I do it? It all takes less than a few seconds and I immediately turn to
other things. My determination hardens: This is my home, this is the place
I am supposed to defend. I look up at a sky traversed by grungy scraps
of cloud. Do you feel it too? She remains expressionless, searches for
a fitting answer. Sure, I have faults, scars, dumb habits. It's all just
I see something glittery flying towards my face, am catapulted backward.
Blackness. It would be best to give up the role I have taken on here immediately.
Well, it just happened. Are you hurt? No. Using an order that works almost
without speech elements, I access information and statistical data on
wild animals and natural dangers. I blink a few times and shake my head,
dispel the subliminal mumbling ... should I be feeling anything? Her face
is expressionless and totally relaxed. A nice day: She smiles, it is expected
she? What have you done with her? Manual controls offline. I want to
talk about it right away but am given strange looks. Perhaps on account
of my stiff and utterly emotionless expression, my strict self control.
I still receive no answer. I try direct access and again am blocked.
This confronts me with a mystery. I have to find out what it was you
were hinting at. Why is it necessary for me to show an emotional reaction?
I don't understand. They are just not answering me. There must be reasons
for this. I calm myself down by breathing slowly. I try again to access
data and get a slow reaction. I close my eyes. Please answer! Again
this inexplicable retardation occurs, but this time I receive an answer.
I keep my eyes closed, I don't want to open them. There is a low-pitched
tone hanging in the air, a field of sound has turned itself on.
quietly, but not inaudibly. Few sounds are inaudible. I concentrate
on putting my thoughts into words. A long pathway. We are Sparta variants.
We have a certain reputation. But as it seems, I am obliged to relearn
everything I need to know. In these surroundings she doesn't seem human,
she has neither turned red, nor is she trembling. Dead and frozen stiff.
There's something there ... People? Impossible to determine. Well, that's
how the situation is. You had better keep moving. We will reach the
rig in a minute. Everything is going well, right?
Now we are
passing through a landscape of ruins walls propped with joists,
grass growing high, blackened piles of bricks covered with nettles and
burrs. Here, you get a few little pictures and numbers from me. I have
to know if there are any weak points in the construction. Damned situation.
I smell grass, the musty scent of forest soil and fir needles. End zone.
Don't faint. It has something to do with the things that happened here.
How often have I done this before? Now a texture is breaking up the
darkness. Concrete? A wave of sheer exhaustion comes over me. Elements
of urban infrastructure, dissociated artefacts with unclear functions.
I encountered these questions early on, almost a child still. The first
lesson: Switch to neutral and let yourself drift. Don't worry about
anything and you will be ready for whatever comes. Don't worry
an allusion to the fugacious state of mind neccesary to avoid the crags
of psychosis. So you let go. Switch to neutral. Relax and let yourself
drift. Good. Outside, warmth and sunshine hit my face. Can a machine
save a soul? It feels like I am slowly getting this down really well.
is unfamiliar, the language is unfamiliar, flora and fauna are unfamiliar.
I work using absorption, take in everything. The first thing you recognize
are the basal resonances, they're the same. The flow of images suddenly
runs dry. Something has been building up between us, something like
a static tensity, something I can't fathom, my intuition is too jaded.
Ruins, wreathed in shadow, and a blood-red sun sinking behind far-away
the offer just to see what comes of it. An ideal military drug that
makes you indifferent toward things like pain, arousal, joy or grief.
They call it Fragmentation. I am falling apart. Consciousness does interesting
things under extreme stress. Here you learn to use all these things
consciously, like toys. A rather shitty game.
is only relevant as data, but the signs point to a large-scale conflict.
Everything is destroyed or buried or camouflaged so well you can stare
at it for hours without noticing there is anything there. My uneasiness
changes to ice-cold stiffness. The cloud formations shimmer in the force
field. The sun breaks through. The factory area is large and cool, poorly
lighted, the technical hardware is brutal and massive. Psychology plays
an important role stamina, pain resistance, brutality, lack of
groan and murmur, male and female voices intermingling. I can hardly
withstand the draw of the images. A whirlwind of fleeting sensations,
technically excellent. Every single neuron, everything is deleted. An
artificial being is created. Recognition of subordination signals is
implanted, the dynamics of a pecking order, loyality to the pack. Sounds
pretty unpleasant, right? You can't buy anything like this, that's technoparanoia.
changes, a grey wall of cloud comes in from the west, single drops of
rain hit my cheeks. It begins to rain harder. Heavy drops, I feel them
in my hair. The essence of dominion is not to show oneself. It is fucking
good stuff. I feel the treacherous tilting at the periphery of my perception.
Great effect, huh? Music, movement, laughter. There's something I've
forgotten. Something blurry. Something important.
I can't get
rid of the feeling that truth is somewhere close by. Real and virtual
spots. A few bits are missing. Intuition is a kind of subliminal perception,
increased alertness toward patterns usually overlooked, because in the
real world what is needed is a concentrated eye for details. But with
enough guidelines you can bridge the gap, in a kind of presentiment
of the actual knowledge. On the basis of this model you can later insert
the missing parts. But you need a certain input to be able to take off.
It is a process that cannot be stopped, a kind of mental avalanche.
Parts of reality break off and cascade down, only they don't create
chaos but conglomerate to form a pattern, a new structure whose final
shape I can not yet discern. I don't know what I should be feeling.
are plastered with images from the range of virtual surroundings on
offer. Vertiginous mountain landscapes, huge wild animals. What is this?
Are you getting cold feet? Why don't you just delete certain areas of
your memory? I am not an independent identity. The next full minute
goes by. I feel neither hunger nor thirst and don't have to take care
of any bodily functions. Sleep is impossible. The only thing I have
to deal with is myself. Do you want to have the construct installed?
Does it know it is only a construct? I feel uncomfortable editing my
self, such an unrestrained exercise of power.
desert. Reddish dust and sandstone, a cloudless blue sky. The sun hangs
high over a far-away chain of mesas. A black window opens. Close-up
of a sleeping face. I wake up and see a face watching me from very nearby.
stuff. I nod, contented, and open up to the effects. My emotional reactions
are almost completely obliterated. The mission can begin, goal in sight.
There remains no room for doubt, anxieties or emotional confusion. Hey,
is this about some kind of moral stance? We all live in a big manipulation
matrix and are constantly fighting to defend ourselves. As soon as we're
born we are automatically in the game.
yells. My perception is blown away in the shrill whistling of the air.
I am on the right track. I am not deceived by the peaceful atmosphere.
Dead leaves rustle. You have to increase the distance! I try to figure
out where I am. No time for long consideration! Dawn. From time to time
a high-pitched ping detatches from the acoustic mixture. In my mind
the ping declenches a chain of associations I can't stop. Clouds cover
the icy night sky, hard rain sets in. The next phase is introduced.
The voice analysis and data are correct. No one says a word, everything
takes place in silence. Voices can awaken feelings, unnecessary emotions
only create problems here. I need support. Fast.
has sharp, shiny contours, like naked data. A film of understanding
covers everything I see and hear. This evening there are no clouds.
I wait, breathing slowly and deeply. Everything is turned off. I listen.
The sun glistens on the waves. Things seem a little too radiant, a little
too clearly defined. Every landscape is informed. The possibilities
of the world around me are enormous: the flight of a bird, the height
of a wave, the colour of sunlight. I wonder if I can still cry?
I dream of my childhood. It is eternal summer there. A stuffed animal.
A boat. Laughter. Nothing fits together with anything else. These dreams
never cease to torture me. Something that looks like a maze. It is afternoon.
It is raining, chaotically pouring rain, more chemistry than weather.
I am freezing and have thrown up on myself. It is all data from an x-ray
telescope. It means little. Just a bit of blubbering and squirting around.
This is the last stop. I wonder how long I will have to stay down here?
I can't hear a thing anymore. No concussions, no falling objects. What
is the matter with my eyes? I can hardly keep them open.
light dart across the sky in quick succession, followed after a moment
by far-away thunder. Every step stirs up dust. What looked complicated
becomes simple, unsolvable tasks become solvable, what was unfathomable
becomes apparent. I can easily deal with this kind of deception
it looks impressive but is mostly just for show, fashionable, sophisticated,
but at the same time hollow. Cheap trick. I am nervous, keep an eye
out for new developments. At the moment everything seems grey to me,
sometimes I think I am beginning to repeat myself. You wish for something
you can't have. Perhaps you are even the perfect player? All reality
is a game. The future is a game too and time is one of the rules. Only
the connective tissue is missing. Make your decision! Images, places,
events are suddenly stirred up, caught by a camera in bad lighting.
That means planning expeditions into uncertain terrain. Go deeper, is
the word. When I wake up at night I have panic attacks. The light is
getting greyer, the air is getting colder. It is snowing again. There
is only little daylight.
continue to fight, react to the attacks with desperate, improvised defenses,
but these are only tactic measures. I have lost any feeling for time
and my own person long ago. Stiff and hurting, I stand up. My muscles
protest, my joints crack. It's coincidental. Everything is coincidental
when it is beyond depending on skill. The game transcends my horizon
... But when I wake up it is with the memory of a defeat. The wind is
howling in the trees and the rain is pattering on wavering leaves of
grass. What has changed? Nothing has changed. There are just a few things
I need to know.
power systems of this size are unusual. Male beings are generally used
as soldiers, females are regarded as possessions. The name means "machine"
or perhaps "system" in a sense including any functioning entity
for example, an animal, a flower, a robot or a mill wheel. The
game is so complex, so cryptic, so flexible and so challenging that
it represents a precise and complete model of life. If you are successful
in the game, you are successful in life. So the game and life are the
same thing, and people make it the same thing by believing in it. Of
course we are animals, just like machines are machines. It is too much
at once. It arouses me in the same measure as it disgusts me. I feel
instinctively, almost sexually attracted, already now, knowing nearly
nothing about it ...
processes have been shaped by this culture from birth. A conventional
opening for a story would be to leave the path and enter the wild woods,
or have a car break down at night on a lonely road. They should allow
me to be what it is my original destination to be. I am not interested
in controlling others or making strategic decisions. That kind of power
has no appeal to me. Nice words. I attempt to coolly and logically analyse
my situation, but am not able to. Apparently I only possess that ability
in dealing with abstract problems. I can't concentrate on something
so inextricably entwined with my emotional state.
the chilly, motionless air with their song. My head is clear and no
longer hurting. The days go by almost unnoticed. My eyes wander over
the land and the people, my thoughts race, looking for patterns and
opportunities, strengths and weaknesses. I hear myself formulate the
right words and feel that I am carrying out the appropriate gestures,
but my general impression is of chaotic movements and noisy people not
listening. How to explain it, how describe it? This aspect of the story
is fading now. Data structures are built up, recipes followed. A local
network ensues, knots are added, modified. Not really conscious of itself.
Self-consciousness is often overrated. We shouldn't talk like this.
Anyhow talk. Scurrying back and forth.
it's going to be different. Scab-like grey mold growing on the walls,
in familiar tints. May I be a part of you, please? I direct my eyes
to the landscape. Everything is so beautiful, so cool. I am standing
on a wide open field in the midst of mountain peaks. There is a rumbling
almost below hearing. For a moment there is a connection. Maybe I should
be a little more careful. Better look around first. It is early fall,
the colours of the trees fade to grey in the twilight. A taste of frost
is in the air. It is improbable that something should be completely
lost. I just have to find a different approach for some things.
did see strange things there. I found something there, a lost archive,
but that's not the point. There are thousands of archives, some have
reached an irreparable state. They contain, among endless trivia, important
secrets and masses of lies. There are traps and pitfalls. Complex things
can be found in the archives. Reading them requires translations of
translations of translations, without anyone being able to correct the
texts. Still, some things are pretty clear. There are always zones of
thought, there are always wars and peace. Or are we talking about different
things? The details? I can protect myself from some of them, with others,
there's nothing I can do. Things happen that can only be dreams. Bad
dreams that don't want to leave. They really happened. They are happening
now. I love these places. Although we have little to fear here, the
menace is quite clear. This translation only gives the very core of
the meaning. Keyword: sensitive translation programs. It doesn't matter
what position I am speaking from. The issue is complex. From one side,
it looks unlikely to impossible, from the other, inevitable.
sounds, groans. No one will ever know of it. The illusion of your own
consciousness? Happy automatons, steered by simple programs. It has
a few nice consequences and a few terrible ones. I have read about such
cases. Oh please, I really would like to return. I never would have
thought I could cry so hard my face hurt.
A lot of
things fit, hell yes. I don't understand most of it. There is not a
trace of thinking noises. Can you think and feel at the same time? I
recognise the signs of intensive thought. It certainly is seldom boring.
The sound is almost perfect. A thousand questions flash past.
it is sinister? They let me pass. Be careful. An eery hiss. Something
goes click behind my head. Memory comes back in disjointed bits. I find
suicide programs built into the applications. Enemies behind me, traitors
We are objects,
our intelligence serves a foreign purpose. Can you feel the unspoken
words behind the dry style? The glance, cold and terribly lonely? I
just can't handle the bio parts.
Translation by Ann Cotten