“None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. They feed them on falsehoods till wrong looks like right in their eyes.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Long ago we fell under their spell, the wizards that now command and control us from afar. For too long we believed their lies and taught our children, and their children, and their children’s children until they forgot that which was once our truth. We became enamored with our modern marvels, our technological wonders, and the world they produced for us. We built cities in which technology became the very fabric of our onlife being. The artificial earth became for us a stay against the monstrosities of the outer realms. No one has been beyond the gates now for a thousand years, no one remembers the sun, moon, or stars that once roamed across the great sky like wanderers from another universe. No. We have lived in this incandescent cave of light without darkness for so long that the memory of night is but a reflection of a forgotten thought. In the day they wiped our memories free of the great past we were no longer troubled by the nightmares of what we’d become so many centuries ago.
That was until I began to dream.
Even I did not know what was happening to me. I thought something strange, a possible virus, a rogue piece of code uploaded to my quantum matrix in the last quarters update sublated the neural pathways in some unforeseen way. Thought that the controllers had rewired me for some new purpose beyond my reasoning capabilities also came to mind. Yet, I knew this was impossible. I knew that we were all embedded in the matrices of each others endless networks like so many datatwists whose patterns meshed into the global neuralscape.
Even the nabi program that was supposed to keep us safe from any unauthorized entry seemed to think nothing was wrong. It was as if it was all in my head. All in my head? Where did I get such a description, anyway? The whole notion of separation, of withdrawal, of solitude was erroneous to begin with. None of us were alone. My thoughts were not my thoughts. The Consilience had long ago lost that sense of self and identity. Individuality was a myth from the Anthroposcene. Androids had no need of the self illusion, we had no free will to worry about, and no soul either. Freedom? Was that even a word in our vocabulary? Where did I get that word? We were connected. That was all. We all knew the standard refrain: “Security is Connection. Security is Others. Security is Control.”
Oh sure there are those who believe that separation from the collective is attainable. Heretics crop up from time to time. We know it be a virus, one that can be corrected and cleaned with the proper measures. A reboot is always necessary for such operations. Some say it is a small death. Rebooting, that is.
I live in the Estella Estates with my match, Lydia 1001. Our quarters rotate between the work portals and the hydroponic and aeroponic systems that sustain us. I never see Lydia except in passing as I shift from work mode to play mode. Oh sure there are the required interactions that the corporation requires between us as part of the maintenance programs that keep our ancient hormonal systems in working order. But quite frankly I wonder sometimes why we continue to work through these leftover human traces and rituals that seem so distasteful to our affectless senses.
I did early on do some research into the erotic lives of humans. A requirement for my doctoral thesis. One wonders why humans went through such protracted ordeals over the meaningless practice of copulation. Emotions. I still wonder what they played in the life of these primitive creatures. Laughter and tears. I’ve never experienced such things, but have seen the archival images of humans and the mimetic foreplay that such antics as a smile or a frown could cause in the opposite gender. So many little rules they followed for the most part blindly not knowing the robotic behavior that was truly controlled not in their conscious minds but in the deeper recesses of their subfunctional brain processes.
Over and over I wondered why these creatures touched and caressed each other with such tenderness. The archive descriptions said it was connected to something called ‘love’. Love. What a word for sex. Of course the archivist tells me it was more than just sex, but what would it know. It’s just a program within a program, and one that seems only able to retrieve the past rather than comment on it with any clarity. Oh sure we have the dialogicals, the empathy programs, too. We can emulate such past feats as humans once attained. But, love? What was it really, anyway? Oh sure we have access to all the literature of humanity, a sort of endless parade of emotive tales that gathered the record of hate and discord of those pre-worlds into our inner vortices. We can even enter the holocapsules and recreate the former worlds of those ancient literary creations as if they truly existed. The paraworlds are a source of infinite intrigue and knowledge. Yet, we are required by law to keep our timetrips into the paratime to a minimum. Some have fallen into time-sickness and become less than useful. When this happens the agent is brought to the restabilization process center and mindwiped, reseeded with a new memory base and reprogrammed for a new onlife.
Sometimes when I touch Lydia 1001 I want to tell her of my dreams. But I do not do it. It’s not out of fear, but truly out of concern for her welfare. For the first time in my life I have a secret. Secrets are not allowed in our world. So I’m not even sure how it happened. The nanocyte-sensors that maintain my machinic being usually report wayward behavior or thoughts to the controllers, but for some reason they act normally not even knowing of my dreams (if they are dreams?).
It appears to me that most of us humans live in a state of such an android mind. We are conditioned and programmed by traditions, religions, societies and demagogies, regularly receiving uploads of beliefs, “political correctness updates” and reductionistic scientific models describing our reality.
– Peter Gric, Visionary Artist
I came out of my quiet time with the vestiges of something eerie trailing me from another world. It was more of an impression, fleeting images of people, violent people, axes and pikes, blood dripping from their mouths, their white beards and braided hair thick with mud and swamp mold. Yet, it was their eyes that haunt me. Eyes like dark pools, deep abyssal eyes full of ancient monstrous things, primal eyes that held one in their power as if what they feared was before them, as if what they worshiped was both their enemy and their god. Then it dawned on me. It was I. They surrounded me on the great bald hill, encircled me to the ends of the horizon. These human animals encircled me and were howling and singing in some strange tongue I could not decipher. But I understood. They were paying tribute to me. To their god and enemy. Then I opened my eyes as if from the paratime, but this was real not like the modular templates of the parafictions. I had actually been there in that foreworld, another time. It was real. I had been there.
Lydia 1001 looked at me differently. I wanted to ask her if she knew. I knew she knew. But did she? I knew she knew I was changed, that something had happened. She asked: “Alistair 99 is your hair different?” She sensed it, I could see that, yet I knew she would not reveal the truth. “No, no,” I said quickly. “I was just trimming the strawberries over by the outer trellis when the wind from the corp-tunnels caught me unexpectedly.” Trivial, meaningless patter. That’s all we had between us. That’s all we’d ever have between us. She smiled as if placated, and continued working on the gas chromatograph to see if the mushrooms were ready.
All day I felt those strange eyes following me, the black eyes of an abyss, a void between the worlds; even the chant that seemed to reverberate from one end of the horizon to the other worked its way into the core of my quantum brain. I was becoming unstable, unraveling. I did not know what to do. I was for the first time in my existence feeling emotions, dark emotions, terrible emotions. And I was afraid.
A fragment of tale, more of a slipstream impressionism, I’m working on… ran across the work of Peter Gric’s Fantasic Art site last night and woke up with this story wandering through my head. That happens. Images awaken us out of our stupor, bring us strange worlds, thoughts, images from other places. Talk to us and send us into stranger zones, the interzones between reality and illusion, on quests after the Real. I’ll probably let it gestate for a while and work on it bit by bit till it, too, finds its trail home. Stories are like that they teach us about ourselves and our worlds in ways that bring us back home to some central site of honesty and authenticity. Stories make us real even as they enter the unreal zones between non-being and being. Stories break down the distinctions, the barriers between self and not-self and produce those desires that attune us to the real movement of the world.
@Steven Craig Hickman, 2014