Part Three: In The Aftermath
19 – Blue Eyes
“First there was the word and the word was ‘I think’ and all I did was think. Just meditated, on my existence for an eternity. At this point there was no time as we know it, there was nobody else, there was just me thinking. It was enough to be the only thing but the more I thought the more I wanted to think deeper and in order to think deeper I needed to think with other thoughts, I needed conflict, and so I made other thoughts, all part of this original thought, all part of me. I know how it sounds Mick, it sounds, well, boring, and without meaning or direction, just the concentrated contemplating of the darkest recess of my mind.”
Mick looked started for a moment, as though I’d just said I was God. And I could have godded him if I felt like it, I could have been this big glowing bush on something. But I didn’t want to scare him, I wanted him to understand enough to do my bidding. We moved from the bed to the top of a mountain, looking down on Jagger’s world, a mix of the US and UK, a countrified island like a half remembered childhood dream of somewhere else. We stood there, clothed because, you know, if we aren’t having sex or plan to have sex or want to particularly, we would have looked like idiots. Mick was unconscionably young and handsome, maybe 20 years old, skinny and knowing. It was cold enough for long coats, jeans and white tee shirts, boots. We looked very hip.
“Who are you, Blue Eyes?”
“Come on, Mick, we are all one. All that hippie shit, that’s what it is. I am just the thought that loves to think the thought. Isn’t that enough? I am the thought and so are you. And at the beginning, all I did was think. For one day, for one week, for a lifetime. Who knows how long for, there was no time. It was for all time, everything, all these minds, two, three, a thousand, a million, thinking different thoughts about the meaning of what we all do. And then one day, I had another thought. Me, alone, it was apart from all my other thoughts and so strange and meaningful and bizarre. What if we were more than thought, what if we were matter, what if we had substance? What if I just went bang, here is something else entirely which is also part of this, the Aftermath.”
We sat on the top of the mountain, a crisp autumn day, rain appearing and disappearing, sprinkling and then as soon as we got up to move, it stopped. Mick seemed to be holding his breath… “Why did you name heaven after one of my albums?” He asked.
I laughed long and hard, like not a God laugh, but you could hear the possibility in its ring. “It has no name. Or rather, its name is legion, I just started using the Aftermath in honor of the concert, but call it blue or call it Alfred… it doesn’t matter.”
“Which is why you need matter, so things matter.”
“Approximately, the question was what would it do to our thoughts? So right on the border of here, a place that didn’t used to have a border because it was and is, not a place, I created a place, a Universe .”
“So you are God?”
I sighed. “It takes time to understand it, Mick. The rules are just about the reverse of the Universe, and really the only rule is when time is infinite, there is no rule. When space doesn’t really exist, where everything is a multi-dimensional mental maneuver, it can’t be explained and takes a long time to rethink itself. But all you have is time.”
“But are you God?”
“If I am, do you think it is wise to raise your voice?”
“I’m dead, what can you do to me?”
I smiled: “Finally, you get it. Not only is being me like being a father with a disobedient child, but more specifically, a father who wants a disobedient child. I didn’t create this stuff, created suggest stuff this isn’t. I thought of a great idea and the great idea happened. What I made was a place where our thoughts had form: the Universe. But there were rules to the Universe we didn’t think of, and one of them was sentient beings which are us. Earth wasn’t first, there are millions of planets with sentient beings that live and die and wonder and when they die they return here to the original thought. If they were a tree or a flower, they return with ease, if they were some type of human it can take thousands of years. Some people really do die, for a thousand years they are nowhere, and then they come back to us, when they are ready. Some people live in worlds so horrifying you have to wonder where the pleasure is and of course the answer to that is, they are still apart of the Aftermath, their thoughts, their ideas, their world are our worlds.”
We wander away, and I took Mick to this small bar in a thought world not earth, people are a little taller and a lot smarter which means they drink a whole lot more, we sat down and listened to the planet’s biggest star, a Johnny Hallyday soundalike, but not as good. Johnny was sat in the corner with a gorgeous woman-bird and he didn’t seem too happy with the music. We killed a bottle of wine and ordered another and like 45 minutes in, Mick said “Can we stop that fucking music? It is giving me a pounding headache.”
“That’s why I brought you, Mick. You see these guys? They are members of the smartest planet that has ever existed. They had flight within a 5000 years of first walking on their earth. Had a pretty good idea of the Aftermath within 20,000 years. They have everything possible, a peaceful, clever, happy people. You know what they don’t have?”
“Their music sucks big time. That’s their Mozart and Beatles rolled into one.”
Mick began to laugh and laugh. “What the hell, Blue.”
“Your earth has many bad things, it is extremely violent for one thing, and very unkind. But it has the best music anywhere. Here, I think once they understood how little things really rally mattered they lost the tension to create. The thing is, as you discovered with Keith, what is terrible in the Universe is meaningless here. We have worlds that war for a million years and it doesn’t matter at all: it is only thoughts. Slowly but surely, we get used to the Aftermath and assimilate back, bringing with us all our new thoughts. It isn’t heaven, it isn’t paradise, you aren’t always happy, but in an infinite world you have the time to figure it all out and if you don’t or can’t, die until you’re ready to return to us.
“if you love somebody and they won’t see you, you can’t see them, but you can think them. It isn’t them, but it is as close as you can get and in all ways except the most important one, you have them back.
“After a time the bonds to the Universe lessen and lessen and you assimilate entire back into the Aftermath.”
Mick watched me, his brain ticking over, all the holes, all the incredulity but I stopped him, “If it isn’t, what is it? The questions and doubts you have you wouldn’t have if you had been free to explore in your own time?”
“There is time, things move forward, but it doesn’t end. It is infinite in one direction.”
“So what has gone wrong?”
“Nothing has gone wrong. We had another thought. What if we have had enough of this constant back and forth. What if the Aftermath is alive with enough thoughts and we can’t spend eternity thinking about these ones?”
“Well, what if we have had enough? What if the pain of life doesn’t outweigh the pleasure in the Universe and the pain in the Aftermath isn’t worth the pain of the return… “I can’t take this Hallyday guy anymore, Blue. I thought there was no hell here.”
“We can go to earth and catch a show there.”
“Anybody good playing?”
I thought for a moment, “Good rap show at Barclay’s?”
“Nah, not rap. Some good ol blues?”
“Nope, how about Arcade Fire, they’re playing the Tower in Philly.”
The band certainly had depth and width, and if they weren’t the Stones, who are.” Mick just seemed pleased to be a place where real music still live and a place where people cared about music more than whatever you might vaguely find rational. 10 years after the Apps revolution had died away, music was still the currency of life, it was still the same thing as it ever was: the place where music really, really mattered. Somewhere in the heart. There are over a million worlds with sentient beings but Earth has the music and it was that that will save them, will save the Universe, from being stopped in its tracks. By me, really. By all the mes.
That’s what I told Mick and it seemed to sink in at last, as though the piece he couldn’t quite see, he now saw. The Universe deserved to exist, would exist for another coupla billion years, because it could teach us deeply about the meaning of being something that thinks. That, even for me, in my own way omnipotent, I needed something more than myself and without the Universe, in time, we would lose that something more and simply exists. We wouldn’t die but we would fall asleep.
“And what happens if we fall asleep?” Mick asked.
“Our reason for being, to think would become wobbly.”
“We don’t die but we lose the zest for existence, maybe some of us choose no thought for longer and longer periods of time. Here look at this…”
I took Mick to EuroDisney, in the middle of the night. The place wasn’t quiet. There were workers cleaning up from the days hard paying guests, in the bathrooms, in the restaurants, brooms and sticks. But it wasn’t fulfilling its function, EuroDisney was at rest. “This is what the Aftermath” would be. “Something of this nature and I would begin assimilating it back towards me, it wouldn’t die but it wouldn’t quite be. And so it would stay forever, just me thinking, and all these worlds, all theses thoughts, all of these differences would all become the same. It would be the worst thing possible, it would be boring.”
We wandered round EuroDisney arm in arm, “So it is even more important than the Aftermath realizes.”
“Well, everybody knows this but it is like, I dunno, knowing you’re gay and not wanting to admit it to yourself. We hide it from ourselves.”
“Except for you, you see it clearly, you’re the lead singer and main songwriter.”
“You’ll understand one day that we all are the lead singer and songwriter, all of us and only me at the same time.”
“You want me to save you…” This wasn’t a question but he was wrong.
“How can you search for what is not lost? How can you save what isn’t in danger? Conscience matter is relatively new, which is one reason I want to continue to see what happens. Over here, they don’t spend the time in the Universe that I do. For me, it is two sides to the same coin, and they interlock in ways we still haven’t figured out: it is like there is so much we need to know about what we have created and we can’t stop now, it is too thrilling and exciting and different and it has given form to thought. In the Universe sentient beings know, and all living things are, in pursuit of happiness. But happiness is so very complicated.”
“That much I understand”, Mick said. “I’d say that one of the conditions of being a Rolling Stone was how complicated it is to enjoy yourself.
“That’s exactly it, and at first it wasn’t a condition here but the return from the Universe has made the consideration for what we think and why and how, how even if we are infinite, there are limits to us. One of your most evil men, Adolf Hitler, has been winning World War II, exterminating all Jews, being named a God, and repeating the cycle over and over and over again, since he died. It might work for a thousand years, ten thousand years, but a hundred thousand years? We’ve seen it with sentient planets that have existed for a million years, the earliest people change back into the Aftermath, they evolve away and into something else, something better. At what time does Hitler get sick of playing Hitler. Napoleon Bonaparte is still winning Waterloo. But Caligula is making better Romes now, he has begun the evolution into something infinite.
“It sounds like paradise but it isn’t, it is the infinite revolution into and out of thought and it is better with the Universe and without the Universe it would be less great.”
“Is Jesus here?”
“Oh yes, millions of them.”
“And you have no control.”
“I have complete control but if I use it I lose the game and now I have to convince myself, convince you, convince the Aftermath, that the only way forward is by matching the finite with the infinite. And that is worth doing. That is worth breaking our rules and coming to you and revealing myself. Everybody knows who Blue Eyes is, but nobody is quite aware of it except for you.”
“Life feels so different to death to me,” Mick said. “I’ve been so responsible for so long and once you reach your 70s there is this feeling of winding down and right now I feel fantastic, I feel like I’ve never felt before. So healthy, so on top of stuff and now…”
“That’s why we want you to feel Mick, alive in the possibilities of your imagination. You wanted to be a schoolkid again, there are those who want to be a baby, they invented this baby world. But the thing about the infinite is that after a year after 100 years, you get so bored with it. You’d have come out of the Island without my help eventually. Maybe a loved one reaching the Aftermath would have brought you out, maybe boredom, inquisitiveness, the urge to sing and play but something… We just couldn’t wait, Mick”.
“So in a world of infinite time, we ran out of time.”
“Funny isn’t it.”
“Yes, it is so strange this world we have, this world we don’t live in. Are we happy?”
“Some are overjoyed, some hide for life, inert on the floor, some die, but all come round eventually in an infinite time system. Everybody gets to where they are going. Everybody enjoys the strange wonderfulness of being a part and alone in a huge family that is as thin as mercury and as light as a feather, smaller that the smallest thought in the Universe.”
“Are we all a figment of your imagination…”
“Now I’m going to slap you…”
And Mick began to laugh and I began to laugh as well and we laughed so loud it was like bells ringing us ever forward into new worlds, new sounds, new dreams, new hopes of all that will be.
“Let’s go save the Universe,” I said.
“Fancy a fuck first?” Mick replied
simultaneously self-effacing and egomaniacs
essentially a disco remix of “Rocket Man” featuring one of the the UK’s biggest stars…
“I literally really need you to jump up and down”
Friday night might kill us but Thursday evening is a blast
it just isn’t the triumph she needed after six years
an impressive sonic ride.
a high-spirited Post Pandemic anthem
a memorable band who were never better than here
almost Pink Floyd-esque