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Friday, January 28, 2011

Excerpt From Johnny Oops


After Alice’s departure for California, I was inconsolable for weeks. I wrote to her constantly. We talked on the phone. She admitted she had met some football player from La Jolla High School in San Diego. I wanted to kill myself. Then Dad told me he had arranged for me to get early, early admission to Harvard. I would be one of the youngest students ever enrolled. I felt like killing myself twice. My whole world is coming apart. I feel totally insecure. I’ve lost my Alice and my home at the same time. Even my religion can’t save me now, the hell with Dialectic Spiritualism.

Slowly thoughts of Alice occupied less of my time. Eventually I thought about her only late at night when fleeting urges prompted my sleeping passions. I’ve too many other things on my mind.

Harvard is a whole new world. The school buildings are magnificent stone, ivy-covered edifices: homage to an age gone by of virtue and scholarship. The girls are 3 inches taller and at least three years older. I’m the kind of guy that goes for older women, but this is ridiculous. The guys ignore me. To them I look like some brainy nerd. The only v-necked sweater I own is a tennis sweater and too short for me. I don’t fit in. I feel like a fart lost in a windstorm. I’m alone and miserable.

My roommate, a six-foot six-inch tall football player weighing about two hundred and fifty pounds, basically pretends I don’t exist. My dorm counselor acts like he’s been handed some full-term project. I think he has a drinking problem. His corner dorm room reeks of alcohol and the faint smell of dried urine. He isn’t about to get too involved with my problems. I’m away from home, without my Alice, and totally miserable.

I eat in the school cafeteria, spend most of my time in the library and try to concentrate on my studies. I guess taking mercy on me, my dorm counselor, in one of his more lucid moments, suggested I try out for the debate team.

I’m not into organized activities, don’t want to ever be vocal again, and definitely don’t want to get into anything competitive. The only thing I’ve any interest in is religion. My counselor frustrated and feeling out of options, suggested I go see the Chaplain. I guess he’s worried I’m suicidal. Maybe he and I could get a group rate at Harvard’s physiological counseling center.

Chaplain Bill, as the guys call him, is a much-needed miracle. He’s a tall, handsome, blond-haired wasp from some seminary in the Midwest. I told him I was questioning my faith, and felt totally out of place at Harvard and away from my Alice. Chaplain Bill says he is questioning his faith too.

We got along famously. He offered me a part time job as Chaplain’s assistant. I jumped at the chance and decided to minor in theology—might as well learn about other people’s religions. And working with Chaplain Bill gives me something to do and someone to talk to. I’ve found a friend. Chaplain Bill recognizes my genius. He doesn’t talk down to me. He’s very kind and considerate. We spend hours in his study at the school chapel discussing life, religion, and our hopes and dreams for the future. Of course he doesn’t look anything like my Alice, but he does remind me of her. To tell the truth, I think he is attracted to me and I to him.

I find that disgusting, but nothing happened. My provincial background wouldn’t allow anything to happen. My remembrances of Alice wouldn’t allow such a transgression. My basic instincts rebelled against even the thought of any physical contact. I’m straight and I intend to stay that way. I think Chaplain Bill is secretly relieved. Nevertheless, our friendship does give me someone to whom I can reveal my innermost thoughts. I need someone to talk to.

Of even greater moment, the association with Bill gives me time to consider what is happening to me. It’s a shame a kid of fifteen has to resort to getting his head straight. Life plays tricks on us all. I suppose it’s a Carl Jung thing. I guess I’m a trickster at heart: sometimes shapeless, sometimes all form and image. Here now and then gone. On the top and then on the bottom of the heap—life stinks. I’m tired of being a joke.

I’m going to have to make some major revisions in my religious beliefs. Dialectic Spiritualism seems to have its weaknesses. I can’t be expected to go around having blind faith in some religion even if I made the damn thing up. Does that make sense? That’s what I mean, nothing I do or say makes any sense to me any more. I discussed this with Bill.

He said, “The nature of faith is a constantly changing thing. It’s natural to be confused at times, especially after the type of trauma you’ve suffered losing Alice.”

I’m very impressed with how smart the Chaplain is. I’m beginning to think he’s a genius like me, only older and wiser in the ways of religious beliefs.

Of course when it comes to worldly things I’m miles ahead of Chaplain Bill. He’ll never know the love of a woman. Wait a minute. What am I thinking? He’s not a Catholic priest He can get married. Maybe he’s even been with a girl. This is what I mean. Since I lost Alice and came to Harvard, my thinking has been all messed up. Must be the trauma I’ve experienced like Bill said. I’m suffering. Will this horror never end? I think I want to be a kid again.

I couldn’t take the loneliness anymore. I summoned up my courage and wrote to Alice begging her to come to Harvard for the Harvard/Penn football game. I promised her a great time. I enclosed a roundtrip airline ticket. Nearly busted me. I told her Chaplain Bill had given me his football tickets right on the 50-yard line. She wrote back that she was coming. My life is starting to take on meaning again.

Alice arrived late Friday. I gave her a quick tour of the campus, took her to a fancy French restaurant called Biba, was refused when I tried to order champagne, and we went back to the Four Seasons Hotel where I’d booked a room. We had sex, which was a far cry from the all-consuming love I remembered. The passion was gone. I guess her football jock boyfriend from La Jolla is better than me. I guess he’s more of a man. Alice didn’t complain, but I knew this was the end of us.

We sat quietly through the football game, freezing our asses off on the following day. Again, Alice didn’t complain. We sort of stumbled through the rest of the weekend. We didn’t have sex again. When the time came for Alice to leave, she told me I was her first love and she would always remember me, but we both had to move on. I cried. I was pathetic.

Several days later I had a major category 4 nervous breakdown. I went running through the hallowed halls of my dorm in a Crimson colored jock strap, playing Requiem for a Matador on my trumpet, a throwback to my high school days in the band I suppose, while I tried to scrape the freckles off my face with my razor. By the time three campus security guards finally subdued me, I was a bloody mess sobbing, “out damn spots, be gone.” I never could forget my Shakespeare.

My parents drove over four hours from Connecticut to pick me up at the hospital in Boston where I had been taken by ambulance. They placed me in the Happyville Sanitarium for emotionally disturbed boy geniuses. There I stayed for almost 3 months under the tough love therapy of a Doctor O’Hara. At least he’s straight, I think.

The closest I remember him coming to showing some compassion for my plight was when the good doctor said to me in all his red faced Irish glory, “Look on the bright side Johnny my boy, if you really wanted to kill yourself you would never have used a safety razor, doesn’t cut deep enough. Remember that if you ever want to try again.” Doctor O’Hara was a big man, and when he laughed it sounded more like a roar. He had a rather weird sense of humor. To tell the truth, he scared the shit out of me.

I’m not going to bore you with all the gritty details of my three-month incarceration at Happyville or the analysis I went through. I was diagnosed as having homophobic neurotic manifestations brought on by my rejection as an inadequate lover by Alice. I can relate to that.

They also told me that my playing Requiem for a Matador on my trumpet symbolized my wish to die a hero’s death so Alice would mourn me as a martyr. O’Hara told me that my wearing the jock strap represented my desire to fuck her football player lover both figuratively and literally, and that trying to scrap off my freckles was an attempt to become more mature in the way I dealt with social relationships. Doctor O’Hara said this last part was actually a hopeful sign. There is much more, but most of it’s too painful for me to discuss. When am I going to grow up?

After 3 months they released me to the care of my parents with the strong recommendation that I not to go back to Harvard until I’m sixteen no matter what my folks think. That’s right, blame my problems on my folks. Why not give them a guilt trip. That’s the way these shrinks get new customers. There never was any chance of my returning to Harvard. I don’t want to go through the horror and the loneliness again and the University doesn’t want me back.

For the next few months I moped around the house doing nothing much except growing a beard. I wanted to hide the scars on my face where I’d cut myself. Physical scars you can hide, some mental ones never go away. You can only push them into the background. That’s life: A lot of crazy shit, a lot of hiding from yourself, and a little love to keep you going.

My old friend Billy came over to visit me. That was a hoot. He was fatter than ever. He was repeating seventh grade for the second time. He had developed the nervous habit of sticking his index fingers in his ears when he started to talk. I guess he didn’t want to hear what he had to say. I told him he was sicker than I was. He said I was right and he was sorry. We both had a good cry together. We’re both pathetic. I will never let him come over again.

Alice called and wanted to come visit me. My folks, Doctor O’Hara and I absolutely refused to even consider that. And so my relationship with Alice ended, or so I thought.

Chaplain Bill did come to visit me. He apologized to me for not feeling my pain and for not being able to give me a stronger faith in God.

I said, “That’s all right, we all have our crosses to bear. Its not your responsibility to make me a decent human being who cares enough about others not to make them feel guilty.”

Chaplain Bill thanked me for being his friend and helping him find his faith again. He gave me the silver cross that he wore around his neck. How come I can help other people, but I can’t help myself?

Months have gone by since I’ve come home. My parents try and stay out of my way, especially my mother who had a long talk with Doctor O’Hara. I think she is seeing him now herself. My Dad doesn’t know what to say to me to cheer me up so he tries to tell me stupid little jokes. I love my Dad. I feel his pain. Must be tough to have a screwed up son whom you think you’re to blame for being messed up.

In the midst of my solitude and boredom, a strange thought crept into my mind. I’ve been going stir crazy, pacing up and down in my home, with nothing to do, waiting for my face to heal. Tossing around in my bed late one night, unable to sleep, the thought struck me, maybe none of the stuff that happened to me with Alice, or trying to commit suicide at Harvard is real.

Eureka! I sat bolt upright in bed. I felt alive again. I’ve a new purpose in life. Strange thoughts came tumbling into my mind. I started thinking how some super genius might have constructed my whole world. Maybe this is a virtual reality world I live in, not the real thing. Maybe everything that is happening isn’t my fault. I couldn’t stop thinking. Finally, I have something to occupy myself with, and take my mind off my problems. I decided to put my genius brain to work proving my new theory is correct.

I have to know who has constructed the virtual reality world I fancy I live in to prove to myself that this is the fact. I have to decide why someone or something has gone to all this trouble. I decided to call this alien force the Game Master, calling on my broad knowledge of video computer games.

Figuring out how to create a virtual world was another matter. Then the thought crossed my mind: The Game Master must’ve used some version of what we know as Quantum Computing (1). That’s the only program powerful enough to allow him to do this, but why? Was he really what we’ve come to believe in as God or just some time and space traveler creating a game for his or her own enjoyment? Am I part of the game? And what about my concept of Dialectic Spiritualism? How does this virtual world concept fit in with my religious theories? The more I thought, the more confused I got.

Thinking about the concept of a virtual reality world caused more ideas to pop into my head. Hundreds of questions started streaming into my mind – some conscious, some not. I couldn’t stop thinking about this. Now I’m glad I’ve plenty of time. I spent most of the summer in my room attempting to replicate what this genius Game Master must’ve done. What better use could I make of my time? The task before me is almost inconceivable, but I won’t stop. I’m a genius too. I should be able to replicate this program, but trying to implement the concept is an unbelievably daunting task. How am I ever going to figure this out?

How to recreate the senses of sight, smell, touch, sound, taste, and combine these with cognitive capabilities, emotional context, and real time responses is a mind boggling endeavor. How did the Game Master do all this with the use of artificial intelligence, and still make everything appear so real? What was his motive? Where did he obtain the historical knowledge base necessary to do a project of this nature, and most important – how did he know how to populate this virtual reality world?

Where did the people come from? Who chose the races and the animals? Who created the scenarios we all play out? Is any of this possible? Am I just letting my over active imagination compensate for my human shortcomings? Am I giving my wild imagination too much credit for the ability to discern fact from fiction? Why approach the problem using Quantum computing? How else can I hope to recreate a virtual reality world? Quantum computing is the only application I can think of advanced enough to do the job of creating all the variables and all the randomness necessary to pass for reality.

I poured over information gleaned from searching the Internet through Google. What I learned about Quantum Computing was amazing, and made me think creating alternate reality worlds was possible. A Quantum Computer can run hundreds of thousands times faster than our current computers. Using the Quantum Computing principals of Superposition and Entanglement could help make all the things I was hypothesizing about a virtual world possible.

Even with my genius mind, the concept is almost impossible to grasp. There are so many sub concepts. I don’t even understand what they mean. The thought occurred to me that maybe a superior form of intelligence was needed to create worlds and universes real or virtual, but I kept on trying. Geniuses don’t give up that easily. Sometimes I feel as if I’m on the verge of great discovery. Other times I get stuck in theory, and can go no further. The harder I try to understand the more confused I became.

Quantum computing is nothing like what I had jokingly described to my childhood friend, Billy, and yet in some respects there is great similarity. As best I can figure the theory out, Quantum Computing is our best hope of producing a program powerful enough to challenge our understanding of reality. That’s what I’m trying to understand, the theory of reality.

These are some things about Quantum Computing that astound me: (2) Quantum Mechanics is a mathematical description of reality. Some of its predictions go against the common sense of how humans expect a system to behave.

Superpositioning uses waves of particles that allow the same electrons to occupy different space at the same time. Are you kidding me? What the hell does all this mean?

Then there is more theory on Entanglements, whatever the hell they are, moving faster than the speed of light, which I thought is impossible under current theories. 0 and 1 Quantum bits or Qubits combine to allow the creation of an identical duplicate in a different place. I think that is what is happening to me.

All of this was in Einstein’s opinion, “spooky action at a distance”. Guess he couldn’t figure it out either. How do I expect to fathom all this?

Enough, that’s how I feel—spooked, incomplete and divorced from reality. This stuff is driving me nuts. I’m being overrun or evolved by quantum bits, and it’s tearing my thinking processes to pieces. I never said I was a mathematical genius. I’m a philosopher.

This crazy Quantum theory, as I understand, allows us to reduce new age computer chips to the size of atoms, which have their own strange characteristics including using 1 and 0 to mean different things at the same time, or to mean the same thing at different times. Boy is this confusing. The worst part is that much of this is still theoretical, and hasn’t been proven to work. How am I going to use this stuff to create a virtual reality world when it’s not actually working yet except in the laboratory? All I know is that this whole process dynamically increases the speed with which we can process information. That makes sense. How else can I possibly hope to program all the different bits and pieces of information necessary to make up a virtual world?

Everything I’ve learned so far shows me that the theory of Quantum Computing might allow us to exist in different realities at the same time. That’s perfect for me. If I don’t like one reality, I can just switch to another. The truth is I think I do this already, I just don’t know how I’m performing this trick, but then I’m a genius, and much of what we know is instinctive on a sub-conscious level. All of this thinking is getting me more, rather than less confused about what’s reality, and what part God and Quantum Computing play in this whole process. I don’t really know any more than when I started this whole experiment. All I know is that a higher power than I is necessary to have formed the universe and shaped our thoughts.

I took a quantum leap of faith and made a determination that would stay with me the rest of my life. I’ve decided that in my version of reality, God is the Game Master. I pray that’s so. This has been a humbling experience. Strange how us humans feel called upon to examine the nature of the world we live in. Why can’t we just accept what’s happening to us like other animals? Why must we always question our own existence? I guess that’s what sets the human race apart. I don’t feel much like a genius now.

God, if You are listening, I believe in You. I’ve my doubts at times, but in my opinion You’re the Game Master. You’re the Man. I just want to be Your Messenger.

Time has worked wonders. I’ve decided that whatever world I’m living in is the right one for me. My face is healed. No more pensive thinking for me, and speculating about the nature of what’s real. I’m ready to come back to the world of the living. That’s the reality I like best. I feel good again. The Game Master must be watching over me.

Thank You, God.

I’m glad I didn’t kill myself. I still don’t know the meaning of life. I still don’t understand the nature of my faith and I still don’t have a plan for the future.

What I do have, as Doctor O’Hara has explained to me, is some time, precious time, to look around and see the beauty in life. He says it’s all around me. All I have to do is look. You don’t have to be a genius to keep your eyes open. I’m starting to take a peek. I think I like what I see. Life still sucks, but I’ll hang around and see what happens.

Who ever heard of a bearded young guy with freckles getting the girl? It’s ridiculous. That’s me, all image and fantasy. Am I just a quirk of nature or the real thing? Who will keep me company and give me love now in my paradox of discovery, as I surge from one reality to another, one quantum qubit at a time?


(1) Quantum Computers, quantum mechanical phenomena, superposition and entanglement. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedic

(2) Quantum Computers: What are they and what do they mean to us? – Google. Material referenced from Explorations in Quantum Computing by Collin Williams and Scot Clearwater

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