I don't answer calls from Unknown.
It's not so much that Unknown and I aren't on speaking terms as much as the truth that I see Unknown trying to hide behind the basketball hoop pole on the playground. As if on the count of ten I look up and won't notice him standing against the aluminum pipe when I know Unknown has a face and a mother and is tugged down by gravity just like me. Somewhere light reflects off him and somewhere he has to pick what he'll eat for dinner and where he has to pee. Because Unknown is a person or a machine built by a person. Usually.
Unknown does not leave a message.
The Iranian lady who cuts my hair answers calls from numbers she doesn't recognize because they might be customers but lots of times they're from machines trying to sell her automobile service policies that never pay. She got out of Iran and to the U.S. and started a hair cutting business which would have been impossible for a woman in Tehran. She divorced her good-for-nothing husband and dyed her hair light brown. She used to worry the calls from Unknown were actually from the Iranian secret police, but now she realizes they're advertising.
In the west, it's all advertising.
She does not worry. She says we have nothing to worry about in the U.S. In Iran there are lots of worries.
My phone rings and it's Unknown and I don't answer and there is no message. Unknown refuses to talk. I refuse to answer. But each of us knows the other is there.
It's a relationship based on solely on denial of communication.
I am not worried.
There is the thing about 11:11 or maybe there isn't.
I look up at the clock and it says 11:11 Psychologists will say that the reason I think I'm seeing 11:11 a lot is that I don't remember all the times I look at the clock and it does not say 11:11. Because I fill my head with memories of having seen 11, I think I see it everywhere.
I started trying to ignore 11:11 and it worked for a while. Then one day I was coming home late from work in my Corvette and I stopped at a red light and looked at the clock and it said 11:11.
I said out loud to no one, "Ok, I see the elevens. Hi."
My car stereo was not on but it went on. The volume rose slowly to nearly maximum, and then back down again. Then the radio went off.
I had to wonder if maybe I was somehow missing that my own hands were turning the radio knobs, because that's usually how the radio went on in my car. Knobs had to be turned. Buttons pushed. But my hands hadn't left the steering wheel and now I was scared.
Then the light turned green and I started going and I started trying to think about something else. I thought about cow magnets and that cows have multiple stomachs and if it eats metallic crap you shove a cow magnet down its throat and it passes through the cow collecting all the ferrous junk as it goes. And that they were selling these cow magnets as toys to put on your desk at work to distract you from all the meaningless bullshit that goes on at work that steals the happiness and life force from you.
I thought about the juxtaposition of those thoughts - that my work was so intolerable that I needed to put cow magnets on my desk to distract myself from how awful I felt doing the crappy stuff I had to deal with all day, and how my radio just went on and off by itself and maybe I had just been given proof of extraterrestrial life or angels or ghosts - or maybe not but in any case it was real and beyond any pain and suffering I endured in my job. I was in my car trying to focus on cow magnets but something just made my radio go on and off.
I don't know what to do with that information. If I told that to anyone they would say it was crazy talk.
Because that's what it is.
So I sent a message to Uri Geller and he answered me. This would not have been possible back when I was a kid trying to bend spoons by staring at them intently. Electronics and age makes it work. Uri is nearly 70 years old now. He probably doesn't have much to do. How many spoons can you bend in one life?
I asked him how he dealt with his powers and how he could keep his ego in check. After all, having supernatural powers could make a guy feel superior to his fellow man and forget his true essence.
He asked me to watch a documentary that had been made of his life and then tell him what I thought. I watched it. It was pretty clear from the film that Uri had indeed let his ego run wild with his spoon bending and oil finding abilities. He had Michael Jackson as the best man at his wedding. He hobnobbed with John Lennon. He had groupies.
Now he's just sort of a rich old guy, and if he's like the rest of us, at some point he starts wondering what he's made of himself and what accounting he'll give when his soul is extracted from the mortal coil. Because in the end, you're made of yourself, and nothing more.
But what I realized was that it was not for me to judge, or for anyone to do so. His abilities were no less native to him than his arms or circulatory system. They were just tools he could use in life for any purpose he chose. They were what was handed out to him at birth the same way I got blue eyes and a brain.
He wasn't obscuring anything. Being an ego maniacal spoon bender was his true essence. He chose to be on Johnny Carson.
I do not have that choice, nor have I ever managed to bend a spoon with my mind. So perhaps the point is moot.
Me: Hey, I was e-mailing with Uri Geller today
My blonde haired wife: Who's Uri Geller?
Me: Just some internet guy. No biggie. Do you want the creamy ranch or the balsamic vinagrette on your salad?
My blonde haired wife: Do you even have to ask?
Because I am interested in the merger of technology and the paranormal I have devised and built a number of ghost hunter machines. One of them senses radiation of various forms and uses measurements of those values to write words on a small screen and speak them.
I went into my basement with the machine and turned it on. I asked the forces of 11:11 to let me know what they thought and if they had any messages or guidance for me.
The box I made said: "Coins. Pappa. Think."
I bought a metal detector and started looking.
Turns out, it wasn't that.
Me: Bend, spoon. Bend.
Me: Bend, damn you. Bend bend bend.
Me: Beeeeeeeeend. Bennnnnnd. Bbbbbbbbenddddddd.
spoon: soup. soup.
There is a video of a David Foster Wallace speech made by some guys called "The Glossary." It is a video in the sense of a rock video where the soundtrack is inspiration for the images. The film is a 9 minute clip of a college commencement speech Wallace gave in 2005. It's called "This is Water."
The overarching message of the film, and the speech, is that the world is the way the world is. You share it with billions of other people, and countless other beings.
Because we see the outside with a mind inside ourselves, we tend to view everything as revolving around our actions somehow. Most of life is mundane. In that mundane world things seem to happen because of us or to us. Even though all the images and experiences are projected objectively on the screen of our own mind, we tend to take it all personally, and we depersonalize everyone in that experience field.
So a massive traffic jam is a major inconvenience for us. When we're in it, we're not thinking of how literally hundreds of people around us are experiencing the same inconvenience, and how some may have urgent emergencies to attend to and others may be just a miserable as we are. We start tying up emotions in the experience and when we become angry we project our anger toward those around us who are in exactly the position, and may be just as angry.
The point is that there is a choice. The key to free will is that you actually get to experience endless inanity and you are free to be controlled by it or to master it. It really is your choice to become angry and frustrated at an interminably long grocery store check out line, or to view it as a shared experience with fellow travelers through life. And the message pivots around the idea that as a young person thrust into adult reality you are expecting actual life to be the stuff of film and youTube videos, but the secret nobody is telling you is that life is mostly the mundane dreck there is before death. So you have to choose - do I go on autopilot, abdicate my experience and simply endure, or do I live?
Because the mundane stuff is the Truth (capital "T") of what life is. And whatever that is also lit the stars and flooded the world with oceans full of fish and whales. And it's a huge massive mystery you're ignoring.
Or not. But you don't know.
The title "Water" comes from this joke: Two young fish are swimming along. An older fish goes by in the other direction. He says, "Howdy guys. How's the water?"
The young fish don't say anything right away. And then after a while when the old one is out of earshot one fish turns to the other and says, "What the hell is water?" thereby summarizing most of western civilization.
David Foster Wallace killed himself three years after he gave that speech.
This may be called irony.
But we don't know what was happening inside his head. Perhaps we want to judge him silently and think, "what a douche. Preaching how to live and doesn't know how to do it himself."
But we don't know what it was like to be him. We don't know his pain. We can choose to dismiss him.
Or we can choose to believe that as a fellow Earth traveler, he came across some difficulty greater than the biggest killer robot we could imagine.
And it got him.
There is a show on the National Geographic Channel called "Brain Games." The premise of Brain Games is that the human psyche seems very concrete and infallible to us, when in fact we are easily fooled by optical illusions, slight of hand, and tortured logic.
Con men have known this for eons. Las Vegas exists on that principle.
There is a concept about programming the subconscious. The idea of this is that there is another entire aspect to your consciousness that at times may as well be another entity inside you. It does not speak directly, except through the interpretation of the consciousness that you feel you control, but it has massive control over your so-called controlled consciousness.
The subconscious can be programmed without your knowing it. Advertisers embed subtle cues in their media that you don't pick up consciously, but actually register fully in your subconscious mind. Thus you can be made to feel you need to buy something you have no outward need for. You can be made to feel positively or negatively about a political candidate. Your infallible 100% positive gut reaction can be diddled and screwed with to the point you are sure in your heart of hearts something is true that is actually an idea planted there by someone else.
On one 30 minute segment of Brain Games they discussed optical illusions. At the end of the show, one of the cast looked at the camera and said, "Finish this sentence. I would like a nice cool glass of..."
And you say "milk," and you don't know why. Except then they show you that for the past 30 minutes you've been bombarded with the message "MILK" even though the show had nothing to do with that.
This happens all the time, about everything. And with the advent of high bandwidth media attacking us from all directions, it's a wonder that any of us is in full control of anything we do anymore.
And so I know I can be programmed. I know the political parties are trying to program me. I know the advertisers are trying to program me. I know entertainers are. I know my employer is.
I know when something jumps out at me bearing great emotional content, I need to pause and think. I need to get above the emotional noise and shake free of the programming.
Ghost buster shows want me to believe in spirits. Religions want me to believe in their versions of God.
There must be great power in belief. If the world as we know it is the conscious construction of six billion sentient souls, then there is great power in knowing something simply must be.
11:11 is programming but I don't know by whom, and I have seen what it can do.
Yet I choose to believe in things greater than myself.
I choose to believe in the invisible things and a power that extends beyond my mortal flesh.
I could have constructed it any other way - but I have chosen and I will program myself.
And I will not answer Unknown.
Let him show himself to me. If 11:11 can do it, so must he.