Saturday, August 3, 2019

"In Observance of Space Time" - An Original Short By Stuart Warren


 Seems like everyone is doing a video with DeepFake these days: a technology that allows the over laying of a digital face onto a real body. (But of course you know that.) It made me think, “why not a DeepFake for reality?” Once we know the ingredients of the universe, what’s to stop us from baking?


In downtown Santa Barbara, in the Neon District by the train tracks, venture capitalists gather at a coffee stained countertop, cramped with cracked cell phones and money clips. Across from them a haggard grad student in a threadbare T-shirt—once red, now pink, perforated around the neckline—types into a simulator awash in cyberpunk highlights. He’s about to change the world.

It couldn’t be possible, even in Frazetta-scaped science fiction rags, they said. The universe is made of strings, infinitesimal and taught with reality. One needs only to equalize the frequencies, mix spectrums across the dimensions, and you can be an astronaut-ballerina, that puts out fires and has x-ray vision. For one hundred million dollars and change, pocket dimensions fit in your coffee tin, palmed like a silver dollar populated with sentient life.

Anthony sits in his living room, plastered with melting clocks and anorexic giraffes. The Napa valley sun, wet with dew, stabs rays through the crystal endtable. In his hands is the DeepReality™ projector. It’s shivering in 5 dimensional light, and Anthony can’t shake the image of liquefying porn stars from his mind.

Madeline is on her way into the office, lying on a pristine private beach in French Indonesia. On her customized planet, orbiting three suns at the edge of the galaxy she named “M-243”—M for Madeline—she is the majority shareholder of Fabian Micro Technologies. She is experimenting product rollouts there, and in sixteen other dimensions to predict Fall projections. Platinum lily sells better in the Asian markets. Chrome olive didn’t test well in QA due to poor color retention.

Thugnanimous is at a golf resort with his menagerie of publicists and promoters. In the hotel sitting room, a pound of cocaine is being haggled over. Out on the impossible green—an emerald island outside of Phoenix—his girlfriend is training for the US Women’s Open. Far away from his lawn chair perched on the deck, he is a child, running across a beach with his father (who stayed) and his brother (who wasn’t killed in a drive by shooting when he was 3 years old). Afterward, they are going to get ice cream in Cardiff, and then drive back to Carlsbad.

Despite the personal testimonials by tech moguls and pharmaceutical companies, the premier success of DeepReality™, as reported by the New York Times, is the testbed of constitutional reboots and experimental politics. “Despots, 39% of the time, avert ecological catastrophe by implementing climate change policies at the onset of the industrial revolution, whereas democratic socialists have a mean of 85 years before open hostilities between constitution adopters and anarchists erupt into full-scale genocide. ‘DeepReality™ succeeds where all speculative fiction and philosophy fails,’ said the company founder, Horus Cort. ‘It’s the ultimate thought experiment, the wet dream of R and D firms everywhere…’ When asked about the controversy over the sentience and preservation of life within these fabricated dimensions, representatives for Cort declined to comment.”

There is no actual way to escape into the facsimile realms, according to experts hired by the DeepReality™ Board of Directors. Despite the advancement of aggressive bacterial strains, overpopulation, and radioactive contamination, “We are here to stay. This is our world to fix, not to escape and do it all over again.” Outside the DeepReality campus protesters wear lead lined ponchos and pound the gates ineffectually. Horus’s son is escorted by military contractors to and from school. Melanie Cort is putting flowers on her parent’s grave at Hollywood Forever. Within minutes they shrivel and boil like salted snails. She is thinking about her husband, and his dirty secret.

By the time the last leaf falls on to the polonium caked earth, Osmund Cort, steps into his private projector with his girlfriend, never looking back. The sky is oily and metallic. The air is phosphorescent. Vacant skyscrapers covered in ash stand silent, their skeletal remnants melting together on the horizon like Lovecraftian horrors. Here, on Earth Prime, not even the cockroaches survived.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Art of Pissing on Things And a Confession


This week I purchased a car, against my will, due to the untimely demise of my semi-reliable 2003 Honda Civic. This will be my first “big loan” I have ever endeavored to pay. So you can imagine the intensity of feelings going about the Warren apartmenthold. There were many signatures, many squiggly lines, on digital and paper mediums. This, incidentally, provoked something in me today while I was on my way to church: the nature of signatures, instances of them in nature and society, and what they ultimately mean in various contexts.

Signatures are official. They afford a sense of ownership or liability (or both). Typically I sign about 20 forms a day on average, be they while shopping or while installing software on a client’s machine. The EULA (End-User License Agreement) is probably the most common. Another is the Acceptable Use Policy, when signing into a server (intimating the credentialing requirements for the user signing in). In other situations, for instance when signing a check or loan contract, signatures are also an admonition of responsibility.

This then suggests the binding nature of a contract, typically concluded with a signature. A contract infers that the signatory (the one who signs) will meet the requirements of a bargain, or face consequences (financially or legally) when they don’t.

The need for there to be something like a signature is, make no mistake, branded into us. (Considering both evolutionary and sociological systems.) Tribalism begets ownership, to declare sovereignty. From cave dwellings to gang graffiti nothing has changed. In sexual politics, likewise, feminism and chauvinism are methods, ultimately to claim dominance over another—control, as much as ownership, is just the means to declare freedom of purpose. In order to make a declaration, there needs to be a signature. To even put it crudely, the existence of something called a “money shot” (please don’t look it up), is proof of the biological origination of the signature and that it is as bestial as a dog pissing on a fence.

So far signatures carry a negative connotation, one that is permeated with ideas of control, dominance, ownership, and consequence. I had difficulty coming up with examples of instances when signatures had good intentions. A marriage contract is an acknowledgement of a union, I assume for tax purposes. In religion, of the Judeo-Christian variants, a contract is not really present. A covenant is not a contract, because the agreement does not terminate when one or both parties fail to meet the criterion specified. A signature is used, either ritually or liturgically, but a covenant ultimately is about what a person will commit to. On either side, the required action proceeds outward, onto another.

Maybe the reason for all this is the anxiety and trepidation I feel about loans is the uncertainty of being able to pay them? And when I get scared I react by "being strong," which by my definition is reading books and acquiring knowledge. It's like, if I know more about something, maybe I will be able to control my destiny that much more. I can't even watch television without getting stressed, hoping the guy gets the girl, that everything will be okay. That's this whole week. (I could write a whole blog on it. Maybe I should?) Excuse the sudden outburst. It's tangential. My whole life I have been hurt with misinformation, with people misleading me to conclude wrongly about something. I never expected to write about signatures today, but behind every signature is a statement and an agreement. What if I don't know what will happen next? My psychiatrist has encouraged me to think "So What?" statements instead of "What If? statements, and that has helped a lot. 

"What if I need to buy a new car?" 

"So what if I buy a car? It's a common life event that everyone experiences, rich and poor, and I have nothing to fear. God takes care of me and loves me and shows me that he has helped with bills before. He will again." 

See what I did up there? That's me taking advantage of the moment. That's my queue to lie down for a little while... 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

"The Wake" - An Original Short By Stuart Warren


Awash in cerulean light, I’ve walked under the firmament all my life. Never left the hanging city though... Scholars and natural philosophers debate to no end what is, or what could be, beyond it.

Like them, I live in the Wake, where waters flow eternal, from pole to pole.

The hanging city goes by a proper name. The elders call it Loo’alblo. Still, most just call it the Wake: the everyday “Average Joe” folks. Hardworking schmucks. Myself? I’m a priest and, or, local informant—should the need arise. I interpret the scrolls of time. Long ago, the Great Sculptor held his chisel, and he hammered into the coral to make our world. Like mold, we grew in the crevasses, spawned in the open air of sunlit plains. Our first nomadic ancestors journeyed here, following the living path—the algae, grown in the rock. Divine times. Good times.

While I meditate on my mat in the great light, I consult with those seeking the will of the Great Sculptor, occasionally making a deal or two in the same stride. Lots of kids… Young, eager to be closer to the source. Some are cheaters. Want to spawn with another mate, recreate on the side—I have a notebook for that, when opportunity knocks. It’s a simple life. Mostly, I enjoy their stories: to be connected with the culture, the mire, the gestalt of commonality.

For instance: a farmer came to me once, confided in me, said that his living path was dying, that the great light was too great, burning it. I proceeded through the “thees” and “thous,” naturally. The beasts beyond the firmament came up. Titans and giants, treading the horizon, afterimages projected onto the sky full of cosmic terror. Wild shit, I know…

One of my regulars, who spawns for payment, came to me scared out of her wits by a “vision.” She told me, quite confidently, that the eternal gods that be were to shut down the great flow of aqua. After that, the great drying will come, and we will burn on the surface of the coral, forever and ever, again. It’s “routine,” she said.

I sent her away, promising her peace, diffusing the chaos, making her feel all warm and fuzzy.

Later now, I regret that. Their fibrous hands, their sweet looking faces, their implements and the tremors produced by them, cause quakes that shatter our homes. They seem to like their work, the bastards.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

"Today's My Birthday!"




I generally post this on every birthday notification I get on Facebook.

Sublime...
Today is my birthday. I am officially in my “30s” and life is mostly the same.

The other day I was working on a short story, one that I had had my mind on for a while. When I showed it to Alyssa, she told me that she had no idea what it was about until I explicitly told her. Without divulging the content, I find myself in these positions, occasionally, where I’m trying to describe a three dimensional object to a two dimensional being. Living in the lesser reality, the complexity and comprehension of the sphere is impossible. (Similar to how we can theoretically describe 4th dimensional objects with mathematics, but actually physically manifesting one is impossible.)

This was a struggle for Spirit of Orn, where I struggled to describe eye glasses without referring to terminology that is pregnant with connotation to and reference to eyeware.

Back to the matter at hand: my birthday.

I was born at 11:15am. So I often don’t quite feel like something notable has happened until mid-morning. So it’s anticlimactic when people in the office say “Happy Birthday” knowing well that won’t be the case for at least a few hours. A co-worker advised me that this is acceptable because we celebrate the “birthday” not “Birthminute,” and I will concede to this. But with my ridged punctuality, it seems so vulgar.

Regarding the image above, I love Perry Bible Fellowship, for the existential humor. I think when I first discovered this gem on the internet, I was immediately enamored with the bleakness and cathartic qualities of the author and the shapes that birthed from his pen. If you have time I highly recommend preordering the 10th anniversary printing of the original selection of strips by Darkhorse Books.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

All-Star GodMan

When I read All-Star Superman, I always cry. (This is what I did over the 4th of July weekend.)

I believe this is because Grant Morrison taps into what every man, woman, and child on Earth desperately wants: Hope.



For me this is special. Because as I came to understand, and what I must now force myself to believe every day, is that what I want in Superman is already available in Jesus Christ.

Since his inception, Superman has evolved to include savior-like imagery to the tune of a Semitic messiah, mainly Jesus of Nazareth. So I take pride in the idea that I can tell someone the Gospel by leaning on Superman's origin story and get almost there. (Emphasis here on "almost" because all allusions and allegories fall short of describing the true nature of the Christ and his relationship to us and to the other members of the Trinity.)



Still I find it wonderful that this is a thing.

I also find it disturbing, that sometimes I lend more affection to Superman than Jesus. That something demonstrably imaginary moves me (at times) more than genuine article. I struggle to make amends with this wild disconnect. Simultaneously, I must remind myself that, like the pagans of old, culture often brings us closer to the Gospel, because God has breathed his Spirit into us, and has made us in his own image and likeness. And when we struggle to comprehend him, we attempt to do so in the same language used to explain how we experience life and the cultures that evolve from our own society throughout the ages.

So instead of feeling despair, perhaps I should feel wonder? My God does not speak in spite of culture but from the mouth of culture.

From Superman's own mythos I can adapt the famous quotes because of this:
"Live as one of them, Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They can be a great people, Kal-El; they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you... my only son." (Superman, 1977)
“Truth, justice, and the American way” (Adventures of Superman, radio series, 1942.
To this:
(The Father, declaring) "Live as one of them, my Son, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They could be a great people, Jesus; they wish to be. They only lack Our light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity to worship, I have sent them you... my only son.
 “I am Truth, Justice, and the Way and the Light"
Syncretism aside, attributing cultural expressions to God in light of culture is nothing new. How Should We Then Live? does a far better job cataloging the depiction of God, of ourselves, and of our achievements in classical and modern art, demonstrating that the mediums communicate, at least subconsciously, our collective consciousness.



This week my church is doing a vacation bible school, which I am super excited about. While I've had my share of harrowing experiences at these camps in my youth, mostly due to the use of bad theology and emotional manipulation, Reality Santa Barbara possesses the awareness to acknowledge the aforementioned. The timing of this writing, my meditations of Superman and Jesus, are rather fortuitous it would seem.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

My Aunt Irene and Her Life

I learned something when I got married that I didn't appreciate until a year ago or so. As much as we have our faults and issues, one of the key aspects of marriage is the imparting of the best of the other person unto the other, and vice versa. This is demonstrated in the unions of my friends and family, yet most of all I see it in the, shall I say, intervention of my Aunt Irene into the inhospitable and cantankerous family that represents the Warrens.

My aunt is kind in an old-world kind of way. Being of Germanic descent, she is strong willed and stubborn, but robust in her charity and personal humor. I met her when my family went to Germany, where my uncle was stationed in Stuttgart on a US military base. (I'm certain I met her before then, but I do not remember.) Like a good protestant, she trained my uncle to carry out a weekly bible study and we always ate the best food. Later my aunt and uncle came to the states and took up residence in my grandmother's home.

My tumultuous teenage years were subdued slightly by my trips down the road to the house, while I was staying with my dad on the weekends. She never turned me away, and I took the opportunity to eat her food and play with my cousins and go swimming in the backyard. Occasionally I would bring my anime films over, which would mostly cultivate scorn from my cousins, but at the end of the day, genuinely curious, I would see her watching them. In this way, she was willing to experience something new, which I can say confidently that I rarely observed even from my own parents, if any.

I should say now, before I continue, that my aunt is dying from complications due to bladder cancer.

I took it hard when I heard the news. I contemplated going home from work when I read my uncle's email. But doing so seemed silly in hindsight. It was an outcome that seemed to loom in the recent years, one that I was never willing to accept. What would happen to her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners? I've often read that what set Christians apart from the pagans in the early church was their willingness to break bread with those that seemed to be undesirable. Wounds would heal over a meal, enemies would become friends. Like some silly fantasy epic, where the "church" was considered holy ground and a place for peace, I feel strongly that Irene's food became the adhesive to bind and seal the fractured relationships that plagued the Warrens.

So, while she is still living, I am writing this. My hope is that while people are living they can see how much they mean to others.

But even so, I am comforted with the reality that I will see her again, because she is raised in Christ Jesus. This life we live is just the fleeting wisps of an extinguished candle. Everything after is peace and communion with the body of Christ, where people can finally be free to be human.

So if you can, think of my aunt and how our lives mean something to others. Each of us are billiards, knocking into each other, and our effect rippling beyond the horizon. 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Mysterious Flame of Highland Valley Road

As I slowly work through the novels of Umberto Eco, I find myself on the cusp of finishing The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, still enthralled with the adventures of Yambo rediscovering his past after succumbing to retrograde amnesia.

Most of the book takes place at the summer house of his youth in a small town named Solara (in Northern Italy, though there are two towns named Solara, both very close to one another). There in the attic, the scenery, the books on his shelf, he encounters his past, attempting to piece together his lost past.  It occurred to me, about halfway into the book, that Yambo's experience was much like my own, and I'm thought about it sometime, meaning to get thoughts to paper.

After my parents split up, I spent my weekends at my father's ranch house in North County San Diego. It was rather isolated, literally atop a mountain named after an incident during the Mexican-American War, when Mexican Forces attempted to starve a portion of the US Army. I spent most of my weekends learning every inch of the 12 acres my father owned, which was not particularly awful. There was plenty of fruit available for casual consumption, which was convenient, because my father (at the time, he's a lot better now) was a stingy bastard and wouldn't buy us food (or clothing, or toys, or bedding, or anything else). Given that my father was a farmer and local seller at a farmers market, I'm sure he considered it a tax write off.

My father in his 20's (I think)

My father, even to this day, remains an enigma to me. Most, if not all, information I've learned about him has been via secondhand resources (friends, family, and various documents). And much like Yambo, I spent the days at the ranch house either combing the countryside for interesting things to discover, or searching through his personal effects, hoping to glean any information I could on this mysterious person that was my father.

The garage was most interesting, full of bric-a-brac. Newspapers, chemicals, car parts, bike parts, dusty old books and magazines, furniture, and amazing booze (of which I did not partake) could be found in the heap. And even though I have hazy memories of my childhood when my parents were together, the many portions of that house I grew up in were ever changing. My father was attempting to remodel the house for most of my life, replacing the porch with a master bedroom and leaving the upstairs carpet-less for at least 10 years. But despite the slow changes, I was able to glean a few things...


  • My dad had almost 20 years worth of National Geographic collected and meticulously organized. I would spend most of my time looking at the pictures inside. Discovering that some had natives in the nude would fuel an early addiction to pornography. 
  • My dad was a cinephile, and had a wide array of films (both good and bad). When the first DVD players were available, my dad purchased one, along with a $6,000 widescreen TV (rated at 480p). At around the same time, my mom was asking for help for the cost of my braces. My dad said they were too expensive. 
  • My dad had a plethora of maps. Detailed, topographical maps of San Diego County, Hawaii, and others that came with his National Geographic subscription. 
  • My dad was a collector of antiques. He once used a 100 year old apple press to make apple juice on the sly to sell at the farmers market. (Probably breaking numerous health violations in the process.) What's more amusing was the intoxicating stench of alcohol produced, as the rinds fermented on the hill beside our house. 
  • My dad had a large safe. It was ancient, not unlike those seen being broken into by bandits in westerns. I knew he used it for collecting coins. Every once and a while I would see him depositing new valuables, recently purchased from California Numismatic Funding off of East Vista Way. 
  • My dad had a storage unit, which was once a large camping trailer beside his watering meter up the hill. Inside was all kinds of things, including a vintage pool table. When he sold it to my aunt, she once told me in passing that the rubber cushions were the original ones from when the pool table was manufactured in the late 1800s. 
  • My dad preferred to keep his wares in mint condition. His VHS tapes often still had the plastic wrap covering the paper containers, preserved by cutting slits around the bottoms of the tapes. 
Today, unlike Yambo's eventual recovery of his faculties (via a stroke), I still know very little about my dad. I wish I did. The house was sold in 2005 or 2006, I can't remember when exactly...

I hated that place. I hated every minute I spent there, so much so that when my cousins from Germany moved stateside I would spend most of my high school years there, leaving my poor brother to fend for himself alone. Incidentally, the house was burned down during the Witch Creek Fire in 2007, when I was away at UCSB for my Freshman year. It wasn't until a year or two later that I revisited the orchard to find my father's orchard in ruins. The subsequent tenant let the property go to waste, and what was left was destroyed. 

Life is funny like that, isn't it?