Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Sleep Of Reason Chapter 8

A lot of the writing I've done on this book has been without a conscious filter. I'll be curious to reread it and discover if it has any value. I'm sure it will have to be substantially edited, but I'm convinced that the most interesting writing is not done by the critical mind. At any rate, the title, The Sleep of Reason seems appropriate:

Chapter 8

Unable to fight the desire for company, the temptation to contact Dave again struck her. To resist the idea, she decided to check Doug’s office to see if she could locate any information on Russell. That was the answer to her worry and doubt: distraction and possible knowledge to be gained. Doug seemed to hold Russell in high regard, despite Russell’s humble, even meek demeanor. And there was a quiet confidence in Russell, she had seen that.
Mindy had access to Doug’s office but knew it wasn’t good form to go snooping around on the boss’s business. It wasn’t proper to go sneaking through drawers and file cabinets, but she needed more answers than she was getting. She trusted Doug because she had to, not because she wanted to. If Doug was not happy with her digging for information she would be willing to take the consequences. She and Dave’s decision to stay with Doug had been a tentative one, one that hung on a fine balance (?).
She entered the office located behind the display counter. She was allowed access there, but the way she intended to search the place was not something she wanted to be discovered. She opened drawers in Doug’s desk and found each of them to be stuffed with various papers, business cards, and other items. If ever a man needed a secretary, thought Mindy. Izzy’s description of an absent-minded professor came back to her and the state of Doug’s desk supported the idea. It seemed that Doug was always in pursuit of something, books, magic equipment and collectibles if not ideas. But it was Doug’s approach to life, to follow his inspirations faster than he could assemble them into a neat whole. She’d read somewhere that a messy desk was a sign of intelligence. If this was true, Doug was the next Einstein.
There were several times she thought she saw the name Russell written, but Doug’s hastily scribbled writing was open to interpretation. It was only when she found a list that she knew she had what she was looking for. On it were names of people, some she recognized, some she did not. Among the names was an Alan Clifton, which had been crossed out. Also listed was Jonathon Sinclair, Isadore Collins, and Russel Slater. And listed on the bottom were the names Dave Morse and Mindy Virgilio. Next to the names were the persons abilities. By Izzy’s name was the comment: ability to weave a narrative from incomplete information. Next to Johnny’s was the ability to interact with psychic residue. Next to Russell’s was a list: scryving, astral travel, rudimentary telekenesis, etc. Next to Dave’s name were the words “dream visions”, while next to Mindy’s name was a question mark.
What was she doing on the list? She didn’t have any abilities. Did she? No. At least, she hadn’t exhibited any signs of any yet. But she thought of the discussion they had had with Russell and Doug. They had said the very fact that they saw things others didn’t was the reason for Dave acquiring the ability to see things in his dreams. If that were true, and Mindy had seen things that others don’t, then it would only stand to reason that she too would have some ability as a result. But what? She really didn’t care to know. Now that she had found Russell’s name, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to ask him questions. But she realized it didn’t really matter what she wanted, she needed answers.

Returning to the sales counter, she sat herself in front of the computer monitor. Without experience of locating people online, she typed Russell Slater into Facebook just to see what would turn up. There was exactly many matches, but she recognized his face among the crowd. Mindy took a chance and sent a friend request. She was surprised when a moment later she heard her computer sound loudly, letting her know her request had been accepted. She saw a familiar image on her screen.
Checking his page before deciding to initiate a conversation, she noticed 5,000 friends.
“Russell?” Mindy typed.
“Mindy. How are you doing?”
“Fine. I was just alone and thought if you weren’t busy you might be able to answer some questions.”
Mindy received a request for a video chat, which she accepted. A familiar face appeared, friendly but awkward, almost childish yet obviously intelligent. She couldn’t tell what it was behind him, she almost thought it was a mirror.
“I’ve been wanting to talk to you and Dave,” said a voice that reminded her of a (Promising child) young man who sought to sound older than his years. “Russell likes to keep his new recruits to himself.”
Mindy couldn’t help thinking there was something missing in Russell. He seemed to be the stereotypical egghead who possessed vast amounts of knowledge while lacking basic social skills. There was a certain amount of awkwardness to him that he strived to ignore.
“I was thinking the same thing about you,” said Mindy. “I’ve only ever seen you through a television or computer screen. It’s like Doug keeps you in a box.” Mindy laughed, but humor did not appear to be one of Russell’s strong suits.
“I don’t get out that way much,” said Russell, avoiding looking directly at the screen. “There’s really no need to, not when technology can provide all the communication necessary.”
“Well that should be good enough for the questions I have. It’s not just you Doug keeps things from.
“And what is it you wish to know?”
“Well, I feel awkward even talking about such things. It’s like something you’re not supposed to talk about, something you keep secret. I can only talk to Dave and Izzy about it because they experienced it too. They’re in on it. But to talk to someone like you, someone I don’t really know…”
“Let me assure you that there is nothing you can tell me that will surprise me. You had your first encounter in April? What is that, like six months now? I have more than two decades worth of research into aspects of reality that most people never encounter.”
More than two decades, Mindy couldn’t help thinking. Either Russell looked incredibly young for his age or his experiences began when he was quite young.
“Well, back when all this began, Dave began to have dreams. I was quite willing to believe that they were just that, that maybe my friend I’d known most of my life was beginning to unravel. Hell, Dave was willing to believe that too. It wasn’t until we both saw things we couldn’t deny with our own eyes that we had to admit it wasn’t just madness. We were seeing things that others don’t—we were seeing things that others would call crazy.”
“If one person sees something unusual it is not to be believed,” said Russell. “If two people see it, it begins to appear true. If everyone sees it, it is undeniable. That is the way the human psyche is constructed. And now you have others, people like Doug, and Johnny and Izzy and myself who agree with your story. Now it’s even harder to deny what you have seen. And you would like to, wouldn’t you?”
“Yeah. I guess I would. But failing that, I’d like to understand it. It seems like we are in the middle, not being able to doubt it, but not being able to understand it.”
“I’ll help you as best I can, although ultimately it is up to you to perceive the truth in whatever I say. Your ability to see, to understand, makes you more able to move your way through the world. And when I say you, I mean anybody. Knowledge is power. The more clearly you perceive the world you live in, the greater your ability to affect change in that world. Because Dave was able to see things beyond the accepted paradigms he acquired powers that did not exist within that paradigm. He catches glimpses in his dreams of things he couldn’t possibly know. That is a power, but it is one of perception. Izzy has an ability to gain knowledge through creating stories. He takes isolated facts, perceptions, and from them he has the ability not only to weave a narrative, but to a certain degree shape that narrative. Johnny has an ability to see the remaining spiritual echoes of perished souls. In this way he is able to alter the emotional atmosphere of a given area.
“Yes, but ghosts and demons…” Mindy realized she had cut him off before he got around to Doug. She wanted to know what abilities he had, but was already committed to another line of thought. “It’s like we’ve entered a different universe where all the laws are changed.”
“Watch this video,” said Russell, sending her this message on her Facebook page:
“It’s something I share with new recruits. It will help you understand. A little.”
Mindy clicked on the link. It was a video titled Test Your Awareness: Do The Test. It showed two teams of 4, one team in black, the other in white. She was asked to count the amount of passes the team in white made, and she was quite happy when the video confirmed her count of 13. Her feeling of pride faded, though, when the narrator asked if she had also seen the moonwalking bear. There was no way something like that avoided her sight, she thought. The video was then rewound and, her mind now no longer busy counting passes, she clearly saw a man dressed in a bear suit walk into frame, walk into the middle, turn around and walked backwards off screen. She couldn’t believe that this was the same video, could not believe she had missed something so obvious. It was a trick, nothing more. She returned the video to the beginning, watch the part she had originally watched. Again, a man dressed as a bear walked into frame, again moonwalked his way off it.
There was no way she did not notice it, there must be some kind of trick.
“That can’t be real,” she said.
“It’s just a simple case of misdirection,” said Russell, exhibiting a degree of satisfaction with the result. “You as a magician’s assistant must be familiar with the concept.”
“Okay,” said Mindy, retreating from the specific example but not the overall concept. “But that is a lonnng way from what we are talking about. It’s a big difference from a simple case of misdirection and a colossal prank by God. How is it that people can not only be fooled once but consistently by some sort of misdirection?”
“Because human consciousness is not what we like to think it is, at least for the most part. We have some dim awareness, some small degree of something we like to call intellect, and we arrogantly presume it is the deciding factor in how we see, what we do. We amuse ourselves in playing a trick on a dog, searching for a ball that we have not thrown, all the time feeling ourselves intellectual superiors. But the truth is our intellectual superiority is of a fractional degree, and our amount of interaction with the universe exponential. The vast amount of dealings with the outside world is actually done on primitive levels. A scent, a color, a person’s relative height all influence our behavior much more than we ever permit ourselves to see.
“The psychological term for it is the illusion of knowledge, the belief that we know more than we know. The thought that the simple model we created of the universe is the universe. Because it works, because it keeps us moving, we accept its reality. And when things that do not fit into our model pop up, we rationalize them, dismiss them because it would be too much of a bother to incorporate them into our unsophisticated model.”
“So what the hell does this have to do with ghosts? And devils? And God knows what else?”
“I’ve got another video for you to watch.” Again, he sent a link to her Facebook page: Feeling the frustration rising in her, Mindy nevertheless clicked on it. It was a video of a mass of ants swarming in a circle.
“What is it?”
“Ants have the ability to follow the scent of the one in front of them. In such a way they are able to send out scout ants in order to find a source of food. Once the food is found, the others follow the scent in order to find the food. It’s an ingenious system. And it works. That is, until something throws a wrench in the system. That’s what happened here. The ants all followed one another but somehow ended up circling back upon themselves. Now stuck in the loop, a circular mill, it is called, they will continue to follow each other blindly until they drop dead from exhaustion.
“Their system was a complex one,” Russell continued, “but imperfect. Humans are smarter, but not by as much as we would like to think, not when compared to any vast span. We have little more understanding than ants in the grand scheme of things. What we see—or think we see—are mere glimpses of what truly is. We see the world in a way that works for us, it is functional vision, at least as long as we need to know how many times the basketball was passed. Ghosts, demons, they’re like moonwalking bears that most of us don’t see. Do you get it?”
“I think you do, actually. You begin to understand, at least.”
“But the bear wasn’t actually a bear but a man in a bear suit. Does that mean what we mistake for ghosts or demons, while being something beyond the basketball game we normally are involved in, it is not ‘really’ a ghost but some manifestation of human energy?”
“That’s not really where I was going, but I think the analogy holds.”
“I don’t even know what it was I said.”
“I think you understand, in some manner. Ghosts, demons, tulpa, they are all products of human psychic energy. They are products of the human subconscious, manifesting themselves in a way humans can understand. You see, most of what we think of as psychic energy takes place not only in the sub-conscious but outside of the individual. We think of ourselves as separate and distinct, but much of the time our minds work like computers that are working on the problems of other computers. (clarify) We are synapses in a vast brain that does the thinking for us all.”
In his excitement with the ideas he was communicating, he momentarily forgot his discomfort with direct eye contact. He stared at Mindy, and in that moment realized how completely lost she looked. He cast his eyes away and muttered, “Sorry, I got a little carried away. But you have broken through the walls that society, that fear has placed upon you. You will grow to understand the misconceptions that most of us suffer under. Don’t worry if you don’t understand some of the concepts, it will come. It’s a far more complex paradigm than your mind is used to using, it’s only natural that it will be a little unbalancing.”
“Should I be taking notes?” said Mindy, attempting a little humor in order to lighten the conversation.
“No need. These are the sort of things that you won’t forget. They are abilities, like riding a bike, not bits of data like a locker combination.”
Mindy realized that whatever conversation she had with Russell, whatever he could learn from him, would not be the simple answers she had hope to gain in order give her peace about her and Dave’s position. The answers Russell had were so large that they would totally reshape her perspective, take years for her to feel some sense of balance again. She was beginning a journey that she knew would not be lightly completed. The seeds that had been planted in her mind were not (easy flowers) but oak trees.
Enough of concepts, for today at least,” Russell said in a manner that showed he was not completely devoid of humor. “Perhaps there are other answers I can give you that aren’t so involved.”
Mindy thought it over for a moment, unwilling to be sucked in again to explanations that were beyond her. “Tell me about Doug. What do you know about him.
“He’s a hobbyist,” said Russell, “playing with forces far beyond him. He was fortunate to have a degree of insight and enough money to follow his interests, but that means little in the big picture.
Mindy was alarmed. This was not something she wanted to hear.
“That’s not to say he’s a bad guy or anything. “And to be fair, such forces are beyond any of us. He’s well intentioned, I believe, but he has no idea what he’s involved in.”
“And what makes you so much more knowledgeable that Doug?” asked Mindy, almost defensive of Doug because of her need to believe he was someone who might be able to take care of them.
“Because this has been all mapped out long before Doug took in interest in such things.”
“By who?”
“By the government, among others. By advertisers and marketing firms. By anyone who has an interest in determining how you think and feel, in what you believe. Billions are paid each year to get your mind to see the many choices of bottled water you have rather than seeing the lakes and rivers that are being polluted.”
“Is it really that bad?” asked Mindy. She was beginning to sense the amount her perceptions were shaped by others’ perceptions, but perhaps she didn’t want to admit how little in control of her own life she was.
“Those who rule have always been interested in shaping the perceptions of those who are ruled. But never in the history of humanity has their reach been so great. Advances in technology and psychology have enabled the messages of the rulers to permeate our consciousness that no other society could have imagined.”
There was a lot more Mindy wanted to ask, but she found herself delving in too deep again. It was best that she stick to the shallower water, at least for now.
“And what about you, Russell? Where did all of your information and insight come from?”
“I worked for various governments. Oh no, not as an agent, more of a guinea pig. I had certain talents that attracted attention. But this is one field of study where the guinea pig is apt to learn as much or more than those who study him. I wasn’t a mere test case like Ted Kaczynsky, a man without innate talent that they simply experimented on. I had more value, was fortunate to be left more or left intact.”
“Ted Kaczynsky? The Unibomber was the subject of government testing?”
“Yeah. I’ll send you some links about it. Don’t go sticking your head down too far into that rabbit hole,” Russell laughed, showing a capacity for humor for a second time, “the truth is so tangled in the fantasies of those that survived it you’ll end up driving yourself insane.”
“But back to me. When our government discovered that the Soviets were conducting scientific experiments into psychic phenomena, we decided we should look into such matters as well. Again, always with a military angle. And when the Soviet Union fell and there was no money left for them to pay for such programs, we permitted some of their scientists to emigrate to the U.S. and continue their experiments. I had certain innate talents that were recognized—how I’m not quite sure—and I was recruited into their programs. You may laugh to think of your government spending your tax dollars on such studies as telekenesis and astral projection, but the people in control are always looking for any way to expand that control. The U.S., U.S.S.R., even the Nazis were looking for supernatural means of obtaining military victory. That’s why I say Doug is a hobbyist. By the time an idea makes its way into a newspaper or some mass media film, it’s already been thoroughly explored by the military.”
Mindy heard voices outside the shop door. She wasn’t sure if they were about to enter, but she took the moment to end the conversation with Russell. He had already given her more information than she could possibly digest. She had wanted answers, as well as a diversion from worrying about Dave. She had gotten neither.
“I think I hear people coming,” she said. “I’ll let you go, now. Thanks for the information. When I can stomach it, I’ll be back for more.”
“Sorry I overwhelmed you,” said Russell.
“Not at all.”

Mindy returned home later that evening, receiving a text from Dave that they had arrived at their destination and were so far both alive. Alone for the evening, she threw a pizza in the oven and sat herself in front of the television. TV had always given her a feeling that she was somehow connected to a vast world out there somewhere, but now she wondered exactly what it was she was connected to. What once bathed itself over her subconscious, uncritical mind now seemed to her a less than innocent diversion. She couldn’t block out the idea that as she was staring into the screen that something was staring back at her. It left her with such an unnerving feeling that the television was off before the oven timer sounded.
While eating she stared instead into her laptop. She went to check Facebook but got out when she noticed Russell was still on. She really had no desire to bite off more of the information he was willing to provide when she already had so much to digest. She went to bed early, her thoughts busy with assembling ideas Russell had provided, her cell phone next to her in case Dave reported back.

She awoke in the middle of the night to a message from Dave that told her they had encountered and survived a ghost. He would see her after the show the next night, perhaps driving all the way back.

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