The Hemispheres chapter is a great addition to the Cypher collection. In this absurd misadventure, Cypher-dude – the non-identity, undergoes sensory deprivation experiments at HyperLabs, his new job. In this zoneless state, he experiences a dream or hallucination set in his unconscious mind.
The unnamed identity-less Cypher-dude poses the eternal question, “What is the purpose of life?”. A profound question which he unceremoniously wads up on paper and plops into a watery void. From that point on and through the entire story, he is dogged and eluded by a paper airplane upon which the answer is supposedly written. The paper plane is always just beyond his pudgy fingertips.
Cypher-dude then drops to a new level under the waves of his subconsciousness. The airplane is still soaring about like a pesky insect. Our zero-hero is challenged to an Escheresque game of wits. He boldly moves his playing piece. In his overconfident bravado, he accidentally tips his chair over backwards hilariously plummeting down a cliff and into the garden of a person resembling Salvadore Dali. This is a descent to another deeper level. Cypher-dude is immediately beaned in the bean with a solid boche ball. Ouch! Our hero fell from grace so disgracefully.
Mr. Pseudo Dali feels bad and invites Cypher-dude to his house for dinner. On the way, they pass a man fishing on a bridge. (This is a person I subconsciously recognize. He is the recurring man from page 15 –first frame.) He reels in a Polaroid camera out of the water. Each exposure pulled from the camera reveals another step in the birthing process until finally a crying baby is presented. The creative analogy symbolically secluded in snapshots gives another possible hint at the meaning of life.
Soon ensues a discussion of dreaming about heaven and hell, chaos and order, creation and destruction. Mr. Dali struggles with the paradox he wakes to each day. He asks Cypher-dude if he understands. C.D. erroneously responds, “Uh sure … that happens to me all the time.” Cypher-dude barely knows the correct time of day, let alone understanding Heavenish and Hellish dreams. This whole interplay is a good poke by Teare at the vacuous dwellings of eggheads and their lonely struggle with abstractions.
Mr. Dali now introduces Cypher-dude to time concepts. Just as Salvadore is getting profound and about to reveal something wonderful, Cypher-dude spots the paper airplane again and chases after it. Once again, we are robbed by our hero’s wandering attention span. We never hear the meaning of what happens between birth and death. Drat!
Chasing the plane, Cypher-dude plunges yet over another cliff, an even deeper level. This time his fall in the abyss is humorously cushioned by descending stair-like plush chairs until he splats face down in a muddy and watery mess. He has finally descended as far as one can go. The irony of Cypher-dude missing every message about the meaning others found for life while chasing after his own inaccessible answer is a phenomenal satiric intimation delivered by the author. Bravo!
The story brings us back to the real (or unreal) world of HyperLabs. Cypher-dude has rolled over face down and is drowning in his tank. After rescue, they ask him if he remembers anything and he says, “no”. We laugh because we witnessed his entire dream adventure. He learned nothing. The absurdity of it is wonderful.
Cypher-dude returns to the streets of a very New Yorkish city. A paper airplane descends floating from the sky. We are overjoyed. Cypher-dude has one more chance to discover the meaning of his existence. The plane drops poking him directly in his head. The answer is within his grasp. He yells, “Ouch!” and curses the kids who probably launched it. He bats the plane away and it lies crumpled in the gutter. Cypher-dude, oblivious to his loss, trudges home tired. We laugh at ourselves. We selfishly yearn to unfold that darn paper plane lying just beyond our reach on Teare’s printed page. Teare is a great storyteller with synergistic visuals and words working together.