Relationships are a hyperobject, a self contained universe, the tip of which is Now and the past is an extrusion of all previous Nows. Each moment is an infinitely thin cross-sectional slice formed by the intersection where our lives meet. The slices take form and shape as we hurtle forward through time the same way a slice of soap takes form and shape bubble as one draws a bubble-wand through the air. They extend into the past, a rippling and undulating creation which exists in a not-here place. It’s a place that exits and exists between our two worlds. We fly forward very fast, hurtle, we must be hurtling, because every moment of the past is unreachable. Far, far behind. All the memories collected, moments you can never touch.
I know something is wrong and I try to fix it, but it keeps becoming back to the wrong state. I try to fix it quickly, because it seems like the more time spent wrong, the worse it will be. Someone asks if I need help. I tell them to call an ambulance; I am irrationally hopeful I can fix in time but the vocal part of me is violently aware that this requires medical attention. There is a very good Kurzgesagt video I will watch later that describes the two hemispheres of our brains which are very much different entities that communicate through the corpus callosum. In the hallocuniogenic shock of what has happened to my body I have caused some sort of division.
I try once more to re-align my leg, which has folded onto itself, the crease in the middle of my shin, two splintered ends of bone rearing out of the side of my calf, refusing to go back into my leg, refusing to mesh with each other. My foot swings mutely along for the ride.
My favorite shoe, which I had to buy on eBay because it is no longer in production, saturates with blood. It won’t wash out. Someone tells me to lie down. The weirdest thing about holding half of my lower leg in my hands, as I try to realign it with the other half, is how warm it is. It’s still very much my leg, though, due to it’s odd location — at a right angle to where it usually is — it is completely foreign. The pain is unrecognizable in magnitude and it too corresponds to a place in my body which does not exist. Part of the reason for this is that as my tibia exited my body it dragged the distal branch of the saphenous nerve with it such that the nerve was no longer innervating my lower leg and foot but instead kind of just hanging out in the world. I used to be curious what 10 out of 10 on the pain scale was like.
The all-around experience is deeply terrifying in a way that I will not be able to convey to my friends. It’s more than the pain or the loss of integrity of self. The experience is a helpless terror, a feeling that the self has been taken away by an external and malevolent force. It has been replaced with something grotesque and alien. In the moment I can see bones and meat and the deep dark blood that comes from the inside of the body and should not be shared with the outside world.
Perhaps the best way of describing the experience is that it is terrifying and I cannot process it, and so instead I just sit there trying to put my leg back together. I later will not be able to remember seeing my own bones. I later I will only remember echoes, though I will remember them daily. When someone drops a dish I will scream because I will think that I did something wrong again.
The paramedics arrive and looked displeased but see that I am in shock and are carefully neutral. I ask them if it’s bad and they tell me that I’m in good hands now. I am aware that in the grand scheme of injuries, there is far, far worse.
I used to be interested in the literary concept of hell—not the fiery, theistic kind, which to me is sounds so farcical as to be benign (not to mention a good source of renewable energy), but a true, experiential, conceptually superlative kind. A Black Mirror kind, as an exploration into the idea of what suffering is in its essence.
The ambulance takes me to the ER, and so I find out about the literary concept of hell.
Ketamine is a preferred anesthetic in these situations because it is effective, has little affect on blood pressure and most importantly, because it is a dissociative amnesic which inhibits the perception of events or their sequestration as memories, traumatic or otherwise. However, because I am a special snowflake, I react differently. I perceive and will later remember this experience. I perceive and remember the resident sounding unnerved while the doctor, Mustafa, assures her that despite appearing conscious, I am, in fact, not. He is incorrect.
I watch as the three dimensions of space and the conceptual dimension of time fold into themselves, until all that is left is a flat white space with a well proportioned square in the middle. It is a white square, with some gold space in the middle, and a slight chamfer on one edge. It is all that exists to me.
In a separate time and place, I perceive and will later remember Mustafa manipulating the bones of my lower leg. He is trying to align them to each other within my leg using a guess-and-check-via-X-ray method, but he will give up after 30 minutes because there are too many degrees of freedom with the amount of pieces my bones are in, and also because there is too much tissue damage.
I lose all concepts—identity, structure, reality, and most importantly but also almost most trivially, the concept of happiness. It is not the ego dissolution I will experience later, on LSD and morhpine. It is a dissolution so complete that there is nothing. Ego death compares to this experience in the same way that explaining your dream to a disinterested third party compares to how you felt during your dream. It’s the inverse of staring at the static snow on a TV screen until you begin to see illusory shapes begin to take form. There’s only snow and it’s clear the entirety of my life are the shapes.
In a separate time and place, I am uttering an unbroken stream of profanities. I perceive warmth. It is my blood flowing over my leg. I feel the splintered ends of my bones grind and scratch against each other.
I am aware that all of me—my ambitions, the things I know, my identity—are folding away as well. It is like when you repeat a word too many times and it becomes unrecognizable, meaningless, arbitrary. I make a mistake here. The word I have repeated too many time is “I.” I do not remember who I am. I don’t remember what anything is.
I experience existence without the comfort of having identity. I experience existence without being able grasp the concept of being a person. I experience existence without comprehension of anything at all, and it is truly terrifying. I will not be able to express it to you when I write about it later. Maybe you will think I am being overly dramatic. That’s okay. It is incommunicable to you until you’ve had the same experience. It is an extranoematic; it is outside of human conception. I lost the foundation and structure of meaning upon which every single thought and memory you have is constructed. It is worse than what I imagine death to be because in death I imagine one stops existing.
In a separate time and place I ask Mustafa to kill me. I want to die more than anything.
The mute, entirely inhuman experience lasts somewhere between a lifetime and indefinitely because time has folded itself away, and it drives me insane. I see everything that was meaningful to me be reduced to nothing. Experiencing this makes me later certain that all things I have experienced and will experience are constructed, illusory. I will not ever be the same again. Nothing will feel real again, and I will not ever remember who I am, though I will get glimpses of both again. You cannot convince me that this is real, or at least any more real than that small white square with some gold in the middle and a chamfer on one corner. Ideas are like viruses and they can grow to define or destroy you. Later I am diagnosed with PTSD from the whole ordeal. It doesn’t really help but at least there is a category.
In a separate time and place, she can see it in my face, and so she just sits there and holds my hand.
A year or so later, she sits before me, crying. Or am I crying? Is she here? I can’t tell anymore. She tells me how wonderful I am but how disappointed she is in me. My inability to commit to anything real, my lack of progress towards anything substantial. It would be too late anyways, it has changed the way she sees me. She speaks of our relationship, our life together. Every memory she speaks of us together trickles through the crevasses of my head, the wrinkles of my gray matter. The memories themselves are golden, but the trickling itself is acrid: sadness. I can’t make much sense of them anymore, but they are golden. She says she will cherish them forever, but in the instant she transitions the relationship from a continuous state to a past state the universe between us collapses as well.
I think then that relationships are a hyperobject, a self contained universe, the tip of which is the now and the past is an extrusion of all previous nows. Each moment is a cross-sectional slice, infinitely thin and infinitely complex, formed by the intersection where our lives meet. As we fly forward through time, the moments become real and they become wonderful animals. The animals frolick and play with each other in our past.
In the times where I was capable of giving, I was willing to give everything, and in the times where I needed to take, she let me take everything, everything but myself away. But all things fall apart, and now this falls apart too. In the moment of transition, from “is” to “was,” the world between us collapses and the wonderful animals die in beautiful novas, but they are novas of sadness. It is in this moment that, for the first time since the accident, that I feel real.
I fold into a ball and fall asleep to stop feeling real. I want no future, really, but it would’ve had her in it. I have a dream that I am free, that I can do what I want, and experience my own existence, but I wake to find the same reality. I still can’t release myself from the idea that the k-hole was in fact a tunnel into a version of reality where I am a small homunculus trapped inside of a person, and I am forced to experience their existence, which is slowly spiraling into some superlative of suffering. I am permanently trapped behind every moment of now, and every choice is presented, but there is no decision to make as you, the person who is me, the person who choses, is always choosing wrongly. Each action taken accelerates the pace at which this experience decomposes into hell. Hell is a place on earth, and it is here with you.
Relationships are a hyperobject formed by the intersection where our lives meet and the relationship between me, the homunculus, and you, the enactor of my experience, extrudes terrible, black, sea urchins, the size of planets, and they fight and scream. They are the color black that is giving up on dreams. The victors eat the losers alive. This is my world. Here, I am graceless. Stop by any time.