The Condemned Man:
The Condemned Man:
I question if I should be ashamed, but then again I question everything now. I’m presuming that’s the reason I was put here (to question and to be ashamed), though there’s no evidence to lead me to that conclusion. I don’t know why or how I got here, but I’m relatively certain that I am here and that they are looking in at me. Then again, in my circumstance one begins to doubt the reality of everything, even the existence of their mind, even the doubting itself. My mind is the thought itself, and the question is the corrosive acid that has been poured into my skull.
I suppose that I’m comfortable, in my way, since I’m fed and I have plenty of water. The fact that I’m compelled to suck both food and water from a tube in full unyielding view of my onlookers could be considered a source of humiliation, but I’ve long ago accepted abjection as a necessary state of mind if I’m ever going to successfully strip away superfluities and get to the essential truth, though it must be said that I have no idea what this truth is and even if it’s a good idea to seek it out. But let’s say that I am ashamed, and that my experience of this shame is the very reason that I’m here, and that I need to go deeply inside that shame and embrace it as the entire reason for my existence, as they watch me, naked, here on display in my vitrine.
My body is covered in large, bright red sores, evenly distributed on every available inch of skin, as if a template of dots had been seared into my flesh, intended to invite the amused derision of my onlookers. The pattern stands out in contrast against my white skin, clown-like, almost festive. And indeed there is something to celebrate: my abjection. My utter repulsion at the basic fact of my existence is a source of unalloyed joy for my onlookers, much as a song of praise is a direct conduit to the divine; the act itself contains and conveys the content to which it aspires.
I am on display in a shopping mall. My vitrine rests on a sleek, rectangular, bright red plastic pedestal, placing me just below average adult eye level. There are a few steps provided so young children can also peer in at me. There seems to be a plaque at the base of my glass enclosure. I imagine it provides my name and pertinent information about me, especially including my assumed misdeeds and execrable thoughts and actions, since most of the onlookers read it and then look in at me with renewed interest and appalled curiosity and amusement. In addition to the plaque, which contains cursory historical information fixed in time, my thoughts, fears and dreams are displayed within the surface of the glass itself in real time in the form of read-outs, random phrases spelled out in various shades, colors and sizes of Helvetica Bold typeface. The semi transparent text fades into and out of view according to the trajectory of my consciousness, providing an ever-changing palimpsest through which one views my pathetic form within the vitrine. In this way my immediate thoughts qualify the spectacle of my physical form within my enclosure. Wires are attached to my temples to facilitate this addition to the entertainment my public display provides. My goal here inside is to make the glass screen go blank, to think nothing. Reading my thoughts as I think them in reverse is itself a form of torture. My ultimate hope is to disappear completely, to atomize my body, to cease to exist. In this sense, I’m grateful for my confinement and humiliation, since if I can attain this goal I will have achieved enlightenment.
I have found it necessary to accept pain and discomfort completely. Aside from the constant sting of my sores and the intense cramping of my body, I am perpetually penetrated and intruded upon by my onlookers. Using joysticks fixed to the base of my vitrine, they are able to control tiny cameras that are attached to the end of flexible cables and insert them into whatever orifice in my body they choose. Since there are a few joysticks and cable apparatus provided, I sometimes find myself penetrated through multiple orifices at once, for instance through my nose, penis, and my anus simultaneously. In this way they are able to explore further the horrible fact of my existence, by probing my interior thoroughly as they wind the cables through my insides. They travel dark and pulsing tunnels of evil, encountering monstrous growths and crusted formations along the way. These images are displayed on a screen that is suspended by wires perhaps 18 inches above my enclosure. The screen tilts down towards the explorer. Children seem to be most inclined to this procedure, treating the process as a game of adventure and excitement, much as they do other electronic video games situated throughout the mall. My pain, and the relative extent of it, depending on the crudeness and force of their probe, seems to be its own reward. I note a marked increase and eruption in giggles and shouts when I happen to cry out in agony. Again, my goal in all this is to disappear, to accept the pain and hopefully to disappear completely inside it.
My frequent diarrhea and vomiting is perhaps the greatest test for me, since of all my humiliations they are the most intimate, and I’m relieved when strident jets of warm salt water, projecting from the eight corners of my enclosure are unleashed, and the resultant slime is sucked away through the pneumatic drain in the bottom of my enclosure.
I note with some irony that my pathetic body and bared psyche are the only things nakedly human in the arid, florescent and brightly colored environment of the shopping mall. Various logos and corporate brands emblazon every available surface of the concourses, grand staircases, and corridors, just as the same logos and brand insignias announce themselves on the brightly colored jogging suits and other assorted consumer uniforms of my onlookers. I am the only unbranded item in the mall, and in that I draw some small comfort. In my humble way I am an individual of sorts, albeit one who is dissolving while on public display and whose only hope is oblivion.
This story is fiction and is copyright 2018 M.Gira. Illustration copyright Nicole Boitos