By Raph al Guul
He didn’t know it, but it had all started with an unfortunate accident. A ceiling fan of all things had knocked him out. He didn’t remember it or anything before that.
Right now, all he knew was that in a vacuum, light travelled at a speed of 299,792,458 meters per second. Something told him that it was odd to know this in the darkness in which he had found himself. The visible spectrum ranged from wavelengths of about 400 to 700 nanometers. Visible to humans, that was. He knew that there was a lot of light in the room, but he could not see it due to physical limitations of the human eye.
The human eye could achieve a dynamic contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, even though it couldn’t see most types of light. He knew that. This sort of thing was the reason why the biological body was superior to any machine that tried to copy it. Even the latest models of TV screens with theoretical dark-room contrast ratios very similar to that of the eye never actually surpassed 500:1 in reality. And even that didn’t matter all too much, when not even a physical film negative in a camera could cope with more than that. The human was superior to the machine; he knew that, though he had no idea why or since when.
A long time ago there had been people. He had known those people, but he had no memory of it now. Not of the people, not of the knowledge.
Instead, he knew lyrics from some song that he had never heard:
I’m losing everything I am,
remember nothing of my past;
Now it is all gone
and I fear the game is over.
Had there ever even been a past? He wondered if there had ever been anything before this very moment. Maybe visible light did not exist. Even though he knew it did. Maybe there were no high-contrast plasmas out there. Maybe there was no “out there.” He knew about Plato. Plato had been a student of Socrates, but they both no longer existed. Did it matter that they may or may not have existed at some point? Who was to say that there were points at all? He knew many things, but they only lead to more questions.
And he never knew about the infrared cameras or the people behind the glass. He didn’t even know about the glass.
All of the sudden he knew about William Wordsworth, a man who had wandered lonely as a cloud, his heart dancing with the daffodils. Narcissus was the botanic term for that particular plant. Flowers couldn’t dance. He had never seen an interior organ dance, either. But he had never seen anything at all. He tried to dance himself, but realized that he could only move his right hand. It ran down his thigh and then up his torso, exploring. Soon he found the thumping pulse of his heart. He knew it was pumping, but he wondered if it was dancing.
He found his face with the two eyes in the middle of it. They felt wet and it was unpleasant to touch them. His hand moved on to the side of his skull, where the ears were. Behind one of them, he discovered something soft and textile. Wires ran into it – or out of it; four or five of them. They felt cold and rigid in comparison to the skin of his face. He jabbed at one of them and there was a sound.
He didn’t know what the wires were.
But he suddenly knew what the Mona Lisa looked like and where the word “serendipity” came from. He knew that Neil Armstrong was the first man to ever walk on the moon. He knew all these things, but he didn’t know why.
His hand sank back down to his side. He tried to remember something. Something important. Whatever it was, he suspected it had to do with the past in some way. First he had hoped that if he didn’t focus on it so much it would come to him. But all that ever came was knowledge of other things. Things that weren’t what he had been looking for – but how could he look for what he didn’t know? He imagined that it was something about daffodils. He liked the idea that there might have been dancing flowers in his past.