The Baal Dialogues

One mans descent into darkness

Originally published: 6th August, 1999

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(C)opyright is a nasty word but the real author would appreciate being given the credit/blame they deserve and a link back to this site.

Mirrors and masks

Originally published: 6th August, 1999

"I will show you fear in a handful of dust"

I speak these words to you, who I imagine to be real, but yet there is always a sense that you are not. I see you, hear you, have felt you, tasted you, but always this lingering doubt that you are a phantom, that in all actuality I am speaking merely to myself. No matter, the conundrums of solipsism worry me no longer...they are the doubts of children who fear to be alone. We are always alone, even at those moments when we believe that we have achieved unimaginable union with another soul. Inevitably these moments are chemical in basis, our biological machines tricking us into thinking that sexual pleasure is in some way bringing us closer to the Other. It is a lie, egocentric lies of the highest order.

Apart from the very few, sexual congress achieves little but a few moments of isolation, an escape from the doubts of everyday mundanity. We make love to our fantasies, to our dreams, to our make-believe ideals of who we want the Other to be. We make love to ourselves, and it achieves little other than to make us See less, and fool ourselves more.

But this is the wrong way to begin. I want to talk on other things first.

As I lie within this symbol of power I begin to feel the disassociation of old. Who I am, my persona, my ego, my selfhood, call it what you will, begins to feel irrelevant. What matter these constraints we have chained our lives to? Why the need to define ourselves to these sets of rules, these archaic Judaeo-Christian morals, this purposeless way of thinking?

It is the constant fear that we never know who we really are, the fact that we cannot define ourselves that makes us try, all our lives to force ourselves into a rigid set of parameters within which we can operate. It's that old humanistic need to define again, our desire to have everything, down to the tiniest detail. neatly tied up with pretty pink ribbon, and labeled so everybody can see what's contained, without ever having to get down in there and have a look. To get our hands dirty, if you will.

But it doesn't work. Not with ourselves. We can't define who we are, no more than we can ever understand how anyone else thinks. Sure, we can get an idea from how people act, we can guess how their minds operate, but everyone is playing roles constantly anyway. Nobody is ever just themselves, no matter how close to them you may think you are. It's just not possible to be yourself when somebody else is around, because there is no yourself to be.

Who you are is merely a reaction to that person, and who you perceive them to be, and who they are, and how you perceive them is merely a reaction to their perception of you, the you that you present to their presentation, that they perceive through their own filters. Madness isn't it? The perceptions continue like shards of a mirror until we fractalise down into madness.

Madness is an interesting topic, and ties into this whole thing. It's also impossible to define, so I'm going to go ahead and define it anyway just to rouse some arguments. Insanity is a mind that has broken out of what we term as 'socially acceptable parameters'. All that programming that we receive throughout our lives that makes us nice respectable members of 'society', with normal behaviour, and normal ways of going about things.
Insanity is a mind that rejects this program, has changed or altered or mutated in such a way that it is no longer compatible with the program, or possibly, that the program is just too primitive for it to understand.

Do we investigate and study and learn from these people, like we would with a computer that won't load a program. Do we try to find out why the program doesn't work/isn't recognised? Do we even consider for even a second that maybe, just maybe, it isn't the fault of the mind at all, but a rejection of a program that is obsolete?

No. What we do is lock them in a room until they decide to downgrade to the basic model like all the rest of us. If that doesn't work then we'll load them full of drugs and slam a few giga-watts through them until we ruin their minds effectively enough that the best it can achieve is to blindly follow instructions that we feed it. We kill the differences because they mess up our perfect system, they upset our perception of what is right and normal. We fear change, and this is why we cannot, will not see that the only way forward is to reject those rigid systems of thought and move on from this cardboard cut-out world that we have created.

Practically all the suffering in human history has been caused by our inability to see any other viewpoint than our own. Why do we carry on like this, always trying to affix rules to the minutiae of our lives until we become machines, incapable of seeing any other way? We need to look into ourselves, seek out the boundaries of our minds and smash through them. See, they're only mirrors, not walls at all. Yes there will be casualties at first, but with time it will get easier and easier. To walk out of the courtyards of our minds we need to forget the rules, forget who we think we are, and just be…

…We all know how to wear those masks. Do we remember how to take them off?


The mask that lies shed

Originally published: 6th August, 1999

He is Here.

He enters the cell with a trepidation that is almost audible.

I remain lying on the floor, eyes closed, feeling the hum of the circle around me diminish and then die as he moves closer to me. I feel the moment that his foot scuffs across the outer circle that I scraped onto the vinyl floor. As his eyes adjust to the dim lighting, he notices the symbol that I lie within; undoubtedly notices the sheaf of scrawled notes scattered around me.

I hear the slight intake of breath as he now sees that the notes are written in red, that my hand is stained red (my fingers being the only writing implement available to me), and that my wrist is covered with slashes from the razorblade that lies discarded by the notes.

He leaves with considerably more haste than with which he arrived.

Time passes. I have no conception any longer of such things.

He returns. I hear his voice far down the corridoor, talking to another. And then the door opens and they enter my world.

I am moved, strapped to a steel cot with wheels at the base. Sponged clean of blood, the smell of disinfectant writhing in my nostrils. Bandages are wrapped around my wrist.

A light is switched on, flooding my mind with colours that dance upon the back of my eyelids. A shuffling of papers, perhaps my own writings that they have brought with them. I decide to look upon them, to look into them.

He I recognise. The one who has visited me regularly while I have been in this cell. His features are of little note, a slightly larger than average nose, nostril hairs protruding slightly. A faint reddish tinge to the cheeks. Otherwise a very normal face. The other is more interesting. She is younger, skin tightly drawn around the bones. Strong cheekbones and well spaced eyes. She is probably considered attractive to men of her age.

She holds a clipboard, and is studying it intently, avoiding my gaze in a well-practised professional manner. He on the other hand is staring at me as if I were an unusual and rare species in a zoo.

Perhaps I am.

He speaks to me. Until I remember the notion of the spoken word it is just a jumble of meaningless sound. I decide I will converse with him. He may learn something.

"You say that your name is Baal?"

It is to be an interrogation then. Perhaps this will be of no interest after all. I decide to leave the game a while longer.

"I don't say it. My name is Baal. Why do you doubt it?"

"I'm not doubting you. If you wish to be known as Baal then we'll respect that of course. What you have to understand is that we know you by another name, the name you gave when you were admitted?"

They still haven't seen then. They cannot recognise my transformation, the mask that lies shed upon the floor has not been noticed.

"I was in error. I didn't realise then who I was."

"Okay. But now you do realise who you are?"

How tiresome…

"Yes. As I am patiently repeating to you, as if to a small child seeking reassurance of a truth. My name is Baal. Please go now. I wish to be alone."

The woman casts a glance at me, a slight touch of amusement plays upon her face.

She is not laughing at my rebuke of the man though, she is laughing at what she considers my ill-placed attitude of superiority. I close my eyes. The man recognises what this means. He sighs.

"Alright Baal. We'll leave. But I want to discuss the things you wrote. It may help us to help you. I'll return tomorrow."

I don't acknowledge him. I begin to drift. when I return to myself the room is empty and their scents have dissipated. I decide to sleep.


Healer heal thyself

Originally published: 6th August, 1999

He is Here Again.

I open my eyes and he begins to speak immediately, as if he fears that he has a set amount of time before I drift, rather than the mere fact that I find him incredibly tedious.

"I hope you're well Baal. I really want to discuss the writings you left in your cell the other day. We feel that if you can talk about your feelings rather than writing them down it will prove to be beneficial to you. We are here to help you. I hope you realise that. Please don't judge us too harshly or consider us your jailors. We want to bring you back to yourself."

A remarkable waste of words. Clumsy phrasing as well. The concept of bringing me back to myself amuses me though. He believes it as well. The conviction in his voice has a certain religious zeal that I have heard from the fanatic previously. This man is paid to help heal those with allegedly sick minds?

Healer heal thyself. "I have no wish to discuss what I wrote. The text is self-explanatory, and should be perfectly clear, particularly to one with psychological training."

He sighs. It is a fake sigh. He was expecting that response. He is leading onto something else.

"I'm not sure how you expect us to help you Baal. Talking about your problems and your feelings is the only way we're going to be able to make you better. But, if you are certain, then I'll respect your wishes. Would you mind if I read you something then?"

Ah. Of course. He is going to read back to me from some journal or other of mine. A relic from before the change. He is hoping it will bring me back to myself, as he quaintly terms it. It is of no consequence now. That was another place, another person.

"Go ahead Doctor. Make your play."

He clears his throat, and squints slightly at the clipboard he has brought with him. He holds the board closer to his face. Obviously the man is short sighted but is too vain to wear spectacles. How bizarre for one who is not attractive to begin with.

"The entry is entitled 'Windows of the Soul', and I believe you wrote it about three months before you joined us here. Do you remember writing it?"

I don't bother responding. It would do no good to speak to him of memory at this point in the game.

"Well, anyway. I'll begin."

I close my eyes, placing myself back into that time, recalling who I was then and the mask I wore. His exercise is futile, but it serves to remind me how far I have come since then. He begins to read.


Windows of the soul

Originally published: 6th August, 1999

I look into my eyes and I see death.
The face that the eyes are set into, that they pour out of like twin orbs of darkness, that is the face that I call my own, but in fact it is alien and inscrutable to me. This face resembles a mask to me.

I know that if I could tear this mask, this fade away from my head - rip the skin from the flesh like thin plastic - then I would see the face of death. The face is a lie, a piece of artless trickery that deceives those who look upon it. It presents a veneer of normality that fools people into believing that which they want to believe. That I am normal. That I am not a killer.

There is no explanation for the eyes though. Anyone who looks upon their obvious malice, as I do every day, must notice that they at least cannot disguise what I am. Grey-blue like a cloudy windless day, flecks of rust brown within, like dried blood. The same shade as the spatters that stain the tiles beneath my feet.

The truth is, whomever observes my eyes cannot fail to see the monstrous entity that looks out through them, observing these people in return but seeing them only as objects, measurements, visions of violence. Thoughts of how they would appear lying on the tiles, chest cavity laid bare, organs arranged around their corpse like post-modern confrontational art. These thoughts must be apparent, must be reflected upon their surface.

I see a childs face upon the street and see only an image of future pain that I could inflict upon them.

Children see more, or rather, they ignore less than what is readily apparent. We grown ups do not want to accept that in the eyes of a man on the street we can see untold horrors, can smell the sickly sweet odours of blood drying upon pine floors in some charnel house of a cellar, can taste the slick warmth and coppery tang of the flesh as it yields to teeth.

Children are less easily constrained and they give me a wide berth usually, knowing that what they see in my eyes is not fancy, not an overly imaginative mind at work, not societal paranoia. Children see my eyes and see a bad man looking back at them. A killer. A monster.

I like children most of all, for when a child is in the grip of absolute fear, when it reaches that point of utter certainty that they are going to die, then, oh god, that moment that sweet moment! All the fighting, the lying, the survival instincts give way to an instant of complete peace. All fear passes from them. There is total acceptance of their mortality, and at that moment I can see their souls and it is beautiful. More beautiful than anything else you can imagine or experience. You have broken down all their animal like instincts and vulgarities, and in return they surrender their very soul to you. As they die they die having known ultimate peace, they have transcended the mortal boundaries that we wallow within for our entire lives.
They are pure.

The girl on the floor is beginning to smell now. It's time to clean up I suppose. I look once more at the pinprick circles of blackness in the centre of my eyes. I shake my head slowly. They know. They know and yet they do nothing. They share my guilt, they are as culpable as I. At least I am honest with regard to my nature. All they can do is deny it, and deny me.


The Blade of Truth

Originally published: 6th August, 1999

He stopped reading some time ago. I didn't notice, and don't know how much time has passed since. Time is beginning to flow differently for me, another sign of the change in me, the evolution of my being.

"Baal? Are you listening?" His voice begins to reach me as I allow myself to resurface.
"Baal... I asked you about the children. Why it is you feel children are pure. Do you think you were pure as a child? Is that what you want to return to? That purity?"

He is so riddled with the cancerous growth of Freudianism yet doesn't even feel those malignant pustules oozing their juices; that whisper of sex and penetration and oedipal dreams. He believes himself to be a thoroughly modern psychologist, and yet, does not even observe himself enough to notice how often he returns to poke at what he hopes is the open wound of my childhood.

"Baal. Please talk to us. I think it would help you if we explored your notions of purity and childhood."

He hasn't actually asked the question yet - dare not now anyway, in the presence of the woman - for fear of seeming too archaic, too old school, too unhip. Of course I can see the question in his mind, fidgeting and raising it's hand, trying to force itself to the fore.
He resists, but he wants to ask, wants to ask so very badly. Instead he circles the issue, dancing on the fringes. Asking instead what I enjoyed as a child, what my earliest memory is, what my friends were like. I lie of course. I lie and he knows I lie, and he believes himself to be so very perceptive because he sees through my lies so easily. What he doesn't understand is why I lie. He views my lies as fear, a resistance to analysis common to all who wish to pretend to themselves that they are sane, and yet deep down they know how truly mad they are, how vulnerable the truth would be to the good doctors mind scalpel.

"Baal. This isn't helping you and I think you know that. We need to get at the truth, confront the truth. You see that don't you?"

The truth. It is at the very core of us. It is our beating heart. An incision made with a probing question, layers of skin and fat peeled back. The answer shows the path that the scalpel should take, reveals a trail of scar tissue that the blade can follow easily. Another cut, deeper, through muscle, sinew. Another question, another revelation, the fleshy parts pushed away and muscle clamped with childhood memories, we reach the heart. The truth, and the root cause. An abusive mother, a neglectful mother. The doctor withdraws, satisfied that the cancer has been removed, and leaves his underlings to mop up.

There are two parts to a psychological analysis; getting the patient to reveal the truth, and, once that has been achieved, ripping that truth out so that it infects the body no more.
The first part is the harder. Many psychologists consider the second part beneath them, a job that any amateur can achieve. No, it is the direction that matters, the ritual cutting of the patient with that scalpel. The good doctor though fails to see that I am different. That I lie only to observe his reaction to my lies. To see how he will combat it. To see if I can provoke him to ask the question, the oh so clumsy slash with the blade. The one that would lay bare his own truth. The Freudian cancer that lies beneath the healthy modern skin.

"Baal. Are you in there?" He is getting angry. It is masked, but I can smell it.

"Baal, I think we should go back to your own childhood and look at your ideals of purity."
Surely not? Have I finally broken him? in front of the woman as well…

"Baal, why don't you tell me about your mother?"

I smile…

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