In today’s world I’m the closest there is to a novelist. In contrast to the evolution of science, fiction has become less and less popular with time. Nowadays people tend to embrace reality, and fiction is a distraction that’s only occasionally indulged in. It goes for every other art expression: cinema and theater for instance. Realistic themes are prohibitively favorite, so the most similar genre to an adventure novel is an essay-reportage such as the one I’m writing right now. Allow me to admit that I’ve added no iota of fiction to this text. Besides my opinions and conclusions, everything you read here is as real as my perceptions can guarantee. I’ve started this book just when I met Valentine, and I add entries whenever something eventful happens, so I know just as much as you about the denouement of the story. At first, I didn’t know how long it would take to finish it, but due to the recent evolution of Valentin’s situation, I think very soon I’ll have a finished work to present to you.
Seven weeks have uneventfully elapsed since I met our protagonist and, other than a few chapters about our current technology and the history of Martian colonization, there was really nothing to talk about. But today I’ve had very interesting news about Valentin: He found the girl of his dreams. I’m actually directly quoting. We don’t talk on those terms nowadays, because they’re simply meaningless. We prefer to relegate dreams to the unconscious and to talk about reality. I would rather say he found someone who can put up with his nonsense, but of course, I didn’t share this opinion with him because his elation was too dangerously great to safely put a check on. I see in front of me a malfunctioning vehicle heading towards an inevitable crash, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve tried to reason with him, probing his sanity, but to no avail. He’s simply lost it and there’s no pulling him out of the upcoming wreckage.
The mere circumstances in which they met is enough matter of disapproval. As I mentioned before, we don’t leave to chance our emotional future, so we mostly meet through a match-making application with meticulously honed algorithms that ensure compatibility. Furthermore, throughout our dating cycle, we wear gadgets that ensure the correct reading of our emotions through the measurement of our hormones, heart rate, and blood vessels. After all, you can cheat your mind but not your body. These measurements are openly shared with the other person for them to make an informed decision. Often a general history of psychosomatic measurements is presented to your potential partner so they can calibrate the analysis of your current emotional state. While dating, and in general in our social lives, a transparency policy is always adopted. Dishonesty is proven to be harmful to both parties in the long run, so it’s not a legitimate option nowadays.
Now, let me start by saying that Valentin met his girlfriend by mere chance. The irreverence with which he ventured into coupling with this girl should’ve been enough deterrent to her emotional attachment, but, oddly enough, it produced the opposite effect. I won’t analyze her because I don’t know her circumstances, but as much as I wish to believe she suffers from regression too, everything seems to indicate the opposite. According to the information he gave me about her, she’s a functional person with no apparent psychological flaws. She’s a teacher, which demands a flawless psyche, regularly controlled by means of neurological and psychiatric tests. The whole circumstance prior to meeting him was very normal. She came to do some horse riding because she’s just moved into the area to work at a nearby school. Her age is adequate to such an event in her life: She’s twenty-three years old and she’s just finished her studies. Horse riding has always been her sport of choice, so it was just natural for her to continue it in her new place. He’s also told me details which she’s openly shared about her personal life: She’s had four dating partners, one of which led to sex and emotional engagement, but not enough to warrant further commitment. They broke up after eight months of a relationship and now she is ready for a new one. Everything normal, until we factor in Valentin. With him in the equation, she seems to have lost her mind, as if regression was contagious.
I’ll stop stalling now and tell you what happened. For no other reason than the tingling of his hormones, he switched the horse which was meant for her for another one meant for more advanced riders. Needless to say, she couldn’t rein in the horse’s spirit, and it carried her on a lively gallop outside the riding arena and into the adjacent forest. Our hero, therefore, climbed on his horse and saved a damsel in distress. While soothing her with a hot tea and his hand on her shoulder, he explained to her that he’d switched the horses by mistake because he surmised from her grace that she was an expert rider, and she believed it and thanked him for his courage and swift reaction. Valentin actually told me that for a moment he’d thought that she would hit her head against a hanging branch or fall headfirst into a rock and gravely hurt herself, but that fortune had it that he could get to her on time and tear her from the clutches of death, and I’m quoting again. Basically speaking, he gambled her life just to make a good first impression. I would’ve given her the benefit of the doubt, was this the end of the story. I would’ve assumed that she’d seen the madness of his actions and wanted simply to be rid of him as soon as possible, without getting into an altercation. But no, our hero asked her on a date, to which she agreed for a very bad reason: Out of gratitude from saving her from the danger he’d put her in in the first place, and from the adrenaline rush she’d had, which is very uncommon in our days. But at the very beginning of the date, he told her the truth, or at least his version of it. He said that a primeval urge called upon him at that moment and he knew that he was risking her life, and he apologized for that on his knees, but he also knew their lives were cosmically intertwined, so he’d actually risked his own life too, because losing her or missing the chance to strike up a meaningful relationship with her, would mean death to him.
The mere tone of this declaration should’ve been her cue to nip his declaration in the bud, but nothing further from what really happened. She obviated his suicidal views of romance, together with his originally dishonest behavior and, to culminate, she told him she couldn’t be upset at him since no harm had fallen upon her. For all she actually knew, he was her savior. Now, let me emphasize enough that we don’t talk like that nowadays. That’s mere nonsense, which may not sound like that to you, but is shocking to us. If anyone said something similar to me I would immediately know this person has some sort of regression, but again, this woman has no clinical regression, and other than what he said to Valentin, she is perfectly normal. I could confirm this by talking to the rest of the stuff from the riding hall. She explained the situation to them, accounting for Valentin’s negligence, but also praising him for the way on which he fixed his own mistake. She was completely composed when she said all that, and she even lightheartedly thanked them for that dose of adrenaline that broke the monotony of her uneventful life. Of course, her knowing smile gave away the irony in her tone, so everyone laughed with her. But, as if this were not enough to convince me, I needed to make sure with my own ears that this woman was normal. I asked Valentin when was her next riding lesson, which she, of course, took with him instead of her original instructor, and, from a prudent distance, I saw her ride and interact with Valentine. But I went even further. When her lesson was over and they were engaged in jovial conversation and a little of caressing, I shut the book I was pretending to read under the leafy crown of a linden tree and I went up to them, with the excuse of saying goodbye to him. He gallantly introduced her to me and asked me to stay for a drink; an offer I was beforehand ready not to refuse. Her name is Milena. I talked with her, asking her many innocuous questions with the aim of testing her psychological state. If she had some sort of non-clinical regression, she hid it very well in front of me. For a moment I even though that Valentin had just made up her words and reactions to his behavior, but the situation in front of me belied my lucubration. She was there, after all, by his side, and they were obviously together. I asked her three different times regarding the dating app, whether it didn’t concern her not to have used it and she gave me a reasonable answer: “Not everything is written in our stars; sometimes we need to write some chapters in our memoirs by ourselves.” She was impeccable. It’s true that most people meet through the app, but this is not a compulsory rule. Some people do meet by chance and, following the conviction of their hearts, try to develop a relationship from this casual meeting. My next question was whether the fact that he suffered from regression concerned her and again she answered: “I’m responsible for my own life, and up to now it’s the only thing I’ve risked by allowing an attachment between him and me to be formed. If I didn’t believe that this attachment could be beneficial to us both, or if I stopped believing it, I would immediately break up with him.”
That’s as far as I could go with my questioning of her. I had intruded enough in their lives and, odd as her behavior might seem to me, it was flawlessly legitimate. She has no people under her care; she is free to do with her life as she wishes. For some, her attitude may even be seen as brave and selfless, pioneering in breaking the barrier between regression and normality. But for some, like me, her attitude is incomprehensible. It’s too risky and not rewarding at all. Granted, the rush of adrenaline may have played a very important factor in her original emotions towards him and she might have locked her mind on seeing this relationship through, but I can’t believe she is seriously thinking it’s going to work out. Reason should gradually draw her away from the idea, but for now, she seems determined to make it work. It was useless to question Valentin, since he’d inevitably give me some preposterous answer. Even the most practical issue of his refusal to make use of measurement devices lacked any logical explanation.
Today, we don’t adhere anymore to the Platonic division between body and soul. Science and philosophy have proven that there’s no independent entity we could call the soul. Body and soul are just manifestations of the same phenomenon: life. Where life is absent, the soul lacks too or, best-case scenario, is dormant. In any case, there’s no activity of the soul without a body, and therefore body is soul and soul is body. They are one. This has been also proven by experience. People are substantially happier since they’ve started adhering to this view. Some concepts have fallen into disuse, for instance: sacrifice. This concept was only possible when people believed there was something sacred or holy beyond our existence. Sacrifice is nothing more than the repudiation of the body in pursuit of a higher value. But now we know that there’s nothing more sacred than life itself and that, by repudiating our body, we’re committing a sacrilege. So, only reasonable actions are taken nowadays. If you renounce something for the benefit of someone loved by you, then the happiness you get back from this person is your reward and therefore there’s no proper sacrifice. But if you renounce something, letting it be spoiled because you don’t believe in earthly pleasures, then you’re disowning life itself, and you’re injuring yourself and, subsequently, the whole society. It’s an irresponsible behavior that’s condemned nowadays.
Many other concepts have fallen into disuse, especially religious and patriarchal ones: Piety, guilt, redemption, patriotism, heroism. Basically speaking, no one does heroic acts anymore. Everyone takes care of themselves and does the most they can to help others, and this suffices to society. The mere fact of not being a burden to others is heroic enough. We see heroism in pusillanimous acts, such as wearing protection when doing something dangerous and simply avoiding unnecessary risks. The whole farce of evil and heroes comes from the same dichotomy between body and soul. Nowadays, no one can be evil without simply damaging themselves. Besides, evil doesn’t catch on in a harmonious society. Since evil is attracted to evil, if there aren’t evil feelings in a society, there’s nothing a single evil person can do; it would be like trying to light up a forest of healthy treas. Evil, we’ve learned, is just a symptom of an ill society, and therefore there are no anti-heroes, but simply people who manifest what’s wrong with the world. Therefore we treat especially kindly people who manifest evil traits because they’re like a child’s cry for help.
Now, granted, Valentin is a crying child, so there’s no way to exclude him or overlook him. We need to pay attention to him, but is Milena’s way the right one? Can there exist a stable sexual relationship with a regressed person? What’s the point of their encounters if not just an irresponsible waste of their time. Valentin could look for a suitable partner among people with his same condition and Milena could spare both of them the heartbreak of the inevitable dissolution of their relationship. Do they both want to be the performers of their own sacrifice? What a wasteful way of living!