The Universe – a users guide

I started writing this book a while ago and got caught up in work so I never completed it. I liked the title and idea though and I will get back to completing it one of these days.

What I could really do with is a good typist/secretary.

Anyway I think the title speaks for itself. Here is an extract. I hope you enjoy it.

The universe – a users guide

by

Opher

Foreword

This is how human society works:

There are a bunch of rich billionaires and trillionaires who are sociopaths. They do not believe in society. They do not care about people. They believe that they are superior to normal folk. They believe they deserve as much as they can get their hands on. They spend their life getting more. To them it is a game.

They are completely heartless. They do not care a jot what damage they cause. They do not care what human misery or death they cause. They do not care what happens to the environment or the helpless animals and plants eaten up in this endless mad rush for growth. It is no good reasoning with them because they see that as weakness. Their megalomania is to own more. They do not even care if that ends up destroying everything. It is a madness that is part of human psyche. I believe that to some extent we all have it.

The politicians are either crooks who are bought off or are constrained by the reality of how the economy works.

The gamesters run the markets. They run the markets for their own profit. Nothing else matters. They control the way the world’s economy functions. They engineer the way it is. It is in their interest to have the world in disarray with huge conflict, war, inequality and ferment. That’s how they like it. It stops people getting too big for their breeches and muscling in. They want a third world with hunger and disease. It’s good for the markets. You can exploit resources out of desperate people. War is good. Religious hatred is good. Racial hatred is good. Political hatred is good. Where-ever there is a little flame it can be fired up into an inferno. There is a market to exploit.

The third world farmer works like mad to put food on the table for his family. His land is mortgaged by the bank. His product is bought at rock bottom prices and sold high. If he starts to get organised there is always a war to cause trouble a mortgage to foreclose. You can rely on a drought. It’ll knock him back down.

They can put up with the pressure groups. They have them infiltrated, bought off or bullied off. The gamesters control the media. He who controls the media controls what people think. They distort the message. The pressure groups are portrayed as loonies, radicals, hypocrites and worse.

They control the politicians. To get elected takes huge amounts of money. It takes huge amounts of publicity. He who controls the purse strings controls the policies. He who controls the media changes people’s minds. If, despite all their conniving, the honest Joe’s manage to get elected and start doing good then it is easy to divert the funds away and starve the economy. As soon as the people feel the pinch of austerity they will change their vote, as soon as they begin to believe all the stories in the media they will lose their faith.

‘But hey – it’s working alright for the majority of us’, I hear you say. ‘We don’t have it so bad. We have a house, a car, holidays, money to enjoy ourselves. Life ain’t so bad.’

And that’s right. We get the standards we fight for. We get given enough to keep us quiet – just enough. We have the chance to prosper. Life can be rosy. But that doesn’t alter the big picture. You can’t ignore what is happening to the billions in order for you to have this life of yours. You can’t ignore what is happening to the world in order to have your flat-screens and mobile phones.

And you know it doesn’t have to be like this. There is enough to go round. Everyone can have a good standard of life – as good as yours. We can limit our population and stop trashing the world. We can stop the pollution and war. It is possible.

Once you have figured out how this human society works you are left with a number of choices:

  • You can pretend it isn’t like that and go on quietly living your life and doing the best you can
  • You can get in a protest group and start organising to fight it
  • You can look for ways to get super-rich and muscle in on the gamesters
  • You can try hard to do as little harm to the world as possible – cut back on your carbon, never fly and always buy fair-trade
  • You can do what we tried to do back in the sixties and try to by-pass it. You ignore the lying politicians and big business buy-offs. You can not play their game and try to set up your own game somewhere else with different fair rules.
  • You can go for fun and addiction and get into alcohol, dope or go all the way and become a crack-head or junkie.
  • You can opt out altogether and OD from a high bridge while slitting your wrists
  • You can become a religious fanatic and believe there is a better place somewhere else in fairy land and a better plan, that all this is ordained, planned or unimportant
  • You can rob and steal from the beast the gamesters have created and become a parasite on the monster and not give a shit about the people you harm in the process
  • You can lose yourself in creativity, sport or music and gain status

Whatever you chose to do, and it is usually the option to which there is the least resistance, I believe you will find the one thing at the heart of everything.

We only have one life. All life comes down to the moment we live in. Nothing more.

Our task is to make that moment as good as we can make it.

You can be a selfish fucker or you can be a social fucker.

I believe being social makes the moment better.

I have venerated a number of people. Some of them are musicians.

I have venerated Roy Harper, Bob Dylan, Don Van Vliet and Woody Guthrie.

Roy – you are wrong – you have identified the problem but anarchy is not the answer. It puts the power in the hands of the powerful. No one wants a world without rules where the boot-boys and sociopaths kick everyone about. People matter. Family matters.

Bob – you are wrong. You started off on the right track with equality and anti-war but you veered off and lost faith. You can change things. You can make it better. Religion is no answer to anything.

Don – you are wrong. I love your poetry but you cannot hide away in the desert and pretend the world doesn’t exist.

Woody – you are right. If we all band together and unite and demand justice, equality and freedom for the whole world we can do something about it. If we don’t give a toss about colour, religion, creed or nationality we can build a better world. There is something to stand up for.

You can make your moment rich. There are stars, flowers, whole communities of animals and countless friends.

We don’t have to be directed by fanatics or sociopaths.

Make you moments count!

We can change the world.

Dear friend,

I am going to show you how to use this universe. This may take some time as there are a number of complexities.

Because the universe has not been designed it may appear quite chaotic. Do not despair. This is not quite as bad as it may seem. It may not be designed but it is subject to certain universal laws so it does have a structure.

I am going to use the quantum method of explanation. This means that my words, letters, punctuation, grammar and meaning may all exist in two separate identities at one and the same time. You will have to use whichever you find most convenient for your particular perspective. I cannot take responsibility for any coherence you may find in this transcript.

As with any manual I am going to start you off by taking you through a number of simple steps in order to get you up and running.

Step one: open your eyes.

Step two: concentrate on what is coming in from all your other senses.

Step three: engage your brain.

What you now see and sense around you is a highly distorted, extremely partial, and infinitesimally tiny part of the universe.

We now have to add in time and you will see it changes and flows continuously.

 

This is a good start.

 

Now to orientate you: I can assure you that you are, at this precise moment, at exactly the centre of the entire universe. I know this to be a fact. The early Christian church were exactly correct in their belief that humanity if at the exact centre of God’s creation. The only things they got wrong in this statement were the following:

  1. There is no god
  2. The universe was not created
  3. The Earth is not at the centre of the solar system

 

Apart from that they were spot on.

 

So – you are at this instant, and for that matter, any other instant, standing at the exact centre of the universe. How do I know this? Well it is obvious. The universe is infinite. Therefore everything that exists (or doesn’t if we want to get esoteric) is exactly in the centre of it.

 

Now there is something very special at being in the centre of things. It means that you are unique and uniquely important. (We must quietly ignore the fact that it also means that you are unique but also uniquely unimportant). (Perhaps we also need to concern ourselves with the fact that you are not at all unique. When it comes to it you are made up of exactly the same quintessential particles as everything else. That’s not particularly unique is it?) (We’ll ignore that for the moment as it will only serve to confuse things).

 

So, being an utterly unique individual, at the exact centre of the universe, standing with all your senses straining to gather every quantum of data and your brain struggling to compute all this into a semblance of coherence, it is time to sally forth.

Take a bold step towards yet another centre; keep your senses turned up to maximum and your brain in fully alert wonder mode and remember to keep eating and breathing. This provides the energy you will need on your journey.

What you now have before you, behind you and beyond you, is your life.

It is time to make maximum use of the universe you think you inhabit.

There is just one warning: it is not as it seems. There is a far, far bigger and smaller picture behind everything. What you see is not what is there. What you know is all wrong and who you really are is anybody’s guess.

22.7.13

 

Here is an atom picked at random:

We all noticed the removal van. It was a big white van. There were no names on the side. These were the days before the world was covered in advertising; simpler days in which you did not get the impression that you were being targeted, exploited, set up and used, even though you probably were.

Life was quiet on the block. A removal van heralded change. We all gathered down on the corner and mooched about in order to watch what was going on. Who was going? Who was coming?

It was apparent that it was the Norris’s bungalow. They were an old couple who had moved out a couple of months back. The bungalow was a typical yellow brick 1950s structure with large windows surrounded by narrow white wood. It had a small narrow front garden with strip of lawn. A short concrete path led up to the front door and a concrete path circumvented the whole house. The whole thing was surrounded by a low brick wall. There was nothing special about it. You never thought about it. It was functional. It was a house. It had nothing of importance about it. There were no television aerials on the chimneystack like on Jeff or my house. It existed. It served its purpose. None of us were particularly smitten by aesthetics or even its relative functionality of these bungalows as a home. A house was a house.

Now someone was moving into the Norris bungalow. This posed a few relevant questions:

The Norris bungalow was not a corner house but it was the next one back from the corner that was still very close to epicentre of our activities. The corner was where we set up our cricket pitch, where we played football. So would the new occupants be one of those that regularly interrupted out games by bawling at us to clear off?

Would they allow us to retrieve our balls?

Would they keep them? Puncture them?

Would the newcomers have kids?

That white van contained possibilities that could upset the delicate balance of our lives.

It certainly upset the balance of my life.

28.10.02

 

Now dear universe user it is time to ask a few basic questions:- If there is no one to perceive the universe does it exist?

It appears to be here.

I appear to exist.

I appear to be living in it.

As a sentient life form, a human being, it is now a question of how I make best use of this situation.

As I am a sentient being with a headache and who is knackered I shall leave this to ponder on tomorrow. In between then and now I will hopefully create a situation of stupor. During that time I will not be aware of the existence of an outer universe. During this time it will cease to exist for me. I will trust that I will find it again in the morning and that it will be largely as remembered. There is always the possibility that every morning I wake up as someone else in a different universe but I think we can safely leave that to the Sci-Fi writers to deal with.

I am reassured that this appears to have happened thousands of times before and is considered mundane by most people.

Most people consider the universe mundane.

Most people would prefer to ponder the copulations of other sentient being and or the sequence of movements of various balls and other objects manipulated by sentient beings. The nature of the universe in all its splendour they accept as ordinary or attribute to a slot in their minds labelled mystical, unknowable or ‘God’s will’.

I do not greatly worry about where I was before I was born or where I shall be after I ‘die’. Nor whether the universe will continue or end. I sometimes wonder where my lap went when I stand up though.

I go to seek stupor.

By the way: I am a Sci-Fi writer.

26.10.02

 

The people from the white van stayed inside. They were very quiet. We hardly ever saw them. They did not impinge on our universe. We carried on playing cricket.

Everything in the universe was hunky dory.

5.1.03

 

Now some deceitful people seek to gain personal wealth and status by telling you that they have an insight to the universe and how to use it. These include religious people and scientists.

Both must be treated with utter contempt. They are misguided charlatans at best and evil manipulators at worst.

All religion is a sham. The universe it reports on is a fictional model conceived out of the minds of simple illiterate people living in an age of extreme ignorance. Their lives and perspectives were distorted by ritual, superstition and mythology. They were and are idiots.

Scientists are much better. They have found many useful things and made life loads better. However, they are working with brains so tiny they would not even register on a planetary level. Put in the context of a mere galaxy we can clearly see that we will likely not ever have the cerebral computing skill to understand diddly squat, let alone Bo Diddley. We are no more than bacterial scum on the surface of a second rate planet. As long as we keep that firmly in mind we will be OK. The trouble with scientists is that they arrogantly believe they know stuff. What they know, while being practically very useful, is not a lot at all. Even the stuff they think they know, when dissected later, is found to be very different to what they thought it was.

It is OK to be a scientist as long as you keep your feet firmly on the ground and accept that we know fuck all and life can be fun finding out a lot more.

As for religion – well I hate religion which is why I became a Buddhist. That’s a good cynical religion with room to be sceptical and individual. It was not cluttered with belief.

However, I gave up being a Buddhist too because I discovered that was complete bollocks as well.

I hope this clarifies things for you and helps maximise your use of this wondrous universe.

There’s a lot to pack in before you die!

5.1.03

 CHAPTER 1

Dear universe user, there are many salutary lessons for you to come to terms with in order to get maximum satisfaction from your product:

Nothing you see is real; at least it is not at all how it appears. That is what I have discovered. You think you know something and you find you never knew it at all.

I have vivid memories of my Grandmother. Not that we ever called her grandma or thought of her as grandma. She was Nanny. She thought that the term Grandma made her feel old. She was old. She had always been old. She was a robust; some would say fat, old grandmother who was the stereotypical jolly woman. My Granddad was little and wiry. They presented the absolute stereotype of the old seaside postcard of the fat red-cheeked woman and the hen-pecked little husband. ‘Go and bring the things in from the car, Lewis.’ He always went without a whimper. He was quiet and obedient, capable but quiescent. She was loud and always roaring with laughter.

She always wore dark blue frocks with white circles on like some tent made out of midnight cheese. He wore nondescript brown suits. When she laughed a quiver ran through her whole body so that her huge breasts shook and writhed beneath the thin material. She had curly permed hair, short and grey. He was grey, old and wizened with a big hooked nose that I have inherited – strange to think that they really weren’t that old. They were only about my age now. To me they were ancient.

They have gone now. Faded to hazy memories in a few people’s minds or the names on a few remaining old documents, a register in a census, a name on a family tree. As time passes even less of them remains – like the flesh being stripped from the bones and the bones scattered, broken and lost. Even if you gathered all the remains you could not reconstitute their life. You would merely be left with a few facts; not even the skeleton of a real person.

I knew them.

They were ordinary, everyday people. They lived in a suburban house in an estate. They weren’t rich. They weren’t poor. He’d been a plumber before getting into being a spiritualist medium. They were risen working class. Not middle class. Somehow in that in-between nowhere-land of respectability that is on the way to middle class. They had some aspirations, some would say pretensions, that my parents were to later realise but, like their parents before them, my parents did not fully integrate into that middle class life. Part of them felt embarrassed and out of place in that world. We are all trapped by our background.

I would wait expectantly every Saturday, waiting for the letterbox to rattle, two eyes to peer through and that voice to ring out.

‘Open up. I know you’re in there.’

Big jolly nanny would be standing out there rattling the door for all it was worth. Little wiry Grandad would be standing quietly in her wake towed along like a lapdog on an invisible lead. My Mum would eagerly run to the door to let them in. She worshipped her cheery mum. Nanny was a leviathan of joviality. Grandad was a quiescent brow beaten misery.

She’d always been like that. He’d always been like that. I could not imagine them any different.

I knew them.

As a girl she’d been brought up in Lancashire in the village of Ingleton. Her cottage opened onto a lane with a stream running in front. I’ve been back to see it. It’s a pretty little village. What we’d now see as idyllic. I could imagine her running through the fields in her flouncy summer frock; her long dark wavy hair trailing out behind her.

I can imagine that.

My mum went to stay with her mother’s family as a girl and talked of playing hoops and tops in the lane, splashing in the stream and collecting wild mushrooms fresh in the morning from the fields along with hens’ eggs from the hedgerows and rushing back to eat them for breakfast. I can imagine my nanny doing the same when she was a girl. Life did not change much back then. It kept the stead pace of a horse-drawn cart. There was the home-baked bread, fresh butter and ham. It sounds idyllic but there was also the cold, the illness and the death. Everyone had big families because you did not expect everyone to survive. Life was a struggle.

She loved wrestling and it was a ritual for us all to sit there in the lounge watching the wrestling every Saturday afternoon while she chortled, yelled and shook from head to foot in ecstasy.

What I can’t imagine is the woman in-between. I can’t imagine the sultry vamp of a girl who was her as a teenager. I do remember seeing a studio taken picture of this slim coquette with intense dark eyes, long wavy hair and immense magnetic beauty. But that was a long time ago. It was a great family tragedy that my granddad went off with the photos following the big bust-up after my Nanny’s death. We never saw those old pictures again. That memory of that picture is intense. She must have been around fifteen. The sexuality smouldered in the photograph. Those dark eyes burned. Those fine marbled features had a haughty stance. The slim breasts pressing out in that dress spoke of youth and vitality. There was no hint of the obesity that was to come.

That was a revelation.

I could not believe it.

That was my nanny.

Later I heard the tales.

At thirteen my Nanny had run away from home in a state of rebellion. Seemingly her mother had died and her father had remarried. Her stepmother was a bit of a severe tyrant and religious fanatic. My Nanny could not stand it. Things must have got so bad that my Nanny left. She’d got a job in the laundry at a local hospital. It seems crazy to think of that now; a young girl of thirteen fending for herself and being employed in a hospital. The world has changed.

When she was fifteen or sixteen a circus had come to the area and she’d run off with one of the wild boys. She’d fallen headlong out of that country idyll and into the world. She’d run off.

Who could ever believe it? – My old homely Nan running off with a circus man? I can picture him. He would be dark haired and swarthy. He had to be wild and worldly. I imagined him a wild circus boy with a scarf and cap at a rakish angle. A wild laugh, a smooth line, fearless and cocky riding the waltzers and spinning them wickedly as the girls screamed in fear, delight and admiration – and my Nan a sultry wild, innocent country girl.

It seems that her circus man was a boxer. He worked the booths. He’d challenge the local lads to try to put him on the canvas. They’d pay their money and he’d play the game, take a few blows before decking them. It was a hard life. Supposedly he’d been good. He’d won cups.

They’d run off into scandal.

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