Are there any real mysteries left? Clearly, we’re not the doe-eyed, innocent public we once were, back when Howdy Doody and Alka Seltzer ruled the popular zeitgeist. It’s not enough for things to be true anymore. Now they must pass a more rigorous test: the test of believability in the laboratory of public opinion. And yet somehow there still remain unsolved phenomena to boggle the jaded mind, shake us out of our trances, and remind us never to trust our senses, our reason, our memory, or the evidence. We live in a truly miraculous time, when anything can be true.
But only the best things can be SuperTrue®.
It was a Saturday séance like any other. The medium, a person sensitive to the presence of spirits of the dead who hovered close to the veil between worlds, intoned instructions to the others gathered, and recited incantations.
The one thing that stood out as different from any séance you might be picturing is that it took place thirty-four thousand years ago, and all the participants were Stone Age cave people.
Did they have candles? No. The cave they had gathered in was lit with twisted plant fiber wicks soaking in animal fat pooled in divots carved at intervals into the stone tabletop. The tabletop was also decorated with red and yellow ochre designs constituting a complex diagram of the spirit world. This schematic bled out from the limits of the tabletop and spread throughout the cave, across the floor, up the walls, and all over the ceiling.
All the better for the Stone Age medium and the avids and adepts assembled to fully inhabit the spiritual realm in both an analogous and an aesthetic sense.
They joined hands, connecting in a sacred circle, as their descendants would do in 19th Century parlors tens of thousands of years later. The medium, or shaman, for that was her function in her tribe, now brought an eerie, deep tone to her incantations. Her voice was no longer her own, indicating that she’d entered the trance that would allow her to pass through the barrier between the world of living bodies and that of the shades.
The flames guttered in the breeze that passed over them as if a hot, animal breath from deep within the cave’s tunnels. The various hanging shell and bone chimes rattled. Crude furniture fashioned from logs clattered as they hopped and shivered around the chamber. The company were all used to this sort of thing. In caveman séances, this was just typical animation of the inanimate. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Then an unfamiliar voice intruded. The voice did not emerge from the mouth of the shaman, as would have been usual, but from the very darkness beyond the reach of the firelight itself.
They all heard it, though as much with their minds as their ears. And though it was in a language that wouldn’t develop until 30 millennia after those around the table were long dead, they understood the meaning the voice expressed, though many of the concepts were confusing.
“I have committed a random mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois,” the voice boasted.
“Who is speaking?” asked the shaman in cavemanese.
“My name is Robert Crimo III,” said the voice.
“Your name seems to be nothing but a collection of meaningless syllables,” someone in the gathering responded, not in words but in thought impressions.
“I guess,” the voice called Crimo replied, non-comittal.
Although the cave séancers did not know the meaning of the word “shooting,” they received a very clear vision of it from Crimo. Crimo the Voice communicated in a collage of content ranging from memes to unfortunate rap performances. A dense amount could be communicated via these virtual elements.
“Why have you killed these people?” one in the company asked.
“Well, not because I’m a Nazi,” Crimo the Voice said. “I’m not a Nazi, although Nazis are fun to be and also fun to punch. They have funny frogs named Pepe and it’s fun to hunt them when they turn into werewolves.”
The cavepeople received this information from Crimo the Voice, not in verbal form but as a collage of graphics, ideas, sound effects, and an all-over rumbling that was like a constant undertone that would have soothed a colicky baby, even a colicky cavebaby, had not the data and lore come through blended in a frightening, sickening pastiche of an alien reality.
“I’m not The Joker,” Crimo the Voice imparted, the image of whom came through the rumbling aether as a cartoon figure in a maquette of an insane asylum set from a movie. The cave audience understood cinema as the future’s version of paintings on cave walls. And like the cave paintings, the media coming to them from the future was both a portrait of a magic realm and the magic of the magic realm itself. They did not know who The Joker was, but they understood that Crimo the Voice was not The Joker, but was an imitation of The Joker, was employing The Joker to make fun of the world’s fear of The Joker, but was also conjuring a genuine, or quasi-genuine, sadness at the tragedy of The Joker, which indeed was the tragedy of Crimo the Voice, but also was not.
“I am the shooter,” Crimo the Voice told them. But it was clear he was an imitation of a shooter, or rather the projection of the platonic ideal form of the shooter, with the same gun as the ideal form of the shooter wielded, and the same tragi-comic life story of a misbegotten youth set loose in a confusing, uncaring, and barely-real world.
“I shoot because I am the shooter,” the voice of Crimo the Voice said with delight, and indeed the cave listeners were startled to find that they understood exactly what Crimo the Voice meant, and what he was. “I shoot because I am the shooter,” was a crystalline revelation for all who perceived it, past, present, and future. “And I am the shooter because I shoot.”
Such a crystalline truth was this statement, and so freighted simultaneously with contradictory qualities of falsehood, truth, irony, and sincerity, that it could not remain a mere idea. It crystallized into solid existence, like a crystal in a cat’s urinary tract, hung in the air like a jewel precipitating out of the numinous realm of spirit itself, and fell to the stone table, a many-sided solid, like a diamond, but made mostly of salt and a little dirt.
At that point the spirit veil was lifted, and the shaman and her companions found they remembered none of what had happened, but also knew that all that had happened was somehow there in this crystal solid of dirty salt.
And then a kind of ancient okapi came into the cave, spotted the crystal, made straight for the table, reached to the center with its moderately long neck, wrapped its prehensile tongue around the crystal and fled with it in its mouth.
And so even this solid souvenir of the séance was evanescent, and the event might just as well never have occurred at all. And maybe it didn’t. We have no way of knowing, because, as Crimo the Voice intimated, all is jokey illusion overlaid with illusion, and seeking the core of anything or anyone, even oneself, is a waste of time.
And if that isn’t SuperTruth®, I don’t know what is.
This had been the Moment of Truth. Good day!