It was an idea found within the pages of a small paperback, sitting among hundreds on a dusty shelf, out of sight in a dark garage that smelled of mildew and curiosity. Buried in the pages, well after the colorful cover of four purple tentacles probing a busty young woman, the slimy arms spreading a look of shock across her face from the inside; after a thousand words that built momentum and teased at the sexual longing of orifice-less creatures, the doctor took his singular syringe and gingerly poked the bacterial cell, inserting a synthetic chromosome into its DNA, a synthetic chromosome based on the naturally occurring bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium.
By his calculations, the synthetic chromosome would live off the host for a while, feed off of it, incubate, grow, and then, in the final stage of the process, the synthetic chromosome would be powerful enough to take control of the host cell. The result of this takeover…an artificial life form.
I read the passage and felt a quiet grayness begin to tug at the corners of my vision. Could this be real? I looked down at my naked body, white and soft on the plush blanket below. My toes wiggled hello. My fleshy vehicle of movement, like the small metal box that takes me quickly from point A to point B, this curved tube of veins and blood that moves because of a fleshy pump, this is the vehicle that takes me from bed to desk, from sleep to dancing invocation. The “I” that writes these words is part of the machine, the thoughts, the fingers, the mouth that pouts from a night of crying…I am the host to another, the organic bacteria that hosts the silent watcher trapped within a forgetful creature of anger and rage and sexual fever. The machine eats its dinner, the machine dresses in pretty skirts and stays warm in the winter. The machine enjoys its bite of chocolate and does what it needs to do to stay breathing. In nearly every moment, only one force moves this small vehicle, it is the desire of self preservation, the “I,” the ego.
And then, in moments in the dark, when the lights of the road take on a quiet pattern and everyone in their metal boxes feels like kin, then the presence of another emerges and in those moments, no worry seems important, every fear seems like a waste of time and time itself seems truly short and precious. And then the organic bacteria takes over once again.
And I look down at my typing fingers, long and skinny and crowned with stars. Through a strange turn of events, I find my machine working…writing, creating, doing what is asked of it, despite the habits. Despite yelling at slow drivers, crying a couple times a week, looking for sweets in its fridge.
The machine, the limbed body with fingernails, the body that seeks comfort and death, this machine sustains me, it is what I need to work on earth, it is a host, a host for the Being. Perhaps one day, a new life form will emerge, strong and willful and in service to the Absolute. For now, I work with what I have.