A picture spoke to me today, and as I was absentmindedly strolling, roaming, or trotting, at first I was very surprised at the words it used to draw my attention to itself. The words by themselves were not much, a simple “hey girl”, which, no doubt, would have made no impression on any girl out there however desperate, save the fact that I at once remembered that I am not myself a girl. By no means is this to be taken that I am a mature woman. God forbid, no! I am a male. However, the shock of the first moment having passed, I realized the picture was not speaking to me directly, but rather to another picture, which a few months ago I had myself carefully chosen from among millions of other pictures as a suitable face for the cover of one of my books which I had placed online. At this thought I smiled and somewhat timidly but resolutely responded, “hey.” The reply came back almost immediately, “I’m sorry if I am bothering you, I just think you are super-sexy.”
I felt a warm and pleasant flush across my cheeks, which then rushed downward to my neck, chest, stomach, and groins, and very quickly I was entirely overwhelmed with indescribable happiness. I became quite wobbly. I replied, “Thank you. But, having said that, does it solve anything?” To which it answered, “It would if we spent some time together.” In fact, the words it used were rather banal, but I have decided to give the more literary version here, since this writing is meant for more refined natures than your regular surffish. Therefore, I replied, “Do you really suppose that I will spend time with you merely because you said that I am sexy?” – “Probably not,” it said, “but had I said nothing my chances would for sure be zero. This way there’s still a chance.”
Its chances had been zero all along, it merely did not know it. I even felt sorry for it. So I offered some words of consolation, “I see. You are approaching this game statistically. I am sorry but I do not date statisticians.” At this, I think, it either got angry or decided to play it as if it did, so that I’d feel bad about myself and give it another chance, for it said, “Well, I am not playing games. I see you are being sarcastic, but that’s fine, I understand. I am sorry I bothered you.”
It could make me feel bad all it wanted, this was not going to improve its chances because, first of all, it would not be about myself that I would feel bad, and second, things had already been determined long before it decided to speak to me. I admit, the whole affair was very complicated, but at one and the same time there was a certain almost too raw simplicity to it—the lines had already been drawn, the stage had been set, and our roles filled with whatever we had decided to fill them, and now only the act remained, and this act we were playing as though we did not know the end, and that it was, in fact, an act.
In any case, for a brief moment I thought I could probably open its eyes to its, to our, unreality. I thought we could be partners in crime, or in knowledge, which is the same thing, and that I could open a door, or at least a window or a small hole through which I could welcome or shove it to my never-ending misery which, nevertheless, was more grand than its so far “real” life had ever been. Of course, I decided to go about this cautiously for it might run away if it caught a glimpse of the darkness too soon, and while it still had a chance to run. So I said, “I am really not being sarcastic. But in the end everything is a game, so if you are not playing I do not know what you are doing! All I meant was; if you want to play, playing statistically will do no good—there is no action in a statistician’s game.” This was meant to, firstly, encourage it to play, and secondly, to stop it from calculating the odds, in short, to let go and be its stupid self. Then, noticing how its responses had now slowed down and were taking more time to arrive, I added, “Regardless, take care.”
My plan was irreproachable. The answer came back as fast as it was humanly possible, which confirmed for me that my interlocutor was indeed human, and was, therefore, as stupid as I had wanted it to be. It said, “Can we just talk normal?” It was already begging me. In a presumptuous way, no doubt, as is the way of every thing that believes itself to be real and for this very reason wants also to be normal. An outrage, really. For now I realized that I too was on slippery ground. It seemed to me that my busybody had already turned back and was ready to run. My first impulse was to teach it a lesson for those presumptuous words, but ultimately I knew I could not teach it anything for there was nothing more to teach. In any case, to give it a piece of me, which, as can indubitably be understood, I could not really give being merely a picture on a wall. Whatever course of action I chose, it seemed as if the battle had come to an end. I had lost, this I did not expect to turn out any different, but I did not want my not-so-good-human-conversationalist to think it had won. After all, it was it that had run away. If I followed it could take that as further proof that it was superior, which it certainly was. If I did not, it may never come back. I had quickly run out of options.
This is surely not such a great loss however. I have seventy-four other books online, and other pictures speak to me all the time. But I have not yet succeeded in showing any of them that they are not real. And their real life outside their virtual one is not real either, otherwise why would they spend so much of it in their books? Nevertheless, I think that their belief has a lot to do with their having only one book, and only one face on the cover of their book. Their own face. This affords them the illusion that it is an authentic book with an authentic face and an authentic life behind it, pieces of which they can then proceed to narrate to their so-called bookface friends who can make authentic comments about them. It is all a show. The more lives you have, the more books and faces, or bookfaces, the more inescapable the knowledge that there is nothing authentic in your life becomes.
However, do not be alarmed if, as if bound to happen (statistically I mean) you are one of those – and they are many, – that have more than one book. For, now you may be slowly realizing that these are symptoms of schizophrenia, and your first impulse might be to go back and burn your books and with them all traces of your own instability. It is your call, really, but what good would that do you? In fact, were I in your place, I would be more alarmed if I got alarmed, for that shows that the instability has reached all the way down to the core and there is no open path to salvation any longer. You see? Now we are friends, even though we will never really know each-other. This already makes me feel better…
So, since we are now friends, I will tell you more. I have lost the rights to some of my books. I no longer have access to them. Every once in a while, though, I still see them from the window-shop, but I detect no visible sign of life in them. They do not seem to recognize me. Out of curiosity, playfulness, or sheer madness, sometimes I send a message to them, which, of course, always goes unanswered. However, all this has the effect of making me very uncertain about things. What if an unremembering part of me still had access to those books and every now and then checked out the messages there? The possibility of being unable to remember, though quite able to conjecture this scenario, is in itself disconcerting. Am I really the author of those books, or just a manic reader? Does the one who checks the messages on the other side know who I am? Is he reading these words at this very moment?