From: Stratus Portal

(excerpt from Stratus Portal: a book by Matthew Bailey and Ryan Jerome Stout)

The path reveals itself, almost mystically — a slight tear in the space/time fabric, an interdimensional hangnail rift exposing the beginnings of whatever lies behind a canvas covering a nonexistent moment’s prior dimension. Where the ornate wrought iron fence meets the concrete base loosens, as if a newborn poked its finger through the back of an Industrial Era American city painting. A warbled real time cityscape painted into existence by each accentuated brush stroke and its highlighted cats-eye color striations and their crepuscular phase shift dawning as it teases the viewer and reveals arcane information: I am not one of the lucky few in the know — just more data lost to history’s whimsy. Brush strokes like roundworm threads escaping a failing organism: they trudge with intransigence. A marauding meat grinder masticates their cellular composition into gelatinous garbles of tubular expression forced closer with each crank onto this tiny torn interdimensional canvas: this fabric, this theoretic space/time travel in literal application, this imagination gone wrong, this idea lost in convolution. Is this hangnail tear an entrance or exit?

A barefoot Central American boy wears dirty hand-me-down cutoff jean shorts. The shorts are light blue and cut just below the knee. A white v-neck tee-shirt two sizes too big covers his torso: experience and time have turned the t-shirt off white. The caramel skinned, green eyed boy, stands four feet high and outside the mouth of a sedan sized cave. A handmade braided rope holds a beat up flamenco guitar to the front of his supple body. He possesses an enviable contented demeanor, the kind of joyful contentedness only possible to poor guitarists basking in the sunset while playing music in front of an ambiguous cave: he plays and sings in spanish.

“…Trabajamos nuestros cuerpos cansados

Permanecer vivo

Debe haber más para vivir

De nueve a cinco…”

In front of him, the sun’s posture exists in perpetual threat of hiding behind a beatific mountainous landscape. As he sings the chorus, an involuntary ebullience inhabits his body…

“…No sabes

¿No me rendiré hasta que esté satisfecho?

No sabes

¿Por qué debería detenerme hasta que esté satisfecho?…”

Byron comes to — shook into existence by large vibrating hands that vanish the moment his eyes open. He floats on his back atop an expansive body of water with no recollection of how he arrived in this precarious state. His last memory places him on a street corner. He recalls staring at what appeared to be a wrinkle in reality: he is aware of how insane that sounds. But he recalls his perplexity; this perplexity intrigues him; his intrigue excites him; his excitement inspires him; his inspiration motivates him to act upon his curiosity. His curiosity steps him through the space/time fabric anomaly: a seam caught by some pointy thing, a seam with a wrinkle, a seam in existence, a seam in a reality we abide, a seam in the canvas atop a space and empties our eyes’ attempt to gaze into beyond. There is light, generated by our god, the sun, and that light travels at speeds by only which numerical calculations can comprehend; that light travels, and it is everywhere; and our eyes widen their organic lens’ welcome god’s energy into the vessel containing obscura aparati. This ocular aparati connects more aparati, aparati beyond our comprehension, beyond our comprehension because our only means of recreating comparable aparati is to create machines capable of constructing such aparati. This light travels into lenses, illuminates visual cortices, illuminates our brains, and glands as separate from the mind, and embraces the souls yearning for enhanced connectivity. So we attempt to re-create our gods, but they are poor performances; they are all poor performances — for re-creation lives in the past. Every movement a copycat, a huxter, a charlatan, a sycophant…

(Byron stands at this the corner where piecemeal memory the wrought iron fence of electrified recall meets its concrete baseflashesinandout, and follows the spibabybreathstutterres to their conclusive arrow-shliapeon eyesd tips in ornamental diphantosplammemy oorf ballies and spears.) s

He rotates his eyes to receive direct light from; his supine body adheres to water’s undulation. Large white cotton ball clouds float atop a blue sky foreground, and for no other reason than acknowledging the pure beauty of his seemingly conjured environmental circumstances, his mind eases. This heightened state of relaxation readjusts his eyes and quells his anxiety, and nestles into that mindless stare capable of conjuring invisible boats within geometry’s magical kaleidoscopic backdrop.

Maybe Byron gives too much weight to movements, thoughts, words, conversations, and any, and/or, all activities: perhaps this reveals a now realized personality flaw. Besides, it is the question behind the question that contemplates until detriment, and it is the answer to that detriment that breaks the heart to never heal. To assign such significance to minutia, quotidian or life saving, paves a road to distortion’s whim — a distortion mistaken for purpose; a distortion mistaken for progress, a distortion in guise of ability; and this distortion, once awakened and acknowledged as certainty, in proof of concept and application, is, at best, a grand ruse effused by the unsure fragility of the fractured ego’s grandiosity. The lie he assured himself and all others of — snapped clean from his inability to cease propagating self-deception.

Somewhere along the way, ideas moved towards belief, and the inherent dangers of belief were dismissed for the purpose of convenience. Whether this modal shift from idea to belief to floating, in a neither here nor there attachment style, to tethers thinning into nothingness like cotton candy or molten glass, one certainty reigns true: the overwhelming evidence of this thought’s ridiculous beginning can no longer be ignored; “At the end of the awakening come, in time, the consequence: suicide or recovery.”

And the awakening, this: Byron’s ability to architect, at times beautiful and elaborate facades (driven by his fear of spiritual inauthenticity and hopeful criteria of superficial inclusiveness) has expired — at this expiration — hope! And if satisfaction is the death of desire, then let us all die in ambivalent solidarity! Byron arrived at his jumping off point: continue to live in existential fear of failure until the inevitably of self-induced annihilation, or…change. No longer can he dismiss anomalous occurrences such as a barely visible rift in space/times otherwise inaccessible fabric guarding an invisible dimension underneath singular convolutions protecting the liar’s prosperity, like using tissue paper to absorb the sun.

The Earth healed itself. Medical advancements, in ways of health care, preventative medicine, and effective multidimensional mental health interventions made its way to the top societal importance once each school sustained a student shooting (in officials and policy makers eyes, this graduated the violent occurrences to out of “trend” status) of the priority list — 10 years after the 2019 pandemic. No one could have predicted this: the Earth and its inhabitants got well. Man had officially conquered all: there was nothing anyone could not have or do as soon as they wished it. Since there were no more wars to fight and automation replaced all but very few essential workers, people were desperate for purpose. (What they don’t mention in the Utopia Is For Everyone propaganda: utopia is not for everyone.) Many individuals, and there were many, who lacked self-direction, fell into, what the doctors referred to as, self-willed catatonia. With nothing to do, people did exactly that — nothing. With no need to make money, there was no need to work, and since the automation of childbirth, society’s entire foundation and purpose placed on the endangered species list of sociological woes.

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