part ONE

The following is the story of your life. You might think, “this guy doesn’t know me, how could he possibly have written a story about my life?” I assure you that no prior acquaintance with you is a prerequisite to the writing of the story at hand. Some would call us all no more than just bricks in a wall. Others choose metaphors more imaginative or colourful. Still others put it bluntly: everyone is the same; you know one, you know all. It all begins after your, shall we say, eventful entry into this world by means of exiting the womb of your maternal host. Well, actually, it does not truly begin there. We could stretch the story back to the day of conception. Your parents met in coitus. Shared the sacred carnal knowledge of the ancients. Deposited that unlikely seed in an unlikely garden and watered it down with a moan of precious, hot-white pleasure. You might suspect that the story actually stretches even farther back. One might trace this all the way back through the generations. Even all the way back to the proverbial Eve, mother of humanity. Look far enough and I might be commencing my tale with harrowing adventures of our ancestral hominids and the eventful lives they must have led. Primordial Soup. Volcanic Earth. Big Bang. Where does one draw the line? Are any of these events real? Or are they nought but musings of an imagination allowed to run amok? But let’s not get carried away, shall we? Let’s return to more relevant issues. The matter-at-hand, so-to-speak. The story of You. Blinking eyes and chest expanding. Beating heart and eyeball darting. Circulating blood and lungs exhaling. Forget for a moment that these are nothing but biological truths of an animal sustaining and exhibiting life. Who is the animal of which I speak? There are no other animals to speak of here. None to examine and observe. None to collect abstractions of information about to deposit in textbooks which carry the abstractions into the abstracting intellectual mind of other hypothetical, abstract animals. None other than the observer. None other than the reader of these words who is also, paradoxically, their writer and creator. Do you believe these words would exist without you? Is this conceivable? Anyway, so what is the content of the story of your life? No doubt your first moments here were spent in the horrifying indecency of being unclothed. Indecent Exposure, I believe, is the term for this offence. So you were born a criminal. And you screamed. Oh, boy did you scream. But who wouldn’t after spending the last nine months of their life submerged in amniotic fluid with a cable securing them in place by the navel? But I have an even more interesting question for you, kind reader. How freshly does this eventful day conjure itself to your working memory when summoned? Tell me, is it vivid, like one of those colourful dreams you are sometimes privy to? How can you be certain it took place? Irrelevant! But let’s continue. Your early childhood and infancy are also subject to the same blankness of mind attributed to severe cases of amnesia. A gaping hole in the tapestry of your life. Almost as though they never happened. You’ve probably heard stories about those times. About all the vagaries and nuances of your self-protecting behaviour. Cry when hungry. Cry when lonely. Cry when scared. Cry at pretty much every occasion to do so. Sleep a lot too. No doubt. All stories, though, just like this. The story of your life. Then, what? You starting growing fast. Itchy gums. Chickenpox. Itchy bum. Shit your pants. More than once. “No, no, no I never shat my pants!” Oh yes you did. This is the story of your life, just as real as any other fiction silently revolving around the central axis of your mind. And then, what? Maybe you had a terrible childhood…maybe you were abused. Maybe in a subtle way. Maybe you were shouted at. Screamed at. Yelled at. Ostracised for the myriad irresponsible actions a child’s mind will attempt. Maybe you were even struck. Is that just a euphemism for “beaten”? Where is that line drawn? Maybe you learned the lesson. But not the one they intended you to learn. You learned by example. You learned by mimicry. You took the suggestion. You got the clue. And you grew a little more. Baby teeth fell out. Body grew fast. Here is where you began to realize that others exist. Before it was just a matter of securing the existence of the one and only whole and contiguous YOU. But soon, agents begin to sprout up. Other consciousnesses. Not just blobs of colour moving around in your mind. But real genuine people. And your empathy thus germinated. But think for a second: are those people you see really anything more than blobs of colour and forms moving around in your field of vision? So even at this young and immature age, already your mind is beginning to be clouded by abstractions and interpretations. You start to attribute characters to the simple forms you perceive. You start talking to your dolls or action figures. You start interacting with the world in a whole new way. Not only is your conceptualization of others developing here, but also your conceptualization of yourself. YourSelf. YOU. Now you begin to define the borders of your imperial domain. The thin ethereal membrane that partitions the world and its agents from the world of YOU. This is the role you entrust to your skin. It is to separate you from everything. Hence begins the first major division of contiguity. Hence starts conflict and a faint foreshadow of the disturbed schizophrenia to come. What of your memories of these times? Are they continuous or random? Clear or hung-over? Accessible or blank? But it is likely that these recollections are more reliable the further forward through time we travel. Now you are in the playground. This is the time for forging an identity. This is where you are an animal among animals fighting for dominance. Cunning wit and beefy brawn battle it out. You build friendships and you make enemies. This is where social life starts to develop. The lessons learned through mimicry are showcased and melted together. Natural selection determines those the group adopts. Thus does the older generation teach the younger. All the other kids mimic the victorious kids. This is where you began stockpiling a hefty library of adopted behaviours and learned attitudes and mental sets to help define YOU in the sovereign realm of your dominion. This is where your image of yourself is agglomerated and distilled. Still later, more refinements arrive. TV worshipped. Movies absorbed. Characters learned. Roles played. Your real lesson of childhood as you emerged from it was the lesson of how to be an actor.

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