For anyone with a tendency toward paranoia, I’d highly recommend never investigating the idea of the Singularity, that hypothetical point in the matrix of space time wherein the realm of consciousness most often experienced by H. sapiens sapiens in the here now becomes fully integrated with the binary. You sure as hell don’t want to watch the movie about it. James T. Kirk was there investing money and interest, big time, and of course he still is doing those Priceline commercials, looking fit as a Vulcan lute.
For a binary like me, it was especially discomforting.
It’s not that the guy who’s really into the idea and throwing all sorts of intellect and monetary resources into realizing it is some nut job. It’s like I said, there are no nut jobs.
No, it’s just the opposite.
He’s so bloody brilliant and he’s accomplished so much more than most of us mere mortals on earth ever accomplish and he’s so persistently passionate about the mission toward unity with that intelligence we call artificial that one is left with very little doubt as to the plausibility of his ideas. Add to that the incredible progress with nanotechnology and genetic engineering and consciousness research and the idea of being invaded by the nanobots of the singularity is not so far fetched at all.
For a person who had recently been running in cyberspace with trolls, the idea became even more interesting. Trolls are a diverse lot, biotic, abiotic, and hybrid. Those of us not native to cyberspace sometimes have a hard time telling them apart. Perhaps it’s a kind of bigotry of the biotic, who knows what we might give birth to out there in the web with all our online intercourse?
Thus far, it wasn’t a hypothesis I’d been able to falsify based on the empirical evidence at hand. Doing research in cyberspace suddenly became an Infinite Jest of circularity. If the nanobots were in charge, certainly they held their greatest power in the trons and bandwidths of cyberspace.
Perhaps channel surfing wasn’t about an antenna at all. Perhaps it was about a remote control. The minute that idea entered the pit between my ears, Godzilla roared there.
I decided to start beating feet down that Yellow Brick Road, get outside and breathe the air.
The first fellow I came across was a life saver. He didn’t say a whole lot. It was when he stopped talking and pulled the straw out of his ears that he really communicated best of all. I’d come to a fork in the road. The piles of books that had called to me from the library all had lots to say; too much almost. So many things to do with unemployment, the what and which and where of it becomes whelmsome.
“Pronoia is a very nice way.” He pointed left.
He was a Semitic looking fellow, long haired and bearded. He was dressed in the clothes of a street person, a dark hoody mostly shielding his face. A crowd was gathered at his feet. He was hanging from a wooden cross by the side of the road. Pete Townshend played cello in the background for several minutes after each line spoken by he upon whom the Wizard had conferred brains.
“Synchronicity makes things clear and pleasant down that way, too.” He pointed right.
Pete channeled Amadeus Hendrix. Apparently memes mate all the time in other wavelengths. He rocked it.
“Of course, people do go both ways!” He did an extreme yoga pose while hanging there.
“What’s pronoia?” I whispered to the nice middled aged man next to me by the roadside. I found as I’d set out on my journey that there were many travelers with lots more experience walking on yellow bricks than I’d had. I’d mostly been a rutted road and rugged rocky trail kind of gal. “And remind me what synchronicity is, besides a Police album.”
They were serving organic local cucumber vodka on the rocks. I picked the wrong week to quit drinking. Abstinence was easy, go figure. Ayahuasca away! Terry, the fellow whose brain I was picking, had had a few and was quite ready to wow me with his knowledge of the New Age.
“Pronoia is the opposite of paranoia. It’s the idea that the cosmos is out to help you.” He downed another icy shot. “Synchronicity is the coming together of things in a way that defies logic and pure chance. It shows up a lot once you accept the gift of pronia.” A wonderful grin followed, one that I could feel. Nice.
“How can the one upon whom the Wizard has conferred so much brains believe in such fairy tales?” I mean really, the Dude had intellect spilling out all over the place, a person could see the vibrational energy of all that knowledge coming off of him in waves. Even Pete knew when to stop playing and listen.
I dared to approach, raise my hand, roll my eyes at him. He looked at me.
“Pronoia? Synchronicity? Pulease. Use the straw the Wizard gave you, for Christ’s sake!” Godzilla had snuck up on me all of a sudden.
“That's just it, the wizard gave me too much straw, it’s why I keep pulling it out, it gets in the way. I had to learn how to know with my heart.”
“Isn’t it made out of straw as well?” I knew I was totally outmatched in terms of brains, maybe I could whip out my girlnads on him.”
“I don't know. But some people without hearts do an awful lot of talking, don't they?” He had me there. Godzilla was all fiery rage.
“Yes, I guess you're right.” He was making me feel like a shitheel. I shouldn’t have rolled my eyes at him. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be such a shitheel.”
“Oh, it’s okay. I’m not feeling at all well. You see, it's very tedious being stuck up here all day long with a pole up your back.” He sighed. “I’ve been sanctified, you see.”
“Oh, dear - that must be terribly uncomfortable. Can't you commit some sins or something, change your image?” I’d always been the practical type.
“No, you, see, I'm - well, I am what I am.” he sighed. “I’m very articulate, and I have all this heart. A friend talked me into hanging on the cross for a while. It has its merits. I just wish sometimes that I didn’t have such a big brain!”
“Well, what would you do if you had no brain?
He suddenly broke into song and dance.
“Do? Why, if I had no brain, I could…….
I could while away the hours,
conferrin' with the flowers
Consultin' with the rain.
And my head I'd be scratchin'
while the bees I’d be watchin'
If I only had no brain.
I'd ignore every riddle
from ev’ry individ'le,
Who asked me to explain.
The no thoughts I’d be thinkin'
All my cares they’d be sinkin’
If I only had no brain.
Oh, I could hear the ocean's near the seashore.
Not think the things I’d thunk before.
And then I'd sit and think no more.
I would just be a nothin'
my head all full of stuffin'
My heart empty of all pain.
I would dance and be merry,
life would be a ding-a-derry,
If I only had no brain.”
With that, the beautiful good witch of the south showed up in her Chevy volt. She picked up the excess straw that was lying around, stuffed it back into this body, and loaded her guy up to take him home. He smiled mindlessly.
I headed on down the road.
As it turned out, pronoia and synchronicity would play important roles in the story to come. It was synchronicity that led me to falsify the hypothesis of nanobots. Sure, pesky little binary nanobugs, vectors of the singularity, could have infiltrated my body somehow, maybe that day I died. Maybe at TIkal, maybe those weren’t mosquitos. Nanobots could make me delusional, make me think I was communicating with trees and the like when I wasn’t. They certainly could be in cahoots with the trolls.
What they couldn’t do is change the body of literature I had sitting on my shelves, or the lyrics to the songs of my youth. They couldn’t invent people with birthdays the same as mine, or send people across my path in the road who had stories that were translucently true and connected to mine no matter how hard to believe, nor could they let me in to other peoples’ heads. Only other people could do that, or so I was to discover. They'd have to be in control of the whole show, and if that was the case, it made it all meaningless. No remote control for me, thanks.
No, no nanites. Once I sat down and shut up and really tuned into the right wavelength, that became clear. A big tin Zen dragon helped with that, and a smartass of a lion. All those guys on the yellow brick road were heroic. So were the witches and trolls, even the flying monkeys. It's a great story. They taught me how to tap my Tevas home.
Linda Brooke Stabler, Ph.D.