The real me

In fleeting words
Like hummingbirds
The real me
The real me

On mountain high
Neath twilit sky
The real me
The real me

A bar in shadow
Jazz piano
The real me
The real me

When someone farts
And laughter starts
The real me
The real me

When face is stuck
In a good book
The real me
The real me

Through all of life’s complexity
It would bring about such ecstasy
If I could be
Eternally
The real me
The real me

just a few haikus that prove Kerouac was a fucking genius…

I occasionally dip into Kerouac’s Book of Haikus when I need inspiration.. just a few lines of poetry so perfect, so encapsulating, so carefree…. just look and see

from Dharma Pops:

 

“the sun keeps getting

dimmer – foghorns

began to blow in the bay”

 

“the sky is still empty,

the rose is still

on the typewriter keys”

 

“In the sun

the butterfly wings

like a church window”

 

“You’d be surprised

how little I knew

even up to yesterday…”

 

“praying all the time –

talking

to myself”

 

“the bird came on the branch

-danced three times-

and burred away”

***

 

“such pillars of fire must precede the great noontide”

dottori-fire
Gerardo Dottori – Burning City (1926)

“Here is the great city: where you have nothing to seek and everything to lose… Here is the Hell for hermits’ thoughts: here great thoughts are boiled alive and cooked small. Here all great emotions decay… Do you not smell already the slaughterhouses and cook-shops of the spirit? Does this city not reek of the fumes of slaughtered spirit?… Woe to this great city! I wish I could see already the pillar of fire in which it will be consumed! For such pillars of fire must precede the great noontide… I offer you in farewell this precept: where one can no longer love, one should pass by…”

– Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

some thoughts on Hugo Drochon’s recent New Statesman article on Nietzsche

This is a reactionary post in more sense than one: first it is a reaction against all those who have unjustly negative views on or connotations with Nietzsche, and second it is a post which was borne out of philosophical stimulation after having read Hugo Drochon’s recent brilliant article for The New Statesman, in which he summarises the main reasoning behind common alt-right associations with Nietzsche. There was however a distinct lack of Nietzsche’s own voice in the piece, and so here I try to amend this absence. My news feeds are frequently bombarded by pseudo-intellectual articles on Nietzsche, and in the vast majority of cases you find that they are written by people who have little to no experience of actually reading any of his work, other than that which has been shared or commented on secondarily, usually with charged intent, but who still choose to voice their very limited views and readings as gospel. But there is great importance in why people so often feel implored in this way after having read anything by the great philosopher.. And so I’ll begin my own such treatise with a quote or epigraph from the great man himself: “Whoever believed he had understood something of me had dressed up something out of me after his own image” (Ecce Homo: ‘Why I am so wise’). Now that is out of the way, I can express myself freely. For this is truly a seminal statement to understanding anything of Nietzsche’s work and philosophy, and also one which practically destroys most every interpretation of his work from the very outset (yes, including mine). My approach begins here, for any discussion of him surely must.. so now to a declaration of my own: Nietzsche is only to be understood once his work is viewed as being on the same level as a work of art. How so? Put simply, he provides a metaphor and we are to attach onto it our own subjective interpretations. He once declared that “culture can only proceed on the basis of the centralising significance of an art or artwork”, and this is what Zarathustra provides; Nietzsche regarded Zarathustra as more akin to art than literature. Indeed, when discussing this centerpiece of his entire philosophy, he describes that in reading it “one no longer has any notion of what is an image or a metaphor: everything offers itself as the nearest, most obvious, simplest expression… one has to go back thousands of years in order to find anyone who could say to me, “it is mine as well”‘ (Ecce Homo: ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’). Here then one finds the root of Bertrand Russel’s claim in his History of Western Philosophy indicated by Drochon, that is, ‘that he would rather have lived in the Athens of Pericles or the Florence of the Medici than today. That he would rather live in the past than the present’ (Drochon, 2018). But Nietzsche also here indicates perhaps the primary concern of the work: to provoke that very ‘simplest expression’.. to cut to the very essence of things.. This is, quite clearly, an aesthetic philosophy, an artistic philosophy, which works at urging subjective ideas using a metaphorical potentiality. Drochon’s own observation, that Nietzsche ‘tells us more about ourselves and our times than it does about Nietzsche: when things are good we have the Nietzsche of individual self-creation, when things are bad we have Nietzsche the godfather of fascism”, only reinforces this idea in the more collective unconscious, societal sense.

“Zarathustra is a prophet!” they say. But a prophet who declares “God is dead!”? Where do we situate such a figure? Something crucial is to be found in this paradox: religion can both be a prison and a means of radical empowerment. This epochal declaration -“God is dead”- is best summarised by the controversial and yet often piercing insight of Heidegger, who reads such as the simple admission that ‘humanity must find a way of re-orientating itself in a world that has been thoroughly de-deified… [and so we should be] prepared to give our lives to a completely new kind of meaning and value’ (Heidegger’s Nietzsche, vol 1&2, 93). Nietzsche notorious antagonism towards christianity is by no means a personal but rather an ideological opposition. He sees Christianity as promoting and sustaining a ‘slave’ mentality over all that is ‘noble’ (both terms which are distinct from class – you could be a noble beggar for example), centralising its doctrines on ideas of pity, selfless devotion and submission to a ‘higher power’, at the expense of self and ego, and the potential for pushing ones’ own capabilities to max capacity. Nietzsche exposes and uproots that any society built upon such selfless laws and inhibitions will inevitably result in subjective disempowerment. But to reject such Christian views and ideals is not by any means to automatically veer into the realm of egoist, tyrannical and fascist ideas. Nietzsche expressed ‘I have chosen the word immoralist for myself as a symbol and badge of honour for myself; I am proud of having this word which distinguishes me from the whole of humanity. Nobody yet has felt Christian morality to be beneath him: that requires a height, a view of distances, a hitherto unheard of psychological depth and profundity’ (Ecce Homo: ‘Why I am destiny’). Of course devotion enables humanity to attain their very greatest heights.. but it also provides great psychological limitations where not always necessary. The unquestionable belief that killing oneself will enable for an ascension to some higher plane demonstrates a remarkable untapped power of belief in man, which only true religion and absolute belief can get at. Many of those people of the enlightened, scientific age may laugh on religion, but they are fools if they do not see that religion does not argue for any truth outside of oneself.. Of course they must also acknowledge that most all of the greatest thinkers throughout history were deeply religious. And of course, the ancient Greeks, the very founders of modern mathematical and scientific thought, the inspirational origin of much still remains a confounding mystery to the greatest minds of modernity, were of cultures fundamentally entwined with, indivisible from religion (Pythagoras himself founded a religion based on mathematics – which was furthered by the scientific truths which came to light – it was literally a religion powered by truth and scientific law). Religion gave the greeks inspiration and access to their greatest potential — Socrates was famously prone to inner voices… he was literally spoken to by his own inner God (bicameral mind theory on Socrates required… another time perhaps). I particularly love the example of the mathematical genius Ramanujan, who formed, solved and resolved mathematical problems the likes of which no Western mathematician had ever seen whilst in his destitute shanty in India under the divine inspiration of private Hindu gods. The greatest mathematicians of the age at Trinity frantically stumbled over one another to catch a glimpse at just a few lines from his thousands upon thousands of pages of notes, these profoundly brilliant unforeseen formulas which would take most others a lifetime, were for these mathematicians as close to proof of divine inspiration as anything on earth. Surely only mystical belief in its truest form can grant an individual such powers. Such then undoubtedly grants individuals higher meaning and significance, taps into some level of personal, unconscious law, superegoic law, which is situated beyond, and in no necessary relation to all reason and outward apparency. here then we locate the root of this paradox: Zarathustra is obviously a profoundly theological text – ‘everything happens involuntarily in the highest degree but as in a gale of a feeling of freedom, of absoluteness, of power, of divinity’ (EH: Zarathustra) – of course done with total knowledge and intent, without any hint of irony, this because Nietzsche is aware to the immense power religion holds over the individual, and provides perhaps the only (proven) means of tapping into it.. He once declared of Zarathustra- ‘here no “prophet” is speaking, none of these gruesome hybrids of sickness and will to power whom people call founders of religions’ (preface to Ecce Homo). Here is where the common misreadings and the misbelief that Nietzsche holds fascist ideas emanates; the crux where so many get lost and abandon faith in his thought. It is this seemingly quite simple boundary between laws that are erected by oneself and those by an outside force. great fear and anger and apprehension materialises when there is talk of ‘laws’ brought about by the inner world of an individual and not by way of some external agency. they are immediately seen as immoral, a sign of burgeoning madness, as highly dangerous individuals (this is seen as the realm of the sociopath). when Nietzsche underlines this ‘gruesome sickness’ here, he is talking of figures who are erecting ideological walls and laws which inhibit the subject in some fundamental sense (think of chastity as a simple example): Zarathustra staunchly opposes such and rather promotes individual laws, as do some religions such as Buddhism, which Nietzsche confides, ‘should rather be called a kind of hygeine, lest it be confused with such pitiable phenomena as Christianity: its effectiveness was made conditional on the victory over ressentiment” (‘why I am so wise’). In many respects that term which Nietzsche assigns such an individually empowered mentality, which has garnered particularly negative implications over time, the superman or ‘Ubermensch’, and which is very closely tethered to that other fundamental Nietzschean ideal, will to power, is nothing more than the individual ability to tap the ‘superego’, very much in a Freudian sense of the word. to escape this consigned morality and set ones own boundaries (which do not have to involve an empathic absence but more of an egoist certainty) is to be given the ability to tap the superego, to fomulate subjective laws, and so to relieve the huge weight of submission by christianity:- “overthrowing idols (my word for ‘ideals’) that comes closer to being part of my craft” (preface to Ecce Homo). In Brochon’s article, he describes psychologist Jordan Peterson’s view and seems to advocate his view of the incapacity for such a subjective ability to tap into this ‘law-giving’ state of mind: ‘Peterson agrees we are living in an age of nihilism, but rejects Nietzsche’s view that what is left for us is to create our own values – “We cannot invent our own values, because we cannot merely impose what we believe on our souls” – We have a nature that must be discovered, and we need rules for our life so chaos doesn’t overwhelm order’ (Brochon, 2018). But this again neglects the crucial driving paradox of Zarathustra… that only a religious state of mind can give the individual access to the superman.. and this is exactly what Zarathustra provides!

My stance on whether Nietzsche held fascist and pro-Nazi beliefs is I hope, by now very clear. He incessantly and vociferously attacked the German people, he also descended from polish aristocracy, and he absolutely abhorred anti-semitism. In Beyond Good and Evil, he declared ‘”LET NO MORE JEWS COME IN!”… thus commands the instinct of a people whose nature is still feeble and uncertain… the Jews are beyond all doubt the strongest, toughest, and purest race [eat that Hitler, and all you other dumb fascist fucks!] at present living in Europe, they know how to succeed even under the very worst conditions’ (Beyond…). Need you read anything else to prove that Nietzsche was in no way whatsoever aligned with Nazi ideas and ideology?? I shall end with the question with which Drochon began: “Is Nietzsche doomed to be abused and misunderstood?”. Nietzsche knew the power of his ideas, knew that they could and would be used to bolster ideals which in no way matched his own: ‘why i am dynamite: one day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous – a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far’. there are two ways to read this: that this eerie prediction proves his philosophy dangerous and morals questionable; or that he has provided us with something with which we are not yet able to fully grasp.. the gift of a seedling philosophy so empowering and invigorating and affirmitive of human potential that we can only wish that someday it might become understood and so a real possibility for every man…

(NB: feature image is Edvard Munch’s Nietzsche (1906))

the phantom painter (surreal flash fic)

Dearest Theo,

It has been far too long! What is it, almost two months since last correspondence? Anyhow I Hope all is well with Ellen and the twins, and that business over at the publishers continues to run in all its usual proficiency. Apologies but preliminaries must be cut unusually short– i have the most astonishing story to tell you of the events of these past few days.. contain it any longer and I fear I shall be sent quite mad! So Recently I’ve been working at night rather than by day.. trying to find some spark in the dark.. spice things up a bit. Thus the studio is black, adumbral, the objects and oil coated canvases lit by only the faintest, chalky flame.. like Rembrandt, I find these objects to be so much more beautiful when draped in shadow. Consequently Ive spent many of these past days in an abyssal, positively ursine sleep.. waking only in the nocturnal hours, and feeling somewhat as if Im still teetering on the brink of a dream. Every thought seems to echo, to send ripples out into my personal cosmos, and those dim unconscious wanderings that are usually so easily silenced, are now raucous, even threatening to take sway.

Although more than a little discomfiting this delirious state has done wonders for my art, a seismic change, and no doubt i shall continue to drift in this stupor so long as my painterly endeavours continue to exude such inveterate vivacity. But there is something else more pressing — before this metamorphosis of art and mind I had been content enough with painting still life, but after turning nocturnal I quite suddenly became dead set on testing my newfound aesthetic gall on figures, and so sought out a muse. initially, I struggled beyond mannered expression to find someone willing to come down to the studio at so exclusive and unconventional an hour, and most the stragglers who found willingness demanded such extraordinary monetary recompense that I had no choice but turn them down. Fortuitously enough however, I was aided by a similarly manic-minded artist friend who pointed me towards a very singular fellow who was agreeable to lending his presence at such hours for a reasonable sum.

My friend had informed me beforehand that the man was mute, which I found rather endearing, but had revealed little else of him. Having now met the man and spent some time with him these past few nights i can tell you he is without doubt the most enigmatic of personages I have ever encountered. Not only is he mute of voice but in expression of any kind, and yet there is an invisible, silent intensity there.. like that which one feels when observing a truly great portrait of a figure who bears no expression.. but who is nevertheless radiant with some unseen aesthetic, some .. atomic energy. He is strikingly handsome, as a Michaelangelo, certainly on a par with cousin Jane –which as is well known, is no mean feat. And that stare.. by God! it is like lingering in those slowed down seconds just before the lethal pounce of a great beast..

Anyway Last night curiosity got the better of me, and after having drawn a few charcoals, like shaping smoke with the tip of a finger, I told the man that he could leave a little earlier than usual – but for the same fee of course. So he took up his coat and left, then I was struck by an irresistible urge to follow, to find out more of this enigma, and so found myself stalking the city streets in the pitch night. the streets of Amsterdam were so staggeringly beautiful I almost wept — the stars pranced and pirouetted on the canal, the cobbled streets shimmered with lunar hue, the cathedral spires pierced the sky like ethereal stalacmites.. it was divine. But i digress.. I pursued the mute some way through the silent city streets, a small few other phantasmal wanderers adrift in my periphery, and he moves towards the gates of the cemetery.. understandably hesitant, I followed into the dark, and thought Id lost him amongst the clustered silhouettes of trees and elaborate headstones.. but then caught sight of his fleeting form and resumed pursuit.

i couldn’t help but think of the gravestones as being like withering teeth, that I was moving deeper and deeper into the gullet of some slumbering titan.. lost in such dreamy thoughts I again almost lost sight of him, when I glimpsed him clambering over the cemetery wall. he climbed over the seven foot stonewall with a grace and ease that seemingly verged on the superhuman.. I followed, with the grace of a wounded seal and fell over the other side a minute or so later. small wonder i landed in time to see him enter one of the buildings a little way up the street lit by a flickering streetlantern. Apartments. I approached the dilapidated looking place, and the main door was unlocked. I entered, and moved towards the dim light upstairs and saw he had left a door slightly ajar.. I should have turned away then, but was somehow unable to suffocate my curiosity.. I knocked lightly, like a whisper of a knock, and when there was no answer I pushed open the door and entered. Well I was astounded. His room was filled, crammed, with glorious works of art… hundreds of sketches, less but still a great many paintings.. some larger and more intricate, others more like studies of shape and form, they were all strewn about haphazardly. the paintings were mostly shadowy figures, though some were of buildings, castle ramparts, manses, and one  striking work of a ship in the midst of a great biblical storm.. then one particular work caught my eye, clearly a more recent addition, still resting on the easel.. as I gazed on it i felt a terrible upsurge of nausea take hold of me … like that moment when one realises theyre still asleep even when theyre most certain they had woken up…. 

The painting was of me. sat in this very room, face half masked in shadow… and the likeness was so exquisite, so perfectly rendered.. why such a work could only be the creation of innumerable hours, and whats more it could only be a painting by an artist looking directly upon a model.. but how?! I had never before set foot here! Had i at some point sleepwalked to this place and sat for this man to paint my like? Madness! Id have had to come down for hours, days, for such an image of greatness to emerge… what a wonder it was! what a wonder I was! I could not but think that looking upon this image brought about the very same feeling as that conjured in the breast of Narcissus at the edge of the pond.. then, Just as I was overcome with this paranoiac blitz of thoughts I heard the door close behind me and there stood the phantom himself. “Ah, my muse arrives” he says.. “please, do resume position. Ive to make some final touches” — he points to a chair in the corner of the room, lit by pale candlelight from one side.. all was configured exactly as in the painting……………. words escaped me……. I couldn’t speak…. I wouldnt. and so I wordlessly sat in the chair as he delicately dipped his brush, and began paint…

Dear Theo, it occurs to me to ask– have you ever heard your own voice whilst in the midst of a dream?? Do try to keep up writing me, i so often lose all sense of time without your words to keep me aground.

Ever your loving brother,

Anthony v B, september 5th 1633

Continue reading “the phantom painter (surreal flash fic)”

“a shining and swinging star wherein man lies buried”

Nova-Aurigae-Stanislaw-Ignacy-Witkiewicz-oil-painting
Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, ‘Nova Aurigae’ (1918)

“Countless stars present conditions for the generation of life similar to those of earth – and yet these are but a handful in comparison with the endless number that have never known, or long been cured, of the eruption of life; life on each of these stars, measured by the period of its existence, has been but an instant, a flicker, with long, long intervals afterwards – and thus in no way the aim and final purpose of their existence… we are convinced in our imaginations (almost unconsciously) that the destruction of mankind involves the destruction of the world… Even to the eye of the most unbiassed astronomer a lifeless world can scarcely appear otherwise than as a shining and swinging star wherein man lies buried”

– Nietzsche, Human All too Human

Louis Zapruder: Time Traveller (sci-fi flash)

‘you know you’re the first reporter they’ve let in here for nearly 10 years? It’s been that long I’d assumed they weren’t going to let anyone see Zapruder now other than close family and friends until he finally, you know, bit the dust’ said the nurse conversationally, ‘then again I suppose if they were going to let anyone in it would have to be someone with a little… notoriety’, she added with a flirtatious wink.

The nurse walked through the meandering hallways of the facility, escorting the reporter, a handsome man who dressed like an undercover detective, with slicked-back hair, sharp features and a voice rougher than sandpaper. The two of them approached another of the security doors spaced throughout the ward. Armed guards patrolled all around the white-walled corridors in their pure-white body armour. Some of them stood so still that they were almost invisible until they shifted stances and their shadows jerked spasmodically about the walls. The nurse showed her ID to one of the guards, and the guard wordlessly opened the secure door.

‘Well maam, the world needs to know what finally happened to the last of the legendary time-travellers’ returned the reporter, ‘Most of them are lost somewhere in the vast maze of space-time, Zapruder is the only traveller the government have managed to trace for centuries. They’ve managed to keep his whereabouts quiet for a long time, but now things have changed. There are too many underground meddlers, deviant scientists, too many who have access to the scientific archives and are unaware of what their heavy-handed dabbling with time and space can lead to. They need to know the repercussions. Even the greatest geniuses of time-travel throughout history, past and future, became wise to the extreme dangers of temporal distortion of any kind. Zarkov, one of the original scientists who was there at the very beginning of it all, described it best. He said that before time came to be wielded by man, it was like an almighty river, and this great river was the original timeline. But as man began to alter time, to shape it to his own will, the sides of the river began to breach into masses and masses of tiny tributaries, an infinity of vein-like streams, branching out and eventually seeping into one another until they became so muddled that there came to be still bodies of water. These are places where time is so clogged, that entire histories end in nothing more than singular moments… fixed and unmoving for all eternity.’

the nurse stared at him wide-eyed, her mouth opening and closing faintly, as if all the questions in her head were jammed before she could choose which to ask. Long moments passed. Still tangled up thinking on his words, it took her a few moments before she could speak.

‘I.. I.. I once read this crazy theory. It said that whenever we experience deja vu, that uncanny feeling we experience is actually the distant echo of an alternate timeline, a timeline where time had stopped at that exact moment. In one of those lakes of time you mentioned I suppose. It said that the closer you get to that blocked timeline, the more likely you are to be dragged into it’s field… to feel its steady pull, slightly slowing each and every moment until eventually time simply stops… and remains stopped forever’ she said, and her face momentarily showed a look of terror ‘whenever I experience deja vu now, I always have this strange feeling of being on the brink of infinity, as if I’m experiencing my last few moments’.

‘There are a great many theories on time out there but the fact is, the vast majority of them are wrong’ replied the reporter, quickly, trying to set the nurse at ease. ‘In fact, oddly enough, the original scientists like Zarkov and Tremblany were the closest to a truly mathematical theory of time. You need to remember maam, the timelines in which we’re situated are among the safest of all, the least scarred. The tributaries of our timeline are so small and insignificant that they are almost unnoticeable except to the most sophisticated machines which are programmed to seek them out’.

She smiled gratefully, before bringing him to a stop. He saw there was a faint film of tears in her eyes, and he cursed himself and his trigger-happy tongue. They were stopped in front of some double doors, above which a sign read: DEMENTIA WARD.

‘this is as far as i can go’ said the nurse.

‘Okay thank you. It was nice to talk to you’ he replied

‘and you Mr Nash’. She turned and slipped away into the bleached corridors.

Nash went through the double doors and into the ward.

As he entered the large room, he was momentarily stunned, barely noticing the many patients who wandered around dazedly, muttering and humming tunes of the distant past and future. The ward was decorated in such a motley patchwork of styles, it was as if in here, time itself had imploded, and all the fragments from past, present and future had been cobbled together like the shards of a broken mirror. One part of the room was adorned in ancient Greek decor, with stone columns and graceful carved statues of deities. Another part was decked out to look like a saloon bar of the Wild West, along with all the old cork-stopped bottles of liquor and the splintered, weathered woodwork. Elsewhere there were more futuristic motifs: shifting, simulated landscapes and ghostly figures were projected by tiny machines which buzzed about like flies. Nash also noticed some strange glowing metallic items which were covered in symbols, and he could not decide if they were the objects of some vastly ancient tribe of man or from some immeasurably distant cosmic future.

in the ward there were 8 patients that he could see, 4 men and 4 women. He scanned the men’s faces but knew instantly that none of them were the man he had come here to see.

He heard a voice coming from somewhere at the back of the ward, a woman’s voice, a strong and authoritative voice, which had more intent, more inflection to it than any of the other voices around him. He made his way towards this voice, threading through the many rooms as if through a museum, each room an exhibit of a different age, a new era of human past or future. As he moved towards the voice at the back of the ward the lights grew steadily dimmer, then their hue began to change, from white to blue, first a pale, icy blue, and then steadily to electric blue, thrumming as if from a gigantic neon sign. The light made Nash feel he was getting colder, moving through some arctic cavern, even though the whole ward was the same temperature. Nash saw that the blue light seemed to emanate from one room, the same room from where he heard the woman’s voice.

He hesitantly pushed open the door, which was slightly ajar, and drew in a sharp breath.

The gigantic room was decked out to simulate the control room or bridge of a space shuttle. There were flickering control panels all about, screens displaying spatial geographies and various modules with vacant seats where a crew might sit. On the far side wall was an enormous TV screen on which there was a moving picture of outer space. It was so realistic that for a brief moment Nash felt the floor begin to sway ever so gently, his body aligned with the image as the ship steadily drifted through space.

And then he saw the woman in the corner of the room. She was stood next to a bed and  continued to speak freely, openly, as much to herself as to anybody within close proximity to her. She continued to talk absently as she went about her routine, checking the wires and the screens which were attached to the bed which was turned away from Nash to face the large screen which displayed the moving image of space.

Nash could jut about see the profile of the man in the bed, his face lit up by the many stars on screen, and he immediately knew that this wizened figure was the man he sought. The man of legend, the last-known time-traveller in existence, who had traveled across millennia, who had explored and altered and conquered timelines innumerable. The man was Louis Zapruder.

After a few dazed seconds, Nash knocked loudly on the door causing the woman to jump, almost dropping her tray which she carried on her arm like a waiter. She made her way brisquely towards Nash, frowning menacingly, as she neared him Nash saw that she was powerfully built, and her frame was barely contained by the grey uniform she wore.

‘What are you doing wandering around here unescorted? Almost gave me a heart attack you did’ the burly woman said, seething. She shepherded him back out of the room with her wide build and closed the door to Zapruder’s room behind them both.

‘Another nurse showed me here, said she couldn’t come in and so left me at the door’ answered Nash, a little more intimidated than he’s have liked to admit.

‘well I suppose it’s not all your fault. There’s so few visitors allowed here it’s no wonder that the protocol is so shoddy. Are you the reporter everyone’s been talking about? The hotshot who only writes about the big celebrities? I’m Mona by the way, chief nurse of this ward, nice to meet you’ she said, with the barest hint of a smile.

‘Carson Nash, and to you too’ he said quickly ‘when can I speak to Zapruder? I’ve been given authorisation to speak to him and I’d like to start as soon as I can’

Speak to him?’ she barked, incredulously ‘no one has spoken to Mr Zapruder since he came here I’m afraid, he speaks only to himself and to people who are not yet of this world’

‘what do you mean by that? sounds like some mystic bullshit to me’ he said, immediately regretting his words and gazing off like a guilty schoolboy

‘I assume you have some idea of what dementia is as seen as you’ve come to write a story about someone suffering from the illness’ she smiled a little more broadly now, seeming to enjoy being the one to talk down the big hotshot reporter she’d so much about the past few weeks.

‘I’ve some idea… trapped in the past, stuck in a loop, not fully aware’ he said, clearly wanting to move on from the topic

‘Mr Zapruder’s case is a little more complicated than that. What do you suppose “the past” means for a man who spent most of his younger life thousands of years in the future?’ she asked.

‘Okay his past then, the past as perceived by his inner world, by his own psychological chronology’ he replied, somewhat skeptically.

‘But there’s a problem isn’t there – his past has not yet occurred… do you see the paradox?’

Nash remained silent, thinking it over.

‘You’re right in saying that ordinary dementia sufferers are stuck in a kind of loop of the past’ she continued, ‘they see images from their younger years, from the chronological past, over and over. But Mr Zapruder’s younger years are way off in the distant future, and so he doesn’t see images from the past over and over… he sees the images from the future over and over. He’s reliving moments right now which will not happen for another 5000 years.’ Said Mona, her gaze now distant, awed.

‘Well can I still go in and see him? I need to write something about his condition at least, the world has a right to know’ said Nash.

‘Go ahead’, she replied ‘just don’t touch any of the wires or screens on his bed and don’t block his view of the screen, he likes to look out there, it seems to remind him of better times, of times yet to come. – oh and if he says anything about seeing the light, come and call me, he sometimes gets agitated after saying that for some reason and I might need to sedate him’

‘OK’ he answered simply.

She walked off towards the museum part of the ward where the other patients were, and Nash opened the door to Zapruder’s room, this time closing it gently behind him.

He made his way over to the bed, walking slowly, reverently, as if afraid to break the concentration of a Buddhist monk in deep meditation. Zapruder’s eyes were open wide, they were intelligent, brilliant emerald eyes, eyes still youthful and full of wonder, somehow separate from his shrunken, withering body.

‘It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr Zapruder’ whispered Nash, expecting and getting no answer.

Nash sat down on a chair placed next to the time-traveler’s bed. Nash found it much harder than Mona to keep talking without an answer, and preferred rather to sit in silence, to simply share the presence of this great man. Nash looked around at the many objects which rested on the tables around the bed. Mementos brought by friends, many new articles bearing his name.

Zapruder remained still and unmoving, and continued to gaze at the large screen. Nash looked over at the screen that kept Zapruder’s attention, and gazed at the stars for what seemed like a long time.

Then, as he gazed silently at the screen, he heard a faint voice behind him..

‘do you see the light?’ whispered Zapruder, his voice as delicate as the finest sheet of paper.

Nash looked around at him, stunned by the sudden emergence of his voice.

‘did you say something Louis? Something about the light?’ asked Nash

Zapruder continued to stare at the screen, silent. But he seemed more alert now. More aware. After a few more moments waiting for a response Nash again looked over at the screen and at the stars gently rolling by. He stood to go and fetch Mona, but caught something in the corner of his eye, something on the screen. A small light had appeared in the center of the screen, a little brighter than the other stars, gradually getting bigger. It started as only a minute spot of light, but it was growing with each second, getting slightly larger and brighter, like some glitch on screen, some programming flaw.

‘the light… see the light…’ muttered Louis again

‘yes. I think I see it too’ said Nash, hypnotised by the growing shimmer

After a few long moments the light seemed to take on more of a shape, more complexity, and Nash realised then that it wasn’t expanding at all, it was getting closer. Was there an asteroid programmed to appear on screen? Was this the white light that was causing Zapruder distress? As the seconds passed the object came nearer and nearer until it filled up almost 80% of the screen with it’s burning white light and then came a sudden flash.

At that exact moment the lights in the ward flickered off and on, and Nash could feel the floor of the ward rumble. Ripples appeared on the surface of the water in a glass on Louis’s bed.

‘impossible’ Nash muttered

But as he looked back to the screen he saw that there was now a crack in the dead center, a crack which was arcing outwards, like an invisible spider were weaving a web.

Just then Zapruder grabbed Nash’s hand, and looked straight into his eyes,

‘You see the light?’ he said urgently ‘then we must go from here’

Then the window to the room blew inwards and swept them both out into space.

***