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The Tinkered Mind

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August 28th, 2022


“I know it’s a crazy idea,” Lucilius said, wide-eyed, staring into the mirror. 


“But,” his reflection said. “There’s no way to prove that it might not be real.”


“Real… real….” Lucilius rolled the word around in his mind, listening to it out loud. Watching the reflection say the word.


Lucilius had not been particularly productive as of late. And this had come to bother him to an enormous degree. He’d had spectacular bouts of creativity and output over the years, but now he felt as though he were stuck. He’d been lolling about in his own mind and body for months and it felt more and more as though the great story and drama of humanity through time was just zipping past his now stand still life. The issues of habitual sloth had come to bother him so much that he’d begun to entertain some rather unorthodox ideas about what was going on with this vast game of life.


“The flow,” Lucilius said. “We need to feel the flow again, and it must be some other entity that makes this happen.” Lucilius stated to the knowing and nodding audience in the mirror. 


“No more NPC for us,” it said back.


“Exactly, we just need to get the attention of one of the lords.”


“Yes,” the reflection said in turn. “The Lord of the Simulation will heed our call, and inhabit our character in the game and then we will feel the flow again. We will be productive!”


“Yes,” Lucilius said. “I don’t know if it’ll be the same player. Maybe there are different players, different lords that have access to the simulation and maybe they switch characters.”


The eyes of the person in the mirror were rabid with excitement. “It doesn’t matter, we just need one, even a bad player might be better than this aimless existence!”


Lucilius nodded, thinking of the high cost that such an outcome might entail. He wondered if the Lords of the Simulation perhaps even inhabited NPC’s in order to ruin their lives just for fun. He thought of the many people he’d seen in poverty, on street corners, spouting nonsense, disconnected from reality. 


He giggled. “..disconnected from reality,” he said, thinking of the implications. How can you be disconnected from reality when you’re just a character in a simulation. But it didn’t matter. Lucilius now had a task. He had to get the attention of one of the Simulation Lords. A game player from that other dimension. Wherever, whenever they might be.


“But how do we get the attention of a Simulation Lord?” The reflection asked Lucilius. He pondered this, wondering what had made his character and his life potentially appealing to a Simulation Lord in the past. What had inspired these other entities to take on his life as a role to play in the vast game of life and through him produce such work and discipline and concentration? He yearned for that flow state. For that sense when his person - his self was muted from existence and there was only the work at hand that he seemed to embody. When there was only attention and concentration and not a shred of feeling self-conscious…


“But how do we get the attention of a Simulation Lord?” Lucilius muttered, repeating what he’d heard the reflection ask…


“We could make a huge sign, and maybe the Lords will see it.”


“Like in the desert? Like what ancient peoples used to do?”


“Exactly. It could be the sign of triangular cycle.”


“Of course, that might get their attention. But it would have to be very big.”


“Hundreds of miles.”


“But that would require the focus and attention and the motivation that we’re trying to get from one of the Simulation Lords.”


The person in the mirror looked puzzled, concerned, as though thinking. “Perhaps it doesn’t have to be so big. Maybe it can be small. Perhaps we can even get the attention of a Simulation Lord by writing a letter, surely they can see that happening since they probably have access to all of the simulation..”


“Like a prayer?”


“Exactly! People used to pray to the muses for inspiration. Is there any difference?”


Lucilius pondered the connection. Excited. “Yes, of course, when poets prayed to the muses they were really just getting the attention of the Simulation Lords!”


Lucilius left the mirror and went to his desk and sat down to write a letter, a kind of prayer to the Lord of the Simulation.


And it was at this point in the story that its writer wondered exactly who was inhabiting who. Was Lucilius about to write a prayer to me so that I might inhabit him for some little patch of his life, as it seems I’ve done for the last few hundred written words… or could it be the other way around?


Dear reader, it seems I’ve found myself in a bit of a paradox and a trap, and the words I’ve written had bent around and now stare at me, as though challenging me with the same question I challenge my main character with. Where exactly is this simulation? Is it the imagined reality of this story, which has blossomed in your mind? Or might Lucilius exist somewhere else, and he has only visited my mind temporarily, to inspire me during this short swatch of time in my own life, in order to guide my hand as I write these words… Am I Lucilius’ muse or is he mine? 


It’s always a bit of a funny trick, how a story emerges here.The obvious mistake might be that there isn’t so strict a divide between Lucilius and the writer of these words, and that he’s more like a writer’s shadow, or I’m his, and when conditions are right we show up together, conjoined  by some brightness in the simulation as we dance in sync, unsure who is controlling who, like Pan’s shadow, provoking him into a chase. Does Lucilius trick me into making him exist each time, or do I trick him?

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