Saturday, July 2, 2011

My Name is Not Martin Behaim

It never was.

There is a memory that wasn't available to me before. Martin - the real Martin, whose name probably was never Martin at all - walked through a Door into the City. He walked into the City and I woke up in the house. I woke up believing I was him.

But I wasn't.

I opened the door and stepped outside. The stars shown overhead. The buildings were immobile - they were squat and gray and lined the unchanging street. The only sounds were the cars on the street, their headlights illuminating everything around them and then bringing everything back into the gloom of night as they left, the snatches of music from their radio becoming louder and then softer, creating a Doppler symphony.

I walked down the street, but heard no footsteps. Each headlight made me stand taller and thinner. Eventually, I reached a road lined with houses where the streetlamps shown brightly. The shadows of each streetlamp beckoned me. They moved and twisted, as if in the wind.

I took my rightful place with them. Once the sun rose, we moved, slipped down the pavement, across grass and sidewalk, through doors and windows and walls, into a house.

As we set the house in order, I found a computer and came here. This journal was my time spent with the memories of Martin. This was my trial, the journey I went through, coming to realize that the City is inescapable. It is disorder and chaos incarnate. Order is better.

The owner of the house came home a few hours ago. We decided to put his mind in order as well. It was so confused. He is sitting still now. His eyes are closed and I think he is still breathing. How can we lead you out of the caves if you are so jumbled and untidy and disordered? We will help you.
You have come to the end of the book now. And the monster you have been so worried about? It is me.
I am a Nightlander. Hello.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


This is a sentence. You can break down the sentence into words, into letters. Break down the letters into pixels. Break down the pixels into photons. The photons hit your eyes and suddenly you can see. But when you see, you change. The photons bounce off your eye and changes. Your eye moves. You have observed and therefore changed everything.

There is a line. On one side is the unreal, things that don't exist, shadows. On the other side is the hyperreal, the reality above reality, for which the world itself is but a shadow. Think of it as a city.

This is not real. I am not real. I am a character in a story. My memories were borrowed or made up. I am not real, yet I am the only thing that is real here, in this house. Because this house is not real.

My name is not my own. Martin Behaim was a mariner, philosopher, cosmographer, geographer. He invented the first globe, the Erdapfel, the earth-apple. He made a flat world round. The first Erdapfel contained the mystical island of St. Brendan, invisible and insubstantial. A shadow island.

Open your eyes and let the photons bounce off of them. Let the light change and the pixels assemble into letters. Let the letters make words and the words make sentences. Let me open the door, let me exit the cave.

Let there be light.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Dream

I fell asleep watching the Door. I fell asleep and dreamed.

I dreamed I was back in the hallway, the hallway that stretched on for eternity, trapped in a straight line. I dreamed I was back there and I stopped and looked through the window and I saw the City. I saw the City shift and change, like the ocean. Like the waves of the ocean.

I looked through the window and I saw a man standing on one of the City's streets. He looked up at me and waved.

And then I was no longer in the hallway, I was down there with the man. He was me. He (I) was standing there looking up at the strange building, at the window so far up that he couldn't even see the person, just a dark figure. He (I) waved anyway, certain that someone must be up there, even if he (I) couldn't see them clearly.

He (I) lowered his hand and then turned around to walk down the street. It had shifted since he (I) had last looked. It used to be filled with gardens, enormous and elaborate sculptures positioned in the center of each garden. Now, the gardens and hedges were gone, replaced by ruins. Brick walls crumbling, buildings broken, on the edge of collapse.

He (I) walked through the ruins and tried to remembered how long he (I) had been in the City. Weeks, months, years? Did the City preserve his (mine) life against hunger and thirst just so it could play with him (me)? Or was there something wrong with time here? Was time as tangled as the City itself?

He (I) stopped and sat down beside a gate that had once been majestic, but had been shattered into fragments. He (I) looked up at the amaranthine sky and felt small. He (I) felt as if he (I) was an infinitesimal grain of sand and the City was the beach that was unceasing, unending.

He (I) looked down then at the ground and made patterns in the dust with his (my) foot. He (I) scrapped away the patterns and then got back up. He (I) began to walk down the road again.

I (me) woke up. I (me) walked to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I. I wasn't me. He, the man in the City, was me. The man in the mirror wasn't me. I wasn't me.

They (the Nightlanders) were asking me a question. Are you Martin?

Am I Martin? If I'm not Martin, who am I?

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Call

The phone rang.

You remember the phone? The one I found here? The one that was bolted to the wall with no buttons, no way to dial out?

The phone rang.

I picked it up and put it to my ear.

"Hello?" a voice on the other end said. "Hello? Is anyone there?"

I wanted to answer. I wanted to say something. But I didn't. Because I knew this voice. I barely recognized it, but I did.

"Hello? Who's there?"

This was my voice. This was me. I was calling myself.

"Look, is anyone there? Is anyone listening?"

Slowly, I lowered the phone and hung up.

Then I walked to the living room, sat down and waited, staring at the Door.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Parable

So I've been thinking about Plato's allegory of the cave, also known as the parable of the cave. For those of you (whoever you are) who don't know what that is, I'll present a short summary:

There are some people chained inside a cave facing a blank wall for their entire lives. There's only one source of illumination, a fire, but it's behind them, so all they can see are their own shadows on the wall. That's all they think the world is - shadows.

But then one of them breaks free. His chains break and he rushed outside of the cave and sees the Real World, with it's bright colors and blue sky. He is happy and joyous. He decides his fellow prisoners in the cave need to escape, too, so he goes back down there and tells them that the world is not just shadows, that the world is so much more.

They don't believe him and in the following dispute, they kill him (how they killed him when they are chained and he is not, I don't know, just go with it).

This was apparently a metaphor for the world - Plato believed that everything started in the World of Ideas, where the "idealized" version of everything existed. We lived in the cave of shadows, but he wanted to show us that this wasn't the real world, that there was a better world. We, of course, don't believe him.

I've been thinking about this because I hadn't seen anything weird these past few days. The hallways have stayed the same length. The rooms are the same size - even the library. Today I flipped a coin and it came up tails. No duplication.

What if I'm outside? What if I'm no longer in the room I was once in? What if this is a different room? What if, when I open the Door - or maybe it's just a door - I'll be outside the cave? I'll be in the real world?

What if?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Don't Know

I don't know why I wrote that. I don't. I read those words - that Latin phrase "Chiaroscuro Orrery" (whoever they are) translated - and it just poured out of me. Fragments of phrases. My first post here. The poem my mom sang to me.

I have a dictionary around here somewhere. I know I do.
Chiaroscuro: the interplay of light and shadow on or as if on a surface.
Orrery: an apparatus showing the relative positions and motions of bodies in the solar system by balls moved by a clockwork.
So, what, would a "Chiaroscuro Orrery" be a shadow apparatus? Something showing the positions of light and shadow?

The Door is still there. Waiting. I don't know why. I'm never opening it again.