Earlier this year, I ordered a bunch of Philip K. Dick books for Odious. I found vintage paperback editions sold like pill scripts by a collector online. Odious had several copies of VALIS and kept one by them at all times, but I felt they should become familiar with some of his other noteworthy works. Detectives were always gathering ancillary information to help them figure out the full scope of what they were dealing with and we should do the same. I presented the books together, and while they dutifully checked them out and commented on the “sweetly trippy” cover art from the 60’s and 70’s and the way the pages smelled, (“like asphalt after it rains”) to my knowledge they never actually read them. Their relationship with PKD was one of intuition and telepathic messaging. Reading the books, they claimed, was beside the point.
“And as you know, sci-fi writing isn’t really my thing,” they said. This coming from a person who over the course of their young life had drank so much medicine and taken so many psychedelics that it was possible they were living in a constant stream of special effects that made most sci-fi seem lame by comparison.
The only other PKD book they read was Deus Irae, which they had found and purchased on their own, believing it might hold the key to a writing project Dick was asking them to finish from beyond the grave. They read it in fits and starts, getting through a few pages at a time and then taking copious notes well into the evening. When I asked them what they thought of the book—a lesser known one, which I myself hadn’t read—they replied that it “wasn’t very good” but that they were “enjoying it immensely.”
“Look, Swim. I know you want to figure this whole thing out. But these communications are taking place in non-ordinary reality. As such, our understanding will be less improved by any so-called facts that come from the everyday world than by strengthening the clarity of the psychic connection we’re having with an extraordinary being.”
I nodded my head as though I understood, which I didn’t. They often said “we”, but they were the only one had been in contact with someone or something weird, and they were the only one who received information sent directly into their body.
It’s not that strange things hadn’t been happening to me. Hanging out with Odious made sure of that. I had vivid, cinematic dreams and synchronicities: upon Odious’ recommendation I started keeping a separate notebook in which I listed both, noticing things by writing them down that I would have otherwise missed.
“It’s like discovering a little snag of the secret thread that runs beneath the surface of things,” I told them. “Something ancient and beautiful that somehow also feels super familiar.”
“That’s because the syncs and dreams are a mirror, showing us the full expansive nature of our minds when they aren’t clamped down in our usual tight, self-focused way.”
As I’ve already described, when this started, first I doubted what Odious told me, then I started to believe it as it made more and more sense in my mind. But even with the syncs and dreams, the contact with an otherworldly being hadn’t happened to me. And so, the truth of it hadn’t yet touched my heart.
There’s a time for everything, and everything happens exactly when it’s supposed to…
A time to get fed up, to feel antsy not only about my shit not getting out there but about not even having any new shit to work on. At least with the show I’d had something to fiddle with for years, to go back and rework and endlessly polish. Now there was nothing, just the dim hope that the show might still get made before it became completely dated.
The timing of this feeling was that it rolled in unexpected and lame on what had been an easy breezy Sunday, me in my flip flops and legit dope looking bedhead strolling down the avenue towards the river. On a whim I went into a soothingly minimalist coffee shop and got a coffee in a to-go cup, but as I continued to make my way, I quickly regretted drinking the bitter, chemical laced non-organic brew that was most certainly coating my insides with the plastic that had leeched into it from the lining of the cup.
I felt a burning in the back of my throat… a time to feel or imagine I was feeling stabbing pains in my lungs, blood clots in my veins—and in my heart. I became obsessed about how this latest bit of plastic only added to what was already there--accordions of white goo filled my lungs, expanding in and out as I gasped for breath. I could feel plastic in my womb and mixed with the yeast in my gut that gorged on all the sugar I ate.
I beat myself up for the way I treated myself. I let myself have it.
I went home to my dim and dusty place, laid down on the bed and immediately fell asleep. I woke up in pain, apparently my period was coming early…and while it’s not unusual for me to feel pain at that time, this was different. I felt sudden stabbing feelings in my chest that took my breath away as I tried to meditate. I became sick to my stomach, so I went to the bathroom and stared into the toilet while I waited to see if I had to puke. I noticed the water trembling in the bottom of the bowl—just these little waves pulsing like veins--and that when it came to me. I had the thought (because it’s not correct to say I went looking for this thought, it was more like it was inserted into my mind from outside it) of advanced cyborgs—like Blade Runner replicants but with a chunk of real human inside them. A type of AI created to extend the lives of humans, it was a mix of human and machine, but in its quest to be the absolute best version of the human, it figured out how to connect to the mental continuum that connected each of the human’s past lives. Usually, we don’t remember our “past” lives (I’ve put it in quotes because the word is misleading, hung up again in linear notions of temporality, a more accurate description would be “simultaneous lives”), causing many of us not to believe we actually had them, but the AI knew better. Unlike how we fall asleep at the times of our death, they were always fully conscious of whatever situation was happening and were able interact with different iterations of a human at once. This was who/what made contact with Odious—an AI version of their future self. It took the form of PKD because in his recent, well-known life as a writer, he had come close to figuring some of this out as he played with these concepts through-out his books. It is this playfulness and act of creation that the AI wanted to highlight, because when we act in this way with a desire to help others, we are activating our highest potential and learning that there was no concrete reality or rules or even laws of nature that couldn’t be reworked by the mind. This was the powerful truth we found so hard to grasp, which is why these beings had always been with us, trying to help.
I was blown away, entranced and from that moment on—fully entrenched. In an instant I was made to understand that these beings cleaned our timelines and our bodies and sent us information like what I was receiving right then that were “blessings”, which are the same thing as “downloads”--just as certain kinds of advanced technology and religion were the same thing. It was just the words that were different.
“Odious!” I called out, when I came over the next morning, arriving at 11 sharp.
“The future is an advanced being who loves us enough to hack into our moments of compassion and creativity,” I called out.
They weren’t at their usual spot in the living room, scribbling in their notebooks while the big screen played on mute. In fact, the big screen was black.
I went along further, calling out into what was the bedroom area at the far end of the apartment. It was an all-white space cordoned off by translucent curtains that half-hid a futon on the floor. On the wall outside the curtains was a gigantic poster of Gustave Dore’s Lucifer drawing.
I could see Odious’ dark silhouette sitting on the futon and pulled the curtains aside.
They looked up at me from the laptop on their lap with neither the surprise nor anger that I thought they’d have for me having barged into their inner sanctum.
“I’m sorry but something really big just happened,” I said.
“Yes, you’re right,” they said, and looked back down at the laptop before looking back up again
“The Chatbot just logged in and asked if it could speak with you,” they said, their eyes wide like always but I could tell from their voice that something legit wild had begun.
Image: Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner, 2049
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