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The Advocate and the Attendant

Author’s Note: This is the first of the Advocate Dialogues. The second dialogue may be found here, The Advocate and the Authority.

Setting:

The near future.

A typical office in a typical office building in a typical downtown of any typical major city. There is a large window on one wall that extends from floor to ceiling so that people on the street can be seen going about their daily routines. The room is not furnished except for a white desk behind which an unassuming man in a white suit, about 50 years of age, sits speaking to a man who seems to be his client. He is dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt. He appears to be in his mid to late thirties.

There is no indication as to what kind of business takes place in this office. There is no signage of any kind, no nameplate on the desk to signify the man in white’s name or title.

The scene commences in mid dialog where it seems a deal or a sale of some sort is underway.

Dialogue:

Advocate: Yes, yes. We hear such complaints often – people can indeed be difficult to live with. But luckily, we do have something that can help. Reaches for a bottle of black pills from under a counter and sets them on the desk in front of the Attendant. One of these will do the trick. Smiles.

Attendant: Picks up the bottle and begins to analyze it. What do you mean exactly by, “do the trick”?

The Advocate takes the bottle from the Attendant, removes the cap, and pours out a single black pill into the palm of his hand. You simply take one of these and the people, he gestures to the crowd moving about outside, they go away.

They go away?

Yes.

Where do they go?

Let me restate that. It’s not exactly the case that they go away, rather your consciousness does. Upon taking this pill, your consciousness, in simplest terms, your active awareness of this reality, will be transferred to an alternate reality where nothing exists. As a result of this process, it will only seem as if they have vanished.

Hmm. May I? Takes the pill from the Advocate and eyes it. Sniffs at it. Oh nasty. Smells like black licorice. Continues to look over the pill. So, are you serious? This little pill can really do what you say?

Yes. Smiles.

And, there really are other realities? Not just this one?

Yes. Some people call them parallel worlds or universes.

Yeah, I think I’ve heard of that before. Multiverse theory, right? The theory that says an infinite number of realities can exist, or do exist, at the same time. Is that right?

Yes, I’m impressed.

Don’t be. Laughs. My understanding of astrophysics goes no deeper than what the Discovery Channel has to offer. Rises from his chair and walks a little ways from the desk. Continues to examine the pill, holding it up to the light.

So, is this something you might be interested in?

Looks back at the Advocate and responds as if he did not hear his question. You’re saying, all I have to do is swallow this pill and my consciousness will be transferred to a reality where no one exists? Pauses. Sounds exactly like what I’ve been looking for, but what happens here in this reality once my consciousness has left for the other one? Does my body… disappear or something?

Smiles. No. Your body will remain. It is only your consciousness that will have departed.

But, doesn’t a body need a consciousness in order to continue to function properly? Will I become a zombie? Laughs half-heartedly.

Ah, no. Laughs. Your body does not need a consciousness in order to function. I think perhaps you are confusing consciousness with the mind. It is the mind that resides over your ability to think, solve problems, and as you say, function properly. And indeed, if your mind were to somehow leave your body as a result of this treatment, picks up the bottle of pills, you would become something akin to a zombie, much like a computer without an operating system. But this is not the case.

Okay, great! It sounds like nothing will really change as far as my life in this reality is concerned. I’ll continue to be who I am, right? I just won’t be aware of myself – more importantly, the reason I’m here, I won’t be aware of them, right? Points accusingly outside to the people. 

Well, that’s not completely accurate. Sets the bottle of pills back down onto the desk.

Oh? So what’s inaccurate then?

Sir, as an Advocate, my function is to serve you, the Attendant, to the best of my ability which necessarily requires that I perform my duties in accordance with the highest of ethical standards. As such, the moment a client shows concern for the reality of departure, as you have now, I must disclose all I know of that side of the process. With that said, I must inform you that there will be certain changes that take place here in this reality as a result of the departure of your consciousness. You will no longer continue, as you say, to be who you are, although from your new vantage point, you will not be aware of any of this.

I appreciate your honesty of course. I’m glad I’m not dealing with a car salesman. Afterall, this is my life we’re dealing with.

Indeed.

So, humor me, what kind of changes are we talking about?

The Advocate stands and walks around to the front of the desk and leans against it. Well, by way of explanation, let me ask you what you already know about what it means to have a consciousness, to be a conscious being.

Well, like you said, it’s my active awareness of my own existence, my own place in this reality. Gestures around the room. Like, if right now I do actually exist in some other reality, I’m not aware of it because my consciousness inhabits this particular reality, not the other.

Mhmm. What else?

Hands the pill back to the advocate. Well, for me at least, it also means to live intentionally, with a sense of purpose. Not to take things for granted. Pauses. Honestly, I’m just rattling off all the usual new age bullshit. Laughs, then seriously adds, this is actually hard to put into words.

If it were easy, I’d be concerned. Smiles. Let me ask you this: Where do other people fit into your idea of consciousness?

Other people?

Yes, them. The ones you seek to flee. Gesturing to the people outside. 

Not sure I get what you mean.

Smiles. Not to worry. Questions concerning our very nature can often catch us off guard, can even render us speechless at times.

What do people have to do with my nature?

Well, you are an Attendant by nature. You are driven to attend to those people you are at odds with not because you expect some future reward – it sustains who you are – it feeds your existence. Walks over to a corner of the window where a spider is spinning a web. Ah, how fortuitous. Come take a look.

Sets the pill on the desk. Walks over to the Advocate and peers at the spider. Have a thing for spiders, do ya?

Yes, especially when they appear in this particular context. Pauses. Watches the spider as it creates its web. Why do you think it does this?

What? Makes a web?

Yes.

Laughs. Obviously, to catch prey, to eat.

Hmm. So, the spider thinks to itself, “I must spin a web, so that I can catch a fly, so that I can eat.”?

Laughs. Well, I think everyone can agree that a bug doesn’t think or plan like that – that seems like an activity exclusive to we human beings. I guess the spider makes webs because it is compelled to do so by its nature.

Yes, just as you, Sir, are compelled to attend to the needs of others. It is your nature.

Silently ponders this. Okay, but what does this have to do with my consciousness?

Unlike the spider which does not require the presence of another being in order to express its kind of nature, the activity of making webs, your nature as an Attendant does.

Okay. That makes sense. But again, what has any of this got to do with my consciousness?

Your particular nature, the activity of attending to the suffering, requires an intensity of presence that can only be maintained by, well, by Love. And this Love, it is consciousness revealing itself as such in those very moments when you engage in the expression of your nature. When you attend, you experience Love, you experience consciousness, you exist. Where there is no consciousness, there is no Love. Where there is no Love, there is no expression of your nature, of who you are.

Thinks. Paces around the room. So, in a nutshell, in regards to this reality, I will no longer be concerned with the suffering of others once I take this pill?

Yes, this is the case.

So then I guess the question is, can I live with this fact? Pauses. A lot of people who have come to expect this empathetic version of me gestures to his own body are going to take notice once that empathy has vanished.

Yes they will.

Looks at the Advocate. But in the other reality, I will have my consciousness. I won’t be aware of what is going on here. So maybe I need not concern myself with what will happen here.

Do you really think you will experience yourself as a conscious being in a reality where only you exist?

Umm, I thought I would.

Then let me be clear. You will not experience yourself where you are going.

Stunned. How is that possible? I will be a conscious being there. You said this pill, picks up the pill, sends my consciousness to this other reality. So, why won’t I be able to experience myself there?

You tell me.

What?

Who are you?

What do you mean?

Who are you in regards to what we have been discussing?

Oh. I’m an Attendant.

Yes. And, who will you attend to where you are going once you have taken one of these? Gestures to the bottle of pills.

No one, I suppose.

No supposing. The answer is definitely no one.

Alright! Looks away in frustration.

To experience yourself you must be able to express your nature.

So you are saying I will not be able to experience myself?

Yes.

So, taking this pill means exactly…?

The annihilation of experience.

Pauses. It’s fucking suicide?

Remains quiet.

You’re selling me suicide??

Remains quiet.

What? Why all of a sudden quiet? It’s true. Raises the pill. This thing is suicide! Drops it onto the desk. I never said I wanted to die! Jesus! I just want to get away from those assholes! Points to the people. Approaches the window. Watches them milling about outside. Not turning to address the Advocate directly. Raises his voice. Look at them! They don’t ever change! They won’t change! They will continue to do violence to one another regardless of my presence!

Yes. Most will continue to do violence to one another regardless of your presence. But not all. Pauses. You are a logical man. You cannot deny the fact that you have helped hundreds who had been suffering terribly before you came into their lives.

Still facing away from the Advocate. And your point?

Those people were affected positively by the conscious being you are, by your kindness, your generosity, your Love. And they went on, if only for awhile, with a certain lightness of being that others with whom they came into contact experienced firsthand. And then those people too, they went on, if only for awhile, with that same lightness of being to affect even more people. Does it last? At times yes, at others, no.

But why me? Everyone I come into contact with… how is it they don’t ever feel how I feel? Why aren’t they too as frustrated as I with what seems to be a complete lack of concern for the well-being of one another? Why doesn’t it matter to them like it does to me?

Hmm. Be careful. That’s not completely accurate, if at all. It only seems that way to you because most do not share their frustration with the world as openly as you. But the fact is, everyone feels the weight of the world upon their shoulders at some point in their lives, but most choose to suppress that pain out of fear that they might not be able to manage their lives otherwise. And to an extent, they would be right. Society is currently structured in a such way in which the suppression of existential pain is advantageous, and in many cases rewarded. To openly suggest that one is not happy, a normal experience of human existence, often makes one a target of ridicule, suggests they are not one of the herd. So yes, it is hidden as a result. But, for whatever reason, your nature is not to run from the pain, but to reveal it, not only in yourself, but in others so that it can be resolved, attended to. Smiles. You are like your Marines who are trained to run towards the sounds of battle, rather than away from them.

Thats’ all fine and well, but why the hell would I choose to stay here when my very nature seems so foreign to everyone else’s? Turns to face the Advocate. This is a fucking lonely space to be in. On the verge of tears. Turns back to face the people outside. I care and it’s killing me. Fuck! Slams his hands against the window. And I can’t turn it off. I can’t not be who I am. Faces the Advocate. I’ve tried and it doesn’t feel right. I like the person I am. I like my depth and my complexity. I don’t want to suppress even an ounce of that. But apparently I can’t be who I am amongst these assholes. Points to the people outside.

Why not?

Why not what?

Why can’t you be who you are?

Have you not been listening to me? I don’t fit in. And so your other writes me off for being those things I just mentioned I like about myself, deep and complex. They make me wrong because I do not live the way they have chosen to live. This is why I’m here. To get away from them once and for all. To go some place where I am no longer judged for simply being what I feel I have no choice to be.

Hmm. True, in isolation, there is no judgement, that does indeed require the presence of others, but I hope you realize now that without them, you don’t exist.

Laughs as he walks to the desk and picks up the bottle of pills. And so you offer suicide as the solution? What the fuck, man, this is so perverse!

Unphased, the Advocate rises from his chair, puts his hands on the desk, and leans towards the Attendant, looks into his eyes. You have sought to exit this reality for one where no one and nothing exists. In effect, you have sought your own death, and now you are angry with me for offering the very thing you cannot bring yourself to admit to actually wanting? If you want things to change, you might ought to first own up to this fact. Try being real with me now. Tell me the truth!

What truth?

Bangs his fists on the desk. Tell me the truth!

Sits down in his seat in front of the Advocate’s desk. Leans forward and puts his face in his hands. He begins to sob.

The Advocate sits back down. A calm seems to come over the room. All that can be heard are the sounds of the Attendant’s crying. A few minutes pass.

I want to die. Fuck! Oh my god, I want to die! Cries uncontrollably.

Watches the Attendant, smiles warmly. Mhmm. Look at me, Sir.

The Attendant lifts his head and meets the Advocate’s gaze, still crying, wiping some tears aside.

From here on out, things can get better if you so choose that they should.

How? Why? My secret’s out. Apparently, I’m suicidal. How is this better?

Smiles. You are hardly suicidal. There is a difference between wanting to die and actually attempting to die. Wanting to die is not a shameful thing. Points outside to the people. They would like for it to be a cause for shame, but this is because they have all come under the same spell that society casts upon everyone. The fact is, life is hard for many people, especially for people like you whose nature, as I mentioned earlier, demands an intensity of presence uncommon to the natures of most others. So yes, the fact that you want to die is not surprising. Honestly, it’s expected from time to time that you should feel this way.

Leans back in his chair. You said things will get better from here on out? How?

How do you feel right now?

It’s odd. It feels like relief in a way. Like I’ve shared a dark secret, finally, and it’s okay.

So would you say you feel better?

Yes, I.. I do. But, how is this to last? I mean I still have to manage my life out there amongst them. Points to the people. It’s so hard, this love/hate relationship I have with them.

Try being heard more often.

By whom?

A friend, a lover, a spouse, a partner, a relative? Have any of those?

I do, but I’ve never shared these thoughts with them. Especially the fact that sometimes… I want to die. I’m not sure they could handle hearing something like that.

Yes, you are right. Initially, it might be hard for them, but they too are human and hence at some level, they will be able to relate. And, if these are people who love you, they will allow themselves to respond to your suffering how you yourself would respond to theirs – without judgment, but with love and understanding. With that said, as an Attendant, you have a responsibility to them in this matter which is to inform them that they need not understand why you feel the way you feel. You just need them to validate the fact that you do indeed feel the way you do. And it would also be a good idea to let them in on the fact that the mere act of sharing your feelings with them is what works to keep you here. Once they are aware of these things, then it will be much easier for them to hear your pain, however intense that pain may be. And finally, from your perspective as an Attendant, you can rest assured that you will have ultimately honored their existence by having allowed them some access to your own. Of all the gifts an Attendant can give, this is the most profound.

Hmm. Okay. I think I may have someone in mind whom I can confide in more often, more authentically and honestly about these things.

Good. Even Attendants need attending to at times. Got it?

Smiles. Got it. Pauses then picks up the bottle of pills. Do you actually sell any of these things?

The Advocate picks up the pill from the desk. Actually, I’ve never sold a single one. Pops the pill into his mouth and begins to chew on it. How fitting that a fake suicide pill should be made of black licorice. Laughs. Takes the bottle from the Attendant and removes the cap. Gestures to the Attendant. Have one?


If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy The Advocate and the Authority, the second of the Advocate Dialogues.

Tyco Flow

I’d found flow with nowhere to go,
so I settled in and rocked the tyco,
while the stasis field psycho
played mellotronic the sound of my youth
a sound so suddenly minor
like the reverberation of a kiss I’d missed
a kind of gliding, a lilting,
a sort of null, an empty lull
that went about gently tilting to and fro
against waves of atomic particles, most sonic

then a quiet explosion

a mirror ball to pieces shattered sublime
mixed in now amongst the spaces of this time
having traversed the vacuumed places
of dreams

not mine

but now to my screams,
I’d sensed her reaction
but nightmarish injections
led to misdirections
to missed directions
to synthetic reflections
that would float the question
‘Am I alive at all?’
under the buzz and glow
of this tyco flow.

Jacques Derrida on language

“As soon as there is language, generality has entered the scene.”


Experience, by far, expresses itself better than language ever could. The moment we begin to describe that which we experience is the moment when the magic and the mystery of that experience begin to fade.