This is the second book I wrote – or the third depending on how you view it. I had written this typically weird sixties conglomeration of poems, sketches, drawings, weird writing and absurdities that at the time I thought was a ground-breaking new form of book. Unfortunately it was more of a typical 1960s mish-mash of weirdness in two volumes that did not get published. It did not help that I had developed this mad form of writing that did not conform to grammar or punctuation as we have come to know it.
At the time I was looking for a creative way of earning a living so that I did not have to drop into the clutches of Big Brother. I could not paint, I could not play and my first efforts at writing did nothing to set me on a path towards earning a crust from my endeavours. Fortunately I discovered teaching.
However the creative urge never died and I have continued to write ever since. I enjoy doing it as much as reading.
So this was the second effort. I made this conform to a more traditional structure and bought in to the fact that conforming to English grammar and punctuation might actually make it easier for someone else to read.
Harry Balham is the central character in this book. He has begun to see strange alien figures all around. He is not sure if he is going mad as nobody else seems able to see them. He continues to observe and discovers that they are filming people having sex. He is driven crazy trying to tell people what is going on and finds himself locked up in a mental home. Harry is not even sure himself if he is insane or not but he bides his time while he sorts his head out and decides what action to take when the opportunity arises.
Somewhere else in the galaxy on a planet called Trut an expansionist alien culture is facing decadence and decay due to their mass overindulgence in pornography.
Here is an extract from the book. I hope you enjoy it:
Reality Dreams & Pornographic Syndromes
My name is Harry Balham. At least I think that is my real name. One can never be sure. Right now I am not happy with life. It is possible that I rarely have been.
To say that I am confused, as most people seem to think, does not really do justice to the state of mind I currently find myself in. I am not confused. I am perfectly lucid and extremely rational. It is merely that the world around me does not conform to even my own expectations. I can no longer trust it and there is a good deal that I find frankly highly disturbing as I am sure you would if you were able to perceive it in the way I do. The fact that this terrifies me and fills me with dread I find only natural in the circumstances.
I shall endeavour to explain. However I must warn you that I do have some doubts – or at least one doubt.
My real doubt on this subject comes from the fact that nobody else seems to see the world the way I do. One has to admit that if one person believes one thing, namely me, and everyone else believes something else there has to be at least a chance that they are right and I am wrong. For them life goes on in a predictable manner just like it used to do with me. They think it is I who is out of step with the rest of humanity. They are at least right about that one thing: I am definitely out of step with everyone else. I’m not sure if they are right about everything else though.
I will admit that there are times when I have been incoherently babbling. I cannot deny it. The problem I have is that they have interpreted this babbling as a symptom of a mental illness for which I require treatment. I do not necessarily see this as the case. Indeed if what I perceive to be the case is true then it is everyone else that is in need of help.
Believe me – I do know how insane that sounds.
The truth of the matter is that I have been living with a chilling fear for three years now. I have a desperate need to make everyone – no that is not exactly true – I correct myself – to make anyone believe my lurid story.
It is because of this that I find myself incarcerated in his rather sterile and extremely modern looking open-plan mental institution. I am spending my days trying to piece things together so that I can understand why I have ended up here. If I had a choice I would certainly not be in a place like this. I despise it here. I hate the routine and patronising attitudes. I feel like a caged animal being assessed while they decide what to do with me.
I have no doubt that it is ‘them’ who are really holding me here. Yet every so often I find myself vacillating. Perhaps this terror I am experiencing is all a figment of my mind? Perhaps ‘they’ are not real at all? Yet usually I remain sure. They tell me that my observations are delusions; that I am suffering a paranoid episode that is a form of mental illness. They wish to treat me and urge me to cooperate so that I might be helped to recover. I find this hard to believe.
I am no trouble to them. I see no point in making a scene. They would not allow me to win. No. It is better that I spend my days placidly sitting here and causing no problems. Perhaps I could come up with an effective course of action? There has to be something I could do? So I sit here quietly and think. I run everything through my head over and over again and try to analyse it; make sense of it; figure out if there was anything else I could possibly have done. It has all been extremely peculiar and more than a little terrifying. I find it hard to hang on to my sanity because all of my reality has been turned on its head. I cannot trust any of it. My world turned out to have no more substance than a dream. I have to cling to the substance of my own mind. The universe in my head is the only reality I can be sure of. Reviewing things I cannot see any other way I could possibly have reacted. I am sure everyone would have responded in the same way.
What else could I possibly have done?
What would you have done if you became aware that everything you considered to be normal was nothing as it seemed? If you discovered that everyone and everything was being controlled by a bunch of weird alien creatures?
How would you have reacted? I bet it would have terrified you as much as if did me – particularly when you realised that you were the only one who could see it all and nobody else would listen; they thought you were crazy.
I tried to convince them; of course I had. There was nothing I could do. They just thought I was weird. I was the idiot hearing voices in his head claiming he was being controlled, that his thoughts and feelings were being manipulated. It was like God talking to you. I can’t blame them for not believing me. I wouldn’t have believed me. Bu if it was happening to you what would you think? What would you do about it? What action would you take? Go to the doctor’s? Go to a shrink? Take a pill and it’d go away?
That was the situation I had found myself in. One minute I was Harry Balham – just an ordinary suburban businessman – nothing special. I was quite happy with life. I got by. I had a pleasant job, a great wife, a nice house and car and a place in society. It was all pretty ordinary but I got by and drifted along like my Dad and Mum had done before me. That’s what you did. You mowed the grass and cut the meat. Then the whole thing is turned upside down and you find you are playing some bit-part in an epic masquerade. None of it was real. Wouldn’t that make you feel that you’d gone completely insane? It did me. Wouldn’t most people have just cracked up and handed themselves over to the authorities to be cured? But that’s where I differed from most people. Not me – not good old Harry. I didn’t turn myself in and ask for the pills. I had thought about it, reasoned it out and refused to see it that way. What I was experiencing was not a delusion caused by mental illness; it was really happening. Unbelievably I plumped for accepting that it might just be real. I accepted that. And if it was real then going along to the doctor’s and getting reprogrammed with a bunch of pills was not going to solve anything. It would merely return me to the same old oblivion and it would all go on as before. No. I accepted that it was real, that something weird was actually going on and I became determined to do something about it.
I didn’t understand what the hell was going on. I was utterly confused and frightened. It was as if real life and dreams were clashing in my head. All I knew was that I had to get to the bottom of it. Something was going on and it was real; it wasn’t just a product of my imagination. I heard all these voices and I’d even started to give them spiritual connotations. Perhaps God was trying to talk to me? Perhaps it was the weird aliens trying to manipulate me? I had no way of telling. I had never been a religious person. I didn’t believe in all that church shit. But I started thinking that maybe this was the start of some great mystic experience and I was transcending to some higher plane of existence. What else could you believe when your whole reality fell apart and dropped you out the bottom? There was nothing to hang on to. Everything I had believed in was blown away. Anything was possible. I had found myself cast adrift in a swirling set of experiences in which there did not appear to be any rules. It did not make sense. I had to figure out the rules as I went along. That’s what I did. I tried to accept that my world had melted away into some macabre theatre and I now had to make sense of it.
Unsurprisingly that was not quite how my doctors perceived it. They had no doubt. From their perspective the evidence was conclusive. They had seen it all before a thousand times; I had the classic symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia – problem solved. All that was required was a period of hospitalisation, observation and therapy and the application of the correct dosage. Once they had my biochemistry back in harmony it would all return to being hunky dory. It might take a month or two but I would be able to return to my former life and pick up the pieces as if I had never had a problem. From then on, as long as I took my medication with precise regularity I would be as right as rain.
I didn’t buy it.
I knew better.
In some far flung corner of the galaxy there was a race of highly evolved people. They probably had some expansionist policy that drove them to go out gathering planets like cherries in a basket. They had plucked us out of the void. The whole Earth was sitting in their damn basket. They also had a rampant sexual obsession that pervaded the whole of their life and culture. I knew that from everything that had happened to me. Their leading scientists were probably concerned that this obsession was a sign that the race was heading towards decadency and might lead to their whole empire dissolving chaos. I had deduced that from what I had overheard.
For the doctors who toured Harry’s ward he was an interesting case. They discussed it with smiles on their faces.
They loved studying these sorts of cases. They were so interesting. Somehow Harry’s mind was all jumbled up so that life, dreams, mystical events, the purpose of life, science fiction and reality were all mixed up into a rich and confusing collage. It was their job to tease it all apart and put it back again in a different order that made sense again. It was like doing a mental jig-saw.
Harry’s was the sort of case that made the job worthwhile. It was intriguing and presented changes.
The stood in pairs, smiled benignly and watched Harry as he wrestled with his demons.
Meanwhile life outside the ward went on in its own humdrum manner.