Mike Burr - log

[mind] Helpful Elves

Caution: this is just a story I made up just right now.

Two lads are tight chums in old Ireland sheep country one day long ago. In the isolated peaceful quiet country side with at most a dozen people per gobshite acres of peaceful family farm, demarcated by ancient drystack.

They were just regular good mates, providing helpful mutual counterfactual feedback and perspectives on the big questions between two distant cultures.

One night, during a not-uncommon intra-familial pooling of emergency resources, they somehow convinced each other that they could contact different, internal Helpful Elves. If you ever find yourself getting contradictory advice from each parent, ask the Helpful Elf, living among you somehow, what would really be the best, rather than choosing between two contradictory strong opinions from the only known enforcers of opinions. Lots of kids panic and do something impulsively because all you can seem to do otherwise is freeze with some degree of panic (depending).

Your Helpful Elf, should you talk to him will first calm you down and hand you a cookie while you're sitting on a big mushroom.

He might say something like,

Look, kid, you're going to have to take this one on the chin. What you do is up to you, but I cannot help you. You're too wild. This is the optimal time to teach you an important lesson: You need to forget about resolving any hypocrisy in other people. It's like putting a baby chipmunk's nose in some of his nut leavings. Except, well, in that case it usually works.

You would then stare at him.

The point is your impulse needs to be to find your inner unicorn.

You stare more.

Elf speak. Forget it. You need to calm the fuck down.

You'd nod and enjoy your cookie, considering the Elf to be wise. There is probably something in these cookies.

After you mom stops shaking you by the shoulders and frothing at the mouth, and after your dad telling you from behind his yesterday's copy of The Midland Worker, Longshoreman, Woodsman, Marksman and Classified, "son, I'm disappointed is all. Let's do better next time, champ."

You think for the first time, "Wow. People. What are you going to do?"

The Elf pops up instantly on a rainbow wrapped Italian crotch rocket. There's a rather relaxed rather small nymph lolling her head backwards behind him. Her arms were somehow reassuringly latched onto My Helpful Elf. You can see some pastel tattoos and a waft of digesting nectar.

About people? Nothin! That's what. You drive this little hormone drenched coal barge. You're the captain. That's got to click, see?

He snaps his fingers and the whole vision disappears.

That's the gist of the experience but you still don't understand and cannot because there's more to it, including things that quite literally cannot be explained. It is indeed an act of faith and this indeed is a cult of two.

But unlike most cults, this small (but not smallest) cult was legitimately concerned with always climbing old Mt. McProbable, as either of the boys would say. Pushing that boulder in the cleverest, most sustainable and calorie efficient way possible and admiring the scenery.

(But cults are inefficient and bad and top heavy with all the drugs and orgies! -- Two words: "less overhead." Tighter organizational synchronicity. Save on copy paper.)

The night that they, to their chagrin, entered into this productive idea in body, sprit and mind, it had been rather windy and rather damp and rather moorish and despite having LED lamps, they had no batteries ready for the power outage. They found some crumbly Candle Guild Standard candles that were more like dead snakes than sturdy sticks in overall handling quality.

The were both 11 years old.

It had been like a mental rap battle. Exhausted from unglamorous farm slog all day, they just admired the weather in the fluctuating gloom. their candles, requiring splints, where as consistent as a Robin with too few spark plugs, the usual minimum number of tyres of any kind, and an equally sticky clutch and break. Sometimes you got inexplicable towers of flame, usually you got a sputter. The clouds would ebb overall opacity like rollers on a great sea of emo gloom.

Their riffing had a transcendental 3rd-party component to it. They were daring themselves to unthink that which had just been proposed and was unprovable. Blood oaths! Anything flighty that was not a cheap experiment (for they had literally no money between them) was fair game in shooting gallery of free ideas.

They convinced each other of ever more fantastic things that appeared to have no downside, no matter what Father McCuiry said. Thoughts where just thoughts. Like making pipe bombs and exploding small ponds. It's the wonder of watching it all happen and there's no real downside.

So, daring each other along they convinced each other of the following things, for real, in the way the virgin mother is real to Aunt Clodagh, which is pretty real.


Your Helpful Elf is as real as you want him to be. However, you are a dark body to him. He can only act upon your needs. He cannot reach out to you. He's there if you need him, "fuck you if not", as any of the four present would have said.

  • Your communicating with regard to this benevolent, yet tactically impish being to any one outside, in any way, does not disappear Your Helpful Elf, but it does diminish his reachability, despite his best wishes (of which he has none, in a sense. He is compelled to dispense wisdom to the likes of you in the say you might be compelled to flip burgers. It's unavoidable fairyland drudgery and you wouldn't understand.) This doesn't just include you knowingly hinting of your relationship (he hates that word) to anyone other than yourself; it also includes any tells you might have developed. It's a theoretical matter: you must contain this secret within the walls of your head forever, what leaks costs you ultimately. You figure out what "information security" means.


His role is to give you helpful advice. He has a kind of hypnotic effect on you when you're fully immersed. You start to see other people and wonder at their actions and know damn well they do not have a Helpful Elf. Time slows (you're welcome) and in the mist of whatever occurrence, when the herd scatters, you, from outside appearances act like mostly like everyone else and scatter. But sometimes you just turn around and, as though your eyesight is incredibly keen, announce to everyone fleeing. "It's just the neighborhood collie with the mental impairment and the hip dysplasia! Bless her heart."

The secret of course

"I wasn't talking to you.", you might think at the intrusion.

The Elf exhales thin smoke calmly. It could be a spirit, or some spirit escaping his still body.

being not just mere better optical equipment but much, much better processing, in the form of a 20 minute break with that really good tea. Chitchatting about what exactly was the scattering all about? Is that to make sheep more abundant? You and and the farmer and all those round-ass young ewe all have the same idea. More sheep! Great, but to the detriment of your liveness as an individual sheep?

"DEʔEʔEʔEH-tra-ment", you bleat with stupid eyes. (Possibly the tea, but you have taken the form of a dumb, stubborn ram, unsteady atop an extra large mushroom with a hard anti-skid top.)

The point is, you are you own goat, or whatever. You'll get it, stupid as you are.


And what if upon death you think "Jokes on you, Elf! I'm about to give my nephew some supercharged story rights. If I'm dying of ass-cancer after all this. With whatever ways he wants to try to establish rights, provenance and believability, up to and including iPhone and brain-in-a-jar, my Elf is real as fuck and I want to tell someone."? What if you go ahead and do that?

Well, lets just remember: Elf is real, that's what you're so excited about. Elf knows you inside and out because you've been smoking spores with him for years. And visa versa, off course, not that it matters. Once the life leaves you, according to strategic peeks and previews given over the years, you don't leave life. There is a sort of other world, Your Helpful Elf lives there, he's obviously on familiar turf, which at the same time is incomprehensible to you. And Your Helpful Elf doesn't get ironic mad when he's mad. He wants sweet vengeance, at least for a while, and he ain't pretending neither. He knows his bounds. He's within his right, at least some, for a while.

So that's not an acceptable "out". There are none. The downside of betrayal is proportional to established belief, establishing belief clearly brings noticeable, real-world positive changes that would make Tony Robbins chip a tooth.

The level of buying-in skyrocketed quickly that night. It could have been the neurons, it could have been the glands, it could have been the evil spirits. But there was no downside, or at least not "externally". They both had a kind of religious experience. "B.S." is not even applicable here. Real to them is real. By the rules of the game, it's not even a thing, you wouldn't even know about it but for the author's omniscience.

And it works.

Patrick is VP at a large brick concern. He no longer gets his hands dirty. He has lots of friends and enjoys his life and work.

Brexton is a hedge fund manager.

From outside appearances they are as normal as anyone, but they both, by way of a mindfuck of a formative experience that became unexplainably real seemingly in a flash, have got Elf shit going on upstairs.

- 1 toast