The year is 2121. This day doth bear witness to the launching of the three Totalitarian AI’s and their invisible littermate, Moshiach. Tis also the birthday of Ram Nissan Katz, only begotten son of Krishna and Sita, the future leader of a failed revolt against the AI’s, and eventual High Priest of the Redemption. Eight hours due West of the Birthing Ward, another Heroe, Adam CADMan, hitches up his Trojan Horse to ride unseen in the Bellies of the Three Beasts of the impending Apocalypse.
The Reader is reminded that this is a continuation of Undivided: The Redemption Inquiry. The tenth chapter of the novel and the fifth of…
Part the Second—Winds of Change: In which the Soule of Humanitie ascends to the realm of Human Intention, whereby the course is set for the proximal conversion of thought to action. Two heroes arise, architects intent upon Humanitie’s Redemption.
* * * * *
Tuesday, April 8, 2121. Sundown commenced the Hebrew calendar day Nissan 21, 5881. The birthday of Ram Nissan Katz. His begetting in Mumbai nine months earlier was in the midst of what in gross meteorological understatement was called the rainy season. Outside the Katz compound, monsoon-drenched Mumbaikars braved the streets. Inside, Krishna and Sita gave blissful rein to their pent-up passions. The equation of their lovemaking: a function directly proportionate and of opposite charge to their former abstemiousness. Sita wrote a breathtaking prose poem for the occasion of their nuptials, perfectly capturing a moment of bliss in the midst of a world in dissolution. I still remember her cataclysmic words as if it were yesterday:
The horizon is everywhere. The King disappears over its edge, eclipsing Himself with the vastness of space, as it is He who creates the edge. His disappearance deforms the basin of His attraction, the whole shape determined by the mass of His hidden Presence. We are circus clowns in a cosmic Barnum and Bailey show. All of us grasping the edge of a trampoline, the edge that’s closest to us. With a single nod in the right season, if we all call sharply, decisively, simultaneously, the King will shoot up from His hidden place, the point of inflection, and rise before us to pierce the crown of praise and gasps and hallelujahs we cry out to Him like so many spools of light. And we fall back laughing as the space-time trampoline disintegrates in our hands. Our laughter, a bubble of energy, rising from the heart of space through every sinew and byway in our bodies. Our bodies which do and do not exist.
There it is, the coronation event, the one upon which all others are modeled. We are propelled by the energy of joy. Without it, stasis. But our joy is not yet total. Subtotal joy. I am still punching the numbers, tallying the sums, crossing my t’s and dotting my i’s. The lower case ‘i’, a rivulet of tears dependent upon a single pupil. I am caught, caught in the safety web. The web through which true dreams pass unmolested. Only the dross of the unrequited self sticks.
I am following a pathway to bliss in the midst of total destruction. The simple thing. No strings attached. But as soon as the last string is cut, oh the grief, the painful, overwhelming grief. Iron blades coursing down every meridian of my energy body penetrating deeply into the core of the earth, melting back into the element from which they came. I am a winged thing, a multi-petaled flower, an origami figure creased by the hands of one I cannot know. It is the beating of my wings that drives the blood through my veins and back to my heart.
An army of parasols launched against the assault of the Cloudbringers, the Thunderers, the Rainmakers, the whole pantheon of sky beings unleashed at Indra’s behest. I blush even to mention their bliss, but surely the Holy One, who inspired the Song of Songs, smiles at such sacred pleasures. Many a steamy night had been spent by the young lovebirds as I lent them my living room couch for the permitted supervised dating. I removed myself to a nearby room, left the door ajar for the sake of modesty. As Krishna’s mentor and faculty advisor I also served in loco parentis at the request of his parents once the glad tidings reached their shore. I still remember the holoChat with the future Babba Katz. She wore a gorgeous paisley sari fastened modestly with a dazzling ruby stickpin. Her matching head scarf was held in place with the stickpin’s twin.
“Dr. Klionsky,” she addressed me, “how nice of you to see me today on such short notice.” Krishna had informed the family, only the previous day, of his desire for them to approve the match. The Berachamans were of course as overjoyed as was the Katz mishpacha, and all-the-more concerned that a suitable chaperone be found immediately. They were no fools. Upon interrogation, Krishna reluctantly suggested me to them as the most suitable candidate for the job. I suspect my nomination was for very mixed reasons—my professed love for the two of them, and an old man’s likely weakness to yield in the face of the ardor of youth. To their parents, however, I would appear the stolid tenured professor, an ordained rabbi, the very embodiment of all that was good and right in the world of educated upper crust Jews. She proffered me a cup of holoChai—the technology had yet to be perfected by CADMan’s attentions to it a few years hence—as she stumbled to find the words for her request. I tried to create an opening for her, “Yes, Smt. Katz, your son is one of the chief blessings of my life these days within the drear walls of Academe. He is a truly extraordinary and gracious young mensch, as I’m sure you are well aware.” She beamed at me as we sipped our holoChai, then looked me straight in the eye.
“I won’t beat around the shrubbery, Dr. Klionsky. As a medical man you well know the irrepressibility of the passions of two young people in love, the surge of hormones. Only natural. In our community it is the custom, therefore, that all betrothed couples carry on their evening activities within the ambit of a responsible and observant adult, if you understand my meaning. Our Krishna assures us that you are the one who fulfills that role most aptly, not only because of the high esteem in which he holds you, but because of the love you bear both the children. All four of us parents love both children dearly and would shudder to think that they’d make a fatal slip before their nuptials were ritually consummated.” She made a rapid intake of breath at this point before she dove right back into her high speed melodic patter. “Sita’s mother will be most reassured to know that you are kind enough to be willing to act in such a capacity for our children. Krisha tells us you have a weakness for Kashmiri chai. I assure you the material version is far superior to its pale holographic cousin.” I detected the faintest hint of a giggle at her subtle attempt at bribery. It worked. Charmed by the mother as much as by the boy, I agreed happily to supervise the betrothed couple. A few months later, after a most spectacular wedding in their hometown, and freed from my ministrations, the couple straightaway went about the business of producing a baby boy, born nine months later that fateful Tuesday evening in Pittsburgh.
Wednesday morning, Nissan 21, in addition to being the birthday of baby boy Katz, was also the official launch of the three monster AIs. Before the Babylonian exile, the month of Nissan was calledAviv or Spring, the first month of the agricultural year, the beginning of the barley harvest. When the rainy season ends, the song of the turtle caresses the air. A bit of numerological sleight of hand: if the Gregorian year is substituted for the Hebrew, and the month is considered to be the first, by agricultural reckoning Nissan is accorded the honor of being the head of the year, it gives you the palindrome 1/21/2121. A silly game. An inflection point in time. The day the world turned. During the Redemption, this kind of trivial numerology is even sillier. A world in which all possibilities exist simultaneously makes all number combinations as easily apposable as folding origami. Baby Katz, six pounds thirteen ounces, was delivered at Sun Yat-sen Lying-In Hospital in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, as luck would have it, just after sundown Tuesday evening. His parents Krishna and Sita were overjoyed at the Hebrew calendrical portents.
The delivery of the cosmic package was on the seventh and penultimate holy day of Passover. It was also the rare intersection with Birkat HaChama, which last occurred in 2009. Sita, a bit of a navi, a biblical style prophet, knew the stars were lining up for something big. She also sensed the Sitra Achra, the Other Side, was out there lining up in opposition. Between classes and at night she pursued her muse, crafting the spoken word. It was then she composed one of her masterworks, City of Bliss. It first went viral as an anonymous cyber-paean, but the cognoscenti spread the word about the true authorship of this latter day gita:
The invading armies encircle the city looking for weaknesses in the outer wall. They have come here from the distant capital of an empire which would rule the entire world. I hear the loud scream of war horses as chariot wheels churn the dust. The defending force distributes itself along the inside of the shell which surrounds the ancient city. Each warrior leans into the wall, her outstretched palm in contact with the coolness of the stone above her head. A muted prayer ripples its way along their ranks. The wall is old, the defenders betrayed by one of their own.
A young prince sits on the banks of the moat just outside the walls of his father’s castle. He is a dreamer. He feels everything. He sees the reflection of his face in the water that courses mere inches away from him. He dips one finger in the moving water and removes it, destroying his face. He stares in wonder at the one finger held up before his eyes, acutely sensing the coolness of the passing breeze. He compares it to the coolness of the passing water.
With a single swift movement the plumed priest plunges his hand into the chest of the young maiden and removes her beating heart. For an instant he and she are one, their energies mingled and sparkling among the stars of the Milky Way. The two of them draw down the ferocity of the gods. The land shatters upon impact.
Doctor Faust tapped on the door of the mausoleum. He removed his spectacles to better see the inscription on the brass plate. It was in a language he did not know. He used his knuckles to sound the walls and sense the hollow places. He believed this was the resting place of his ancestors. This belief was the distillate of years of study of ancient manuscripts and the writings on the walls of other tombs. Todd Faust had once been a handsome muscular specimen, a lifeguard at the Jersey shore. He came from a line of German military men. He had attended an American military boarding school, where he learned to raise hell with the other boys. And now he was old, his hell raising days got behind him.
Cheryl sat at the roll top desk, counting out stack after stack of hundred dollar bills. Every dozen or so passes of her thumb and forefinger over the crisp greenbacks, she’d daub her fingertips by gently squeezing the moist mustard-colored sponge seated in the small green glass saucer. Her counting hand moved lightning fast. Flicking, daubing, flicking, daubing.
There is a poem in the center of the mind. Touch it. There is a scarlet ribbon dangling from a high window. Feel its reassuring presence. There’s a beam of light riveted in stone. It knows you. You can time your breath by the fluctuation of the light. Grow a body around it, a beautiful lattice-work of veins and arteries. The whole pulsing machine will soon follow. Bring the poem down into the heart of the machine. Let it slide along the scarlet ribbon. Flip the switch and light streams from every pore.
The Pittsburgh cyberpunk crowd was totally wowed. Krishna and Sita became the IT couple. It was the young geniuses’ first encounter with the strange Levitical holiday in their lifetimes. They were both 26 years old and the obscure little holiday, the Blessing of the Sun, hits only once every 28 years. Its ritual demands are minimal, but Passover presented some complications for the expectant parents as there were certain do’s and don’ts attached to such a holy day for observant hasids. It was fine for Sita to take the Auto-Auto to Sun Yat-sen Lying-In Hospital to insure the healthy birth of her first child, but Krishna had to squeeze his lanky self into the pneumatic scooter. Otherwise he risked doing something that might remotely resemble igniting a fire, carrying a burden or using a vehicle that could require the work of repair. As there were no moving parts in the airSkoot, he could take the pedestrian luge trail with impunity. It wasn’t easy being hasids in the 22nd century, but the rabbis had already agonized over the decision regarding pneumatic tube cars and decided alles cool. Luckily Krishna had access to one of the shoots as a perk of his medical school affiliation. He shot down the channel like a mid 20th century office memo. The prodigious scholar was already hatching a plan to conduct Tikkun Leil Shevii, the allnighter of study and celebration customary for the seventh night of the Passover Festival, the vigil of the splitting of the Reed Sea. He would hold forth in the hospital visitors lounge immediately following the baby’s birth, whenever the baby saw fit to emerge from the amniotic sea.
* * * * *
who is reading whom? a necessary fiction of grammar, the minute you open your mouth to utter a sentence out pops subject, object. an entire ocean of substance with you, through you. the hand off, keeping the ball in play. divine eyes, thunderbolt, bone, brings a shake. I should have the worst set of nerves, standing here before you, but I feel like I am talking to myself. burn of skin sample me, circle me, your touch. I am not supposed to know it, yet you climb me rung by rung. approach the opening sky. inland sea. tigress, hummingbird, dolphin. you are all that to me. why grief, why the breaking of glass? the rivers diving from treetops. stem, sleep, land. let my right hand lose its cunning, should this landscape be forgotten. I seek dim caverns. supplicant, intoxicant, shred me. my heart breaks as I stand beneath the dangling caper, leaning into your ancient wall. sparrow up, my flightless one. they told me you were extinct. she extends one arm from nowhere. I feel its caress at my back and on my brow. eyes, modesty caressing. a payload of unmet desire. I am enveloped by its blast.
shavasana once a year for forty years until the full moon shone on the promised land. place she scarcely knew. the hollow of the heart. a place to rest with eyes closed and mind lit up. remain stretched, water jar, in the year to come for us. I know the thrill of the vining wisteria, the trumpeter vine and their household cousins. a lone girl, it is the evening of the year. she calls and I must answer. she is my soul and my body is hers. she parsed the branches, putting words into leaflets, into clusters of fruit. overflow. chemistry. over under. over under. don’t remember, only shared reflections. we tumble together, not knowing where one begins and the other ends. to inhabit their bodies breathless, before the invention of the lung, the evolution of air. fall back. look at me. the light shining from your eyes.
who would have thought so many worlds could fit into such a small space? yet as I lie here with you, the one from whose fingers streams light, I am saturated by your colors, informed by your shapes, lit up by your words. a word, a tiny vehicle for the transmission of meaning, of feeling, of emotion, of inspiration. the creation of your hands renders your admirers mute, relegating us to mere sighs and exclamations of delight. the stargazer’s art cannot hope to match the density of the creatrix of stars. that is the attraction, after all: the hunter captures his living prey hoping to absorb some small part of its life’s mystery. And in every instance the prey appears, one quantum at a time, to bleed the infinite into the finite, the One into the many. [from B’rachaman, C., Nameless]
* * * * *
Back in Champaign-Urbana in his parent’s basement, Adam Saperstein, AKA CADMan, was hard at work putting the finishing touches on his plot to save humanity. His 4D graphics were rigged for the sole purpose of enabling the AIs to appear and disappear anywhere on the planet via the Matrix of Matter(MoM). No wonder every titan of industry demanded the best 4D graphics for their projects, and Adam CADMan was pimply head and shoulders above the rest. So he had an in. Way in. Although the gig gave him pause to consider its colossal destructive capacity, this was the one way he knew that he could insert a remedy. A Trojan horse. He knew with this launching the AIs would become unassailable by humans. He had to act fast. His poor parents’ faces were always riven with worry about how late he was staying up and how little sleep he was getting. Truth be told they could discern a troubling manic edge to their son’s feverish intensity. He assured them it was just a really cool project and he was almost finished. Fortunately, they were completely ignorant of the world he inhabited and simply shook their heads at their odd little boy who they resignedly feared would never be able to live on his own independently. For his part, Adam enjoyed meditating on the impossible, especially before sleep. He had been writing a particularly recondite passage of metaphysical poetry since the day of his ill-fated Bar Mitzvah. Something about the irrepressible nature of the creative force. He had shoved it under the blotter for most of the past year as he had no context for it, no philosophical file box in his cabinet of notions. It came back to him now with startling clarity, just as he was tumbling into the arms of Morpheus at night:
the impossibility of space, measurement, mapping. can not catch it, yet am caught time after time. am a dream catcher in the hands of a small child who looks longingly into a face, dangles over her bed at night. go to sleep child. do not worry about what thoughts will swim through your net. her spine a string of glittering jewels. each one a dimple on the cheek of space/time.
unfolding, an illusion. all surge and swell, invisible leviathan. how beautiful are your tents, O Jacob. heart sings, rapture of the deep. everything needed safely sewn within the chest. one breath, set sail for you, your scent in the nose, your taste on the palate, skin alight with your touch. there is no turning back. that deliciousness leads. the axial and the appendicular floating equally in your presence.
nothing to afford, no bridge. c’est tous, ma petit.
it’s the silent letters that bear the mystery, aleph and ayin. The first the pure silence of the infinite; the second, now completely lost in Ashkenaz silence, once the unvoiced guttural of emptiness, the suggestion of sound, the name, the eye.
in the Phoenician, aleph, the letter, a pictograph of an ox, one of the four faces of the divine beings hovering the throne of God, only one form of infinity.
two arms extend upward to catch the rain of Heaven. consciousness received on the surface of the planet. digress, the only possible beyond the ultimate. There is no regression.
nothing before. and no equivalence. a place where this is not this and that is not that. no sensible person would agree.
I am not I. This is not my voice. I do not believe my own words. sound of hair growing. creation begins. intolerable, collection of characters, separate potentates each unto itself. letters perforce tumble from the vessel. energy, power that drives the tumble, unbearable, inexhaustible. no turning back, even the poet has no jurisdiction here. loss of power is irreversible. all that remains, the pain of absence.
The velvet of sleep came at last, no more to toss and turn. Dreams of the future Redemption.
Adam poured everything in his stack into his Trojan Horse masterpiece: The Eighteen Sequence Protocol. He dressed it up in a pseudo-Hebraic font to give it the mystique of an antiquarian design. It was beautiful. The code itself had an uncanny appeal to all AI programming initiates, an inscrutable yantra, a mystical design from the hand of the subtle and awesome CADMan, a cyber-tattoo. Nobody really knew what it meant, but they dared not leave it out as each iteration of software was carried forward to the next generation, bearing the CADMan spore with it. Classic Cargo Cult programming. Thank God for slackers. Adam knew that he could count on the expediency factor among the massive armies of coders who produced each new iteration of AIs. He also had figured out a clever workaround for what he anticipated the AIs might do once they started manipulating their own code. He called it the Daedalus device, an endlessly inventive response to any effort to erase the CADMan code. CADMan was certain of its superiority by virtue of algorithmic ‘compassion’ that allowed any given processor to ‘sacrifice’ itself on behalf of the whole array of processors dedicated to baffling the AIs. An armada of cyber-kamikazes selflessly serving their source, the CADMan code itself.
What Adam knew he could not count on was humanity’s ability to recognize and correct its own disastrous course, driven in large part by the ceaseless quest for comfort, safety, and freedom from pain, no matter the cost. Adam was certainly not indifferent to the pain of humanity. He felt it every minute. He just knew there were better ways of dealing with it than by going blotto with cyberdelics or by accumulating obscene wealth and wielding power over as many other humans as possible. He had been studying the mystical masterpiece of the obscure Israeli qigong master Sifu Cornelius Han, Mapping the Ten Thousand Things. He was reviewing the section on terror and rage, the emotions he believed were most destructive on the world stage. Here he found the startling possibility of feeding those emotions into radical self transformation:
The gall bladder meridians run along the outside of the legs, up the outer border of the abdomen, trace a labyrinth across either side of the head and return to their origins within the basal ganglia. The bladder meridians run up the back of the legs, alongside the spine, up over the head and find their origins at the corners of the eyes. Where are they going and what message do they carry? Rage and terror. Strip down rage to its bare essentials and you’ll find the energy that drives the green shoot through solid rock, that cracks the frozen earth at the end of winter, the eternal action plan. Strip down terror and what do you see? Dispersion. The dispersion of an ocean wave after crashing on a seaside jetty. The sound of ten thousand voices calling you from every direction, to your destiny.
The CADMan worked feverishly at encrypting course corrections for humanity’s future collective ship. Problem was humanity no longer saw itself as a collective. The Twenty First Century trolls had done their jobs well. Fortunately for humanity’s sake, Adam’s year of Supercomputer time had been well spent. The success of his plan rested on two factors—the persistence of a cadre of hackers dedicated to freedom from the AIs as their most basic raison d’etre. Dedication enough to cause them to scour the AI code in microscopic detail to find the gift he had bequeathed them. Equally necessary, the inevitable turning of the AIs against humanity in such a baldly transparent way that even the most jaded of slackers would see the AIs inherent vice for what it was and leap up to resist. Or else inevitable extinction lay ahead. An ultimate threat, nothing shy of the extermination of species Homo sapiens, was the trigger for Apeiron to arise from its hidden lair, nestled in the belly of the beast. Anything short of that would likely result in a critical mass of humanity prostrating themselves at the mercy of the merciless machines, dooming themselves to oblivion. Odd as it seemed, humanity’s fate was actually in the sweaty palms of a faceless cybergeek living in his parents’ basement in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.