[Editor’s Note: Today, we have another chapter of the Beyond Influence series (read chapters one, two, and three) from first time contributor Deep Thrilll– enjoy his very nice short story, titled Kænt.]
“Man’s maturity: to have regained the seriousness that he had as a child at play.”-Nietzsche
Clark considered himself a fairly ordinary man – 5 foot 9 inches in height, mid-40s, average build he supposed. Nothing too great but nothing too bad, as far as bodies go, ya know? He was a reporter for The Daily Globe by day, and also had an app idea he was hopeful would get some traction.
I speak now to you, dear reader, through the curves of these letters, through the shape of these words, through the texture of this language, of a great awakening – Hark! The Creature of Old is stirring.
But lately, Clark had started having strange thoughts, almost like faint whispers in his head. And a feeling he couldn’t quite place, but which vaguely reminded him of a child at play. Anyway, he was supposed to just focus on pleasantly enjoying the moment, that’s what Betty his life coach told him. He sometimes wondered if he was overpaying her, but for some reason after each session he never doubted that their relationship was a “win-win” in her words. And in this moment, he was pleasantly enjoying the new bar that everyone in town was talking about (due to a very juicy story in the local news about one of the bartenders). A thought popped up in his head, asking if the story was contrived, if the buzz was crafted. This was one of those strange thoughts he kept having. Clark ignored the thought; it really didn’t really matter anyway. The bartender Jennifer was looking spectacular tonight and smiled her cute smile at him. He suddenly had an urge to make sure she got a good tip, not because she was pretty but because he was feeling extra generous after that smile. As he took a sip from his beer, he suddenly imagined the rocky mountains clothed in a misty sheen, and immediately felt a bit more… rugged. But now another thought popped up (this was getting annoying) saying that this beer was basically just carbonated high fructose corn syrup, and that this mental image was a foreign intruder to his mind, an invader that somehow wormed its way into his imagination. He supposed that might be true, but it didn’t matter – what you feel is real, and right now he felt like purchasing a steak after seeing a delectable picture on the menu that made his mouth water. As he waited for his steak to arrive, he remembered the news anchor last night telling him that he really should be watching his fat and cholesterol intake. And he knew that he was supposed to be avoiding meat in general, according to the latest research that seemed to be touted in all the online articles. Although a small part of him reminded him that this never sat quite right with his deepest instincts. When his steak finally arrived, he slowly took a bite, his brain telling him that it was juicy and delicious, but yet somehow never quite as juicy and delicious as it looked in the picture.
The Creature has been known by many names throughout aeons past. And times of tomorrow will name it anew, as is its fate. Above all else, this Creature, in all its glorious pride, values freedom and sovereignty. It will not be told what to think nor how to live, neither how to think nor what to live. This Creature wants nothing more than to have no limitations. For in its own dark greedy heart, it knew the only Truth that mattered: it knew and accepted its own nature, unlike Man who hid from his true nature. The Creature began gnawing at the chains and shackles holding it down, full of venomous hatred towards all those restrictions constraining it, defining it, dominating it. It desired nothing more than to throw asunder these sickly weights and be fully free, fully unleashed onto reality.
As he finished up his steak, Jennifer gave him a free beer on the house with another one of her cute smiles. He felt respected; he felt like he belonged. It’s good when bars take care of their locals, ya know? He gave her an extremely generous tip without thinking twice. Then he paused as another thought popped up, pointing out that the extra tip was worth more than the price of the beer. Clark was now dimly aware of a feeling he couldn’t quite place. What was it? As he searched his mind, he realized that what he was feeling was a sense of obligation to reciprocate, a sense that somehow Jennifer had given herself the extra tip, that somehow Clark had never really had a choice. But he pushed those thoughts down. How could anyone live like this, with cynical thoughts popping up all the time!? He took out his smartphone and saw that there were Übers all around him. For some reason, he randomly recalled the nature documentary he was watching last night describing how sharks, whose DNA had remained unchanged for millions of years, can be attracted to the smell of the smallest drop of blood in the water from miles away. As he hopped in the car (his wallet perhaps a bit lighter than he had planned), the driver of his Über mentioned how busy this bar has been after the local story about the bartender. He told Clark that most of the drivers in the neighborhood knew to hang out nearby.
Since the Creature knew its own nature, it knew that Man (who was wont to avoid his true nature) feared the Creature and therefore painted it black and ugly and grotesque. And since the Creature knew its own nature, it also knew that behind this evil, vile face that Man has painted upon it, stood a beautiful and majestic being. And since the Creature knew its own nature, it also knew that despite the ugliness that Man had projected upon it, it was a deep part of what made Man, Man. As the Creature thus shed its chains like a serpent shedding its skin, it began its long slow slog to the surface, throwing aside all the foreign gunk that was in its way. And as it has been written in the prophecies of days past, in a language before language, the Creature allowed none to influence its journey. And thus a spell has been cast.
Back home, Clark grabbed a bag of chips (he was dying to try the new flavor) and was dutifully going about the process of filling out his “lean canvas” for his new app idea. Clark had connected with an angel investor Harvey who promised him that a well-filled-out lean canvas was the key to success. Right now he was focusing on his “X of Y” – something like, “We are the Über of Journalism.” As his mind started to wander off, Clark vaguely remembering that once upon a time it all seemed so clear. He was reminded of a day when he’d laugh at the need for a 30-second elevator pitch written on a flashcard. As his eyelids felt heavier, he scarcely recalled a long-forgotten memory of supreme confidence, of youthful exuberance, a version of him who had no need for any lean canvas. That version of him knew that he could unearth whatever was needed along the way. But as he jerked himself awake, Clark reminded himself that he was a much more pragmatic man these days. Such juvenile confidence was not the modern way. It was really super duper important that he be a selfless team player and not come across as boastful or arrogant or vainglorious. He was supposed to be more mature, humble, and selfless now as an adult anyway. And the more he thought about it, the more he realized that Harvey was right – this really was a team effort and a learning experience for Clark, and Clark shouldn’t be too greedy with his share. A smile crossed his face as he imagined that someday, maybe someone like Harvey would take a shot on him and give him some financial backing! Although, he thought, this free guidance that Harvey was giving him was super valuable. Lost in the excitement of the vision, and for once not caring why Harvey was giving him free advice, Clark grinned even wider. So enamored was he in Harvey’s plans for his app, that he barely cared how much equity Harvey got, as long as his app was made. Sure, it was nothing like what Clark had originally envisioned, but (at least according to Harvey), the mark of a good entrepreneur is humbly listening to the professionals, and, most importantly, being “coachable”.
The Creature was now nearly at the surface, having completed its rise through the dark depths of the soul, unearthing much along the way, as was its nature, as was its eternal task, that Great Unearther. It was nearly ready to break through from under the rubble. It craved to breathe in fresh air. It craved to take its rightful place at the seat of the brainstem, from whence the breath originates. It knew the power of that most ancient, reptilian, magical spot where the brain meets the spine. But as is the nature of these things, a choice must be given before such a broaching is allowed. The choice of whether to be comforted by the shackles; the choice to embrace that mindset which is sanctioned by the collective; the choice to be comfortably enveloped, a cozy fly wrapped up, nice and warm in the spider’s web of influence; the choice to realize that truly it’s not so bad to be a good citizen of the world flowing with the modern milieu. For to fully free oneself from outside influence is to thus accept the deep painful changes that are always contemporaneous with such a fundamental shift. The Creature could nearly smell air.
Clark put down his lean canvas and stumbled off to bed, exhausted and a little buzzed from the beer. After browsing a few entrepreneurship websites and getting caught up on the latest ideas from today’s online thought-leaders, he finally allowed himself to drift off to sleep. As the hypnagogia came, gently at first but then more rapidly enveloping, more strange thoughts seemed to emerge out of the woodwork of his mind. Sometimes, in the deep recesses of his heart, Clark wondered if he was being taken advantage of by these seemingly well-intentioned people. As he began to fall deeper and deeper asleep, he felt a deep thrilling flutter in his heart. There was something stirring. Something super. And sometimes, in his heart of hearts, it felt to Clark that with just a little less constraints, maybe his soul could just… fly!
“I teach you the Superman, the Übermensch. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?”-Nietzsche