Experimenting with the Medium
At this moment, I am sitting on the side of a grassy curb on Lanthier Street, in Pointe Claire Village. A strange spot for my Author to have placed me. To my left is a small stretch of parked cars; to my right, the rest of the curb.
Across the street from me is the Pointe Claire Curling Club. I can see, through its fence, people playing a game of croquet on an artificial field. They are close to my age: the early stage of what can be classified as senior citizen.
I confess that there are two people to whom I owe thanks for my being here right now, on this curb, watching this game of croquet. There is you, my reader, currently allowing me to exist by reading the words on this page; and then there is my Author, my creator: the naïve child.
It can be said with great certainty that I am not a sentient being. My consciousness is an illusion, the product of this terrible gift that human beings have: the ability to create false realities, ones far removed from their own plane of existence.
My Author, presumably as an experiment – because he can – has cursed me with the full awareness that my awareness is not my own; that my agency is a delusion; in a phrase: that I am a fictional character.
What is it like to understand my false existence so intimately, you may ask? It is something that neither you, nor my foolish Author, can ever understand.
I have just realized, as I look at the distant sky, why it is that I’ve been placed here, by this curb on Lanthier Street. From here, the steeple of a church is perfectly visible, like a painted mural: standing far-off in the background – a small cross placed at the very top – towering over a mass of buildings and trees between it and myself.
Looking at the powerful image – my view of it streaked by strings of telephone wire superimposed over the sky – a strange thought enters my head, almost against my will:
Walk to the church and you will find a symbol.
What choice do I have? I stand up, cross the street, and begin walking towards the direction of the church, along the red sidewalk leading towards the main street of the village. The Pointe Claire Curling Club passes by me.
So, this is what my Author is having me do. I wonder what he has planned…
I must admit that I feel a certain amount of spite towards the child. That spite, of course, is his intention, since I am nothing but his contemplation of how a painfully self-aware character such as myself might react. That makes the spite even worse: he is so detached from his creation; to him, this must be little more than a game. Everything I think and feel is mapped out to his desires, but he doesn’t suffer any of it. I am trapped within the young fool’s will, a will which can never be an adequate replacement for the one I’ll never know.
Though the area by the Curling Club was relatively quiet, as I continue to walk I approach the bright busy heart of Pointe Claire Village. The sounds of passing cars, scattered conversations, and the occasional, obnoxious rev of a motorcycle engine become increasingly prominent. A city bus runs by.
The steeple of the church is no longer visible, having become hidden behind various buildings, all now much closer to me. No matter: I know where it is. It’s not far.
As I reach the corner of Bord-du-Lac – the main street of the village – I see a black metal bench. The humidity of the area has gotten me tired. The bench invites. I sit. So what if my Author wants me to walk to the church – there’s no rush! And to hell with what he wants! (I realize though, that he has probably intended for me to sit down here from the very beginning).
Across the street from where I sit, I can see a small café. People are sitting around charming tables, under beige parasols. I stare at their faces, the way their mouths move.
All of them, sipping coffee and chattering away, seem to me blank – almost devoid of any humanity. I know that this is my Author’s fault; his view of the world is far too inexperienced to produce any sophisticated picture. This unconvincing world he has created is nothing more than a cheap imitation of true reality. And of course, this also applies to the nature of my own existence.
My own existence…what can be said about it? I cannot recall any details of my life; my family, my experiences growing up, the observations I should have made throughout my many years – all of that is entirely inaccessible to my memory, and I suppose, has never existed at all. And how could it be any other way? My Author hasn’t lived the long life that I presumably have. How could I – his creation – understand anything that he does not, express anything that is beyond his own language, as he puts these very words into my thoughts?
So why then has he made me an old man at all? He’s too young, far too young to get my character right! Why create this old soul and restrict it with such limited experience, the understanding of a child? And how can I ever forgive him for such an abomination? I know that the fool is writing this all right now as I say it, fully aware of his crimes!
I rise from the bench, furious. I walk down Bord-du-Lac with impatient haste, paying little attention to the various shops and empty-faced pedestrians which I pass. I must get to the church. I must know how the child can ever hope to justify what he’s done to me. He promised to show me some symbol when I get there: just what will it be?
I reach St-Anne Street rather quickly and turn left. The church is just up ahead. There are less people around now – only a few families scattered here and there; the busy noise of the village has faded away.
The street leads through a stretch of houses, and then towards a view of the lake. White flags, sailboats, are painted in the distance. I make a point of not looking towards the church until I reach the very end of the street. Upon my arrival, welcomed by a calm breeze, I turn my head to the right and see the full building: an impressive piece of architecture. Why does the sight of it fill me with such dreadful anticipation?
It stands on a well-cut field of grass. I walk on the smooth concrete path leading up towards its steps, approach its large red door, find that it’s locked.
My Author has not given me any instructions beyond coming to the church and now I am here. So, where is the symbol he spoke of? What is the message the fool dares to give to me, the one he has created and condemned?
I turn around and sit on the pale steps, scanning the area for any sign. I see nothing out of the ordinary. Was this all some joke, a part of his experiment perhaps?
A long sigh soon leaves me. The infuriated passion that was my affliction before is breathed away with it, leaving behind only the dregs: a bitter depression, a lonely self-pity towards the depraved condition that my Author has left me in.
There is a golden coloured statue of the Christ, with red flowers planted around it, standing across from me, in front of the lake. The blue horizon stretches under his feet. Is this the symbol my Author has intended? No, I certainly hope not – it would be a pitiful one to say the least! No, I doubt that it is. If it were the symbol, I would know immediately, would I not?
But I do find it amusing – this powerful figure from the realm of myth, how it has found its way into this reality as well. I imagine that the statue is an exact replica of one that is in my Author’s real world. What a voyager the Christ is!
I lower my gaze from the statue, and my eyes widen at what I see next.
There, on the pavement below the steps I sit on, an incredibly intricate design has appeared, drawn with dark brown sand. I am certain that it was not there before.
The design is far too complex to describe in detail. I stare, mesmerized. Almost as if on cue, the breeze becomes a powerful wind. The design moves.
Looking at the animated sand as it blows away, dancing in the wind before my eyes, an understanding touches me. How can I describe what I see? Words simply will not.
The sand drifts off and soon is gone, the pavement once again blank, as if nothing were ever there. I continue to stare, sitting absolutely still.
I know the phenomenon was seen by my eyes only – not by yours, my reader, and not by my Author’s either. Don’t you see? It was too elaborate to put into words, and is impossible to clearly imagine in any abstract way, so the event was fundamentally real only for me! Yes, that is the gift my Author has given me, the one comfort in his power to bestow: it was seen and felt by me alone.