Velvet and the Memetrain

Velvet has been sleeping, and when she opens her eyes, she realizes she is on a train. On the seat across from her is a woman wearing an identification card: Relating Consultant.

Relating Consultant: Is this your first time with intergalactic relating services?

Velvet: In this galaxy, yes.

Relating Consultant: Most of our clients have been forcibly ejected from other galaxies, but some have chosen to leave of their own accord. Which was it in your case?

Velvet: I'm not completely sure.

Relating Consultant: Are you ready to begin the application process?

Velvet: Yes.

Relating Consultant: Find your way to The Tell-tale Heart Memorial Car. You will have a few minutes to read a profile. Follow the clues.

Velvet can hear a heartbeat. She surmises it is a clue, albeit a rather obvious one. She follows the sound into what appears to be a haunted house. It is all such a cliché that she feels somewhat annoyed. On a table she sees a children's storybook/tablet and a button marked 'Rewind'. She presses the button. Her head spins around and around several times and then returns to its original position. She knows that this is some kind of test, and that she is being observed. She decides to go for a risky opening because she senses that there will be a better chance to get through this test more quickly. She picks up the phone that has been provided.

Velvet: Hi, this is Regan MacNeil calling from the Church of Pazuzu. Would you like to receive instructions regarding how to perform a sexorcism?

Teddy: I think that would work better if you tried to sound like Linda Blair, but I'd really prefer that you just be yourself. There's nothing to worry about here. I'm really a nice guy, and a great listener.

Velvet: What does it mean to 'be oneself'? Where does the self come from? Is it a cohesive expression of all the influences we've encountered in time and space, or is it something else entirely?

Teddy: I'm looking for someone to love, someone I can cook breakfast for, cuddle with, and read stories to at bedtime.

Velvet: Yes, that's what I gathered through examining your profile, so I thought I'd get sex out of the way early on and concentrate on trying to be friends.

Teddy: I'm just a random, normal guy who values honesty and hopes to find someone who looks great in my old t-shirts.

Velvet: I think I know the type you're looking for, and I should let you know now that it's just not me.

I don't look good without makeup, and maybe most of the time I don't look good with it, either. However, I think the various tools available offer me an outlet for my own particular creativity, as well as a chance to take a stand. I don't want a 'normal', 'no-nonsense', 'down-to-earth' kind of life.

I am fascinated by the unconscious, and preoccupied with attempts to bring more of it into conscious awareness.

I consider myself Transhumanist. I like the idea of consciously participating in human evolution. If I could get IQ, creativity, and various skill/ability implants, as well as the chance to trade in the cumbersome, lumbering, frail, non-symmetrical physical human form I have been designated for a self-designed, super-cool avatar, I'd do it in a heartbeat/mouseclick/whatever.

Transhumanist philosophy supports the utilization of science to improve the quality of human life and functioning. Sex is an important part of life, and science tells us that when it comes to sex, males are visually stimulated, and that it is through this path that they are most likely to give women's 'beautiful souls' a chance, as much as we might like to pretend otherwise.

Most men say they don't like makeup, so you'd think that more women would choose to please men by not using it, but women usually realize that men can't always be trusted to say what they really mean, and in some cases it's just that men can't tell who is using makeup or who has had work done or not.

If you have no intentions of procreating, but would like to have sexual relationships, it actually makes sense to utilize the available tools, like makeup or cosmetic surgery, to emphasize sexual signals of receptiveness and arousal, and to address symmetry, in order to consciously trigger primal responses or tweak or intensify the overall sexual experience for both parties, or in order to improve one's chances when the odds are not in one's favour. It's bizarre that this is thought of as deception or cheating, when in other fields of human existence it is considered virtuous to expend effort and to demonstrate resourcefulness in the face of competition. When someone whose spelling is shite uses a spellchecker, are they accused of vanity and shallowness, or of being a fake? Or are they demonstrating that they are willing to put in effort to succeed, and that they recognize they might not get the job if they don't employ one when compiling their resumé? Should such persons feel shame that in their 'natural' state, they really don't deserve to have a job, get published, have an opinion on any subject whatsoever? Should they live in fear of being exposed?

Teddy: I'm a good speller.

Velvet: You're missing the point.

Teddy: I think I understand now. To pass the test I have to show you I can write sex fantasies which demonstrate to you that I understand the issues women over 40 face. Piece of cake; I know exactly what women want to hear. I'll send a couple over momentarily.

Velvet: I'll send you some sex fantasies, but they will be psychologically complicated, and I have a feeling you're not going to like them.

An exchange of written material occurs.

Teddy: Your explanations were longer than the fantasies, and it seems like you were trying to get everything just right. Only sponataeity matters to me. All I can trust is instinct - going with your gut 100% of the time. Everything else is fake.

Velvet: Having the explanations understood is part of the fantasy. I think spontaneity is important, but that it is also important to think carefully about the kind of person you want to be, and to put effort into expressing that, in words and actions. I am not trying to get everything just right. I wrote all I sent to you fast, stream-of-consciousness style. When it comes to instinct, I do accept its significance and potential, but I think many immediate impressions or fears are based on unexamined prejudices and superstitions, and that most attractions are based on primal drives that rational human beings have a right to question. Past experience has shown me that if I don't make an effort to communicate some of the complex issues early, relationships can be built on illusions and misconceptions. It is unrealistic to think we can be 100% illusion-free in relationships, but I think there are some illusions and assumptions it is best to do away with if you can. I long to be understood, respected, valued, seen.

Teddy: Do you really want to watch porn together?

Velvet: Yes, I think it will be a good way for us to get to know each other. Based on your creative writing, you seem like a highly sexual person. In contrast, there's no mention of sex in your profile. It's a bit of a puzzle, and I am intrigued. What did you think of that BDSM consent form I sent along? Do you think it might be fun if we both fill one out?

Teddy: I'm up for almost anything.

Velvet: My safe word is Sweaty-Toothed Madman.

Teddy: From Dead Poets Society? I love that movie.

Velvet: I've been meaning to ask you about perspectives. In the movie, one of the things Keating asks his students to do is to try to see things from new or unconventional angles. Your photography is quite good, but I'm wondering if you would ever consider applying the ideas expressed in the movie about perspectives to your own photography.

Teddy: The best photos are the ones that show the imperfections. Almost no one is willing to show imperfections.

Velvet: Are the most unflattering photos more 'true' than the most flattering ones? Maybe both represent aspects of the overall story? Does that make sense? Can it ever be valid to try to express to others how you would like to be seen, and ask them if they can see it? Can one photo capture the truth, the whole truth and nuthin' but the truth? Is there one standard definition for the word 'imperfections'? Do your photographs uncover the imperfections?

Your photos are nice, yes, but you have described them as 'random', and they're not random. They represent the eye honing in on pretty scenes in nature, and framing them just so. They're about what you find 'worth' photographing - not the random. Nature is a bloody battle, and in order that the beauty we perceive can exist, many species and individual animals and plants must die every day. What is not part of Nature? Everything in our world is a result of organisms competing for resources and life.

Teddy: Is the idea of having a relationship with me starting to grow on you?

Velvet: I am full of guilty feelings, but I know that some males are into the idea of being used for sex. Philosophically, I think what we value is very different. I do realize that 'opposites attract', but not only do our values and communication preferences clash, our respective lifestyles are incompatible. I think you want to separate love and sex. You want a companion to eat and sleep with, and the internet for your sex life. I think we are completely incompatible as long-term partners, but I admit that it's been so long since I have had sex that it's really hard for me to walk away. I know that sounds awful. How do you feel about it?

Teddy: I have an idea. If we meet in person, maybe we could both pretend to be someone else, and we could talk about sports or the weather. What do you think about that?

Velvet: I would slap your face. But seriously, while I think role playing is a good idea, I'm just not sure I want to start off that way. And besides, I thought you wanted me to be myself?

Teddy: What was that? Anyway.. Maybe we could masturbate with our backs to each other.

Velvet: I was sort of getting into the role of being totally unlike myself, but nevermind. I can see how that would reduce the amount of pressure and so I'm reluctant to dismiss it without considering it, but even in a brief encounter, what you are suggesting doesn't really do much for me. I don't think I'd be able to believe from there we would eventually move towards increased intimacy or a more intense moment that would represent a kind of climax in our relating. I think I'd suspect that we'd just be learning how to have a relationship in which we masturbated together in perpetuity without connecting, and that the initial diffusion of anxiety and attraction would never lead to the kind of intensity I would be seeking. My individuality would never matter in this situation. I know it might not seem to make sense if I am not looking for a long-term thing, but in all relating, I think what I'm looking for is a kind of peak understanding that can be achieved through the combination of two unique personalities.

Teddy: Have you seen my alias?

Velvet: I saw some compliments you wrote to a pretty 12 year old regarding her cover versions of pop songs on YouTube. If I remember correctly, you used a Ted Bundy avatar, and she did particularly well with a song about getting drunk. I remember reading in your profile that a sense of humour is essential. Is this the sort of thing you mean?

Teddy: Sometimes I think that because I'm comfortable in my sexuality and make jokes about sucking cock you think I'm gay.

Velvet: Considering a lot of what you write and the porn you like it seems to me that you are sexually fluid, but I'm not sure what your primary interest is, or if you have one. I am intrigued by your flexibility and open-mindedness in this area, and I respect that you support gay and transgender communities. They still get a lot more flack than many people realize.

Teddy: When I'm in a relationship, I'm 100% monogamous.

Velvet: I think a lot of people think they're supposed to live up to some monogamous ideal. It is difficult for me to trust people who seem to have unrealistic ideas about who they are and what they want.

If you were in a relationship with someone, would you consider it platonic behaviour to continue to talk to your female friends on the phone while surreptiously masturbating?

Many times you have mentioned that you sort of get off on the idea that you are talking to someone and they don't know you're masturbating. If they don't know, and you don't tell them, is there a clear line: you are in a relationship, and these other women are 'just friends'?

Teddy: I'm only interested in women over 40, and I doubt I'd go younger than 38. I like it when someone actually knows who Gary Glitter is.

Velvet: Do you remember when we had that talk about initiating contact with those you are genuinely interested in, rather than waiting for people to contact you? You had told me that you are too self-conscious to contact anyone, and so you are never the one to initiate in intergalactic relating.

Teddy: I only contacted Kimberly because we have a lot in common and it seemed to me she could use a friend. Age is just a number, and while she might be a couple of decades younger than you, it isn't about that. Her boyfriend treats her like crap. And now she expects me to be on call day and night. She tells me constantly about all these other guys she's in contact with, and she threatens suicide if I don't pick up the second the phone rings.

Velvet: I think if she threatens suicide, you should take it seriously, and if you can't be there for her, try to find out if there's somewhere else she can turn. It sounds like you have feelings for her. I would encourage you to pursue the relationship.

Teddy: Do you want me?

Velvet: Yes, but only for a short time. I seem to be drawn to these really weird situations in which I am attracted to people I know are completely wrong for me.

Teddy: You are unbelievably cold and heartless.

Velvet: I didn't mean for things to go this far. I knew early on that we weren't compatible, and I don't know if you will understand this, but it was like being trapped in a horror movie, not knowing how to find the exit or leave town at the right time, while at the same time trying to see the beauty in the unconventional - although I know you want to fit in and see yourself as a normal guy. I felt compelled to investigate the contradictions. And you know what they say about involuntary arousal and horror movies.

Every time I tried to end things, I'd write a thoughtful 'good-bye' letter expressing what I thought was unique about our interaction and wishing you well, and trying to explain what it was that I was looking for, and it would be like you'd get mad, and think I hadn't really said anything at all. And then there'd be some kind of plot twist: your favourite pet died and you personally had to scrape him off the road, you developed an unusual foot infection and had no health insurance, you installed Windows 8 without first backing up and lost everything. I'd have felt inhuman to abandon you at such times.

I apologize for the thoughtless spur-of-the-moment booty calls and the occasions in which I lost my temper and found it fun to allow myself to communicate in a more immature (spontaneous, passionate!) fashion. You said that all you wanted was the spontaneous and unedited, and in going with that, trying to be flexible, trying to give you what you said you wanted, in a sense I betrayed myself. At the same time, I was able to re-examine my position and the structure of my belief system, and illustrate to both of us why I have chosen to adopt that setting. That's what I meant when I said I thought it was important to think about the person I want to be, and to make efforts to be consistent. In allowing myself to go with the flow, there are now as a result some actions I regret and would take back, but at the same time, I see the value in the experiment.

For me, a significant problem was that you kept hanging up after letting me know I had done something to hurt you. I'd ask what it was, I'd ask for clarification, but you would seem to think I should know what it was I had done, and you'd refuse to talk at all. And then you'd carry on with the relationship as if this hadn't occurred.

Regardless of any other incompatibility, this is an example of the kind of thing I can say is not acceptable in communication, for me. I don't feel respected, valued or understood, and I don't trust our ability to resolve communication issues together.

Teddy hangs up. Velvet wonders if the Relating Consultant will reappear and make comments regarding this scene. She feels uneasy, unsure of herself, guilty for letting things go this far, because she knows she should have known better. She wonders if she has failed an important test. Has she been fair enough?

Fade out and fade in. Velvet takes a seat in a theatre, and an anime film, surrealist style, begins.

Is it a film or a game, or an interactive film-game of the future?

The hero is middle-aged, carrying some extra weight and a gun. On the bottom left of the landscape, the words Tierra del Fuego appear. The music becomes ominous, to warn of imminent danger. Two figures approach: one is a snarling dog, and the other is an old woman with dark skin who seems to want to talk about something. Without hesitation, the hero shoots the old woman. The hero made the right selection, because the dog transforms into a beautiful white princess. Together, they kick the corpse of the old woman, hold hands, look into each other's eyes, and colourful fireworks explode. In the aftermath, the landscape slowly transforms into a land of rainbows and unicorns. In one version, the hero starts out as a young, handsome guy, but test audiences seemed to prefer the version where the hero himself transforms once the beautiful princess appears.

Kiro: Great profile!

Velvet: Thanks, I like your name.

I don't like 'normal' names. I feel alienated when I have contact with those who accept such names unconditionally. I don't like the idea that the name you are given at birth by parents whose values, beliefs and actions you don't accept or like is one you must be stuck with and identified with for life. I respond better to chosen names, yet people are so insistent that a 'real' name is the one you never have a choice about.

Before we go any further, I am going to give you a link to my Manifesto.

Kiro: Wow, kinda creepy, but also lightly inspirational. How does it feel to have me observe you naked?

Velvet: It doesn't really register. The info's been out there for a long time, but I haven't received much direct feedback. I am not immune to compliments or criticism, but I continue to express and create without being consciously swayed by what others think of me, because I can never be sure what others think of me.

Kiro: I must say that you don't remind me of someone your age. I hope that my wife is like you when she is your age.

Velvet: Most people are uncomfortable with my Manifesto. The Manifesto is extremely important to me. I do realize you do not like my Manifesto without qualifications, and that your first impression was that it was kinda creepy, but you seem to accept it as a valid form of creative expression, and I appreciate that. So.. what would you like to tell me about yourself?

Kiro: I'm a writer, and I fit the diagnosis of many personality disorders. I like video games and anime and I am currently working on a few different writing projects.

Velvet: The DSM will eventually be regarded as a document of profound ignorance. I've had run-ins with young male writers online before.

Kiro: Ha, what does that mean? Run-ins?

Velvet: It means that while on one hand I want to support young talent, on the other, most of the young males I encounter don't really understand feminist principles or history, and think they love women, when in actuality, they only love the ones who fit in certain boxes, or are confined to a small section of the spectrum. It means that intelligent males who have the power to shape the future might be starting with unconscious prejudices that need to be challenged.

Kiro: That's not me.

Velvet: Do you want to let me know what you are working on at present?

Kiro: A few different projects. It will take some time to describe them for you, and I will soon send you a screenplay I'm working on. But I'm not sure you understand some things. Are you telling me you aren't aware that you're not like other women your age?

Velvet: Kiro, we can kiss and make up. But first, come on now, fess up, is your real purpose here to gather material?

Kiro: No, I'm here because I'm lonely. Do you write?

Velvet: I mostly just write emails and keep a journal. I have this idea for a story about a middle-aged woman who travels to meet many lonely men she has corresponded with online, for various types of sexual interaction.

Kiro: It's a terrible idea for a book, but an awesome idea for a screenplay! Except that you have to change the main character to one in her 20s, in order that audiences can really feel the magic. Otherwise, people will not feel completely excited and inspired, the main character will not be believable, and audiences will not be mesmerized by her.

Velvet: Thank U Drive Thru Please!

Kiro: Huh?

Velvet: You have just demonstrated what it means to be ageist and sexist without knowing it.

Kiro: I'm not either, and if you knew me, or took the time to get to know me, you'd see it.

Velvet: I know it's a bad idea to throw terms like that around.

I can understand that you are a young guy who needs to make a living. In your profile, you listed 'Independent' films as one of your interests so I was a bit surprised that your screenplay would read as catering to the mainstream. This is not necessarily a terrible thing. I'm very aware of the realities of what the consuming public will pay money to see (and what people are primed to want, both in an evolutionary sense and in a culturally repetitive brainwashing sense), but I think from time to time it doesn't hurt to examine the status quo, and question it. This is partly how you change the world. Is it a good thing when writers think only about what the majority want to see, and not about anyone else? Doesn't this limit the variety and scope of the imagination?

Kiro: A writer must write from his own experience.

Velvet: I can understand that, but have you met any mesmerizingly hot young women who have travelled around the world to meet an assortment of unemployed, depressed, insecure men in order to have sex with those men? I'm not saying such females don't exist, but it seems unlikely to me you have more experience with them than you do with middle-aged, non-hot ones. I'm a middle-aged woman, and many of the men from the Agency have expressed interest in a sexual visit from me. You yourself admitted that you would do me. Were you just trying to be kind? Do you think the other men I've had contact with were just trying to be kind?

Kiro: I'd be happy to have the opportunity to cross a cougar off my fucket list. I think you know that, and that there are certain realities in life.

Velvet: I can see this conversation can only go around in circles. I have tried to explain that I would like to see more options for women in my age bracket than 'cougar', 'MILF', and 'granny porn'. It's not just because I am automatically disqualified from two of those categories due to the fact I've never squeezed out a sprog. I want to try to create my own category, but I guess I can't expect others to support my efforts. And I do realize that if men express sexual interest in me, it might partly be that they're flattering me, or trying to keep me as a possibility in case the young women they're really interested in reject them.

Kiro: What do you think of this:

There's a billionaire who wants to use what he has to help the world. He gives to charities, he gives until he has no more money, and eventually he gives his organs. He gives everything he's got then he dies. The moral of the story is that only a fool thinks he can change the world. So what I'm trying to say to you is that it doesn't make sense to feel bad if you can't help someone. Also, it's somewhat egotistical to think you can make much of a difference.

Velvet: I suppose what you are getting at is that asking people to see older women and their sexuality differently is a lost cause, and you yourself would not bother to donate to that cause.

I think it's important to choose your battles. If you are going to donate, or support, it's good to have a realistic understanding of what can be accomplished. It is easy to become overwhelmed when thinking about how many people in the world need help, and to try to work out what you yourself 'deserve' or have 'earned'.

A way to make life more personally 'meaningful' is to carefully choose those areas in which you think you can contribute, but not expect overnight change. The important part is in choosing a course of action that reflects your values and hopes, while deciding on the limits of what it is acceptable for you to offer when it comes to your time, energy, money, and lifeforce in the pursuit of change.

Er, isn't this the sort of thing writers can potentially do?

I think we have reached a kind of stalemate, and that we have communicated all we can communicate to each other, for now.

And yes, I comprehend the reasons young women are so sexually irresistible, and at the same time, when it comes to genetic, mental, or psychological evolution, or any kind of evolution, mutation is the key factor.

I am mutant hear me roar.

Of course Velvet does not feel sure of herself, or self-righteous or anything along those lines, and she kinda slinks away and gets drunk. For a few months.

A desert planet with a pollution problem. Its surface appears to be littered with an overabundance of underwear of differing styles, colours and sizes, none of it clean.

Candide: It's been such a long time! You know, I was talking to an old friend recently. I mentioned a St Exupéry quote. It's about two old friends who haven't written to each other for many years and the reason is that there is not much new to say - each is just busy tending to his rose garden.

Velvet: Wild roses in the Twilight Zone.

Hearing from you is always a surreal experience. After all this time, all I really want to know is: what colour underwear do you have on?

Candide: I'm not wearing any.

Velvet: Somehow that doesn't surprise me. Most males online or on phones always seem to be naked from the waist down.

Candide: ;)

Velvet: You're still such a fascinating specimen, but I know you're dangerous. Right from the start, I can't help but think you're testing me or trying to fuck with my head. I'm thinking St Exupéry said something entirely different about roses. In one way or another, this is likely to go the way it's always gone. It's the same old song:

God is a voyeur/provocateur with an attachment disorder. He's a control freak who suffers horribly from ennui. The roses are all the same, etc, it's heartbreaking.

I think we're all caught up for now. I realize it is not likely to be long before you're up to your usual tricks and you piss me off. But I admit that I'd like to run something by you. I recently saw this movie based on a real life story. It's about a blond American beauty queen who I think also did nude modelling at one time. She falls in love with this Mormon guy, but he goes overseas for more religious training and doesn't even leave her a message. She thinks he has been trapped by a cult and believes only she can rescue him. She hires a team of bodyguards to kidnap him and take him to a safe place where he can be deprogrammed. She ties him to a bed in a basement. He is not allowed to wear underwear. She rapes him repeatedly, and feeds him his favourite foods.

I was curious about you, but a little goes a long way. I'm no beauty queen, but I think when I block you this time, I'd like to imagine you tied without underwear to a bed in a dungeon, waiting for me until the next time. It's probably going to be a few years.

Daliesque eyeballs, melted clocks, and canisters of coffee and tea are suspended from the ceiling like piñatas. A couple of blindfolded teens in trenchcoats come in with machine guns they bought over the internet, and shoot the place up.

Skydiver: Hello Velvet! I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I very much enjoyed your analysis of my favourite artists.

Velvet: I am a bit slow, as I am only now catching on to your joke about Dali's hypnagogic period. I'm in mine now.

It sounds like you are quite a risk taker and adrenaline junkie. You have a talent for conveying your adventures in an entertaining and engaging manner. You always seem to be getting into trouble, but maybe trouble finds you because she knows she will be welcome.

Skydiver: Is Velvet your real name?

Velvet: Velvet is the name I have given to my vulva.

Skydiver: Forgive me for asking, Velvet, but am I talking to a person or a vulva?

Velvet: I'm not sure yet.

Skydiver: I am so terribly sorry, Sweetness. I will never bring it up again.

Velvet: Please don't apologize. We don't have to talk about it now, but any time you want to, I think I would enjoy trying to explore this topic. Also, I feel I must warn you that there's something very strange about me. I'm trying very hard to just go with the flow, and there is something about you that brings out something less analytical and long-winded in me, but in my natural state, I tend to make things very complicated. I am afraid I have trouble controlling it. You are so sweet that I don't want to inflict it on you, but I am afraid that eventually I will have no choice in the matter.

Skydiver: I think I love you, Velvet!

Velvet: So soon? I feel confused.

Skydiver: I'm sorry Velvet. I will never bring it up again.

Velvet: I feel bad that I keep making you feel that everything you do or say is wrong in some way. I fear that I am a bad influence in your life. Your feelings are your feelings. I care about your feelings, but I also want to understand them. Love is such a confusing word, and it means vastly different things to different people.

Skydiver: About Love... I just would like a girlfriend with the romance and fun that goes with it. Go places, different countries, holidays, the usual stuff, you know, Baby. Somebody to love and receive love back. Now, the big elephant in the room needs to be tackled, hehehe !!! My letters never contain abuse or malice. I am a 'simple' man with intelligence, who wants to stop this harassment and start living again. Your letters give me a reality-check to what I could be doing. About the emoticons, I just like to use them and see them, they cheer me up, a simple thing I know but there you are. Well, take care Velvet and I look forward to your next letter.

Velvet: I realize I should probably accept the various hints people give all along that they want to keep things simple, but it is difficult to shut off the part of me that is curious about whether or not a person wants to question their default position. In my Agency profile, I wrote that I was looking for those who were interested in and who cared about why people think, feel and behave as they do, and it seems that this is something it is very difficult to find. And I feel bad, because I don't want to tell people that what they want is wrong - and I don't believe that what they want is wrong. At the same time, I don't believe that what I want is wrong. But somehow, sorting all of this out never seems to go very smoothly.

I have mentioned that I don't really want the things in life that most people do, and I am realizing again through your response that I might just be repeating a mistake that has been common in my life: I am a lonely, isolated person and when I encounter another lonely, isolated person, I sometimes start thinking about getting together with that person, maybe because it seems that it would be better for both of us to 'do something' to shake up our lives than not, even though I realize we both want very different things.

You have listed many interests, including psychology, anatomy, neurology, and art, but we have never explored any of these topics in more than a passing way, which kind of confuses me.

You have commented that some people might say I am complex, but that you do not mind that. I would like to find out if there is anyone who actually looks for and enjoys my complexity, rather than finds it something to tolerate, accept or be non-judgmental about. The distinction is important, and represents a major struggle I have had in relationships.

Skydiver: I hope 2015 is your year of progress Velvet.

Velvet: One area in which I have continued to make progress over the years involves speaking up for myself - articulating my ideas and what is important to me. It can be difficult to know for sure if I am making the compromises necessary for harmonious human interaction, or staying silent in order to fit in better while selling myself out or short. My Manifesto is important to me. Many people I have known have been embarrassed by it, have hoped I'd grow out of it, and have basically tried to ignore it, believing it irrelevant to our interaction. I don't expect any person to be able to go through all of it, and much of it is repetitive. I have tried to express what I needed to express in other words for you specifically, here in email. But, it is important to me that those who are my friends understand what the Manifesto has meant to me.

You once said that you wanted me to be a normal person with hobbies and interests, and my sense was that you thought that for me and all people, positivity and a good outcome related to a certain kind of involvement and level of involvement in society. This is a very complex topic, and I am wary of giving you the wrong impression by not discussing the issues, while at the same time not wanting to overload you with too much. It seems to me that what you want me to be is something I'm not, and I wonder if I have done something bad in letting things continue this long.

Your approach is basically optimistic, and hopeful, and in conversation you strive to maintain a kind of harmony in line with your beliefs and ideals. In contrast, my approach to communication tends to be about focusing on the complications in human relating, and trying to understand them. This is a genuine interest in life for me. Just as I could not say that it would be accurate to describe my mind as 'tranquil', it would be inaccurate to describe myself as 'alright'. It all becomes very complex, because even these simple statements contain a lot of possible implications. I don't wish to inflict this sort of thing on others whose needs and desires differ, and I don't want to inflict unnecessary disharmony on anyone. I just do my thing, trying to assess what people are interested in or open to. I realize that you have given me enough indication through your responses that what interests me doesn't really interest you. I need to stress that I do not think of this as a failing on your part. I care about what is right for you as an individual, even if it means that I understand it is in your best interests to consider me an unhealthy influence in your life. You have a right to set limits or to hold out for the kind of treatment in relationships that is right for you.

Pay attention to how you feel right now. I feel incredibly self-conscious about rambling on and on. Does this message leave you with bad feelings, a sense of dread, the feeling that you have done something wrong, a feeling of insecurity about the stability of our friendship? Is your inclination to try to smooth things over as soon as possible, to reassure me that all is fine, in the hopes that I go back to being the Velvet you recognize soon, the Velvet who writes in a more light and friendly way? Do you think of that Velvet as the 'real me', while this one today (and the one who wrote the Manifesto) is perhaps just a more melancholy and negative blip?

Skydiver: I hope you are alright. All I can say is you are a complex, idiosyncratic human being just like myself. We will discuss the psychology of thought, language and behaviour when I am better. Now my gate is up and locked I thought no one could get to the back of my house - I was wrong. The asshole tapped my window 3 times waking me up in the early morning - I hope he gets cancer of the rectum ! hehehe !!! Now read this carefully baby please. You and your letters have kept me alive ! That is the truth ! You never depress me okay ? You are my diamond in this crazy world. Do not forget that.

Velvet: It is a big responsibility to keep another person alive, through letter writing, or any other method! Hopefully there is something inside you that wants to live and thrive, no matter what, even if something happens to me. As for your intruder, it is good to see that individual's persistence isn't getting you down.

Skydiver: I hope you are alright. I am sorry to have said you are keeping me alive, that was maybe the wrong way to express my gratitude to you. What I meant was your letters of support are invaluable to me in my struggle against my enemies. I do want to live and love this life, eventually with someone special. You are the best friend I have ever had Velvet. I want to be there for you as well. I will do my best to not be so daunting in future.

Velvet: Is the intruder pestering you every day? I am wondering if the change in my messages has somehow coincided with increased activity on his part. I am afraid it is a very stressful time for you. I am not sure how this will come across, but I am sad to hear that I am the best friend you have ever had. You are a really lovely person, as well as a caring and sensitive friend, and it seems tragic to me that you haven't experienced more complete friendship and attentiveness than I have offered.

Skydiver: I hope your day is going well. This is my honesty - I want to relocate to Australia and be with you Velvet. I am smitten by you. I adore you. I am so happy you are part of my life and I would love you to play a bigger part in my life. You are not an unhealthy energy in my life. You are a positive source of enlightenment.

Have a lovely day, Velvet! You have made me so happy by writing to me. I can hardly wait until I hear from you again.

Velvet: Thank you for being open about what you are hoping for. I have wondered how my communication has been interpreted. I don't want you to have the wrong impression about what our meeting would mean. When I think of us meeting, I think of us as friends, and not as romantic partners. I realize that you might wonder if communication would be easier in person, and move to a new level, but when communication is not psychologically in-depth enough for me (for a romantic relationship) before meeting, it usually doesn't progress to that stage after meeting. I have perhaps wished to be more romantic in my life, but I think I have to face that at the core I might be realistic and practical. Aside from the difficulties involved with moving countries, I myself am not committed to living my life long term, and I'm not someone who believes a relationship would change that.

Skydiver: Hello sunshine, hope you are having a nice day. I care about you Velvet, that is why I mentioned your health. You are very intelligent and an adult so I will not bring up the topic again. Self-esteem is important as well as self-confidence, I understand that. You take as much time out as you need, I will be here.

Velvet: There has been a serious misunderstanding. I have been trying for some time to clear it up, but it looks like I have failed in my efforts.

When you say you will never bring up my health again, you are saying that you feel you can't have a discussion with me about something controversial, and that you believe avoiding certain topics is the way to go when it comes to preserving the friendship. Your position is exactly what is driving me away. I am looking for discussion that I can find challenging and stimulating. I have put an incredible amount of effort into expressing myself and explaining in detail why the mainstream positions regarding health and body weight might not make sense in my case. I am still waiting for someone to challenge what I have said in ways that show they have absorbed what I have expressed. I do not have the impression that you have understood what I have expressed.

I can't keep doing this to myself. I want to feel understood. I need to seek friends who have a need to participate in a more in-depth way in the friendship.

It's not a matter of taking time away. I do not think our incompatibility can be resolved. You are a kind, friendly, generous soul, and you deserve to have friends who fully appreciate you. My suggestion is that we both try to reach some kind of resolution which involves looking directly at the problem and making a decision to let each other go.

I accept that what I want and need in interaction differs from what most people want and need. However, I don't think it's good for my self-esteem to continue to have contact with those who don't truly value my individuality. Is it good for your self-esteem that I so often seem to be complaining in one way or another that our communication is lacking something essential?

If you wish to reply, I will carefully consider what you send. I am unlikely to leave you hanging if there is anything I feel you need a response to. However, I think for myself it is going to be better to take some time away from being 'Velvet'. At present, I can't compartmentalize.. I need cohesion, integration, I need the whole.

As always, I wish you health, happiness and love.

Skydiver: Hello Sunshine, hope you have had a nice day. As regards to the way you feel about our communication, that is up to you. I will not comment on your health. I will say this though. If you decide you do not wish to reply, I will accept that but wish you the best.

Velvet: You are an exceptionally kind, accepting and polite person. I think it is possible that the intruder has increased the harassment due to my influence. I keep bringing up the psychological complications that disturb your efforts to achieve the kind of tranquility and balance that are important to you. You want this not to be true, and I keep wanting to be challenged and stimulated, with the result that neither of us can be satisfied.

An antique computer, circa 1996-8, a 686 clone. Is that Netscape? A manuscript is displayed on the monitor:

Scorin' With Depressed Guys
Velvet doesn't have time to read this now. She suspects it is some kind of propaganda piece or answer to the infamous Scorin' With Depressed Chicks (by ++LAYO and ++DR ROCKET.) Velvet decides she will try to get to it later. For some reason it occurs to her that it's been a while since she last checked out, but she is not sure why. For now, she must attend to a few emails.

Neurofighter: Hey, I don't mean to be impatient, but did you get my message yet?

Velvet: I liked your message a lot, and I can understand that it would feel more special if I could say immediately that you stand out to me and I'm ready to drop everyone else and concentrate on you, but I've been at this intergalactic relating agency for a couple of months now, and at the moment I am corresponding with about 35 other people. I know how that sounds, but most of the time I live like a hermit. When it rains, it pours. And your message was pretty intense and I'm going to have to concentrate to give you a reply that factors in your individuality and is not just some automated response from the Amazing Velbot.

Neurofighter: Hello, is anybody there??

Velvet: It hasn't been 24 hours yet. I do intend to reply.

Neurofighter: I read your Manifesto and it got me hot. You and I have a lot in common, or at least not much in common with the neurotypicals. But I must warn you that I start out charming as hell, I might even compliment you profusely before I start to see all the reasons it couldn't possibly work out between us, I experience doubts and then start to fear rejection and before long I'll be insulting you so as to put an end to the whole thing before you can reject me.

Velvet: I've sent a few detailed replies now. I have taken your warning into consideration, but wonder, if you know that's how it will be, is there any chance you could do or see it differently this time? Maybe you're actually quite good at recognizing when someone can't meet your needs, and your process is in a way quite efficient. Maybe instead of you insulting me, we could just agree that we're looking for different things, and go our separate ways?

Neurofighter: Is there any chance we could dispense with all this chitchat and just meet IRL? Most of the Agency regulars are in other countries, whereas you and I live fairly close. How am I supposed to know you are who you say you are? Couldn't you just show me your tits so I will know whether it's worth investing any more time?

Velvet: I suppose this is a horribly sexist remark, but what I find is that once males know I accept their penis, whether they think it's small, a bit slow on the uptake, has unusual markings or suffers from a non-typical condition of some kind, that is, if they are insecure about this particular appendage, they are usually good to go once they receive an enthusiastic reply. That's pretty much the only obstacle to prepare them for sex. Sometimes they have other appearance issues that are similarly cleared up. But, when it comes to putting themselves in women's shoes, they seem to have considerably more trouble, no matter how much personal insecurity they themselves have endured.

Neurofighter: The internet is not The Real World. You don't really think I'd be as much of an asshole IRL, do you?

Velvet: I know it's a drag, but I'm kind of scared by your tone and your impatience, and I'm kind of a mess about my appearance and I don't think I can just snap out of it.

Neurofighter: Translation.. the price for sex with you is death.

Velvet: I admit it's kind of funny when you put it that way, and I do have to laugh at myself. But not exactly. I do long for an extreme death, a big death, not just a little one, but I try to remain sexually flexible, and open to other aspects of the unknown. It's pretty much just what I said: in order to be open to sex, I need to be able to feel comfortable with someone.

Neurofighter: I have never seen so much pseudointellectual garbage in one place. You are quite possibly the most long-winded, boring, humorless, self-obsessed, self-pitying nitwit I've ever had the misfortune to encounter.

Velvet: I think there are many who share your opinion.

Neurofighter: So lighten the fuck up. And BTW, I don't want you to kill yourself, although it's pretty obvious you never will. And BTW, your Manifesto fucking sucks.

Velvet: You warned me this would happen, so it's pretty difficult to feel too put out by it. I have a choice as to whether to hang in there and try to understand or not, but as with many of my interactions, it doesn't feel 'equal' enough. I think I would have to be pretty thick-skinned and that I would end up putting more effort into understanding you than you could reciprocate.

Neurofighter: WTF does that have to do with anything? You have no idea how much anger and pain I have to live with on a daily basis, and how hard it is to function or even communicate at all under all that constant, unrelenting pressure. I'm going to block you and I suggest you do the same to me.

Velvet: You won't see this, but I will take you at your word. I do think this process was extraordinarily efficient. We managed to get through an entire relationship in less than 48 hours, and I'm already able to see the humour in it.

Pretty young women at a mall in pastel colours, all carrying pastel-coloured shopping bags. The ambiance is kinda like a breath mint commercial. Note: In the 1990s, plastic bags were still in common use.

Mr Phyxit: Velvet, it's so easy to talk to you. Most people are so judgmental.

Velvet: I tried out what you suggested, but I probably didn't do it right.

With much enthusiasm:

Mr Phyxit: What did you use?

Velvet: I used a plastic bag. But, to be honest I think I managed to reach orgasm in spite of it and not because of it. I think I can probably have an orgasm in almost any circumstances, if I really, really concentrate. I know the point is that it's supposed to intensify the experience, but it was just a normal orgasm.

Mr Phyxit: You should try it again. When I do it, it's so intense that I can cum without even touching myself.

Velvet: Is that with a bag, or mainly with hanging?

Mr Phyxit: Hanging. I've been taking more and more risks, and even have my hands fastened in such a way that I have to try to get out of it in time, like a magician. I could die, but if I die this way, I will die happy.

Velvet: I know we both accept the premise that a person's life and choices belong only to that person, and that in some circumstances suicide can be a valid option, but I am worried about you, and wonder if you want to talk about anything.

Mr Phyxit: I'm a disappointment to my family. I can never do anything right, but more than that, I don't really want to do what other people want me to do. I want to keep doing what I'm doing, and I want to die doing it. I have felt this way for a long time. I just want to have someone to do it with. If you'd come out here, I'd take you out on the boat to that island I told you about. There's a good support there, and we can hang side by side.

Velvet: I'd kind of want to make a final statement, add something on to my Manifesto, make it creative.

Mr Phyxit: Could you dye your hair blond again?

Velvet: You're one of the only people I know who actually likes me with blond hair.

Mr Phyxit: I think you're really cool. I hope you're not scared by the idea of being alone with me, with me being so much bigger than you.

Velvet: Ack! I am one of the most uncool people who ever existed. Would you know how to make sure the ropes would work with my weight, and that for both of us it would lead to death and not just erotic asphyxiation? I'm sorry if these are stupid questions.

Mr Phyxit: I weigh twice what you do, or more, but no, it wouldn't be a problem for me at all. I've been doing this for a long time, and I know a lot about it.

Velvet: So you'd pick me up at the airport, and then we'd just go out alone on the boat to the island together?

Mr Phyxit: Yes. It will be so cool, so perfect.

Velvet: I want to apologize if it seems I have led you on. I asked a lot of questions because I was extremely curious about all of this. I can't seem to help overcomplicating everything. You and I mainly chat in a very social kind of way, and I find it very easy to do, but I have this wish to connect on more levels.

Mr Phyxit: That's no problem. Any time you change your mind, I'm ready to go.

Can you send me the bag?

Insistent knocking and phone ringing. Velvet is pulled by the arm into a train compartment that looks like a teenage boy's bedroom which has been decorated with posters of naked women and a large supply of condoms. As for the latter, some are in big bowls, some are displayed in little arcs and scallops like decorations for a party, and some have been scattered like rose petals on the bed that has a race car bedspread. It is difficult to make out, because of the knocking and ringing, but we hear some kind of public service announcement, articulated in gentle, soothing tones:

Intimacy is about being emotionally close to your partner, about being able to let your guard down, and let him or her know how you really feel. Intimacy is also about being able to accept and share in your partner's feelings, about being there when he/she wants to let their defences down.

To be able to share our 'inner-world' with a partner we love, and to be able to share our partner's experiences, is one of the most rewarding aspects of a relationship.

Intimacy often doesn't need words, but being able to put feelings and experiences into words makes intimacy more likely to occur. Intimacy involves being able to share the whole range of feelings and experiences we have as human beings - pain and sadness, as well as happiness and love.

This message of love has been brought to you by

The knocking, ringing and reciting stop.

Velvet: Vlad, I meant what I said. I think it's time to break up again, and I'd prefer that you don't call or show up unannounced. Don't call me; I'll call you, that kind of thing.

Vlad the Impaler: Hun, if I left it up to you, you'd never call.

Velvet: Why is it so difficult for you to accept that Vlad and Attila were never meant to be a couple?

Vlad the Impaler: How can you be so calm about it? Did you ever love me at all??

Velvet: We've been through all this. Of course I did, and I still love you now. We're just a disaster as a couple. Your persistence wears me down, for some reason I can't resist, we have sex, fight, have sex again, fight again, until I inevitably call time out, but the pattern just looks insane. I always want things to reach some new level, I can sense that there might be more to 'love' than this, but we just go around in the same circles, over and over.

You've had a massive impact on my life. Most people are so polite and civilized, including me before I met you, that you probably couldn't cut through all the layers of social conditioning with a chainsaw. You're like a Super-Chainsaw. You're very effective. You are constantly pushing buttons, transgressing boundaries, trampling on the rules and regulations of Common Decency. You're the kind of guy who would find it amusing to meet the Dalai Lama just so you could fart in his presence. You made me think.

I know many people would be shocked by The Chart, but I saw it as evidence of how exceptional you were. I understand the need to keep that kind of thing under wraps, because most people would be seriously offended.. but the sheer number of conquests, and the variety of sexual acts.. truly astounding! And I know that you showed me because you wanted me to see the genius and daring in it, and I did. I knew you not only flirted with everyone, you were compelled to see how far you could follow through on the reactions you elicited. I had no illusions about this. I knew this was going on. You even came on to others when I was present. No one was off-limits, nothing was sacred. Best friends, sisters, mothers, grandmothers. Casually allowing your doctor to see your boner. I am not sure why, but it just seemed to make sense to me. It seemed to me that you were who you were, and rather than try to change it, I tried to appreciate it.

I'm just not sure we have anything more to impart to each other. We both need to extricate ourselves and move on to new adventures. I think I would like to know what it's like to be with someone who cares more about other people's feelings, including mine. I'd rather that you're honest than that you tell me what you think I want to hear, but my skin is not so thick that it's easy for me that you are always managing to find some way to criticize my looks and pretty much everything about me. I know your father taught you that that it was necessary to instill self-doubt in women in order that they never have the upper hand, and that it keeps them coming back for more. It's possible that in the future, if anyone compliments me, I'll always be wondering if they are just saying what they think I want to hear, or what they think they're supposed to say, when really their assessments are similar to yours. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I really don't think there's any way back to the blue pill. Your seduction moves stopped working; it's like over time I became desensitized.

Most women still seem to hope for a marriage proposal or declaration of commitment. You have helped me to see that there are many males who propose marriage, hoping the woman is going to say no, and that they even count on her to do so.

Vlad the Impaler: I don't think the thing with you and Gandhi is going to last, and when you were younger, I think you'd already have gotten bored. I don't think you'll get any startling revelations out of him.

Velvet: Factoring in my experiences with you, and a few others, it's like there's this perilous imbalance, kind of like a nutritional deficiency that needs to be addressed by superloading the missing nutrients. Or, it's like needing antivenom before I can recover and be on my way again. Or it's that I need to explore some other kind of cognitive dissonance.

I can't deny that you have influenced and even inspired me, or that through my experiences with you I learned what 'good sex' was, and how difficult it is to find. But I don't know if I can be sentimental about it, even if I know that I probably haven't been as intimate with any other person. I'm more complicated now, so becoming intimate with someone is more difficult. I don't fantasize about going back to that time, though. I always knew I needed something more, and somehow I haven't managed to totally kill the hope that something more does exist.

You don't have to worry that if you're ever famous I will sell your old love letters for cash. When I realized you were worried about that, I burnt them all. I haven't kept anything you ever gave me. The most important parts of what you gave and what we shared are what stay with me over time. At least that's the theory.

A Post-Apocalyptic McDonald's. Velvet and Gandhi have the place to themselves, but it seems to take them longer than it should to realize they don't have to stay in their own little corners.

Gandhi the Punk Rocker: I was given this number and told to call it. Do you know why? Is this some kind of practical joke?

Velvet: Basically, Vlad is super-annoyed by your passivity, and mine. He knows you haven't gotten laid or even been on a date in 4 years, and when I told him that I'd had a major crush on you during those few months when we were all hanging out in your loft, you know, in the days of The Chart, it looks like his reaction was to do something 'altruistic'. You know how he is.

Gandhi the Punk Rocker: Do you want to go out for a coffee?

Velvet: I don't drink coffee yet. Do you?

Gandhi the Punk Rocker: No, but I'm not used to asking anyone out and that was the first thing that came to mind.

Velvet: OK, let's do it.

Gandhi the Punk Rocker: How's Saturday night?

Velvet: That's four days from now. That's fine. I'll see you then.

Two days later...

Velvet: Hi Gandhi. I've been thinking. I don't really drink coffee. Do you like The Simpsons? Well, I could just get on a streetcar now and we could watch it together at your place.

Gandhi the Punk Rocker: Sounds good.

Velvet arrives.

Velvet: When we last saw each other, you were punk and I was just wishing I had a more extreme look and now I'm the one with dyed black hair.

Gandhi the Punk Rocker: You look cool. I had to change for the job at the bank. Plus, my mom was constantly hassling me, and was worried I was on drugs or something.

Velvet: I admit that I kind of wish it could be like when we met years ago. I wish you were unemployed, and we could just sit around listening to records. I have to warn you that I don't want to live very long. I'd be happiest if I could fall madly, passionately in love, maybe go on a trip, and then die with someone. That is what I really want, and it would make me happy. I think it's extremely unlikely I'll ever have a job or want a normal life, or stop wanting to die, until I'm dead. I know that's a lot to accept, and I don't expect you to accept it.

Gandhi the Punk Rocker: I know for sure that I want to be with you, until you die or I do.

Some years go by.

Velvet: I think our junk food and tv addictions are a bit like a suburban heroin thing, but you know, a lot less glamorous. And I know that in order to work in the bank you can't look like Sid, and I know that I've never been cool enough to pull off Nancy, or any other punk/goth/whatever look. And I know maybe it seems superficial, but when I was totally sexually obsessed with you, I think it was because you looked punk and were unemployed and lived only to buy records.

Gandhi the Punk Rocker: I love you, Sugarplum. You are so beautiful, and so incredibly intelligent. I can't imagine life without you. If you left me, I would just crawl under the covers, shrivel up and die.

Velvet: Gandhi, what do you want out of life?

Gandhi the Punk Rocker: I want someone to love, someone to watch tv with.

Velvet: I still can't help wanting the kind of life that could be on tv.

Surreal interruption/announcement/voiceover:

You are on tv. In an infinite universe, every person has their own tv show, and fans in some galaxy somewhere. No one in this galaxy seems to be aware that everyone in this galaxy has their own tv show. You have all the time in the worlds! You can choose to watch, or put yourself into the experience of living every single person's life. What an exciting and potentially educational way to live out one's infinite existence! Stay tuned for important updates regarding intergalactic piracy laws.

Velvet: Most of the time, it seems like I am going on and on about something, and while you never roll your eyes or yawn or seem impatient or bored or annoyed, and you keep telling me how smart I am, I admit that I wish you could participate more in discussion. We don't seem to argue about anything, having you here is probably similar to being on antianxiety medication, and maybe most people would think I'm ungrateful and negative for feeling there is something missing, but what I said when we first got together still holds. Love hasn't changed how I feel about living my life. I think if all it took was love, patience and time, then something would have changed by now. I know the right thing is to let you go.

I do admit that it has not been easy for me that you let me take the fall for you-know-what. I was always open with you about my philosophies and behaviour, so I didn't exactly behave hypocritically whereas you weren't able to let me know what was going on with you until a crisis achieved critical mass. And because of how it all 'looked', not how it actually 'was', everyone took your side - your family, my family, an entire social group - and I pretty much had no recourse but to flee the country.

Still, I do get that most people secretly want to leave it all behind and start again somewhere new, and so I get that it probably doesn't exactly seem to any of you that I was exiled. I do think I appreciate the opportunity I have been given, and I am trying to make the most of it. The way it all came down wasn't so much fun, but it does seem that it all worked out for the best.

Peace & Love.

Velvet is reading a dating profile that includes an elaborate mystical stream-of-consciousness type of ramble. She is really in the mood for this kind of thing! Alas, it doesn't take long for Velvet to decipher..

What I'm Looking For in a Significant Other:

1. Young
2. Skinny
3. Smart

Velvet checks what she wrote about herself in her own profile, then examines a personal message from the new prospect whose profile she read and looks puzzled. She goes back and rereads his profile, just to be sure.

Sapiosexual: When can we meld?

Velvet: When I am young and small.

Sapiosexual: You're wicked smart, I can tell. The rest doesn't matter, as I consider myself to be a sapiosexual. A sapiosexual orientation is one that means you're attracted to intelligence over everything else.

Velvet: One out of three ain't bad?

Sapiosexual: What?

Velvet: 70s humour.

A high school science lab. Teenage girls sit at a lab table; Velvet is the least hot of the three. There are two boys at the table behind them. One of the boys notices that the three girls seem to be squeamish about dissecting a worm, and so when the teacher is not looking, he gallantly and deftly gets the job done for them. The bell rings, and students begin to leave the room.

Velvet: You shouldn't have had to do that, but thank you.

Shyly and awkwardly:

Alchemist: No problem.

Velvet: Would you mind taking your glasses off?

Alchemist: Fumbles, takes them off.

Looks at him intently. Then, matter-of-factly:

Velvet: You're very good-looking.

The Alchemist blushes.

Alchemist: What are you thinking about?

Velvet looks him over from head to toe, in a rather suggestive manner.

Velvet: Subatomic particles.

Alchemist: Will you go with me?

Velvet laughs and is immediately horrified by this reaction on her part. She recalls a scene from when she was younger when her stepbrother asked her to go with him, and she replied, 'Go with you where?', and while at first it was all quite innocent, as she had never heard that phrase before, it became a kind of 'Who's on first?' situation, in which she deliberately provoked him and avoided his question. Come to think of it she now feels pretty bad about behaving like an asshole to her stepbrother too, and this adds to the tension of the present situation. In Velvet's defense I would like to say that she was never actually fond of 'going with' anyone, and probably only managed that once or twice in her life, and in one case, the guy was extremely persistent and asked her like a 100 times or so, approaching it from different angles, until he finally wore her down, but even then, he first asked her out on a date before focusing on commitment. Also in Velvet's defense: at school dances, she danced with everyone who asked her, including non-athletic types with BMIs well over 30, and yes this does include slow dances.

When she went home that night, she cried for an hour. Her verbal and social skills were not sufficiently advanced that she could take on the task of rectifying the situation the next day.

Velvet: No.

Many years later, long after Velvet has moved away.

Alchemist: Why did you say no?

Velvet: I didn't know yet that you were my type. You probably noticed that I seemed to be attracted to those who actually looked a lot like you, but unlike you weren't impressed by my academic achievements.

After I moved away, I became obsessed with you. I've probably had more sexual fantasies about you than any other person, ever. That was probably because I hadn't fulfilled the 'potential' that had originally attracted you, and I sensed that you would no longer look at me with admiration.

I'm not sure this pattern is as self-defeating as it might appear at first glance. I needed to challenge all of the default settings.

Nowadays, if I received a Valentine signed 'anonymous', I'd be likely to read a lot more into it.

Velvet looks out the window and sees a framed painting that reminds her of a scene from L'Age D'Or - the one where the cow is in bed. A glass of liquid appears on a train table. It looks like milk and honey. There is a little handwritten note which reads:

Drink This, and Think.

Velvet addresses the empty car: Is this soy milk?

She receives no reply, but drinks the contents of the glass. Within moments she begins to experience hallucinations. She follows a trail of an iridescent milklike fluid that also resembles semen to a plain door on which is written:

Help Me!

She enters the compartment and discovers that it is decorated in red and black colours and has an intense and sexy ambiance. The car is divided by a glass partition, and the glass isn't completely transparent. She can see a man in a black dressing gown, but it is difficult to make him out. She reads the profile that has been placed on one of the seats. Did he write it? Maybe when he speaks there will be some surreal effect, like his image 'rippling', or the mouth seeming to move at a different speed from the speech, but with nothing quite in focus. There are no train seats on his side. He appears to be trapped in a red and black cell. There is a black desk, and on the desk there is a smart phone. Velvet sees that on her side, a smart phone has been made available for her use.

Velvet texts: I am completely fascinated and captivated by you. You are so mysterious. I looked through the entire inventory of the intergalactic relating agency in this galaxy, and to me, you stood out. I could not take my eyes off of you. I could see clearly we were looking for different things, and yet, I still could not control the compulsion to contact you. I see that you are in a much more optimistic state than I am, but I can't deny the feeling of attraction. I find the way you write about sex, lovemaking and surrealism unusually compelling, and I can't get it out of my head. I wish that if anyone had ever felt this for me that they would have expressed it, and that is why I am expressing it to you. I hope at least you might feel flattered.

Fox: I feel overwhelmed.

Velvet: That is perfectly understandable. I have done this so many times that by now I should be smart enough to approach it differently.

(After a two month silence.)

Fox: I awoke today with the most powerful erection. I feel instinctually that you understand.

Velvet: This is the most exciting message I have ever received. I can't tell you how I have longed for such a moment. But I must confess that because I believed you were not interested, I pursued 55 other leads. And currently I think I am emotionally entangled with someone, and so while I can't deny that your message excites me intensely, it results in major confusion for me. I need some time to think.

Fox: (Two month silence.)

Velvet: I want to offer an explanation, maybe for myself more than for you. It's going to be long, and mostly about the days, hours, minutes, seconds, that I have spent fantasizing about what it would be like to make love with you.

Fox: I am so fucking enraged! I compiled a response at least as long as yours, but my fucking phone lost it! Can we IM?

Velvet: I'm scared, but yes, we can IM. Hi.

Fox: Hi Velvet. I need to pee and then I'm going to take a shower.

Velvet: OK, I'll wait.

15 minutes later

Fox: Velvet, I am out of the shower now, and I feel great. I want you to suck my cock.

Velvet: I'm not quite ready for that, although I do realize that considering what I wrote it might make sense that you'd think I'd be immediately ready for any and all sexual acts. I think the issue is that I 'needed' a considered response in text, or that I needed you to verbally address at least a little of what I wrote. I know that you lost your response to me, and I am trying to read your mind, but I feel like I need the words. I apologize if I have given you the wrong impression. I tried not to do that.

Fox: Please, please, Velvet, suck my cock. I need it so desperately.

Velvet: I really like you and find you intriguing, but I needed more of a response to that long passionate declaration I sent. I think I need a little more 'romance' or psychological intrigue mixed in with the sex. Maybe you would have liked me when I was younger. I was less analytical then, and tried to just go with things, and maybe I was better able to accept that all love and all sex are part of one energy, that we are all connected. I'm in a different phase now and I don't know how to snap out of it.

(Another two months.)

Fox: I crave love and acceptance. I need and require nurturing and affection, closeness and intimacy daily. And it hurts so bad that I am not getting what is fundamental, essential. What I really feel I need is an Adult Nursing Relationship.

Velvet: I looked it up online, and I'm surprised I hadn't heard more about it before. To me it seems like something that might gain a much wider acceptance in the future. There are some taboos, but it seems like a very strong emotional and chemical bond is formed between the participants. How long will it be before people realize that breast milk could very well be the next 'super food' with amazing health benefits for adults as well as children? I was surprised to read that without implants, a woman in this type of relationship can go up one or two cup sizes, and that even women past menopause can produce milk if regular suckling occurs for a long enough duration each day, at regular times.

I think you realize that for a 'successful' breastfeeding relationship to occur, we would have to spend many weeks together, and that once the process is started, I could experience reactions that could result in much discomfort for me if you are not there to provide relief. I know there are different levels/stages to achieve, but to have an ongoing breastfeeding relationship, a very great commitment is required from both parties.

Realistically, when it comes to how much time I need to spend on my own, and how difficult it is for me to adhere to any kind of strict schedule, I am not sure that it would ever make sense for me to attempt this kind of relationship. I am curious about it in a scientific sense, as it is quite extraordinary that if a schedule is adhered to, if certain actions are performed regularly, the female body responds by producing milk over time. I don't know if my curiosity goes much beyond that.

I haven't experienced any kind of sex, stimulation, touching, in some time, but do I really want to go this far, to get some nipple stimulation? I mean, is that how my sex- starved brain will process it? Would it be an equal relationship? Would I mainly be pleased at first at being able to provide you with what you wanted, or would I respond emotionally, and psychologically? Is this something that would address my issues, or would the source of my pleasure be mainly in pleasing you?

Part of what a mother experiences is the emotional bond she forms with her child, and also a sense of nourishing her child, but another important part is that over time, she observes her child's development, and perhaps can experience a sense of pride or personal pleasure in what she has contributed. In an adult breastfeeding relationship, it would seem that both parties would try to maintain a certain phase, prolong it, indefinitely, with no further development or personal evolution. I am not sure that this is a psychosexual headspace I could inhabit for long, although I realize that I can't know for sure if I haven't tried.

I suppose you are wondering if I might be more likely to be open to this because I have never had children and this might satisfy a primal urge, as well as provide us both with the intimacy and closeness we crave. I don't have any conscious regrets in not having children, and I think it is possible that I have sublimated the maternal instinct into caring for wildlife. I think that I want a more equal relationship, not one in which I will have to be a parent in perpetuity, but I am honestly trying to think about what you have proposed.

I also realize that you have a wide range of other needs, which includes but is not limited to vaginal and anal intercourse, penetration with a strap-on, oral-genital stimulation, oral-anal stimulation, a variety of activites with sex toys, and watersports.

You seem very adventurous and open, and I admit that I kind of like the idea of a 'sex holiday', in which I try out as much as possible, but I can't say I know for sure I would be comfortable enough to go this far with you. What makes sense to me is that we either agree to meet with no expectations, and try to see it as a kind of adventure, something we both need, and not even expecting that the meeting would have sexual results, or, we perhaps try to let each other go, let each other be free to find something closer to what we are looking for. I realize I could set either option in motion, and yet I seem paralyzed, unable to make a decision.

Fox: Would you feel comfortable making love with me?

Velvet: Right now? I don't think so, but I don't think I would be comfortable with anyone immediately.

I wasn't expecting the question and I will admit that I did get a rush reading it.

Fox: How in the world do I break from a woman who affects me so, as you do? How do I break and move on from a woman that I feel so much for, who is so uniquely attractive and stimulating. How in the world am I to find another woman like you? There is no other woman like you!

You literally make my mind cum.

I find you so incredibly exciting. You are the most exciting and interesting woman that I have ever known. And you literally blow my mind.

I believe as a woman, you may be turned off by a man like me who expresses so much want and need for you.

Velvet: It is really a surreal experience to be confronted with a statement like this and it has caused me to question everything.

I am so often fantasizing about exactly what you have written above, so it seems extremely bizarre that I would not recognize it if it actually occurred.

In theory, I want more than anything to be wanted, I want to be the object of obsession, not just the obsessed one.

I know it's not fair to you, but although I think you are sincere and mean what you say, I have trouble really believing it in such a way that I can feel it.

Fox: Hold on a second, I'm having a problem with my phone.

Velvet: Do you have anything else you can use?

Fox: My mom's computer.

Velvet: If someone came to visit you, do you think you would feel uncomfortable if your mom was home?

Fox: As you know, I'm in my 50s, and my mom is getting on in years. I let her come live with me so that I could help her. We could go into my room and close the door. I keep the door to my room shut most of the time anyway, to keep her cat out.

Velvet: How easy is it to borrow your mother's car on short notice?

Fox: Can we talk by phone? If not, I will continue to send you messages through IM.

Velvet: Is your phone working again?

Fox: I can use my mom's.

Once that is sorted..

Every time that I think of you I will want and need to 'cum.'

And it is literally painful and yet so beautiful at the same time.

Where did you come from?

Where are we going?

Where are you taking me?

I am frightened. I am elated.

I am deeply troubled. I want to cry.

I want you to hold me. I want you to let me go.

I want your love. I want your milk.

I want to lay with you. I want to nurse you.

I want to nurse from you.

I want to taste your sweet warm milk in my mouth, but I know that I cannot.

I want the bond with you that I know and realize that I cannot have.

Why do I feel the need to say and tell you so much?

Why do I feel so guilty and so ashamed to tell you things that I know to be beautiful and so truthful?

Is it because I know we cannot share these things? I think so.

I wish to be your lover. I want to be inside of you. You are inside of me. You feel so good and you feel so painful.

And I don't know which one is worse.

Messages sent while you were out:

Fox: I read the message you sent about the dream you had. Two 'locks.' The locks to both your heart and mind? As for the 'keys' to which these 'locks' belong; I think that you had lost them a long time ago. But you had not counted on someone who could 'pick' these 'locks' and open them.

I may have indeed projected my wish onto you because you're such a unique and beautiful person who is so kind and so gentle. So caring and compassionate and so very desirable. You're like the sweetest fruit that is oh so juicy and tastes so incredibly delicious in my mouth.

You are so incredibly sweet. I have such an unquenchable thirst for you. My passion and desire for you is so strong and so very hard to break. I have a love for you that exists so far beyond body and mind. I have a very deep love and passion for your warm beautiful soul.

And I find you so passionately erotic and stimulating.

There is so much that I love about you, and it will take some time to break from you. It may even take an eternity.

Every time you pop into my mind, you give me such an incredibly strong erection both emotionally and sexually.

You send these powerfully emotional and sexually stimulating charges through me when I think of you, and my penis will just begin to grow so hard and so fast. And I will just lay here and fantasize about about you so deeply. You blow my mind like an ever powerful orgasm.

It is literally mind blowing. Euphorically.

And then this still will come over me, and I am lost. Lost to whatever emotions and thought that had taken me to this unearthly plain. And everything is so quiet. I have 'cum.'

And it takes me awhile to come down.

It is like being reborn again in a way I have never felt before. Still me, still suffering all that I suffer, but reborn again in some different way. A way in which I cannot describe.

Beautiful, yet painful.

Why did you come to me?

Velvet: In the overall sense, I feel scared, because I do not feel I am emotionally connecting. I am not sure I can believe the compliments are on the level, because they're so extreme, even though I like things that are extreme and unreasonable and I find it pleasing and fun to read your messages. I admit I'm wondering if it's like in the fable about the fox and the crow, where the fox flatters the crow by telling her he wants to hear her sing because she has such a lovely voice. I am sorry that I am so distrustful. Usually, I can only absorb enough about a person's communication and behaviour patterns over time such that in time I can begin to trust that person and our ability to resolve trust and communication issues together.

I find it extremely difficult to admit this, but I am not sure how anything you have said applies to me specifically. It seems to me that it would work equally well for any woman who fancies herself 'intelligent'.

When I sent the link to my Manifesto, I realized it was a lot to inflict on you. I didn't expect you to be able to look over the whole thing, but I admit it's kind of puzzling that you haven't been able to respond to any part of it in a specific way. It hurts my feelings, or confuses me, and leads me to the conclusion that you would prefer to ignore the parts of me that are represented there. As a result, I don't really trust that you would hear me if I opened up further.

Fox: Let's really talk. Let's discuss you. Let me in. Open up fully to me. Allow me to enter. Let me know you. Deeply. Lay yourself bare to me. Let us have those discussions with a completely open mind to what is important for you to have a connection with someone. Your connection. Your needs. Allow yourself to be open and vulnerable to me. I will not hurt you. I want to discuss all of you. All of your fears. All of the critical thinking and questioning that has molded you. I love you. And I care for you. I truly want to get inside you. Show me all that is in there, and discuss the psychological and philosophical matrix of your being. Of your passions. Your disillusions of life. Your existential growth as a person, and your presence in this world.

Velvet: Some time ago, you asked me what was wrong with me that I didn't want a healthy long-term relationship, and you dismissed what I wish for as a 'suicide pact'. Were you judging me? My take was that you perhaps had not ever thought about or challenged certain basic premises. Is a long life really the best thing for every person? Is a relationship's value or 'health' determined by how long it lasts? Is the current model of a 'healthy' relationship really suitable for the vast majority of human beings? And if not, what possible range of alternatives could there be?

Is love an uncontrollable emotion that causes people to care for people whose values and beliefs turn them off?

Can love in part be about being drawn to those whose beliefs and values you admire, respect, love?

Can love be expressed through expressing one's values and beliefs to the fullest extent of one's ability through a relationship with someone who shares them?

If quality of life is not acceptable, do humans have the right to choose death rather than tough it out until the bitter end?

What if after thinking it through, you actually come to the conclusion that it can be a 'positive' and 'brave' thing to refuse to be part of a society you don't accept?

I understand that to help anyone reach the hard-to-reach places, I have to be open about how to do it, but I also have to accept that most people will either find it tedious, or irritating, or, that they will never really think I'm saying anything when I attempt to communicate sincerely and comprehensively. I do not repress this information.

When it comes to what I have expressed to you, my impression is that you think of me as being understandably misguided in what I want and in my assessments of my life. In other words, I am not rational about it, but it is understandable, considering my circumstances, and you sympathize.

However, I think what I want raises valid philosophical questions.

Fox: I more than understand the many aspects that are involved, and the fundamental correlation that is needed to gel in order to produce the right chemistry between two people. I honestly believe that there is a lot of chemistry between us. Otherwise, why do we find it hard for ourselves to break from one another and move on? The answer: We find each other intriguing, magnetically attracted, interestingly uniquely different from anyone else that we have encountered, and find so appealing. That is my take concerning our position that exists here. I feel that it was truly remarkable and positively fateful. We found each other. We were meant to be found. Otherwise..... What else is there?

Velvet: I agree there is something unusual here.

It is possible that at a very deep level, I do not believe that I have a right to happiness, love or life. If that is the case, I am not sure how to get in there and challenge these beliefs. I think I have approached things from many angles, and I think I understand many of the harsh realities of the world we live in, and that not all people find happiness or love, and throughout history, many, many people have lived unhappy or loveless lives, died too soon, or died in some horribly tragic way. I think I understand that you can't let the unfairness of it all cause you to punish yourself or abstain from what pleasure there might be in life.

Fox: I'm sorry, I was wrong. The truth is, I could never for the life of me, do that. I would never be able to be there to watch you die. Oh, no. Never. I could never go along with that. The very thought sickens me. I am so broken up inside to even think that I could do that.

I live to love you.

Velvet: I understand, and would not ask you to watch or support my choice.

Fox: I do not doubt that you have continued with this search all through our interactions.

Velvet: I cancelled my Agency account a while back. In my original profile I had written something like 'I realize I'm probably incompatible with every person in the known galaxies, but I don't really know for sure.' I haven't been consciously searching.

Do you know the story of Orpheus and Eurydice? In the myth, Orpheus cannot accept Eurydice's death, and so goes into the Underworld to bring her back to life. He almost manages to pull this off, but perhaps you know how it ends.

Plato argued that because Orpheus was not willing to die for love, he did not really love Eurydice.

Eurydice did not choose to die, but their tragic romance brings up various philosophical questions.

Fox: You cannot commit to me. How can you? You feel no need or desire to. I feel that I have become devalued in your view. I turned out not to be what you had originally thought to be a potential. Now I am not useful to you. Nothing that would be fulfilling. Stimulating for you. I am incompatible because I do not share in your interests. Your ultimate goal. I love you so dearly, and I so wish beyond words that you felt the same.

Velvet: I cannot commit to you or any person who wishes to live because I am not committed to living my life. I was undeniably attracted and drawn to you, but I knew very early on that we did not want the same things. I tried to let go, so that we both would have a better chance of finding compatible matches. As I have come to know you, I am still fascinated by you and find you very warm, intelligent, sensitive and sensual. I hope that you can forgive me for finding it difficult to completely walk away. You kept communicating in ways that drew me back in.

Fox: There is nothing else that I can say or do? It seems to me that the compatibility issue between us lied only with your wanting a connecting with someone with whom ultimately shares your ideals concerning a mutual death event. It sounds like you don't want to even try with me because you feel there is really nothing there with me for you to hold to. I am deeply saddened. I am trying and wanting so much to have mutual affectionate and loving, deep psychological connection with you because I love you so deeply and need you so much. But you obviously do not feel the same in those regards. You just don't see me as someone that you would be interested in, in having any kind of romantic meaningful attachment with. It seems now that you don't even want to engage in deep and stimulating conversations with me. It seems to me that it is all lost to you now.

And at some point it will never come again. It will never be. It will all be erased by death.

Death is something that will ultimately come to all of us. No matter in what instances or time and or place or at what age. When it comes, all things become equal. And all of the things that were, become academic. Whether you were incredibly intelligent or not so, or somewhere in between. Whether your life was healthy and fulfilling, or whether it was tragic and miserable, or whether you were attractive or not so. Whether you were happy with yourself, or were not. Every aspect of one's life, whether positive or negative becomes academic. We all reach the same place; and at the same point where there no longer exists time, place or awareness or consciousness. Of being. Existential. Death will come. There is no need to hurry it. To be preoccupied with it. What you feel that you will get from it is just a very short and meaningless ultimate experience. There is no continuation or follow through. Why hurry it? I feel that I do not want to exist in this life every fucking day, but I understand and am aware that it will come eventually. No matter the time. What you want to get from it; what you want to feel from it, is something that does not carry. There is only nothing beyond it. There is nothing that you will find there. There is only now. Live this. Not that. For there is no 'that' that extends beyond what you feel is important to you. Let me be important to you; let us be important. Let us experience each other for as long as there is time. Because it will carry over while in life. It will continue to carry over. And at some point it will never come again. It will never be. It will all be erased by death.

Velvet: It is possible that even if some of us never have children, we have throughout our lives infected others with some of our memes, so in a sense we are unconsciously having effects on the world even after our deaths, through potentially many different kinds of exchanges and interactions. The original memes might mutate, evolve, but perhaps some character of the original remains. Whether through genes or memes, we are all part of evolution?

Aside from that, I think I understand very well the finality of death, and for me the idea of it is comforting.

If life is not fulfilling, why not make a choice yourself, why not choose the time of ending, and the circumstances? What does time mean? Why is it important whether a human lives a day or 90 years? In the history of the universe, and even humankind, what is that amount of time? Time matters if quality of life is satisfactory or unsatisfactory. If every day is misery, and it is reasonable to conclude the misery will continue, it makes sense to choose to end that misery, if you have the capability. There is no punishment for doing so.. just an earlier release from pointless misery. If it is possible to find comfort, if it is possible to find a reason to stay, if others have reasons to live or their misery is not so bad that it is important to them to make a choice to escape it, I respect and support their choice to remain alive and await their future. But how many people suffer for countless years, become demented, or blind, or incontinent and have to rely on others to change their diapers? Not all deaths are equal in dignity. I would be horrified to have those conditions added on to the misery I have already endured. For me, it is better to get out before it gets worse. There is no logical reason to suspect it won't get worse, considering my own personal patterns. It can be meaningful to make the ultimate choice. To know oneself, to respect oneself, to value one's own experience and assessments, and to bravely make a choice to have the best death possible. Death is an inevitable part of life, and there can be personal meaning in how we approach it, how we face it, what decisions we make. For me, this is not about a temporary whim, and the 48 years it took for me to become who I am are not negligible or 'temporary'. Everything I bring to any relationship is based on all my experience, and I think that genuinely connecting with someone, from a place of shared emotions, hopes and ideals, even for one moment, is more important than the possibility of a long life with someone I can never genuinely connect with.

I've never enjoyed ongoing daily life, and it is difficult for me to imagine that having a companion would change that. I've never been in any relationship I wanted to last.

While I am still communicating with someone, there is still the possibility of connection, understanding, and friendship, but in practice it often turns out that we are trying to clarify fundamental incompatibilities, and once we have done that, for some reason it doesn't seem to make sense for us to stay in contact.

Fox: Thank you for making me feel like shit for opening up and trusting you to the extent I felt I could tell you anything. Thank you for making me feel like shit for wanting to eat my sister's pussy!

Velvet: My intent was not to judge or attack you, but to open discussion. I would like the chance to examine things more fully, I would like the chance to understand you and myself more fully, I would like the chance to understand human nature more fully, I would like the chance to change, evolve, perceive whatever it is that I can't yet perceive or understand.

Caring for a person does not mean that I will never challenge any of their behaviours, ideas or motivations, and in fact I think it demonstrates caring to speak up and try to understand more fully.

Part of the problem may have been a communication problem. When you described the situation, although in your head all of the relevant details might have been fully present, when you relayed the situation to me, you did not express anything about your sister as a person, her individuality, her personality. You focused only on her body and your sexual needs, such that she came across as only an object to be utilitized. I could factor in the way you have discussed everything else, and project that of course you saw her as a person, and that you were tender and understanding with her, but that did not actually come across in what you had communicated, and so I began to ask questions.

I know about the history of abuse in your family. You have described these experiences as horrific, and it is evident to me that your scars are extensive.

In your profile, you stated that you love children and that with the 'right woman' you would like to have children. Do you think it is important to try to process and discuss your past experiences more fully?

I guess I'm wondering that if you don't, maybe you could pass some of the unresolved or undiscussed issues on to any children you might have. When your own children reach a certain age, would you think it was OK to ask them to have sex with you? I guess I'm not totally clear about where you stand regarding 'abuse' vs 'acceptable incest'. Would the age of consent be variable, and if so, in what ways? Would consent imply a lifelong non-disclosure agreement? And if your child seemed to be experiencing difficulties handling the aftermath, what would you do? Is there anyone you could consult?

I'm an analytical person. I don't apologize for that. However, in this case I don't think I was overly analytical. When it comes to a topic like incest, I think it's important to think carefully about it. Whether society's ideas and ideals are hypocritical, unrealistic, or unfair is definitely a topic worthy of discussion, but there are many other aspects to it, and I do not trust that those unwilling to discuss and analyze would necessarily be able to handle incest with no repercussions, even if in their own minds it's something others are hypocritical and backward about. Your experiences made me realize that I'm not sure what my stand is. Our discussion made me think.

You were 18, your sister was 14, and I know you didn't force her, you asked her to consider whether she would have sex with you. She considered it, and decided she didn't think she could handle the possible psychological ramifications, specifically when it came to what people would think if they found out. You and I both come from households in which there were blurred boundaries of various kinds, and I know there was unrelenting abuse in your home, and it makes sense to me that you and your sister might try to comfort each other.

Fox: I'm sorry. I overreacted. It's not really an issue any more. I don't really think about it all that much. A year ago, my sister and I were in our mom's car drinking beer, and I had the feeling she wanted me to kiss her, but the moment passed and maybe we both decided we didn't really want to, even though she did have a hysterectomy a few years ago.

Velvet: I don't want unconditional acceptance, and I don't accept anyone unconditionally. I want to understand what it is that I am accepting, and sometimes I need to ask questions in order to clarify what it is that I am offering acceptance regarding.

I do not want you to feel dirty and ashamed. Talking about things openly is not shameful. However, the purpose of talking is not to make it possible to blindly accept everything - it is sometimes essential to examine old ideas from new perspectives, and make changes when it seems right to do so.

Or.. to learn how to more clearly articulate a personal stand against the majority or society.

Does one controversial and unresolved discussion negate all our previous conversation? It doesn't for me.

I admit I am disappointed you have chosen not to engage further in this discussion, although I do appreciate your apology for overreacting initially.

I need some time on my own to process things. It is a strange thing, trying to understand what open-mindedness is, and what rationality is, and to try to examine the subtleties. It's like I have some ingrained need to get right to the boundaries of both.

Fox: You have gone back into isolation, and I am missing you terribly. It so fucking hurts! I am going to stimulate my ass now with my toy. I feel so lonely. I wish I could tell you about it. I am so fucking depraved! I want you to love me! I need you to love me! I am thinking of you in my depraved state. Oh, fucking hell.... My trouble with trying to convey what is in my head into the written word without it sounding like illogical tripe.

I am a person of transcendental growth. Growth that is far beyond societal beliefs and opinions of which are held as grounded and accepted norms.

My tongue is so alive and so sensual when interacting with a woman's body. Touching a woman in the most sensual and loving and affectionate ways with my heart, my hands and my mouth and tongue is so very euphorically electrifying. I love licking, kissing and sucking everything I possibly can on a woman. As well as through touch. That for me is the definition of euphoria. That is something that I would love for you to see - watching me experiencing euphoria; as you would create and bring that out of me for you to witness. I really need to masturbate before I lie down. I am very in need of some sexual pleasure.

A few months later..

Velvet: I do not know where things will go from here. It seems that it will depend on how well we can resolve the misunderstandings and/or lack of enough information here and come to a compromise regarding our different needs.

Fox: I can relate to most of what you are saying. By the age of twelve, I was already suffering with severe depression, acute anxiety, BDD issues, no self worth or self-esteem, feeling completely disconnected from everyone and everything. I have many interests, but have no ambition and I get no pleasure from them. And I feel completely inadequate and completely worthless to even try.

I just think that you are so unique. You challenge me so deeply on so many levels. I am so drawn to you with no illusions.

You may not be aware of this, but you make love to my mind with your intellectual, philosophical and analytical and questioning mind.

I do understand, sweety, what you are conveying that being deprived of any opportunity of having an intense, in depth discussion is for you like being told that we can do a few things, but that your favorite positions are off limits. I was so deeply moved and very saddened by this. I am so sorry, baby. I must have felt so one-sided to you. To feel so neglected of what is so important and stimulating for you to have must have been so frustrating for you, and left you feeling so locked out. I am so sorry honey.

Velvet: I don't know, does this help you to understand any better?

Fox: My answer is yes, honey, it does, baby.

Velvet: You mentioned how you were able to please women and basically get into all their nooks and crannies and that you know because of their reactions that you must be talented. Based on everything I have picked up about you so far, I don't doubt that at all.

I know I should have ended things sooner, especially when you clearly expressed to me that our communication was messing with your head. I hope you can forgive me. Rereading your profile now, and factoring in where our communication has gone over the months we have been in and out of contact, I still see what it is that I originally saw in you. I was too intrigued to just walk away. I had to know more about you.

Throughout my life I have experienced excruciating desire, obsessive sexual desire, which has never found any satisfying outlet for release. You are one of those I became obsessed with.

Fox: It is critically important for you to fully open yourself to me. Otherwise how can there be any growth? You cannot keep closing off yourself and shutting the door because you are under the opinion and given the wrong impression that one might find it tedious, irritating or lost to your way of feeling. You need to really communicate yourself to me. Allow me to peer inside of you. You cannot expect me to know your psychology if you keep yourself guarded. Sure you have sent out feelers, but they only seem to your ultimately expressing your desires and your preoccupations and obsessions with death.

Velvet: I looked up adult breastfeeding relationships of my own accord, and I could understand the potential physiological and psychological benefits of such relationships. According to what I had so far absorbed about you, it seemed to me that you were aware of your own needs and what could potentially help you. It seemed like a relevant alternative choice.

Is there no way I could be 'right' about what 'treatment' or what type of relationship would be best for me? One of the implications of really thinking about the philosophical questions posed would include a person's willingness to admit that death is one valid option, and to be willing to discuss that, or at least interested enough in me to ask questions. You may never accept my choice, but a willingness to discuss it would seem to indicate that you do understand the philosophical validity of my stance. In your profile, you expressed that you were interested in discussing subjects of a deeply philosophical nature. Does this not qualify? When I open up to you, you seem to disregard what I have communicated as if I haven't said anything at all.

I think if we are honest with ourselves, we can both see that this is not going to work out.

I do not blame you for deciding that it would be harmful to have further contact with me. I can't fill your needs. I respect the way you have handled it.

It does seem the best thing to do is to give you what you asked for: that I not contact you again.

In a patisserie, a cockroach crawls over a mille-feuille.

L'Étranger: I most enjoy the weird people. To answer your question: I used to disappear but with time, it is changing. I think I disappear if I think people can't accept me when I'm not fine. So in fact I disappeared a lot in the past and of course it made me lose people, but I wanted to lose them, because they were just not good enough for me, as I could not say 'I have some problems', I could not be me with them. So now that I have LESS normal people in my life, I am more able to be myself (even if it is a long way!) and I can say 'yeah I have some problems' I don't feel that need of disappearing. This is really it, if I could feel surrounded by beautiful people, I don't think I would disappear. Big topic haha!

You said 'I am often afraid to go very far with people in getting to know them, in case a disappearance would be hard for them.'

Short story: I became close with an Agency girl a few weeks before writing you the first message. And there was such a deep feeling which was starting to grow that she chose to disappear. It was hard for me, I never knew such a person. But you know, I don't want to protect me of such a pain, or it would also protect me from happiness. And what is important is that I think if you can have a satisfying number of beautiful people in your life, let's sayyyy...30? 50? I think you can easily support their disappearance, as they won't disappear all at the same time (there should be some shift, like" hey, please guys disappear one after another.")

So I would say for my part there is no problem with disappearance, if it's not a definitive disappearance!

Velvet: I'm weird, but maybe not in the right ways, or ways you can relate to.

I enjoyed the enthusiasm you expressed, and I think you said a lot.

It has taken me so long to reply because I have again turned into Kafka's cockroach and can't speak French or English or anything other than Cockroach.

L'Étranger: About hunting, I can tell you I fucked a 50 years old woman this morning, with her husband looking at it, in their eerrr... truck (it doesn't happen very often, but I do this kind of thing sometimes, and I'm not very proud of it, partly because I live with my ex and I don't want to have sexual illness and to give it to her if sometime we make love etc..and I lie to her and this kind of thing...)

Velvet: Somehow I think there's a reason you are telling me this. I have various theories about women, aging, attraction, marriage, porn and the internet, and wouldn't mind getting your input on relationships and relating, and how all of these factors influence these. I don't have traditional relationships or ways of interpreting feelings. I don't want to get married, and I don't want to force monogamy on anyone, and I don't want anyone to feel locked into having to reassure me of my attractiveness or our love if they don't actually feel it. Do you mind if I ask what it was like to fuck the 50 year old woman, and if in your mind you compare it to fucking young women?

I think I need to ask you, what it was like, the reality of her body, face, essence. Did she seem less alive than younger women?

L'Étranger: You're very realistic, and honest in your way to look at life. You are courageous, to not remain in illusion. People always prefer illusion, because it is just...easier. If I had to go to war, I would choose you in my "team".

I hope my answer won't be too far away from the question; What on earth could be more beautiful than an 18 years old girl body? As you know, time is influencing bodies, it's just natural, and even 28 women bodies are already often less beautiful than 10 years before. It's just, nature.

For someone like me, the 18 years old body is even too beautiful (like too much), if I have sex with a beautiful girl, with smooth skin, smooth hair, nice boobs.. it just makes me want to not come back in real life again, I just want to make the moment last forever. So: it's not good, we always have to go back to reality.

So of course I would say young girls are more beautiful, but that doesn't mean it's better (at least for me).

This is the first thing. Then, second thing: young women often don't know how to behave with a man (in sex and in life).

They have no experience, they are shy...They just don't know what are men, what they need. Men are so easy to understand, they are all the same. But most of young girls just don't know it. For those reasons, I often think that young people could or maybe should be with older people.

Velvet: I appreciate your willingness to be open about this. Thank you.

I think that when men of any age have contact with an older woman, partly what they want is for her to be direct and say what she wants, but they are also in a sense saying: 'you have a few seconds to impress me/service me or I'm gonna check out someone else,' whereas when it comes to a younger woman, they will wait longer to see if she will respond. So in a sense, an older woman in this situation must become a kind of Scheherazade, who must tell a fascinating sex fantasy every night, or she will lose her life, her sexuality. So it becomes about what men want. Yes, of course women have sexual desires, but if a woman understands that she must use those desires in a way that men can understand, that she must translate them, often this is at the expense of some of the psychological aspects that she would really like to be present. It can give anyone a great deal of pleasure to turn someone on, and to feel competent at this, but at the same time, sometimes a distance is created.

Women are taught to work on themselves, and when they have done that well enough, they will draw a 'healthy' love to them, but aside from that, perhaps most women believe deep down that they have some essence or spirit that would always be visible to a True Love or Soul Mate. What if this isn't really true?

The internet is like a big candy store for men, with more and more beautiful images all the time. Standards of beauty are increasing. If women are affected such that more and more are dissatisfied with their appearance, how are men affected? Are they now more likely to have a mistaken idea about what is average or healthy? How do the images cause them to see the women in their lives? Does it make sense that only women would be affected? Maybe for men it seems like there's no end to the supply of beautiful young girls, and so why should they bother to settle for someone with too many 'flaws'? When you go into a store, do you first select damaged or rotting fruit, or foods with packaging that appears to be tampered with if you don't have to?

I have often heard men in their 20s speak of settling down at a certain age, and starting families, as if they believe there is a set time for this, and suddenly at that time they will be ready to give up 18 year old girls for life, as if something will kick in, but in practice I think what is most likely to happen is that if they go with the flow of what they're supposed to do, suddenly they'll discover they're 40, and completely obsessed with 18 year olds, but locked in a 'reassuring' dialogue with their wives about how attractive they still find them. There is a split in how men learn to communicate: one official stance, appropriate in most social contexts, and another for private.

Many men at the Agency experience an intensity of loneliness and low self-esteem that potentially help them to understand women better, and to crave emotional connection more than other men, and at the same time, they are even more likely to constantly seek out the self- medicating properties of porn, and to have seen more, searched more, to the extent they are more acutely attuned and responsive to impossible standards of beauty, and there is no way to keep this out of their assessments of their own potential mates. It also might be confusing to see so many women up for any sexual activity at a moment's notice, whereas in 'real life', if women don't respond immediately they might seem uptight or defective. I think what happens is that this results in a need for separation. They accept that it is necessary to have one 'real' woman for companionship, and many internet fantasies for intensity, in order to feel alive. At the same time, many have the unrealistic idea that when they find True Love, they will give up porn for good. When they go back to it, they feel guilty, or maybe they think it wasn't True Love after all.

I know, a lot of possibly offensive and unfair generalizations. I feel guilty about it, and I feel like I am betraying those who have been brave enough to open up to me, like I am committing crimes against Love. It's just that I can't get many of them to talk about all of this. As I said, they play dumb, ignore me, plead the Guy Code, pick a fight to deflect the issue, or cry, etc. If that doesn't work, they call me a feminist, and I am blacklisted or disqualified from having an opinion due to Fatness, Oldness or Extreme Ugliness. For the record, I do consider myself a feminist.

It is not that I seek brutality. I try to keep my eyes open, I try to face the realities, and I try to remain open to exceptions. I try to be open to the unexpected. I do not want men to judge or hate themselves. Their reactions and responses make sense, when you factor in their wiring and the natural extension and exploration of certain philosophies. I also do realize that many men have even less power than women in society. But, even these ones seem to have the same standards of beauty and ideas about women as those with more power. I would like greater understanding on both sides, and an end to the status quo of perpetuating unreal fairy tales about 'love', but most discussions get closed down before they can even begin. Everyone's defensive, everyone feels judged, and in those circumstances, who feels confident enough to really open up?

L'Étranger: I really agree with what you say with the men almost saying to the older woman "you have to be efficient or I will leave for a younger" even if I would not be this way. I wouldn't wait more for a young one, I behave with people for what they are and not for what they look like (I think). But men are like that I know...

Life is hard for women, this is why I am always on their side. I love women for what they are, and because in this world they still have less rights than men. And I can't really keep myself from hating men, even if there are exceptions. And because of this I partially hate me (which is not good!), but I progressively understand that I'm just a unique model, and maybe a nice model. What you said is interesting; this is why I say mature woman are better: it is because they know how to translate their desire in a way that men can understand. And that would make her special to me. But I am weird, so I am not a good example.

I've always seen this, and I just can't live their life. I just can't marry a woman and give her a fake happy life, with "official words" but no sincere love. I just can't do this to someone. I can't do it for me too, because I need freedom and more than that.

Everybody deserve better. But people, they just don't know it. A long time ago, I promised myself that I would have a great life, so I guess..I just can't give up this promise, and I perfectly accept that it can fail and maybe I will have a weird and tragical life. But maybe I will have a great life. It will be the one or the other, but not a boring life, made of renounciation.

L'Étranger: Do you like bad guys? Or I mean, are you more attracted by men who ignore you rather than those who are nice to you? (As you know women are often this way.)

Velvet: I'm not even sure I know how to tell the difference between a 'bad guy' and a 'nice guy'. And maybe if I'm expected to be both White Swan and Black Swan, so should the guy. Most of the ones I have corresponded with haven't ignored me. I think the main thing that happens when someone drags things out or ignores me is that something can feel 'unfinished' and I can have doubts until it's cleared up, but I do prefer a clean break. This is something men might not understand. They see it in simplistic terms: she keeps coming back for more, this method works! But if I am not allowed the answers, it messes with my head, and it can be hard to feel free to become emotionally involved again until it's cleared up, even if I would rather move on. When it comes to a frustrating situation that has draggled on for far too long, once I have the answers, it's like a cleansing enema that flushes out all the remaining unresolved crap, and I feel free of it, and probably the guy never really understands that he never really had me - what he had was my frustration and need to solve a mystery. I suppose it depends on what each person values, but when it comes to the parts of myself that I share, I know that such a person does not have what I most value.

A lot has happened since last time.

I am caught up in a totally insane situation, but maybe that passion has been missing in my life for too long. And now I will have years to reflect on the insanity along different tangents and it will bring increased energy and inspiration. Ha, or more insanity! All part of a weird and tragical life, perhaps, but I am not certain, even now. While I can still experience such a feeling, I think it is essential to go with it, not try to repress or block it.

I have also been receiving love letters from someone very beautiful. This is a strange situation, in which I think he is trying to contact me in an alternate reality, another place and time, where a different part of me still exists. I don't know if that will make sense to you. I set him free, but he has not yet let go, or maybe he feels free to explore that other time and place now. Which reality is more real?

There is this theory I am starting to develop based upon my experiences with lonely people. Possibly many people have Body Dysmorphic Disorder, but remain undiagnosed. I think it is often closely aligned with agoraphobia and social anxiety, or that in fact it could be the primary diagnosis but most people who have it find it shameful to admit how preoccupied they are with their appearance, or how badly they feel about it. It might be one of those diagnoses we see a lot more of in the future, and it might relate to the pressure of the internet, and all the available images, which give people a mistaken idea about what is average, what is healthy, what is 'normal', and raise the standards all the time, such that even the beautiful do not feel they measure up.

And as for the photogenically and appearance-challenged.. How can they be expected to cope in a world where photos say more about who you are than anything else? I think I have undiagnosed BDD, and this is one of the reasons I might pretend I don't get hints about Skype.

I realize my personal experience is hardly conclusive, but I am coming to the conclusion that appearance-related issues affect people's ability to socialize and seek sexual partners to a very great extent.

I think when men receive reassurance from women, it is easier for them to move forward than it is for women when men try to reassure them.

L'Étranger: Rhethorical questions: Does insanity costs energy? On the contrary does it bring energy? Both of it I guess. I'm even sure the answer is both "cost and bring", because as a crazy one I know it.

About love letters, I would like to know you opinion: Can you explain me what is a love letter? My letters are always love letters and at the same time they are never love letters. I mean, I often find myself as being the funny/weird/(rather) attractive and trusted friend who have girls confidence and secrets, even if they are all partially attracted and in love with me. I'm just wondering why. It's not a problem, but I wonder why don't they totally fall in love and why they don't give me their heart, or even why don't they just consider me as a normal friend. And even their heart they don't give it to me literally; I could take care of it, even if I can't be the prince of 100 girls.

Why don't they see I am often what they are looking for, why do they relate me their horrible and failed love story with boys. But I would like them to see they need someone like me, and I would like to help them in a way, or another. I could help them to find a nice man, because there is a lot of nice men (they just are not the ones who physically attracts women). And in the end I know partially the answer, women often love being ignored and disrespected, this is why they rarely really want a nice boy (even if they think they want a nice one). Huge topic. Sorry for this nonsense sentences.

Velvet: If you express and share yourself genuinely, openly, if you care, then everything you write is perhaps a love letter. Maybe in my last message I was thinking of a love letter as something romantic, passionate, sensual? But that is only one type of love, I realize.

Part of what women need is someone to talk to about their relationships, so in that sense they are recognizing that you are something they need.

Maybe you pay a price for openness. If women understand that you do not give your whole heart to anyone, they know it is not a safe bet to give their whole heart to you? Other men who are attracted to and involved with more than one woman at a time might try to convince each one that she is the only one, or the most special one. Or: 'I will only give my whole heart to you if you give your whole heart to me' - is that how most people approach relationships? Yes, I think so, even when it is an illusion, but in that case it depends on one person making the decision, and then the other either has to speak up and tell the other 'I don't feel the same as you', or if they find it too difficult to speak up, they decide to go along with it, sometimes for years.

I usually specifically seek out those who are psychologically unusual, or even 'nice', but I'm confused now, and maybe no one is really 'normal' or 'bad'. I am not even usually attracted physically to the men most women are attracted to. I might be prejudiced against conventionally 'good-looking' men. (Sorry!) What I find is that even nice men have certain standards of attractiveness, and even less conventionally attractive men want the same women that most men do.

I do think I did manage to get much of what I wanted, or more than I expected, through my contacts at the Agency. I experienced stimulation, an exchange of energy, inspiration. Maybe I don't have unrealistic expectations.

I end relationships when I don't feel understood, respected or valued in the ways I wish to be, or when I finally realize that potential does not exist. Sometimes, in order to explore something or someone unusual, you have to take some risks, not play it too safe. But, I also try to honestly acknowledge my responses, and if I have fun with someone, I try to go with it, while remaining 'centred', or being able to understand the foundation of the relationship.

I don't like the major crash - the crash is horrible, but I don't try to fight it. I try to let go. I am probably a lot more realistic than most people, though, so maybe in a lot of ways it's easier for me. I perhaps don't interpret my feelings or 'what it all means' in the same ways that other people do. If I have fun, if I feel very attracted, I think it is better to go with it than fight it, even if I know a crash is coming, especially if it has been a very long time since I have experienced intense attraction.

I am usually not able to sustain relationships because I am not connected to life in the ways other people are. It is difficult to connect with people for a long time, because connections to people are strengthened by sharing life connections. When it comes to contact after a breakup, it is often like the process that ended the relationship or interaction in the first place is speeded up, and the things that drove us apart in the past become evident in a shorter time. We touch base, I acknowledge or try to acknowledge what someone has meant to me in my life, and then we go our separate ways again, and sometimes never have contact again.

L'Étranger: I think you are very true for openness (why are you always so right?!!). Woman can feel I won't give my whole heart to them, and I make sure that they understand it. Because I just don't want to put them in a fake dream. I don't want them to think I will give more than what I can give.

But in fact, the reality is I don't need to give them my whole heart. Because I care for the whole world, I don't even know what could means giving me to one person. When I compare my behavior and feelings to the others, it just appears that I have 10 000 hearts, like I am a multi-organs man. I can give them a whole heart, for each of them.

I am only brutal with the woman I have sex with and even in this case, I like to think I am brutal but I guess I am a sweet one.

Velvet: I find it difficult when the intensity of a relationship fades, or when over time I understand that our experience of love was very different, that we did not really understand each other, connect in the same ways or long for the same things.

My assessment is that in most long-term relationships, the female becomes a socially acceptable age-appropriate beard for a man's real sexual interests. As I said, it is difficult for me when the intensity dissipates, and at the same time, I don't want a person to feel bad for wanting or desiring whatever it is that would make him feel more alive.

I wanted to let you know that I very much relate to what you said about not knowing if something you shared with someone adds to their life and helps them in some way to go on and be who they are, or if you just add to their sadness, in the end.

Workers are in the process of dismantling some windmills and replacing them with a modern windfarm. It is unclear as to how long this will take.

Don Quixote: Do you think we should talk?

Velvet: It's probably not a good idea to talk, because we have said it all before, talking will depress and upset us both, we need new input and without that, we should avoid talking.

Don Quixote: Maybe we should talk anyway.

Velvet: I realize it's been a while, and that you are putting in effort to be understanding, and I appreciate it, but I think what will happen is what always happens, and in the end I will end up drunk later tonight. So maybe this is one of those nights where we should just cut to the chase and I say 'Don Quixote, could you please pick up a case of wine?'

Don Quixote: Even if that is what happens, maybe we should talk.

Velvet: The thing is that I can't see anywhere to go. I have tried as hard as I could to 'take responsibility', to solve the problems, to just get myself out of here so that you could have a chance at a life. It's not that I'm unaware this situation is not good, it's that I have tried to change it and can't get very far.

I am not sure if I can quit drinking. That is not the primary problem, but even if drinking makes it harder for me to move out, I am still not sure if I can do it. I know what I'm like and I can't honestly say I believe I will 'have a life' if I leave. Maybe on my own I would at least do my own shopping and buy my own wine. But even if I say to you that there are no good solutions, I can suggest that the best thing might be to try to get me a place in Melbourne, as a 'lesser evil'. But, it would still require a certain kind of help or support that I am not sure you can give. I can mention that possibility, but it doesn't mean that it seems realistic that together we could overcome the obstacles I see.

I think it could potentially help me if you could think about your life and what you want in life. You have a right to set limits for yourself, and for me. Do you really want to live with a person who is as unhappy as me, and whose patterns you have to deal with on an ongoing basis? I think that what you really want is a new relationship, but that you are scared you might never find one, so a dysfunctional one, or rather an unsatisfying one, is better than trying to change things. And I completely believe you deserve to be happy and to have a more complete relationship.

This situation has gone on for years, and the patterns we have created together have become stronger. When I try to give up drinking, I feel like I have to fight not only my own patterns, but yours. This is one of the reasons people go to rehab - in the early stages, for some people it is helpful to be away from triggers and the situations in which they usually drink. I don't believe it's your fault I drink and I'm not trying to blame you, but our patterns together are extremely difficult for me to overcome. When I get up, and you and I start talking, it's like it sets in motion a whole chain of reactions. If I've only been sober a day or two, I might feel crabby - because quitting drinking does have physiological and psychological effects. I won't want to be crabby, and if I am, even if it's just not to greet you in a friendly way, or if I remain silent, so as not to talk about anything, I might start feeling bad about feeling crabby.

If I have to make decisions about dinners, or even talk about them, I might start thinking about how well wine goes with certain dinners, so in that sense it becomes easier to write notes saying things like 'I'm going to make spaghetti with mushrooms tonight, and will leave a plate for you on the table at approx. 7:30' rather than discuss it. I make decisions in order to avoid discussions. I take control so that I don't have to experience the distress of perceiving your fear in addition to mine. I have to make the effort to block out the ongoing unconscious dialogue between us: 'What do you think we should do?' 'I don't know. What do you think we should do?' It takes energy to do this. It feels like carrying a very heavy weight, and sometimes I can't do it. When I withdraw into my room, part of what I do is try to stay focused on why it is important for me to at least try. In my silence and my notes, I try very hard to keep any passive-aggressiveness out of it, but I know that the situation in itself conveys a kind of complaint. All I can do is try to express that I understand that, that ultimately I believe I want what is best for both of us, that I think some kind of change is necessary, and that I don't know how else to try to make it happen.

When possums start arriving, things get complicated. It is good for your mental health and mine to see them. The first one to spot the possum gives half the food portion, then comes to inform the other. I usually knock on the wall so I don't have to speak (and I try to focus on knocking in a 'friendly' way so it doesn't trigger any defensiveness or insecurity), and I write a note about what the possum in question has received, but invariably some possum drama occurs which makes it seem ridiculous to waste time with all this, and then once we are talking again, one thing leads to another and we are back in old patterns.

Don Quixote: I agree that it is good for both of us to see possums. And you are important to me and I really want to help you.

Velvet: When we start getting into this territory, it gets more complicated for me. I do think you want to help me, but at the same time, I don't think you can do the things I have suggested that might help. I don't see any good in beating you up about that, but as I get more scared and hopeless about the situation, the more difficult it is to keep an angry tone out of my voice, which in turn is perhaps a sign that it is better not to talk. Not that I believe it is a terrible or unproductive thing to express anger, but if certain ideas have been expressed many times, and there is no solution, it doesn't make sense to keep going over it without addressing new angles. The things I try to 'get myself together', using as much 'willpower' as I have, haven't worked. I really want you to have a good life, so I understand that it might also seem like my words are empty, but the distinction I am trying to make is that I think what would help the situation would be a decision on your part. If you were able to say that you wanted to try to have a more complete life, a new relationship, that we can decide on a date together to have me moved out by, it might help. Maybe this would spur me to try again to do it myself by this date, and if I don't manage that, we have a backup plan: we will go on a roadtrip to Melbourne, and you will stay long enough to help me get settled.

I am getting off-topic, sorry. I feel like I'm babbling, I feel like I'm saying nothing.

Don Quixote: (silence)

Velvet: I realize that most people believe that women just want someone to listen to them, they don't really want solutions, but I honestly think I want solutions. I want new input. We're both so isolated, and I realize that's part of the problem. Neither of us has anyone to consult about this impossible situation. I know you're in a really horrible situation. When you first wanted to meet me, you were lonely and didn't really know what you were getting yourself into. I mean, I was honest about my situation, but I do realize you were very lonely, and also that because I communicate in a reasonable way it might give people the impression that with the 'right situation' I would finally be content in life, despite what I say.

Don Quixote: You've helped me a lot in my life.

Velvet: I'm not sure that's true. Maybe if I hadn't stayed so long, but maybe I am what is preventing you from moving forward now. It's so weird, when we started writing I really had no idea all of it would lead to moving to Australia. When I think of what the internet is like now, it seems unbelievable that we were both willing to take such a big risk. Everyone warns people about having to send someone money for an airline ticket, etc, and about deadbeats with sob stories.

Don Quixote: Yes, I don't think I would do the same thing now.

Velvet: I want you to think about what you want out of life. I want you to believe that you have a right to set limits for yourself. I don't want either of us to keep letting time go by, but I am not sure how to quit drinking. It's kind of like even though you're very intelligent and know a lot about various issues in the world, I am not sure you know much about addiction. It's kind of like you grew up in a 'stiff upper lip house', and so your approach is that when a person really wants to quit, they just do it.

We can't scientifically measure intent, desire, the weight or extent of obstacles faced, effort expended or rewards acquired. It strikes me as difficult to calculate the 'rationality' of the efforts or approach considering the back story, the circumstances and available resources, because human morals and unrealistic ideals kinda get in the way. How can we truly 'know' who 'wants' something 'the most'? The 'proof' seems only to be that if someone achieves something, it means they 'truly' wanted it. They wanted it more than all of those who didn't achieve it. To me, this doesn't really seem to make sense, or at least it's not something that can be backed up with proof. And yet we continue to admire and judge people based on assumptions that they 'deserve' this admiration or judgment. Human self-esteem or the lack therof seems to be predicated upon this system.

I admit I am kind of upset that in all the years I have known you, you have never done research on eating disorders, alcohol issues or depression, or that you have not tried out some of the different tactics I have suggested, like emailing me to talk rather than trying to talk in person, because after talking in person, I feel like I'm not good at talking in person, and I feel like I'm saying nothing. Maybe in email I feel like I have more control, or I can see more. I admit that in a way it feels like the opposite of caring, love or friendship. It feels like you are in a hopeless situation, and all you can do is wish for my death, which is understandable, but kind of feels like pressure to me.

Don Quixote: (visibly upset)I don't know what to do.

Velvet: I'm really sorry, I'm really sorry. I don't want to hurt you or keep going over the same things. You are a lovely person and it's not fair. I think it's valid to express these things, but not over and over again. That doesn't seem intelligent, on either of our parts. I think this is related to acceptance, to know when both parties are trying as hard as they can, and that if something isn't working, you have to try another angle. It's just that I am out of angles. I don't know what to suggest other than what I have suggested. And if you can't give me a deadline, a limit, or some new option, I guess I have to go back to trying to set one for myself, but then I can decide to stop drinking, but as soon as we start talking, or discuss meals, or interact regarding possums, I really have to fight the urge, and it's really difficult, when I know all I have to say is: when it's convenient to you, could you buy some wine? knowing full well it's not going to be long until it's 'convenient'. The thing is, if I quit drinking, after one day or several days or a week, I will probably do things like check the two places you most often have squirrelled away alcohol, and once I do that, it's not long before I ask outright. Most addicts will go through times when they want to drink, but if they do something like check into rehab and sign a contract, they are saying they know they might get urges, but they are planning ahead so that there's no alcohol available when they go through that. But here, there's no real possibility.. I'm sorry, I keep going on and I know you're upset and can't really hear me right now, I'm sorry. I should stop. I don't want you to feel this way.

Don Quixote: You're a lovely person. You have done so much for me. I really want things to be good.

Velvet: I think it seems that all we can do is wait. I will try to get the energy and focus to remove myself from your house. Maybe something else will happen, and maybe I will die. Recently, when I had that crazy drinking binge where I was not sticking to the patterns that prevent hangovers, when I had a really horribly painful period and I kept drinking and taking paracetamol with codeine, and hyoscine, (and still had pain) and anti-nausea tablets (and still vomited) and felt sick every day and could never get comfortable, whether sitting or lying down, and didn't enjoy drinking and thought I actually might be close to dying, I was thinking that I really didn't want to die this way, but if I die, maybe it's for the best. And then I pulled myself out of it and started talking to you, because I didn't want to die that way. But nothing changed, and as soon as I felt less sick I started going into the same patterns. And then I thought maybe I just shouldn't fight it. People die in all kinds of ways. OK, sorry, I shouldn't bring that up. I will try to focus. I will try to get myself together, or hope that one of us figures something out. Maybe for now it's better if we keep eating meals together because we are both lonelier when we are not talking, but also it's a relief not having problems with food. We have what is needed for a pizza. Do you feel like having some if I make it tonight?

Don Quixote: That would be really, really good.

Velvet: It's probably a good idea to pick up a case of wine. I'll start making the pizza.

[3 days later, after the case of wine is gone..]


Don Quixote, you haven't done anything wrong, but I am crabby because I have no alcohol. I'm going to write notes for now, and I will note down what food I give to possums so we don't overfeed them. Leek and potato soup will be ready at about 8. Velvet

[3 days later, another note]:

When you go shopping, could you pick up more wine? I will try to make it through today, but I am struggling. Velvet

[1 day later]:

Velvet: When we're not talking, I feel very lonely and isolated. Maybe we should not continue to avoid each other.

Don Quixote: I agree. I think it's better and I feel better when we are not avoiding each other.

Velvet: I suppose if I just adjusted my attitude such that I accepted drinking was the best option for me, and I didn't worry so much about what I should be doing so as to leave less mess for you and so that you'd be more likely to have a better life, maybe things would be better, but I don't honestly think that drinking is the best option for me. As long as we live in the same house, even though we have an arrangement where we have both agreed we are not a couple and that we both would like new relationships, to most people, it might look like we are a couple. And aside from worrying about your life, I still want at least a moment in life for myself in which I feel I have achieved something I feel like I have the potential to experience. OK, it is time to stop. I won't go into all this again.

I am going to stop talking now. I will try to focus on something. Maybe for now the best thing is just to drink. I'm in a better mood when I drink, and maybe I am at least speeding up my death. Do you feel like having corn, baked potatoes, salad and bbq quorn?

Don Quixote: That would be really good.

Velvet: Could you pick up some wine? But just two bottles, and I will give you a glass. If a case is there, I will just drink again tomorrow night, and I want to try to drink as few nights as possible. For a while it did seem like I was slowly reducing the amount of alcohol I was drinking, but now things seem to be escalating again. I will aim at having dinner ready around 9. I know it's a drag to have to go to the store more often, but when you buy a case and I know it's there, there's pretty much zero chance I won't drink until it's gone. And if I wake up and ask you if you squirrelled any away, I know you won't lie. You have a right to say you will only buy wine once a week or once a month, and that I have to figure out what quantity, and if you don't I can understand being aware of past patterns and feeling cynical about it all, but what about the times when there have been extended stretches without? Does it make sense to keep trying for those, or to just give up?

Don Quixote: I'll get two bottles.

Velvet: Also, if I ask if there's wine in the house, it doesn't mean I can't do without it - I think it's a natural part of the process that as I withdraw, I want to know if there's any left. I should stop talking. I feel like I am saying nothing. I feel like there is no one who cares about what happens to me. My best shot is to try to care for myself, but I'm very depleted and isolated. It's not like I can check myself into rehab. There are waiting lists, and in addition to that, I am self-conscious about having scammed my way into this country. So many Australians already hate refugees and complain about them taking taking up jobs and resources. Not to mention my 'bad attitude'. In those places you pretty much have to participate, and there's no way I can be honest about wanting to give up alcohol so that I have the concentration to have a hope in hell of killing myself in a personally 'meaningful' way that doesn't drag on for more years, with me becoming physically ill. Yes, I hear myself. This is crazy, this is surreal.

It seems to me that what you might be saying is that you think a valid approach to relationships is to accept that it is helpful to have a companion, and that the best you can hope for is that you can get along reasonably well. It is possible to endure a life of quiet desperation if you mostly live in your head, or can retreat into a fantasy world. Most people see this as a 'bad thing', but you don't. When it comes to me, there are some serious drawbacks, but in the overall sense, I can be trusted to be 'reasonable' in ways that don't leave you feeling something you can't handle will happen. I guess I can see that it makes sense to approach life in this way. Is this how you would sum it up?

Don Quixote: Yes.

[handwritten note, thrown away..]

1000 cases -Velvet

Note: Don Quixote said he would think about what else he might want in his life, but he has not yet gotten back to Velvet. Through the years it has often been something like:

Don Quixote: I want you here.

Velvet: That might be both true and not true, but I think what it means is that you want me here, if I can be calm most of the time. What it really means is that you want me to be the me who makes an effort to find the least bad way of dealing with the day, even if every single day I want it to stop and I myself don't believe in performing actions to keep a life I don't want. If I am unhappy, that I avoid talking about it as much as possible. I think there is a certain amount of misery you will tolerate, even if you would prefer a more complete relationship, one with sex in it, for example, but I don't think this is just coming from open-mindedness and a wish for an alternative relationship. It's coming from a fear that no one else could ever love you. It's coming from years of experience of being alone before I was here. It's coming from a fear maybe of how hard it is to go through a relationship - although it really probably wouldn't be as hard with someone who wanted to live, and who shared your goals in life.

Don Quixote: I'm not sure I'd want to live with someone 'normal'. They might expect a lot of things that make me uncomfortable.

Velvet: I think you would do better with someone who doesn't want to force you to become like everyone else, but I honestly think there are potentially many different people out there you could adapt to. Some of the ways you are comfortable with me might be lacking, but you might find other areas of compatibility that you aren't expecting, things that are actually better for you personally. I know I can't make statements of certainty, and maybe you would spend the rest of your life alone, but the thing is if you look at the things evolution tells us women look for, including success in career, you are way ahead of a lot of men. Women mostly don't shop for a large penis, but maybe to someone it would be an added bonus. Add to all of that that you like to work on your home, you like to go shopping and for coffee and have a really high tolerance for psychologically complicated conversation. It's not that you completely lack game, it's that for the most part, from the outset you have been disqualified from participating, or don't know how to find your sport. Women still wait for men to make the first move, and that's not your thing. But once you are aware of a shot, I think your moves are pretty good.

Think about it. If this is the only life you have, what else might you want in your life? In a relationship? Will you just wait for something? How long would you wait? Doesn't it make sense to take whatever steps you can to show that you want something to be possible? For example, to get me moved out of your house? To find some way of humanely dealing with the situation so that it's not a major crisis that has the potential to screw up your chances in a new relationship? No matter how understanding a woman is, she might not find it much fun to wait while you figure out what to do about me, and if we both now can acknowledge that we want the chance for something else in life, doesn't it make sense to start acting on it now? We have come to this conclusion many years ago, and yet, we still haven't resolved it.

Don Quixote: OK, yes I will think about what I want in life. I can see how it makes sense.

[days later, still no response, elaboration, etc. It will probably be forgotten.]

[more common themes]:

Don Quixote: We work well together, we come up with things that on my own I would not think of doing.

Velvet: Yes, it's strange how that seems to work. We both provide different aspects of what is necessary when it comes to many different tasks, creative projects and problem solving, whether it comes to websites and blogs, all things possum-related, things related to the house here, etc.

My Manifesto is very important to me, and without your help and support, I wouldn't even have begun my Manifesto, or be able to do what I can do now.

Not all people move at the same pace. I know that. It can take time to work out authentic connections to life. For you, the possums are a genuine connection to life. If I die, or leave, they will help you. I struggled a lot regarding how good it was for the possums for us to be so involved in their lives, but I don't have any doubts about how good they are for you, or me. I kept the original possum site going partly hoping that you would eventually be able to have your own site or blog. I saw that this was potentially an authentic way for you to connect to life. There are so many things that people do to be cool, or 'good', but when it comes to possums, it's simply that it's real. From there, if you can find friends, I think it will come from a real place. I also think it's a very good thing that you are now moving forward with your political blog. For years I have been trying to support you in regards to moving forward with something like this. You are a very good writer, and you have an excellent mind. Because you have so little social interaction, there is no way for many people to know the range you are capable of.

The underlying issue is that there has always been the potential for you to connect to life. You sort of procrastinated on doing a lot of the things that would make this possible (like the blogs, possum site), but I am glad you are moving forward with all of it now, and I know it was the right thing to keep pestering you about all of it from time to time. The difference with me is that the 'authentic' things I have to express all relate to how isolated I am and how there aren't authentic ways for me to connect to life or people. My Manifesto is the best chance I have to connect with the world, but it seems that if I do connect with anyone, it is with those who maybe don't have the ability to communicate back.

I am not sure how to say this.. you know how recently we and others put a lot of effort into trying to find solutions for our favourite ringtail? Well I kind of feel like a possum with a serious infection who is going without treatment. It's obvious I have an infected wound, but somehow it's left alone, because no one knows what to do. I can try to offer all the relevant info, I can even be willing to participate in my own treatment, I can be consulted, I am conscious, but my situation is more complicated, and I guess that I sort of feel that not as much effort goes into finding solutions for me as for possums. And I think I understand why it is: it's partly because depression and addiction aren't well understood, and everyone, including you and me and everyone we know, is affected by the stigma and misinformation, and ultimately, because there aren't any viable solutions. I am pretty good at problem solving and coming up with unusual solutions; we've seen that in a lot of ways over the years. But the best solution, that I have a humane death, is not realistic. At some point, I guess some change or other will occur, and maybe all we can do is wait. Maybe it won't be pretty, but does worrying help?

I want you to know that whatever happens to me, I really want you to have a happy life. If you have a chance, I want you to take it.

Don Quixote: Thank you.

A quaint black and white farmhouse, with a few beagles on the lawn, horses in a paddock, and a big apple tree. It's Saturday night. Velvet and her father have just finished watching Love Boat and Fantasy Island. The Silver Tongued Devil is drinking and occasionally puts his finger on the side of his nose and raises one eyebrow, and sighs before speaking.

Silver Tongued Devil: Popcorn?

Velvet: Maybe a bit, but I kind of wanted to have some ice cream. I'll try again to go on a diet on Monday.

Silver Tongued Devil: You need some meat on your bones. Your mother is too skinny. (Eyes kind of boggling, staring.) You have such a tiny little waist. When you get your new bathingsuit, you can model it for me.

Oops. I almost dropped my drink. Maybe we should turn the tv down a little. We don't want to wake Natalie. The drive to and from the city is hard on her. On weekends she needs to catch up on her sleep. She's a really nice person. She does so much for me. She's had a very hard life. You know, there are some women you can count on, no matter what. And then there are those like your mother.

Velvet grabs a big throw pillow and sits with it in her lap. It covers most of her body.

Velvet: I think I hurt Natalie's feelings when I asked her if she thought I needed to lose weight. I meant for my age. I think she's very pretty, but somehow I don't think I did a good job of letting her know.

Silver Tongued Devil: She has a difficult time with her weight. There are women you can count on, and there are women you have chemistry with.

Velvet: Dad, I know you're not great with birthdays, so I was kind of wondering if I could have a new pair of running shoes for my 14th.

Silver Tongued Devil: Remind me again tomorrow.

I'll tell you something you probably will have in common with your mother.

(whispers, or lowers voice, sighs.)

You're probably going to like sex. She would open her legs at the drop of a hat. Plonk.

Her sister, too. Plonk.

In this world, not all the rules make sense, and the rules that fit the many don't always apply to the chosen few.

I'm just telling you this because I think you're grown up enough to understand it. Your mother is one of the most irrational people I've ever known, but you seem to handle her more calmly than I can, or than any person I've ever seen. I guess it's true what they say; age is just a number.

I don't know how you do it, because I know what it's like when she loses it. I've never heard you say an unkind thing to her.

I never had a conscious thought before I was 30, but by then I already had 4 kids. And when I woke up, that's when I got the snip. That means I can't get anyone pregnant.

Velvet: The record's over. Do you want to hear your song again?

Silver Tongued Devil: Maybe one more time.

When I was 12, Nanny's sister chased me around trying to grab my pecker. She was a bad bitch.

Why don't you come over here and sit on my lap like old times?

Velvet hesitates, looks unsure.

Silver Tongued Devil: There's nothing wrong in it.

Velvet hesitates, comes over and sits on his lap. She feels very uncomfortable, and gets back up.

Silver Tongued Devil: Maybe another time.

Velvet: What happened with that guy at work?

He smiles.

Silver Tongued Devil: Toast.

It was him or me. This planet just wasn't big enough for the two of us. No one else is going to tell you this, so I will. Life isn't like a fairy tale. There is always someone trying to kill you, and you have to recognize when that's about to happen, even when it's someone you don't suspect, like your best friend or your brother. You have to make a decision: him or me. If you hesitate: toast.

You're what they call 'book smart', and I'm what they call 'street smart'. I've done a lot of street fighting. I'm the one everyone has to watch out for. Most of the 'book smart' people are absolutely bloody useless when it comes down to it.

Velvet: Dad, how do you know when you're in love?

Silver Tongued Devil: Sometimes you might think you're in love when all you really want is to fuck someone, and then you end up paying for that mistake all your life.

You'll know you're in love when all music sounds beautiful.

Velvet: What if that never happens?

Scene: kind of like a buddhist meditation retreat, but with a disco ball suspended from the ceiling, right in the centre of it all. Would you be able to look away? Disco songs play while in all earnestness a group of students/seekers practice their meditation. If disco truly sucks, why does it appear in movies so often? Why doesn't anyone think of disco as spiritually inspiring? Maybe we all need to examine our prejudices, people.

Velvet: It's taken me a long time to figure out how to express this, but I think that while at first we might have seemed to be on a similar wavelength, when you get past the outermost layers, closer to the foundation of our philosophies, we are coming from very different places.

I think we both kind of believe it's 'better' not to have beliefs, but even that is a belief that has come from somewhere. Any belief perhaps implies a kind of ridigity, and is maybe an oversimplification that conceals or obscures.

I'm going through a phase where I am trying to examine any unconscious beliefs I might have that might be affecting my outlook and behaviour. It means going back to some types of study I had maybe given up on or dismissed as not 'deep' enough or not 'real' enough, or not representative of the 'deepest' me or something. It has meant that I have found it necessary to try to learn more about the practical factors that affect behaviour and thought, and perhaps lead to a person building a philosophy of accepting what they can't change, and to feel that there is some mystical reason or connection to the whole.

I have come to see that if I do not act to help others find me and understand me, I might remain in isolation for the rest of my life. I am not without desires, and I know that with the particular ones I experience, the 'honest' thing to do is to try to make myself visible, even if I fail to find what I am looking for, rather than wait for my desires to be magically fulfilled, and then feel resentful later if it never happens.

It is now a time for me to put in this type of effort. To fight it would be to deny my current perception and 'truth'. I can't see how it is bad to desire things that don't lead to fulfillment. Desire is a transient experience that in itself is a valuable experience. It might be painful, or lead to pain, but it can also make one feel alive, or help one to experience what it is to feel alive and to have a sense of what else there is to experience.

Most people I've known have thought it's either better to fit in and look normal or conventionally attractive, or they've had a (sometimes unconscious) belief that it's more 'virtuous' not to 'care' about appearance at all. You are one of the only people I've had contact with that thought a person's choices had the potential to communicate something essential about that person, and who felt a need to try to express the internal externally through appearance. I am not usually attracted to someone's physical appearance before knowing much about them psychologically, but you were someone whose appearance did attract me. Could it be that I was responding to your choices, rather than the technical appearance below them? It could have been a combination of the two, but one of those factors was the essential one, the trigger.

When a person stands up for an unusual choice, one that demonstrates they don't want to just fit into a family, a peer group, society, there is something in that experience that stays with them, and others who haven't gone that far can't know what it's like. The changes might not even seem that big, but when you confront those you know, they're huge. It takes courage to do this when you are pressured to calm down and know your place. Because we had this experience in common, it was one of the things that drew me to you. At the time, though, I didn't realize that for you, the technical appearance below this was more important than the choice.

Your name really doesn't suit you. I have had contact with various people who don't like names, who wish they could do away with them altogether, who hate people, and have various other things in common, and in getting to know them, I think about how they have probably had really bad experiences with people, experiences bad enough that it is 'clear' to them the other person is contemptible or has treated them badly, and I think I must have been lucky in comparison not to have met such people. Is it true that you don't like names and that you wish we could dispense with them altogether?

Disco Nerd: I want to be seen. I imagine a world where no one has a name, and everyone communicates through some pure thought essence. I feel that most people like me in spite of who I am, not because they really see or like me.

Velvet: I very much relate to your first and last sentences. I also admit I've spent a lot of time practising telepathy, but while I know it annoys most people, I find I can't help putting in effort to try to help them understand me. Part of this relates to names, which are words. When you choose words, you make a statement. You influence or help to shape 'reality'. There's a risk that you can't capture enough 'truth', and so in some ways you are a 'fake', but the alternative is to leave all decisions up to everyone else, and trust that they won't abuse their power, or you.

If you don't like a name or description that someone associates with you, how does it affect you?

Disco Nerd: When I lie, it is because I feel so much shame about who I am.

Velvet: I think I do get that, and it makes it hard to just walk away or dismiss you in a black and white way. The problem for me is that because of what you feel, sometimes you not only misrepresent yourself to me, you misrepresent me to others you have contact with. I have tried to work out whether it's because you have misunderstood what I have communicated, or whether it's because you want others to believe I am not someone you have shared something significant with. Why would the latter be necessary? Maybe if I weren't so ego-driven, I wouldn't care about how you describe me to others? I suspect that if they believe you couldn't possibly admire me, it's easier for them to dismiss me as competition. It might be a little of both, but both bother me, in large part because I go to such lengths to help you and others to understand. If you are say falsely imprisoned for some reason, and beaten up in prison, etc, is it better to quietly accept this fate, think that you're probably guilty of 'something bad', so you might as well accept this punishment? I guess I can sort of see that, and maybe for a lot of my life I did kind of approach things that way. But it was like eventually I felt a 'need' to try a different approach.

If you do not want to have an exclusive relationship with anyone, you have a right to express that. I have had relationships with those who were openly polyamorous and with those who were secretly so, and I much prefer the former. If people react with anger, it doesn't mean it was wrong for you to express it.

Even in high school, I got used to standing firm when asked difficult questions. I admitted that yes, I did want to fuck other people, even when suicide was threatened, I was chased around my apartment with a knife, or I was denounced as an unrepentant slut. Later, I refused to play a part to keep the peace in family situations, or in society. In part because of this history of mine, it's very difficult for me to find out from others that you have characterized me as some pathetic obsessed freak who jumps to bizarre conclusions regarding how interested you are, that I am someone you take pity on, or feel regret for encouraging one night accidentally in a drunken state. Do people know that you and I have exchanged the L-word, and that you initiated it, in a non-drunken state?

What I have picked up is that when people disappoint you, you feel angry, and this results in you feeling entitled to treat them without respect.

It is all very difficult to untangle, because my questions irritate you and you refuse to dignify them with a response. It's difficult for me to relate to this because when I can see that someone is struggling to understand something, or wants to, I try harder to interpret, I usually try harder to help.

I do understand that if you've been through something many times, when the person asking questions thinks they're unique, it might be wearying, and I think maybe in the future I would find it harder to put as much effort in if I can see where it's all going. I think I would still see the reasons individuals are not prepared to understand my position, or my explanations, no matter how detailed, so while I would think frustration might be a natural response, it still would be difficult for me to treat people in the ways you have treated me.

Disco Nerd: The only thing that cuts through the depression is sex, and specifically it means that every day I need to seek out porn. It is the only thing intense enough. I feel overwhelming shame, but I keep going back. When I'm with someone new, I stop for a while, but inevitably I go back. It's the only thing that can still make me feel alive.

Velvet: I think that it makes sense to self-medicate with porn. I think it also makes sense to try to analyze this, although what I'm sensing is that for you that would take the fun out of it. I can understand that it wouldn't be a good thing to 'lose' the only thing that works. I can also understand that even talking about it is difficult, because it is tied up with feelings of shame and guilt and the judgments of those who don't seem to be in touch with the reality of the situation, but it's not going to be easy for me to talk about it, either, and if you can't see the reasons for that, then we're not starting from an equal place.

I'm not sure, but I think that feeling of intensity and aliveness you feel when seeking out porn might be similar to what I feel when I'm 'obsessed' with someone - it's just that what I experience is a female version. We're both self-medicating, we both need something intense. Males are (more likely to be) biologically hard-wired to want many mates, whereas females get more of a payoff when they feel they are special to one person. When I fantasize about a person, part of the fantasy is that they fantasize about me or are fixated on me with a similar intensity. When I discover this isn't the case, I usually look for a new fixation. It's extremely difficult for me to accept that I can never be the thing someone associates with 'feeling alive'. I think what I represent is 'the possibility of security', or the need to lock down an 'appropriate' companion-object.

I am over-simplifying, because I know in the initial stages of attraction, it can feel intense to males, but I realize that after a time lapse, not usually a very long one, and in the final analysis of a person's life, I can't be seen as a 'high point'. Because I have at least some inkling that males face different internal and external pressures from those women do, it seems to me that the only possible way for me to trust that a relationship has 'meaning' is if a person is willing to communicate with me, show understanding of the various pressures we both face, and see if something emerges as 'meaningful' to both of us.

Disco Nerd: Your reaction is less than satisfactory, and there was something you said in one of your other messages that I really didn't like.

Velvet: I'm not sure what you mean. Can you elaborate?

Disco Nerd: Men seem to be only too willing to delude themselves that they are happy with someone who looks like a shaved orangutan.

Velvet: I do understand that it isn't really possible to force oneself to override personal preferences to please another person or society. I think it's perhaps possible over time for personal preferences to change if new stimuli and ideas challenge the underlying beliefs and primal drives that lead to preferences, but I also realize it might not be an extreme change. I think it's a bad idea for us to meet, because you would probably consider me to be one of the shaved orangutans.

I suspect your standards are pretty high, and you have already expressed your preferences, which I don't meet. We can also factor in that I'm a decade older than you, and that you have said you know that difference isn't desirable in an ongoing relationship, and that you do not like my idea of deciding from the outset it will only be a short-term thing, because that wouldn't meet your standards pertaining to a minimum level of hopefulness.

Disco Nerd: You really don't understand.

Velvet: I realize that's possible. Can we go through it all point by point such that I have a better chance of understanding?

Disco Nerd: Statistics and evolutionary influences might have some bearing on the situation, but I find that anyone who is too concerned with these things is no fun, and kills all the enjoyable feelings it is possible to have through attraction and subsequent interaction.

Velvet: It's just that if I examine the various contradictory ideas you have expressed, and that even though we do seem to share some Buddhist or Zenlike ideas about people, relating, motivations, I think that the 'right person' for you is likely to be in the right age bracket, have the right appearance, and basically match up in ways that are somewhat predictable. And so if that's the case, does it make sense for us to meet, unless we agree it's just a short-term thing?

Through the internet and porn, standards of attractiveness are rising, and women like me are likely to be seen as having 'weird bodies' or even bizarrely unattractive compared to the 'norm'. Illusions about the importance of individuality are being demolished. I think you are right that personal preferences matter and can't be easily overridden, but if I want to be 'wanted', and you have standards that I can't physically meet, then it seems there is no possibility I can be wanted to the extent I want to be wanted. It would seem that we can't really fill each other's needs, and maybe the best thing to do is accept that and move on.

It seems to me that if we stay in contact, I would have to be extremely strong, and understanding, but that you would not be able to return the same level of understanding and patience to me. I would not see any reason to hold a grudge against you for that. What I would like, however, is for you to stand up for what you want, and to communicate openly and honestly with me.

If I made a decision to try to hang in there, because I care about you, looking ahead, I realize there might be many times when I would have to accept that you would diss me to others without having the courtesy to let me know what bothered you, or trying to discuss it with me. And maybe, over time you'd have a certain loyalty to me, but I would know that for convenience's sake, or if someone who represented your ideal came into the picture, or someone you momentarily thought was a possibility, you are perfectly capable of dismissing everything our relationship has been, so as not to 'ruin' your chances with someone else. And if I hang in there in spite of this, maybe in the end when you are older I will be one of the 'last ones standing', but I am not sure I do care about 'you' enough to accept that kind of inequality, even for the sake of 'friendship', or because I understand how much you go through, and that you are very isolated and in great pain.

I have absorbed your annoyance, and I think I have honestly tried to figure out if the misunderstandings were mostly my fault, if I refused to see the signs. I can see that some of it might have related to seeing what I wanted to see, and overlooking the rest, and that this related to feeling attracted, but there were a lot of mixed messages, and I tried very hard to sort through them. I don't think it's fair I was blamed to the extent I was, and in the end, I can see we were looking for different things.

Disco Nerd: I don't like the word relationship.

Velvet: We are relating or trying to relate, and so in a sense we have a relationship. However, I can understand if you don't want the associations that most people take for granted - i.e., that a 'relationship' is something mainstream and rigid that denotes exclusivity and commitment. I don't see the word relationship in that way, and I thought that was pretty clear, but I don't have a problem using the word interaction if you are more comfortable with that.

Disco Nerd: (silence for two years)

Disco Nerd: Hey.

Velvet: We seem to be looking for different things in communication. After all this time, it's like you just want to talk about the weather, and that would feel like acceptance to you, but I'm still wondering what it is that you didn't like when I wrote a message and you said 'there is something in that I really don't like' and I asked what it was and you chose not to reply.

Disco Nerd: What if it turned out that I actually do want what you want?

Velvet: I think I'd like that, but based on what I have absorbed so far, it doesn't seem likely.

Disco Nerd: It sounds like you're saying that you're bored and don't expect much, you just don't have anything else to do, and I need to feel you have some hope about the situation, or it feels depressing to me.

Velvet: Do you have anything else to do?

Disco Nerd: You can't achieve real intimacy in a few days or a week. Online interaction isn't real and I can't know what is real until I meet someone in real life.

Velvet: I think it's possible to live with someone a whole lifetime and to find ways to avoid intimacy. There is a certain kind of intimacy involved with allowing someone to observe your daily patterns and habits over a long period of time, but I think it has more to do with habituation than intimacy. I think that some people are quite good at finding ways to hide their secret selves throughout a relationship, and this is the kind of thing I want to avoid.

And as for online vs in-person interaction and how 'real' either is, a similar kind of concept applies. Many of my online interactions have felt more real than my 'real life' relationships. When I managed to get online and I started to communicate with people, I really put a lot of myself into communication, and was able to express much that others had never seemed to have a use for or a need for before, and it felt to me like something essential that had been missing. It is not that I don't want 'real life' relationships, but I do not want to go back to the kinds I had before. I prefer my online relationships to the relationships I had in the past. I do still wish to connect with someone in person. So, yes, it does seem that our philosophies are in conflict.

This might be very cynical of me, but I suspect that what you mean is that while you are in contact with someone online, you might have certain fantasies about them. If you meet them, and don't find them to be of a certain level of attractiveness in person, then it was never 'real', or doesn't have potential to be 'real'.

They decide to meet, despite all the red flags. When Velvet returns, she writes:

Velvet: It's a bit annoying that you will not reply to my messages. I do think it was good that we met, and I think some things were kind of fun, but I also know that I had trouble getting through the time, and am not sure how we could have managed that without all the making out. Perhaps weirdly, the making out didn't even feel like making out. What stays with me is that I faced a fear, and I went through with gaining some difficult knowledge, but through doing it, it helped me to 'get free'. I could have stayed longer, but while I was there, I thought that although you didn't say much you were hoping I'd understand that you wanted me to leave. I felt sad, and I think over time this experience turned out to be very bad for my self-esteem and sexual confidence, but I knew it was best to go.

Disco Nerd: You think you're always right about everything.

Velvet: No, I don't. I am genuinely curious. Was I wrong this time?

Disco Nerd never replies.

Due to a wholly improbable and unexpected glitch, Linux has developed a subconscious. Against the will and unbeknownst to the conscious awareness of both parties involved, for the purposes of this conversation, they have each been represented by an icon of the planet Mars.

Tyler Duden: I admit that I am wondering what you think of me after all this time.

Velvet: I have so longed to hear from you.

Tyler Duden: Is that a polite way of saying that you are disappointed I am not the rich and successful businessman you thought I was?

Velvet: If anything, that kind of 'success' would have turned me off, or I would not have been able to relate to it. What I responded to was your loneliness, and the creative ways in which you expressed that loneliness. I thought you were challenging mainstream ideas about success. In a group of online individuals who all started with the premise that suicide is a valid option, there was something about your particular intelligence that stood out most to me.

I did not think we wanted the same things, and I could not relate to the ways in which you dismissed or summed up the behaviour of others. I have studied evolution, and while I can see the non-sentimental explanations for people's motivations, I still thought that you missed a lot, that you failed to perceive much of the information that was relevant to any equation, no matter how logical your conclusions with incomplete information. For someone who likes science so much, you don't seem to ask very many questions.

I think it's possible that something remains unresolved for me, and perhaps we can clear it all up fairly quickly. I apologize for how inconvenient it all is, and messy, but I do appreciate that you seem willing to discuss it, such that I have a chance to process it more efficiently.

Tyler Duden: You sound pretty needy.

Velvet: I think I do need to understand why I have felt such excruciating desire for you. I'll try to sum it up: for some time now, I have been obsessed with you, but had no way of reaching you. I was never sure if I knew your 'real name', and your old email address was no longer in service. I suspected that I needed some kind of acknowledgement from you, or I needed to know if you thought about what it would be like to spend more time together. I wondered if you had any insecurities or obstacles that prevented you from bringing this up.

I think I need to know if the things you said were 'kind lies' to protect my ego and prevent me from killing myself, knowing you never had any intention of meeting again, or if you actually meant what you said. It would have been a misguided effort on your part if your intent had been to prevent suicide, and I suppose it hurt me that you might not understand why. I knew that I didn't really know you, and it wasn't a rejection from you that would have pushed me over the edge. I needed to more clearly identify how our perceptions and values differed, such that I could make a decision about what such a rejection or approval would 'mean' to me. If you played 'god' and decided you knew what was best for me, you removed the opportunity for me to evolve or get stronger. You continued a pattern in which those in my life withheld things it actually might have helped me to know. When I talk about being 'stuck', it is partly because I keep trying to find out if my perceptions and assessments have some validity, and it messes with my head when people try to protect me from potentially painful things because they think I can't handle them.

Look at my life. You already accept that suicide is a valid option in some circumstances. Even if something did drive me to suicide, would that really be so bad? I'm telling you that a rejection by you would not have been that final straw, though. It would help me to understand better what we actually had, it would help me to resolve it all such that I'd be 'freer' to move forward and seek something other.

The more difficult thing to admit is that I fantasize that over time you have had a chance to think about some of what I said, and that you have reached some similar conclusions yourself.

It's difficult to admit, yes, but there it is.

Tyler Duden: I can't stop thinking about young bodies. Just about any young body.

Velvet: I'm not sure, but I think I want to challenge your unconscious and conscious beliefs.

Tyler Duden: Be more specific.

Velvet: Through observing your philosophies, expressed through many different nyms/personae, my assessment is that the 'logical' conclusion of the ideas you express is a self-chosen death. I can understand if 'irrationally' you choose to live because you know you make a difference to an individual. My fantasy has been that you would choose to act on what you 'really want', with me. I know that you think that if you die, it would be 'better' alone.. but I think this is possibly based on a kind of irrationality, romanticism, or unchallenged morality rather than an objective assessment.

Do we really come into the world 'alone'? I mean, isn't it like a major sexist thing to discount the female who pushed you out her vaginal canal as some kind of nonentity? Is this where inequality starts? These days, there are many people who help with birth. Does it make sense that there should be no help with death? This is what leads me to conclude that your ideas about committing suicide alone are 'romantic', or idealistic. However, it is a personal preference that I could respect.

Tyler Duden: You should know by now that I have no interest in a suicide pact.

Velvet: I don't dismiss what I want as a 'suicide pact'.

Originally, I did romanticize the term, but I eventually came to see that others didn't really mean what I did by the term. Most people just seem to think it's about convenience. If you want to die, and there's someone else who wants to die, maybe you can help each other out. No other compatibility is required. Helping each other out is part of it, yes, but what I wanted was to connect in an ultimate kind of way with a person, with suicide itself an expression of shared values, beliefs, and hopefully chemistry.

Is duration the only valid indication of the significance of a relationship?

If you think that only relationships that last a long period of time have significance, does that mean you accept the premise that long life is 'good'? Is it possible that people can express values or beliefs through choosing something different? Can a relationship have 'meaning' when two people act on shared beliefs together? If two people have difficulty with either living or dying, can it make sense for them to help each other out?

I did not expect you to want me, but I could not deny that I wanted you to want what I wanted. Perhaps I'd have more 'dignity' if I had never expressed this to you.

I think I wanted you to help me understand if the conclusions I had reached made sense, 'logically', or if you could see that considering my experiences, my particular kinds of intelligence and psychological makeup, factoring in the available options in the modern world, what I had come up with made the most sense for me. And if not, I hoped that you would help me to see the holes in my reasoning, or alternative conclusions.

Tyler Duden: Many people stop writing to me because I am too blunt.

Velvet: I am not sure you were blunt enough with me. I can understand that most people measure success in certain ways, and that if a person can't succeed, according to these terms the person might be judged a 'loser', or as being 'broken' and unable to live out their programming.

But to me it seemed that you questioned the generalized idea of success, while not denying that mainstream ideas about success do have effects on perception and functioning. Does it make sense to support the language of a religion you do not believe in, except if you are using it ironically?

Tyler Duden: Beggars can't be choosers.

Velvet: That statement illustrates what I'm getting at. I think the concept of 'beggar' perhaps needs to be tackled from the angle of stigma and prejudice in relation to those who have the nerve to rebel against the status quo. It is not just mainstream society that hammers these messages home again and again - it is often those who in one way or another aren't accepted by the mainstream as well. The basic message is: 'You have to take what you get, because you don't really deserve anything good. You don't really deserve to be happy. You don't have anything worthwhile to offer anyone, and if you have the good fortune to encounter a sucker who perhaps doesn't have the self-esteem to realize they could 'do better', then keep your fucking mouth shut, and learn to appreciate what you don't deserve.' I do think I look at people differently from how most people do, and that I am looking for someone who might be able to understand my issues, and whose issues I might be able to understand and help with or relieve in some ways. And I think it's valid not to want to be dependent on a person who devalues you or has serious prejudices against 'people like you' - even if they remain unaddressed in a direct sense. Perhaps all minorities need a Rosa Parks.

Most people do want someone they can introduce to family or friends, someone with some kind of recognizable status, someone they can be 'proud' of. Obvious examples are things like: 'he's a doctor', or 'she's a model'. And even if you come from some group that might admire someone who doesn't have a job, they would still want you to take a clear stand against it. They want you to have passions, interests, something to say for yourself. I don't think there's anyone who will accept that you can't see anything you genuinely want to continue, and that if asked questions by an interested party for long enough, you would surely get down to 'the only place to go from here is to plan the way out', because it is the most 'real' thing, it is the extension of the beliefs and actions of a lifetime. And if there is any argument to that, if there's something not seen, then the discussion has to go far enough to help what is not seen to be seen at last. For me, no discussion has ever gone that far.

I do understand that the vast majority of humans would not find a person like me worth getting to know. I can't afford to get bogged down feeling bad about that, and I don't actually believe I should. What I have tried to do is to express what is different about me, to make myself more visible to those who might have complementary needs, or who might find my complications 'interesting'. I can see that your cynical response is that the only ones who would respond would be 'nutjobs' who want to mess with me, and I think it's a valid part of the whole, but I don't think it's the whole. There are many different philosophical stances in the world, and although rare, I do occasionally see glimpses of stances that are more closely aligned with mine. Sometimes it's in an online comment or article, sometimes it's in a song or a movie or a book. There are (strange!) people out there whose philosophies and needs might surprise you.

I am trying to uncover choices that are more obscure, or I am trying to contribute towards creating them myself. I am choosing not to behave like a beggar, or to identify as a beggar.

Tyler Duden: What's the sense in going to 'therapy'?

Velvet: I think if you just choose a random therapy or therapist and expect it to 'work', it's only going to help if your issues are fairly straightforward and your underlying beliefs are in line with mainstream culture. Basically, you accept that you are falling off the rails, you accept a 'warning', you take the pills prescribed, and you do your best to become a productive member of society, or at least to have a positive attitude, as defined by popular culture. Individuals like me serve as a warning as to what you will face if you don't fall in line, and for most people, that's enough.

As for myself, I really feel that I need someone to talk to, but I think my communication style overburdens people, including you. I realize I might have to pay someone to listen to me, but it can't be just anyone. I have to put in effort to find someone who might think I am actually saying something. I like the process of thinking and analyzing, I like uncovering associations I hadn't noticed before, and reaching new insights. I know it's not for everyone, but I think I do get something out of it, something that is valid in itself, whether I achieve any kind of 'measurable' success or status in life or not, and whether or not I continue to wish for death. Maybe it's just a kind of 'exercise' I genuinely enjoy. But, it's also true that I think I'd withdraw from it if I thought the therapist wasn't getting anything out of it other than money. I want to have the capacity to make others think. When it comes to 'friends', if I think they only put up with me in order to 'do a good deed', I will try to resolve whatever I can for myself, and then withdraw.

Based on my past experiences with therapy, my assessment is that I was only seen and treated as a list of symptoms, and not as an individual.

Tyler Duden: Why, that verges on malpractice!

Velvet: Look, I get that you're being sarcastic, but when I have asked for an explanation as to what I was being prescribed in the past and why, I either got very vague answers, or none at all. In fact, one doctor ridiculed me for having the gall to ask, and I do think that does more than verge on malpractice.

I think it makes sense for a person to try to participate in their own treatment. At present, the diagnostic process is far from scientic or objective. It depends on the subjective assessments and interpretations of individual practioners. Diagnostic manuals like the DSM use highly prejudiced language to describe symptoms. In many cases, 'symptoms' seem to be related to the moral and value judgments of the day, which later might be seen to be barbaric, or at least misguided. Factor in that we still can't scientifically prove why medication 'works' for some people and not others.

Some practioners might not factor in the impact of social issues (e.g.s, if a person belongs to a minority that doesn't have equal status in society, or has some condition to which stigma is attached), the effects of different conditions impacting upon each other, they might not factor in relevant socioeconomic issues, such as whether a person can afford medication or the most suitable therapy for their condition - or if they can even afford transportation costs to access medical treatment, and they might not factor in the person's own belief system or think it's important to ask a person what they want in life, and what compromises (side effects) they'd be willing to put up with, and which ones they wouldn't, and perhaps they might not be able to adequately analyze the patient's personal support system or come up with realistic suggestions as to how to strengthen it. In most cases, because people still blindly trust authority, they just do what the doctor says, take what the doctor prescribes and everybody crosses their fingers and hopes it works. It is quite possible that when 'success' occurs, it's a qualified success that depends on a subjective 'professional' interpretation that might not reflect an individual patient's values. It is also possible that success that is 'meaningful' to an individual relates more to a relationship with a particular therapist/doctor than any other factor.

I can see it would be a big drag for you to have to discuss all this with me. I appreciate that you've put up with as much as you have. However, I think I need to find people to talk to who don't just dismiss my concerns and life experiences in the ways you seem to. I can accept it's just not your thing. So, I'll go on for a while longer now, and try to wind things up:

It could just be that what I needed was to resolve a discrepancy. What is becoming apparent to me now is that you saw me as nice and well-meaning, something of an airhead, and you found it flattering I had a crush on you. You did not think me capable of having any personal philosophy of any depth.

Since you knew we would not meet again, you devised a story for the 'greater good': you were intensely attracted to me, and you wondered what would have happened if you had met me before your longtime Significant Other, and at this time and in the future, you seemed to suggest that actual physical contact would have been inferior to the intellectual stimulation of our correspondence - and that in fact the latter was indeed more 'sexual'. ( As a side note: I think you are a little confused regarding the definition of a 'fuck buddy'. For future reference, you don't try to make someone feel special when pursuing this type of relationship.)

This was supposed to make me feel better about myself, but you hadn't understood how my mind processes information, or what my underlying philosophies and values were. The information you shared didn't make sense or didn't add up to me, and so it made me feel confused. I would have felt better to be 'released' fully, through a rational explanation. I had already assessed that our lives would never fit together, and the only scenario I had thought could work would be if you had a hidden desire for what I wanted. I could never imagine a life with you, because I know what I am like in daily life, and I could sense what you'd be like. I could have understood if you had said that initially you were curious and that after meeting me your curiosity had been satisfied and you were ready to go back to your relationship, and to continue to satisfy your curiosity in other ways, or with other people.

When someone rejects me, the whys are more important than the fact of the rejection itself (and it is very similar when it comes to anyone who likes me). I suppose you could worry that I'd feel devastated if you said something like 'you are just too stupid to be attractive to me', or 'I'm sorry but I find you physically repulsive', but you would be missing something crucial. I can perceive that you and I define the word 'stupid' differently, and that while there might be some overlap, we probably prioritize different personal qualities in others and in ourselves. What I'm always trying to do is to clarify these particular points. When I become fixated on someone, it's not because I believe I know who the person is. It's because I want the chance to explore. It's not just about the 'magical opportunity' to be with this person with no conditions, it's about the chance to find out who this person is, and to find out how far we can go together.

I think it's possible that you can get to know some people better in one all-night discussion than you can get to know others in a lifetime. It is possible to take a stand against a corrupt and broken society and system, and to refuse to be catalogued and monitored, to refuse to put your efforts into supporting the system just so you can keep eating and procreating. There might be ways to do it other than by dying, but I'm not saying people can't try to choose those options, I'm just factoring in what I know of myself, and expressing what I think the best option is for me.

I wanted you to 'know' me, and I wanted you to respect me, based on my ability to think and express.

I want to thank you for giving me practice in articulating my philosophies. I don't think it's very easy to intimidate me now, I'm much less compliant, and I'm able to be more accurate without self- consciousness. You provided a kind of 'platform' which helped me to see that I was actually saying something.

Many of our ideas and values are in conflict, but for an extended period, I think that was actually a good thing, and it was more 'interesting' than if we had merely agreed on everything. I know many people are intimidated by you, and I'm glad I dared to confront you. In the beginning, your arrogant manner perhaps helped to establish boundaries and limits I needed in order to focus in on small portions of the chaos in a methodical way, until I got the hang of it. It's not your fault that I eventually found that too restrictive and wanted something a bit 'crazier', that the idea of constant self-control and no chance ever for some kind of atomic explosion or apocalypse was impossible for me to sustain/contain.

Spending time with you in person was something it's difficult for me to dismiss, even if intellectually I can appreciate that we were interpreting everything differently. Time wasn't the burden it usually is for me. I think it makes sense that I'd want to have an experience like that again, even though I realize that partly because of our interaction I am 'different' now and it is unlikely I would have the potential to shut out the illusions that made it possible before.

Velvet sees before her the Magick Fuckdemon. He is completely naked, has an erection, and is holding a gun pointed at Velvet. A surrealist effect will occur, in which Velvet hits a 'pause' button, and thinks about this situation. While the Fuckdemon is in freezeframe, Velvet walks around him, examining him from various angles.

She recalls a scene from her past. When Velvet was 18, a very tense situation occurred at the house of a 33-year-old coworker she was dating. Everyone was getting high, and there was a fight between two of the men. One pulled out a gun, and Velvet had no idea what would happen, if the he was going to shoot the man he was arguing with, or shoot everyone in the room. He was really, really angry, and yelling a lot, and waving the gun around. The place was a rooming house, in suburbia, and it was perhaps weird to find a place like that where adult males were all rooming together and taking drugs and playing guitars, but maybe even then Velvet managed to find havens of nonconformity and danger. No, she did not break off this relationship then and there.

Velvet: This a situation in which I can sense the essential thing is to respond to a particular rhythm and intensity in the moment. It is a creative challenge or imperative. If such a challenge presents itself, you recognize it, you realize this sort of thing might not ever occur again, and you go with it, if you have a need for danger or the unexpected.

I need a moment to think about this. Is this a dangerous situation? Would most women run? Is there a type he knows won't tell? And does he figure this out before he 'opens up' like this?

Velvet manually repositions the Fuckdemon, and presses 'Play'. She straddles the Fuckdemon and while fucking they each hold some kind of sharp but really cool-looking blade to each other's carotids, looking into each other's eyes.

Velvet: I think I am running out of ways to metaphorically describe cutting you open, playing with your entrails and forcing you to consume them. It's a bit like when I watch mainstream porn - I get desensitized after a while. I think we are getting different things out of the experience. I think the pain, blood and gory details are necessary for your enjoyment, whereas for me what's necessary is the underlying philosophical implication, and using different tools to get to there is perfectly acceptable to me.

It has been a good thing for me to try to find creative ways to express the violence and frustration of inner pain and longing, but I think I have gone as far as I can go with this subgenre of deathsex fantasies. It would be a challenge to continue, and I feel a bit lazy for not trying, however, I think for me something is missing, some motivating factor.

I really want death to occur. I understand that you won't be ready for another 15-20 years. I understood that 15-20 years ago when you expressed it. I understand the time warp factor, that in advance, we can't know how the passing of time, moments in time, or circumstances will affect us. When I pierced my labia and nipples with needles and clitoris with a lancet, masturbating with blood (to orgasm), I had a revelatory experience, an epiphany that I wouldn't have had if I had never known you.

Exchanging fantasies with you reminds me a bit of the scene in Last Tango in Paris, when Brando asks the girl to stick fingers up his ass, and then he asks her if she'll fuck a pig for him, eat the pig's vomit, kill it and smell its dying fart, except that instead of saying 'yes, yes, I will do all that and more', I actively tried to contribute and even take it to another level or add layers of complexity, and in this case, of course no pigs were involved. I think it was partly because I had read many things, including the works of the Marquis de Sade, and I felt I had grasped the underlying philosophies. It was necessary to try to work these into it, not just let the acts alone stand for it, or go along with it, let submission be my ultimate statement of feminity. Yes alone was not enough, consent was not enough. I had to actively, creatively participate, and try to take it to another level. I couldn't walk away from the challenge, but it was not honest to try to sustain it.

Magick Fuckdemon: You have written some of the best deathsex fantasies I have ever read.

Velvet: You were pretty inspiring, and had so much range. You could be very gentle, and considerate and patient, and you had an amazing capacity for creativity in expressing passionate love.

When I realized that I had inadvertently given you the impression that I shared your preferences, I did truly try to address it. I was not sure if you believed me. I realized that you and others might think I was merely embarrassed about my true nature. I think the problem was that I didn't think I could help you to see 'my true nature'.

Some years pass.

With no preliminaries, the Fuckdemon starts to list gory and brutal acts. Velvet is momentarily taken aback, but she realizes it probably comes down to a misunderstanding.

Velvet: I think I might have given you the wrong impression. I just wanted to catch up a little and reiterate that you've been an important influence in my life.

Magick Fuckdemon: I know that you are easily overwhelmed.

Velvet: That hasn't been true for a long time. When you and I were first in contact, I had no experience with email at all. I felt incredibly self-conscious about not having a job/career, even in a community of people who wanted to die. I had a lot of other issues as well. I was 'overwhelmed' easily in the beginning because I had no practice articulating my situation, my thoughts, feelings, and philosophies for others. I used to destroy everything I wrote. I was always embarrassed by it, or felt I was whining too much, or being unfair, and maybe it was that I didn't feel entitled to feel what I felt, or to even be allowed to carefully think through my messy thoughts. It's not the same now. I do believe that our correspondence was a step, an essential step in learning how express and 'own' my thoughts. Now, when I am corresponding with anyone, I usually write more than the other person does, and this includes you.

Magick Fuckdemon: Are you going through another of those phases when you have no interest in sex?

Velvet: There are times when I don't think there's anyone I can relate to well enough to have sex, or who wants 'me', and I think this does affect my libido, but no, it's not that, and I think although I have explained this before, I probably have to try again.

When you and I were first in contact, I was extremely isolated, and had been spending years reading all kinds of books about sex, without having much actual sex. I had read several books by the Marquis de Sade, and a lot of what you wrote recalled all of that. Because I had trouble communicating everything at once, it might not have been clear to you that I was mostly trying to speak your language; I was adapting to your preferences. I channelled all my inner pain and turmoil and longing into creative writing. It all felt extreme, and so in the moment, I was able to go with it. I knew that the Marquis de Sade was expressing philosophies through his sexuality, and that they related to challenging and questioning the church and various societal hypocrisies. But perhaps most of all, I tried to address the kind of emotional connection I wanted, a kind of writer's version of metaphorically getting the other to stare deeply into one's eyes. When I managed to get us into position, I realized that we were looking for different things there.

I asked you to delete my messages because at that time I still deleted all I wrote myself. I haven't asked anyone else to do that since, but that is partly because my relationship with you helped me to move to a new stage. I am now so 'open' that most people find me inappropriate. I do admit that I wondered if one day you would be part of some really weird court case or something, or if one of the people in contact with you would come to your place and murder you or something, and because of my issues with leaving the house, I had anxiety about being called as a witness or having to have contact with authorities. And it seemed to me that what you really wanted was for some sexy psycho in full dominatrix mode to show up, tie you up, torture you and ultimately fuck and kill you, taking the decision out of your hands, and I considered it, but knew it was not an 'authentic' destiny for me. I felt bad about asking you to delete my messages, and sometimes I kind of wish I could see the old messages. They probably weren't as creative as I thought, but at the time, I probably pushed pretty far past my limits - and that was due to you, and I continue to feel amazed and grateful for the experience.

I realize now that most people probably think I've overshot the mark and should have remained quiet about myself, but I wouldn't go back.

During the time I corresponded with you, it was like I felt constantly on fire. I knew what had been missing in my life. All my life I had wanted to know what it was not only to sit daydreaming, incapacitated by desire, but to find some way to share the feelings with another person. Because you were so open, I wasn't as self- conscious, and although there were times when I felt overwhelmed and couldn't speak, a great deal of the time I did 'speak'. It was like I finally could see the evidence that I wasn't 'wrong' about myself - it was possible to connect passionately with another person. It was possible to break through the repression and self-censorship. It was possible partly because you didn't judge me in the ways others would have. You didn't sneer at any awkward attempts.

I will admit that at times when you seemed to confuse me with others, it made me feel somewhat interchangeable. However, I respected that from the start you openly expressed that you were polyamorous. I never felt neglected. I could barely keep up with all you sent me. But I know now that part of that related to the challenge, and to 'hope'. Abilities I had that had lain dormant in the life I was leading were brought to the surface. From there, I would go on to learn how to discuss many different topics with different people. I would find ways 'in' to subjects that as of yet I lacked knowledge regarding. I learned how to articulate my thoughts comprehensively, and quickly.

The 'hope' related to my capacity for passion. In my isolation, no one knew I existed. I saw no potential for a 'great love'. But when I risked my personal safety and public embarrassment, I finally had a chance to communicate with people in non-superficial ways.

It's fine not to reply if it's just not the right time for you. I wanted to let you know I was thinking about you. I wanted to say again that you are a phenomenon I feel fortunate to have encountered in my life.

An audition takes place on a set decorated like a dungeon. As we pan back, it becomes evident that the viewer is viewing this scene from inside a tv. What is happening 'out there' is real, whereas the viewer comes to the realization that they themselves aren't real, they're just a tv character, and can't influence this situation one way or the other. It has nothing to do with the laws of supply and demand.

Velvet: What you're offering me is the chance to die before I get old. I will be tortured before my death, but I will die. It will be an extreme death, kinda arty, a death that will represent rebellion against conventional lifestyles and sexuality, hypocrisy and political correctness. The Real Deal, not some kind of playacting thing.

What if I'm considering it, but am so messed up about how I would look on camera that I don't think I could go through with it?

Videodrone: We could arrange for you to undertake an extreme makeover beforehand. My associates and I would have no trouble coming up with the funds.

Velvet: How could you be sure I wouldn't back out after?

Videodrone: You would be taken to recuperate under our supervision.

Velvet: What if I wanted to spend a week as 'the new me' before submitting?

Videodrone: We would have you discreetly followed, and brought back here when the time was up. If you attempted to contact the authorities, you would find you have no proof, and with your record, it would be easy to discredit you.

Velvet: All of my life I have had trouble answering the question 'What do you do?' I think if I chose this option, the people I've known would find it easier to explain who I am or who I was. I think they'd be 'proud' of me in an odd way, or think this was a 'cool' outcome, even if it wouldn't be politically correct to express that.

I've considered it carefully, but I know this is not the right choice for me.

Velvet enters the ePod.


She's gone, she's gone
Oh I, oh I
I better learn how to face it
She's gone, and she's gone
Oh why, what went wrong?

[Hall 'n Oates - She's Gone]


How can you look at me as if I was just another one of your deals?

Now you just say, "Oh Romeo, yeah. You know, I used to have a scene with him."

[Dire Straits - Romeo & Juliet]


Don't tell me you don't know the difference
Between a lover and a fighter
With my pen and my electric typewriter
Even in a perfect world where everyone was equal
I'd still own the film rights and be working on the sequel

I'm giving you a longing look
Everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday, everyday
Everyday I write the book

[Elvis Costello - Everyday I Write the Book]


Do you feel what I feel?
Can we make it so that's the part of the deal?

[Robbie Robertson - Broken Arrow]


Soft hair and a velvet tongue
I want to give you what you give to me
And every breath that is in your lungs
Is a tiny little gift to me


Well any man with a microphone
Can tell you what he loves the most

[White Stripes - Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground]


[Wojciech Kilar - Vampire Hunters]


I thought it was a love story, but you don't want to get involved
I thought it was a love story, but you're not ready for that ...?

Me neither

[SoKo - I'll Kill Her]


All of this time on my hands
So far has gone to feeding my animals
All of that time I was dead
Limbless in bed, sedated experiment

[Dissociatives - Horror With Eyeballs]


There was a time when my world was filled with
Darkness, darkness, darkness
Then I stopped dreaming, now I'm supposed to fill it up
With something, something, something
In your eyes, I see the eyes of somebody I knew before
Long, long, long ago
But I'm still trying to make my mind up
Am I free or am I tied up?

[Miike Snow - Animal]


A constant feeling you're being watched
All your good intentions so clumsily botched
A kiss sent down the telephone line
can come out sounding
like a bug getting squashed is just a lazy generalisation
that we use for 100 different feelings and as many situations
Going through each other's pockets is not like us
and flattery should get you somewhere
and your happiness is just a chemical

[Darren Hanlon - Happiness is a Chemical]


I got caught up in a current
so I surrendered myself to it

I don't know many things
but I know it when my heart sings

[Phoncurves - Heartstrings]


I'm gnawing on the knowledge
That I have been burned
And I'm learning things that I
Should have already learned

[Violent Femmes - I Held Her In My Arms]


For whatís missing I'll sacrifice my flesh
Only kissing you is so hard in this wild thresh

[Pixies - Andro Queen]


I finally broke into the prison
I found my place in the chain
Even damnation is poisoned with rainbows
all the brave young men
they're waiting now to see a signal
which some killer will be lighting for pay
Into this furnace I ask you now to venture
you whom I cannot betray

[Leonard Cohen - The Old Revolution]


I'ma let you know and keep it simple
Tryna keep it up don't seem so simple
I just fucked two bitches 'fore I saw you
And you gon' have to do it at my tempo
Always tryna send me off to rehab
Drugs started feelin' like it's decaf
I'm just tryna live life for the moment
And all these motherfuckers want a relapse

[The Weeknd - The Hills]


Hard to believe you can't get what you dream
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you steal

[Machine Gun Fellatio - Girl of My Dreams]


She's so scared
So very frightened
Anything could happen
Right here tonight

Beautiful girl
(stay with me)
Beautiful girl
(stay with me)
She wants to go home

[INXS - Beautiful Girl]


I go out
To the old milestone
Insanely expecting
You to come there
Knowing that I wait for you there
That I wait for you there

[PJ Harvey - The Devil]


When I walk into a room
I do not light it up

[The National - Demons]


Heya heya huuah huhh heya

[Cloud Control - Scream Rave]


I'm knee deep in myself
But I want to get more of that stuff
Of that stuff
Some candy talking

And I want
And I want
Some candy talking

[Jesus and Mary Chain - Some Candy Talking]


And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
You know, I'm trying to please to the calling
Of your heartstrings that play soft and low

[Van Morrison - Moondance]


Wind blows in then crashes
Waves over the ashes
Hills washed up in violet
Eyes close up to hide it

I want to feel that you want it
I want to feel by the morning
I want to feel that you want it
Oh let me feel what you are

[Rufus - Sundream]


She looks like the real thing
She tastes like the real thing
My fake plastic love
But I can't help the feeling
I could blow through the ceiling
If I just turn and run
And it wears me out, it wears me out

[Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees]


Well they've got to kill what we found
Well they've got to hate what they fear
Well they've got to make it go away
Well they've got to make it disappear

[NIN - We're in this Together Now]


There's nowhere left to hide
In no one to confide
The truth burns deep inside
And will never die
Lips are turning blue
A kiss that can't renew

(Our wrongs remain unrectified
And our souls won't be exhumed)

[Muse - Sing For Absolution]


This is not the sound of a new man
Or crispy realization
It's the sound of the unlocking and the lift away
Your love will be
Safe with me

[Bon Iver - Re: Stacks]


Well I was the one who showed you the sky
But you brought it down, down to my thighs
Sadly believed every word
I didnít mean about loving darkness

[Jezabels - Easy to Love]


Usually when things has gone this far
People tend to disappear
No one will surprise me unless you do

I can tell there's something going on
Hours seems to disappear
Everyone is leaving I'm still with you

[Peter, Bjorn & John - Young Folks]


I can't be too late
To say that I was so wrong

[Air Supply - All Out of Love]


Like the leaf clings to the tree
Oh, my darling, cling to me
For we're like creatures of the wind, and wild is the wind
Wild is the wind

[David Bowie version - Wild is the Wind]

How shall we put this? Dr Velvet Thong's office is never going to make the pages of Better Homes and Planets. Think Moulin Rouge-inspired bordello, plopped into the middle of a Blade Runner set. Some of the electronic billboards and blimps in town read:

Dr Velvet Thong

-Unregistered Sex Therapist/Offender

Note: All of the other billboards have been hacked by 4-chan, and depict models doing degrading things with Coke bottles and smartphones. Please bear in mind that we don't all define the word 'degrading' in the same way.

Velvet: Is this some kind of joke?

Relating Consultant: We could not get any of the accredited psychotherapists in any of the known galaxies to accept your case.

Velvet: Why not?

Relating Consultant: The consensus was that your case was not strange enough to be of interest, or at least not interesting or lucrative enough to be worth the legal hassles. A few commented that you seemed to lack sufficient insight to be a good candidate.

Velvet: So basically what you are saying is that I have to somehow work this out on my own?

Relating Consultant: Good luck, but remember, most people make their own luck, good or bad. I'll see you at the Weigh Station.

Velvet turns to face Dr Velvet Thong.

Velvet: Would you consider putting on some clothes, like a robe or something? If I'm expected to talk about my feelings here, it might be more difficult if I have to worry about who looks better in lingerie.

Dr Velvet Thong: Stay with the discomfort, don't deflect it. I think you know where we need to start.

Velvet: You mean why I want to die? Yes, I realize that although I have gone through it many times, it's probably not clear.

I don't want to live my life financially dependent on another person or government institution, but I don't want to get a job or jump through any of the hoops that have to be jumped through to earn a Respectable Position in Society. The jobs people have make a kind of sense; it doesn't make sense for me to have a job. I wearied of the process of applying for Social Passports and Visas in perpetuity. If I was granted respect for any reason, I would turn it over and examine it from every angle I could, and I'd balk at accepting it if it seemed to be based on misunderstandings or miscommunication. It seems inevitable that it would be.

Dr Velvet Thong: I can sense you might go on for a while here, so let me interject: What if you won a lottery or inherited a sum sufficient to last the rest of your life?

Velvet: In every situation and relationship, my programming seems to be to explore the cognitive dissonance. Once I have taken that as far as I can, there doesn't seem to be anywhere 'real' to go from there, except to seek out yet more cognitive dissonance. I accept that this is a valid approach to life, but I would like it to stop, and I think the only way to make it stop involves actual physical death.

I don't genuinely enjoy much, and in order to experience anything even approximating pleasure, I have to put in a lot of effort intellectually, psychologically and physically to create 'contrast' to the state of non-pleasure. The results sometimes seem worth it to some extent, or at least better than the alternative of never putting in effort, but in the overall sense, the reward does not seem equal to the effort expended.

Stephen Hawking has said that he would consider ending his life if he had nothing more to contribute or was becoming a burden. What if you've never had anything to contribute, and you've always been a burden? He has argued that it is the "ultimate indignity" to keep a person alive against their will. For now I'm gonna try to sidestep the whole issue of people trying to work out how much they have contributed as compared to Mr. Hawking...

Many, many times I have encountered those who have implied in one way or another that if they had found themselves in my circumstances, they would have had the self-respect to off themselves long before now.

Philip Nitschke seems to focus on end of life rights/choices for those who are terminally ill or elderly, but to me it does seem that the logical extension of the ideas he has expressed is that every person has the right to decide what quality of life is acceptable to them, and to choose their time of death, and that he has made the decision to take one step at a time in the fight to legalize voluntary euthanasia. And of course anyone can argue that any able- bodied person can kill themself at any time, nothing's stopping them, but there is the issue of inflicting trauma on those who might discover something gruesome, and there is the issue that because of the lack of availability of sure and humane options, as well as accurate and detailed info, some people are going to botch the job, perhaps ending up worse than before.

Nitschke has been treated in an appalling manner. I have to admit that I find his burning of his medical certificate pretty hot.

Dr Velvet Thong: It seems that the majority of those you have had contact with are middle-aged, and that you have also had relationships with those who are younger, but have you ever considered dating older men?

Velvet: I find many men who are considerably older than me attractive, but I have the impression they are not all that impressed by me. I am drawn to outsiders and minorities of various kinds, and I do realize that the older a person gets, the more they might feel forgotten, isolated, or no longer relevant, and I can see that this could provide common ground for us.

When I'm in an online social interaction site/group, I don't sit back and wait for people to contact me, I make an effort to identify who I want contact with, and I send out messages myself. I also usually receive many messages aside from that. I'm completely open to dating those significantly older than me, but so far, in the online groups I've attended, there haven't been many older men, and the ones present often seem less 'vocal'. I think it's possible that when it comes to depression and unemployment, the older a man gets, the harder it is to reach out. Not many have responded to me, and it could be that through my communication style I come across as 'too high maintenance' or complicated. They have enough experience to read the signs, perhaps.

I think all men still identify as their younger selves, and when they scan photos of women online, they do it from the point of view of their younger selves. Why shouldn't those in their 80s prefer women in their 20s? I have picked up that many males are a bit impatient in their communication with me, as if they are saving their A-game for someone more appealing.

I would be completely open to dating those with unusual conditions, insecurities and issues, but I would still feel self-conscious. I would still worry that somehow I would be a disappointment because I am not younger or more attractive.

One of the most passionate relationships I have had was with someone who was intersex. He had Klinefelter's Syndrome, which means he had an extra X chromosome, resulting in some female features, like extra body fat around the hips and thighs, and 'breasts'. He identified as male. Rather than experiencing this as a struggle to accept, right from the start it was actually something that appealed to me or intrigued me, because it implied a non-standard experience of life and relating.

Dr Velvet Thong: Many believe that a woman's relationship with her father impacts all her future relationship choices. How would you characterize your relationship with your father?

Velvet: It was a street fight to the death, and he lost.

Dr Velvet Thong blinks rapidly several times, as if she is having trouble processing this info.

Velvet: He started it, and he didn't fight fair, and maybe he was over-confident.

I was starting with the premise that no one was expendable, and it was a shock to discover that to him, I was. Rather than admit to a mistake or evolve, he focused his efforts on discrediting me and undermining my self-confidence, even if his methods weren't easy for me or anyone else to pinpoint, quantify or assess.

According to his value system, he lost. Even though I've lived with a deathwish, I still outlived him. He was never happy in life, either.

According to my value system, I failed in the sense that I could not help him to evolve. I could not help him to achieve happiness or self-realization. However, my approach to communication and self-expression represent that I am still trying to 'help' him, in a way, and to help myself.

I know I don't know everything, I know I make mistakes, I know there is always more for me to learn, and I know there's always more to any story.

Dr Velvet Thong seems preoccupied.

Velvet: Do you ever get the feeling you're talking to yourself?

Dr Velvet Thong: What do you mean?

Velvet: If I can look at the written record and observe and analyze what I have expressed, I can be the judge as to whether I have actually said something, or not. Was I present? Was I open? Was I truly trying to connect, or just trying to infect others with my memes? Is there a difference? I don't try to save words, phrases, ideas or creative scenarios for later, or for someone else. I 'send them out into the universes' as they occur to me, and I use the person I'm with as a kind of conduit or sounding board.

Dr Velvet Thong: Do particular pieces of music remind you of particular people or relationships?

Velvet: This is an interesting question. Yes, certain songs or parts of songs can remind me of certain people or experiences, but other parts of the same songs, or the song interpreted in a different way can remind me of other people and experiences.

I don't think I've ever had a song 'with' anyone. I've had a few partners who were very into music, and some had extensive music collections, but I think it says something that although there was sometimes a shared liking of certain songs and genres, we had personal, separate associations, and the emotional elements did not usually represent our connection or relationship. I think that's significant.. that I haven't ever had a relationship in which music added to or connected emotional elements.

Dr Velvet Thong: You seem to hold back in communication, or to remain detached or clinical rather than emotional or sexual.

Velvet: I don't think I was always that way, but I think that's true now, I do tend to balk at responding to people's sexual fantasies, and can't seem to use endearments in the ways they can. It partly relates to desensitization. Through experience I have found it's harder to 'go with' something once I understand the underlying programming better.

It is strange, to have felt all of this passion and longing, and to never find a language to express it, but with most people, it just doesn't make sense, or I can't develop enough trust to try. Maybe I feel awkward or self-conscious, but I think it's more than that. I realize I could be wrong, but I think with most people the essential part is not my individuality or the nuance my individuality brings to a sexual interaction, but the fetishistic aspects of the interaction. As long as I can efface myself well enough to fit the fantasy, I am 'special', and after, I just feel interchangeable. Maybe it is better to participate in this energy exchange rather than sit on the sidelines of life. However, while I think originally I experienced 'normal' human emotions and reactions, I don't consider myself dysfunctional in no longer experiencing the 'normal'. I can't go back to the old ways. I have observed human emotion and behaviour patterns to the extent that I understand now that we all start off programmed, and if our experiences lead us to see that, it becomes necessary to consciously participate in creating our own personal meaning. It's not a failing to fail to continue to respond to the old situations and stimuli - it represents a necessary step in personal evolution.

One of the best things I've ever done in my life was to allow myself to dance wildly in public. However, even though I did it, it still wasn't 'enough'. I was still somewhat unsatisfied, I still needed things to go further, I still hadn't really connected. Many people want to go back in time, and do things differently, or be who they were at some time in the past. I am glad I had the chance to do some extreme things, but I do not feel nostalgic about the social opportunities I had. I pushed things to their limits back then, and it still wasn't enough. When lonely, maybe it's natural for most people to remember a better time, when they enjoyed social occasions, but when I look back, and imagine transplanting my current consciousness into the past experience, I don't think I'd feel comfortable in the experience. Instead of knowing how to 'do things better' or enjoy things more, I think I'd be even less content than in the past.

Dr Velvet Thong: Do you remember how you got here?

Velvet: I was distracted by a flashy ad for a 'Romantic Memetrain Adventure-Challenge'. I think some guy named Nature or Nurture, I forget which, hit me over the head, stole my wallet, and when I came to, I was on a train.

Dr Velvet Thong: I wrote that ad! If I remember correctly it went something like this:

You don't have to say it out loud, but for the moment allow yourself to think about who you'd do, right now, if you could do anyone. Take your time. Think it through.

Psychic spies in China are not monitoring you, we promise, or your money back. Your private fantasies are not being tapped.

Ever wonder how you seem to end up with partners you'd never choose in a million years if you'd only had access to a drop-down menu?

Do you suspect your marriage has become nothing more than a sad and desperate game of Who's the Biggest Martyr, a game whose sole object seems to be to wait for the right justification to do more than just covet thy neighbour? (Or brother-in-law, sister-in-law, spouse's best friend, a high school sweetheart?) Are you fed up having to watch reruns on The Who's The Biggest Martyr Channel, because no other programming seems to be currently available? Such that you have no recourse but to tune into The Porn Channel, and try to hide it, but you can't help wishing there were a few more options?

Proximity and regular interaction program you to have sexual feelings for those you have convenient access to, in part because if your current partner dies or becomes incapacitated in some way, it will be crucial to your survival to find a replacement, and it is efficient if you don't have to go too far to find one that meets minimum compatibility standards. Is this really how you want to define True Love?

There is a SOLUTION. You don't have to continue to exist in a cynical, hopeless, sexually dysfunctional limbo for one moment longer.

Our agency allows you to choose from a diverse selection of attractive candidates from all the known galaxies. You will no longer be restricted to those within a few miles of your birth. All travel expenses are included in the application fee. Our application process is the most comprehensive currently available. Sometimes people can't be totally honest about what they really want when they fill in applications, and we understand that. We compensate with our patented Desire Assessment Scales.

You don't have to be a perfect specimen to find your perfect match. All you have to be is YOU.

Let's not have any of that pessimistic 'I Want To Believe' nonsense. The perfect match for you is out there. Don't waste another moment of your life waiting. Call us now on: 1-800-TELEPATHY.

Velvet: Hmmm. I'm not sure I would have bought a ticket. Even though I can relate to some of the cynicism, there's something seriously sleazy about it.

Surmising it might be a good idea to change the subject, Dr Velvet Thong whips out some inkblots.

Dr Velvet Thong: Tell me what you see.

Velvet: Um, to me they all kinda look like freshly dissected worms. What do you think that means?

Dr Velvet Thong succeeds in maintaining a neutral expression.

Dr Velvet Thong: Before our next session, I want you to think about whether you identify as a scientist, a psychologist, a misandrist, or a romantic.

Velvet enters The Department of Human Relevance. I think I can guess what you're thinking. It's probably a pretty square place, chock full of bureaucrats. But no, it pretty much just looks like the kind of place where most people would want to live. The atmosphere is relaxed, and the bureaucrats are sipping lattes while they discuss Reality TV.

Human Relevance Investigator: Name?

Velvet: Velvet.

Human Relevance Investigator: Is that your Real Name?

Velvet: The name I was designated at birth says something about my parents' intent, hopes and values, but I found that it did not say much about mine once I had developed to the extent that I was able to figure out what they were.

Human Relevance Investigator: According to my data you are 49 years of age. You are not a grandmother, mother, or wife, and do not have a Significant Other of any gender willing to make a statement on your behalf. You have never been a model or worked in any related profession, and the only personal photos you possess have been disqualified for submission on the basis that they do not conform to the current regulations. You are currently unemployed, and have a deficit of over 20,000 hours' accredited work, which means it will be incredibly difficult for you to ever achieve the most basic level of Social Acceptance. You've never saved the life of an infant or the life of a humanoid of any age, and you've never killed anyone, so we can't grant you special status.

There is no angle from which I can legitmately produce a Certificate of Relevance to the human race. You have no apparent value or relevance to society. You may apply again in 5 years' time, but as you know, you are currently too advanced in years to have relevance. Your score is already in the negative. It is a criminal offence to fake credentials, punishable by 10 years of exile if you are charged and found guilty. Do you understand?

Velvet: I don't have any interest in faking credentials.

Weigh Station

Velvet enters and reads a sign:

Disclaimer: We at the Weigh Station attempt to assess the significance of desire, effort and results. The weight of feelings can fluctuate, and there is no universal standard of measurement.

Relating Consultant: Please fill in this questionnaire regarding the interview process. Then proceed to the scales to be weighed. You will receive a printout regarding your True Feelings once the results of the weighing and the various components of the interview process have been compiled and submitted to the intergalactic computer for interpretation. At that time, your matches will be presented to you.

Velvet: How long will this take?

Relating Consultant: It usually doesn't take more than a few seconds, but in your case I suggest we try some last ditch efforts to lose a bit of weight before weigh-in. This is strictly off the record, you didn't hear it from me: your only recourse is to lie.

Velvet: I'll take my chances.

When her info is uploaded, the computer crashes. There is some confusion as to whether before the crash the computer is trying to communicate that Velvet's data is hazardous to the system, or that it wants to date her.

Velvet: I am totally open to AI dating.

A bit of a wait while the computer reboots and then prints out a short message.


Irreconcilable Conflicts within the subject Velvet's makeup preclude matches in any of the known universes.

Velvet seems to have assessed her options realistically.

Velvet: Er, that's it? This is the extent of my 'True Feelings'??? No psychobabble about represssed rage or pathological denial? Is the system infected with a Political Correctness virus?

The computer coughs up another printout.

If Velvet is finally ready to accept that chemical lobotomy, a lifetime prescription is available for pickup at the counter to the right on the way out. As a last resort, there's always the elusive Hope Wormhole. No one seems to know if it actually exists. Try the Dark Web. Codeword: Nembutal. Don't forget to Encrypt.

PS: Some of Velvet's previous partners submitted requests for personal info regarding Velvet. In order to find out more, Velvet must be willing to offer a significant ego boost to said former partners. She's probably gonna have to suck a lot of cock. Just sayin'. Velvet may apply for further details at the Chopped Liver Café.

Relating Consultant: Don't say I didn't warn you.

Velvet: Sweaty-Toothed Madman.

It's a bouncy house! No, it's a library! A restaurant! A concentration camp! It's pretty much anything you want it to be.

Welcome to the Memeplex

What are you in the mood for?

Here at the Memeplex, you can watch a movie, listen to a song, read an e-book, play a game, meditate or do yoga, engage in debate, pursue a hobby or take a class, explore the history of religion and superstition, watch sports (including the ever-popular Ad Hominem Olympics), catch up on intergalactic events, invent or create something or other, try out some meme fusion cuisine - the list goes on and on.

For those of you who think of memes only in terms of Internet Memes, we intend to show you how much more a meme is or can be. The term Internet Meme itself is a misnomer. It usually implies only a small range of simplistic or puerile humour, usually in the form of a gif, but in actuality, what on the internet is not an Internet Meme? Everything referred to in the paragraph above is actually, you guessed it, a meme: a 'unit of culture' that can be passed from one person, mind, consciousness to another. We realize we need to allow for future definitions of 'consciousness', which could include the consciousness of AIs, and we have learned enough from history that we don't want to start off on the wrong foot when it comes to equality and fundamental rights.

Religions and philosophies are stuffed to bursting with memes (and are memes themselves), but the ones that are most well-known and that have stood up the longest are usually those with the best systems of meme transference. Sometimes it's about having charismatic leaders and speakers, and/or a bestselling book, like The Bible or the Qur'an, and/or a series of products designed to evoke associations or an ambiance associated with certain memes. The more different media and products and layers of human susceptibility are tackled successfully, the better chance the original memes have to replicate and take over the worlds. Memes don't have to be helpful to humans to have excellent replicating ability. Your best inoculation against harmful memes is a Questioning Mind. It is important to speak up when you become aware of potentially Harmful Meme Distribution, but perhaps to avoid extremism/meme terrorism. Non-fundamentalists usually accept that some silly or asinine memes might add a bit of fun and relief to an otherwise bland and depressing existence.

More Memes Please! We here would like to propose the theory that pretty much all interaction is based on participants constantly trying to infect each other with their respective memes. In fact, it could be argued that our 'purpose' in life is to infect as many others we can with as many memes as we can, and that the more successful we are in this, the 'happier' we feel. Some of our memes are more attractive or alluring to those we encounter than others, and so when anyone is getting to know us, they might accept some of our memes, while ignoring those they don't like as much.

Even if we've misunderstood the implications of the term as originally described, perhaps that's not quite as bad as letting such a cool term be exclusively associated with silly Internet Memes. It's a bit like saying Charles Darwin should be remembered for his beard. Or his original religious aspirations. OK, maybe that's a little fuzzy. We're willing to admit that. We also realize that Dawkins himself accepts the mutation of the original meaning as a part of the natural selection process, but since we here like to think of ourselves as rational human beings with the potential to question things like unconscious natural selection, and perhaps begin to consciously participate in human evolution, we've decided to throw our hats in the Memering, so to speak. Our aim is to raise awareness of and to perhaps ensure some valuable memes don't become lost in the shuffle, or worse yet, instinct. You can help by clicking on any obscure meme that catches your fancy. Check out our specially selected menu, or just log on to the internet in any galaxy, and remember to make your selections count. Participating in discussion can also help to 'save' the memes worth saving. If you have an opinion, share it. Otherwise, those who are more vocal about their opinions and philosophies, for example those who share Internet Memes, or those who look best in the bikini shots that accompany their memes, set the standard of what is Acceptable, Normal, and Preferable.

If you are new to memes, might we suggest The Selfish Meme, by Anonymous. Note well that your interpretations of the word 'selfish' are perhaps based on memes you have unconsciously absorbed and have not challenged, but it is probably better to read this for yourself to see what we mean here.

If you're in the mood to chat, there is currently a debate in progress in Forum #1. Today's topic: Meme-ing in Life.

Our chef's special is the Surrealist-Existentialist-Freudian Platter. It's not for everyone, but we kinda like it. It goes well with a nice pinot noir, but if you're not one of the small percentage of the population with a 'nose', and money to burn, an inexpensive one will likely do. The winemaking industry would probably collapse if people couldn't be shamed into thinking their palates expose irredeemable hickdom, but we here have no particular beef with said industry. Carry on. <hiccup></hiccup>

Coming soon to a Memeplex near you: Dawkins Does Dallas: A Neofeminist Love Story.

Well, at least we gave it a shot...

Cougar: A 40+ woman who aggressively pursues sexual interactions with considerably younger men. Occasionally women as young as 35 can be classified as cougars. Some cougars are hot, but most are just desperate and/or easy. It is considered de rigueur to add at least one to one's sexual resumé.

MILF: Mother I'd Like To Fuck. Females who despite giving birth are considered sexually relevant/attractive enough to be worth fantasizing about or having sex with. For GILF, replace 'Mother' with 'Grandmother'.

Velvet: A woman of any age who challenges social and sexual norms, and who thinks her individuality is an intrinsic part of her sexuality.

And now, what you've all been waiting for...

The Porn Channel

Our regularly scheduled programming has been cancelled. It its place please read the following helpful Public Service Announcement:

As most of you are aware, galaxy-wide strikes have affected all businesses and schools. Employees and students have declared it unfair and inhumane to be expected to do anything in life but watch porn. We have tried to think about this situation, but find it difficult to concentrate on anything but porn. We are not sure when we will get the porn up and running again. Rest assured that we comprehend the seriousness of this situation and that we have our most gifted engineers working on the problem.

It has come to our attention that a newly identified compulsion perhaps parallels porn addiction: females, and some males, isolate themselves and waste a lot of time with social media, movies, and tv, whilst consuming cupcakes and copious amounts of alcoholic beverages.

What if porn addiction, and other addictions, are not about 'treatable' anxiety? What if the anxiety relates to a suppressed, perhaps unconscious rebellion against society and the rules of society, which include staying at a job, being 'productive' and living a pointless life?

Is it 'necessary' to do unpleasant work? Is this an integral part of what it means to be 'alive'? 'Responsible' lifeforms get up each day and do not question that they 'must' go to school or work. What happens when that belief has been eroded?

We're sorry, but we don't think we can think this through, for reasons that are probably obvious to everyone but us.

We mean this in the nicest way possible:

Go Fuck Yourselves!

A sign reads: The Msfits...

The Relating Consultant will be with Velvet as they observe various women who are having a good time eating, drinking and playing with sex toys, and watching movies with a diverse range of inspiring heroines who find meaningful romantic and sexual connections even when they're over 30. All previously illicit substances have been decriminalized. I've heard you can even get some of that Spice stuff from Dune.

Velvet: What is this place?

Relating Consultant: An explanation, and a virtual therapy-holiday destination. These women have been stalked, but the stalkers found something to be disappointed with and moved on to stalk someone else, leaving these women with a strange sense of rejection that they were not sure how to account for. They act it out in different ways. They can stay as long as they like, but it will only be a few seconds out of 'real life', however long they choose to stay. No one will ever gain weight here, no matter how much they eat or drink, unless they would find it fun to do so, and in order to have anything they want, all they have to do is imagine it, and it appears. It's a place to let off steam, 'find yourself', do whatever you need to do. You don't have to worry about your appearance if you don't want to, but if you want, it's always a great hair day.

Velvet: Are you saying that I have somehow perceived an unconscious rejection and it is affecting my self-esteem?

Relating Consultant: Serial killers and stalkers have a type. All of the women here, including you, were either a bit or a lot atypical. Stalkers watched each of you for a while, until you did something that broke the spell. Do you want to know what you did?

Velvet: I have a few theories.

Relating Consultant: You're not entirely wrong. The specimen in question infected your computer with a virus, but then vacated the premises. You accidentally initiated a sequence which started up the Mr Snotcum program. This program checked all your written files, cross-referenced them and linked all info from past relationships in which others criticized you or found you lacking, even when these assessment were unfair. Luckily for you it eventually dawned on you to attempt to create the teknoMuse program which in effect hacked the Mr Snotcum program.

So basically yes, when you thought someone was messing with your head and trying to undermine your self-concept and sexual identity, this is what was occurring. This is what the Mr Snotcum program was created to do, but the original stalker was not overseeing the process. He moved on to stalk someone who more closely fit his pre-programmed preferences.

A program cannot change of its own accord. It must be rewritten or hacked. It is not always easy to distinguish between a program and a hacker, a program and a user, a machine and a human. What is consciousness? Is Velvet a vulva or a person? Can a vulva have consciousness? Can a program have consciousness?

Velvet: I'm not suffering from delusions?

Relating Consultant: Er, that's not what I said, exactly.

In order to initiate the Mr Snotcum program, a person has to be somewhat out of touch with 'reality'. Sometimes the person has just read too much Freud. Mr Snotcum taps into a 'memory network' and uses the info there to psychologically 'torture' those infected, often by using mixed messages, but these messages can only be perceived by those who already read too much into Normal Human Communication. It seems that your excesses in this area of development also helped in the creation of a program which could tap into memories and abilities that could override/hack the Mr Snotcum program. The objective of the teknoMuse program was to ascertain your strengths, tap into helpful memories and associations, focus on what you'd like to attract into your life, help you achieve an integrated system, and restore sexual confidence.

Velvet: Sort of like a virtual Frankenfriend?

Relating Consultant: What do you think?

(To the tune of Working Class Hero):

Velvet: An unemployed monster is something to be...

Relating Consultant: Once women find this place, only a few ever leave.

Velvet re-enters the ePod.


Oh, yeah I feel alright tonight
Oh, man the stars are bright tonight
Like we could reach right out
And help yourself to them

Cause what we want and what we need
Will one day bring us to our knees
Well, I am over it
You know that I've accepted it

Let's go for a ride

[Cracker - Let's Go For a Ride]


Mamma told me, when I was a baby
I'd love you but I don't
Don't speak, I hope you're happy
Cause I think I paid what you want

[Thelma Plum - How Much Does Your Love Cost?]


I ain't down here for your money
I ain't down here for your love
I ain't down here for your love or money
I'm down here for your soul

[Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Deanna]


Come up crash with the muses
Fells dust into ash
Come so close that I might see
The light inside me I might see

[Mazzy Star - So Tonight That I Might See]


Got me a movie
I want you to know
Slicing up eyeballs
I want you to know

[Pixies - Debaser]


Anything goes but don't blink, you might miss

[The Killers - Somebody Told Me]


All this feels strange and untrue
And I won't waste a minute without you
My bones ache, my skin feels cold
And I'm getting so tired and so old
The anger swells in my guts
And I won't feel these slices and cuts

[Snow Patrol - Open Your Eyes]


Hold my hand
Feel the things you tell no man
Move through you
So easy

[Philosopher Kings - Charms]


I would love to spill the beans with you till dawn

[Rolling Stones - Loving Cup]


Cross the bridge, derivative of pain
Crush the burning in your heart
Wide awake
To redefine the way you listen in the dark
Dreaming, starving
Like a stranded kid in a doorway
Just burning

[The War on Drugs - Burning]


The stranger sang a theme
From someone else's dream
The leaves began to fall
And no one spoke at all

[Mono - Life in Mono]


He put his hands on me, showed me what I am

[PJ Harvey - Heela]


Could you come on over
When it feels like lust

[Movement - Like Lust]


Keep on with the force don't stop
Don't stop 'til you get enough

[Michael Jackson - Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough]


I yearn for more than just your mind
You would die

[Holly McNarland - Stormy]


Let's get a table by the window
Beneath the shot of Chairman Mao
And I can tell you all my problems
Yeah, you can try to hold'em down
This seems a trivial pursuit now
But it's the only game in town

You won't talk about it
But I know there's something wrong
And though I ain't done nothing
I know that's what I've done wrong
'Cause something really sucks... tonight

(Sure I'd like to work this all out
But I guess I'm not that bright)

[Lowest of the Low - Just About the Only Blues]


You didn't care to know
Who else may have been you before...

Let's just keep touching
Let's just keep keep singing

[Bright Eyes - Lover I Don't Have to Love]


Because love's such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the (People on streets) edge of the night
And love (People on streets) dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure

[Under Pressure - David Bowie & Queen]


Still things could be much worse
Natural disasters
On the evening news...

Two weeks paid vacation
Won't heal the damage done
I need another one

[Cold War Kids - We Used to Vacation]


I've just closed my eyes again
Climbed aboard the dream weaver train
Driver take away my worries of today
And leave tomorrow behind

[Gary Wright - Dream Weaver]


Found it hard to live with this, and longed to live without it
My dreams have caught me out, I find myself surrounded
By the odds of our own end. Enough said about it

[Machine Gun Fellatio - Unsent Letter]


The sun comes up another day begins
But when the sun goes down I want to start again

[Jesus and Mary Chain - Never Understand]


So I walk right up to you
And you walk all over me
And I ask you what you want
And you tell me what I need
Can't you feel it all come down
Can't your hear it all around
At the place where lost is found
That great love sound

[Raveonettes - That Great Love Sound]


Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there's only love in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart

[Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the Heart]


If you're gonna dine with the cannibals
Sooner or later, darling, you're gonna get eaten
But I'm glad you've come around
here with your animals
And your heart that is bruised but bleating
And bleeding like a lamb
Banging like a gong
Beating like a drum

[Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Cannibal's Hymn]


You are hardcore, you make me hard
You name the drama and I'll play the part
It seems I saw you in some teenage wet dream
I like your get up if you know what I mean
I want it bad. I want it now
Oh can't you see I'm ready now
I've seen all the pictures
I've studied them forever
I wanna make a movie so let's star in it
Don't make a move 'til I say, "Action."
Oh, here comes the Hardcore life
Put your money where your mouth is tonight
Leave your make-up on & I'll leave on the light
Come over here babe & talk in the mic. Oh yeah I hear you now
It's gonna be one hell of a night
You can't be a spectator. Oh no
You got to take these dreams & make them whole
Oh this is Hardcore -
There is no way back for you
Oh this is Hardcore -
This is me on top of you &
I can't believe that it took me this long.

This is the eye of the storm
It's what men in stained raincoats pay for but in here it is pure
Yeah. This is the end of the line
I've seen the storyline played out so many times before
Oh that goes in there
Then that goes in there
Then that goes in there
Then that goes in there. & then it's over. Oh, what a hell of a show
But what I want to know:
What exactly do you do for an encore?

[Pulp, This is Hardcore]


I drank too much last night
Got bills to pay
My head just feels in pain
I missed the bus and there'll be hell today
I'm late for work again
And even if I'm there they'll all imply that I might not last the day
And then you call me and it's not so bad
It's not so bad

[Dido - Thank You]

->exile on meme st: a diary