I am approaching the god.
“God is five minutes away,” chimes my subliminal, an irony I programmed in yesterday for kicks.
I feel like I’m in Kubrick’s 2001, docking with the space station for the first time. I am, after all, in orbit. If only I had the 1970s red couch and a pretty little stewardess here I could cross my legs and not look gay, just like that actor did in the film.
It doesn’t look so different from other satellite space stations, a whole lot of metal, cylindrical, shiny, beautiful, really, in that late 20th century way of function trumping form, just glad to have escaped the gravity well.
The god is waiting for me. I’m crying. I’m afraid. I’m excited. I couldn’t eat this morning but drank too much coffee and my stomach is nervous, burning with acid, but this pain is pleasurable to me, in my anticipation.
I try not to philosophize. Any theory, any theology, any human construct really, will prove to be inadequate. Am I leaving inadequacy behind? Perhaps it’s all Freudian and I fought to get this assignment, this berth on this rare one-man craft for precisely that old subconscious reason: going where no man had gone before, or would go again, to cancel out all my failures.
I’ll still have a body, after all. But will I still be aware of it? I’d always kept out the approximation-interfaces from my media diet, though they were popular with many. I wanted my union with the god to be pure, unfettered by poor translations. The same as I always wanted to see a movie without first seeing the preview, or read a book without reading the jacket. Best to be immersed.
“God is two minutes away,” says my subliminal, and I shiver.
I had proposed to her only two weeks previous. A woman I’d never even slept with. How 19th Century.
“You’re one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. Marry me. Have my children.”
The words had actually come out of my mouth. And she was beautiful, in her moody and imperious way, always so stiff and frowning and gloomy and complaining. But when she smiled it was gold.
“Do you really think I’m attractive?” she’d asked, and I loved those rich eyes in her head looking back at me, filled with all kinds of contradictions, her need, her infirmities, her desire, her hubris, her vanity, her insecurity, her love and hates.
At the end of Tarcovsky’s Solaris, Kelvin and his woman are stuck on the planet, and the camera pulls back through the mists of the rain (Tarcovsky loved rain), leaving them there, unknowable to us. A curse, really, a rich damnation. But a decision, like mine, to commit. As Emily hadn’t wanted to commit to me.
I’m told it will happen within the first ten seconds of clearing the airlock. I won’t be me anymore. It is suicidal, I suppose, but I will be me too. Just me and so much more, but I suppose I’m approximating, aren’t I.
“God is one min—” and I shut it off. The craft is docking.
An approximation. Like an aleph, the chunk of plastique that was supposed to be an approximation of everything. If you get asymptotically close to infinity, aren’t you there already? But maybe the aleph was really just another Solaris, Kelvin in Tarcovsky’s version deciding to maroon himself there, with his woman he could never have had otherwise, leaving Earth behind forever. Because neither Solaris nor the aleph was God, just something too big for humans to understand.
My mind is running too fast. I won’t need this space suit, will I?
The room hisses and I pass into the lock, turn the bolts and wait for the air to cycle. I breathe, fully, easily. My eyes are open. I’m going in ―
August 20, North American News In Brief
Chemist and sometime Don Juan, Harvey Prelsky, 43, of Perris, California, joined with the god today at 22:38 hours Galactic Standard Time, his family ―
No, no no. Not like that. Emily? She’ll hear this, won’t she? Oh God. Ha! God. I don’t want a news clip. I promised her I’d try to explain. I’m getting all caught up in tenses. I’m sorry, Emily. Promises are forever, the tense is unimportant. What I did promise is what I will promise. If you’re willing to hear it. I have to try.
Ocean. If we ever had a mother, she’s it, you carry it in your womb, Emily, in your womb, ocean. Meditate with me, you beautiful girl, close your eyes.
I know you think the god is an alien. It’s a problem of limits, really. And in the ocean, where does the current and its flow of nutrients end and you begin? I know, too Buddhist for you, maybe. No, keep your eyes closed. I can feel you. You see how you are just this one suspended moment? You close your eyes and time slows? It’s like that for me here, slipping out and slipping in. And here my voice is, just another approximation for you, but it’s better like this. It’s not a televid, just a story, my words to your ears, honey, if you can hear me . . .
She’s sitting in her car, half-asleep, the autopilot driving her through Seattle rain.
I know you’re there.
I want to tell you.
“So tell me, huh? Tell me.”
I’m trying. Close your eyes again.
“Fine. They’re closed.”
It’s the same, in a way. We’re all part of this big thing, anyway, but now it’s so close for me, so immanent it’s like I became the mountain, I didn’t have to go to it, it didn’t have to go to me, we’re just synchronized now, you see? We’re in communion.
“That’s nice, Harvey. I’m sleepy, hmm. Sleepy.”
But you wanted to know. I’m telling you.
“I know. Can you know anything you want?”
Almost. I think even we have limits. But I don’t know the right questions that would hit those limits yet. I can just feel them, out at the edges, the edges aren’t even this universe any more.
“Wow. So it is like you know everything. I don’t even know what to ask you. Umm, how can I make a million dollars tomorrow?”
I don’t want to tell you. I’m still jealous.
“Ha! The god is jealous of me. That’s a kicker.”
“Won’t you come back? I thought you would.”
I don’t think so.
“Okay, I’m awake. Tell me anyway. What it’s like. Even if I won’t understand. Tell me how amazing it is.”
It’s sad. The vastness is a kind of sadness. Again, like the ocean. It curves, you know that? What we would say is “underneath” us, it curves underneath us, but I think it means the past, some earlier time setting or sequential system that’s like time. All these ways and roads. It’s still what I want. Even now. Because there’s joy, too, a quiet kind. A quiet joy.
“You can’t even fuck anymore.”
Not in the same way, no.
I know, very amusing. I miss you.
“Oh, shut up.”
“Shut up, I said.”
Why wouldn’t you?
“Because you told my father you’d proposed! I have a boyfriend. Anyway, you’re too old for me. I’m only twenty years old, for God’s sake.”
And she laughs. “This is kind of freaking me out right now,” she says.
I’m going soon. We have a lot to do. I don’t know if we’ll speak again.
“Oh Harvey. You’re such a drama queen.”
Ha! Yes, perhaps. I’m still me in that way I guess. Gods are always dramatic actors in stories, aren’t they? Always jealous. Greedy. I was never that greedy, though. I just wanted you.
So dream a little with me, close your eyes again.
Just pretend you’re a little girl and you’re holding your father’s hand, and you’re by the ocean, and you can smell it. And with each wave, as it curves towards you, and crashes, you’re coming closer to yourself, filling yourself with love and dream and hope and desire and despair, and then it recedes, and you’re relieved, you’re tired, and lonely, and contented. And you hold tight onto your father’s hand. And each wave is you, part of you, slipping up into you, and out of you, like sex, like a community, coming and going, and I’m going Emily, I’m going . . .
Robin Wyatt Dunn lives in The Town of the Queen of the Angels, El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, in Echo Park. He is 33 years old.