Thou Overslept Reptile

Thou Overslept Reptile
A short story by Jason Youngman – Part 4

Jonathan is absolutely stoked and breaks open his pink diary, which he uses to write about the women he wishes to penetrate. He has a good hunch about the psychology student, so he starts thinking about new ways to improve upon his game. How to lure her into my bed becomes his mantra; he repeats the question over and over in hopes of generating fresh ideas. Nothing comes to mind but a feeling of foreboding. ‘Where is this emotion coming from’, he inquires with himself, as though he is conducting a criminal investigation. An inner feeling conveys the notion that he is doing wrong. These sorts of feelings are Jonathan’s greatest impediment to exerting his will and therefore he tries to wrestle them into submission.

Another thought surfaces from the dark recesses of his imagination. It exerts itself with a domineering spirit, ordering Jonathan to pursue the woman in hopes of getting to know her better: ‘Surely’, with a long s sound that resonates from the tongue of a snake, ‘there is no harm in becoming friends with her?’ He is both delighted and fearful of this reptilian voice. There is no reasoning with it at all, and sometimes it makes Jonathan act rather impulsively.

This inner voice initially emerged through a nightmare. Jonathan woke from a terrible dream with the creature rising up out of his mouth. Its rigid scales rubbing against his throat made it impossible to scream for help. The snake fell to the floor, and slithered its way into the next room where it entered Jonathan’s roommate Marx, who in turn yelled out with the most dreadful cry, ‘Bloodbath in paradise, forever sleep in paradise.’ The next morning Marx swears he has no memory of the event, and yet his behaviour becomes erratic henceforth. One might even say downright disrespectful; for example, he started to regularly make fun of him, and he even started sleeping with a woman in whom Jonathan was deeply in love with.

Anyways, this horrifying statement, bloodbath in paradise, remained etched in Jonathan’s every waking moment until he realized its meaning. It had something to do with an ancient myth in which the darker souls took bodily form in order to corrupt the flesh of man and animal alike; a literal bloodbath of savagery and violence. After listening to hundreds of talks by Terence McKenna and watching several shamanistic rituals, Jonathan found a way to satiate his psychological drive. Through a quasi hypnosis he made peace with this inner reptile by agreeing to feed its hunger. Needless to say his obsession to prey upon young women continues to motivate his actions to this day.

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The Perfect Little Daughter

The Perfect Little Daughter
A short story by Jason Youngman – Part 3

Priscilla grew up along the Madawaska River in the south-east area of Ontario, Canada. It’s a beautiful stretch of land that draws thousands of visitors during the summer. Her home was a large log cabin that also served as their local Kingdom Hall for the Jehovah Witnesses. Being the eldest of her siblings her parents put a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. It didn’t help that her Father was the Elder of the congregation and expected her to be the perfect little daughter.

During the final year of high school she got involved with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. After graduation he whisked her away on his motorcycle and they moved to Toronto to live together in a one bedroom apartment. Her Father used to say that his precious little daughter moved to the city to live in sin. And he wasn’t all that far off in his estimate, for she really lived it up by becoming a stripper. Her boyfriend didn’t like the idea that she was making more money than him and continued to put pressure on her to quit her job. So she left him and moved into a fancy hotel suite in the downtown area. Her top client was into the oil business and owned several hotels around the world. In other words she was well connected.

By the age of 24 she had enough money to maintain her independence so she set her mind on a career in psychology. With all her heart she wanted to be a therapist in order to help people who were trapped in religious cults; unbeknownst to herself she was really motivated by a deep need to free her own self from the terrible judgement of Jehovah God. She could not help feeling that her mountain of sins reached into heaven itself. It was only when she started to study psychology at the University of Toronto that she realized that she was suffering from what is known as a religious neurosis. It didn’t take her long to subdue her radical beliefs.

Now back to the coffee shop scene: Jonathan passes her with his best John Wayne look. His stride is even and well calculated. It’s as though his every step was foreseen before acted upon. No guy could do a better cat walk. Her gaze begins at his feet and slowly goes all the ways up to his eyes. If there were spurs on his cowboy boots they would probably jingle. She can’t tell that he’s been masking his yellow teeth with a special whitening toothpaste but she can intuit that he’s a bit weird, most abnormal compared to the city slickers who would indulge her. There was something about this man that was strangely unsettling and yet familiar to her. The curiosity grew as they sat there pretending not to be aware of one another.

Eventually the lady next to the bay window gets ready to leave. Priscilla has been around the block and can read people fairly well. She knows that the ladies mini skirt speaks volumes for her personality and is almost certain that she did her fair share of table dancing in her day. They both leave the coffee shop at the same time. Their high heels beat in sync with one another. So is it true that you are an exotic dancer she asks. How do you know this replies Mini. It takes one to know one retorts Priscilla. Her smile instantly kindles the fire between them and they agree to spend the evening together talking about city life.

(This is the third part of The Coffee Shop Stalker. Next we shall delve into the subconscious of the protagonist so that we might detect the source of his neurosis, and give it colourful expression through mythological & symbolic undertones. The image above was taken in Combermere, Ontario, along the Madawaska River, back in 2008.)

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In Filth It Will Be Found

In filth it will be found
A short story by Jason Youngman – Part 2

Jonathan hasn’t showered in over a week and he is still wearing the same cloths from the day before yesterday. There are woollies in his hair from grappling with his pillow during the night. The female washroom hasn’t been kept because the staff are super busy serving customers. There are drops of fresh diarrhea on the back rim of the toilet seat and someone left the hot water running, filling the room with a sticky hot mist. The over flowing garbage can has a bloody maxi-pad protruding from the tissue paper on top. It puts him in mind of the vanilla sundaes his Aunty used to buy him as a boy.

There’s a sharp knock on the door. The sound ricochets off every wall, filling Jonathan with a nervous trepidation. In a defeated war cry he informs the intruder that the washroom is in use. There is no response, except for footsteps that recede into the roaring chatter of the coffee shop. A warm glow of relief ripples through his scrawny physique as he examines himself in the mirror. Long neglected hairs that protrude from his nose blend into an unkept beard. What he sees remains a mystery, even to an omniscient narrator like me.

The psychology student notices that Jonathan has been in the washroom for quite some time. In an offhand way she is missing his attention. She is not as naive as most would think and is acutely aware of the affect she has over men, especially middle aged men who can afford to splurge her craving for high culture. A shadowy image of Jonathan appears in her cup again. The weight of his eyes press heavy upon her, as though he is trying to remove her clothing through telekinesis. She is determined to momentarily catch his eye as he passes by, a small gesture to signify that she might be interested.

Yet her divining cup deceives her. He stops to talk with a lonesome woman seated next to the bay window. Her mini skirt suggests that she’s 40 going on 20. Should one more button from her blouse come undone then the conversation may go in a different direction. Her sweltering perfume nearly taints the ambience into a brothel. Jonathan holds his form in the same fashion as a pick up artist from the 70’s. It’s impressive to watch but his little performance is for the student who just so happens to be watching the whole thing through the corner of her eye. To her surprise he pivots his body towards her, and she automatically stiffens up. This is all Jonathan needs to see as an incentive to pursue her, fresh meat to satisfy the wolf within.

(This is the second part of The Coffee Shop Stalker.)

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Beyond Good and Evil

The notion of going beyond good and evil appeals to the rebel within us. There is something satisfying about breaking away from the restraints that hold us to social norms. For some this might be a lessening of the weight we may feel through a guilty conscience, or the freedom of overturning our inhibitions about seducing others into sex. It could also mean the power of selling shit to others and making a fortune in the process. Perhaps for some, like Friedrich Nietzsche, it is a matter of shaking off culturally based morals in order to evaluate them, and then choosing a specific moral set of values that are life-affirming and enthusiastic.

I chanced upon one of my old diaries (1998) while riffling through storage the other day. Many of my entries were laced with cognitive distortions. There was so much negativity and lamenting, one might think that my writing was a form of self-flagellation. Now that the gap between that version of my person and my present self has over 20 years of separation, it is clear to see that there has been a significant degree of transformation, which is largely due to my change in beliefs.

What initially made my transition possible was in part due to the adaptation of Buddhist principles. At that time it felt as though I was being overly rebellious in my desire to break away from Christianity. Her dogma lost its bark so to speak, and something within wanted to rid myself of her hold. So in a sense Buddhism was my first viable attempt at going beyond the good and evil tenets of my Catholic upbringing.

On the other hand one might interpret my experience as simply exchanging one pasture for another. Yes, the grass was greener in some areas, but all in all my soul was still grazing with the herd. Instead of holding love and self-sacrifice upon a pedestal, now it was compassion and altruism, which is more or less the same thing. It was the same kind of game but with different masks; another costume party. Instead of pin the tail on the donkey it was Simon Says sit your ass on a cushion.

There’s nothing wrong with using clichés, if your goal is to sound inane; just as sitting down wasn’t getting me anywhere, but enshrining both suffering and pain. In other words my meditation practice wasn’t enlightening at all, but became another way to escape reality. My heart was set on reaching some metaphysical notion of nirvana and every sit was like a merry go round of bewildering thoughts.

“There is also an abundant, over-abundant enjoyment at one’s own suffering, at making oneself suffer—and wherever man allows himself to be persuaded to self-denial in the religious sense… he is secretly lured and pushed forward by his cruelty” – Nietzsche

It’s no coincidence that Siddhartha spent 6 years torturing himself through extreme ascetic practices before he woke up & became a Buddha. Our need to self-mutilate runs deep into our psychology, hardened with generations of cultural heritage. Men continue to make donkeys of themselves to this day. We allow ourselves to be swept away into the bewilderment of seduction & create all kinds of romantic expressions to act out on our instinctual drive to be vicious. From playing video games to the way we gossip about one another, we unconsciously act out on our deep rooted impulse for war.

Stepping back from our cultural conditioning – as in removing the harness of good and evil – can be felt as though we are committing a hideous crime against humanity. To side step this snare of dichotomy, of good & evil, does not mean that we are giving ourselves over to anarchy. On the contrary we may find ourselves entering into a stream of consciousness which can allow us to see things anew. It may provide a degree of freedom and space so that we might observe a situation from multiple perspectives, rather than strictly through the narrow lens of duality, of white or black, good or evil, right or wrong.

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The Coffee Shop Stalker

A man in his 50’s, let’s call him Jonathan, frequents the most pretentious looking coffee shops in Halifax with the intent to write. He does actually put pen to paper now and again, that’s when he’s not staring out the window or being mindful of who’s coming in through the front door. Unfortunately much of what he writes is unintelligible but he feels it is helping him to overcome his anxiety. His demeanour is often pleasant while in public. Few would even say he struggles with mental illness after listening to him talk on one of his more coherent days. Speaking with an air of aristocratic sophistication he cautiously deflects any signs of snootiness. When asked what he does for a living he silently takes immense delight in saying that he teaches math at Dalhousie University, while cloaking his smug face by evenly stroking his beard with his thumb and index finger. Appealing to your sensitivity he is keen to show sentiment for any of your personal grievances, but once he has won your trust and confidence, he is inclined to periodically bite into you with scornful remarks. Intentionally oblivious to his interior complex to find fault in others, he secretly gloats whenever his slights should disempower the other. Yet fully aware in some kind of Freudian manner that the wounds he inflicts can only be healed by the inflector, he slowly carves out and subtly manipulates his acquaintances into a loyal minion. How could one in their right mind live out such duplicity without imploding. The answer resides in his coloured coded notebooks, each entry written with the sole purpose to purge his conscience from all trace of morality.

She lifts her glass cup slowly to her chin before raising her eyes to peruse the room. Every muscle under complete control. A reflection in the cup shows Jonathan steering at her with absolute focus. She ignores him, lowers her head to pick up the sentence she left off on. Proofreading her final paper to complete a Masters in Psychology requires every bit of her attention.

Meanwhile Jonathan studies her every detail. The slope in her firm bum has already alerted him before she took her seat some tables away from him. Her blood red lipstick also aroused the vampire in him. His fixation will remain on her for the next 2 hours of her visit. The fact that he has been there for nearly 5 hours doesn’t bother him one iota…

(Just playing around with some fictional writing here. Not sure what direction it will go, if any. Thought it might be a good idea to put it out there to see if the wind might catch it. This could prove to be a more attractive way to talk about Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical views.)

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Rule the Criminal Mind

“War is the father of all and the king of all; and some he has made gods and some men, some bond and some free… The poet was a fool who wanted no conflict among us, gods or people. Harmony needs low and high, as progeny needs man and woman.” – Heraclitus

You are a lifer in the world’s most violent criminal prison, and as a ringleader you are responsible for planning and executing the death of inmates who fail to fall in line. Thus far you have committed several murders and have been recently promoted to the top man in charge. Now that you are king of the jungle, what will you build to represent your power? Keep in mind that you are not just a stone cold murderer but you also think like one. This means you can’t just override the consciousness of your host with a conscience that was formed through your personal history. You are to fully experience yourself as a mastermind criminal without desire to relinquish your position, a psychopath bent on reinforcing and securing his place in the hierarchy of crime.

An appalling scenario you might say and perhaps death is more preferable to your delicate soul. Whether fortune should grant us a life of privilege, or if our demise be under the sordid chains of a darken cell, wishful thinking will do little to sever our bonds. Yes, some say karma determines the quality of our lives, others some daddy in the sky, and there are those who believe that it’s all a matter of random luck. Either way it is up to us to make the best of things, no matter the hand we have been dealt.

Assuming that my heart would not weary under this burden, it would be my wish to make the most of this situation. Firstly, I would indirectly have the prison Warden place a statue of Julius Caesar in the centre of a small stoa, which is to be erected in the middle of the institution. It would serve as a temple of sorts and a safe haven; i.e., no blood would be spilt on the property. For the guards the stoa would be seen as a place of rehabilitation, but for the prisoners it would represent their height of power.

Around the statue of Caesar would reside a number of chess boards built into tables with chairs. All who wish to seat themselves near my person would have to keep their minds sober enough to enhance themselves through chess playing. From this art of war would reside my first officers.

It has been said that Apollo gifted Ares (the god of war) with the game of chess so that he might appease the hearts of men during times of peace. Unbeknownst to Ares, this mental technology exercised the frontal cortex of man, who in turn developed foresight. Thus he was able to foresee the consequences of his actions and curb the impulses of his animal nature. This calls for wisdom: Let him who has understanding reckon the number of ways to conquer his primary enemy, namely the beast within, for to rule your passions, is to rule the world.

“Almost everything we call ‘higher culture’ is based on the spiritualization of cruelty, on its becoming more profound… That ‘savage animal’ has not really been ‘mortified’; it lives and flourishes, it has merely become—divine.” – Nietzsche

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Break the Mirror

Creative Writing Prompt: Assume that the closest solar system is identical to ours in every which way. In the year 2050 you and a group of astronauts are sent off to visit its version of planet earth. Half ways there you are intercepted by a rocket ship that is a splitting image to your own. The vessel is even carrying the same number of passengers, all of whom look exactly like your own crew. As the Caption you open a channel to the other ship and are greeted by an alien who looks and behaves just like you! It is as though you are looking into a mirror. During your first few attempts at communication you both imitate each other. How would you go about speaking with this person, considering that they think exactly like you, and have acquired all the same experiences/memories as yourself? Before you give word to your plan of action, reflect deeply upon the following aphorism by Heraclitus: “Whoever cannot seek the unforeseen sees nothing, for the known way is an impasse.” (Keep your response within 300 words)

Due to the nature of this sort of inquiry, it may be best to exclude my own response, at least for the time being, so as to avoid biasing your manner of address. Now on the other hand, should you conceive this situation as a conundrum without resolution, then some leniency on my part may help to extricate your mind from Lethe’s black abyss. That is to say if you are really stuck, then read on for additional perspective, if not, then stay on your own horse to run the course.

For those of you who are still with me in thought, let us turn our attention back upon the aforementioned aphorism: ‘Whoever cannot seek the unforeseen sees nothing, for the known way is an impasse.’ How we typically relate with one another – the known way – will by no means help us with this quest. This basically means that we have to think outside of the box. So what must we do in order to seek the unforeseen; detect the unknown; locate the unanticipated. Ah ha, this is where intelligence takes the back seat while the imagination steps up to bat. Now you are primed and ready for battle! Grab on to a line of thought that is beyond your scope of understanding so as to swing into action. Don’t break a leg, as they say, but pierce through the surface layer of your mental confinement. “Fire penetrates the lump of myrrh, until the joining bodies die and rise again in smoke called incense.” – Heraclitus

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A Valentine’s Day Kiss

Creative Writing Prompt: Write about your first romantic kiss. A paragraph will suffice. Keep it under 300 words if you wish to share it in the comment section. Feel free to add a little aesthetic touch to your narrative should your real to life encounter lack the soul of being truly romantic.

My first romantic kiss was both awkward and wonderful. It was no quick touch of the lips, the way we might kiss our mother good night. My date nearly swallowed my face with her lips! They were ever so wet, and her chin moved like a dory bobbing aimlessly at sea. Within seconds the act became second nature to me, and we practiced it a lot during that summer.

In fact we practiced various kinds of kissing too. One in particular felt sinful, as though we were licking the forbidden fruit. We called it French Kissing, which consists of inserting one’s tongue into the other’s mouth. My first impulse as a young man was to fashion it into a game of tug of war, but my girlfriend insisted that it was supposed to be gentle.

She was no more than a year older than me and yet she knew so much about romance. Eventually our kissing sessions subsided and we engaged other activities as well. Fires along the beach, hand in hand strolls around the park, and flower picking. We would also go swimming and spend hours lying around sunbathing. Conversation was easy and our hearts were full of curiosity for each other. There was never enough time no matter where we might stay; how those youthful memories come back to me upon Valentine’s Day.

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Go Back In Time

Creative Writing Prompt: Let’s say you could go back in time and start over from grade 9. What would you focus on and how would you apply yourself? For additional context you may appreciate the layers of meaning provided in my own response below. Keep your answer under 300 words to share it in the comment section.

My course would likely be shifted so as to pursue an initial career in criminal law, so debate, acting and public speaking training would be a must. Job shadowing or sitting in on court cases could provide useful experience. Perusing intro books to law is a given. Reading broadly in general can’t be underestimated. There may also be merit to watching TV shows such as Law and Order. It’s probably essential to dialogue with Lawyers about how they make difficult decisions and overcome moral dilemmas.

Yet life is not all about having a career. What else would my heart revel in? Beyond a shadow of doubt that would be martial arts, performing arts and creative art. Even though these artistic expressions have been a significant part of my life, it would bring me even greater value to have perfected them more so. Time is of the essence when it comes to refining art, therefore it would be practical not to waste it on frivolous matters or unnecessary conflict.

Furthermore, I believe it is necessary to make a thorough moral inventory of oneself before choosing an orientation or major direction in life. Heraclitus renders my disposition in a similar vein: Sound thinking is to listen well and choose one course of action. In other words we need to look deeply within in order to understand the nature of things, that which motivates and compels us to act; whereas mere listening, or superficial thinking, will keep us in a sea of fragmentation and confusion, preventing us from discerning a more suitable path.

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Face Fear in the Dark

“But there is no reason to live & no limit to our miseries if we let our fears predominate.”

Eventually my fear of the dark took a back seat; hardly to raise its head except for inconvenient moments, such as waking up from a bad dream. For me this meant that my phobia was still lurking in the depth of my subconscious. Upon hearing my predicament at length, my uncle encouraged me to spend the night alone in the woods.

As a young adult it took me a few years to work up the courage to do so, and it took more than a few nights in the wilderness to defeat my enemy. Nightly, without a flashlight, my feet took me into ever darker reaches of the forest. Miles away from civilization lay my tent and bare essentials.

While lying there under a naked sky, completely vulnerable and out of place, the wind would whirl my imagination around for hours on end. In the beginning sleep did not overtake me until the first rays of light in the morning, but after a while my soul became one with its natural habitat. Sometimes a large moose would walk by, which could easily be the end of me, and yet death did not take my breath into its fold.

Not all of us have the proclivity for such a venture as mine and it may be foolhardy to embark upon such a journey without first consulting with a trusted elder. Not all battles can be won through sheer force, and sometimes the best we can do is to learn how to fall gracefully. Forbearance can be a virtue if applied under the right conditions. Whereas having your ribs crushed under the hoof of a thousand pound animal may bring you no closer to liberation than a psychiatrist who tries to squeeze 6 patients into an hour.

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