Despatch to the Thousand Ruby Galaxy

All memory is lost, every memory dies ... Iskander's profile half-erased from a rough coin dug from the Bactrian sands in the time of the Ayatollahs ... what you felt last week when Archer referred that grapple tackle to the Match Review Committee ... the expression that crossed her face when you told her that you no longer cared whether she loved you or you loved her, you just wanted a bit of peace ... they are lost in thought or dead in time, they go when the hippocampus goes, they swirl away down the sink as you wash your hands or let the grey nutritious dishwater out. There's no sense in trying to hang onto anything, to say I'm trying to remember is as futile as trying to forget: you never will or you always will, one or the other, perhaps both. Simultaneously. And the things you can't remember / tell the things you can't forget / that history puts a saint in every dream ... Much later, or instantaneously (you decide), every human memory that ever was is meticulously reconstituted at an unknown station, by an unknown mind, in the Thousand Ruby Galaxy. It could be Buddha, it could be God. It could be the Stephen Hawking clone they have going 15 light years away over there. Doesn't matter. It's a vast collection of recollections and everything is in it: the song the Sirens sang as much as that cute tune you heard whistled in the underground tunnels of St James station last Thursday evening, late, and you couldn't work out who it was because when you ducked through into the parallel tunnel there was no one there but a homeless guy sleeping under, of all things, a striped umbrella. Your childhood is there. Your death that is yet to occur is already registered in those majestic memory banks. Both the last and the next times you'll fall in love. And how they'll end. Same for everyone else, Iskander's drunken rages are there, the Ayatollahs' vile sins, the ref's mistakes, everything. And, get this, it is a library. The Ruby Galaxians listen to those memories, they access them through a catalogue so enormous we cannot even begin to comprehend it and use them for entertainment. We are, as it were, entered into an iPod of stupendous dimension. They read us as if we were, each of us, a book. Not like a book but as a book. It's our only immortality. The bitch is, we do not know if we are tragedy, comedy, melodrama, farce, burlesque ... or some exquisite genre not yet invented in the Milky Way. We can never know. We just have to get on with it and make it up as we go along, hoping for the best: laughter and tears, cosmic derision, pity, terror or some unknown emotion that reduces a Ruby Galaxian to the trembling incomprehension which is mine as I set down this message from, and to, the stars.

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