Stuck, Superintended

by Jackie Beck

art by Aiden Brown

With enough schizo juice and belief you’ll find yourself coming to points in your meditations where the rulers of reality look at you, acknowledge your discontent, and say, alright man, what do you wanna do about it? You’re up. What’s next? What are you doing with the godhood? 

In “The Book of Martha”, one of Octavia Butler’s short stories that I struggle to get through despite its brevity, God tasks the protagonist with fixing the world. She’s supposed to give it a draft and then live through it as one of its lowliest participants before making a new one. Martha freaks out because what if she makes a mistake and fucks everyone’s lives up? Monkey’s paws abound in these situations, after all. God says he can always get another person to do it if she’s not down. She’s like, fuck, that could mean a bad person gets to change reality. She proposes something after a long debate and asks if it’ll work. God says, “I truly don't know. I don’t want to know. I want to watch it all unfold.” Given omnipotence, one becomes omnicucked. The gnostic process, even, or perhaps especially, imbued with love, gets incredibly intense and subsequently stale when limited to one singularity. Getting other agencies involved becomes imperative. 

It follows that if one person can impact reality’s flow, others can too, and that if it can happen it is happening and has happened and will happen. 

I find myself trying to lay this out to friends a lot. Walking around Ridgewood smoking spliffs, drinking coffees in LA’s Triangle Park watching the cityscape swallow the sun, or drunk on a balcony ogling the drop to the concrete below, we converse our way to the conclusion that we might already be shaping reality. The realization stultifies us. What then? Okay, as a group, I might start saying, I guess we should be enumerating what we want to see in the world. It still feels so feeble. Healthcare? Less militarized cops? Universal basic income? Respect for life’s multiforms?   What could our little circle of tentative protomages do about any of that, really?  And, furthermore, what do we do with the parts of us that feel dragged into existence and want to rip themselves free?

Broken-up staticky shouted vocals radiate from musical artist Fire-Toolz’ track, “The Great Allower.”  Don’t let me ignore it. // I know you will.  Cacophonous metal and jazz riffs subside into ambient new-agey spiritual droning. You’ll allow anything // within the laws of the superintended.  Like so many of their songs, the immensity of solar, positive, rainbow saccharinity swaddles and gags their guttural utterances of denial or dissent. The half-functional wordplay referencing superintendents, managers, quasi-cops, rings relevant to my recent rise to the professional managerial class, a role where I have to police my coworkers’ jokes about wanting to kill themselves and prevent them from giving unused pita bread to homeless people. The song sounds like being stuck in a video game for children where you can’t harm anyone and they can’t harm you. You’ve explored every corner of this tutorial already a hundred times. 

You can sense something bad is happening outside the console’s domain. But when you try to leave it just bumps up against an invisible wall or reloads the last save. Ruling by providing, the mud of everyone’s wills sticks you to reality, to ongoingness, to coerced positivity. Even if you find a way out, you get blooped back to all you’re in communion with. 

Someone’s sibling said on the 4th this year, listening to my mental illness articulate this esoteric game theory as we ambled towards a roof to watch explosions, weighed down by a leaking Doordash bag of Claws, “You seem like the kind of person that might start a cult, and it would be the kind of cult I’d probably join.”

I’m ready to cult it up. There must be a way out of this that works for us, synthesizing a reclamation of nulled negativity and pragmatic materialism into something we can emerge into. A more spirited, less coagulated mire of a world. 

Haven’t talked to them or anyone else I met since that night since, though. Too busy working.