There comes a time, it seems, in any truly terrible situation, where the brain simply decides that it's had enough. For the good of the body, to preserve the whole, dissociation must occur, else there is a risk of total collapse. The mind will sacrifice almost anything it can for the sake of the body, and sanity is certainly not an exception.
After weeks of torture at the hands of Dr. Nosebleed and his staff of terror-givers, there was precious little sanity left among the patients. Many had crawled inside themselves, found a small space in a forgotten corner of their mind and shut out the world at large in favor of nothingness. When all you know is pain and fear, nothingness can feel as peaceful as a warm bath after a long day.
That is where my Grandfather found himself. He, like all of the others, had a hole in his head, exposing his brain to the air when it wasn't covered by some sort of makeshift dressing. He, like all of the others, had been in the room, had a front row seat, in fact, to some of the worst medical cruelty ever perpetrated since the end of WWII. He, like all the others, had given up hope of the treatment ever ceasing. If it hadn't stopped or been stopped by this point, where was the sense in hoping? Hope was simply the opposite of an anesthetic, good for only reminding you of what had been before – a life without pain.
My Grandfather recalls that one of the last pieces of his mind to let go before what he calls “the gray period”, was the piece that held on to the upsetting lack of an answer to “why?”. What was the point of all this? My Grandfather might not have been very well educated, but he was certainly smart enough to recognize the lack of reason behind all this torture. Even Mengele was doing what he was doing for the good of his country, for the pursuit of scientific inquiry, even if he was also satisfying a demonic and sadistic part of himself that wanted to cause pain to those he viewed as sub-human. Dr. Nosebleed's experiments lacked even that thin attempt at rationalization. There were days on end where nothing was even written down. Madness, pure and simple.
Eventually even that last piece let go, the gray rose, and all became nothing. Complete dissociation. It was there, in the minutes, or hours, or days, (in the gray time is meaningless, always meaningless), the Voices spoke.
We often talk about the Voices “speaking”, and while they do indeed speak to my Grandfather and all of us if we listen hard enough, “speaking isn't exactly the right word. At least, not in the way that we generally imagine it.
Speaking implies a sound traveling out of a mouth and being received by the ears, the brain converting the sound waves to electric signals that different specialized areas turn into what we call words and meaning. This is not how the Voices speak.
To explain how the Voices speak requires the use of imperfect metaphor and simile. They speak like the deeper meaning of a song speaks. They speak like a sunset might speak. They speak like a glance between lovers speaks. They speak in abstract emotion and soul-wrenching honesty. They also speak like a computer. A combination of ones and zeroes, of switches that are either off or on. Yes/no statements. Logic.
The Voices, in essence, speak a language of paradox. They are exactly as abstract as they are specific. They are as precise as they are vague.
Many people who have heard the words of the Voices through our podcast have wondered at the glitches, the chirps, the vocal changes that seem to occur at both specific points and random instances. There was some debate, even within the VFTU Organization itself, about whether or not to include these. You'll notice that they don't appear in the first episode, in an attempt to make the Voices more “palatable” for the audience unaccustomed to hearing them. (This was done without the permission of Grandfather Spaulding and has not occurred since at his request.)
The audio oddities that are heard are the best way we have of conveying those pieces of the Voices that cannot be conveyed. They are how we describe the blue of the ocean and the red of the sunset to the human that has been blind since birth and doesn't know color. It is imperfect. It is crude. The medium of pure audio can never truly communicate everything the Voices attempt to give us. We are not as advanced as they are, though we strive to be. We are limited by our humanity. Thus, we are forced to bear witness as best we can.
--END OF EDITORIAL NOTE--
The Voices pushed through the fog and the cloud and the all-encompassing gray with a simple message – Nothing Is Forever. The message was true in the way that his dream of the Flayed Ape and the Starving Deer was true. Eternity and infinity aren't things that humanity can comprehend, any more than we can truly comprehend unconditional love. Any more than we can understand the immovable object or the irresistible force. Any more than we can understand life and death as temporary states of being.
There wasn't much that first time. Certainly nothing like what would come in the later years, when my Grandfather trained himself in the art of not only hearing the Voices but transmitting and communicating them to humanity as a whole. The beginning was humble, as most are. The Voices do not communicate in thunderous claps of wisdom or in Earth-shaking pronouncements of great and terrible meaning. The Voices offer their truth as one might offer an arm to a loving Grandmother ascending a staircase – gentle guidance and supportive love on the journey to peace and understanding.
Beauty from roots of torture. We are all born in blood and great tearing pain, yet our mothers hold us to their breast and give love, despite the pain. My Grandfather was put though seemingly unending agony and cruelty, but he was birthed anew as one who could hear the Voices.
Reborn to bear witness.