DREAMING THE MAINSTREAM (A FANTASY)
by Mark A. von Schlegell
Some still shelter behind those shards left standing, but, if they look, they will see that the traffic is moving freely in both directions.1
We laugh today at how the Saturnites once misjudged the Martian rebellion, but how greater our own delusion as it rises to fill from one end to the other all that we can see? How wide the great reaches of intergalactic space. How enormous the beast that can fill it up.
The deepest origins are necessarily dark. But in primordial time a monkey on the shores of Gondwanaland watched a monster arise from the surface of a sea. The monkey could not yet phrase the question: What beast has arisen whose comprehension is darker, colder, more glittering and eldridge than this great monster?
There came then the mainstream, a milk and honey-rich way. For megaannua the beast bathed free in a literal, not figural, Garden of Eden near Gobekli Tepe between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The beast’s pleasure at this time was personal. As it indulged, it looked away from itself. The monkey screamed.
Instantly, religion, mysticism and poetry rose up and by means of agriculture covered over the Tigris Euphrates Val-ley. They buried the mainstream and reported it dead. The monkey now beheld the monster occupying a space not much larger than the eye of a needle. Still, on what were now the shores of New Zealand, the monkey screamed.
And while it did the monster fed. Eventually it came to satire. Of all it tasted it liked satire the best. Through satire the beast gained direct access to delectibles that layered out the mainstream in seemingly endless depth.
Though invisible, the monster grew so large via satire that two philosophers, David Hume and Jean-Jacques Rous- seau, actually remarked on its existence. Those following resolved that they didn’t actually believe the beast was real, but were forced to proceed as if they did so that they could kill it.
“But you just can’t kill the beast.”
The monster discovered the nation. It liked nations even more than satire. It made many nations and dined upon them even while they fed on one other’s myths atop its nu-rock table. An experimental architecture project gone awry encrusted the whole earth in an aperiodic quasicrystal. Via nations the monster reached the moon.
And there, in free space, the beast encountered the grid of art, which is neither real nor not-real. In art the beast saw itself. It saw itself seeping into science through gaps, cracks in enormous buildings and dried paint, through frames and walls of infinitely scalable modules -- the sparkle of math-dust announcing the edges of portals.
The gazing monkey fell silent and, by recourse to taste, paid homage. On a desert stage of pure math the monster would dream the mainstream again, athwart the Milky Way.
1 Peter Nicholls, “Mainstream Writers of Sf.” The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1995. 770.