Creating the Perfect Iskender

In the beginning there was nothing. Then, the Creator began to stir…

Smoke, dense as the atmosphere of an unventilated Turkish nightclub, billows into dense, velvety plumes. The emptiness was vast, yet, there was an intimacy there among the clouds. The smoke doesn’t discriminate: dynamic, fluid, one cloud flows cleanly into the next. Cooking is creation, there’s no way around it.

Suddenly, a flash of light illuminated the cavernous dark haze. Like a spark erupting from a burnt out circuit. And then, something changed. There was a shift in the air--you could taste it if you were there, like dogs sense the coming of a storm. Floating, idle and naked in the pea-soup fog, the silhouette of a man appeared. Lifeless and still, his presence adding something the universe had never know before: mass. And as the fog adjusted to this new found sensation, his gravity tickled and caressed the primordial soup. As fog enveloped shadow, condensing, the silhouette grew, giving depth and breadth to our hero.

The pace quickened, like a black hole imbibing all the matter surrounding it, so too was the silhouette: a sounding beacon, like a navigational buoy floating upon the glassy surface of some foreign sea. A storm was brewing; the waves began to clap against steel and lead-painted hull of the buoy. Soon, the squall became too much for the poor ocean creature: its light, once bright and visible for miles as the North Star, became shrouded by the salty spray and the accelerating assault of gargantuan waves, 10, 20, and 30 feet high.

Almost as quickly as the storm began, the clouds lifted, the soup became clear as glass and the sunshine poked its first rays through the atmosphere of his new world. The smoke, once all he knew, was gone. Where there was uncertainty, now all appeared clear. It seemed as if all the doubts, the disquieting things in the world, the pain, all were gone.

A voice gently commanded: “Open your eyes, Iskender.”

“What!? Who are you?” Iskender demanded.

“I am your creator. You are my son, Iskender. Indeed, you the digital manifestation of my true self.”

Puzzled, Iskender couldn’t even begin to fathom the world that surrounded him, the brightness of the sun whose warmth filled him with an unknown sense of happiness. Before this moment, Iskender had known nothing. For Iskender, it was as if the world materialized before his eyes, in all its splendors. All was new, yet, familiar for in that primordial cloud of smoke that spawned the birth of our hero, Iskender could feel the world, really feel it. All of the world’s elements were in Iskender, and all of his were in the world. They were one.

“Why am I here?” Iskender asked his creator.

“Did you not pray to me last night, my child? Did you not kneel before me, and in that moment of humility reveal your disdain for your ‘cube life’?”

“Well, yes, but…” he stuttered, never imagining that the Creator would in a million billion years hear him alone and seek to help him alone. "This world,” he began, “is it all for me?”

“You are free to make of it what you wish, Iskender.” He paused. Iskender could hear birds chirping in the trees above his head and in the distance, a delicate strain of some foreign melody glided through the wind. “I have written the code that will allow you to change the world as you see fit, in a manner of speaking. I have given you the tools to fashion a world such as your mind’s eye has only dreamed.”

All of this sounded too good to be true. Something was wrong with this picture. ‘What’s in it for the Creator, whoever this guy is?’ Iskender pondered.

“You have some lingering doubts, Iskender. Perhaps I can discourage them.” As the Creator inhaled, Iskender closed his eyes, imagining the soft breeze as the Creator’s breath. “I’ll choose a metaphor: you enjoyed cooking in your past life, I imagine?”

“Sure,” Iskender replied, “but who doesn’t?”

“Why did you cook?”

“Well, I guess I’d never really given it much thought before. I suppose I love to cook because I love to imagine I’m one of those guys on TV, like Bobby Flay or something. It’s kinda sexy, I have to admit. Besides, I love people and making them happy. Food makes people happy, you know, its social. And when you get it right, something that makes people stop and compliment you…well there’s beauty in that, a sense of accomplishment I guess…”

“You never felt that accomplishment in your work, did you, son?

“No. I was free in my kitchen. I was constrained by my tools—I wasn’t a rich man, after all. But it was liberating too. I could spend an evening planning, buying ingredients, chopping, blending, sautéing and baking until I was ready. No stress…at least not the bad kind.”

“Picture this world, Iskender, as your opportunity to do just that: I’ve given you all the cooking utensils and ingredients you’ll ever need. All I demand is that when you cook, you share it with others, and you share it in memory with me.”

Iskender never dreamed that there might be life beyond his office cubicle. There, all he felt was competition. He was but a mere “resource” which the company could hire or fire at its whim. Here, now, in this second life, Iskender found the means for his new life. Here is was free to the new and express himself without the constraints of the cube…

Photos of the New World

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