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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


AND THE My name is Martin Behaim. ARE YOU MARTIN? My name is Martin Behaim. CAN YOU SEE ANYTHING? GREATER SHADOWS ARE YOU MARTIN? An hour ago, I woke up. ARE YOU MARTIN? My name is (borrowed a shilling) Martin Behaim. FALL FROM I have no idea where I am. CAN YOU SEE ANYTHING? ARE YOU MARTIN? My name is Martin Behaim. THE LOFTY THEY CONSTANTLY TRY TO ESCAPE My name is Martin Behaim. FROM THE DARKNESS OUTSIDE AND WITHIN An hour ago (a shilling of me), I woke up. CAN YOU SEE ANYTHING? MOUNTAINS I have no idea where I am. CAN YOU SEE ARE YOU MARTIN THE MAN THAT SHALL SHADOW THE MAN THAT PRETENDS TO BE CAN YOU SEE ANYTHING? (he borrowed a shilling of me)


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Meaning and Nothingness

So I started rereading my old posts, going back to the beginning. And then I reread "Out of the Spent and Unconsidered Earth" and came to the end. The part where the narrator realizes that nothing was real except the City.

Does it cause hallucinations? Are the shadows -- the Nightlanders, as I call them now, thank you, William Hope Hodgson -- part of it? Are they a symptom of the City? Or does the City just target people who are already mentally unstable? Fuck it, I don't know.

But the second-to-last post, before that R Kipling realized he was crazy, was this:
Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. 
Majoresque cadunt altis de montibus umbræ.

What does that even mean? And the Latin...I recognize "umbrae." That means shadow. What does the rest of it mean?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Clock Stuck Twenty Minutes To Six

I had a dream last night. I dreamed I walked to the Door and it was open and I walked through it and it was dark and cold and wet. The ground was muddy and my bare feet made squishy noises as I walked. I could barely see an inch in front of me.

Then the world exploded into light, as fire lit up the sky for a few seconds, and I could see. I was on a battlefield. I should have been worried, I should have been scared, but I wasn't. I walked steadily towards one of the trenches, past barbed wire and bullets, and climbed down the ladder into the trench itself. Men and boys in overcoats and gas masks clutching guns rushed past me, not even noticing I was there.

More men walked past me, except this time one of them stopped. He looked at me and then said "You."

I didn't speak. I don't know if I couldn't or if it was just because I didn't know what to say. The man continued, "You are here. That must mean it's close. The end." He looked me up and down and then removed his mask, revealing a middle-aged man with dark brown hair and scars on his jaw. "Do you know where you are?" I still said nothing. "You're in Wipers. During the Great War." Wipers?

Ypres. I was in the Battle of Ypres. This was William Hope Hodgson. "You don't know yet, do you?" Hodgson asked me. "What you are?" I still said nothing. "This may help," he said and lifted up his bag, removing a book I recognized. "Only copy ever printed, I made sure of that. What's your name?"

Martin, I said. I saw him remove a pen and write something in the book.

"Here," he said and handed it over to me. It was The City on the Borderland.

More explosions rocked the trench. "Go," he said. "Read it. Know thyself." He put on his gas mask again and rushed off, leaving me in the middle of the trench.

A Door appeared in the side of the trench and I opened it and walked through. I was in the house again, in my bedroom, and there I was in bed, awake and watching the shadow play on the wall. I slipped forward and left the book on the nightstand and then exited through the Door again.

I walked into my childhood bedroom, where a six-year-old me was huddled against my mother as she read The Monster at the End of This Book. I looked so scared that I couldn't believe it was me. Then my mother realized I probably wasn't going to fall asleep with such a scary story, so she started singing a nursery rhyme:

I dreamed a dream next Tuesday
Week beneath the apple tree;
I thought my eyes were big pork-pies,
And my nose was Stilton cheese.
The clock struck twenty minutes to six
When a frog sat on my knee;
I asked him to lend me eighteen pence,
But he borrowed a shilling of me.

It was then I realized something. This wasn't me. This was someone else. This was someone else's mother. Someone else's memories. I wasn't huddled in my bed.

I was just a shadow on the wall.

Friday, June 3, 2011


I'm back. Back here, back in this house. Back in the same fucking place I left.

Five days. Five fucking days I've been gone? Fuck.

I'm not stupid. Before I opened the Door, I packed a bag full of as much food and water as it could carry. I packed a flashlight, too, in case it was dark wherever the Door led. Then I opened the Door and stepped through.

Into a hallway. It was a long, featureless, white hallway. It was incredibly long, but I could still see where it ended with another Door (or perhaps this one was just a regular door, I think, ready to lead me outside to a world with sunlight and skies). So I started to walk.

And walk and walk and walk. And the other Door didn't seem to be getting any closer. So I ate something and drank some water (and, yes, saw a man about a horse, if you get my drift) and continued on. And on and on and on.

Still, the Door wasn't any closer. I turned around and saw that the Door I had come through was also far away. My immediate thought: motherfucker. My second thought: this is Zeno's Infinite Fucking Hallway.

Do you know what Zeno's Paradox is? Imagine a straight line. You can walk along this line to the halfway point. But to reach the halfway point, you first have to reach halfway to the halfway point. And first you have to reach halfway to the halfway halfway point. And so on and so forth, ad fucking infinitum.

But I couldn't turn back, so I walked on. And kept walking, while my food supply dwindled. I slept on the cold floor and I crapped on the cold floor and I walked miles and miles and miles. I thought I walked a hundred miles one day and then I looked in my bag and found I was down to one can of beans and one bottle of water.

At one point, I remember I came across a window in the wall. I looked out to see a city street lined with tall buildings of steel and glass. I must have been way up high, because I could see the city streets rearranging themselves. I looked out and saw a man walking down one of the shifting streets and he looked up at me and waved. I waved back.

Then I continued walking. I ate the beans slowly and portioned the water carefully. I wasn't going to let this fucking hallway beat me.

Eventually, however, I came to my last bean. I dropped my bag on the ground and clutched the half-filled water bottle in my hand and continued walking. The water bottle became quarter-filled and then one-fifth filled and then suddenly it was empty. I dropped it too and continued walking.

I became so very tired. I tried holding on the walls for support, but there was nothing to hold on to. I tripped and fell down and couldn't get the energy to get back up. I looked down the hallway I had come from and I could barely make out the Door I had gone through. I turned my head to the direction I was walking...

...and there it was. Five feet away. It hadn't been five feet away before, but now it was. I pushed myself up carefully and took slow steps to the Door and opened it.

And I found myself back here.