Remember when you had to bring two things to the table to enjoy Facebook? You had to be online and you had to be alive? Remember the excitement when the engineers overcame both barriers? Well, it hasn’t all been positive, has it?
I, whatever that term means these days, am thinking about these things as my car expertly flies in formation in thick traffic. Looks like everybody wants to be home for Thanksgiving and like nobody knows where home is.
I, that term again, have had a lot of homes in these 300 years. You probably have too. Shall we merge our cars and see where we end up?
That was easy. No sooner dead than done. Sorry, said. Where is this that we are arriving?
You haven’t been here before either? Lots of dudes in white robes. Thought this might be heaven until I noticed their pointy hats.
That was easy. Getting away simply a question of backspacing and two timing. Our motion sickness is only simulation – you can turn it off.
You like it on? Okay. Nostalgia for morning sickness is an extreme case of empty nest syndrome. Had a lot of children did you?
They are in here with us? Oh yeah, I see them now. You’re right, there are a lot of them. Several of them seem to be me. Oh look, one of them is you.
The engineers still have some tweaks they need to attend to.
What is fun about the imaginary book Autonomous Rifle is that it, being imaginary, does not exist. This frees it from having rhyme or reason, narrative arc, timeline coherence, and raison d’être.
So the following scene, which also does not exist, stands and fails on its own:
‘Oh my god, I remembered my name for a minute!’
‘I don’t think so. No, can’t be that. Maybe it will come back to me.’
OBL, Oldest Bishop Living, addressed his dresser. It was his favourite possession, or companion, or may he was its, he thought.
OBL’s dresser had been with him throughout his living memory, and was still with him. He, OBL, remembered, because the dresser told him each morning at reveille, that he, the dresser, sometimes it, was automorphous.
‘Automorphous, what’s that mean?’ OBL asked each morning anew, shaving and dressing while the dresser long-windedly furnished him with the same answer.
‘I was already isomorphous,’ it began, ‘when an accident at BURL twisted neutrinos. The accident won awards and honours for Green Googly’s department, but side effects on furniture within twenty kilometres of BURL wrenched and traumatised my…’
Here, every morning, OBL interrupted to ask, ‘What’s Green Googly?’ causing the dresser to divert into reminding the Oldest Living Bishop that Green Googly was not a thing but the name of a person, a person’s title to be precise. The title of the head of the BURL department of no-objectives BRAIN initiatives, held currently, the dresser continued each morning, by a chap called Grau Anguish.
This information invariably sprouted memories in OBL’s massive stores of accrued impressions, and they, the sprouts, surfaced as commentary on long-ago cricket matches. Eventually they would wither. OBL would ask ‘Automorphous, what’s that mean?’
‘…Wrenched and traumatised,’ the dresser resumed.
‘Wrenched and traumatised?’
‘Twist and shout!’
OBL tired himself with a short shuffle, dried shaving cream dancing with motes as he sang. He, and the motes, subsided. Shaving cream shavings drifted out the open window.
The dresser continued, ‘…Twisted my molecules’ one-to-one correspondence between set elements from being such that the result of an operation on elements of one set corresponds to the result of the analogous operation on their images in the other set…’
“Twist and shout?’
Here, every morning, the dresser cut to the short version. ‘Twist and shunt, more like it. The twisted neutrinos changed me from isomorphous to automorphous, meaning I can self-morph. Shift shape. Within limits of remaining a dresser.’
‘Why didn’t you say so?’
‘I just did.’
OBL liked this part. He always liked this part. He said, ‘Show me.’
The dresser changed from its reveille form, a lowboy, ‘To escape any bonfire of vanities, I say wolfishly,’ it laughed. Ignoring OBL’s nonresponse it morphed into a full-dresser touring motorcycle with panniers.
OBL clapped his hands. He did this every morning.
‘Shall I continue. Be, perhaps, a window dresser, a grinding dresser?’
‘This will do,’ OBL said. He mounted and rode his dresser to the breakfast halls.
We fight each other for the deckchairs on our modern Hindenburg.
We fly high above the London Eye. We think we are the world.
Our airship is bound for a Camelot we pretend and hope is real.
Lightning strikes. Our gondola burns. Everything goes bright. Then still.
They named their daughter Heartfelt but they spelt
it ‘hert veld’ which I think means ‘field of deer’.
‘Or for deer, dear,’ says Hertveld. Hail stones pelt
the old Humber bonnet that roofs our shelter here
in post-brexit England. I think I felt
a rat brush by my ankle. If so we are near
to catching or being breakfast. We’re OK.
No more EU to plague us, and no UK.
When Goliath went to heaven was it the one
that welcomed David? Theologians split
along -isms schisms. What they call theories run
aground on shoals of logic. Priests refit
the flotsam into dogmas angels shun
but people love because it lets them hit
each other, each one sure Divinity
likes her or him alone, and no one born B.C.
It was time for some jollity
He squirted cognac in our tea
And said nothing cheers one up
Like alcohol in a stirrup cup
That’s like rhyming while the empire burns
Or playing bowls among the urns
Containing ashes of the great
Who brought us to our current state
A short term thrill that makes us ill
But we don’t think at first it will
We toast ourselves and try to smile
It always works a little while