Accompanying Podcast: The One I Never Was, or: How to Avoid Archetypal Possession.
What follows is taken from a journal written at the time and does not represent my current views.
July 6th 2002
Last night I dreamt I was Lucifer again. I was semi lucid, in an elevator, and this woman (under my spell) was handing me her newborn baby. I was planning to devour it. This was my kick. At the last moment I had a change of heart and handed her the baby back. There were several repeats of this same basic scenario: me briefly giving into some sick lucid fantasy dream scenario, then repenting and rejecting the temptation. Lucifer turns over a new leaf at last? About time.
Two nights previous I dreamt I was technical adviser on The Matrix sequels. I was wearing my black suit. There was some confusion who was the director. One of the Wachowskis saw me and wanted to know who I was, and why I was on the set. I told him, “I am Lucifer, I am the One.”
This created immediate tension: “Who is this guy, how did he get here, what’s his game?” I went over to Keanu and told him the same thing. Keanu was uncomfortable and slightly nervous.
To clear up all the confusion, I levitated in front of him, did a slow-motion turn in the air, and then floated back down again. This convinced him. After that, I moved into the capacity as on-set adviser. As the real One, I would advise Keanu on how to play his role.
I was sort of chasing Keanu then, saying, “It’s time to learn, learn how to burn.” I realized then that my instruction was to have sex with him! I got him down on the ground but since I didn’t especially want to have sex with Keanu right then, I turned him into Trinity. We moved together like flowing water, feeling complete sensual abandon and abeyance of all thought, as passion and desire and sensuality took over.
Then I was back with Keanu on Hampstead Heath. I was teaching him kung fu and he was trying rather lamely to hit me and pretending he was holding back. “Stop trying to hit me and hit me!” But the whole thing was sort of lame and we ended up frolicking. I got him down on the ground and Keanu asked me, straight up, “What do you want?”
I said, “I want you Keanu.”
I was aware then of how incredibly beautiful he was; it was like I really was Lucifer at that point.
When I woke I thought, if it was Keanu, I think would go queer.
The following night, I dreamed of Keanu again. Am I getting obsessed? I dreamt he was going running on the heath and I was supposed to follow (Follow the One?). I haven’t been running in years; in fact, I never have. I was trying to find some sneakers and meanwhile he was off without me. I followed after but lost him! I knew that he was tracing the shape of a bear in his run all over the heath, however. Then I ran into my stepfather (dead) Michael and we had a conversation about something. In the dream, I was just so depressed, in a real funk of apathy and despondence, and this was why I went running. I had forgotten how awful it feels.
Thursday, August 8, 2002
Sebastian’s birthday. It’s late morning and I have slept three hours, maybe four. Yesterday was the day to end ‘em all, yet I reckon it was just the beginning. I force myself to recapitulate because otherwise I am in danger of losing the plot. So here goes. I had to go get my black suit trousers from being repaired (after a fall in town). The repair job on the trousers was great, considering he’d said at first there was nothing he could do about it (he even suggested cutting them into shorts!). It was hot and sunny so I wasn’t sure how good an idea the suit was gonna be, but since I had my meeting with Simon Stanton, representing Gollancz, Orion publishing, regarding their publishing Matrix Handbook, I figured I should be in character, in full dress mode as “the One.”
Just before I was about to go out with the dogs, the phone rang. I answered it, “You have reached the One: how may I help you?” It was Mike Jones from Bloomsbury, who chuckled and told me he’d read what I’d given him and been “surprisingly gripped” (for a philosophical treatise, he meant) and could I send the whole MS in attachment so he could show it to some people there? I did that and called him back to be sure it had gone thru, then I went for a walk with the dogs. It felt a bit like I was going mad. Like I was imagining all this, taking refuge in some sort of elaborate schizo fantasy. Nothing is too wonderful to be true, shall become my mantra.
I came back, changed into the suit, had a dance, and took a bus into town, deciding to take the Handbook diagrams along at the last minute for Mike. I dropped these off at Bloomsbury, then went to buy some ginseng, went and liberated a copy of Carlos’ Fire From Within, then went to Orion. The offices were in a large building called Orion House or some such, though Simon later informed me that this was “coincidence,” as the building has already been called that before Orion moved there.
It was a very fancy building, all gold laminated, revolving doors, high-class Ritz hotel elevators, the works. It felt kind of odd to be there on so legitimate a basis. Simon was tall, taller than me, and a little bit older, perhaps early forties, with sandy hair, perhaps just a trace of red. He was dressed fairly casually in a blue cotton shirt and trousers (what else, a kilt?). I have to observe these things more carefully in future.
We went to the lift and down to other offices, to Simon’s private office, which was full of sci fi books. On the way I asked Simon if Orion was independent; he said it was then corrected himself, admitting that a few months ago it had been bought up by “Hachette,” a big French company whose main produce was, get this: missiles. In other words, Orion is owned by the military industrial complex! [In fact, it was Matra that was involved in aeronautics and weaponry, but both belonged to Matra, Hachette & Lagardère at that time.] Needless to say, this made me feel a bit odd.
At his office, we talked about the book and I brought up the main points I was concerned about. Having to play the author and the agent at the same time, I was careful not to be either too businesslike and calculating, or too naïve and laissez-faire. The first thing I said (after Simon asked if we had a deal) was that I needed some breathing room, and could he wait until Friday before I decided. He agreed to that without a problem. Then we talked about release timing and the risks of Warners trying to block the book, tying it up thru law suits and stuff (Simon thought they were minor risks but it was best to play safe and keep the book as undercover as possible), and the question of selling rights to a US publisher. (Simon said they would start looking for one as soon as they had secured the world rights from me.) He was very positive about the book and particularly fond of referring to its subversive qualities. I liked Simon, got a good feeling off him from the start. If I don’t go with Orion (and it will be those damn missiles that stop me, if anything) the hardest thing will be disappointing him.
I asked for something to drink and he suggested we go out somewhere, so we did. We went to Henry’s on St Martin’s Lane. Simon gave me some books: the Minority Report tie-in (for which they were unable to use the movie poster due to lack of co-operation from Tom Cruise’s lawyers!), and Altered Carbon, a book I read about when I punched Simon into the search engine, because Joel Silver just paid $1 million for the movie rights. [It just aired as a TV show, last week.] Simon wanted to give me an idea of their presentation, etc. He said they were aiming to move sci-fi into a more “respectable” or prestigious field/format. He also told me that his boss, the head of Gollancz, is the biggest Philip K. Dick fan in the universe, which is a very good sign.
I gave Simon my pitch as “The One,” in regard to promoting the book, saying I wanted to be actively involved and that this would be my approach, giving Q & A signings, in character, not merely as the author but as “Neo.” He laughed somewhat uncertainly and explained that signings were pretty dodgy business unless the writer was already a celebrity, that we would have to start small with radio interviews and just see how it progressed. Fair enough. I asked him “man to man” if he thought Orion would increase their advance offer, and he said, “Not if they don’t have to,” which I guess means yes.
[When I signed the contract, a few days later, Simon had left me me a Reservoir Dogs-spoof postcard with two dogs in a Mexican stand-off. He had doodled speech balloons onto the card, “I’m the One!” ~ “No, I’m the One!”
Last night (Wednesday) I almost got into a fight. I was walking home and there was this guy fishing by the side of the pond. He stared at me so I stared back at him. I was talking into my tape recorder and I really hate it when people stare at me while I am doing that (it’s as if I am doing something completely freakish). So I passed him and turned my head as I did so, and he turned to carry on staring at me, so I stared back at him, not exactly hostile but challenging. He said, “Fuck!” in an angry fashion, so I stopped and looked back at him, and said something like, “What?”
He said, “What are you staring at?” so I said, “What are YOU staring at?”
He said, “Are you stupid or something?”
I said, “Are YOU stupid?”
It was weird, because I was just parroting him. Being his mirror I guess.
He told this small boy he was with to hold his fishing rod, so I started walking towards where he was. The boy took the rod finally and the guy, who had short dark hair and brown eyes, quite tall and thin, early twenties, quite nice, foreign features, got to his feet and stepped over the railing and came to meet me. I still had the tape player in my right hand but had turned if off (regrettably, it would have been interesting to play it back). I stood close to him and looked him in the eye, wondering if I was going to have to practice my wing chun for the first time in a street situation (albeit in the park).
He said, “What did you say?”
I said, “You asked if I was stupid and so I asked if you were stupid. Why are you trying to pick a fight?”
He assured me he wasn’t trying to pick a fight, so I said OK, whereupon he said, “Just walk on.” I thought about pushing it a little further (not liking to be dismissed), then realized that I had nothing to push. So I said OK and started to walk away. He said, “You’re crazy,” whereupon I turned back and said, “Crazy, but not stupid.”
And that was that. Only once it was over did I feel any fear or anxiety. Throughout the experience I had been calm and collected and wholly indifferent to the outcome. Strange. After a brief attack of nerves which hit the moment I began walking away, I then felt sad. It was as if I’d somehow provoked him, even though I hadn’t really. But I knew that I was prepared to destroy him completely if he’d forced me to. To hurt him physically, assuming of course that he hadn’t beaten ME up. And that made me sad, I guess. He seemed like a nice enough guy, really, all just macho bullshit on both our parts. And yet I behaved appropriately. Since it was necessary to show neither weakness or fear, that meant meeting his force with equal and opposite force on my part. And it was above all my complete willingness to get into a fight with him that kept him from pushing me further. Yet if I had simply looked away from him the moment our eyes met, none of this would have happened.
Girona airport, waiting for a plane. What else? Missed the one to London this morning, having gone to the wrong airport. Assumptions are fatal. The day so far has been one long negotiation with trains, buses, telephones, a day in the matrix. Another one.
Since I left London, there has been nothing but struggle. The lesson seems to be just that: the warrior’s struggle never ends. I long to get to Mexico, but once I arrive there, I shall probably start thinking of somewhere else.
This planet is overrun. It is a plague, an infestation, and as long as I’m part of it, I can never escape it.
Cannes was interesting. Certain elements intervened to ensure that I get copies of the book to Keanu and the Wachowskis, though now I have seen the sequel, I wonder if there’s any sense in it. They all seem to be utterly plugged in. Hollywood is the enemy, may as well face it.
But one of our gang (warrior Mark, again) ran into Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) at Soho house, and since he was carrying copies of the book, he approached him and handed one over. Hugo looked pleased and said, “Keanu would love a copy!” So my man produced another copy and handed it over. The following day I went into Cannes again with a friend and between us we deduced where the Matrix crew were staying (huge Reloaded banners hanging outside the Carlton being our first clue). I bluffed the receptionist into giving me the room number for publicity, went up and inscribed a couple of copies for Keanu and the Wachowskis.
I found out later that he and the rest of the cast left Cannes in disgust, if not shame, after the vitriolic response to Reloaded. Apparently there was a backlash from French critics against the infiltration of the festival by Hollywood blockbusters, and Reloaded got the brunt of their attack. At least that is the story I heard, some time later. Poor Keanu. One of the reasons I was so keen to hook up with him was because I had a dream with him some nights before. He was depressed and discouraged (when I saw the sequel, I knew why); I told him that, little by little, he would lose his sense of self and all fear would go along with it. He had to do this a little at a time, so that he could learn to disguise his transformation, otherwise people would assume he had gone insane. It seemed like sound advice to me.
I also left our number on a separate note in the book, in case he wanted to meet up; and of course I was unable to abolish entirely the hope that Keanu would call us. And of course, he didn’t. All this was just another detour from my true purpose, which is not to make connections within the matrix, obviously. Equally plain, Keanu and his $50 million might come in handy, but only if he’s able to grok our true purpose. This seems increasingly unlikely, dreams notwithstanding.
Seeing the movie has deflated my spirits considerably, however indulgent that may be on my part. It is a necessary disillusionment, but the result is that not only have I lost faith/interest in the Wachowskis and the Matrix phenomenon, but also, to a lesser extent, in the book. My worst fear has been realized. The book must stand alone, or fade away like a bad dream (along with the rest of the Matrix hoopla).
I am watching the third Matrix movie being made and seeing the rushes. It looks disastrous, no doubt about it. The scene in question entails the Zion crew negotiating with AI for their freedom. This idea strikes me as sound, and full of promise. It introduces the inevitable twist of a human/AI alliance, and beyond that, the intriguing idea of forcing AI to become divided against itself, and so falling from dominance. But alas, the manner in which it is being carried out by the Wachowskis and (most culpably of all, I suspect) Joel Silver is woeful in the extreme. I am an unofficial “adviser” on the movie, at least to the extent of being allowed on the set; I am also allowed to speak to the actors. But beyond this, I have no power, or even influence, to speak of.
The scene being shot entails Locke (a terrible character, and an even worse actor) visiting Trinity, who is acting as a sort of solicitor/negotiator for the team. It’s very late at night, and the Gatekeepers are arriving secretly, to join in the “negotiations.” The scene as it plays is worse than anything in Reloaded, and that’s saying something. It’s starting to look like a bad 50s sci-fi movie, complete with cheesy love scenes. I talk to Trinity and Locke; for some reason, though it’s clearly an inside-the-matrix scene, they are wearing the gray/blue rags of Zion. I ask them what time it’s supposed to be in the scene (it’s very late), then I ask if Locke just happened to be in the neighborhood, or if this is a pre-arranged visit. They aren’t sure, but think it’s the former. I ask then if they are neighbors, since Locke just sort of “pops up” in this scene, casually dressed, at one in the morning. It all seems bizarre, ill-thought out. In fact, it seems palpably ridiculous. Neither actor knows what the scene is supposed to be about, and what’s more, they don’t seem to care. They act as if my questions were irrelevant, impertinent even. I realize then that it’s hopeless.
The buzz on the sequel is already growing cynical, to the point of being open mockery. No one really buys the Matrix hype anymore. For example, tickets for the Matrix Revolutions premiere are supposed to be impossible to get hold of, but even the most amateur of hackers is managing to wrangle tickets from the supposedly high-security, “invisible” website. Kids on line are making cruel fun of the whole Time-Warner power group, and just how far behind the times they have fallen, and in so short a time.
On the sidelines of the set, Joel Silver is watching the scene. He looks young and has definitely lost some weight. I approach him in a last ditch attempt to salvage this mess. I tell him that I can advise him, if he’ll listen to me. I ask first if he’s seen a copy of Matrix Warrior yet. He says he hasn’t. I find a copy and hand it to him. I tell him, “I understand these concepts better than anyone working on this movie, so you should listen to me. Let me fix it before it’s too late. Frankly Joel, the script is terrible.” Silver doesn’t respond, but starts flicking through the book. I figure he’ll find his name first, in the acknowledgements—Hollywood vanity—then maybe go to the foreword. I don’t want to crowd him so I back off and sit down close by. I can hear him flicking through the pages. Moments later, however, I hear the sound of the book hitting the floor. I look around and he’s fallen asleep!
I figure it’s hopeless, time to quit the scene. Silver wakes and comes over to me. He throws the book down at my feet. He tells me with an evil glint in his eye how cunning my “disguise” is. I realize then that he thinks I’m a journalist who snuck onto the set under false pretenses, in order to write about the movie and debunk it. That’s how paranoid he is. There’s no way in hell this guy would ever let me near his movie.
Please note, I will be offline from now until April 1st, 2018. Comments will still be moderated but not responded to until then. I can also be reached by email, via the main site, contact section.