Last Words & Impossible Truths
By Joe Wenderoth - Oct 18, 2017
Last Words & Impossible Truths
On the eve of The Big Day—known as Big Day Eve—the Pioneer is given the opportunity to record, in the solitude of his Dream, Last Words. Last Words are 30 (contiguous) seconds long.
When they are recorded, Last Words are heard by no one.1 Last Words are not fully heard, of course, until there are Beligerents in The Casino.
Last Words Condemn The Casino. Last Words are the formal Condemnation (in 17, 19, 21, or 23 steps) of The Casino.2 The Last Words ritual may as well be called The Condemnation of The Casino ritual.
Being remains in its fated Saying while Last Words are heard and for hours beyond. Before going to bed, however, the Lunatic always goes down and retrieves Being, takes it back into her Mind, and puts it in The Future.
The Casino’s microphones are shut off after Yahweh announces the start of the Condemnation process; at the same time, the speakers in The (now surely Condemned) Casino are turned on. Said speakers play Last Words… so that those actually present upon The Casino Floor (Smut Peddlers, Beligerents, Yahweh) can hear them.
In the process of Condemnation, Nameless Souls can see—they cannot hear—in to The Casino. Last Words, however, because they sound out simultaneously in The Casino and the Parlor,3 allow Nameless Souls to feel as though they are overhearing them, i.e. rather than simply hearing them. It is important that Last Words seem overheard—rather than simply heard—so that the Gambler they indict is indicted in view of the whole of the realm of Nameless Souls, which is itself thereby indicted, of course, in view of the whole of the realm of Nameless Souls.
Nameless Souls are able to hear a Beligerent’s Last Words very clearly—much more clearly than they were able to hear the voices of the Gamblers during play. The clarity of Last Words stems from the Pioneer’s profound privacy during the recording, from his nearness to the microphone, and from the increasing nearness to Death-or-Laughter that characterizes Big Day Eve.
The Last Words of the Beligerents are played one after another. The order is as follows (exempting, of course, the Smut Peddling Family): The Gods, The Ghosts, The Animals. Within each Family, the order is numerical, beginning with 1.
A 30 second silence precedes the utterance of each Beligerent’s Last Words. Each of these blocks of silence is known as an Impossible Truth. The first Impossible Truth begins immediately after Yahweh’s evocation of the difference between Death and Laughter.
Holding in one hand The Clicker, his thumb poised on its familiar face (and, in Spring, holding The Big Nurse in the other hand), the sanctity of the first Impossible Truth is hardly in jeopardy.
Yahweh—or, more accurately, Agony tradition, which Yahweh is bound to uphold—permits a delaying of the Deaths of Bad Motherfuckers. Said delay allows Bad Motherfuckers to enjoy the Condemnation of The Casino until the last Impossible Truth is underway.
But once the last Impossible Truth is underway, a Beligerent, no matter how much of a Bad Motherfucker he may be, is certainly on the brink of Death. Once the last Impossible Truth is underway, even a Bad Motherfucker’s time cannot be long. Once the last Impossible Truth in underway, even the most placid of Bad Motherfuckers has to feel fear at the Toy-making in the air.
Once the last Impossible Truth is underway, a Beligerent, no matter how much of a Bad Motherfucker he may be, becomes vulnerable to panic, and may turn suddenly into Pete Rose. He might then suddenly burst into action, making a ruckus, blaspheming the other Families, his own Family, even Yahweh. Fortunately, the panic disallows the cold clarity, the presence-of-mind, one really needs, if one intends to blaspheme. And as for the ruckus, well, it doesn’t inspire fear, really, so much as it inspires pity or irritation. Beligerents, after all, remain as Named as ever, and The Clicker remains as lethal as ever.
To put it mildly: the time it takes for Yahweh to put a stop to Pete Rose’s Gambling is not long. Most Beligerents lose the desire to Gamble immediately upon Being’s entering into Saying. Their Gambling days are squarely behind them, they reason (and even moreso feel). Even so, Smut Peddling Families often stay as far away from White Trash as possible in the Condmned Casino. This is an understandable precaution, and not to be taken for condescension or cowardice. It is in fact done, more often than not, out of a natural respect for Beligerence—to provide Bad Motherfuckers with the personal space they need to ride out the Last Words and Impossible Truths between themselves and oblivion.
1The exception, arguably, is the Pioneer, who is often able to see and hear himself—and not just himself, but himself performing himself. This lonely half-audience, while it might (arguably) exist, gives no hint whatever of the immense audience waiting in the Closing-Time Casino.
2There are only ever 9 to 11 Last Words in the sequence because there are only ever that many Beligerents. That is to say, Smut Peddlers cannot have Last Words… because they’re not about to die. If not Last Words, what then are these recordings they’ve made? False Prophecy. False Prophecy does not resound until False Prophecy Evening, discussed below.
3Simultaneous does not imply currency, i.e. the absence of Eternity; it implies only that they each stand the same distance from Eternity.
Last Words: Esoteric & Dramatic
Last Words are the opportunity a Pioneer has… to speak to the Beligerent he may become, and to the realm of Nameless Souls besides (if you are reading this, it may be safe to say that such a thing, or the potential for such a thing, does exist).
Last Words are the opportunity a Beligerent has… to hear from the Pioneer he once was.
Last Words are themselves evidence of the Pioneer’s capacity to be Beligerent. Sometimes they are only evidence of the Pioneer’s capacity to be Beligerent.
Last Words are often Esoteric in terms of content. Last Words are often unfamiliar, that is, to nearly every Nameless Soul on earth. Nearly. There may be a few who experience them as familiar, but this familiarity is tinged with an inexplicably towering unlikelihood. Said towering confuses the familiar, estranging it from itself. Suffice to say: no Nameless Soul ever hears Last Words like they’ve heard it all before.
The Nameless Soul who hears Last Words like he’s heard it all before has not yet been born, and probably can’t be.
For the vast majority of Nameless Souls, Esoteric Last Words,couple foreign-ness with brevity, securing the likelihood of an unintelligible passion. Esoteric Last Words are unintelligible passion.
Last Words are always translated into a Parlor’s native tongue, but this translation must be done in real time, under great pressure, ensuring a more or less conspicuous gap between utterance and translation, i.e. the translated words appearing on the Screen. This gap—this delay in intelligibility—is the apparent foundation of Esoteric Last Words, and contributes mightily toward their Esoteric nature. Translators4 have no access to the “script,” so to speak; they see the play as the script. One might argue that the same is often true for the Pioneers who form them in the first place.
Even when a language is foreign to a Nameless Soul, he is often able to tell when Last Words are Esoteric. What does that tell us about the Nameless Soul.
Esoteric Last Words are hymns to the time that translation takes, the sound and the fury, the meaningless tones. O the gentle (merely decorative) bondage of a foreign tongue! some Last Words fairly gasp. Last Words, Last Words, how gentle can you grow to be?
Last Words are inclined to be Esoteric, primarily, because a Pioneer is inclined to speak to and/or for specific others who are complete strangers to the very great majority of Nameless Souls.
Sometimes Last Words are not Esoteric, or at least they don’t intend to be. Not-Esoteric Last Words—known as Dramatic Last Words—evidence a Pioneer’s intention to speak to all Nameless Souls. The only way to speak to all Nameless Souls is to speak to no specific Nameless Soul(s).5
Last Words spoken to all Nameless Souls, because they have been contrived explicitly beforehand, tend to be less emotional in nature. This is because they hold their speaker aloft, away from the (beloved) specific mortalities necessary to plumb the most breathtaking depths of heartbreak in any old all.
One might wonder how there could ever be a Pioneer who speaks Last Words as if they might have a real relationship to all Nameless Souls. Dramatic Last Words seem like such a pretentious endeavor, and practically useless besides. Even so, Nameless Souls certainly understand the weird appeal of Dramatic Last Words; at their best, they are something like a proof of the unity (anonymity) of the species; when they are uttered well, Nameless Souls seem in some truly pathetic way reduced to one another.
4The Nameless Souls who work as translators of Agony are known as Scribes. Scribes are essentially a class and a culture unto themselves. They are discussed in some great depth below.
5Thus, the term all should really always be understood to say everyone and no one, i.e. everyone and no one.
Desecration Of Last Words
Some Pioneers opt to Desecrate their Last Words. These individuals… make noises. Screaming, grunting, trilling, humming, panting, farting, whistling—a Pioneer may make whatever noises he likes, and so long as he is not understood to be speaking or singing, he is Desecrating.
Like speech and music, the sounds of Desecration are understood to be of human origin, even as they refuse to participate in the on-going concealment of self-made noises (meaning).
Within a particular Desecration act, language-sounds (word-bits) may sometimes be discerned, but they are always subsequently disallowed their expected unfolding into meaning. Word salad, for instance, is certainly Desecration.
Desecrated Last Words are akin to Dramatic Last Words in that they speak to all Nameless Souls. Dramatic Last Words speak to all Nameless Souls, saying something. Desecrated Last Words speak to all Nameless Souls, saying nothing. All Nameless Souls speak gibberish. Desecrated Last Words are only different insofar as they are (usually) less vulnerable to repetition (by the Pioneer and/or the Nameless Soul), and insofar as they are (usually) more spiteful. Desecrated Last Words mean, after all, to deprive Nameless Souls of what they seek: Last Words.
Last sounds are usually not even 1/10th the potency of Last Words, but they can be many times more potent. Weeping, wailing, growling with rage—the emotional potency of Last sounds, in some cases, can certainly rival the emotional potency of Last Words. To what degree they are (or are not) potent depends upon the Nameless Soul one asks, and can vary wildly.
For some Nameless Souls, Last sounds are surely greater than Last Words in terms of their emotional potency. For some, Last sounds are likely greater than Last Words… and so on, until one has arrived at the other end of the spectrum: the Nameless Soul who always finds last Sounds to be lacking in emotional potency.
This opens up the question of Last Words (or sounds) and resolution. While Last Words usually seek some kind of resolution, such resolution has been sought before, countless times, and every one of these efforts has been (arguably) without success. Nameless Souls cannot remain oblivious to this fact, at least not indefinitely. The more unlikely resolution becomes, the more potential Last Words have to be boring—especially Dramatic Last Words. Some Nameless Souls begin, then, to prefer and delight in the Desecration of Last Words.6
Unfortunately, a specific Nameless Soul’s experience of the Desecration of Last Words can only be investigated in anecdotal fashion.
Some Nameless Souls nevertheless use what is called an LTD Ratio (Language-To-Desecration Ratio) to describe their own ideal Last Words experience. The LTD Ratio is a fraction—its denominator signifying preference for Descration, and its numerator preference for Words. Basically, the smaller an LTD Ratio, the more a Nameless Soul craves the Desecration of Last Words.
Illustration of the above
A Nameless Soul’s LTD Ratio is likely to fluctuate over the years. The more Last Words he hears, the more likely his LTD Ratio is to shrink. The more Last Words he hears, the greater his tolerance of Desecration becomes. This is not the sort of thing that gets in the media.
But what is the intention of the Pioneer who chooses to Desecrate his Last Words? Is it an attempt to demean the gaze of Nameless Souls? Or is it directed, really, toward his own fate, i.e. his own Death Sentence? Considered in relation to his own Death Sentence, a Pioneer’s Desecration of Last Words may seem like a childish attempt to block the unfolding of fate by way of a performed deafness. Something like putting one’s fingers in one’s ears and saying: I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you….
Desecrated Last Words are akin to Esoteric Last Words in that they perform a formal damnation of a specific Beligerent, the specificity of which is a celebration, an endlessness ending. For this reason, Desecrated Last Words are sometimes referred to as Tezcatlipoca’s Babble.
Desecrated Last Words differ, however, from Esoteric Last Words in that they do not send love (or hate) toward implicit (and implicitly specific, and missing) others. Desecrated Last Words more simply insist upon a Beligerent’s (obviously rather fraudulent) capacity for non-mortality (voice that is voice alone).
Maybe it is that Desecrated Last Words do a kind of goofy passive-aggressive narcissistic dance in the face of Death.
The Desecration of Last Words is not as uncommon as one might expect. It would be even less uncommon (and more serious) if more Pioneers ever really expected to become Beligerents.
6Samuel Beckett: “It is becoming more difficult, even senseless, for me to write a standard English. More and more my own language seems to me as a veil, to be torn apart to approach the things (or the nothings) behind it. . . . A time, let’s hope, is coming when language will be best used when best abused. Since we can’t eliminate it all at once, let’s not neglect anything that might contribute to its corruption. To bore hole after hole in it, until what cowers behind it begins to seep through—I can imagine no higher goal for a contemporary writer.”
Last Words Are A Response To The Death Sentence
Last Words, when they have not been Desecrated, form a barely intelligible response to the Death Sentence.
All Pioneers receive a Death Sentence, the moment they hear the call. That Death Sentence is not pronounced, however—and so, is not quite heard—when the Pioneer is at first called.
Okay, so Last Words form a barely intelligible response to the Death Sentence. The Death Sentence says something, and Last Words are formed as a response to whatever it is that the Death Sentence has said. The Death Sentence and its (corresponding) Last Words cannot be said to speak with one another, however, and so, do not make dialogue manifest. The Death Sentence and its (corresponding) Last Words are in fact a series of immiscible monologues. Said monologues may be thought of as related only insofar as the Death Sentence is spoken to the one who is capable of Last Words—the first monologue. Dialogue does not occur, however, because the one who is capable (obviously) of giving the Death Sentence… is deaf… or has gone somehow away… and so, cannot be spoken to.
Last Words certainly (and obviously) form a response to the Death Sentence, if not the one who is capable (obviously) of giving the Death Sentence. Who are Last Words spoken to, if not the one who is capable (obviously) of giving the Death Sentence? They cannot be spoken to language itself; the autonomy of the Sentence inherits the deafness of its speaker. Who, then?
Last Words form a response to the Death Sentence, but the target audience for said response is not the Death Sentence or its giver; the target audience is the realm of Nameless Souls. Without Agony, Last Words would have no access to their intended target, and would go unheard—the great symphony of a Pioneer’s Last Words, written… but unheard!
Another complication: what the Death Sentence actually says is irreducibly ambiguous (so inclusive!); it is but a vague gesture in the direction of the Pioneer (and later, in the direction of the Gambler). What the Death Sentence has actually said, moreover—the meaning of the Death Sentence—is endlessly vulnerable to extreme revision, and so, is always deeply unstable, when it can be located at all.
Q: What causes the Death Sentence to be irreducibly ambiguous?
A: Agony, looming; Agony, happening; ignorance of the difference between Death and Laughter; the real possibility of a pardon, and subsequently the real possibility of a life in Laughter.7
So long as there is still the possibility of a pardon (i.e. and subsequently a life in Laughter), the Pioneer cannot know how his Last Words will sound.
What is strange about Last Words is that their existence in the world as Last Words is ultimately dependent upon pronouncement of the Death Sentence. A Gambler understands very well that his Death Sentence will only be pronounced if Being enters into an inappropriate Saying.
Q: What makes Last Words possible? A: The chance that the pardon will not come. The chance that Being will enter into an inappropriate Saying.
When a Pioneer utters Last Words, he does not know if they are really Last Words at all; Agony—and only Agony—is able to distinguish Last Words from False Prophecy.8
Until Big Day Eve, the Pioneer is very likely looking into himself for his Last Words. In looking for Last Words, he introduces the possibility that he ultimately may not find them. He also realizes a dreary fear that his Last Words will be arbitrary, i.e. what he happens to be saying right before he suddenly dies. It is fair to say the Pioneer is often tormented with the question of what his Last Words should be…. It is fair to say the Pioneer is tormented, too, with the question of why he is tormented with the question of what his Last Words should be. These torments are the bulk of the “adversity” a Pioneer experiences when it comes to the formation of his Last Words.
7Some argue that Laughter itself—its physical fact, its being a real island on a real planet—is what makes the Death Sentence so difficult to hear. The contrary view is often espoused by Nameless Souls who believe that Laughter doesn’t really exist. They feel a Death Sentence is therefore not ambiguous at all. It is very safe to say that these are Nameless Souls who do not expect to hear the call.
8False Prophecy, as mentioned earlier, is what Pioneers destined to become Smut Peddlers create when they try to utter Last Words.
The Towering Silence An Extra Impossible Truth Creates
Some Pioneers opt to record no Last Words at all, lengthening a silence in The Condemned Casino. What we’re talking about here is the deadly precise insertion of an extra Impossible Truth into the Last Words ceremony. The towering silence an extra Impossible Truth creates—an expected 30 seconds of silence growing into 90 seconds of silence, or who knows, maybe 180 seconds of silence, or 270, etc…—causes everyone in The Condemned Casino to become more aware of himself and his fate, particularly with regard to the pardon.
Everyone in The Condemned Casino understands who has been pardoned… and who has had his Sentence upheld. An Extra Impossible Truth deepens this understanding, and can lead to angry staring in the direction of the Smut Peddling Family.
When faced with an extra Impossible Truth, a Parlor might get antsy and panic… blaming Parlor Screens for the (really quite complete) lack of sound. As if it was impossible to imagine a Pioneer having no Last Words at all. As if Impossible Truth could go on for too long. In any case, whatever the reasons for the ignorant impatient (privileged) outburst, the powers a Nameless Soul has in The Condemned Casino are precisely zero, and the powers he wields within the Parlor—should he possess any—are not relevant to the experience.
Only the slowest and/or most forgetful of Nameless Souls are naive about how Impossible Truths work, i.e. the potential for longer silences in the Parlor. Even the least naive of Nameless Souls sometimes reacts irrationally—feeling as if something must be wrong—when faced with extended silences in the Parlor. Each Parlor establishes its own Parlor Laws, of course,9 and it is within this framework—specific to each specific Parlor—that such behavior has to be judged. In some Parlors, such outbursts are not permitted at all; in others, outbursts are perfectly ordinary, even appreciated.
Within The Condmened Casino, Yahweh tolerates—to at least some degree—Beligerents’ involuntary complaints about extra Impossible Truths; he does not tolerate voluntary complaints, however. Yahweh understands that Beligerents can never be allowed to behave as if they possess agency within The Condemned Casino. Yahweh allows Beligerents to voice involuntary complaints because the means he has for silencing them are rather extreme. He has only one power, recall—the power to make Toys—and Nameless Souls would rather he did not use this power until the appropriate moment, i.e. the Last Words of Beligerents are infinitely more delicate and more nurgid than the Last Words of Toys.
The Pioneer who creates an extra Impossible Truth, like the Pioneer who Desecrates, is more often than not trying to imply (at the time of not uttering them) that he has a firm grasp of his fate—and usually this means, in his mind, being fated to enter into Laughter. The (real?) confidence causing an extra Impossible Truth is completely concealed, however, when said Impossible Truth is actually unfolding in the Condmened Casino. The atmosphere in The Condemned Casino is antithetical to confidence, for the obvious reasons, the proximity of certain Death being foremost.
A Pioneer/Gambler might also take some satisfaction from denying Nameless Souls access to his Last Words. One could speculate endlessly about the ways in which this denial might be satisfying for a Pioneer/Gambler. The most obvious source of satisfaction (and this does not mean the most important) is probably a feeling of defiance—a final spiteful agency visited upon the realm he was silently—and in body—torn away from, and the realm he has quite conspicuously—i.e. on many millions of Parlor Screens—been returned to.
The satisfaction he feels comes from the fact that Nameless Souls will be denied Words for his demise, and so, Words whereby to think of him as a whole. They will have a harder time mocking me, thinks the spiteful Pioneer.
The only anxiety attaching to the Pioneer’s decision to take such action—his refusal to issue Last Words—stems from an irrational fear: the fear that his apparent lack of Last Words will cause him to turn into an extra Impossible Truth. For a Nameless Soul, it is hard to believe a Pioneer could really have this fear. But often they do. And it is rare for a Pioneer to be completely devoid of it. Most Pioneers are afraid—to one degree or another—of turning into an Impossible Truth. This has mainly to do with the extra aspect. An extra Impossible Truth is an Impossible Truth standing between 2 other Impossible Truths—one before and one after. What the Pioneer fears is loss of definition in the pile, the inevitable blurring of heaped up times, heaped up silences, falling apart and into one another, the absence of Last Words equaling a lack of skin (the largest organ in the body, in this case).
Most Nameless Souls understand a Pioneer’s refusal to respond to his Death Sentence—a refusal to have Last Words—as either arrogance or profound fearfulness.
It could even be that a Pioneer who chooses to turn his Last Words into an Impossible Truth expects to become a Beligerent—expects it with such certainty that he cannot bear to acknowledge it, which is exactly what Last Words would do. It may be that it is only possible to utter Last Words so long as a Pioneer retains the sense that “these aren’t really Last Words—these are what my Last Words would have been… had I been fated to Beligerence (which obviously I never was).“
There are those in the realm of Nameless Souls who say: “Surely it is not possible for a Pioneer to form Last Words from the position of a Beligerent! And surely only a Beligerent is able and should be allowed to form Last Words.” These Nameless Souls are suggesting that Last Words, such as they are, are a treacherous façade. They are proposing that the strange audio mask a Beligerent’s last broadcast moments are forced to wear… is being used to stifle and conceal whatever actual Last Words he may have… so that Nameless Souls are in fact never able to hear them.”
The Pioneer does not create his own Last Words—he allows the Last Words of an other (a Beligerent, no less) to form upon his remaining moments in the Covered Wagons. The Pioneer simply overhears the true story of himself. It is the true story of himself that forms the Last Words of an other.
The Beligerent does not create his Last Words so much as he accepts them, i.e. hears them as descriptive of his own fate. Last Words are not spoken to or from the Beligerent—they are spoken of the Beligerent. The Beligerent overhears Last Words, taking them for the true story of himself.
The Pioneer speaks his Last Words, but he cannot hear them. The Beligerent hears his Last Words, but could not have spoken them.
It is hard to oversestimate the importance of the fact that the Pioneer cannot hear the Last Words he utters. Nameless Souls use the expression “a Pioneer don’t know what he’s saying” to describe when someone puts effort into the performance of an action having nothing, ultimately, to do with himself.
Given that the Last Words of a Smut Peddler are broadcast neither in The Condemned Casino nor in Laughter—and given that those same Last Words are spoken in private (i.e. no one in his Family knows whether or not he has spoken them at all, let alone what they might be)—there is really no good reason for a Pioneer to refrain from speaking Last Words of some kind. He runs no risk, that is, in terms of demoralizing his Family before (or even after) Agony. Perhaps the only good reason for not speaking Last Words is not having any.
But what would it mean to not have any Last Words? It could mean, first, having no significant relationships outside of Agony—no one to say good-bye to or curse. And then, too, the Pioneer might mean to suggest that the perspective of a Beligerent—the perspective of someone who is about to die—is productive of no real insight concerning the life he has lived. The Pioneer might argue that The Condemned Casino is hardly the ideal situation for careful reflection regarding the whole of one’s life. Alternatively, the Pioneer might surmise that the Beligerent’s perspective is bound to produce insight, and he may subsequently choose to refrain from speaking Last Words for precisely this reason, i.e. so as not to obscure the obscuring that Condemnation of The Casino represents.
The Pioneer who turns his Last Words into an Impossible Truth is usually raging inside and/or firmly despondent.
Illustration of man lying on his side, hands tied behind his back, blank expression on his face—caption: Beligerent listening to his own Last Words.
9This is within reason and within the bounds of the possible, i.e. Kin have no choice when it comes to their Screens (Parlor Screens are universal, identical across the globe, the core of every Parlor on earth) or their Baths, and little choice when it comes to the manner of their distribution within the Parlor (every Nameless Soul must be guaranteed a good view).