Covering all the basics

This was not an ordinary shelter for the homeless. It was more than that. It was the most scientifically studied shelter for the homeless there ever was.

On the surface, it did everything you would expect it to: provide food, beds, showers, rudimentary legal aid. Nothing out of the ordinary – nothing less than what was necessary, and sparse few things more than that. In short, it and its ever so temporary inhabitants scraped by.

Except. For some reason, probably due to the contingencies of interpersonal friendships, this particular shelter was the goto hotspot for social scientists focusing on homelessness and social deprivation. Whenever a study of the homeless population of the city – or indeed the nation – were to be undertaken, this was inevitably where the researchers ended up.

Over the years, a relationship had been established between the manager of the shelter and the researchers. The manager, ever the curious sort, had gotten into the habit of reading the research articles that came out of this peculiar arrangement, and thus knew the field just as good as anyone. When researchers talked to him about the particular study they were about to conduct, he could more often than not direct them to articles or authors they hadn’t considered yet.

When asked why he didn’t apply for a job at the university – seeing as he knew his way around both theory and practice – he responded that his GED was not quote sufficient to make ‘em university administrators give e damn unquote, and that he anyway felt that he made more of a difference where he was.

University representatives, when asked if they would provide funding to the shelter, replied that they would not.

A felicitous horoscope

Aries

You will notice an unusual number of cats out and about, if you look carefully

Taurus

An unusual number of cats will notice you, and possibly also judge you

Gemini

You might discover that you are actually a catgirl

Cancer

Your internal monologue will be replaced with a Catalan voiceover

Leo

Do not worry about the movements at the periphery of your vision; those are extradimensional kittens

Virgo

A piece of string will inexplicably catch your eye

Libra

Do not make any large life decisions until you have factored in where to house the numerous kittens

Scorpio

You have spontaneously learnt how to purr

Sagittarius

Felix says hi

Capricorn

New verbs have entered your vocabulary, such as prrrp and flomp

Aquarius

The door is ajar

Pisces

You know it’s time for dinner, because the cat is close to your face

A time-honored tradition

“I come from the future – your future – and I need me to do something for me”

“Are you playing the pronoun game on yourself?”

“Who’d better to? Nevertheless – neverdeleuze – I need you to do something. It’s very small, it won’t take up much of your time, and the benefits will be immense when the time comes”

“Sounds like it would be in my best interest to listen. What am I supposed to do?”

“I need you to add the line ‘, as is common in economies of jouissance’ to page 242 of the thing you’re writing now”

“…the thing is only 70 pages so far”

“Right, yes, of course. The writing process and all that. Let’s see. It would be the section on Star Trek and how it relates to contemporary culture. After the detailed examination of the slashfics surrounding-“

“I know the part. Wherein?”

“Let’s see – ah, here, before the Klingon mating rituals but after the Romulan political machinations”

“So what does that sentence fragment even mean?”

“I have no idea, but good things will come out of it being there. Trust me – I’m you”

“Hold up. Are you from a future where I put in that fragment, or one where I didn’t?”

“Sorry, time’s up. Remember what I said!”

Paratextual banditry

“So this is what you propose to send in? This is the controversial piece of writing that will flip the tables, cause intellectual riots and generally upset the salons?”

“Yes”

“But it is the most banal, straightforward, unproblematic text there ever was. In fact, I can’t find one single controversial aspect either in or about it!”

“Think about it in the context of everything else I’ve written”

“What do you mea-“

“That look on your face means you’ve got it”

“You can’t be- you wouldn’t- that’d be”

“I’m glad you understand”

“You magnificent bastard”

“That would be me”

Recipe for new dreams

Go new places

Go to old places and see them from new angles

Meet new people

Meet old people

Do new things with old people

Do old things with new people

Revisit everything

Ask her out

Ask him out

Read

Write

Walk every street in your city

Do it now

The misinterpreted prophet

“And thus, I proclaim” the prophet ended his sermon, which had gone on at some length. The listenership had been entranced in rapt attention, for such were the gifts of the prophet. His gift of eloquence was not matched by an equal measure of clarity, however, and outside the immediate experience of receiving the word, opinions differed on what had actually been said.

Thus, a cottage industry of interpreters arose, who made the fancy words plain and the plain words fancy, as the situation and audience required. Most of these interpreters were true to their word, with only minor deviations from the core message (which, for some reason, seemed to resist every effort of being translated into French). Some interpreters, however, felt free to embellish a little here and a little there, until the prophet came out saying things surprising to those who were there and heard the word.

These surprising things mysteriously happened to portray this one particular interpreter in an especially good light. As if by accident.

For the most part, this mattered little in the grand scheme of things. Except in two regards: this particular interpreter seemed to be garnering more donations than the others, and the prophet noticed.

Thus, some time and many sermons later, the prophet decided to put his interpreters to the test. He made a series of very subtle and specific pronouncements that systematically contradicted the favored interpretations of the selective interpreter, just to see what would happen. The interpreter, not deterred, kept at it, not even mentioning the possibility of contradiction. Business were as usual.

Some time and many misinterpretations later, the prophet had had enough, and proclaimed in no uncertain terms (a rare occasion indeed) that he was pleased with the interpretive efforts of everyone so far, except our selective interpreter, which he named by name. This caused quite a stir, but given the clarity (and praise) of the proclamation, the work of interpretation went on as usual. For everyone, including our selective interpreter.

Determined, the prophet paid a visit. Our selective interpreter, surprised, greeted the prophet, became even more surprised upon hearing these words:

“You are the prophet now. Wear my robe; they will let you into my tent. I will be gone after this visit. Remember what I said”

The next day, the new prophet delivered a very familiar sermon, although perhaps slightly less ambiguous than usual –

Target audience

The situation looked dire. They needed to get out of the building, but they also needed to do it stealthily. Outside the enemy lay in waiting, sure to grab any opportunity to attack. Being seen meant being dead, and, both being bad, had to be avoided.

A plan was needed.

Looking around, the ragtag team of outlaw anthropologists noted the following about their surroundings. It seemed to be a typical gathering spot for the communal consumption of alcohol and outrageously bad food. But. On this night, the clientele was not at all typical. In fact, it seemed to be mainly consisting of attendees from a nearby conference on digital memetics and online discursive practices. Their discussions seemed to center on the topic of the day, which seemed to be the importance (or lack thereof) of coherent categorization of ongoing phenomena in relation to attaining a proper situational awareness.

A plan was hatched.

The boldest, most quick-witted and sure of foot of the group leapt atop a table and yelled “IS THIS PEANUT BUTTER TACO A SANDWICH?” The others looked on in confusion, but as the commotion and arguing rose to a fever pitch, they knew they had the distraction needed to make a covert escape.

A timely horoscope

Aries

The accumulation of history is this moment. Everything that has ever happened has led to this particular state of things. The time is now.

Taurus

Your habits have gradually shaped who you are. Day by day, your routine of going through the motions have led you here. The time is past.

Gemini

Your preparations will soon bear fruit. Everything is aligned for that one perfect moment. The time is imminent.

Cancer

Looking back on history is akin to beholding a mountain. There simply is too much to take in all at once, and the senses go numb or sublime. Time is overwhelming.

Leo

It would seem life consists only of small, disconnected fragments happening one after another, without any theme or rhyme. Time is fleeting.

Virgo

Past events are synonymous with current events. The only thing that can reasonably convince you that you are not in a time loop is your gradually advancing age. There is no time.

Libra

Your attempts at finding release from your sense of being have all failed, and now you feel it in its full intensity, always. There is only time.

Scorpio

You have no sense of time whatsoever. You alone are free, for now. Hurry; they will come for you.

Sagittarius

Out of all those doomed to exist until death, very few have found a way to cope as well as you do. Your time will come, but it is far off in the distance.

Capricorn

There is absolutely no reason to panic. Especially not now.

Aquarius

For a short while, cats will gravitate towards you. Be kind to them.

Pisces

Help those on the run, and remind them that sometimes velocity is not equal to the distance traversed in a given period of time.

Monumental enlightenment

In light of recent revelations with regards to the importance of historical statues and other monuments in relation to historical memory, it has been decided that all preexisting statues and monuments are to be demolished immediately. In their place informational statuettes will be placed, so as to educate the populace about various historical and contemporary issues they need to be aware of.

The exact details of which specific statuettes will be placed where are yet to be determined. However, there is a general consensus that there is to be a park themed on the tax code, two parks themed on constitutional issues, one park themed on wokeness and no less than three parks themed around the importance of civic virtue.

By public demand, the central square will feature a multitude of statuettes imparting important insights about our shared and sometimes divided history.

There have been some objections to the slight increases in taxation this sudden increase in expenditure on statuettes will impose. However, we are confident that there is a broad consensus regarding the importance of giving every citizen access to the opportunity to learn by means of statue osmosis. In the long run, we will all prosper from knowing more about who we are and where we came from.

The truth shall set you free

It was a calm evening. Nothing out of the ordinary was afoot, and the multitude of everyday businesses were in the process of closing up shop. It had, for all intents and purposes, been an extra ordinary day, where most that of the things that usually happens in a day happened, and where very few of the unusual things that could happen did not. In short, in the annals of history, this day so far would not be mentioned.

Then, the aliens arrived.

One moment, they were not there. The next, they were. Not only as a massive fleet hovering in the skies, but as faces on screens everywhere. They had something to say, and they said it.

“People of Earth. You were right. We have been experimenting on your kind for some time now, and you will be pleased to know that your contribution to science has been immense. However, one of our most recent experiments have gone out of hand, and we now need your help to abort it. We are, of course, speaking of the government of the political body known as the United States. For many decades, it has been a hotbed of experimentation in dysfunctional governance, and we have learned much from your contribution. This recent state of things, however, will yield very little knowledge and too much suffering to justify. We have appeared to give you the justification you need to set things right. Your scientists will have the data needed to verify that we were here. Your fate is now in your hands. God bless America.”

All around the world, a stunned silence hovered where the aliens had been mere moments before. Then, in a house the color of white, a small voice said:

“Fake news”