“Is anyone in space right now? If so, beware the — I mean — always beware the meanwhile.”
He paused, bathed in red light.
“The outsider…no, let me rephrase that. The Outsider as a little dog being sacrificed and tied to a mass of powerful nothingness — a nothingness so full that it disrupts the fabric of reality.”
Again a pause.
“The Outsider as a black woman whose face is buried in and moulded by semi-transparent dark blue cloth. Looking at the past, at a particular point in between the present and something that had not really happened.”
He circled around the stage, gesticulating, at a loss for words.
A smile, thin. His head hung low, as if deep in thought, ruminating words that died the moment before he embarrassedly opened his mouth.
“Though the average human might believe themselves corrupted by nothingness, they are in truth defined by it — The Outsider is not the antithesis of the common, but rather its most concentrated form.”
Now holding a two-pronged knife in front of him, suddenly nervous.
“The knife cut someone’s neck, severed their voice, but the blood that ran from it became black. At that moment, when the person or creature became The Outsider, they became the emptiness of every living thing. The ritual was a ritual of exorcism. But exorcism is, of course, nothing more than an oath to the outside — one might say it is a deceptive ritual, as its declared aim is to send something outside, whereas its true aim is to swear fealty to this outside. A pact, a deal, a contact, the difference is merely ornamental.”
He dropped the knife on the ground and turned his back to the mucus-covered audience, shaking his head.
“And the same can be seen happening to us. We are looking at a vortex of choices, unaware that we look at ourselves, unaware that we, or at least those of us privileged enough, are looking at our own emptiness. Because, my friends, emptiness is simply possibility called by another name.”
He jumped, standing on the same place, followed it by clapping, trying to draw some reaction from the audience. Clearing his throat, feeling the sweat dripping from his temple, tasting the savoury drops. Clearing his throat again.
“So it is clear the emptiness could not be truly forced outwards, almost by definition. Horror vacui is a lie. Instead, it was given shape, rearranged, but its connection to us, the emptiness’ connection to each and every being was nevertheless not weakened. If anything it was strengthened! Do you follow?”
His voice creaked.
“Nothingness is everything that there ever was, but so concentrated that it becomes…nothing.”
He produced a notebook and leafed through its contents; only one page was not blank; a large black dot had been drawn in it.
“The void lives too near the self, rooted perhaps in our consciousness. It draws us from nothingness and when we look at it we see only the pool in which every possibility of us exists. That’s terrifying.”
A few more seconds, waiting. Silence.
“And it’s terrifying because there is a sudden recalibration of how much agency humanity collectively possesses. And we’re not happy with the results. Look. What I’m trying to say is that there might be a meaning to existence, but that it might not concern us in the slightest. This a narrative collapse: we live in fear of annihilation, but, if the void of The Outsider is the nothingness from which we were created, then…annihilation has already come and passed. We are its by-product, in a way.”
Dejected, he sat on the ground.
“How to move away from this? Is moving away even possible?”
A long time passed. The lights went out, then went on again. Neither audience nor speaker moved. The cycle repeated as dust settled on a few corners and moths began to eat the upholstery, slowly fattening, taking their time with what was surely a banquet for many generations of their kind.
The audience, draped in just enough darkness and slime so that their shapes were vague at best and misleading at worst, simply watched. Amorphous mass. Unreadable non-countenance. What did they hold? Something? Nothing? Here they were, nevertheless, among the breadcrumbs and greasy napkins again. They would have sighed, if they could; they would have cried, if they could. Cursing destiny, flagellating the backs of their fingers with knives and sharp objects, scratching whatever fragment of uncovered soft tissue they could find against the rotten wood full of splinters.
Statues of half-formed dreams, misshapen creatures of possibility, gossip of gossamer things, woven between threads of information that connected one to the other to the next, in an unreal web that…creaked.
Finally, something snapped. A two-pronged knife. The poetry of a voice thinning out. Such joys.
- Arkane Studios. 2017. Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. Playstation 4. Directed by Harvey Smith. Dishonored. Lyon, France: Arkane Studios.
- Mohaghegh, Jason Bahbak. 2019. Omnicide: Mania, Fatality, and the Future-in-Delirium. Falmouth, United Kingdom : New York, NY: Urbanomic Media, Ltd. ; Sequence Press.
- Rao, Venkatesh. 2020. ‘Plot Economics’. Ribbonfarm (blog). 9 March 2020. https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2020/03/09/plot-economics/.
- Woolf, Virginia. 2002. The Waves. 1st ed. Australia: Project Gutenberg of Australia. http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0201091h.html.