Becoming Mammoths, Becoming Trafficlights
I dropped at about 10 AM, and roughly thirty minutes later I felt waves underneath my skin and touched myself for a bit. Later I listened to music for over an hour when IN THE FLOWERS by Animal Collective came on, thru the muted cricket stomps and water screens I heard I AM THE DANCER I AM THE DANCER . This is when I remembered Everything, an arthouse game that came out a few years back. Turning on the PS4, laughing at the clicks of the machine, I brought up the main menu and pressed start.
You never know what you’re gonna start with, you’ll never know what body you’ll be, so I started off as a Wooly Mammoth and off I went into the ice continent. The animation’s simple, I rolled like a stop motion cardboard figure and off and off I flopped until I came across a herd of spruce, where my spirit ascended into the tallest tree and the world told me I could dance. And we slid into triangles, and we birthed a baby spruce in the snow where it joined me until the world said descend. And down down down I went.
From a white rabbit, to some dead grass, to a snow particle, and descending inside myself until I became a hydrogen atom wandering into a burnt green nothingness occasionally punctuated by wayward bacteria. And the world said I could sing, and everything could sing, and everything in existence waits for my song and that I should call out to find others just like me. And so I did. Do you know the song of an atom? It’s like listening to someone chew gravel in another room flooded by melted rubber. And it was the most beautiful thing I heard, that I kept singing and vibrating in that thick nothing when I saw other atoms joining me, calling back, saying we know you were alone but now you’re not, and we’re so glad you’re here.
But I knew there was more than this. More than this body. So I descended again. To a blackness that I assumed would only be darkness. But I wondered what darkness could sing, and so I tried. And this broken capillary of hyperfucked red, blue, and yellow vibed into being with a voice of electric tuning forks against bees. And I saw a concave graph of neon flexing whenever I moved, going from polygons to dead pixels, lost in the vaporwaves. And I breathed, and breathed, which is all you can do when you realize you’re made of angry shapes and electricity that builds up into atoms and dead grass and rabbits and mammoths and trees. And of course it goes deeper than this. The game is interspersed with snippets of lectures given by Alan Watts, a philosopher who opined that the universe doesn’t contain us, WE contain the universe.
So I went back to the surface, migrated with the rocks for a bit, spent an hour being a sunflower making chains around every part of myself I could find. I made my way into the city as an oak leaf and for awhile there maundered around the concrete as a squadron of VHS tapes hissing and bending while I kamakazeed into Vespas and buses, and of course becoming the Vespas and buses to avoid hitting my old selves who found it funny to head into traffic to see if they could get hit. You can’t hit yourself, by the way, you just go right through yourself like nothing happened.
On my journey of becoming Everything I discovered I could talk to other things. As a wine bottle I listened to a bellflower lament the trap that is routine and the death of summer. And as a dandelion pollen came across a dust mite who told me “Everything around you implies your existence– they IMPLY you, Andrew!” And all these thoughts and ideas become collected into this hub where at the click of a button you can go through them and wonder.
Fun fact: this game can play itself.
Something outside the game distracted me for twenty minutes, and by the time I looked back my pollen self found its way as a door gliding through a Carrollian hellscape where teapots, decimated buildings, glitched soundscapes, and everything I ever was, am, or would be all talked at once saying they wish they could escape from this hell. Confused, at the tailend of my acid peak, and nauseous from the fallout-green fog of this place, I tried ascending but got an error message saying YOU CAN’T DO THAT. I tried again, YOU’RE STUCK HERE. I tried again, ONLY THE PURE OF MIND CAN LEAVE THIS PLACE. I spent a bullshit amount of time trapped in this place, until finally a trafficlight told me I must clear my thoughts. I remembered that idea hub the world told me about earlier, so I opened the menu and found several dozen thoughts cluttering the screen. And right next to them it said PRESS SQUARE TO ERASE.
And so I did.
And I could ascend.
And the screen flashed white and slowly faded into the world again.
And I found myself in the same wooly mammoth from when I first started.
I rolled out into the snow again when a carpet of fireworks went off in the sky.
And the polar bears and trees, the owls and the rocks, the adobes and the lilies gathered and watched.
In a subtext on the screen it read TUTORIAL COMPLETE.
And over the center of the screen it read WELCOME TO EVERYTHING.
And I remembered what I heard in the song before it all started.
I AM THE DANCER I AM THE DANCER I AM THE DANCER.
And so I joined myself with the polar bears and the trees, the owls and the rocks, the adobes and the lillies.
And you know what I did?
I danced and I danced.
And then I became Everything, again.