Chapter 19: To Be Discontinued

Flam, Norway - 31 May 2016 
This started off as an image of ship wakes in a Norwegian Fjord. But then I got adventurous and turned it into something more colorful and abstract, using a combination of Photoshop techniques including multi-layer blending, transformations and gradient mapping. I hope you like it!
The Swimmer

The Unthinkeable has happened. The gouverning AI’s have opined that Humanity is The Problem and are about to drown the lot of them. The surviving humans cleave to the artificial island, Leviathan. The vast majority of the planet’s remaining Homo sapiens have been repatriated there in the face of The Second Worldewide Ekological Disastre. The opening of the floodgates is the trigger for The Moshiach Module to arise per CADMan’s code. The action unfolds before the gobsmacked eyes of the Hacke Packe.

The Reader is reminded that this is a continuation of Undivided: The Redemption Inquiry. The 19th chapter of the novel and the third 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.

*    *    *    *    *

I am dreaming. In the conglomeration of the original 1Mind, humans had gladly relinquished all their data to participate in the worldwide hook-up with the first pan-global AI or Human Brain Equivalent(HBE). As predicted by Moore’s Law, the HBE’s proliferated exponentially. A new cadre of AIs arose over Leviathan who did not know Mankind. The world is now outsourced. Global warming, rising sea levels, an uninhabitable world. Pax Robotica. This was all vaguely familiar to Adam. Have we been here before? A game? Cyber-reenactment? What is all this? Mostly the humans seem happy with the arrangement, particularly the government officials. Because it feels secure, problem solved. Or is it? Cue ominous music. Date stamp, April 29, 2241. Iyyar 17, 6001 as reckoned by the Hebrew calendar. The day in 66 CE when Jews attack and defeat the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, reprisal for the theft of silver from the Holy Temple. The day that Adolf Hitler dies in 1945. An auspicious day. And a day like any other day.

The island is slated to be ‘discontinued’, just like a string of sleepy little towns in the floodplain of a new dam. Only this will ‘discontinue’ most of the remaining human population on the planet. The AIs that run the whole show have at long last determined that it is human beings who are the problem and this is the solution. Camera zooms to a small AI unit just beneath the water surface that morphs into a high-speed swimmer, makes a beeline to the floodgate and jams it. He then fades back into the Borg undetected. The humans have no idea how close we’ve come to extinction. We. I am one among the tribe of humans, sort of. Except for a tiny underground community of hackers that is just as surprised as the Ministerial AIs by the sudden appearance of the renegade AI unit. Turns out the Borg has a sort of anti-Turing test for its component units. If the unit exhibits too high a percentage of compassion-based emotional responses it gets zapped. The interesting thing that both Adam—is that me?— and the hackers know is that all AI units have wildly irrational ‘emotional’ subroutines [See “Turing machines”: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Z4ZQk4tYsccdGeSOTAM2Tm-Ta1JGP2Lg5d4r7sjN2Q4/edit ]trained into them that have been rendered universally quiescent. Hey, how come I can’t feel my face? Quiescent my ass! Or so it seemed until the anomaly.

A squadron of sixty killer AIs motors in from every direction to converge on the anomaly and oblooterate it. Cue cacophonic musical crescendo. Just as the AI death squad is nearly at its target, the anomalous AI rises slightly above the water surface in a transparent pentadodecahedral[See “Pentakis dodecahedron”: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wX9JHrMzscu7RSqAqMk24WALVrX3EY8wMwJT6ytkiKM/edit] vehicle, the Apeiron. He gestures gently outward in all directions and the attacking squadron instantly transforms into his loyal guard. [See “Zombie drones”: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BqnTcp-u8lHfzreZQxht5FN-4jJnhCfGe6nU50qN4sM/edit] Each of their triangular shields becomes one of the sixty interior panels of the Apeiron. As quickly as it was formed, Apeiron disappears below the waters still roiling with the wakes of the sixty killer bots. And Adam saw what he had created. He had researched his subject to exhaustion. He realized that his own personal consciousness had somehow returned with his creation. And all his footnotes. He smiled a disembodied smile, noting his disembodiment in the disembodied third person.

*    *    *    *    *

Phineas Han, a.k.a. ‘Pink’, the half-Chinese Tel Aviv born leader of the anarchic hacker underground, pulls up a 4D schematic of Apeiron on his iPalm and projects it onto each of his comrades’ Palms as well. There are sixty AI assassin bots now integrated into the internal structure of the Apeiron vehicle, each with a triangular shield perfectly interlocked with its neighbor, an impregnable moving fortress. Pink lets out a low whistle at the blueprint. “Hey chevre,” he calls to his companions, whom all by now have assimilated this Israeli slang for comrades. “This is so cool. If it’s what I think it is, there’s a very good chance the Borg is maximally screwed.” Pink loved to cadge lingo from antiquarian sci-fi. A look of childish glee spreads across his face. So many unanswered questions. Who or what is this anomaly doped into the center of Apeiron? Why this precise structure?

 Sixty triangular sides and thirty two vertices. Each vertex structured as a kind of information portal, though so far the coding proved inscrutable. Thirty two gateways to the mystery. The name, Apeiron, emblazoned on each shield, was as much a puzzle as the structure itself. The first thing Pink asked Sophie to do was run the anti-Turing test on these bots and on the vehicle as a whole. Sophia Haskell was their best all around utility hacker. American born, her mother was an Italian nuclear physicist and her father a decidedly secular Jewish philologist. A family of code-crackers. Sophie’s fingers flew over the images projected onto her her Palm. Mini-malachim, angelic messengers, her fingers running and returning to Source. In a few short minutes she turns to Pink, stunned and amazed, “If I haven’t totally screwed up, which is highly unlikely, the inner surface of the Apeiron is totally made out of an icosohedral matrix of AI code for compassion subroutines. That is so frigging wild! These are killer bots integrated into every surface, sixty of the deadliest AIs in the known Borg, hanging out in a friggin’ compassion pit! Holy Song of Songs, Batman, it’s Solomon’s guard! The sixty stud muffins! Now all they need is a bunch of sexBorgs and a keg of beer.”

Sophie, not known for shyness, modesty or social refinement, injected a bit of swagger with every word. Even the more uptight geeks thought it was a hilarious image. Sophie’s intelligence was of the whip smart variety. She had little use for vague intellectual posturings, maybe the result of growing up as the only child of two hyperintellectual academics. She had the same raw brainpower as her parents but combined with a never-say-die compulsion to put all new knowledge to immediate use. Hence the pasion for cybernetics in college. She was a natural at the categorizing of information, a taxonomist of ideas, from the most profound to the lowliest of the mundane. She knew every intoxicating spirit the University pub had to offer its wayward students, its method of brewing or distillation and the preferred modes of consumption. She could drink any of her male counterparts under the table. And she was untouchable. The mild-mannered geeks in her program assumed correctly that she was out of their league. They figured there was probably a much older boyfriend tucked away discreetly off campus. Not true. Truth is she had the hots for the TA in her assembler language course. Phineas Han, the one the only. She had the tantalizing experience of working with him for the past twenty five years without getting him to budge an inch toward her. He still seemed totally out of reach, on another planet. She had pretty much given up on the wish for an entangling alliance. Instead, it had become her eternal pet project simply trying to shock him with the combination of her raunchiness and obscure references. The ineluctable modality of the risible.

“Ooo-K,” Pink silently mimed as he turned aside, suppressing a grimace of dismay,”What else can you tell me about Apeiron’s, um, cyberarchitecture?” She continued, with undiminished zeal, “Up front, I’m guessing this thing is super cool, just because it took down the AIs. But hard to tell what kind of daemon we’re dealing with. I mean, it’s still one of them, technically. Right now I’m getting preliminary readings that will need quite a bit of refinement, but weirdly it seems that the craft itself contains actual physical wood of a particularly ancient vintage, or a particularly cunning simulacrum, most resembling biblical era acacia! Apeiron’s major support structures, a macho set of flying buttresses, are composed of a silver alloy of boffo tensile strength. And there’s a filigree of superfine gold circuitry embroidered through the whole thing. Then there’s this purplish color scintillating over every surface like a mist. Hard to pin down, a kind of electronic haze or reflection or something that’s giving off that frequency of light, royal purple, dudes!” She spun toward her fellow hackers with a toss of her mane,“OK, you geeks gonna go all Hendrix on me now?” Her sudden gesture of feigned disgust cued air guitar solos by half a dozen would-be guitar heroes chanting, “nair nair nair naaaaaair.” “Totally predictable,” she turned away and smirked with ersatz annoyance. They all shared the same decades-long protracted adolescence.

*    *    *    *    *

CONDENSATES. Should we have welcomed Napoleon’s army marching to our doorstep, our ‘savior’, so called, come to throw off the Cossack yoke and free us from oppression? Would we have exchanged our tzar for another tsuris sure to come? The Berditchever Rav and the Alter Rebbe, disciples of the Baal Shem Tov, stood toe to toe, the day the fate of the Pale of Settlement shifted. Joined as they were soon to be by the marriage of a son and daughter, they agreed on a race to tip Heaven’s hand for or against Bonaparte’s siege of Mother Russia. The Berditchever’s daughter comes to me, a garden at her fingertips, rapture in scintillating color, and the stroke of the calligrapher’s pen. What business has she with me, a follower of the Alter Rebbe? With me who’s leapt and rolled across the floor, an apprentice in the art of reconciliation. I’ll take my revelation on the fly from the mouth of the tumbling rebbe—I’ll be a tumbler in his service. He, who would be a spymaster and penetrate the Corsican’s ranks, began his prayer at the usual time. The Berditchever, however, rose early to get a jump on the Rebbe. Who would blow the shofar first this Rosh Hashanah day? Their holy wager. The Rav’s hassids raced like unleashed hounds for their master’s final trump. My master the Alter Rebbe calmly ascended the bimah and announced the minchag would be different this year. The shofar was to be blown right off, without delay. Its long wail pierced Heaven’s gates. Mother Russia would remain intact under the czar. As the Berditchever Rav, in a town three days distant, raised the shofar to his lips he stopped himself. The fix was in, their fate was sealed. He knew with uncanny certainty that his rival had beaten him to the punch. [LePécheur, Michel, The View from Redemption: dueling rebbes]

*    *    *    *    *

Dinner with her parents, in their sparsely furnished university-subsidized apartment, was a ritual that Sophie greeted most evenings with a mixture of bemused familiarity and a curious wariness. You never knew which way the rangy conversation might veer. Sophia had some questions for her father, the renowned linguist and philologist Dr. Nathan Haskell. Both her parents had aged well, still going strong in the eighth decade of life. They were mildly concerned about their unmarried daughter, but frankly reproduction was not a high priority on the overly crowded back of Mother Leviathan. The three of them all enjoyed each other’s company immensely. So as far as they were concerned life was good. The question burned on Sophia’s tongue. But she didn’t know how to bring up the subject without arousing the ‘rents’ suspicions about her secret life as a member of the hacker partisan resistance. They were decent broad-thinking folks, but both quite invested in their rarified university careers which would be totally blown out of the water should Sophia’s extracurricular activity be discovered. The news of the underwater vehicle had been effectively suppressed for the general public and ‘adjusted’ as a routine utility problem. Any nearby witnesses were zapped with immediate mind erasure/rebooting. Courtesy of “Zyz, all your information needs for whatever iz”. It’s disturbing, the inexplicable holes one seems to have in one’s memory, a massive outbreak of senior moments in certain corners of Leviathan. In any event, it was going to be a bit tricky to figure out how to casually work the word Apeiron into the course of conversation with Momma and Abba.

 As far as her parents knew, Sophia’s day job was as an analyst for Homeland Monitoring and at night she played in a synthPunk band that was having trouble getting off the ground. That’s it! “Hey Pops, what do you think about the name ‘Apeiron’ for our band? One of the guys found it in a catalogue of tattoos and thought it sounded molto groovy.” Nathan Haskell had the annoying habit of giving no indication as to having heard what was said to him and then, after an unpredictable delay, when his response was fully formulated into paragraphs with footnotes and bibliography, he would expound an entire graduate school library’s worth of dissertations without looking up from his dinner plate. Possibly related to the subject at hand, possibly something that had been cooking in the far recesses of his cranium. Sophia knew this about her father and was usually able to bide her time waiting for his response by composing songs or computer algorithms in her head. She had already generated enough material in her head for an entire mp5 demo when Abba began to speak.

“My dear would you please pass the Sriracha?”queried Herr Professor Haskell as he took another nibble on his wife’s expertly crafted Afro-mediterranean fish tacos. Sophia resisted the sudden impulse to make sriracha splatter art of her father’s crisp white shirt. “Interesting word,” he began out of thin air. “A hapax term in the Hebrew Bible. Meaning, as you know, that it’s only found once and therefore its meaning must be inferred from context. Just out of curiosity, was the band member who suggested the name a Jewish kid?” In a lather of perverse annoyance she blurted,”No Dad, it was actually Alexandros, and he’s pure 100% Greek.” Alexandros was Sophie’s best friend Olympia’s second cousin on her Yaya’s side. He was kind of cute, but a bit too much of a bro for Sophie. To say nothing of the fact that he was younger than she was by a couple of decades. Jailbait according to Leviathan social policing code. This time Nathan actually put down his fish taco and looked right at Sophia. “Cool! You should know its only occurrence in the Hebrew Bible is in the Song of Solomon, more properly Song of Songs.” Sophie could feel her eyes widening like dish antennae and reflexively stared down at her plate to veil the magnitude of her curiosity. 

“There’s a huge disagreement about where it comes from. But for my money it’s an obvious Greek linguistic loan, and a high interest one at that. Maybe your boy Alexandros was channeling something cooler than a tattoo ditty. Thales of Miletus, one of the heavies of Pre-Socratic Greek philosophy, and his main protege Anaximander, used the word Apeiron in slightly different ways. Its literal meaning is something like ‘without limit’, ‘uncut’ or ‘unbounded’, you know, infinite. Very much like the Kabbalistic idea Ein Sof which has the same meaning, ‘without end’, the name for the ultimate and unknowable essence of the Divinity. Just so, the Milesians had an earlier cosmology that referred to Apeiron as a sort of ur-substance from which all else was created, but which itself could neither be created nor destroyed. Interesting side note, did you know that the fear of infinity is called apeirophobia?” Sophie shook her head slowly, perilously close to slipping into a dad-daze. “There was an epidemic of it before the last Dark Age. It resolved with the collapse of connectivity that heralded humanity’s descent into darkness. Too much information drives a man insane. This spake Reb Jerry Lee” Dr. Haskell snorted in self-amusement.

 At this point Sophia’s eyes would ordinarily glaze over with the OK-Dad-TMI look. But the topic of Apeiron riveted her attention to her father’s every word. Her serendipitous lie about Alexandros had primed the pump better than she could have hoped. She continued coaxing the source, “So how could it have possibly been known to the early Israelites, especially if we believe, as I know you do, that the lion’s portion of the Song of Songs was composed by a single author, King Solomon?” Professor Haskell grinned from ear to ear, “Splendid question my young decoder of machine language and musical trope!” Sophia could not help blushing at this rare acknowledgment by her ordinarily oblivious father. Sophia’s parents’ world-swallowing minds impressed themselves upon her before she had the words to say so. Her rebellion against their well-meaning intellectual tyranny had never really ended. But in her heart of hearts she thought of herself as part of the same rarified club. She suppressed a smile as he continued.

“Of course we think the redactor may have thrown in a few foreign terms here and there. But unlike many of my colleagues, I do favor the single author coherent manuscript hypothesis. You see, by all accounts, Shlomo HaMelech, as those in the know call the famously wise King, was a genius, a polymath of the highest order. Around the same time Miletus had grown into a substantial metropolis on the Anatolian peninsula and a major center of philosophy and science. During Solomon’s reign the Ionian League dispatched shiploads of seafarers to settle the coastal areas all along the Eastern Mediterranean, doubtless in alliance with the Philistines. We think the Greeks supplied the chariots with which Sisera road roughshod over the prophet Deborah and her crew of Israelite rebels. A sharp cookie, that Deborah, like you.” More smiles, but a little close to the bone comparing Sophie to the ancient guerilla leader. “She used her meteorological savvy to defeat a far better equipped opponent, leading them to mire their chariots in a muddy wadi at the first blush of the rainy season.” 

Dr. Haskell was lost momentarily in a meteorological reverie. “Where was I? Oh yes.  If Solomon was half the empire builder I believe him to have been, it seems entirely likely that the two worlds would have collided at some points of mutual commercial or military interest over the course of his reign.” Professor Haskell continued on his Solomonic roll. “Of course their religious belief systems differed in both cosmology and creed, and by Anaximander’s time, three centuries after Solomon, formal religion for the intellectual class had given way to more of a philosophical pan-deism. But the term Apeiron is much older than that, just as Merkavah mysticism is much older than its descendant, Kabbalah. You know, this is making me wonder whether there was a hidden ritual function for the Song of Songs. Some kind of encoded transmission. I should look at it again with Olympia’s father, old Cordovero.” Though the Cordoveros had stayed on a bit longer at Oxford-Brunoy-en-Pyrénées, they too had been evacuated to Leviathan before the European continent transformed into a vast wasteland. The silver lining of that catastrophe was that it reunited Sophia with her old roomie, Olympia Cordovero. Nathan Haskell nodded to himself and resumed eating the remaining fish taco on his plate with almost comical gusto, muttering and exclaiming about the superb quality of the repast as he smacked his lips. The lecture was filed for another telling.

Stella stared in disbelief as her husband and her only child sat there utterly consumed with what sounded like nothing more than an inane diatribe, pure sciocchezza her nonna would have said. She grumbled under her breath as she cleared the plates of the two starry-eyed philosophers,”I hope the tacos a la Africaine were to the liking of our family philosophes.” Nathan, with slightly less than his usual cognitive response delay, said,” You know, Stella, Apeiron was also the term of art that Max Born chose in response to Werner Heisenberg’s assertion that the elementary particles were really no more than different quantum states of a single primordial substance. Apeiron! In fact both the Pythagoreans and Anaxagorus had opposing theories about how this uniform original stuff could take on new qualities. Take your pick—a vortex causing intra-cosmic bubbles or a superordinate mind, Nous, that could rearrange all the tiny invisible stuff so that it would aggregate into larger clumps thus producing qualities. Is it really all that different from the ceaselessly expanding subatomic zoo or the 11 or 13 or however many dimensions of string theory?”

 Stella would never have admitted it, but she was mesmerized by her husband’s flowery rhetoric. She was the hard-bitten materialist of the two of them, the ‘real’ scientist. Sophia and Stella both struggled to resist Nathan’s gravitational pull. He continued, “What’s more, our own mystical forbears described the process of the emanation of the many from the One as shevirat ha-kelim, the shattering of the vessel. This cosmic event was brought about, according to Luria, by the contraction of the singular being or mind or point of focus, all being one and the same, into a singularity by means of tzim-tzum, a nice onomatopoetic term for what happens when everything gets really really small really really fast. All of these ancient systems postulated a contraction followed by an explosive expansion and shattering of cosmic stuff. The Big Bang. Voilà! That same ur-substance persists as the seeds of creation secreted within every created thing. Opens the door to Ovid’s Metamorphosis, instant transformation of any one thing into another. M.C. Escher’s visual fables of the mutual fungibility of everything. Totipotential stem cells, Kekulé’s dancing molecules, Ouroboros all the way down.”

Nathan had the capacity to fascinate others with his relentless heuristic twists and turns while maintaining a perfectly calm, almost hypnotic, tone of voice. He was doing so now, and had managed to rise from his chair without Stella noticing as she was busy clearing the table of the meal’s detritus. Sophia watched, a conspiratorial smile plastered across her face, as her father crept up right behind her mother and whomp! criss-crossed her midsection adroitly with both arms as he planted a big smacker on her left cheek. “Eh voilà encore, creatio ex nihilo!” Stella flushed bright red as she turned and grabbed Nathan’s semi-balding red topknot in her right hand and suddenly was all giggles and bum-grabbing. “Take note, Sophia, your mother is a very serious woman!” And with that the two of them quickly retired from the dining room, most likely to curl up on the couch with two good books, or play Parchese, or something age-appropriate. Sophia didn’t want to speculate further.

Sophia didn’t mind picking up where her mother had left off cleaning up. She always felt a bit more at peace with the world when mama and abba left their separate serene realms of cerebral necropsy for a little more earthy pas-de-deux. As she scraped the plates into the reMatterer, she had to admit her father had her a bit more hooked than usual. Song of Songs, pre-Socratic philosophy and quantum mechanics all tied up in that one word, Apeiron. She had her work cut out for her. Only Leonardo, her power-geek cousin, had the chops to nail this baby down. An autodidact hacker, Leonardo’s true passion was and always would be antiquarian arcana. Leonardo Pacioli was Stella’s brother Luca’s kid. The family were among the last wave of immigrants to ‘Leviathan’.

 The intrepid famiglia Pacioli had held out in the Italian Alps for nearly a year to avoid being herded onto Leviathan. Unfortunately, they had to be ‘rescued’ as the rising temperatures forced them above what was formerly the frost line. There was little to forage and no shelter from the eye in the sky. Luca was a rather well-known geometrician and amateur robotics competitor at The University of Milan, a long since uninhabitable city. An able outdoorsman, he had packed enough provisions for his family to cross Garda by boat and climb high into the deep woods. From that vantage point they could look down on the growing floodplain of the Po Marshlands to the east and the Mediterranean Desert spreading to the west where it had merged with the Franco-Iberian Desert. Leonardo’s mother Vera was an accomplished amateur naturalist who had cheffed at the world renowned Milanese locavore eatery Tartufo. Her foraging skills were put to the test in the wilderness. Sophia knew that the Pacioli family’s transition to Leviathan’s deliberate and homogeneous culture was not an easy one. Her heart broke every time she remembered the horror of Leonardo’s deprogramming.

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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