Everywhere, people sit alone, speaking on silent machines
✎ Wayne K. Spear | April 10, 2018 · Fiction
MY NAME IS KALASHNIKOV, it is true. Everyone acknowledges the fact, which is to say no one does. Indeed, and verily, there is no one who says of me, “There goes Kalashnikov,” as I make my way, my back seized in a grotesque parody of a standing man, a man in motion yet not in motion. I go about this way, resembling a man, yet not resembling; resembling motion, yet not. Thoroughly unlovable, and thoroughly Kalashnikov, but no matter.
Lately, on account of my back, I have found it impossible to sit or stand or lie. And so, after a period of what I shall call inquiry, I found a position in which I could pass the time. It happened as follows. During this so-called inquiry period of mine, I broke down, first, the nature of sitting: both what it is, in essence, and what it is not, in essence. And for the others, the standing and the lying, and whatnot, I did the same. And I wrote the results of what I am calling an inquiry into my book, which I am calling the findings.
It was a great success. I have put the sitting and the standing and the lying, and the whatnot, in a whole new light. You may think you know these things, but trust me. Yes, trust me, when I say you know less than you think. For instance, of the many kinds of lying, which I have adumbrated here in my book
[HOLDS UP BOOK]
and also, of the many kinds of sitting, there is more to know than you realize, until you have inquired. There are many things, to do with the feet and hands and so on. No two sittings are the same, I discovered, nor are any two lyings the same. From this I deduced an infinity of sittings and standings and lyings, and whatnots, and set about to create from these a posture of my own that avoids a definite commitment to the sitting and the standing and the lying, which the condition of my back forbids me from indulging, but which adapts elements of each, to create something other. Call it a non-sitting-non-standing-non-lying-non-what-not, if you must. Yes, only if you must. There is no word for it, yet, nor is there a need for a word, in my submission.
Picture it as follows. One foot pointed to the heavens. The other foot, tucked in the vicinity of the pit of the arm. Not in the pit, but in the vicinity. This detail is critical. My head, titled 22 degrees to my left. One arm outstretched forward, parallel to the earth, palm facing upward. My other arm pressed to the ground, the arm which I now use for locution. Also note that my torso is twisted, just to the left, at my hips, which feels good at the base of my spine. This is how I go about, drawing absolutely no notice as I do.
Now that I have sorted this out, my mind is free to take notice of the world. Imagine my horror and disgust, if you can, as I take notice of this world, for the first time in what feels like an eternity. To begin with, everyone is on the telephone. Everyone is speaking, all the time. Everyone is typing words into machines, and my inquiry (this is another, separate inquiry) has revealed that these words appear to others, on other machines. Some of the words appear to the entire world, on machines. Everywhere people sit alone, speaking on silent machines to something called “social media.” What do they speak of? As best as I can tell, something called fake news, which is to say news that is not news and truth which is not truth. And of course they do not speak, for they are silent. And of course there is nothing social about it, for they are all alone, making the words that no one hears. I have written some of the words down, in my book:
It has come to my attention, as a result of my inquiry, that freedom of speech is under threat. Everyone is talking about it. On the machines, I mean, and in the entire world where the many words go. Apparently, they are silenced. Do not ask me “Who is silenced?” You can find them easily enough, on the machines and on the television and on the radio. They are everywhere, if you go looking, telling you about their silencing. Some of them travel the world to speak about the silencing. It is very frightening to hear them speak about their being silenced. Nothing seems to be preventing the silencing: not their books, nor their lectures, nor their many radio appearances. They go on, being silenced, despite having their books on the best-sellers list. They go on being silenced, despite the machines and the words. The silencing goes on.
I must stop typing. I need my arm, the arm which I now use for locution, to go to the drug store. I must get myself some back medication. If I leave now, I should be able to reach the corner drug store when they open, tomorrow morning. And I should be able to arrive back home, two days hence, medication in foot (for my hand is now my foot, and my foot is now my hand). Yes, by the week’s end, I should be well medicated. And perhaps then I will make the machine words, silently and alone, that go out into a world of untruth, the horrifying world that devours us, little by little, day by day, word by word.