I've lost it, my empty mind, the one that always accompanies me on long walks down by the river or around the shining lake, stripped of the protective armor one carries into the city, a shield against the abrading noise and shape-shifting pedestrian traffic, scary tourists, scary locals, beastly shadows, the sad gray city where I shake out my snub-nosed ego and root around in the shite for a nugget of authenticity, any effin real thing, or imagined real thing, it used to be STDs, now it's diabetes, take your pick, amigo, we're all eating and drinking too much, even though you can't find a decent cup of coffee anywhere, except that corporate free trade crap. We've replaced one fetish with another, lesser one, diving in dumpsters like skunks. Sniff -- ah! –- human garbage. It's an overstuffed world full of congested minds and fat guts, gout, high blood pressure, piles, neuroses.
Quist warned me, "A man can only reinvent himself so many times before the devil's gonna grab him and make him sit still." You come into town and take that empty mind of yours upstairs to the Human Resources department. They've been sterilizing their instruments of torture up there, getting ready to perform The Great Orientation. And they’re not devils, no, just a bunch of strung-out weasels trying to earn enough dough to pay the train fare each month. Going back and forth, back and forth, from cheap tract housing to their little chamber of horrors. Where they make you fill out their effin forms.
Before you drink the Kool-Aid and get Orientated, you’ve got to fill out their forms. Who to contact in an emergency. Next of kin. What to owe the government. Beneficiaries. Why do they call it insurance if the payout comes after you’ve been planted in the ground? Your only beneficiaries are gonna be the worms who slither around thinking, “It's a dirty world up there in HR. Much dirtier than the soil we produce.”
The mind starts out empty – a tabula rasa – like a limp balloon, ready for inflation, but not innocent – no, never innocent – a monstrosity even when empty, the human mind believing itself separate from every other human mind. The poet said no man is an island. We’re all segments of one grapefruit, poot, bees in one hive, no matter how lonely it feels. It’s terribly painful, the filling-up process, the injection of meaning and metaphor into those nerve cells, analogy and memory, sensation and data, all that shite flowing through receptors which cannot be turned off unless asleep, which is when the clean-up crew comes along and rearranges the files. The nightly derangement. I dreamt I was awake, poot, and it scared the living daylights out of me. Someone was trying to cram more stuff into my mind and I was getting more alienated by the minute. Antsy, itchy, angry even. Wanting to take off in a hot car and hit the road, wanting to empty my mind and start over again, fresh. A do-over. Another chance. A second coming.
I was taught that this is the city of second chances and I could be anything I wanted to be – a swan, a duck, or even a normal, reasonable person. But that was before I saw what Human Resources could do to you, how those weasels could empty your mind and fill it again with newspeak, purge you of a soul and make you grovel for a few extra dollars, ticket money for that long train ride out of town. I saw how they turned you into software, inscribing badly written code into your unique human mind, orienting you toward specific tasks and unreasonable targets, for the good of the hive. You’re a processor now, poot, no different than this here computer I’m typing on.
Tell me, does it make a difference if I can get my mind to empty itself of its own accord, if I take a deep breath and let everything go? Who knows. Anyway, I’ve lost the knack. I’m filled to the brim, Jim. Stuck. Ready to keel over. I no longer possess a deliberate emptied mind, receptive to the sensed world, the one that comes at me in waves, sensuous and green, when I go walking down by the river -- who knows where the river goes? -- or the bright shining lake. It’s the world that Human Resources doesn’t see and cannot touch, a world apart, the empty world, the product of an empty mind. At one time, you were there too, weren’t you? Please tell me you remember.