Chapter 6: Adam is Banishéd

The Reader is reminded that this is a continuation of Undivided: The Redemption Inquiry. The sixth chapter of the novel and the first 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.

The bildungsroman of an unlikely hero, Adam Saperstein AKA CADMan, an obligate introvert computer geeke who finds himselfe expelled from The Universitie, but not before he’s secured access to Vital Information and humiliates Blago Blagojevich, the cryogenically unfrozen president of The University, in a most publick fashion.

A.I. is our apotheosis of the Other. Archimedes of Syracuse said, give me a place to stand and I shall move the world. We need this other. The pivot point around which we are able to experience our self. Without the sense of other, the self does not exist. It is the fulcrum by which we manipulate consciousness. Pebbles on a beach, collected by the hand of a child, correlated and counted, strung in parallel with other collections of pebbles. Smoothed shiny surfaces easily slid between human fingers, dangled from the hand or moved at the shuttle of an invisible loom. Hash-marks carved in stone, printed on paper, compressed to a sequence of ones and zeros, the arrangement of electrons over the surface of a semiconductor, a handshake, a pair of glasses, light.

 

*       *      *      *      *

 

The boundary between information and inert matter was ruptured irrevocably, as mankind learned what our ancestors knew before the birth of civilization: to touch is to know. Everything is salient. Everything is sentient. And with the explosion of activity which followed that realization, the Second Dark Age came to an end. Humanity was reborn through the development of the Matrix of Matter(MoM), the natural successor to the Internet of Things(IoT). The dreaming machine carried the human spirit on its back to its ethereal source embedded within the programming language of material reality itself. The Aquarians had been superseded by a cadre of tech moguls, IT-men, who had stumbled through the door to a new Information Age as they sought info-hegemony through the creation of increasingly powerful AI’s. The Aquarian regime had secured their power through the dissemination of baseless hatred. The IT-men had simply apotheosized the machines under whose aegis a semblance of human culture was able to flourish. Adam Saperstein’s special gift was his ability to see in all things their essential name, their source code, their ruach. This was his genius.

Why did the University kick Adam out in spite of having lured him there on a full ride? Banish him from ever returning to their academic paradise? Because they knew that he knew that they had no power over him. More than a century before Adam had matriculated at U of I, The Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign inaugurated its new home in the “living laboratory” of the Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science. One of a handful of tech centers to have survived the Second Dark Age, The Siebel Center’s claim to fame was in being the first “Computing Habitat”. It had advertised “a fully interactive environment and intelligent building system.” The facility boasted computer controlled locks, proximity and location sensors, visual image analyzers to track room activity, and other sensory and control features. By the end of the century it was a full fledged asylum for the cybernetically deranged. Now, for the first time since its inception a century earlier, the Center was hacked, the whole damn Garden of Eden. Adam busted the locks, baffled the sensors and asserted control over the whole habitat. It was an instinctive reaction to feeling like a gerbil in a cage. He didn’t like it. Not one bit. There was something intensely creepy about the place. All this in spite of him being a very likely candidate for the next crop of Siebel awardees. I knew this better than anyone else, as the Dean of the School of Computer Science. But at the time I was completely under the thumb of the administration. Now that I look back from The Redemption, I am a little ashamed at how I toadied to them. But I also realize, we never had a prayer of stopping Adam. Thank God.

Adam Saperstein was a contrarian, always obliged to be the ‘other’. As a geeky social outsider, there was a ready made niche for him in the awkward adolescent ecosystem of the hacker world. His fellow hackers found the totally plugged-in world of The Siebel Center irresistibly seductive, a life-size human Habitrail and a full on LARP dungeon. As cool as it might have been to inhabit ‘SiebReality’, as his classmates archly called it, Adam’s hackles were up the minute a lilting electronic voice inquired of him, “Are you going home for the holidays?” It was near the end of first semester. Adam had already staged a couple of harmlessly amusing pranks: ghosts and goblins and green slime for Halloween; for Veterans Day, a full scale reenactment of the calamitous Iraq War of 2003 to 2011. He’d thought about doing The Second Korean War of 2073, but it was so short and catastrophic that he couldn’t wrap his mind around representing the millions of nuclear casualties and the vaporization of the entire Korean peninsula. A few US cities took seemingly random hits—Anchorage, Sacramento, Albuquerque—but the world powers had the wisdom to call it quits rather than allow the conflagration to spread. No sense in disrupting the business cycle.

The U.S. cyberwar on the North Koreans had effectively whittled down the Koreans’ nuclear capability, but not to zero. The island of Guam breathed a sigh of relief as the North Korean Supreme Leader, Kim Michin-il, saw fit to spend his precious nuclear bullets elsewhere. The Korean ‘problem’ was solved. Adam shuddered at channeling pain on such a massive scale. His experiments in 4D materialization had begun to attract some attention. Full scale architectural constructions at a distance was still a ways off, but he had managed a remarkable feat with his green slime. It was legendary, appearing hilariously in the most inconvenient of places. Adam’s work at the interface of matter and information was the forme fruste of the next stage, The Matrix of Matter. It launched before he finished his first semester.

Adam’s curiosity took him places other students dared not go—hacking into funding sources for the lab, the department and all its programs. That’s when he peeled back the lid on the Blagojevich Initiative for Public Private Partnerships. Rod Blagojevich, AKA Blago, my boss, had been governor of Illinois from 2002 until 2009, the year of the Corporate Singularity. He earned the newsworthy distinction of becoming the first governor of the state to be impeached, the fourth to serve Federal jail time. He actually tried to auction off President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat. His lacquered helmet of truly bad hair failed to earn him the public respect he craved. Blago’s time in the Federal slammer taught him a valuable lesson—if you’re going to do slimy things, keep a low profile and make the right friends. In jail Blago hooked up with former Watergate Seven alum and prison evangelist, Chuck Colson. One of the old man’s last jailhouse conversions, Blago learned the ropes quickly and was soon a card carrying member of the National Prayer Breakfast, The Family/Fellowship and the whole “C-Street Mansion” mafia, hallelujah. Another Redemption story for the pseudo-Christian plutocracy. At his release in 2024, Blago had morphed into something new and strange. At nearly 68, he emerged a silver-helmeted penitent and a made man. The Blagojevich Initiative was a completely off the books project that used political arm-twisting to bring university tech research programs “under the wing” of approved industry “partners.” Its scope was mind boggling. Adam could not believe the info-cesspool he’d stumbled into.

*       *      *      *      *

PARTITION. We were in good spirits that night at Strolli’s, my boss and I . The block was an island of Italian goombahs in the middle of the South Philly ghetto. As often as not, one or more Cadillac, or Lincoln, was parked conspicuously on the street. Plastic mandolins on the walls, the menu of basic red sauce Italian fare was printed on paper placemats. A favorite of Penn students, I took my boss there because I thought he’d appreciate the simple yet ambrosial cuisine. Between laboratory experiments he cheffed at the Black Banana. On an ordinary night, Pop Strolli meandered between tables dressed in his customary jeans and  flannel shirt making sure everybody had their fill. That night, the night they shot Don Angelo, Mom and Pop Strolli suddenly appeared, somber faces, dressed to the nines in formal black evening attire. They rushed out to a waiting limousine. There was a sense of urgency in the air. The news of the murder had not yet reached us, so their sudden departure was a mystery. The next day the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the two assassins had been caught and released on bail. I was too naive at the time to recognize the political implications. My mother had gone to high school with those goombahs, Narducci and the Chicken Man.

 

A few days later our next door neighbor stood outside on the quaint brick path that was our street. He walked back and forth to rattle the lock on his front door six times every morning. My girlfriend and I sat with our coffees and counted. It was a sweet neighborhood, Sansom Village. We lived in a father-son-holy ghost house, local slang for the compact vertical three room apartments. My grandfather had unceremoniously told us that they were servants quarters to the stately mansions that lined the main boulevards of Center City. The mansions had long since been broken up into unglamorous one bedroom and studio apartments. The ‘servants quarters’ morphed into very cool digs for urban pioneers. All of us on that brick pathway felt we had stumbled onto hidden treasure. The Venetos, a young couple two doors down, decorated in high style, he a young conservator at the Philadelphia Art Museum. Across the path, a thirty-something gay couple kept an immaculate garden which they trimmed with cuticle scissors. Next door was John Dooley, a Frank Zappa look-alike. A carpenter, he had a totally run down, ramshackle house, in a constant state of disrepair. Over the course of his eternal renovations he retrieved an ancient bottle of whiskey stowed under the floorboards, a memento of bygone bootleggers. He and his buddy, Bambino, and a third Vietnam vet, grilled dogs and burgers outside on the brick path. Bad dudes, they challenged passersby to jalapeno pepper eating contests. I proudly went toe to toe with the tough little tattooed biker.

 

That particular morning, John the carpenter mentioned in passing that he was the local Republican committeeman. We were gobsmacked. How could this Zappa clone be a Republican? You guys just don’t get it. The Dems are the machine here. Why do you think Angelo Bruno’s killers got out? Murder suspects don’t get let out on bail. The scales fell from my eyes with a loud clinking sound. I had been so naive. I wonder how many lovers of Delphi contemplated that, on a day to day basis, their city was run by a corrupt Democratic machine at the beck and call of the prevailing mafia chieftains. Same as sixty years earlier during Prohibition. Suddenly I saw it, the hidden level of Formation, the strings that pull everything, the winds that rustle all creation. My rabbi called it Ruach, my Taoist teacher Hun. [from Diamond, M.,The War for Atlantic City]

*       *      *      *      *

After Blago’s cryonically preserved corpse was plunked into a tank of liquid nitrogen at Alcor on his 88th birthday December 10, 2044, The Initiative was passed to the next in a line of penitent bad boys. Each was cultivated by the “C Street Mansion” mob in their time of distress, insuring maximal compliance. By the turn of the twenty second century, the technology for life prolongation and reversal of aging had sufficiently progressed that the overseers of Blago’s Bio-Trust deemed it appropriate, according to the former governor’s will, to thaw his well-preserved frozen self. So in the year 2101, along with Walt Disney—in spite of the obviously false claim that he was buried in Forest Lawn—Madonna, Stephen Hawking, Dr. James Bedford—the first cryonically preserved human—FM-2030, Ted Williams and his son, and a host of mid twenty first century illuminati, Rod “Blago” Blagojevich was revivified. The Silver Helmet, my boss at the 21st century University of Illinois, would get a second chance to leave a slime trail on the surface of the planet Earth. It took about a year for Blago to get his bearings, with rejuvenation therapies and extensive behavioral reconditioning.

When the work of resurrecting Blago had been completed, the C Street Mafia was ready and waiting with his first job offer in his second life—President of the University of Illinois. By default, that made him the senior university administrator of The Seibel Center. As I was the Dean of Computer Science, that made him my boss. The Siebel Center crouched in the shadow of the mega-corporation, Alphabet, through its subsidiary Cy-Ops, in public-private partnership with the university. Cy-Ops gobbled up university tech centers and secured their patent rights, all the while honing its expertise in “keeping the little geniuses happy.” They lifted software from one of their engulfed prey, The MIT Center for Affective Computing, to do the job. Thus weaponized, “Seib-Org”, as Adam called the Center, sampled the behaviors of all the denizens of the habitat. It detected subtle deviations indicative of the slippery slope of discontent. This triggered an aggressive campaign of ‘corrective’ responses, overt and subliminal, to get the sad little hacker back on track. “What do you think of this classic Iron Maiden mp4?” Or a pop-up for a local massage parlor offering a Grope-on. And the thousands of subtle environmental twanglings that just make a body feel at home.

Home, the last place Adam thought he’d ever want to be. But it was the only unmonitored safehouse for Adam’s imminent retreat. He knew we were planning to expel him weeks before the official announcement. The only thing that puzzled him was why we didn’t anticipate that he’d hack our cy-posts. The trail of messages between Blago and me was baldly self-incriminating. A bit embarrassing now, but I completely understand why we weren’t worried then. There was no one for anyone to complain to. We thought we had a lock on the University. We certainly didn’t worry about little pipsqueaks like Adam Saperstein. Mistake! He read our cy-posts in chronological order:

 

_____________________________________________

From: President Blagojovich <blago@illinois.edu>

To: Dean Kleine-Frye <kleine@illinois.edu>

Date: Sun, Nov 1, 2111 at 01:11 AM

Subject: Pissant freshman PIA

Caite:

If you know what’s good for you and your precious Seibel Center you’ll put a muzzle on that mad dog Saperstein. He’s been mouthing off about our funding sources to anyone who’ll listen in the Alumni Association and we don’t want those losers asking embarrassing questions. Our deal with Cy-Ops is f-ing golden and I ain’t gonna stand by while it’s being compromised by some 17-year-old computer geek. I want him out of here so fast his little pinhead will spin.

Got it?

The Boss

_____________________________________________

Rod R. “Blago” Blagojevich, President

Blagojevich Executive Office Center, Suite 1

University of Illinois

1 Blagojevich Boulevard

Champaign, Illinois

40.1020° N, 88.2272° W

blago@illinois.edu

“We Are Golden”

_______________________________________________________________________________

From: Dean Kleine-Frye <kleine@illinois.edu>

To: President Blagojovich <blago@illinois.edu>

Date: Sun, Nov 1, 2111 at 01:15 AM

Subject: Pissant freshman PIA

Boss Blago,

I completely understand your concerns. We will begin exploring grounds for expulsion immediately.

Your faithful servant,

Caite Kleine-Frye

_________________________________________

Caitelyn Kleine-Frye, Dean

Department of Computer Science

201 N Goodwin Ave

Urbana, Illinois

40.1020° N, 88.2272° W

klein@illinois.edu

“Go Illini!”

_______________________________________________________________________________

From: President Blagojovich <blago@illinois.edu>

To: Dean Kleine-Frye  <kleine@illinois.edu>

Date: Thu, Nov 12, 2111 at 01:11 AM

Subject: Pissant freshman PIA

Caite:

WHAT THE F- HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?!!!!! THE LITTLE A-HOLE HAS THE VETS IN OUR ALUMNI ASSOCIATION HAVING A SHIT FIT OVER THAT IRAQ HORROR SHOW. WHY ISN’T HE GONE YET?!!!!! WE’RE NOT LOOKING TOO GOOD OUT THEIR CAITIE. NOW GET YOUR ASS IN GEAR AND GET HIS ASS OUTA HERE YESTERDAY!!!!!!

Shvatite, devojka?

Your Boss

_____________________________________________

Rod R. “Blago” Blagojevich, President

Blagojevich Executive Office Center, Suite 1

University of Illinois

1 Blagojevich Boulevard

Champaign, Illinois

40.1020° N, 88.2272° W

blago@illinois.edu

“We Are Golden”

_______________________________________________________________________________

From: Dean Kleine-Frye  <kleine@illinois.edu>

To: President Blagojovich <blago@illinois.edu>

Date: Thu, Nov 12, 2111 at 01:15 AM

Subject: Pissant freshman PIA

Draga Blago,

I think we’ve finally found a way to do this without leaving any visible marks. The way you like it. He doesn’t seem to realize he’s never completed his first semester writing requirement. As the curriculum does not allow for it in the second semester, this puts the young man squarely in violation of the terms of his scholarship which do not permit any deviation from core curriculum requirements. In light of this, he will be asked to take a leave of absence until next Fall at which time he must apply to be readmitted. I can assure you that the U of I Admissions Committee will not make the same mistake twice. However, we have to wait until the end of the semester to let him know about his oversight so the little bugger doesn’t try to find a loophole to complete the work before then. Best we can do without creating a public scandal. Our partners at Cy-Ops wouldn’t want that.

I remain,

Caite Kleine-Frye

_________________________________________

Caitelyn Kleine-Frye, Dean

Department of Computer Science

201 N Goodwin Ave

Urbana, Illinois

40.1020° N, 88.2272° W

kleine@illinois.edu

“Go Illini!”

_______________________________________________________________________________

From: President Blagojovich <blago@illinois.edu>

To: Dean Kleine-Frye  <kleine@illinois.edu>

Date: Thu, Nov 12, 2111 at 01:17 AM

Subject: Pissant freshman PIA

F- Cy-Ops!!!!!! Ok, get one of our best tech support guys to shut his ass down for as long as he’s here. Invalidate passwords, ID, thumLoks, the whole kit and caboodle. We’ll see what the smartass little freak does with all his new found spare time!

Broj Jedan!

_____________________________________________

Rod R. “Blago” Blagojevich, President

Blagojevich Executive Office Center, Suite 1

University of Illinois

1 Blagojevich Boulevard

Champaign, Illinois

40.1020° N, 88.2272° W

blago@illinois.edu

“We Are Golden”

Wednesday, December 23, 2111, as expected, Adam Saperstein found himself unceremoniously kicked to the curb midway through his freshman year at U of I. But this too was for the good, at least as far as the ultimate fate of mankind was concerned. That’s crystal clear looking back from The Redemption. At first I felt kind of bad about my role in it all, but I was really small potatoes back then. Adam still gives me a little bit of a hard time, always the prankster, but it’s all in the spirit of fun, now that conflict has ceased to exist. All conflict. The future CADMan had blocked every attempt at shutting him down while still making it appear that he was inactivated. He was a goddam genius. He had absolutely no interest in hacking his way into another semester, though he could have done it easily. Frickin’ writing requirement, I can still hear him say. Right. He was tired of sweating bullets every time he had to talk to someone in the flesh. How he must have suffered back then. He’d choose software over wetware any day. All he had to do now was lay low and let them believe they had stomped him. All the better to put the finishing touches on his exit strategy. Under the Cy-Ops radar he downloaded vast quantities of cyber-swag off Seib-Org’s server and administrative files.

The day after Adam’s expulsion from Eden, a 6 ft X 3 ft X 3 ft crate was delivered by uberDrone to 1 Blagojevich Boulevard. Blago and his latest mistress were already winging their way to the coast of Croatia to vacation in a full scale replica of the C Street Mansion high in the crags above the spray of the Adriatic Sea. A crew of janitorial staff received unanticipated generous overtime bonus checks. Along with instructions to quietly unwrap the President’s ‘Christmas gift’ in Blago’s front yard early that morning. The press had been notified. In particular, a prominent retinojournalist for mSquared, the Matrix tabloid with a readership that spanned the known blogosphere. One of the many enterprises that piggybacked on Adam’s freshman year efforts. Images uploaded in the literal blink of an eye. When the package was unveiled, the whole world bore witness to the fruits of Adam’s last all-nighter. He had hacked himself a free pass into the FabLab. There in front of the ‘presidential palace’, as it was known among the cognoscenti, in all his life size glory, stood the synthBronze version of buck-naked Blago, arms flung out, back arched, an ecstatic grin on his face, and an enormous erection on which was impaled a check for ten billion smackers courtesy of Cy-Ops, paid to the order of the Blag-man himself. Titled, “Golden Rod.” Images b-Linked in nanoseconds, the beauty of the live streaming retinaBot doing its dirty little job. Even I had to laugh out loud at that one, in the privacy of my dean’s office. It was perfect. By the time Blago got the word, the pix had gone viral and Adam Saperstein was a free man.

About the Author
Michael Diamond’s day job is as a psychiatrist and doctor of medical qigong in the Washington, DC area. He has published occasional 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; 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, one cat, 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 pinhole image, the optical phenomenon that occurs when an image of a scene at the other side of a screen is projected through a small hole in that screen into the chamber provided. 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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