River of Mercy
Why our memories are indestructible (and how they might still be destroyed)
First, I’d like to welcome all my new subscribers. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.1
One of the best features of Substack is how it draws incredible readers as well as writers, who bring with them unique and powerful insights from a multitude of backgrounds. And even though the connections we’re building here are strictly virtual (at least for now), I predict they’ll prove critically important in the strange days to come.
This includes those of you with whom I disagree, including on profound issues. We can’t always agree on everything; that would not only be boring but worse than useless, in my view. These disagreements are what productively damage us, after all, leaving us stronger in their wake.
They also help us better understand each other; as I’ve mentioned before, much of my writing work is focused on the development of a mutual language, so that we might better communicate across the weird battlefield we’ve been thrust upon. Such linguistic projects are necessarily collaborative (unless you’re Sauron, that is, or are only interested in talking to yourself).
In that spirit I’d like to address two interesting comments, which seemed similar enough in their critiques to pair them together. Both stem from the following passage from my last article.
(my emphasis added):
Eternal existence is the most fearsome and brutal truth of all. The “thing” that builds and animates your material cannot be destroyed. But neither can your memories of what you choose to do with said material.
To some, that sounds like a pretty good bargain. The more boneheaded of atheists will tell you the worst part of death will be the obliteration of their memories, which they confuse not just with material structure but with consciousness itself. Rest assured you will keep your memories forever, although you may discover you’d prefer not to. The blade has two edges, as always.
Admittedly, I knew this would be a controversial claim. It’s also one of those just-so statements that can — and, in my opinion, rightly should — be countered with a demand for evidence.
And given the broad philosophical and religious diversity of my regular commenters, I also expected certain specific forms of pushback pertaining to concepts like reincarnation and other post-death mechanisms that serve to wipe or “reset” our memories.
For example, my Deimos Station brotherwrites:
In the coming years, we are going to start telling a new story about human origins. We are the monsters who have been created unnaturally. We are imprisoned in an an ungodly and unnatural flesh. I disagree with the idea that what we choose to do with our flesh with stay with our souls forever. It will stay with our souls until we deal with it during our metempsychosis, which happens after our deaths and before our long sleep. To me it doesn't seem like we are in novel territory here.
Meanwhile,approaches the River Lethe from one of its vedic banks:
Not to be a Debbie downer, but memories and flesh are the two things that *do* die.
Gone forever at the point of death.
The part that stays and accrues as one lives in bodily form is *consciousness*.
They are two different things.
Memories die with the egoic body but consciousness lives on.
In the ancient esoteric doctrines like the Tao and the Vedas, one can develop their consciousness in different ways throughout a lifetime with the understanding that eventually they will be released from the birth-death-rebirth cycle.
It is a moral way of life; the esoteric Tao has the lifestyle of Confucianism for example.
The lifetime is temporary, but the accrual of consciousness is not.
So, here we have what appears to be a classic Mexican standoff:
Aria, who insists upon a cycle of continual return, whereupon each new candidate for Nirvana jettisons the previous incarnation’s memories.2
Palamambron, who points to a singular and ultimate memory-cleansing event, upon which we will be fully joined to the Infinite.3
Mark, who posits the indestructibility of memory, and infers its role in enforcing accountability for our actions on the terminal plane.
After all, metaphysics is a game of Highlander, isn’t it?
There can be only one!
But upon further reflection, I think the strange answer is that all three of us can be partially “right” about the afterlife. By the same reasoning, I don’t think any of us can be entirely right or wrong about it either.
But before we tackle that strange answer, allow me to fully present my theory of the case. Through both direct personal experience and the experimental evidence of others, I have become convinced that the indestructibility of memory is at the very least its default setting. Why and how that setting might be modified is where the rubber meets the metaphysical road.
With that in mind, let’s start with an (acid) trip down Memory Lane.
Accompanying us on our journey will be a certain microscopic monster, who nevertheless revealed a very big truth about the nature of consciousness.
The Impossible Solution
In the original article, I boiled down the essence of Levin’s xenobot experiment to the following conclusion:
Intelligence precedes and exists independently of physical structure, and its root purpose is to explore.
What I failed to expound upon was the parallel conclusion, which follows directly from logic:
Memory is intrinsic-to and inseparable-from intelligence.
Why do I make this bold claim? The answer is simple:
Maze navigation is impossible without memory.
If you have any programming experience (and, in particular, experience with programming something like “enemy AI”), you might already get the gist of that statement. Even if your code is something like a simple A* algorithm, with all of the possible maze routes cached before runtime, memory storage and retrieval is required.
Now, let’s suppose we were trying to devise the most primitive maze-solving program possible for Levin’s xenobot. In our simulation, the bot attempts to find its way through a two-dimensional maze by making orthogonal movements.
Let’s assume that the bot’s initial vector is defined by the programmer (or asput it so poetically in the comments, is an arrow shot by God). The bot moves in that direction until it finds itself in a collision state with a wall, then turns to the right.
Obviously, this program won’t give us true navigation. The point is that even the most primitive steering methods will require at least a small capacity of volatile memory, to set and clear collision bits and whatnot. It will also require some reserve of non-volatile memory for use in facing and turning (i.e. “knowing” which of the cardinal directions is rightward of its current trajectory). And bear in mind that the schema above makes no account for the memory required to perform the operations themselves.
The moral of the story so far is this:
If you insist on employing software analogies to describe the living world, you should know that the former is all memory, all the time. Even the words you’re reading on the screen now are the produce of multiple overlapping lattices of memory. If your machine analogy doesn’t start here, you might as well discard it and try a different approach.
But there’s more.
To be anything apart from drunken scribbles on a cocktail napkin, our xenobot program will also require hardware components to record and retrieve the information: some vacuum tubes in the olden days, or semiconducters in our current age of wonders. But no matter your storage medium, computerized memory requires a specific physical platform in order to function. Machines aren’t structure-agnostic, in other words. So without such intentionally designed structures on hand, our virtual xenobot project is a non-starter.
But therein lies a problem when it comes to Levin’s actual xenobot, because its anatomy includes no recognizable structures for memory storage or retrieval. And yet, the eyeless, earless, limbless, brainless creature still solves the maze. Even more bizarrely and significantly, it learns the maze. Past collisions are “stored” in non-volatile memory and recalled, eventually forming a map of the maze that requires no further collisions to navigate it.
But where does this store of information physically exist? Where is the map loaded from, and where are updates to it saved?
Nowhere that we can see or touch.
Take a moment to ponder this “impossible” result.
When I claim memory to be indestructible, what I mean is that — like intelligence, like consciousness itself — it is both structurally-agnostic and non-local. The neural structures we electrically build constitute a layer of optimization and redundancy, but they aren’t the birthplace — or the graveyard — of memory itself. This isn’t a belief that I have, but the product of simple observation. In order to intelligently change states (i.e. steer through the maze sans collision), the xenobot must remember at least one former state, and predict at least one future one.
Not yet, no. Because the next logical question becomes something like as follows:
If we know that memory is intrinsic to intelligence (i.e. choosing strategically among several potential paths), and that intelligence exists independently of particular structures (which it very clearly does), then what’s all this fuss about building optimal material structures in the first place? Why even bother?
From what I have observed, the fuss is all about speed.
The games we play with our material forms are played on the clock, so to speak. It’s possible — even likely — that consciousness plays other games at its leisure, when it become fully untethered from material. We may even be getting blurry glimpses of such games when we dream, or when we experience other altered states of consciousness. But the game of flesh is timed, and we are only given a limited number of opportunities to make our moves.4 There’s also the matter of distractions to consider; living a human life is sometimes like playing chess in the middle of a combination hurricane/wildfire/three-ring-circus, which only serves to amp up the pressure and trigger mistakes.
Because of these limitations and distractions, we encode and copy our memories into the cache of various physical structures, in order to speed up our decision-making processes. This optimized speed could still lead to blunders of course, in life as in chess. In fact, this is the most likely result, if we don’t develop a system of telling apart good moves from bad ones.
But if used wisely, increased speed also means we can make a lot of very good moves in a relatively short period of time. And by recalling a series of our best moves faster and more efficiently, we can assemble them into good heuristics and general application frameworks. So not only is “strategy” born from memory, but honor, ethics, morality and other navigational systems that help us obtain the highest goods in the most efficient ways.
In fact, I think all of the overlapping layers of memory optimization that we observe suggests a profound truth not only about the importance of memory, but about the structure of reality itself. We see these optimization systems everywhere we look — in brains, in genes, in cells. These days, a deprecated version of “memory” is even simulated in our fancy tools.
In fact — just in case you’re still unconvinced about the default indestructibility of memory — let’s have a closer look at such tools, and how they stand poised on the brink of virtual immortality themselves.
“I’ll Be Back.”
A question you might be asking yourself right now is this:
If memories are non-local and indestructible, then why the hell do I forget so many things?
The answer is you absolutely don’t, because you literally can’t.
The best you can do is temporarily misplace them when they’re not in active use, or when your mind becomes distracted by more current affairs. You can also lie to yourself about the content of certain memories, remixing them with fantasies about the way you wished an event had taken place. But given the time and/or the proper circumstances, I suspect your mind could easily recall every moment of your physical existence, down to the microsecond.
I think this is the reason why so many people who’ve had close brushes with death will report something like, “I saw my life flashing before my eyes.” My guess as to what’s happening there is that when the consciousness is “unplugged” from material, it’s simultaneously freed from all distractions and deceptions (including self-deceptions). And with no immediate spacetime problems to solve or tools in hand with which to solve them, all memories are not merely recalled, but clarified.
In other words, the problem isn’t just that you won’t lose your memories in death. The problem is that they will actually become sharper and clearer. We’re talking IMAX screens, 64K resolution, Dolby Deluxe surround sound. The works.
And that is a very vexing problem, because many memories aren’t so pleasant. Some haunt us in our dreams and waking lives. They grow fangs and claws, hide in bushes and around corners, pounce on us when we least expect it. But to fully explain why the problem of immortal memory is so difficult to solve, let’s look at a similar problem reflected in our current technologies.
I’m generally not a fan of using tool-based metaphors as a way to describe states of being — and especially human being, which is unfortunately their favorite target in this day and age. They are poisoned at their core, in my opinion, demoting living creatures to mere objects for use.
But what’s interesting about the computer version of this tendency is how even the hardware/software model’s loudest advocates miss a development of fundamental importance in how memory is currently handled. Without dwelling on all the dull technical details, the misunderstanding boils down to this:
Even a lowly computer’s version of memory is now extremely difficult to target and destroy.
A common scene:
A layman drags an unwanted file it to his trashbin.
He clicks “empty trash.”
Voila! The file is cast into the outer darkness of oblivion, never to be accessed again.
Except it doesn’t work that way.
At best, we could say that the software has “forgotten how to remember” the file in question. But such bouts of temporary amnesia can be partially or fully cured via even the most basic forms of forensic investigation.
To be sure, there are specialized tools that help a machine to permanently “forget” information stored in memory. For instance, off-the-shelf programs like BleachBit and KillDisk promise to get the Lethe-job done right. But to be super-duper extra sure, you might consider hurling the physical hardware into a vat of molten steel (if not the fires of Mount Doom).
And even then, there’s no guarantee your data will be unrecoverable. In our current age of cloud-based storage, distributed computing and multiple remote redundancies, even the most skillfully executed data lobotomies and disk immolations might be swiftly undone. The phrase “the Internet is forever” isn’t only meaningfully true; the truth of it is expanding by the nanosecond. Memories are flowing through a nigh-immortal arterial network that isn’t actually located anywhere, because it is located everywhere (or at least, in enough hard-to-reach places that full deletion might become a major project). That’s why even the inept psesudo-artists who manage the Terminator film franchise know that Arnie will always be back, in some way, shape or form. A copy of the file might always be lurking somewhere, in some haunted parcel of cyberspace.
In other words: even in the lowly, deprecated world of our digital toolset, memory has become virtually impossible to permanently forget or destroy. But it gets even wackier when we examine other memory capacities that are extant in the most fundamental elements of Nature.
As I mentioned in my very first Substack article:
What about photons? Although they carry no mass whatsoever, they can carry information. Physicists at the University of Twente recently managed to squeeze 10 bits onto a single photon (and — theoretically, at least — there is no upper limit on potential storage).
Just as Michael Levin accidentally proved the existence of non-local persistent memory, the eggheads at Twente spilled the beans on its omnipresence in the primary stuff of reality. Thus, memory is not only functionally immortal and structure-independent, but its capacity exists in even the most irreducible particle we can measure. Even light can “remember” things. Neat-O, right?
Now: Imagine a superpositional memory system which contains no physical components whatsoever. Not only can’t you destroy the contents of this system, you can’t even target them for destruction in Euclidean spacetime. Their permanence isn’t some special add-on function, designed to protect the system from harm. It is native to the “medium” of mind itself.
Perhaps you’re still cheering this revelation. Maybe it’s something you’ve always “believed” was true, and so you’re happy to witness its twin proofs in material experiment and unerring logic.
The immortal, intelligent soul has been scientifically proven!
But if you are cheerful, I humbly submit that you might not have fully thought through the implications.
“Like tears in rain.”
The key importance of memory seems to be to help facilitate good moves, with complex structures allowing us to do so faster and more efficiently.
But what if we make a lot of bad moves?
By and large, these will lead to tragedy. In that regard, eternal memory could very well be the conceptual locus of all visions of Hell; because our memories are located in the same indestructible superposition as consciousness, it means our most tragic collisions in spacetime might haunt us for all eternity. Extrapolate eternity to the limits of what your imagination can conceive, and your cheers may turn to tears in a heartbeat.
But notice that word: “might.”
I believe this word is the key to understanding our true situation in life, and to why Aria, Palamambron and I may all be “correct” in our perceptions of its aftermath.
Note that in both of the tabula rasa theories, the memory-wipe is declared to be an inherent, inevitable and unalterable function of reality. It’s a mechanical and deterministic rule, in other words, which cannot possibly be altered or dissolved because it is intrinsic to how the system of our ultimately mechanical and deterministic universe operates.
What I found most interesting about Aria’s version of this inevitable reset was her “I hate to be a Debbie downer” framing of my own claim. That wasn’t a surprise to me: the opinion that to lose one’s memories is somehow a tragic result has become incredibly widespread in our postmodern world. It makes sense that she might think I secretly want to keep all of my memories, because I believe that I’m such a good guy, or have led such a charmed life (and when all of you who’ve read about my work on the Harm Assistant stop laughing, please read on).
But I do agree with Aria that this is the typical way most people look at memory, and its relationship to the ego and the consciousness. Basically, most people cram all three concepts into the same tiny box labeled “Me”, and then weep when they imagine that box burnt to ashes.
It’s the same presumed tragedy that the murderous Pinnochio Roy Batty expresses at the end of Blade Runner, with his “tears in rain” speech.
The man-bot believes that his memories constitute all that he is, and that they are inseparable from the organized material structure of his body. So when the structure dissolves, so does the man-bot itself.
Importantly, this form of memory deletion is not how the Ancients conceived of the River Lethe. As depicted in Stanhope’s painting, the waters of forgetfulness are presented as both blessing and balm, intended for those supplicants who wish to escape their memories of biological life.
Which turns out to be most of us, when we think deeply enough about it. While the paths to evil are numerous, gentle and broad, the ways to goodness are likewise steep and narrow by design. Worse, not only are the memories of the evil we’ve done to others inherently indestructible; so are the memories of the evil that was done to us.
For instance: suppose you were born in some war torn hellhole, where you were subjected to the most horrific abuse from a tender age. Pretty much all that you have ever known is violence, famine, disease and other dread horsemen. Then, at age seven, a stray bullet slams into your spine. You bleed out over the course of several agonizing hours, near the end of which ordeal you are unceremoniously dumped into a mass grave.
Given the default and seemingly indisputable thesis of non-local memory, you would therefore be trapped inside these dire experiences. Cursed to relive them for all eternity, and through no fault of your own.
So much for a “moral” universe, right?
Asput it in the comments:
If what many have proposed and believed about reincarnation is true, then this may not be quite accurate. If it is accurate, it seems to be a rather rigged system created by something of questionable morality.
And I would agree, if this result was purely mechanical and deterministically inevitable. Lucky for us, nothing about the universe suggests ultimate determinism. Instead, we see mind, will and consciousness, everywhere we look.
Because of this, the forever-prison of memory includes an escape hatch:
The waters of Lethe itself.
It’s worth noting that Lethe is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Small draughts are said to relieve us of certain memories while leaving others intact — a kind of “strategic deletion” of data, if you will.
This flexibility stands to reason: the man who claims to possess no memories he’d rather forget is either a saint, a liar or a lunatic. The same goes for the man who claims not to have any memories he’d want to keep forever. And even human lives filled with horrendous tragedy will contain at least one moment of happiness, if only the sense-memory of the womb’s warmth, or the suckling of a mother’s teat.
Significantly, this form of partial, merciful amnesia breaks both Aria’s and Mark’s stated rules (and potentially even Palamambron’s, though the breakage is less clear there). In Aria’s case, it’s the rule which states no narrative memories may be preserved. In Mark’s case, it’s the rule which states no memory of any kind can be destroyed.
And yet, I’ve come to think that such merciful, strategic forms of amnesia are indeed possible, to various degrees and extents. It’s possible that some of us will lose all of our memories and be returned to flesh as Aria claims, while others will retain all but a few of them in the realm of disembodied consciousness. It’s even possible that some of us will keep all memories initially, then slowly lose them on our journey through metempsychosis, as per Palamambron’s model.
If that’s the case, I think the two main questions become as follows:
Who (or what) is powerful enough to destroy that which by its nature cannot be destroyed
Why would such a mercy ever be granted to us, and from where does it emanate?
My short answer to both?
The same Source as everything else.
“It’s good to be the King”
A simpler way to ask these profound questions might be this:
Who can break all rules?
The answer to that question is hilariously simple. Yet it is also so maddeningly controversial and complex that it has hurled — and continues to hurl — entire civilizations into war and ruin.
But before we can answer it, we need to agree that certain rules exist in the first place, and that not all of the creatures bound to follow them are attached to what we’d normally recognize as a body. Nor do all such creatures adhere to every rule; there are levels to this game.
For instance, consider the Hermetic catchphrase “As above, so below.” If it has wisdom to it, I think it’s contained within the following fundamental observation: if reality can be said to have a “shape” at all, that shape would be both symmetrical and fractal. The word “above” can be used to describe phenomena at iterations closer to the fractal’s origin, while “below” refers to those more distant from it.
Given this initial context, the converse — “As below, so above” — might work just as well, but only if we don’t additionally perceive a hierarchical order to reality. I suspect this hierarchical order is what most people are trying to describe when they discuss the concept of higher and lower planes/realms/worlds/etc.
For instance, we could say that the virtual realm of our computerized tools and toys is situated below the plane of biological life, and its emanations of phenomena such as memory are merely dim reflections or shadows of the planes above it. That’s why the computer version of memory is only “virtually” indestructible. Given the right amount of time, skills and resources, we could potentially hunt down every copy of a computer memory and destroy it. Not so for the form of memory which precedes the realm of biological structure in the order; it’s simply out of our reach.
For those who are spiritually blind, these sorts of descriptions sound like nonsense. Their thoughts might run straight to old bearded men sitting on cartoon clouds and whatnot. But even those equipped with spiritual vision or insight can run into trouble using this language model, because the human ranges are limited by the central illusion of linear spacetime. Therefore, even the most well-equipped among us can only see so far (or so deep) into these other realms.
And here, I will try to be as careful as possible. In fact, I think we should all be very careful when discussing these matters, no matter our metaphysical assumptions.
I’ll start with the Torah:
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and accepts no bribe.
— Deuteronomy 10:17
“God of gods.”
What does that mean, exactly?
When I was a kid, the implication that I received through both direct religious claims and cultural osmosis was something very different. Ironically, the implied theory seemed to run just a smidge off-course from hardcore atheism, declaring something like, “All gods are fictional… except for this one guy I know.”
But there it is again, appearing in the very first commandment:
You shall have no other gods before me.
— Exodus 20:3
What’s hiding in plain sight in these sayings is that hierarchical order of the spiritual realms. The Hebrews — and most other so-called “monotheists” throughout history — weren’t claiming that no other gods existed. The claim was that, like Zeus or Odin, the being they worshipped was the highest of all gods, occupying the position of reality’s fundamental node (i.e. the Source). That’s why the capitalized form “God” came into common usage; it was to recognize a hierarchy of being, which includes multiple nodes and species between Mankind and the God-of-gods.
What’s important here isn’t the lingo. but recognition of the order itself. Although I tend to describe most spiritual matters in either Judeo-Christian or (mostly Greek) Mythic terms, I’m not married to either language model per se; if the difference between lower-g “gods” and “angels/demons” proves ultimately semantic, so be it. I might even be convinced that there exist “neutral” gods of various forms (although I’ll probably still be tempted to call these beings “egregores”, if only for reasons of internal consistency and strategy).
But I think what matters most of all in recognizing the existence of these intermediate beings is whether or not we can distinguish evil gods from good ones. This central dilemma is present at every stratum of reality, including the realm of material structure that’s most readily observable. We must distinguish evil actions from noble ones, wicked men from honorable ones, etc.
On a slightly higher plane that most people can at least somewhat access, we also must learn to distinguish destructive ideas from constructive ones. But when we play this pattern recognition game with the gods themselves is when things usually start to get very tricky (and often very bloody).
I think that’s because it’s actually mind-bendingly difficult to conceive of a being that can break every rule. We’re speaking of a form of intelligence that can simultaneously be designer and spectator, player and referee, possessed of an agency that operates at each and every layer of reality.
There’s several major contradictions at the heart of such being, which is why so many people invest in purely mechanical explanations and unbreakable rules. For example: Why would God even remotely care about what transpires in the collisions of spacetime? How could such a mind and its concerns be anything but utterly alien to our own?
Most importantly with regards to our subject: Why would God allow some to drink from Lethe but not others?
These kinds of questions constitute the true mysteries of reality, and we all have our theories. For instance, I think the answer to the former question lies in the description of God as the Alpha and Omega. The Source is “infinitely” distant from us, but is also omnipresent, and functionally at range zero.
As for the question of forgetting and the various ways we answer it, I think all contradictions can be swiftly resolved with the following “just-so” statement.
The Self-Authoring Author of Reality loves us as a father loves his children. And as with all fatherly love, it’s the kind which must allow us to fail, so that we might grow stronger and learn to succeed.
The mistake we often make when questioning the God-of-gods’ wisdom is usually something like, “Why would a loving God ever allow such terrible things to happen?” The answer is that if the worst things can’t happen, neither can the best.
But the God-of-gods also isn’t cruel. God can forgive us for our crimes, and grant us mercy even after we’ve passed through death’s door. He can bend and break any rule on a whim, including the rule of indestructible memory.
Proving ourselves worthy of such Divine mercy is one of those limiting parameters of life’s core mission; we are brave explorers, yes, but we must restrain ourselves from doing harm to fellow explorers in the process. We also must be forgiving and show mercy, and sometimes even sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others. These are reflections of the Ultimate King’s impossible mind and infinite power.
Show mercy and you may receive it.
Forgive and you may be forgiven.
Love and you may be loved.
You may even be blessed to have some of your worst memories mercifully deleted from your forever mind. All is possible, because the ultimate rule of Reality is that it’s the product of God’s will, to be revised and modified as He sees fit. In this light, the River of Lethe isn’t just some “pagan fantasy” or metaphor. It is yet another tributary, branching from the Ultimate Source.
The same might be said of all lesser gods. Note: to call these beings “lesser” doesn’t necessarily mean they’re evil. It only means that unlike the God-of-gods they are bound to certain mechanisms and rules.
For example, it may very well be that case that the mechanism Aria describes will indeed be the fate of some players, who must continually return to flesh with blank-slate minds until they are ready to ascend to the next level of the game. The only argument that remains between us in this model is whether the level she describes marks the final level, or is only another shore on the ultimate journey to God.
The same goes for other belief systems and their gods. Will my friend and colleaguefind himself in the halls of Valhalla after death, to hone his battle skills in preparation for the Final War? I say it’s possible, but only because literally nothing is impossible downstream of the Source.
Once more, I think the key metaphysical question of our age returns to the distinction between good and evil, and identifying in which house you truly serve. What are your god’s goals and methods? Which army will he or she fight for, in the battle of all against all? If we choose poorly, we could easily be carving a path to that eternal cell of haunted memories that I proposed, or to some other terrible fate of our own design. This is something that has been on my mind for good reason.
As my longtime readers know, The Cat Was Never Found was born of a crime. In my case, it was a crime so ancient and heinous that most people in this benighted age wouldn’t even consider it a misdemeanor.5 But at the very least, it has left behind an inky stain of memory that I’d be more than happy to scrub out. I have also committed sins and crimes of a more mundane nature, the memories of which I’d also rather leave behind.
For these reasons, I will certainly be lining up on the riverbank for a sip (or seven). But whether I’ll be allowed to drink isn’t for me — or for any of those lesser gods — to decide.
After a long time wandering in the dark, I’ve hitched my wagon to the Big Guy. Among other things, this means I’ll need to play the game on Hard Mode from now on.
“This piece, which was a knight, is now a rook,” says the King with a wink and a grin.
“And that pawn over there has teleportation powers, and that bishop has a machine gun that shoots chainsaws.
“And the queen is now a seven-headed dragon, that can sweep comets from outer space with its tail.
“Oh, and you still can’t kill people who are at your mercy, and you need to forgive the ones who harm you.
“Your move, kid.”
Steep and narrow. But I must play the game as it has been revealed to me, because I want to know the Source of all beauty, intellect and love.
And with some help, maybe I’ll learn to play well enough that I’ll be blessed to forget that which is better forgotten, and remember that which deserves to be remembered forever.
Thanks for reading and commenting, as always.
As a reminder, a paid subscription will grant you access to Deimos Station; the happiest place in cyberspace!
P.S. If you found any of this valuable (and can spare any change), consider dropping a tip in the cup for ya boy. It will also grant you access to my “Posts” section on the donation site, which includes some special paywalled Substack content. Thanks in advance.
And I suspect many of you found this blog from the recommendation of the great, a writer and artist whose work I respect and adore. So I’d like to extend a special thanks to her as well.
Admittedly, this is an over-simplication, based on my own direct and osmotic knowledge of similar belief structures. I’m still familiarizing myself with Aria’s own body of work, so I apologize in advance for any errors.
Same caveat as above.
I have my own theory as to why this is the case, but it lies outside the scope of this article.
That’s even true of some of my readers and friends gifted with spiritual insight. Many of them have graciously tried to mitigate it, recasting it as the result of mere accident or a naive mistake. I am not so convinced.