This is from the story of Jivana Jacqueline Thoreau
who turns into the superheroine known as "Raver J".
Jivana Thoreau is a junior marketing VP who's always been driven by success. Her life vision—making it to the top of the transnational Koch Enterprises and enjoying the endless material luxuries and happiness afforded by the Consumerican Dream—is just within reach. But when she learns that the promotion she's worked so hard for is instead going to Victor, her ex-boyfriend and the CEO's nephew, her ladder of success splinters into kindling. In need of a distraction, she stumbles upon the illicit Democracity rave scene, where she uncovers an ancient prophecy and must make a choice: will she remain in complicity, living the life she knows as a corporate-climbing Koch jockey, or will she join a raveolution? This imaginative fictional autobiography explores the ravages of consumerism on the modern world and the lengths to which people will go to achieve the Consumerican Dream.
BEAT: IS THIS THE REAL LIFE?
I saw it first, the distant strobe light of red and blue flashes. It was only a millisecond later that the twins would see it too; their schoolgirl skirts flared as they dashed in the direction of the oncoming lights. Within moments an unnecessary amount of cop cars screeched as they obnoxiously slid in donut shapes to form an authority-driven wall. I made an instinctive request, “Zoe turn it up!” The music had been low in my ears for the very reason I was ordering it to be loud now. Before she could fulfill her duty, I had already issued the next order. “Run!” I yelled to our friends, hoping frantic gestures would reach them above their groove. They did. They ran in the opposite direction of the cop barricade, onto backstreets, and alleys. Smoke created from our adversaries entrance helped screen their retreat. Then time froze.
Time starts again but in adrenaline slow-mo. Paint droplets and streaks levitate while the music in my remote control earbuds begins to deliver increasing sound like a wobbling gong. As the sound infuses my being and moves toward heart-center, I am overcome by sound-induced ecstasy. Each heartbeat is empowered by ever-increasing reverberations.
A short eternity of sweet darkness. All I am is sound.
And then it happens. The music had been the catalyst but it is the wet splatter of paint across my eyes that seems to detonate the heart energy and it explodes out of my chest like a geyser. A dome of light forms. It’s so bright I see it with eyes closed.
My fingers move from the inner corners of the eyes across the cheekbones at a luxurious speed. They linger erotically at the temples while I perceive a deep and loitering “eeewwww”, which circumnavigates my head like a toy train in orbit. Blinking is gooey. It is a feat of heavy lifting, attempting to peel neon-pink drenched eyelashes apart but it’s worth the effort. My expanded aura shimmers in kaleidoscopic radiance. I gaze amusingly at this marvel knowing, after the last time this happened, it provides some form of protection. We’ll need it.
Zoe and Zephyr are slightly ahead and on either side of me. I see them both in my peripheral vision. We form a V. The girls seem to float their weight side to side, patiently expecting the impending arrival. The dark pigtails of the twins curiously flow upwards as if they are sinking to the bottom of an ancient ocean. Similar to being underwater, I cannot understand what is being said. With an enthusiastic grin, Zoe points at my eyes while making a gesture at hers. I interpret this as some sort of approval of my paint-smeared face.
Outside of this auric enigma, I decode pixelated shadows as Democracity cops. They are making up their mind when or whether they should join us in this ring. Unreal. But it is real.
Muffled yells, of a sisterly martial arts strategy session, come from the outer points of our V. The sound distortion indicates time distortion, at least for me. This is good as scenes of my life seem to be integrated into the auric dome, like projection art. I feel the corners of my mouth turn up in a slight smile as I watch a particular memory wave for my attention like one of those dancing tube men in front of used car lots.
“Deactivate,” comes a voice from the cop car speaker system and which reaches us in real-time while the auric-field flickers. I see them: guns pointing toward us, some behind car doors, others crouched like video game figures ready to invade. Zoe turns the music up again. The rest of their mechanical-sounding demand immediately garbles in time distortion. The dome stabilizes and brightens.
That memory keeps waving at me. I’m vibrating in indecision until I intuitively sense approval from the girls, You have time. Surrender.
BEAT: HIRED GUNS
The end of the memory arrived in perfect timing with the lead-in of dark helmets and gun barrels. The full-suited, kevlar-clan then emerged through the aura kaleidoscopé. Sparks fly.
Nothing has been the same since running into an old friend only weeks ago and meeting his crew who brought me to my first rave. This night, facing authority figures as comrades flee from the scene of our brazen act of defiance, is directly a product of what happened after Megawatt Phoenix. So maybe I should start there.
BEAT: MIND MYDRIASIS
And so, life that week would be like the continuation of a trip.
The first two days, it was almost frightening how much easier it was to relinquish myself to the river of music-induced memories. To allow my mind, which had turned into a glittery inner-tube, to journey down that river of positivity. The river cleansed the negativity I had been harboring over a promotional loss, broke down boulders of current self-imposed responsibilities, and polished them to pebbles of melodic boredom.
Under the influence of this flow state, I indulged it. I listened to the mind-altering electronic music more than I should have, in terms of work productivity and previously set goals. Every morning I listened in the car and, like a fresh flood of rain, it would keep my river moving strongly throughout the day. So, picking up the phone to execute a cue-space sale or planning the new campaign for @mazon Burger seemed somehow washed away in this new flow.
Worry found its way to the banks of my river but would drown in its attempt to tackle my inner-tubal fantasy. Eventually, Worry got smart and had other worries join at the shore to form a choir of harassment. They won, in that their unwelcome, despondent incantations were louder if I closed my eyes. I only had so much time before my productivity would be measurably affected. But somehow Worry and Care did not necessarily co-exist as they once had for me. Something else had awakened and moved in me, the desire to revisit the rave experience, and it would not wane.
It dwelled within me, a powerful force transferring from my body, through my hands, into the hardware, like a phantasmal image burning through the screen of my computer. Commanding presence. As I stared into the screen attempting typing of any sort, it stared back at me, confronting me. What am I doing at work? That previously unthinkable question made me shift in my office chair. I should be dancing. And so I moved.
Behaving like a free-spirited child, I would rise from my desk, prancing on my toes until I could place my fingertips upon the glass of the window, to watch clouds once again. Real ones. Not the grand Avonne-clouds I could conjure from my office of Oz. What if someone walks in on me? I would claim market research for billboard inspiration and continue to look out the window. Inside, my deepest desire was a return to the rave.
Tap tap tap. Tapping on the window longing to be that me I once knew. That playful little girl I rediscovered at the rave. That girl filled with joy, love, and a zesty lust for life. Effervescently alive under my skin.
Can I swap my business suit for my raver racer-suit I donned that night? That suit; outfitted with checkers of a new game, the catapult into a new dimension - a dreamworld stitched together by sound-induced, popping, coral-reef-like, technicolor wonder. At that rave, it was as if one cell from each and every one of those tens of thousands of people had jumped into my body, infusing my being and re-forming me on the dance floor. Gone from that new-bodied experience, I began to feel like a desiccated, molted skin of the full being-ness I had achieved; wanting to abdicate myself completely from my staff.
To a certain extent, this all seemed crazy. What is my issue? Was it being away from the rave, or was it the heaviness that settled in me because I did not receive my last - and quite coveted - promotion?
I had been devastated when I’d found out. I had been called up to the CEO's office, the floor below his mythical corporate penthouse. It was hard to see him through the flaunting smoke cloud of what I imagined was a fine, imported cigar.
“Jacqueline thank you for your contributions but we have decided to take Victor on this round,” Bernay Koch's intonation pushed through from behind the smoke.
A rage I did not know I possessed surged through me. To avoid losing my job altogether, I had to contain it in silence and a spurious smile as I politely managed a “thank you” through my teeth to the bearer of bad news. Contribution? Like I'm just some cue!
An echoey vociferation erupted in my mind, breaking open the cage of a wild, cymbal-clapping monkey. It paraded in my mind with bulging eyes and an incessant, self-deprecating clamor. An absolutely intolerable raucous - the monkey forced me to the bar of @mazon Burger by noon to sedate it with a top-shelf martini. Alcohol did calm the monkey but did not make me any less aware of the designer adornments embellishing the faces and feet of my fellow gastropub patronizers. Status-defining limited edition sunglasses, stilettos, and men's work shoes made from the skin of the animal we feasted our desire for meat on; all unbearable reminders of why I should have been picked for the new executive opening.
The promotion would have raised me to an entirely new level: literally, I would have moved upstairs. A junior VP to a senior VP, a true Executive - I had earned it. Clearly everyone in this damned restaurant would agree. I had put a vast amount of work into the company since I graduated from university a few years back. The designer merchandise “on-site up-sell” at @mazon Burger had been a pioneering idea, and of my crafting. Sleek, slim-line online shopping consoles had been installed at every seat so you could conveniently and easily explore a world of merchandise only available for purchase while dining. We worked with every top designer, such as Pedigree and Oligarch, to create a special line all under the auspice of a new trend and intellectual property we called “@mazonian Exotic”. This idea catapulted me from an entry-level position up the corporate ladder, and decorated me with accolades. I stood out. Young, blonde, ambitious, award-winning. Unlike my associate who was merely young, and related to the Koch Owner-Tycoon.
Monkey had screeched and slammed the cymbals together at every unpleasant realization - Of course he would have been promoted before me. Clang! He was family. Screech! He is a man. Slam! Being taken over by rabid monkey-mind was an oppressive burden I wished never to repeat.
But to think that officially I was to refer to my promoted colleague anytime I saw him as “Executive” made me shudder. It would never happen, not unless I decided to tease him. At least, foreseeable situations where it would truly be expected of me would be few. There were not many gatherings between junior and senior VPs. No one would really ever take notice. And if they did? Let my defiance be noted.
Victor Koch. I would never refer to him as a lover, but he had been my boyfriend and not a good one. I had more respect for myself than to watch his constantly wandering eyes when we were out together and he apparently thought I was not paying attention. As a Koch, he had ushered me in the door with his family company after we graduated. I would always be grateful to him for that, so being forced to work with him every day after we parted ways was actually not so bad. His womanizing was painful at first; then, over time, humorous, and then slightly pitiful. Mostly for the women. Swooning over his freckles they knew he acquired from weekend sailing trips, primping accordingly, expecting an invite, unaware they were on a year-long wait list. Unlike those girls, he annoyed me, and deep down I knew he needed me. His ideas, for our type of work, were often … less than lackluster.
Rationally, and in retrospect, the promotion would have been an early bonus. I had always liked my job. I was proud of my achievements and stature thus far. Although it was not the ultimate success that I desired.
My idea of success was perhaps a few scales higher than that of the normal Consumerican who wanted a nice house, nice car, and disposable income for a worry-free existence. Yes, I am embarrassed to admit I wanted to be almost disgustingly wealthy like the Kochs. As a proud member of the self-appointed intelligentsia, my idea of the climax of success was this: a lifestyle of private jets, yachts, and exotic places. On the deepest level, I believe that is the coveted Consumerican Dream. That you could one day be a king - a dream I found myself actively playing a part in and one I was, fortunately, paid to perpetuate.
Although still young, I knew the window on a future position could close soon. If someone didn’t retire before I was thirty, my window might close forever, because I wanted that lifestyle while I was still beautiful. Unlike Victor’s revolving entourage, my preference had been not to have these things handed over to me by a man. My queendom would be earned by my own brilliance, sense of purpose, and self worth. Unlike Victor, I was not family and was not born into privilege.
Wait, do I really think all of that? Those had been my thoughts and goals. Suddenly they seemed somewhat silly… or juvenile? I seemed to be witnessing them reduce to sparkling sediment upon the alluvial banks of rave memory river. My job had provided the color to my existence. Now, the saturated color of the rave made my job appear greyscale.
I mused on how one experience could tether my spirit so quickly that, severed from it, I felt lost, floating away as I stared in retrospect at the origin of my newfound joy: the music, dancing, and feeling of connection among so many people. Enjoying the ride, but ultimately in search to get back to the source.
Something was different. Pre-rave I might have even established as “wrong”. Most of my mornings would start out with the news on; in the background, like informative elevator music. Once a calm start, it now assaulted my nerves. Every time I turned it on. So I would turn it off. Making me, that week, perhaps completely out of tune. Why do I need to hear about how poor people are leeches to society? The negativity siphoned productive energy from my heart. Turning off the news, in whatever format it was being broadcast, felt somehow as if I were protecting myself - and oddly empowering.
I didn’t know what was going on. I would hold my palms up in front of my eyes to examine them. There is a form of existence more colorful than this. But I could not see the source of the filter, so I began to listen.
Parks called to me. Visiting them amplified the newfound felicity. I would find myself on merry-go-rounds on lunch breaks, alone. Captivated by a fresh appreciation for green grass, by a heightened awareness of trees, and by the chirping of birds over the city sounds, I did not even notice the spinning sponsorship insignias of the merry-go-round makers.
I loved being outside. Why don’t I spend more time in Nature? The fortunate view of the city I had from my semi-lavish office - surrounded and enclosed by glass - was not the same as being connected to the view by sitting in it, and having the breeze brush across my face. Lying back on the merry-go-round, I allowed it to whirl me into the blissful oblivion that belonged to “Raver J”, a dimension beset by pleasant memories of her massive rave. The euphoria even translated into empathy as I started doing something I had never done before: giving change to homeless people who would come across my path. I needed an outlet to circulate the Love that had been generated from that most wonderful event.
As I walked across Exigent Square, I felt an angel-light tap upon my shoulder, and then she appeared in front of me. Zoe, a living emanation; her face a screen for the projection of that beloved rave I secretly and intensely desired returning to. Here she was not flaunting feather eyelashes, nor did she have glitter under her eyes, or jewels upon her face. No, she emanated something incomprehensibly dazzling. An electric potential? A swirling vortex of vaporous ecstasy escaping on her exhales? She might as well have blown permagrin producing fairy dust in my face I was so elated to see her. I nearly sneezed like a kitten encountering a giant pile of catnip.
Zoe was an integral part of my rave experience. Although not quite in her rave schoolgirl outfit, her business attire still had school girl flair. Suspender reminiscent straps emerged from an A-line skirt and low pigtails dangled over her collared shirt, framing either side of a bouffant bowtie. The look leaned loud though the pigtails were subdued compared to the higher pigtail style worn at the rave.
She was part of a new tribe of friends, or my “rave crew” as they had suggested I call them. As a workaholic, I had not done much more than text with them since the party. A lot of back and forth with immense, somewhat delicious, and at other times unprecedentedly obnoxious giddiness. Far more frequent than normal for me. At the core of it, the communications were an expression of gratitude for the experience they had shared with me and how much I wanted to see them all again. My standard response became this silly greeting, “I want to go back”.
After several days of not seeing my friends, and not being in any environment remotely similar to a rave, I had realized what I wanted to go back to. It was not necessarily a place of overstimulation that had somehow birthed a state of being but that state of being itself. In that state, I was intensely aware of my oneness with everyone and everything. The thought and phrase “we are all connected” bounced in the background of my mind like a tutu’ed rump to Marty’s Raver J Mix; and it was something I could not get out of my head, “We are all connected”. A concept alluring and yet equally recondite to me.
From that party, I had been left wondering if I could achieve that intense sense of connection on my own, in some other way, by some other means. Thus far, it did not seem the way. Therefore, something deep inside of my being yearned for their world to become elemental to my existence.
Life without them now did not seem like a future I wanted to imagine, so Zoe showing up without a sound of notice seemed strikingly sublime. In that moment I did not know why she was at Koch Enterprises or how she had crept up on me, and it didn’t matter. The kind request became a sun that brightened my inner light. The inflection in my voice betrayed my utter enthusiasm, “I would love to have lunch with you”.
BEAT: REBEL BASS
In Consumerica we are taught shopping is supposed to make us feel good but it never does, partially due to people like me. We are in charge of making sure no one is ever satisfied. There’s always something more to buy, something new, a better version, something. We will never be full from things. What about purpose?
We had made a few decisions, one being that we would start the following night, pop-up party planning and community service. The wish list from the artists was spray-paint-heavy. So I doled out the cash in the hands of all my Technorati friends, and we went - separately - to different stores to load up on supplies. Paint.... Signs….
“J, should we reach out to Knight’s opposing party?” Zento thought perhaps I had missed something in the strategy.
“I thought about that. I might even have some ideas for them, but not yet. I want us to be as under the radar as possible, especially for this first week.”
“But we only have two,” Paris reminded.
“Are you concerned about moles?” Zento prodded.
“No, mostly smurfs.”