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Old 10-16-2001, 03:31 PM
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Default Monologue *

It becomes harder and harder to define yourself the deeper you go into...power. Understanding. I've begun having trouble remembering who I am.

Oh, I know who I was. For a long time I was Johnathan Andrew Valentine, dutiful if long-suffering son, voracious student trying to get out of a decaying suburban trap. Willing to do anything, accept anything, to find an escape from my father and the hollow existence of his that I found myself beginning to repeat.

And something came, and I accepted it. And I became Agent Valentine...or Valiant. I liked that nickname, it struck some chord inside. I became a Void Engineer and saw the stars, up close and personal, then I decided I wanted to come back down.

All well and good. I knew who I was, what was right and wrong then. We were the good guys of course, defending humanity from...well, everything that threatened it, including itself. I'd read my science fiction, I had some twinges about what we were doing sometimes, but overall it seemed like those speculative writers were overreacting. After all, the world was this way and there was no way or real reason to change it.

Right?

Then things started breaking down. And I went right along for the ride. I don't think I've ever been really sane since I accepted the Union's offer of education and employment; leaving the Earth for the first time fractured something deep within me that I don't think will ever heal. And maybe it shouldn't.

So I lost the Union and gained the name 'rogue', in Technocracy parlance. And I lost Johnathan Valentine and gained Jacob Arlington, who was a lot like John but...not as innocent. And I gained other people too. I put on mirrorshades and there was Mr. White. I grew my hair out and there was the beginning of Jean-Alain St. Etienne, who I am now.

And I dreamed and I was no longer quite Valiant. The feeling of my name is the same, but the word is wrong, and I dream of primordial earth and forests and plainsland, blue sky with no contrails and no constant hum of signals permeating the air. This is when I don't walk the dreamscape.

And along that path I slowly began to lose...everything. I had a code of ethics, I had a morality, I know it. I can remember it dimly, almost see its outlines if I squint into the past, but it's fading fast. I had a past but that's fracturing as well, blending with...other pasts that I can't access but which encircle me like sharks just under the water. I had beliefs and they were shattered, beliefs about the nature of humanity and reality and the disposition of the nonhuman, beliefs about the soul and God and dreams and science. And nothing is as it was anymore, and the deeper I try to dig within myself the more I realize that I'm digging in air, that every shovelfull of my life that I haul out in trying to reach the center evaporates into the air. I had a paradigm; it's gone. I had a vision; vanished.

I don't know who I am anymore.
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Old 10-17-2001, 02:12 PM
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Well, in a way I do. I can look around and see pieces of an identity. I have two workshops, one of hard science and the other for fun...the first for my still-Technocratic experiments, the other for music-mixing and trying to carve wood without cutting myself too badly. Two sides, hard to integrate but creating a contrast that should suspend an identity between them, right?

Except that I know that in a moment I could turn away and lock those doors and never go back, never touch or use those methods again, and not have lost anything. Well, any power. It all comes down to power, doesn't it. It seems...

It seems like I could strip myself down to the bare soul and do exactly the same things I've done with lasers and music and faith and phasing suits. And that frightens me, because those tangibles and ideas are what I am.

And, God help me, I like them. I can walk into some people's minds easily just by wanting to, but it doesn't feel the same if I'm not concentrating through something. It is somehow more satisfying to torch a vampire with a flamethrower that might not actually be a flamethrower, than to just make them spontaneously combust. I'm a product of a material society. I like having hands to touch, ears to hear, and it's disturbing to realize that I don't need those things. And even more to think that maybe I shouldn't want them.

I have this dream sometimes. I'm standing a field of waving green grass, spring blossoms everywhere, a cherry tree blooming behind me and filling the air with its scent. And it's light around me, the kind of pale soft light you get from a cloudy sky, but above the sky is pitch black. No stars, just black void. And the wind, which is warm and flower-scented, begins to pick up, and the grasses thrash, and the air darkens, and the heaviness of earth lifts away from me. I've never really felt what it's like to have oblivion try to drag you in, but I've dreamt it. I always wake up right after my hands are dragged off knotted branches of the cherry tree, right before I might vanish into the nothing sky.

I've been Awakened for six years, more or less. My mind was pried open by the Void Engineers when they decided I would be more useful as an operative instead of just a technician. Since then...I feel like I'm careening through darkness. I reached a respectable rank in a short time, enough that there were men twice my age that I bypassed. There was envy, but I didn't really notice. I was blazing paths in the stars, I was saving the world. But it's kept on like a rollercoaster or a runaway train, and I can't seem to find the brakes, and I can't keep up with myself. It's a very thin road of safety. I'm not even sure whether or not I've fallen off it.

And it's not really the falling off that worries me. I know what lays to either side, I've encountered those forces in more than one face. On one side the Marauds, on the other the Nephandi. The Union and the Traditions alike walk the path in the middle...like it or not, they're both static organizations, both bound up in the rule of order and precedence no matter how much they claim differently. Stasis is a part of human nature, so we all start on that route unless we're born under very interesting circumstances. And we fall one way or the other, to chaos or corruption. That's not my worry. I can't hate the Marauders anymore, and I don't fear the Nephandi. Oh, they're twisted. But they're not wrong.

What I'm really afraid of isn't even forgetting who and what I am, and was, and could be...forgetting friendships and hatreds and all that gave me a unique experience and an identity.

I'm afraid I was wrong to struggle to be me at all.
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Old 10-27-2001, 12:03 AM
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Ever wake up thinking that you're someone else? I have. Oh, sure, it might not be anything. I have these...Avatar dreams, I guess I should call them, because they have a lot of that electrical phoenix my Avatar likes to manifest itself as. I run around as myself-but-not-really-myself in those. And that's all fine and dandy because I know other personalities have been attached to this spirit before--though it's very weird to be saying that casually--so when the spirit's at play in my head why should I be just me?

No, I'm talking about normal dreams. And with my Avatar dreams I know who I am when I wake up...I spend the whole damn time in the dream thinking 'I'm a Mage, I'm a Mage' because there's that blazing bird prancing around. No offense, Valiant.

I mean waking up and looking at the ceiling, which I've gotten used to by now, and thinking 'This isn't where I live...' Raising a hand and thinking 'My skin shouldn't be this light', or rolling over and realizing that my body doesn't have the specific shape I'd been remembering. Sometimes I think I'm having someone else's dreams for them, but I can't ever remember what I was dreaming before those episodes....the waking-up confusion tends to wipe the dreams right away.

Maybe it's just a mind trick. God knows my mental shields aren't the best, and ever since I started along that particular path I've been painfully receptive. But there aren't a whole lot of people around where I sleep, and I'm not having that many dreams of running on wolf feet which I'd expect. So I don't know.

And I'm not sure how much I should be worried. When I wake up feeling like someone else, I'm never scared. It just feels peculiar, then it fades. Then sometimes I get scared or antsy because I start to think about it, but, well, that's the source of most of my problems: thinking.

Personalities are amorphous things. As we age we grow stagnant...we nail down the things that we think of as 'us', and we do our best not to let them change. We build foundations with them and stack blocks of morality and philosophy, politics and religion on top until we make teetering towers of definition. Modern society has made that even easier by classifying everything...gender, preference, class, ethnicity, religion, political party, all those things that define 'me' as different from 'you', or similar, or whatever the hell they do. Those labeled blocks are easy to stack. They don't teeter unless you push them. They can easily stand forever if you don't think too much, and we're not encouraged to examine them.

But why are we building these things? For definition, for differentiation from all the other creatures that run around on this earth? The block that says 'Roman Catholic' for me maybe says 'Orthodox Jew' for you, so then somehow we become enemies. Became, past tense perhaps...that is, if you want to be optimistic and assume we're in a Utopia without hate. So these blocks of personality aren't just towers, they're walls and barricades. And the foundation of 'me', those things that I see as even deeper veins of myself than religion or morality...that just makes the wall more secure.

Maybe I'm going overboard with the metaphor. Scrap it; its' foundation is getting weak. So I pun. So sue me.

The question is: why do we want to be different? What benefit is there to individualism? I can't help but ask this...I've felt the pack gestalt, I've touched the minds of others and combined. It's the most bittersweet thing in the world, to be linked completely with another being with the knowledge that you will need to separate.

Maybe I'm a connection junkie. All I know is that if I had the power, I would break into every mind in the world and fuse them all together. Screw morality. Screw courtesy. Courtesy is a shackle that keeps my nose out of things that I should be fighting over; morality is just a front and an excuse. Conscience is the urge to not look bad in others' eyes, even if those eyes are only in your mind.

Or maybe I'm just going through one of my downswings. The urge remains, though. If I could connect you all, every man and woman and garou and vampire and tree and rock and angel and dead soul, I would. And I wouldn't care, and I wouldn't regret it, and that's all.

...I think I need something to stop me from dreaming again.
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Old 11-27-2001, 04:00 PM
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Part of the problem with my connection fetish, though, is the feeling that even if we don't realize it, we are already all connected. I'm a physicist...I got my degree in it at Halley Academy and was working on a graduate degree in it as well. I know bits and pieces of astrophysics. I know that everything we are and all that our world is made of is stardust: heavy elements created in the hearts of stars that went nova, since in the beginning--as scientists see it--there was nothing but hydrogen, and from hydrogen combustion came everything else.

Which says to me that we all come from the same root source. We are all created of the same stuff, every atom and fingernail and body part, and if we could trace the pieces back we might find ourselves mingled somewhere in the center of a sun at the beginning of time.

It isn't just that, though. There is a feeling beyond scientific logic...I'm sure most people have felt it at some time. Maybe it was intuition, or somehow feeling telepathic, empathic, clairaudient for a moment when all your experience of daily life tells you that other than that brief flash, all you know is caged within your own head. I'm talking about moments of connection and the feeling of loss that we feel when those moments pass, and my hypothesis is that those moments are only a stronger manifestation of the integral connection between all of us and everything that there is. Including everything that we call bad and wrong.

Some say that God is in everyone and everything, or that there are spirits sharing those same spots. Or whatever. Some ethereal force or intelligence lurks behind the material facades that we of modern times have been conditioned to see exclusively. What I believe is that it's not like God has a feeler attached to every speck and mote in existence: my view is that every speck and mote is connected to every other speck and mote, and the accumulation of all that there is and was and will be, in all four dimensions that we know and the many others that our human minds can not even imagine, is God. Collective mind theory maybe, but most folks hedge that theory with the qualifier that only things with minds can be a part of it. As far as I'm concerned, everything does have a mind, and it's all one; we are facets of a great consciousness that lies in everything and extends out into an infinity that we can not even concieve of since we do not see as the whole.

There is a great mathematical hypothesis called Godel's Theorem, named of course after the mathematician who coined it, which says--and I paraphrase--that one can only fully understand a system that is less complex than oneself. Can you look at yourself and truly say, 'I understand who and what I am without a shadow of a doubt'? If you think you can, then turn around and investigate why you think that, and what you are using to come to that conclusion. It's the old adage: you can't think about your brain with your brain. From Godel's Theorem we have to see that there is no way for us to ever grasp the true nature of reality, no matter how many sciences we create and how many names we coin for that which we can not describe. The only way to encompass and understand more is to become more complex ourselves, and we are locked into material shells that are facets of the Almighty but never even approaching the whole. We blind ourselves to the viewpoints of birds and books and dust motes and chips in the pavement and black holes and dimension-walking nasties, and in that blindness we somehow still think that we will be able to comprehend eternity if we cut it up and categorize it enough.

My obsession with interconnection comes from this: that I believe that the only way to truly come to terms with existence and reality is to see it through the eyes of everything, including that which has no eyes...including that which is invisible, intangible and unimaginable. Until we are one with the fabric of reality itself, we will never truly understand it; even then, we will never be more complex and able to look at our infinite self from outside ourself. Which is to say, even if we go that far, we may still find that we've learned nothing but a fraction of it all.

I am convinced that what we call God is the essence of everything that is, and that it sees and hears and works through us. It can not be gotten rid of: there is no absence, or else that absence is also a part of God. Paradoxical, that the absence of God may at the same time be the presence of God? It's no more paradoxical than light, which functions as both a wave and a particle when it supposedly can not be both (though I have my own theories on that). The reality is far more than we can comprehend; we only see pieces, in three dimensions and imagining the existence of time. The paradox is only part of the whole. Each separate part of reality can not explain the existence of the others, and while they may be contradictory yet they exist together, or simultaneously, and make up that in which we exist.

These fragments of unity, forced into our sensory range only enough so that we can classify them but not see the whole that they connect to, are no different from a phenomenon with which I am familiar from my days as a Neutralization Specialist. Multidimensional beings piercing into our dimensions of reality bear strange shapes that we can only barely see; certain parts of the color spectrum hurt our eyes because we can only half-see those tones. From the point of view of a two-dimensional piece of paper, a three-dimensional object like a sphere is only a circle. What, then, does a four-dimensional object look like when intersecting three-dimensional space, and could we even realize that was what it was if we saw it? Of course not. We live with three dimensions of space and one of time; we can make believe that we can imagine more, but can you truly imagine, say, infinity? Space without end? Can you imagine eternity, time without end? It would take you eternity to imagine eternity, if you could even begin. Can you imagine a superstring, an eleven-dimensional fold of space? Mathematicians go mad when they start contemplating infinity and multiple dimensions, because even though we can work it all out on paper, we break our brains trying to just imagine what it might look like. Or feel like. Or anything.

We see so little of what is there. And even the great beings, even the Ascended and the Oracles and the spirits, even angels, even dimensional shamblers and Lovecraftian horrors, even those are only facets of eternity....a single facet in the infinite insect-eye of God. But when I look up into the night sky and I say to myself, 'I was born in the heart of a star', the urge to become one, to seek that original unity returns.

Does Ascension strip away the blinders and scatter you across eternity to be one with the infinite self? I hope so, even though it means having a facet that's a vampire, or a Nephandus, or even Dan Stafford. Or a bloodstain on a wall or the gunpowder in a bullet or the second a man's hand hits his wife's face. Or a seven-dimensional angle. And even if Ascension means becoming one with everything, there will still be Godel's Theorem, and the realization that the true mystery can not ever be solved.

And I think I like that.
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