Hyperstar Lumen by William Tidwell

Hyperstar Lumen was an aging photorealistic Pacman knockoff with bulging teeth and cheeks perpetually flushed red. He had amassed a considerable fortune from his years of appearing in a slew of video game titles, ranging from maze hunts, RPGs, first person shooters, sidescrolling and three-dimensional platformers, handheld snake clones, pseudo-roguelikes sold on casual web markets, and edutainment point & click adventures limited to CD-ROM. He fancied himself an artist with untapped potential, always lamenting what little creative control he had over his career, and decided a few years into his retirement to independently finance, produce, and direct a miniseries of eight mockumentaries satirizing cancel culture, consumerism, and the death of common sense. They were monumental box office failures.

The first half of the series followed the everyday lives of young people as they struggled to make sense of politics, personal relationships, buying insurance, setting up furniture, household repairs, and other staples of adulthood. The second half zoomed out to a wider perspective to put the modern age in context and examine what Hyperstar Lumen (both narrator and director) called “The Eclipse of Ressentiment”, which was also the title of the final entry in the series. Hyperstar Lumen argued that people’s souls had become smaller in the modern world, such that they barely had control over their bodies anymore, and the power they once had to influence their reality by thought alone had been significantly diminished. Hyperstar Lumen encouraged his viewers to limit their consumption of “amygdalic” digital content such as prank videos, debate videos, pornography, etc. as this worsened their psychic degeneration. “Instead, further the consumption of refined aesthetic content, good culture, and share them on all social media platforms,” he said before the credits rolled. His Marxist contemporaries and their associates frequently lambasted his work under juvenile and profane pseudonyms online.

Hyperstar Lumen was a fan of emo rap, witch house, and other music genres popularized by the internet. He listened to them while jogging, an exercise he adhered to for years that produced irreversible arthritic wear and tear in his ankles and menisci, which he medicated with cannabis and the over-the-counter opioid Kratom. He particularly enjoyed poetry generated by neural nets and the art of Jeff Koons. His satirical miniseries was a minor financial setback, and he focused his energies elsewhere. He decided to visit the supersized ditch that an exiled race of people inhabited during his time of history. He spoke to them from the rim of the ditch, some seventy-six feet down to the floor of their city, his voice carrying. They shouted back to him:

“What do you know of us, Hyperstar Lumen? You who live so high above, separated from our world, what would permit you to stay with us? What exasperation has overcome you, what profound ennui in your life of collecting coins and rings and powerups and running through inane obstacle courses for ever-aging children has brought you to our council? Why should we accept your offer?”

Hyperstar Lumen panicked at the articulacy of the ditchfolk. He felt nauseous and leaned over with his stick hands posted to his stick thighs both overlaid with a texture of a suit and tie and was ready to lose his lunch for a minute but kept it together. Hyperstar Lumen explained again that he wished to make a series of parodic video interviews of himself in the ditchfolk’s location and asked only for their consent. After some contractual negotiation with his agents re: royalties, they agreed.

Here is an excerpt from the videos.

SCENE: A dark room. Hyperstar Lumen is dressed in a wrinkled gray suit, smoke wafts around him. There are bags under his eyes. He begins to speak slowly.

HYPERSTAR LUMEN: My interests include screaming at people, throwing trash at them, wishing death on them, and being generally speaking a horrible and unpleasant human being. However, I enjoy the conveniences of polite society, and ignore the shit under our fingernails when we shake hands. The rules that some are pleased to break are meagre fare to me. In this best of all possible worlds, everything is in a hell of a mess. Everything is topsy-turvy, upside-down. The hedonists are the most joyless people, the haters are full of life. Here is what you have forgotten about Hyperstar Lumen, the missing piece in your panorama: he is evil. He is a cruel man.

At this point in the video, Hyperstar steps up and begins threatening the camera crew as well as other ditchfolk in the vicinity. He then falls on his knees and looks downward until an entourage rushes to his aid, lifting him up and covering him in a cape like James Brown. Hyperstar Lumen’s abusive freakouts and rants about his innate superiority to the ditchfolk are well documented. We also find the drama of temperance, of the teetotaler falling off the wagon, getting back on, and falling off again. Mephistopheles pulled him down by the ankle countless times. It is a burden to be born with a larger soul than other men.

Hyperstar Lumen abandoned his film project in a moment of despair and decided to take a job at the local grocery store. The ditchfolk women harangued him for his glaring lack of sexual experience. He could be seen slouching, stalking, scowling, and mentalizing through the aisles. At night he painted murals in his rundown apartment. He embraced the life of the everyman, the struggling creative role model of the people. His murals depict him being wounded with hundreds of spears by an amorphous mob representing the permissive, seething white suburban liberal karma that he suffered in the throes of his entire life. “I hope you all kill yourselves,” an inscription reads in fake Tyrian purple from HomeGoods.

The records start to get choppy here. I told you enough of what I know. Hyperstar Lumen has a religious conversion after this, changes his name to Publius Spectator, and shaves his head. He expounds on the souls of the autistic, how the body is a machine sustained by the Maia, and how we may become witnesses to the miracle of “passenger consciousness”. He turns to the Yin path, the way of the priest and not the artist-warrior. He totally exhausts his fortune, becomes penniless. He writes in his diary about nasty things that other failures have said about how he is a failure and how they are not, and he explains to himself how it is the other way. He becomes increasingly superstitious, counting beads, praying to beneficent entities from different religions. Perhaps he dies on a pyre like Heracles or maybe he doesn’t, maybe he launches his ashes into the sky like that faggot Hunter S. Thompson, you get the idea. Maybe he dies with his beads in his hands saying “mercy, and mercy, and mercy, and Selah”. Maybe you don’t care. Why should you care? I don’t care about you either. Why do you make this so miserable for everyone? Nothing has to be wrong. No one cares that you’re a monster or a loser. What makes it stink is if you try to hide it from yourself. I see the way that you do it. You draw the juice of life from the other and then you mock it. You say you love it and then you say you don’t, that you never did. I taste the sourness of your spirit and I share in it. I love to find it, time and time again. It makes me feel like I am home. Come here motherfucker don’t walk away. Fight me, fucking fight me asshole. Where are you going? Come back here. I swear to God, I’ll kill you. I ain’t afraid to die like you. You dumb motherfucker. What do you know? Come and fight me!