police. When she wasn’t having it, I called her at all hours, slipped notes under her door, and went so far as to stick a note in a roll of duct tape and dangle it outside her window, though even crazy I realized this was a little beyond the pale.

I never found the bottom of her soul, but I got close. She was putting up with me by taking a nap, and told me I could stay. I couldn’t touch her,3[3] so I sat on a chair next to her bed and closed my eyes. It was gray outside and there was no music. I sensed the world was slowing down, and this was the end of all things, not with a final moment, but with the particle humans each ceasing motion, choosing their final positions. There they would lie, or sit, neither happy nor sad, as time leveled out into a gray desert, and we would all be alone with our thoughts for the stilled eternity, perhaps close to someone we would never again touch or speak to, or even see, only knowing their presence by the dim sound of even breathing. Just before the gas of the universe hit empty, I looked as far into Trinity’s soul as I could, and found only more depth, the whole of her metaphysical being sucking down into a singularity infinitely far away. Her soul was a black hole. She was The Void.

I ricocheted between hanging out with The Light and stalking The Void. They were people, but they both existed in my head or in the aspects of people and things around me at all times. They were the poles of the universe, tying together many of my delusions. This says some odd things about me.

A) The poles of my universe were both girls I found attractive. I have no problem with this; I still approach the universe with the understanding that the only thing that drives me to do anything are girls I find attractive.

B) Both of them represented destructive forces. The Light was Shiva figure, destroyer and creator, good and evil, the snake that eats its tail, the wheel of karma, loss and living and loss again. Meanwhile, The Void was just that: the cessation of all energy in the universe, the nothing, the atheist death, the absence of a universe that ever was. I’m interested in that I never chose a kind of codified, abstract-yet-male lord of the universe with a benevolent set of rules. I stuck with two emotionally difficult women and decided they each represented a different kind of meaninglessness in the universe, and meaning was a construct built somewhere between the light and the void. Since the metaphysical and the physical were indistinguishable to me, I saw the cosmos as that which came out of their dance.

C) I have a troubling fixation on short women. Neither of them was over 5’2”. Pocahontas was at least 5’6”, but she comprised the institution’s entire attractive female population. Given sufficient capita, I start dipping below 5 feet tall.

In case you have any ideas that I was building an egalitarian, enlightened, and feminist friendly mythology, trust me, I wasn’t. People who know me have already figured out where this is going.

I only mentioned Trinity to my therapist as a girl I had a crush on who wouldn’t marry me. My therapist was alternately my handler passing me mission agendas via coordinated eye movements, and an agent of the shadow government trying to keep me under control. Had I been honest with him, I’d have been sent straight back to the nuthouse, but I’m sorry I didn’t relate my more interesting delusions to him. I’m sure he would have been entertained. Most of the time, I trusted him, because he had Calvin and Hobbes books in his office. When I recovered and was still seeing him, I decided he was gay and didn’t know it. Now I think he was just a decent guy I never stopped making assumptions about.

While I was lying to my therapist, I was developing my role in this mythology, and that was to be a new kind of god that would perfect the dance between The Light and The Void, and that would be achieved by having lots of sex with both of them at the same time.

As frustrating as it was in the moment, I’m as relieved as I am about anything that I never even managed to get them in the same room together, because I might well have let slip my intentions and—since nobody knew how insane I was—immediately lost all my friends.

Fortunately, I only managed to get one in my room at a time. I got Sirius in there, who was friendly and hung out, though quickly bored because I never had many people around. Trinity came in occasionally, but preferred to stay in her own room as much as possible. I kept waiting for them to realize that I was here and they should both be there at the same time, but, unsurprisingly, they never did, since they had never met and never would. Clearly I could imagine them liking each other in my most outlandish fantasies, but in the real world, I doubt they would have put up with each other longer than two minutes.

Then again, I haven’t heard from either of them in eight years, so maybe I should have gone for it.

Next week

The end.

1 And I’d had a class with her the previous year.

2 And it wasn’t my idea, and I was crazy.

3 As mentioned before, she hated being touched.

No men.

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