The Agony of Being
Connected to Everything
in the Universe [what?]

by Andrew Boyd [who?]
jan '02 • w.w.norton

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BROTHER VOID, Dark Saint of Affliction


ASK BROTHER VOID [ recent columns | ask ]

As per official special dictat of The Church of Skeptical Mysticism and
Compassionate Nihilism, Sunday, December 1, 2002:

"Brother Void shall henceforth lend out his tortured soul as a dark brooding existential laboratory to any and all members of the virtual congregation who need a good ontological shake-down. His new duties shall comprise soliciting from congregants their traumas, angst, perturbations, and the like, to include but not be limited to: involuted knots of arbitrary self-doubt, unmetabolized scar tissue, and secular demon-hauntings by various inner-entities, etc. Having gathered the above, he shall ascertain which of these fecund morsels of human pain are most desperately in need of attention, with special consideration to be given to those torments from which there is no recourse. He shall then respond with counsel that offers no false hopes, but rather instills in the congregant a renewed sense of dark purpose, and maybe a chuckle to temporarily ease the cosmic burdens which they carry. This new church program shall be know by the name: Ask Brother Void."

In plain English (please excuse the stiff institutional prose the Church often adopts when it wants to be taken seriously) this simply means: I'm taking questions. Your questions. So: Ask Brother Void.

Note: This being an advice column, please bear in mind the 5 criteria of a good question:

1. Legible.
2. A true story.
3. Quirky. (Or, at least, so cluelessly pedestrian that the singular lack
of quirkiness is itself worthy of interest.)
4. May or may not concern bizarre sexual dysfunction/fantasy that every reader is morbidly fascinated with but afraid to ask about themselves.
5. Really really really good pseudonym.

see recent columns

Existential Confessional

In the spirit of patron saint Friedrich Nietzsche, the church has done away with the concept of sin. Instead members are encouraged, if not to confess, then at least to profess, their existential vices and virtues to Brother Void, as he has done to you.

First Visions -- The Lost Years of Brother Void, an Excerpt

...There he was, a young man barely 20, tromping around the desert like a fool. It was getting late, he was trying to make his way back to camp. The desert air had cooled considerably. He was hurrying against the closing twilight, scrambling down a gully--fast, and then slow, and then fast again--sliding on his ass down a crease of broken sandstone, loose rock spilling alongside him. A narrow twist and the ravine steepened. He turned around. With his back to the dimming sky, he worked his way down. He was moving faster than was wise. He noticed his error too late.

Fear flicked up through his legs. He pressed his weight into the rock, instinctively, hands and feet needling deeper into their holds. The rock wall dropped down and away. There was nothing beneath him but empty air. For the first time, his life was completely in his own hands.

He held on to the rock for long moments. His past collapsed behind him; his future lay truncated on the rocks below, its head cut off from Time. There was only Death, wafting under him in the empty air. Nothing before this had been real. It was as if, for years, he had been held in a protected field, a set-up life, and now, Death had cut away the false foundations. He had never faced Death before, but he could feel now that it had always been there--a fearsome abyss holding life in its empty fist, just as the empty air held him now.

He had to move. He was excruciatingly in command. He had to step deeper into his terror and further out over the void. There was no other way. To his left was a rounded outcropping of rock and on the other side of it a means of descent. Make for over there. He let go of his left handhold and slipped off one strap of the backpack, then switched hands, then slowly the other strap. He let the pack fall down to the rocks below. In some far-off place, in some unreal time, he hoped the flashlight had not broken.

Then slowly, he began to inch his way left, cranny, by cranny, hold by hold. He made slow careful progress. He was half way across. With the toe of his sneaker he felt out the loose-fitting rock in the next cleft. He kicked away at the broken bits of rock. Nudging his way in, he tested its strength. It was Okay. He transferred his weight over to it. It held. He trusted it, committed to it. All his weight, now. The rock slipped and gave way. His knee banged against the rock wall, his foot forced down violently, jangling in the air, weightless. I'm falling. I'm dead...

[see also: Brother Void's ironic awakening]


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