Lethologica – Chloe Fox
If the world was quiet, then you would be able to live
without worry – about money, about friends, about
school, about anything; and you could buy
whatever your heart desired.
If you could buy whatever your heart desired, then
you would buy a large house with a pool, one that
you could jump in without slathering oily sunscreen
on your skin.
If you could jump into the pool without slathering oily
sunscreen on your skin, then you would finally get
your sweet freckles and rosy cheeks back without
If you finally got your sweet freckles back, maybe
then you would feel a little bit more confident and
would speak up in class, sharing your opinions.
If you would speak up in class sharing your
opinions, then maybe people would listen to you
and you would make more friends.
If you would make more friends, then maybe you
wouldn’t feel so lonely every day, sitting by yourself
left wondering if people actually cared about you or
if they were pretending to like you.
If you wouldn’t feel so lonely, then you would be
able to believe people when they said that they liked
If you were able to believe people when they said
that they liked you, then you’d be able to talk to
them about anything that was on your mind instead
of going home and sitting on your bed for hours.
If you were able to talk with them about anything
that was on your mind, then maybe you’d feel as
though you wanted to get out of bed in the morning,
excited for days to come.
If you felt as though you wanted to get up in the
morning, then you would slowly become happy;
smiling and laughing without it being fake.
If you were able to smile and laugh without it being
fake, then you’d be yourself, never having to hide
around everyone. You’d be able to cherish every
moment you have with the people you love without
worrying about whether they liked you.
Rubik – Mia Bitman
Hello, today I’d like to take you on a nautical journey. A descent into the depths. So please, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and let it all sink in. We begin bobbing at the surface, cresting and falling with the waves. A cloudless above bathes your skin in a blanket of warm sunlight and the refreshingly cool water caresses your back. You look around to see an endless horizon of blue, the borders of the sky and water blurred by their similar hue. There is nothing out here but you and the waters below. Let’s go a little deeper, shall we?
You begin to slip beneath the rhythmic waves, that equilibrium between warm light and cool water shifting until you are entirely overtaken by the sea. We have entered the uppermost layer of the ocean, the aptly named sunlight zone. The water here maintains that brilliant, cerulean blue shade seen at the very surface. Shafts of light refract and dance through the waters above, decorating the vast blue canvas with an array of almost god-like beams. Around you swarming schools of fish dart about, nimbly avoiding the attempts of predators to hunt them. Were we near the coast, you might see a bustling coral reef, painted with the dazzling array of bright colors often seen, starkly contrasting the surrounding, oppressively blue backdrop. Unfortunately, we are not near the coast. A quick glance reveals no such reef, only a seemingly endless darkness below. Let’s not keep it waiting.
As you continue to sink through this layer, you pass a plethora of sea life. In fact, nearly 90% of all sea life lives in the sunlight zone, the deeper, darker regions of the sea pose far too great a threat for most life to thrive. The sunlight fades further and further as you sink deeper. With it, goes color and warmth. At around 650ft deep, you have now entered the twilight zone, and yet, you are only 1% of our way to the bottom. Here the sunlight can barely reach, casting the waters in a grim dusk, and the once refreshing coolness turns to unrelenting, biting cold. Some of the only light visible at this depth is the ghostly glow of the life around you: the sinister shine of bioluminescence. At this depth, light a tool for survival, an alluring trap. As you take in the life and death lightshow around you, a sudden noise pierces the darkness. A varying, clicking sound surrounds your, shaking you violently. Then comes a sudden rush of water. The currents send you spiraling as you get brief glimpses of tentacles flailing and tearing at some larger creature. A whale, you’d have to guess. The battle between these two titans is suddenly obscured as an inky blackness surrounds you, and you sink yet deeper, into the midnight zone.
Here, at around 3200ft deep, there is no light. Gazing out into the oppressive veil of darkness, your eyes strain for something, a passing fish, sunken ship, hell even just a basic geometric shape, just something to focus on. But there is nothing. Your plea is met with endless black. Even with some kind of light, you would have nothing but miles upon miles of open water to look at. What sea life there is, is not a pretty sight. Translucent skin, unhinged jaws, rows of horrible, horrible, curved teeth, they seem almost hand picked from the collective fears of humanity. But you don’t have to worry about them. Were we actually concerned about your survival in this situation, you would have long since been violently compressed by the water pressure into a grisly cloud of bone and viscera.
You sink further into the awaiting caress of deep unknown. The descent takes long, leaving you utterly alone in the uncaring dark. Well, at least, you think you are alone, it’s impossible to tell without light. Reaching a depth of 13000ft, you pass by the decaying metal grave of hundreds, Her Royal Majesty’s Titanic. No surface is untouched by the almost alien growths that cover the collapsing sarcophagus. The famous wreck marks your entry into the abyssal zone. For the next 6000ft, everything will look maddeningly similar. Vast, empty ocean. Until you finally reunite with ground at 19000ft. Here, the abyssal plain stretches on endlessly in every direction as a barren wasteland, dotted by swarms of creatures feasting on the corpses sunken from layers above. For much of the sea floor, this is as deep as it gets. But we’re not stopping here. You’re only about halfway to the bottom of it all.
Now you descend further, into the hadal zone. A series of narrow trenches crisscrossing the ocean floor, sparsely populated by the most extreme creatures alive. For hours you continue down through the convening canyon walls. You descend into a subtrench, barely over a kilometer wide, before settling down to your final destination. The Challenger Deep. Nearly 36,000ft below the surface, and a full 6000ft deeper, than mt. Everest, earth’s highest point. Finally your journey is complete. Ironically enough, at the most remote and extreme place on earth, you find a sign of humanity. Like a jellyfish, a translucent white plastic bag drifts elegantly through the pitch black depths.
And now you begin to rise, revisiting each layer, getting brighter and warmer as you return to the sun. At about 20ft deep, the upwards motion ceases entirely, and your lungs begin to ache. They burn with hellish intensity, immediately your body begins to move, you tear and pull at the water above you like a man possessed, kicking with all your strength, heart pounding out of your chest, but the surface seems no nearer, all sense disappears you can only focus on getting air, you need air, every corner of your mind screams it GET OUT GET UP GET OUT, YOU NEED TO GET OUT.
Then you suddenly burst through the surface. The air fills your lungs completely as you gasp incessantly, the warm sun once again drenches over you. That was just a gentle reminder, at merely 20ft you nearly met your fate. You stare back down towards your feet, towards the immensity that lay below. There be beauty beneath the waves, for sure. But there too be fury and power, beyond calculation. Thank you for accompanying me, and I hope you enjoy the trip.
“Well, we’re lost,” I exclaim as my best friend and I circle the same tree for the third time in twenty minutes.
“We are not lost,” he replies while his magnetic eyes scan the surrounding area. “Just… mildly confused.” Usually, I would laugh at his attempt at humor, but night is approaching quickly; I’ve heard about the horrors that take place in the woods at night.
“Now is not the time for humor. We need to get home. There are bears, wolves, and murderers….” Gooseflesh appears on my skin while my shoulders shudder.
“Hey,” he interrupts, calmly placing his warm hands on my shoulders, steadying me (little does he know that makes me even more nervous). His eyes meet mine, filled with humor, and my train of thought derails. “We’re going to be fine, Ok? I’ll get us out of here.” His hands leave my shoulders, and there is a coldness now like my body knows his hands are supposed to wrap around me… I clear my throat and turn around to pretend I am looking for a way out; really, I just need to collect myself. “Maybe we can find the road,” he says hopefully.
“What if we try over there,” I point towards the left, where the trees seem to break slightly, and a road almost seems visible. Maybe it’s just my imagination. Or perhaps a part of me wants to stay lost in the woods so we can have this time together. I look over and see him smiling at me with his goofy grin that makes girls fall to their knees.
“I knew I was friends with you for a reason,” he says, ruffling my hair and walking in the direction I pointed. And just like that, reality sets in, and I remember my place: his best friend. Nothing more. There is a heavy compression on my chest at the realization, but I do with it as I do with all my emotions: pretend it doesn’t exist.
“Wait up,” I say, following him like a lost puppy. How pathetic. Just tell him, my inner monologue shouts in protest. What if he likes you back? He might! I push down the hopeful thought and collect myself once again. I jog and fall into stride with him as we search for the exit. Tell him. You may never get another chance. “Hey,” I say loudly and unintentionally. He stops walking and turns around to face me, and my courage disappears.
“Yes?” His eyes twinkle with curiosity as I fidget with the bracelet around my wrist.
“Um… well… I’ve wanted to tell you this for a long time, and I don’t know when I’ll get another chance or the courage or if you’ll hate me or….” My knee bounces up and down rapidly in rhythm with my irregular heart and I look anywhere but him, finding interest in the pattern of roots on the forest floor.
“I get it. Just tell me.” He crosses his arms over his chest, and I take a deep breath.
“Ok… Um, Well, I like you.” The relief of finally removing that weight from my shoulders engulfs me but shatters when I look up and see a knife held to his throat. Terror fills my senses, but before I can scream, a hand claps over my mouth, silencing me. In one quick moment, the knife slides across the neck of my best friend—the love of my life—spilling blood onto the forest floor of dead leaves. Tears well up in my eyes, and a scream erupts, but it is muted by the hand covering my mouth. I use all my strength to pull away and run towards him as he falls to the ground, but strong arms restrain me.
“Stop struggling,” the deep, rough voice says as he readjusts his hold on me. His strong terrifying hands press harder into my skin as I thrash around, desperate for any leeway. I am fully sobbing now as his beautiful, striking eyes lose their life for good. I’ll never laugh at another joke or blush like an idiot when he compliments me; I won’t help him with his homework ever again—my best friend, my guiding light, my love, gone in an instant. A dark cloth covers my nose, and the smell of chemicals is the last thing I sense before everything fades to black.
“Come ‘ere, Love Bug!”
It was supposed to be fun…
She’s told “you’re so golden”
She can’t stop hurting others or herself
Everything she touches turns to stone
Seems as though she’s incapable of perfection
Where did their “Love Bug” go?
Is this a pity party?
Is she nothing but a memory now?
This new girl who has infiltrated her place
She’s not kind
She’s not compassionate
She forgets to think
Where did their “Love Bug” go?
This substitute is told to just pretend
Yet she can’t even accomplish this simple task
Where did their “Love Bug” go?
Mannnnn, I’ve gotta escape this stupor. Exstupefy? Disstupefy? Destupefy? Yeah, probably destupefy. Prefixes are weird.
Clock? Can you hear me? Get me out of here. I can’t stand ‘ol Marad’s history class. That first lecture he gaveeeee…as soon as he said “philosophy of history” I conked out like a narcoleptic. Not that narcoleptics are defined by that one labbbb- Darl. Do not self censor. This is your mind. Let it flowwwwvvvv
And with that, Darl’s forehead smacked his desk, knocking him unconscious. No one in the classroom noticed, per usual. The aforementioned Marad continued his lecture “Great Dates” without pause.
Darl walks through a triangular hallway. He does not notice its shape. At the end of the hall appears a yellow door. However, when Darl reaches it, it changes color. He does not notice this either.
The door opens, and there stands ‘ol Marad, facing Darl with a disappointed frown. “Not an excellent first impression, Mr. Young. You lack sight. See the clock?”
There is no clock. Darl shrugs and heads to the back of the classroom. The other students are nonexistent. But as is usual, Darl does not notice.
He and the teacher sit down simultaneously– at the exact same time, to the Planck length. Darl looks to his right, sees a blank, white wall, and begins speaking.
“Cosine squared x plus sine squared x equals 1. The French Revolution began in 1789. So uh, i squared equals the opposite of the left hand side of that equation. Jefferson finalized the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. And since i to the i equals e to the negative pi over 2, Christ is reputed to have died between 30 and 36 AD, then, the square root of cosine squared x plus sine squared x-”
Marad stands up.
“Stop puking mathematics. Control yourself. Control your mind.”
He sits back down.
Without even having stood up, Darl sits down– at the exact same time as Marad, to the Planck length.
Sitting, his gag reflex activates. Darl vomits with so much force, that circles become cylinders, blowing outwards into a third dimension. Diverging series spew all over the floor and up the wall, to seemingly no end. Line graphs turn into stair-like integer functions, slithering towards Marad’s mahogany, aging desk.
Marad stands up, and begins power walking towards Darl, crushing the approaching functions with his bare feet. He picks Darl up, and throws him into a wall.
Darl wakes up in a classroom filled with conniving students placating the teacher. They ask for the dates of historical events, hoping to appear inquisitive, as if they are taking notes. He stares past them, looking at Darl.
“Would you like to answer them, Mr. Young?”
Darl stands up to answer.
“Sarah, 1789. Margaret, 1803. And Johnny, between 30 and 36 AD.”
Darl sits down. And Marad turns away.
Can a man get any peace these days? Uh huh. I need to…Jesus Christ, I need to… Wawhoa— Sarah looks cute today. Four words, performing the function of six– excellent. English should be rid of ‘to be’ anyway. Looks like ‘look’ the verb is leading the revol—Darl, don’t gloss over that objectifi— You’re right, I’m in control. No you are not. Yjah! Relax so I don’t go NUTSssss……..
Darl’s head hits the desk with so much force that the wood, as if karate chopped, splits in half. Without a desk, Darl falls forward onto the gray classroom carpet, and passes out. Everyone witnesses this, and those sitting nearby lean down and shake his shoulders, attempting to rouse him from his slumber.
Darl returns to the empty classroom, sitting near the back. Marad is there, sitting at his desk, near the door. He looks up.
“Mr. Young. You are blind. Would you like to see?”
Darl stares at the wall.
“Mr. Young. Answer.”
The instant Darl thinks it, it exits his mouth:
A pack of geriatric female dog-walkers observe EMTs leaving New Hope High School, pushing a stretcher. The pack continues their inexorable stroll without a word.
Meanwhile, Darl dives out of an airplane. Falling through the sky, Marad follows him. Marad grabs onto Darl’s limp body and whispers into his ear:
“You know our destination.”
Darl, yawning, nods.
He yawns again, and the two hit the dirt. Their impact rips the Earth in half, and they continue to fall, at a constantly increasing acceleration. After a few minutes of falling between the two hemispheric chunks, they reach the core of the Earth. There is nothing there. So they keep falling, but slower, as there is more Earth pulling them than pushing them forward. Eventually they reach the other side of the Earth, immediately after which they fall back down to the other side. For days, they oscillate between their entry and exit points, up and down, up and down, and after what feels like forever— due to the average speed of their motion, the two jump backwards in time.
Darl lies in a hospital bed, hooked up to a heart monitor. His pulse accelerates. Ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump. Up and down, up and down, up and down.
The date is 50,000 BCE. The Earth is resealed. Darl and Marad are in the cradle of humankind, southeast Africa, and they witness a man carving up another man with his tools. “Mr. Young. Do you know what separates you from this man? It isn’t scientific or mathematical. It’s historic. It’s socioeconomic, political, and cultural. Without this understanding, you two are the same, are you not?”
Darl hyperventilates, and, suddenly remembering the existence of air, realizes that the physics behind his time travel does not compute, as he did not account for air resistance, and since he did not account for air resistance, instead of oscillating between his entry point and his exit point forever, maintaining such an average speed that would cause him to travel back in time, he would have actually stopped oscillating after a few hours, stabilizing his position at the core of the Earth, and POOF— he’s there, at the center of the Earth, breathing the air.
Surrounded by his family and friends, Darl flatlines. The doctor writes on the death certificate: “asphyxiation by intoxication” and answers a text “Not today.”
Remembering creates meaning.1
We expect pleasing haromines,
not j o
a s n
r s a
r i n
i g d c
n e …2
But it’s not just about the good.
Music can provoke other feelings, too,
or even ANGER. 2
Composers and producers walk a delicate tightrope, needing to tweak expectations to just the right degree. 2
Correct beats and measures?
Good note placement and chords?
What type of genre are we looking for?
And so on.
But it’s not the whole story. 2
Connectivity will replace repetition. 1
What seems like “nostalgia”
might just be a form of
that amplifies the value
of the listening event. 1
Because that seems to
make the most sense. 1
Music evolved as a social glue for the species.
But it’s growing more and more important to create one’s own cocoon of sound. 3
How could that be the case
When listening to music
to recall other stimuli? 3
And any pop song
for both extraverts and introverts? 3
Is it because what
in acute concentration,
it returns to us
in the form of good vibes? 3
Science says we’re full of it. 3
In a wreck of people
Two plastic pieces connected by a wire create an
A small, invisible fence around our minds. 3
And a shield is created.
That’s the triumph of headphones,
for they make their own rules of etiquette. 3
Although music evolved as social glue for the species,
headphones allow music to be enjoyed friendlessly. 3
An oasis of privacy
in a public space. 3
1 Klosterman, Chuck. “Nostalgia on Repeat.” ” Nostalgia on Repeat, 6 Oct. 2011, http://grantland.com/features/nostalgia-repeat/?print=1.
2 Ball, Philip. “Will We Ever… Understand Why Music Makes Us Feel Good?” BBC Future, BBC, 18 Apr. 2018, https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20130418-why-does-music-make-us-feel-good.
3 Thompson, Derek. “How Headphones Changed the World.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 30 May 2012, https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/05/how-headphones-changed-the-world/257830/.