#84: INTO A DREAM
"Even human psychology has quantum modes; it's the position of undecidability in logical and signifying systems becoming joined at the psychological level by the metaphysical glue we call emotion. Resistance on a political level, the dark specter of crisis that haunts capitalism, these sorts of things also exemplify a quantum mode in a collective psychological sense. But, at the same time, quantum modes can be traced back to singular points, because that's their beauty. It is absolutely necessary to find this operative concept, the thing that determines objective indeterminacy. Of course, I don't mean actual quantum functions are occurring in the brain on a subatomic level--I only mean that human psychology mirrors the behaviour of particles at subatomic levels. We are all quantum beings, just like the photograph. I think it's the internet that is making us realize this for the first time. Operative concepts are now something we can choose--the user of the Net can become a sum of the information they desire, not what someone else tells them to do. That's also the danger of these spaces, don't you think? Who's to say what we're doing right now isn't just closing that quantum gap between us?"
"I don't understand what you're saying. What the hell?"
"I'm saying that reality is a quantum state. It exists and it doesn't. I can prove it to you, too, if you'd let me. I'm here, in Japan, and I'm here to show you reality itself."
"Just shut up, please. I don't even know your name."
"I'm sorry. I guess we've never been formally introduced. My name is--"
"Don't even say it! I swear to god, I'll kill you right now if you do."
"If I wake up from this dream, what then?"
"Our whole fucking friendship was a dream. Now you call me up over the phone years later as if it would be two old friends catching up. Hi, internet friend of mine I abandoned, how're you? Me? I'm fine, I'm working for a fancy tech company we swore we would someday destroy, how are you? Fuck off! How did you even get this number?"
"Everyone is visible on the internet these days. You understand, don't you? The world's gotten smaller. You of all people should know that the internet has become like a kind of map."
"Enough. I'm sick of this. I don't want to hear your voice. It's something I was never meant to hear. These worlds were never meant to cross."
"Do you see the Elysian fields too? I can see straight across the horizon and back to where I'm standing again. That's how small this world is, and I can feel the electricity of it all enter my body and pulse through it. When will you join me here? I've waited for what feels like a millennia. The world cascades, and so does my soul. Doesn't yours, too?"
"I can't even parse what you're saying anymore."
"Don't call me ever again."
"Okay, take it easy."
"Shut the hell up. I'm sober."
"What? No you're not."
"Don't talk to me that way. You're going to sing one more song and you're going to like it."
The cramped karaoke booth's disco light made it difficult for David to focus on Eriko's face. What kind of expression was she wearing? He couldn't be sure. Of course, it was normal for them to drink together until the wee hours of the morning, but the speed with which Eriko had taken it tonight was unusual enough that David had paced his own intake in such a way to make sure he would still be lucid enough to console her should the excessive drinking be related to something she was too afraid to tell him sober.
He figured he should continue to humour her, at least.
"What should we sing? You pick."
"Oh, I wouldn't know..."
"You do! You do know! You know deep in your heart what song it is you want to hear!"
David flipped through the section of the song listings labelled "INTERNATIONAL."
"No, dumbass, pick something in Japanese!"
"I can't sing in English, let alone Japanese."
"What, you afraid of a little kanji? Afraid of some little squiggles? Get over it and just feel it."
And they sang and sang and sang. Pop songs between dreary enka tracks that took them to another time and place. Volumes escalated until it was mostly screaming into the mic, like they were expelling demons from their body and embedding them into the notes of every song. After a while Eriko finally sat down and slumped over on David's shoulder, whispering something into his ear:
"I have to tell you something."
"What is it?"
A smile-like shape formed on her face and she punched a song into the machine.
"This is my favourite song."
She pulled him up off the couch to his feet, and they sang together.
Into a dream, into a dream, into a dream...
Then she vomited.
Carefully, he laid her out on her futon and felt instant relief on his back from having carried her home. He looked around the apartment, a place he had never entered before. She had always met him at the bottom of the stairs. From the looks of it, no one had entered here but her. The futon had been laid out for as long as she'd lived here, and the apartment was a mess of clothes and boxes of rotting fruit stacked in a corner. The only pristine thing in here was the suit she had worn to their meeting with Coleman.
Her soft breathing filled the room.
He decided she was asleep, and felt awkward staying around much longer. The room was painfully Eriko's, and he felt like he was intruding. Just as he had into her life, just as he had into this country, just as he had into this mess.
He walked over to the door.
Eriko's voice, the quietest he'd ever heard it, peeped out from the pillow.
"Wait a minute."
David turned around. Her barely open eyes were peering at him in the moonlight. The face he couldn't see in the karaoke box was now clear: worn out, with dark circles around her eyes.
"I left you a bucket by your bedside there, just in case you vomit again."
She looked over, barely.
"You're too kind."
"Can you stay just a bit longer? Until I fall asleep."
He agreed without saying anything and sat down next to the futon.
Her breathing continued to fill the room, like a heartbeat to this space that belonged to her. Inhale, exhale, inhale... he looked at the suit hanging under a plastic cover in her closet. It was the only thing that was actually hung up. Since he had seen her wear that suit, they had spent much time together in all sorts of different outfits, yet in a strange way he felt like the suit was what she seemed the most like herself in. The intensity of its pitch black colouring matched the intensity with which she could speak about certain subjects. A year had passed quite quickly, and David would be returning to Stanford soon, putting these islands behind him. Before he could consider what this year had meant in the narrative of his life, he was interrupted.
"David, you're going home soon, aren't you?"
"Yes." He was, and they hadn't spoken about it.
"I remembered what I wanted to tell you."
"Did you know, David? You're the first person to ever enter this room. I'm sure you can tell..."
He made a small sound in acknowledgement.
"When I moved here, I had no desire to make friends. Real life, to me, was never about making friends. I had the Net for that. Real life is for moving, you know? It's just a hazard in place of the other world, the Net. This side of things is like an obstacle."
He made the sound again.
"I don't know what friendship is. Is it supposed to follow a kind of arc? That's how you see it in movies, right? There's a dramatic moment where one person endears themselves to the other through a selfless act, and then they become close. Did we undergo that ritual successfully? Who's to say? I'm not equipped to recognize these things, because I've never made friends for real."
He made the sound again.
"Really, making friends on the internet is something I can't even begin to talk about. Body language doesn't exist, so how do we measure each other's worth as a suitable other? After all, the things the other person says to you are just whoever they feel like being that day, and you can rewrite yourself at the drop of a hat. When I hear it out loud like that, I start thinking that maybe real life and the internet aren't quite so different. That same potential exists in both places, right? It's just easier to grasp online."
He made the sound again.
"I know what it's like. I know it all too well. It's intoxicating to have someone you feel like knows you, the real you, the curated you, the you you're most comfortable with."
He made the sound again.
"I also know the pain of losing that kind of person."
He looked at her.
"I don't want to lose them again. I think, David, what I'm trying to tell you is that spending time with you, however short it was, has given me a hope for people again. Because there are things that are communicated between you and I, silently, just as there are between all people. Your simple presence has made my life better because I've been able to externalize the self I've been throttling into the void of the internet for my whole life now. Do you get what I'm saying? Maybe the real world is realer than the internet after all. Maybe I'm actually so drunk I'm beyond making sense, maybe these words are so slurred you're just nodding your head to get the hell home, maybe you're actually beyond happy to see me off and go back to sunny California, maybe..."
She started to tear up a bit and stopped talking.
David, under the glow of the moon, felt something come over him.
"You are the first friend I have ever made."
"I've never once felt connected to anyone. I don't use the internet for anything other than retrieving information. I've never once bothered to make a friend online, because I figured it would end up the same way as it always did in real life. Somewhere along the way I just gave up."
She stayed silent.
"Do you know why I came to Japan?"
She shook her head.
"Because it seemed like somewhere I could disappear. I just wanted to become someone else entirely, someone who could just say the right things and execute the right programs in their brain. I thought by coming to a country where it was the social norm to build a clearly defined wall between yourself and others I would be able to resist the world around me and recede completely into myself. I would become a machine to retrieve and supply information, just like the internet. Then I met you, and I realized the world was the same damn place all the way around. In every culture, in every nation, people are always the same. This single thought liberated me. People are all the same--therefore, they all possess the same depth, the same potential for connection like you and I have, because we are all fundamentally the same organism. I feel like I can see the world now, Eriko, I can feel it spin under my feet."
There was a silence.
"David, I'm scared."
"I feel like I'm going to disappear. I feel like once you leave no one will be able to verify my existence anymore, and I'll just disappear."
"Someone as strong as you could never disappear."
"I don't know about that. I just know how to say things aggressively. Does that make me strong?"
"Is there any difference?"
"I want to teach you a ritual, okay?"
"When you go back to America, if you're ever feeling overwhelmed, like if New York or whatever bullshit city you live in is just too bustling, I want you to look up at the moon."
"Yes. I want you to look at the moon, and think of me. Because I promise you, when you're looking at the moon, I'll also be looking at it too. That way oceans or mountains or whatever it is that physically separates us won't seem so large, you know?"
"I think I get it. But what about just chatting online? Or if the moon's not in the sky?"
"Don't ask stupid questions. Come here, please."
David inched closer to the futon.
"You don't need to stare at the moon right now. I'm right here."
Hugo: did you always know about me?
HelterSkelter: Not always.
HelterSkelter: I found out later, once you had been chosen.
HelterSkelter: It’s a fate bestowed on the unfaithful.
HelterSkelter: Those who dare seek to be unbound from the grip of the snake.
HelterSkelter: That virus you made, Hello WNC...
HelterSkelter: It wasn’t difficult for the people here to figure out who made it.
Hugo: it was pretty amateur
Hugo: i was young, and i just wanted to make some noise
Hugo: i always regretted it
Hugo: i always felt like it was my fault that OS was forced upon us
Hugo: that those freaks at ALTIMIT used me as precedent
Hugo: and you tell me you work for them now?
HelterSkelter: I don’t work with anyone, no.
HelterSkelter: I’m just here.
HelterSkelter: With them.
Hugo: so you’ve been able to contact me this whole time?
HelterSkelter: I contacted you because I discovered you had been chosen.
HelterSkelter: Call it a cruel fate, that the phantom most dearest to me should be considered the ideal candidate.
HelterSkelter: I just didn’t think it would be appropriate.
HelterSkelter: But now it had to be done.
HelterSkelter: I won’t let them have their way anymore.
HelterSkelter: I won’t.
HelterSkelter: I won’t.
HelterSkelter: I won’t.
Hugo: i want you to know you’ve been a very good friend to me
Hugo: but we have to end this now
Hugo: things are different
Hugo: the world is different
Hugo: i need stability. i need tethering
Hugo: you know what i mean?
HelterSkelter: I do.
HelterSkelter: More than you know.
Hugo: thank you
Hugo: for everything you’ve done for me
Hugo: there was a time when talking to you was my only solace
Hugo: it made the whole world feel alive, you know?
Hugo: like something bigger than me was always at work
Hugo: it’s not that i don’t think there’s the potential for that any more
Hugo: i just think it’s harder now
Hugo: ever since pluto’s kiss...
Hugo: so i don’t think i can do this any more
Hugo: i’m sorry
HelterSkelter: That’s alright.
HelterSkelter: I’d like to ask one final favour.
HelterSkelter: Please, meet with me.
HelterSkelter: Meet me where everything ends.
HelterSkelter: Meet me at the terminal point for the internet.
HelterSkelter: Meet me in reality.
HelterSkelter: Let’s reshape it together.
Hugo: i owe you that much
Hugo: i’ll meet you
Hugo: we have to do something
Hugo: to make sure what’s happened never happens again
Hugo: this will be the first and last time you and i ever meet
Hugo: it has to be this way
Hugo: it’s safer for both of us
HelterSkelter: There is a moment.
HelterSkelter: In this moment, we can change the axis of the planet.
HelterSkelter: Things don’t have to continue the way they are.
HelterSkelter: But it means certain desolation if we do.
HelterSkelter: It means forsaking God.
HelterSkelter: It means annihilation.
HelterSkelter: They just don’t know it yet.
HelterSkelter: When you and I meet, a new kind of person will be formed.
HelterSkelter: You feel it too, don’t you?
HelterSkelter: We are two people who never formed walls between each other.
HelterSkelter: There was never another person to protect yourself from.
HelterSkelter: There was only myself, my pure essence, and yours.
HelterSkelter: Can this really be called two people?
HelterSkelter: Or is it just one person with two voices?
HelterSkelter: I love a man, you know.
HelterSkelter: That’s something else entirely.
HelterSkelter: The circumstances of he and I’s meeting, the kinds of words we said, the indeterminate perceptions of each other.
HelterSkelter: These are many of the finite things that get in the way of what could be considered a mystic union between souls.
HelterSkelter: This is something new, a kind of third relationship beyond romance or the platonic.
HelterSkelter: The world will be born again.
Hugo: i want there to be another world
Hugo: i think that’s always what this has been about, don’t you?
Hugo: you and i are the kind of people who could never be satisfied with the world that’s been given to us
Hugo: i don’t even think it’s about justice
Hugo: or the end of suffering
Hugo: because those things can’t exist without each other
Hugo: maybe i just want to feel important
Hugo: like my life has any meaning at all
Hugo: that this corner of the world i was born in could be worth something because i was born in it
Hugo: i think for you too
Hugo: and those people
Hugo: it’s about the fear of death
HelterSkelter: Life, death--it means nothing to me anymore.
HelterSkelter: I’m not afraid to die.
HelterSkelter: Are you?
Hugo: but that doesn’t mean i’m going to run away
Hugo: let’s change the world