If you rewind the tape to this exact fractional frame, to the instant where the door in the upper left corner of the screen begins to open, the flickering yellow line that just rolled from top to bottom does not roll the same way it did on the previous viewing.
The important thing to understand is the static is non deterministic.
The flickering yellow line is non deterministic. This is a VHS tape not software. Software also is non deterministic. Nothing deterministic deserves to be called software.
Watch this tape again and you will see the same big picture. But every dot, every shimmer, every brightening and dimming will be new, unfamiliar, original.
Is it even the same big picture, when every little part of its many little parts is different?
Is the door in the upper left corner even a door anymore?
Well the Texas sun Makes my back burn And the words that wrong Make my back, makes my cat wrong
The sparkle in your eyes Focus my mind And the sparkle in your eyes In fact in my mind, glow ’round the edge of my mind
I’m sure this fur in your mind is Sanctuary I’m sure this purr in your mind Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
I’m sure this sparkle will Stop sparkling I’m sure this sparkle will Stop talking
And the world The sparkle still talking And the talk The sparkle talking in And it talk and it talk and it talk and it talk and it talk and it talk and it talk and i i t a nd it ta l an d it ta l aaal aaala la llll l llll l lllllll
Today you tried to see brain red without the aid of a bluegreen circle on a computer screen. You simply stared at something that was bluegreen, and you waited for your retinas to tire out. You stared at barbicide.
You stared and you realized what you always realize, when you try to stare.
You re-realized that your powers of concentration are feeble and that your self, your awake awareness, your inner agent that calls itself “I,” is tiny. Your “I” could fit on a camera card from the 90s and this re-proved it. Your “I” couldn’t hold itself centred on the barbicide.
No, your “I” drifted to the edges, was drawn in and trapped by the fringing glittery colours you could not name in the negative space framing the barbicide. In that trap, in the static and the shimmer of something that was not there but which there’s no denying you saw, there were eyes.
They looked back. They met your gaze. Unlike you, they had the strength to stare. Still have.
Me: Yo T rex ever noticed that the static in a paused VHS image never pauses?
T rex: Well how could you not. It thrums and flickers unrelentingly. It moves when it shouldn’t.
Me: What makes it move? The tape is stopped.
T rex: It’s stopped spooling and unspooling, true. But the playback head keeps rotating, touching a thin sliver of the tape, picking up both a fraction of a frame and the ambient energy of nearby spirits.
Me: Spirits or demons.
T rex: Depends how good you are at making friends with spirits.
Me: Can you hear them talking to you through the static?
T rex: If you’re asking, that’s a sign you hear them and you want reassurance. I have none. If they speak to you through the VHS static, and if you listen, the choice is yours. Do as they ask or don’t. Perform the rituals they command or don’t. Collect the stones and feathers and fruit and bones they ask you to or don’t. Sharpen the knife they ask you to or don’t. Make the incision they request or don’t.
Me: Thank you for your honesty. Hard truths can be hard to hear.
T rex: Drink the juice of the wound or don’t.
Me: How about we put the movie back on.
T rex: Dab the juice of the wound on your cheeks and chest and belly or don’t.
T rex: OK.
Me: Can you push play?
T rex: ...
T rex: Some times I don’t want to be your friend any more.
Sometimes the messages in the VHS static are from chemical engineers at BASF who designed their own signatures into the on-tape compounds, and whose message is in every frame. Their message is typically that they are from Austria and like receiving blow jobs.
Here is another impossible colour, one you will clearly see but which cannot be painted with light or pigment. Luminous red, or, as cool people call it, brain red, is clearly, unmistakably red, but it is brighter than white. Which is impossible with light, because white is simply all the wavelengths at full blast, and red is only the red wavelengths with everything else off.
But your brain can see more than your eyes, and brain seeing looks just like regular seeing, in that the images are right there, real as a photograph, real as VHS flicker, real as the sick fleeting yellow of a fluorescent tube powering down.
To see brain red you begin with a blue green and tire out your retinas.
It’s specific, this blue green. It’s bluer than true green, and greener than cyan. It is the shade of sunlit barbicide, as the rays first catch it, in the first instant after you set down the glass. You stare, then the brain red follows.
In the image below you will see a circle of blue green with an x in the middle. Stare hard at the x. You will struggle to keep your focus on the x, and you will notice fringing at the edges of the barbicide. This is your retina tiring, a sign that you are about to see brain red.
Keep your attention as tight as you can. After ten seconds the barbicide will be replaced by white, and you will see a circle of brain red in the middle, brighter than the white. It will look like an idealized Japanese flag. After a while the barbicide circle will return and the animation will loop. Each time you see the brain red it will be brighter still.
Set the glass down. Don’t set the glass down. Whichever.