Logic holds that the subway is the best method of transport. The rationale is crisp, elegant, and brief: in spite of the slaughterhouse packing, the subway stop itself is nearby and the commute is fast, efficient, and cheap. Any other economical transportation to my tattoo parlor in Akihabara is incomparably slower, any equally quick transit incomparably more expensive. On this point, human reason is unambiguous: the subway is by far the best method of travel.
Human reason is, in turn, encouraged to marry the damn subway if it loves it so much.
Make no mistake, it's not true that I make decisions based on dreams. Slanderous, is what that suggestion is. Overly judgmental and more than a little passive-aggressive, you prick, is what that suggestion also is. I make exactly onedecision based on dreams. The prompt to avoid the subway is both compelling and also outside of reason's clinical purview. In other words, the bespectacled gaze of reason is not visited nightly by a vengeful god. That is why I avoid the subway.
If I haven't lost you yet...welcome! Between the discussions of gods and unreason, if you're still here now, it's clear there's nothing I could say that would under any circumstances drive you away. Join me, comrade, and wade with me in the deep end.
I regret to say that much of my own dabblings in madness are not a pure celebration of the form as much as they are dreary applications for the further enrichment of my landlord and the Kadokawa Corporation. My calling as a artist is to articulate in the wordless void of pictures those-blowing concepts that reason alone can't begin to grapple with. The reality of my tattooing occupation, however, means that I draw hedonistic otaku designs on demand for foreign, craven-white tourists.
Otaku depravity is one thing, but European and American otakus are a different breed entirely. It makes sense that there are some Japanese men diseased by the cancer eating Japan's moral heart, but what's these foreigners' excuse for being in this hive of juvenile sin? I'd be repulsed by the bullshit pandering of Akihabara were I, a hedonistic otaku infected by the cancer eating Japan's moral heart, not the target of said bullshit pandering. Really, that there exists a tattoo parlor that does what we do is commendable; that I work there is really as nuanced as my complaint gets. Nevertheless, it's ultimately fortunate that I work there; my deepest incursion into unreason has roots in that tattoo parlor.
Sato Eiko, my fellow B-grade body artist, falls into frivolous bouts of wonderment as frequent as they are enduring. I myself have a substantial amount of body art, the overwhelming majority of which are simply design requests from patrons. Eiko, when one design strikes her as particularly fascinating, can spend weeks pondering it and reproducing it, maintaining adorable and ridiculous fervor about whatever she had just then discovered. The designs were never anything elaborate or compromising, mostly depicting some supreme being's wrath or some other European dark age design, but Eiko's contribution to my body mural always earned her a captive audience listening intently to her brutally earnest, wholly mad thoughts.
Her most recent design adheres to that model: originally drawn for someone else, Eiko's puellous fascination transformed the design into obsession, and she offered quite eagerly to draw it. Normally, a new tattoo becomes a conversation piece, and I regale acquaintances with my secondhand knowledge of whatever mediaeval concept Eiko ended up drawing. Yet this most recent one, in spite of its simplicity, is by far the most unique.
Upfront, skin art isn't easy, nor is it pleasant. This is not a demerit of the medium; I am adamant that the pain reinforces the bond between the art and the human, representative of the too-superhuman demeanor one must possess in order to cling to the abnormal in a closed, rigid empiricalist, 'if-you-can't-test-it-it's-childish-so-screw-logic-and-deduction-and-art-and-like-literally-everything-that-doesn't-contribute-to-The-Almighty-Economy-also-fuck-you' scientistic capitalist world. However antagonistic they may be, emotional bonds between human and art are how we maintain perspective in a world narrowing around us. That the bond is one of pain matters only insofar as it is deep and visceral.
Compelling though my rationale is, the fact remains that tattoos are painful and at times irritating. The latest one, however, was an extreme. It was three months ago that I added it, and the pain was within expectations and subsided quickly. Yet about two months ago, a scathing burn from my tattoo woke me up. My first thought was, obviously, an infection. My second thought rebutted that first thought. An infection that spontaneously arises a full month after completion? One that demonstrated not even the least physical trace of discoloration? One that a (regrettable) clinic visit could not diagnose, beyond 'quit smoking?' It probably was not, as Eiko described it, a warning from a ruffled fire god. Yet infection it also was not, and it subsided quite quickly over the course of an hour the next morning, burned with fresh, quickly-fading ire.
That same pain-disappearance cycle iterated each time I woke, and within a week of the first burn, I became aware of a dream that had been visiting me nightly. As time passed, that regular dream became increasingly concrete. After two nights, a dawning dread accompanied my waking; after a week, a morbid fear. After two weeks, neck burning all the while, it was clear that I had been dreaming of my own death, awaking always to a tattoo demanding fierce atonement.
It was a dream that recounted my murder with the callous regularity of the sunrise, with realism indistinguishable from waking. Or rather: the discontinuity is the only thing to ever suggest that I wasn't awake, that I didn't die nightly.
I'm getting into very bland territory here, as there exists a tendency for even the most elegant descriptions of death to tend toward either dullness or irrelevance. This reflects much less on the writer and more on the subject matter. It's a very binary matter, death. One is either dead or not dead. Whether one has produced works that capture the mindscape of their life - living on through poetry, for instance, or art - answers a fundamentally different question than 'is someone alive?' Such questions might be worth asking, but they're questions that focus on the virtue on the life lived rather than the nature of the life-death dichotomy. Typically, any earnest efforts to answer that question boil down to '1 is not equal to 0.' This fundamental question has an exceedingly dull answer. Such an asymmetry has always disappointed me.
The basis of my excitement, then, should be obvious. Nightly I died, daily I was reborn. Mortality was no longer a binary, and, after furtive Google searches and message board posts concerning my poor, poor brother whose dreams seemed far too real, it appeared I was the only person to whom this experience had occurred. If I had internal objections to megalomania before - false - they quickly disappeared.
It was a perfect connection between human and experience. I actively seek out the strange. My entire life up until that point was an exploration of The Deviant, The Absurd, and occasionally The Impossible. The only instance of any of those that I had ever encountered were fictional or staged accounts. How peculiar - how enthralling! - that the first plausible account of the arcane came to me.
I'll grant that most would react with a sort of shock and denial. 'Surely this can't be real!' they'd formulaically exclaim. 'Surely this can't be real!' they'd formulaically exclaim a second time, mental dexterity not being a trait characteristic the hoi polloi. This shock would be a natural response. This neglects, however, to note one critical fact: namely, that natural responses are simultaneously dumb and stupid.
I'm not unaware of criticisms, but they largely hinge on people talking past me. Perhaps I've gone mad. Perhaps my brain has altered in such a way as to fail to distinguish fact from fiction. What of it? Madness is a source of uncomfortable truth. Incoherence, futility, unprovability - these truths manifest themselves in the organization of our world. Madness lies firmly at the fault lines of oppression, laying out in its inarticulate terms the stark battle lines between, on one hand, what is convenient for the procession of society and, on the other, what is fundamentally human. Had I not had these dreams, my stance would be no different.
These dreams nevertheless intensify the truth. As nights pass, every time I am thrown under a moving subway by that desperate berserk god, I become firmer in my convictions. Every death glare at the fleur-de-lis on my neck, a glare that yet burns upon my waking, reinforces my belief that the world is neither solved nor solvable. The world is opened anew as the confused deity lowers itself and apologizes to my mute corpse, murmuring imperfections about some horrible mix-up about the tattoo on my neck. This fleur-de-lis on my neck has caused a god to nightly remind me of my death in the subway, a subway which I avoid in my waking hours else insanity's prophet be silenced.
At this point, however, the prophet has a following of one. Of my three co-workers, only Eiko had any interest in listening. Just as she was with the fleur-de-lis, the cross, the Sacred Heart, I provided her a new obsession; she, in turn, will provide me a new tattoo. She was obsessed with the concept of my resurrection and was certain that only the god who killed me nightly could in turn raise me. 'A dark phoenix!' Eiko dramatically crowed. The god who, in murdering, raised me was a dark phoenix. Thus was the binding decree of Sato Eiko; that is the story my skin will tell.
Eiko remains one of the maddest people I've encountered in any capacity. Her mercurial nature, acting as the messenger between whatever mental addiction she latches onto and the rest of the world, is abjectly insane. Eiko herself would say as much. Unambiguously, however, her diffusive Socratics have guided me true to one conclusion that Eiko has long known and embodied: madness and lucidity are one and the same.
(I'll readily concede that I'm not experienced as a great many writers here, but it was an interesting idea. The whole time travel motif's totally interesting to me, and in my mind, I thought it was worth considering the impact on those who are not close to the time traveler. Typically subtle, probably! Not in this case!)
(Regardless, any comments on character development, flow, possibly composition, concept - all encouraged and appreciated. I anticipate the grievance that it's only tangentially Steins;Gatey will be expressed, and that grievance would be true! But if you happen to see any other fundamental or executional flaws, noting those would also be appreciated.)