Role Rehersal by irick (critique requested)

I always found it strange when they showed those cheesy waking up sequences in sitcoms and movies wherein the character they were seeking to personify went about doing this daily ritual, maybe talking to themselves if the writer thought the visual symbolism and body language didn’t get the point across quite effectively. A mark of a poor cinematographer if I do say so myself: movies are a primarily visual medium, anyone can convey characteristics and motivtion through monolog but it takes real talent to make us believe that little box into an alternate reality is showing us a small snippet of truth captured through milled glass and emblazoned onto strips of film stock for all of eternity. It is somewhat ironic that something as fleeting and temperamental as an image and scene can weather time under proper care to last for the conceivable lifespan of our race.

Oh but now I’ve gone on a tangent, I was talking about character devices and now I’m into the juxtaposition of information permanence against our own frail lives. Anyway, what always bothered me about those little sequences was the mirror psych up routine. Here was the character preparing to take on the world by looking at the reflection of themselves and repeating some positive thinking phrase.

“You can do it”

“Go get them tiger!”

“You’re the boss”

Just who do they think they are talking to? The image they are looking at isn’t even them. They are doing this whole forward thinking ‘today is the day’ one man pep rally and the very first thing they do is look into the past. That reflection they look into is, on average, in a mirror three feet away. That means that the light they perceive has to bounce off of their features from a light source, then bounce off of the mirrored surface and finally get collected through their lenses and onto their retina before being flipped and otherwise processed by the brain. They are effectively giving a past self a good strong pep talk so that they can be prepared to give their future selves a pep talk.

I mean, I understand that it is not exactly thousands of years worth of a delay but think about it. Even a fraction of a second ago you were not the same person as you are now, just like the stars you see in the sky are more then likely not there anymore the reflection you see in the mirror is a ‘you’ that is dead now.

Think about it

There is absolutely nothing positive about shouting encouragement to a dead man every morning. It is quite morbid actually. So for everyone sanity I break every single mirror I come across now, even though iIam a dead man by the time the glass falls and scatters on the floor. But then I always was a dead man, even when I was born the first breath I took was the only one I ever would untill my next.

Every single step you take is finished by another person. I know that is a little difficult to accept, but lets just consider the facts. Every stage of early development eventually leads to a next. There is a lot of argument in neuroscience circles about exactly how gradual these developments are, but there is no arguing that they do occur. When we are born we know nothing of trust to the extent we do not even trust realty. Granted, we have no concept of reality at that time but that is hardly important, what is important is that we eventually gain this trust.

Object Permanence.

Yes, eventually we get the notion that maybe, just maybe, things still exist even if we can not see them. This notion fundamentally changes how we experience the world. No longer do we fear being the only thing that is still around when we close our eyes and eventually this trust gets so far ingrained into our very being that we can even navigate reality with our eyes closed. Tell me, with all of the development how can we even claim to be related to that babe for to whom a significantly large blanket held the power to banish out of existence any conceivable mass? Not one single thing. That child is dead the moment we roll over in bed in the dead of night and smack the snooze button on a misbehaving alarm clock.

God those things are annoying. Every single morning I wake up to the damn thing going off thirty minutes ahead of when I set it. I would bet you every single credit to my name it’s her who is doing it too. That kind of consistency isn’t coincidental, it’s deliberate. Every morning that damned alarm goes off thirty minutes in advance, it’s like clockwork. I honestly can’t remember a single day after the accident when I got the sleep I wanted because of that early alarm.

It’s funny you know? Because she is supposed to be helpful and improve my work efficiency, but all she ever seems to do is to get me there early and groggy so I end up doing less work and being there even longer. You’d think they’d just tell her to make sure i did a consistent amount of work rather then just punch the clock.

Oh, but my mind is all over the place today...


Well, anyway, from the moment we realise that simple truth we are no longer that child. But it doesn’t stop there. Any time we refine our perspective, any time we surpass our own limits or fall behind on our set norms. All of these times we leave behind whatever we were in the past and become something new. Something exciting and bold....

Or maybe not. Sometimes you just become dead.

Sometimes you get to lay on the floor in a cold puddle and stare at those photons reflected from six feet in the past as you realise that everything you ever were was right there in your face and dying. Shrapnel jutting out of the walls and broken dials and screens accenting the brutal scene. Electrical and chemical fires providing most of those time locked particles that journey off of your own face and features into your eyes as the light of life slowly fades from them to leave you staring at nothing but a shell of yourself.

That person can’t hear you anymore, so what’s the point of trying to talk? To cheer them up?

…. Well I guess maybe they can see you too, maybe they can look in the future and see they survived, maybe just looking at you gives them comfort as they fade out of reality with their life’s work burning around them. Maybe just knowing that the saboteur was not able to take that one precious gift they could give the world was enough to let them go gently into the night.

Maybe, but I would not know. You see, I was standing on the other side of the glass.

Role Rehersal (critique requested)


22 October 2013 at 21:02:29 MDT

Here is a snippet of events before introspection.

Submission Information

Literary / Story


  • Link

    "One of the misconceptions about immortality is that it would bring society to stasis, as if, without the unending cycle of replacement of its members, the system would become incapable of progressing. This assumes that change must necessarily occur globally and discretely. In reality, such change is continuous and takes place in each person: after every instant, all the people, even you and me, are replaced by infinitesimally different individuals. By banning the traumatic and abrupt process of death, I will not have condemned civilization to stagnation as long as I give space for those little changes within ourselves to flourish." (Aaqoer, tyrant of Diliya, apud The Diplomatic Interviews)

    Wow, that was deep. And a little opaque, I must admit. After re-reading it, I'm still not sure who She is (perhaps one of the programs mentioned in the previous text?).

    It was great, even though it made me a little uneasy: it made me realise I can't write anything as smart as this.

    • Link

      Yeah, so far these have been stream of consciousness observations from Irick. They are a little opaque to highlight the chaotic nature of thought.

      'She' is one of the programs mentioned in the previous text, yes. I'll have to sit down and just write a proper story one of these days, but I have to admit it's a lot of fun to slowly divulge details in inter related short stories.

      Heh... you should see some of my real early stuff. I don't really even think this is that great, but some of my really early stuff is down right corny. I might post some of it just to give you some perspective. You can definitely get to writing 'as smart as this', especially with a solid understanding of the classics and a passion for reading.