Chapter 18: DJRoNK Spins Out

PS 51

Ram Nissan Katz’ First Incarnation as a cyber-busking guerilla DJ comes crashing to its end. The Eye of Zyz sees all. Thus Behemoth’s bBots ‘rescue’ him for reprogramming. Twenty eight years of cyber-enhanced ‘re-education’, not for the faint of heart.

The Reader is reminded that this is a continuation of Undivided: The Redemption Inquiry. The 18th chapter of the novel and the second of…

Part the Fourth—Beasts of the ApocalypseHerein lie the Histories of the sundry soules who shall comprise the Hacke Packe. They will converge kaleidoscope-like to take upon themselves the Energetick Qualities of the Kabbalistick Tree of Life. In the end they shall form the structure for channeling the CADMan’s plan, and find the Right Reverend Krishna Katz’s locus on the Mappe of The Redemption. The Human Soule and its Other have risen in this telling to the World of The Emanation of Cosmic Consciousness, the threshold where Fate is sealed and released as Quanta to fulfill Divine Will, or Desire, in The Worlde below.

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The little robot stood at the entrance to Ram Nissan’s makeshift digs jogging from one foot to the other and back again.What pleasure greater than the presence of honored guests come from afar for an impromptu v-v-v-visit? Damn machines. No amount of stuttering will make you cute. Ram Nissan Katz a.k.a. DJRoNK stared out at the arrayed hosts of drones and bBots hovering outside the wilderness lean-to he’d pitched beneath the cliffs of his former, now abandoned, school. It was the season when the shadows grow longer and life ducks its head underground. DJRoNK was on the lam from the corporate masters of his incorporeal visitors. Incorporeal in as far as the actual intelligence that governed their inorganic shells was located in the cloud. The cloud that was no cloud. The cloud that interpenetrated everything. The interior cloud. The Matrix of Matter(MoM). 

ZyzCorp, Behemoth Unlimited and Leviathan had not taken kindly to DJRoNK’s guerilla-theater cyber-busking antics. Probably sibling rivalry. After all, each of the three monster AI’s shared DJRoNK ’s birthday, Wednesday April 9, 2121, the Technological Singularity. His family clan, ‘The Gathering of Strangers’, had cornered some prime real estate on Leviathan, future home for all of mankind floating in the North Atlantic. The world’s largest Smart-Complex. DJRoNK was a seventh generation futurist, but his vision wasn’t nearly as rosy as his forebears. While still a yeshiva bucher, enrolled as a student in Jewish Studies at the Brunoy Yeshiva, on the banks of the Seine in France, as his father and his father’s father had done before him, young Ram Nissan became obsessed with the history of the construction of Oxford-Brunoy’s new campus in the Pyrénées, a joint project of his father’s yeshiva and Oxford University. It was well above the deluge that had repeatedly drenched the valleys of both the Thames and the Seine rivers, rendering their entire floodplains uninhabitable before the end of the 22nd century.

What had the Rosh Yeshiva and his advisors, including Ram’s venerable father Krishna, been thinking when they cut this deal? Did they really think they could hold out here once the AIs issued their inevitable proclamation “UNINHABITABLE” about their new location? Thus spake Behemoth Unlimited, the mind behind the army of bBots that morphed themselves into whatever form was required to scour the planet’s surface, regardless of habitability, for exploitable resources. Once an area was deemed “UNINHABITABLE” according to the mighty Behemoth’s calculations, the remaining humans foolish enough not to avail themselves of a place on Mother Leviathan’s dorsum would be unceremoniously “shepherded” to safety, their whereabouts pinpointed to the centimeter by ZyzCorp’s eagle eye, her armada of satellites and drones. DJRoNK was foolish enough to think he could haunt the local caves and grottoes without getting caught. That was his last trip.

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CONDENSATES. Something has to stop you. Full stop. Throttle all the way back. Engine bucking, coughing, sputtering. Then silence. Get out of the car. Max woke up from his pleasant highway buzz to find himself sitting on the shoulder of route 91 about an hour and a half out of Springfield, Mass. Bummer. He leaned against the door of the old Corvair and found himself rolling down a grassy hill where the shoulder had ended, the door of the Corvair hanging open. Head over heels, now ass, now beer gut, boots flying, trench coat flapping, a large bird coming to an inelegant landing at the bottom of the hill. Did that really happen, he thought to himself, as he sat cross legged, the joint still smoldering between his fingers. He looked out across the broad floodplain of the river that ran through this valley, and it occurred to him they were all underwater. A tractor floated by, a stream of bubbles rose from the chimneys of each house.

Max found it a bit nauseating to view the distortion of all the submerged structures as their light was refracted through an unstable medium. Suddenly he felt a sense of panic. He needed to surface. He needed air. He had once been a good athlete, a top ranked wrestler. But now, flailing underwater in his trench coat, he wasn’t sure he was going to make it. He was fighting for his life. His army boots could not find purchase on the ground that had been below his feet. He wasn’t even sure which way was up. He felt a vibration near his heart, and an alarm was ringing. Abruptly, it became clear he had no choice but to inhale sharply even though he knew that it would fill his lungs with water. He gasped, opened his eyes, and moaned. He looked around and found himself standing in the middle of the basement of the Stoned Tabloid Press. The others stared at him as if he had just landed from outer space. [from Katz, R.N., The Mad Yarmulke Society]

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DJRoNK didn’t know what the AIs were selling, but he sure as Sheol wasn’t buying. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it at first, the sense of something blandly sinister at work. At night the glass faces of every major city on the synthetic continent in the North Atlantic lit up with Leviathan’s smiling sea creature logo announcing “There’s no place like home” followed by footage of artificial beaches and Smart condos serving humanity’s every need. They’ve even co-opted all of your personal devices to sense changes in your behavioral routines and physiologic parameters indicating a possible negative emotional state. Then comes the unending barrage of suggestions and subliminal messages regarding exercise, music and entertainment options and dietary modifications, all while nominally preserving your free will.

 Pretty soon you’ll be feeling pretty swell, the little voice nattered at him. This was the worldview DJRoNK and the Cyber-Bucheroos had been waging an info-war against, waking up the sleeping masses to the beast they had lain down beside. They gave themselves different names at each performance, partly out of sheer perversity and partly to confuse the identity programs that tracked them. Ah, for the days of The Blue Sabbath Cult and The Lost Messiahs. Ram, we’ve come to take you home. Resistance is silly. You’ll feel lots better real quick. The chorus of dissonant cyber-generated voices grated on DJRoNK’s last adrenaline-depleted nerve. But there was nowhere to run or hide any longer. The last Bucheroo, he was being rounded up by two smiling mini bBots, no more than three feet tall, but with deceptively strong grips on each of DJRoNK’s wrists as they waddled along beside him. He realized he was tired of this incarnation. He flashed on the end of the last graphic novel he had penned before he had given up writing altogether. He was proud of his graphic fiction series “The Mad Yarmulke Society.“ It was set in Manhattan of the 1970s, an era similar to his own, rife with rebellion, ultimately signifying nothing. He could quote from memory the final scene, the last thing he wrote before he put down his pen, never to take it up again:

Crank back the lever until it groans in extremis, that last click on the cogwheel. The byzantine device moans under the strain, the vibration that penetrates Earth’s magnetic core, shuddering the planet in its rotation. Mad clown harnessed, inscrutable expression painted on his face. Only the clods of earth that cling to his over-sized shoes, the grass stains at his elbows and the mud jammed under his fingernails betray where he has been. The sky is blue. Not the brilliant blue of summer. Cold, steel blue. It waits for him. Bardo, the clown. A place that is no place. For a being that is no being. Only information. He has been here before. Why is this incarnation different from all other incarnations? As the wicked son, he asks this question so as not to be bored to death. As the wise son, he will tell you that he is from a long line of catapult jumpers, just like his father before him. They say that each arc of the catapult’s trajectory… but I don’t care what they say. I’m tired of being knocked around. There is no explanation good enough. The simple son knows this and shrugs. All that refining and winnowing, for what? Merely to do battle all over again? There is one who knows how not to ask. Nowhere to look. Nowhere to be. Nothing to do or say. He would refuse incarnation altogether. But then, do I really have a choice? A saint is just an accident of chance. Might as well enjoy the illusion of freedom. Don’t know any better. There is no other world to be in. Must be some kind of joke. There is nothing more that can be said. Refuse incarnation. Just stories. Storytellers, whispering sissies. 

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Before he had properly awakened from his procaine induced coma—a retro tech but a good ‘un—Ram heard himself uttering the strangely familiar words of his childhood prayer: Modeh ani l’fanecha, Melech Chai v’Kayam, shehechezartabi nishmati b’chemla, rabba emunatecha. Weird. He’d let that one go right after his Bar Mitzvah. Kid stuff, superstitious nonsense, he’d always thought. He had to stop and think hard just to translate it for himself from the loschen kodesh, the holy tongue. I give thanks before You, Living and Eternal Rulemaker, that You have rebooted my soul with mercy. How great is Your craftsmanship. Where in Gehinnom am I? You’re in PS 51, Ram. Back to school for you! chirped a happy little robotic voice.

 As Ram lifted his face from the gurney a trail of drool escaped his lips. He turned to the side just in time to see the nurseBot shoot out a probe bearing a towelette to wipe his chin. What the? No, this was definitely not William Alexander Middle School 51, where a bunch of his neighborhood friends had gone. His parents Krishna and Sita Katz took over the Park Slope Chabad House to minister to the ragged remnant of the wealthy hipster crowd stranded there after Hurricane Izzy drowned most of the surrounding neighborhoods on September 11, 2134. He’d never forget the day of his burgeoning manhood. The day when he was called to the Torah for the first time, and when most of his neighborhood friends lost family members who either drowned in the flood, were fatally injured by falling debris, died of exposure or starvation, or were murdered by one of the marauding bands of desperate survivors. All power and vital services had been cut off to the neighborhood for 212 days. The redemptive message of Ki Tavo and Isaiah, his Torah reading from the book of Deuteronomy and his Haftarah reading from the book of Prophets, lost in the deluge. It was about entering The Promised Land, having attained “a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.” It all seemed so wrong to him. What land were they headed for, and what was there to know or see or hear except pain for miles around. At best it was a mystery, perhaps akin to the strange phenomena mentioned in Ethics of the Fathers that were created at the twilight before the Sabbath of creation: “…the mouth of the earth that swallowed the heretic, Korach; the mouth of the well of Miriam, that provided water for the Israelites in the desert; the mouth of Balaam’s talking ass ; the rainbow; the manna; Moses’ staff ; the shamir worm that cut the stones of the Altar in the Holy Temple; and the words, the inscription and the stone tablets themselves of the Ten Commandments.” A terrible miracle.

 At forty-nine feet above sea level Park Slope was marginally better off than the surrounding neighborhoods. Brooklyn Heights remained intact, albeit dark, at a lordly two hundred feet, Crown Heights at one hundred twelve. The joy of his Bar Mitzvah at 770, the Eastern Parkway mothership of the Chabad Interplanetary Mission, was literally drowned out by the deafening roar of Izzy’s 85 mile an hour winds. The venality and outright criminality unleashed by the aftermath of the storm completely undid the last shred of the boy’s idealism. His parents had taught him a more universalist message than was standard fare for Chabadniks. It was hard to believe any of that now. Brooklyn Heights, along with all the other islands that survived the first blast of Izzy, was an ugly scene of anarchy and tribal warfare. The entire Bar Mitzvah party barricaded itself within the confines of 770 for over a month. Ram’s newly minted manhood was forever imprinted with the scenes of unspeakable horror outside those walls.

Ram shook his head to dislodge the watery apocalypse from his eyes, only to hear the throaty contralto of the theraBot inquiring neutrally, Bad memories, Ram? Looking around he discerned this bot was simply an auditory processor which could express itself through any material interface in the room. No body. As he stood crouched until he got his land legs, he realized the place was familiar, though definitely not PS 51 in Brooklyn. Cavernous ceilings, dank stone walls, 14th century tapestries. Merde! The place around which he’d been scrambling for refuge for the last few weeks. Chateaux Latours, formerly featured in the Cathar Castle Tour package, and after that the renovated home of Oxford-Brunoy, abandoned when the entire region was declared UNINHABITABLE. And now PS 51. His heart plummeted and shattered into a thousand pieces. Alien abduction, POW/MIA, mining disaster, shipwreck, hallucinogenic nightmare. Damnation. Rivulets of sweat, tears and mucous. Breath coming in shallow grunts. Spinning, swirling, flying, falling. He opened his eyes and saw that he hadn’t yet moved. Something you’d like to talk about, Ram? He stood bolt upright and shrieked, Damn you, you disembodied cyber-zombie! Get the hell out of my head! No! There’s nothing I’d like to talk about. Not now, not ever. I don’t talk to damn squawk boxes, disembodied or otherwise. Time to sign off now. That was the last utterance he made to his virtual hosts for the next fourteen years.

 The one-sided conversation continued on the part of the relentless theraBot and her cyber minions, often interspersed with songs from Ram’s childhood, snippets of forgotten conversations with friends and family and former teachers, random media advertisements, pop tunes, animal cries, industrial sound samples, high pitched whining noises, the odd explosion here and there, water dripping, wind howling, waves crashing, stochastically generated electronica, laughter, sobbing, whimpering, tittering, screeching, lambasting, pleading, groaning, fragments of classical symphonies from the 20th century, vehicles crashing, glass tinkling, crowds roaring, babies cooing, women moaning in ecstasy. And the lights. It was almost never dark. The ambient light flickered, blinked, sputtered, faded up and down, shifted hues, occasionally coinciding with circadian rhythm, usually not.

 The walls of the ‘reeducation center’ were a continuous tableau of images sometimes associated with the audio track, occasionally merging into a 4-D graphic kabuki theater in the middle of a room or a hallway which dissolved at its completion. The temperature and humidity varied unpredictably at unpredictable intervals. Ram had access to food and clothing and sanitary facilities, but the theme of unpredictability permeated all realms. The water temperature and pressure, the functioning of toilets, the size of clothing, and of course the taste, texture, smell and temperature of food. The cuisine was mostly pretty bland, now and then a hint of a childhood recipe, occasionally unspeakably odious, and at rare intervals almost sublime. All Hell’s creatures, great and foul.

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PARTITIONS. THE SEVEN CORPOREAL SOULS (Po)

1. Flying Poison(or Quick Evil) suddenly explodes with rage and venomous thoughts of evil intention.
2. The Unclean Evil(or Shame) entices by tempting and luring an individual into a place or situation from which escape is difficult, and then creates distress in the form of guilt, which generates shame. This spirit creates a feeling of being discredited, dishonored or disgraced.
3. The Stinking Lungs(or The Smell of Death) destroys hope, which can lead to a sense of despair.
4. The Corpse Dog(or Being Scorned) is like a dog that has been beaten and starved, the presence of this spirit intensifies depression by despising itself and holding itself in contempt to a point of no return.
5. The Fallen Arrow generates the foregone conclusion that attempting goals is fruitless.
6. The Yin Bird(or Night Tormentor) harrasses the individual, causing him or her to experience extreme pain and severe anguish.
7. The Devouring Robber(or Sipping Thief) steals the individual’s life-force energy by devouring it through negative emotions such as jealousy, envy and bitterness.

  [from Johnson, Jerry Alan, PhD, Chinese Medical Qigong Therapy]

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A subtle repeating theme if there was one, was the motif of all the forms of life birthing, developing, growing, aging, decaying…… and dying. The scenes of bio-fatalism were interspersed with martial scenarios of myriads of robots mopping up the face of the blasted planet. These images more than any would persist, by design, in Ram’s fragmented memory long after ‘graduation’ from PS 51. And just to make sure the new ‘software’ took, Ram had also been given some new hardware through the miracle of optogenetic programming. Before he had even awakened from his procaine-induced slumber, the neuro-Bot also gave the former DJRoNK a series of injections of expensive bio-tech particles into his spinal cord. Fluorescently labeled viral particles bound to ion channels targeted for insertion into the promoter genes of a large variety of neural systems throughout the Rav’s body. OptoGen, courtesy of Cy-Ops.

 Once every major circuit was wired according to the specifications of the AI overlords, a final injection of nanoLED’s, brainLites—proprietary rights also held by Cy-Ops—literally illuminated Ram’s entire nervous system, activating a veritable symphony of fluorescent lights. As the Rube Goldberg mechanism played its tragic way through DJRoNK’s sleeping corpus, the fluorescent signals flagged each ion channel to let loose its flood of calcium or potassium or sodium, either suppressing or activating the genes downstream from the virally modified promoter genes, the biochemical on/off switches. This in turn rendered the former cyber guerilla-fighter helpless to modulate his own emotional responses, sensory intensity, even motoric behavior. He was completely in the thrall of his captors. No more rage against the machines. The only thing that remained his own was Ram Nissan’s bare consciousness.

 Ram survived the first fourteen years of his reeducation, like so many other prisoners of conscience, by employing the antiquarian art of writing, first in secret and then as blatantly as possible. The bots didn’t really understand the lost art of writing. They simply cleaned up the little messes they allowed Ram to make in exchange for owning his soul. With each erasure by the b-cleanBots, Ram wrote with even greater resolve to mine his imagination for absurd and pithy responses to his captivity. PS 51. The poetry of return. It was the one thing they had not counted on, writing, completely outside the purview of the machines. As was irony. Besides, they actually thought they might understand what was making him tick, could figure out what was keeping him going, by reading his writing. They didn’t realize that it was the writing itself that fanned the flames of his remaining spark of consciousness.

The pure heart, the broken heart, the crushed spirit, the castaway, lips manipulated to sing in praise. The collected fragments of those scrawlings upon any available surface, using every conceivable writing substance, were eventually culled from Ram’s few tattered recollections of his time of horror which burbled to the surface under the ministering eyes of a handful of listeners, such as yours truly. These burblings plus the cyber-record retrieved by the hacker resistance took form as the brief mysterious tome, Sefer Yetziah: The Book of Exits. The second fourteen years was spent forgetting almost everything, the price of release.

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§Sefer Yetziah: The Book of Exits§

 

1. Note, any toddler will tell you, in the digging of sand and the refilling of holes, the digging goes easier with each successive excavation. This should suffice for those that know.

2. In the moving of large quantities of earth and the building of structures thereon, when all has collapsed, the generation of excavators know to dig, to uncover with care that which has gone before, for this might be there and that might be here. Amen selah.

3. And the transporting of large populations, refugees, whole communities, necessary losses. Yet we find a pair of candles lit in the basement, a pinch of dough taken from a newly baked loaf. Passing through customs. We give thanks.

4. The liturgy is changed with the change of seasons, the wind and the rain for dew and blessings. It is well known to those who yearn.

5. Sliding glass doors, automatic sentinels, mark the passage of invisible beings, beings which we must greet and invite to sit at our tables, not knowing if they are actually there at all. How wondrous are Thy ways.

6. The movement of divine energy, that which runs and returns, metered out in boxes attached to the sides of places of dwelling. Local holy men must mark them according to regional custom. Death notices in the Old City, luminous works of beauty in the High City of the Blessed. The Encrypted which is in every thing, the Eternal Determinant, comes down to us and connects as we wrap our selves in sparks.

7. The passage from hand to mouth, that which appears on our plates and disappears in our gullets, an accounting is made at the pool that lies before the northern capital. The elixir of consciousness, and light itself, filtered through awareness of place. The Encrypted brings all into being by Its Word.

8. Worthies, politicos, dealers in protexia and minor nobilities must evacuate, leave, abandon and otherwise nullify themselves, their former haunts. The hoi polloi, unwashed masses and general riff raff shall taxi by and mark the spot. O what was there? O bygone worthy! Amen selah.

9. Twenty four thousand acolytes trod the foothills of the Galilee, that star-strewn land, in tow of the illiterate wood-chopper. The gain in books, numbers, divine emanations, paid in the deaths of all but three. The price of incivility, of prophetic incontinence, of irony. One of the three still draws, thousands of years later, as many pilgrims to the place, proclaiming each to each, “We are angels, rising, falling.” The final accounting not reckoned, measured out in carob seeds. A word to the wise.

10. Tears for an ancient city, rivulets in limestone, a paper trail traces the cracks in the face. At midday one prays all the forms of happiness, less that ultimate form, the form of a soul extinguished in its source. Generations, peoples, histories, piled and excavated. Plumb the architect’s tunnel, grasp the majesty of what lay above. Silence.

11. Neon sign, man running. By that shall you know, it is the pace of departure. Heed it with due speed. Ca suffit.

 

About the Author
Michael Diamond is a writer based in the Washington, DC area. He practices psychiatry there and is a doctor of medical qigong. He has published verse, fiction and translation in Andrei Codrescu’s journal, The Exquisite Corpse; in the journal Shirim courtesy of Dryad Press; in the online journal for Akashic Press; in New Mexico Review and in The Journal of the American Medical Association. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, an artist and illuminator of Hebrew manuscripts, their dog, two cats, a cockatiel named Peaches and a tank of hyperactive fish. He has had a strong interest in Torah since first exposed to traditional stories as a child. Over the course of his life he has run the gamut of spiritual exploration of many world traditions of meditation and mythology. For the last several decades he has landed squarely in the traditional Jewish world. His writing is informed by all of this experience, by his curiosity about today's world and by his desire to mine the Jewish experience for its hidden and revealed wisdom. Torah Obscura, as in camera obscura, from Latin, meaning "dark room", also referred to as a pinhole camera, exploiting the optical phenomenon that occurs when an image of a scene outside of a chamber projects itself through a small hole and can be seen on the inner surface of the chamber. A glimpse of an otherwise invisible world afforded by a small aperture for light. All materials herein copyright © 2018 Michael S. Diamond. All rights reserved.
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