I recently wrote a little piece about an event I was due to perform in. You can read it here: The Suchlike Zen.
Here is what happened next.
Disclaimer: The following piece was written by a different version of me from a parallel universe therefore the views expressed are not necessarily mine. It’s also a bit long, and a bit of a head-fuck, even for me.
‘Hello! I’m Derec – sort of. The thing is, I’m not from round here, and to tell the truth I’m a bit lost, and when I say lost, I mean properly lost, lost in space and time.
You see – I’ve got this theory that, hmm . . . hang on, let’s try to keep it simple. OK, let’s just say that – and remember, it’s only a theory – well, not even a theory really, in the scientific sense, it’s just an idea really, a smidgeon of a thought about the nature of reality – you know, what it’s all about, I mean, I’m not going to pretend I know the answers, any answers to anything, but, and I think you have to show me some respect as a fellow living, breathing creature of this universe, or any other universe come to that.
And that’s the point – Any. Other. Universe. That’s what I mean, there are, according to many respected scientific thinkers, many universes, in fact, according to some, there are an infinite number of parallel universes.
So – anyway, back to my ‘theory’. It’s quite simple really – all it is, is that sometimes I wonder if I am who I am only because of my memories, and if I had different memories I wouldn’t be me. Sounds obvious doesn’t it – of course it does, of course I wouldn’t be the same with different memories. For example, say, I forgot who my wife was, that memory or memories that I rely on to remind me who my wife is, was somehow wiped away, because they do go, don’t they – memories. We don’t remember everything, how could we, we’ve only got a moment, there is just the moment, everything else is just a memory and we know that memories can and do get lost.
So, how long does it take to remember who you are, say when you open your eyes in the morning after a good sleep? Sometimes it seems to take a few seconds for your memories of who you are to descend on you and for you to reconnect with not only who you are, but also with what issues you’re dealing with, what has happened to you from the moment of that first memory – and you remember all this in an instant.
For example: what is your name?
Where does that information come from? Is it always there, lying at the front of your consciousness, along with millions of other little facts, such as the answer to the question: what is 2 plus 2? I mean, you don’t go round chanting (out loud or silently), ‘my name is Derec Jones’ – ‘2 plus 2 equals 4’ – and all the other answers you keep on the tip of your tongue.
What I’m trying to say is – what if you swapped consciousnesses with someone else – say, in an instant your consciousness took a quantum leap into the head (if that’s where consciousness resides) of another human being – a bus-driver say, and in the same instant the bus-driver’s consciousness leaps into your head.
Nothing else mind, just your awareness. All the other bits of you – your name, your place and date of birth and so on, they stay in the brain you left behind.
Then you immediately adopt the memories of the bus-driver and the bus-driver adopts yours. Then you become each other. But, and here it is, you wouldn’t know, because you wouldn’t have access to your old memories.
I mean essentially, I am, or at least I feel I am, the same person I was 50 years ago, or 40 or 30 or 20 or 10, yet most of what I am is my memories and most of them didn’t exist 50 years ago, because the events that caused the memories hadn’t then occurred.
Anyway – that’s all by the by, incidental so to speak, I mean we can switch or hop around as much as we like but in the end it’s just about where we are now – inside and outside.
So, who am I? Like I said I’m not from round here. In fact I’m from a parallel universe that’s quite close to this one – close in that there is still a planet known as Earth – it’s still the year 2016, the bastard Tories are still in government in the United Kingdom, and there is still a place in Cardiff called the Chapter Arts Centre – where, at this very moment (or its equivalent) a human being called Derec Jones is standing in a theatre space communicating something as yet unresolved to a group of other human beings – who still haven’t worked out what the fuck it’s all about.
So, back to me. Why am I so important in all this?
Well, I’m not. Think about it like this – I am one of 7 odd billion creatures known as humans on a planet (Earth) that revolves around a star (The Sun). The star is one of at least a hundred billion in a galaxy (The Milky Way). The galaxy is one of at least a hundred billion galaxies in a universe (The Observable Universe). The universe is one of an infinite number of universes.
I am so tiny and so insignificant, yet I am made of molecules, atoms, sub-atomic particles; so many of them that there are many many more than there are stars in the universe (this one at least).
The material that my physical existence depends on for its life is the same material that is in all those trillions of stars.
Everything is connected.
Everything comes from the same source – from the beginning, except there is no beginning. Even if there was a big bang it was only ‘a’ big bang.
So – time has no beginning, space has no beginning, no end, no end.
But back to where I began tonight. Take your thoughts back a few minutes to when I said I am lost in space and time.
Let’s say that compared to the size of the universe I am like one grain of sand on a beach the size of the solar system and my existence is as short as the ripple caused by a raindrop in an ocean the size of the galaxy.
No – No – it’s not that short. It’s shorter, it’s not that small, it’s smaller.
My existence, the existence of the whole human race on this planet is so small and so brief that it can’t be measured.
So the point is – what’s the point?
And even though I know how insignificant I am, we are, this is – I also know that I am, you are, we are, the most significant thing there is, was or will ever be (but that’s another story).
So, back to now – tonight – and the real reason for my presence here – on this stage – in this place.
I need help.
What it is, is that this kind of hopping around between bodies, you know, the stuff I mentioned just now, – it’s what every little spark of consciousness experiences – but the thing is, usually when you inhabit a different entity – a different body, in this universe or in any parallel universe – oh yes, I forgot to say, when you become someone else, it could be in any universe, not necessarily the one you were in before you made the leap – it’s a bit like that TV programme that was on years ago – Quantum Leap – except in that, our hero always carried his own memories and didn’t have access to the memories of the human body he was ensconced in – he only had physical control.
Anyway, the point is, it usually goes like this. You go to sleep, as say, Derec, with all Derec’s memories and you wake up as Mr or Mrs or Ms or whatever, X, with all of X’s memories. You don’t notice the transition and you don’t remember who you were before you went to sleep (don’t worry though, yesterday’s you is today’s someone else).
Anyway, that’s the usual procedure – and it suits everyone. We can all just get on with it – this marvellous magical journey through the infinite universes of existence.
So, my problem is that in this case I’ve switched bodies with a version of me – Derec Jones – from a parallel universe, and, get this, due to some kind of genetic or programming bug I brought my own memories with me, which, to be fair, are almost perfectly the same as the memories of this body, since our universes are almost completely identical.
And that’s the problem really – they’re not the same – that teeny-weeny bit of difference makes all the difference. So I am not me so to speak and the other me is not I either and I don’t know for sure but I’m guessing he’s in the same predicament as I am . . .’
*** So, that’s as far as I got in writing for my performance at The Suchlike Zen – I was going to go back to it and come up with some kind of dramatic ending to complete the narrative arc – since it was intended as a performance and not just a piece of writing to read out.
But then a week or so before the Zen night, I crashed. What I mean is that a lot of things came to a head and despite all my good intentions for that and for a few other projects I am/was involved in I got to the point where I just couldn’t carry on with them. I was burnt out if you like. So, not wanting to let anyone down at the last minute I told the promoter, Marc Roberts (who is one of the few true artists I’ve ever met), that I just couldn’t do it.
I was also due to appear at a ‘true-life’ storytelling event in an art café in Victoria Park in a couple of weeks, and again, not wanting to let down the marvellous organiser, Terry Howe, at the last minute, I reluctantly pulled out of that too.
So there it is, after all – The End.
Or is it The Beginning?