I go to sleep thinking about the project and have vivid, cinematic dreams that wake me up numerous times throughout the night. Each time I make myself write down scraggily notes so I don't forget and then I check my phone, to see how much longer before sunrise. Finally, it’s time to get out of bed, shower and walk through the tired, hipster streets over to Odious’s place to begin working.
I tell myself that even if it turns out we’re not decoding the details of an actual psychic connection with something fundamentally other and outside of our reality, we are without a doubt working in new terrain. It’s not a specific piece or an object we’re creating but an equation formed out of artistic and spiritual factors that will actively produce (not recreate or mimic) the act of being pulled by forces beyond one's control into another dimension.
And it’s real work. After months of wasting much of my precious energy on doom-scrolling I had to get with the mental calisthenics and come correct. Like PKD, Odious and I are experiencing the difficulty of trying to force a holographic event into a linear transcript. We always find the best leads when we’re looking for something else. Odious refers to it as going down “the rabbit (w)hole.” We meet up in the kitchen for breaks, talking quickly, both of us shouting over the music in our ear buds like the nutjobs we are. We combine elements collage style, stacking images and text with pieces torn off like old wheat paste posters revealing the cross section of layers underneath.
(the past inside the present)
We discussed the medium in which we would put it out. We agreed that it couldn’t be a book—a book has the shelf life of a banana. How about Netflix? I asked. I could reach out to my contacts. We could do it over a whole season of episodes.
“That would be great, but a show takes too long to make. And we’d lose all control. Look at what happened to your show—it’s still sitting on a shelf somewhere.”
I nodded and looked down, feeling the strange mix of pride and pain whenever my show gets mentioned.
Odious suggested that we eschew technology and social media altogether and come up with a list of 70 or 80 people and mail out real letters like PKD did himself, after his Tagore dream in 1982.
“I need help, writing it and organizing the actual mailing. I have email addresses and phone numbers but no physical addresses. Do you know if electronic typewriters can have dirty keys? Cuz it would look dope if the insides of some of the letters were filled with ink, just, you know, to create a mood.”
I told them I wasn’t sure people even opened their mail anymore.
“We’ll make the envelopes look super official. Like a letter from the government is inside. Some scary shit. Which to be honest, it is. We’re sending out a puzzle, that’s at the same time an SOS, a chain letter co-signed from the fucked-up future. And a lot of people are going to say, yeah, yeah, yeah, we know, we know, we know… and they do. Climate change and capitalism and all that is real but they don’t get yet is the importance of this special, limited time offer we have in the form of this current rapidly degrading existence. This is our one and only chance to stop the sucking forward of our mental continuums into a terrible new reality. Like the one I saw in Barcade.”
I nodded and got up to get a drink. They hardly ever brought that up, and for good reason. I watched from the kitchen as the memory of what they saw made them more and more vulnerable by the second. It was last year in Barcade, pre-pandemic…and over a year before the solstice contact dream. Odious liked to meet up there to play Tetris. We were waiting on our coconut porters when our attention was drawn to the movie playing on the screen to the side of the bar. It was a scene from the rebooted Robocop, which neither of us had seen. Even back then I knew certain types of violence were to be avoided. I tried to pull them away, but it was too late. They were stunned and frozen, giving me a surprisingly strong stiff arm as they looked up in terror at the pale, human cyborg hooked into a wall of machines, cables plugged into their skull and feeding them black liquid from long, winding tubes.
It was a scene from the end of the world, or the beginning of a new, even more fucked up one. But that's just how I remembered it, and I was already drunk.
“It’s me,” they said at the time, and repeated it to me again, over a year later. I dropped my drink and rushed over to hold their cold, trembling hand. The memory of it made them so pale it was like their skin was translucent. Like they were barely there.
“That was me.”
Image by Harrison Ellenshaw