Hewing with vigor. The flesh, the sinew, and bone. Veins and capillaries, taught with blood. A mad butcher, eager to cleave. Rending and tearing into the soft body. Slick steaming viscera cooling under a hard light. Wrist deep in vitals. Ozone and iron. A lovely stain. Lift the pen.
genesis musings pt.1
excerpt from Francis Carrol Gallagher’s personal journals
A common conceit, and one of the greatest pervading misconceptions regarding the creation of Artificial Life, is the ubiquitous notion of an x-factor. Some have dubbed it the “Soul”. Human bodies are composed of known components arrayed in known structures. In fact, the concentration of undiscovered ingredients in our makeup, is only a fraction of a single percent of the body’s sum total. We can infer that the ‘unknowns’ - these rarest and most elusive ingredients in our biomass - must be the key to Artificial Human Genesis, since our earnest efforts experimenting with the known ingredients have been fruitless so far in our pursuit of artificial bio-genesis. Though this reasoning may be logically sound, it may not completely satisfy a curious mind. We may still find ourselves left with more questions than answers. Naturally the wonders of the human ego will spur us rapidly on to the resolution of these questions. Before long we’ll probably find ourselves taking increasingly bold deductive leaps onto dangerous logical terrain in pursuit of the truth about our creation.
”Knowledge is Power”, is an aphorism oft invoked by researchers blazing the virgin trails of our scientific understanding. This phrase, as a mantra, can serve to bolster us against the potentially shocking realities that frontier scientific discovery can yield. Take a moment and imagine a scientist, searching for the secret to human life, the long-lost key to our remarkable existence. Our scientist might discover that the secret to human bio-genesis is simply an unremarkable, heretofore overlooked ingredient. We shall say its talcum in the appropriate concentration, for arguments sake. With a discovery such as this we of the human race would suddenly be reduced in cosmic scale. In an instant we would become nothing more than the run-of-the-mill ingredients we had already suspected, as well as a few boring ingredients we simply hadn’t had the time or skill to determine. In other words we might inadvertently discover the complete absence of any sort of x-factor, during the course of its very pursuit, rendering humanity ‘unremarkable’, at least from a biological perspective. When faced with this hypothetical, though nonetheless disappointing, meat-hook-reality our scientist might even begin to champion the exceptionally unscientific adage: Ignorance is bliss.
Whether we admit it or not, this seems to be one of our greatest human fears: the fear that we might discover that humans can be made cheaply, using relatively boring ingredients; the possibility that we are actually the humble grilled cheese when we thought we were the intensive soufflé. It is due to this fear that we place all of our faith in the x-factor. Although its been proven that the majority of our composition is rather common, we fly in the face of logic and probability at once with our adamantium certainty that we are exceptional, imbued with a spark of the divine. The things we are able to do and the breadth of emotion we can feel convince us, unequivocally, of our essential greatness. Many of us quickly reach in our minds the only logical conclusion: It is the x-factor that must make us special, and unique. The magnificence of the human race is borne on the back of an unknown and almost mathematically insignificant quantity… of what? In our eyes the mystery of it makes it somehow something more. The x-factor is everything that we as humans can aspire to be; all of our past failures and potential triumphs in composite.
I do not believe in the x-factor. I do not believe that the spark, genesis if you will, boils down to the inherent quality of our composition. I believe, our sentience and our exceptional human-will is a testament to the frightful power of our environment. Our genesis, popularly characterized as the “breath of god” is a product without rather than within. I feel we are made whole and “alive” by the volatile nature of the living breathing world that we inhabit. It is only an environment this dynamic that could imbue a lump of the most humble elements with life, in the process making it greater than the sum of it’s parts. We are not the architects of our remarkable vitality but rather the medium out of which the masterpiece is rendered. Our world is electric with life and we merely borrow the energy for a time, yet it is a gift and a responsibility cast into any creature brave (or dumb) enough to fight for it.
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
Time Enough for Love (1973) p.248
Play this while reading tin soldiers pt.1.
tin soldiers pt.1
An imposing vehicle, like a cross between a Personnel Carrier and a luxury SUV, crowned with a blazing light bar and sporting very large chrome wheels with all terrain tires, drives at extralegal speeds through the backstreets of the Inner Ring. The street and everything on it is decaying; ghosts of a long-since shattered optimism. Scattered piles of debris, and the occasional barrel fire add post-apocalyptic ambiance. The inhabitants of this metropolitan nether-realm turn suspiciously to look as the vehicle rumbles by. All quickly lose interest once they’ve gotten a good look.
[camera] approaching the vehicle from the front, transitioning through the windshield, and stopping where we’d expect to find the Rearview Mirror. The vehicles occupants are oddly static except for the driver’s arms, which saw expertly at the wheel, keeping the vehicle arrow straight as it careens over the worst roadway anyone’s ever seen. All occupants wear baggy sweatshirts with thick hoods that completely obscure their faces. [camera] holding on this demi-tableau absorbing the surreality of the cabin. Suddenly all of the passengers faces are illuminated in the blazing headlights of an oncoming vehicle. They aren’t human.
[camera] crawling slowly past occupants heads, just above eye level, on the way to the vehicles trunk. A few more headlights will re-confirm that the SUV’s occupants are indeed robotic. (The heads should look vaguely T-600ish; glowing eyes and metal heads [camera] reaching the trunk, since we’re in an SUV; the space just aft of the rear seats. [camera] tilting down parallel to the floor and focusing on six large Halliburton attaches, stacked in two piles of three. [camera] x-raying through the cases briefly, the silhouettes of high-tech ordanance (guns,nades etc.)spring into bold relief. Suddenly we hear the squeal of brakes and the sound of the engine dies. (I want to name the SUV the Kraken. Why? Just cuz…)
[camera] retains its floorward orientation and begins rising upwards and away from the cases, passing through the roof of the SUV until it stops about 20 to 30 feet in the air above the SUV (GTA2 style). All the doors pop simultaneously and slowly swing open as the music swells. [cut to] [camera] circle panning the vehicle as the “Thug looking” occupants TURKEY_KALIBAN_MARIAN_ three B0-PP-3R units step out of the vehicle and onto the street. As they exit their movements are disconcertingly synchronized and mechanical, however, as they touch the ground they immediately become fluid and distinctive. The SUV’s off-road suspension decompresses dramatically as they exit
Only Turkey carries a weapon (a battle-patina’d mp5-k type submachine with the sheared off half of an old timey leather wrapped binocular mounted like a ghetto scope). Turkey walks from the passenger door to the back of the vehicle where Marian and Kaliban have sat down on the curb swaying to some as yet unheard beat and absent-mindedly grab assing.
The fourth and final Bopper KINGSTON still sits in the vehicle, sidesaddle in the driver’s seat smoking a cigarillo and casually observing the street. With every inhale the ruby on the end of his cigarillo glows, illuminating his mechanical face shrouded in his enormous sweatshirt hood (KINGSTON is the only unit not wearing his “face”; A lifelike mask of a human face with polymer maxillofacial musculature linked to a wireless controller.) The equipment is bleeding edge, lab grown and very expensive.
TURKEY calls around from the back of the vehicle in a low voice
TURKEY: Drop that stick and get your fucking face straight King. (TURKEY adjusts his own mask and looks around)
KINGSTON: (congenial) Rush me again Turkey and I’ll make stomping you one more habit I can’t kick.
KINGSTON takes one last drag, before stubbing his butt out on the pale cheek of his “face” which he holds loosely in his left hand. KINGSTON wirelessly makes the face smile as smoke from the crushed embers circle off its soft surface. KINGSTON remains in his seat and holds the mask, still smiling, out past the doorjamb. When TURKEY notices it, KINGSTON makes it smile wider then frown garishly, in mock allusion to the dramatic comedy/tragedy masks. KINGSTON continues to hold the mask out for TURKEY to see, as he begins to speak. The detached face soundlessly mouths his words.
KINGSTON: Cool it buddy, you aren’t capo on this op anymore than I am. We march to the beat of no unit’s drum. Rank and file is for these chimps out here, and look where it got them.
KINGSTON steps out of the vehicle, which bucks a little with his departure. He makes an exaggerated show of stretching in the dim streetlight. KINGSTON’s “face is still in his hand and he holds it high as he stretches. TURKEY observes silently in the background. In a fluid movement KINGSTON snaps his face into place and slams the SUV door shut. He flashes TURKEY a thumbs up, then goes back to stretching.
TURKEY stands stock still silently staring at KINGSTON, as KINGSTON continues the runner’s stretches both of them know he has no use for. TURKEY’s pale perfectly blank face isn’t hostile or menacing, but the way his focus seems to linger on KINGSTON’s antics is disquieting. MARIAN and KALIBAN remain on the curb just aft of the APC. They sit in a loose and playful embrace, suggesting either young lovers or friends with benefits.
[camera] a POV from a telephoto surveillance feed pans onto the Boppers. It zooms in on each member in turn. The camera scrutinizes KINGSTON’s flamboyant routine for an instant before continuing pan; it’s operator no doubt assuming the scene is just strange enough to be normal for a night in the Urbs.
TURKEY takes one last long stare at KINGSTON then turns mounts the curb and walks a few paces to a steel barrel next to a chain-link. He produces a match, strikes it, and tosses it into the barrel which roars to life. Turkey follows the rising smoke and embers as they curl upwards towards the tenement’s rooftops. His gaze finally comes to rest on a balcony
to be continued…
B0-PP3R’s prewrite pt.1
Unit Serial #:B0-PP-3R are sophisticated, fully autonomous combat androids featuring human form factors and a comprehensive anti-personnel weapons suite. The chassis is designed to utilize The MCMD’s (Multi-Con Military Division) GH11-I3 Urban Camouflage System (affectionately nicknamed “Gully Suits”). In simpler terms the B0-PP-3R’s are light duty combat units that can easily be disguised as personnel belonging to any of the city’s many militant and non-militant groups. Their deployment is mandated in urban hot zones, where conspicuous Syndicate deployment and activity would be met with a clumsy but nonetheless violent and potentially overwhelming response by the districts more passionate inhabitants. Although disguised “Bopper” teams will occasionally come under fire by inner-city gangs mistaking them for rival crews, these smaller firefights are preferable to a full scale turf war. Furthermore these altercations are almost always quickly suppressed by the highly capable android strike force, usually while maintaining their relative anonymity.
What makes Bopper’s interesting is the fact that, programmed in with their combat software and maintenance suite is a unique and complex cocktail of self learning algorithms modeled loosely on human behavior. Naturally certain undesirable emotional states are completely unattainable due to the codes architecture, but the modern Bopper team can evolve or grow, in a manner of speaking, from mission to mission. While information is often altered by their handlers, a Bopper’s memory cache is rarely deleted. This has the effect of giving every member in the Bopper team a distinct and sometimes uncanny personality, though it is often stressed that no human brain patterns are present on their hard disks. It is the Bopper’s humanoid behaviors - with emphasis on the word humanoid because they are often imperfect simulacrum - when manifest out in the combat theater that make them extremely difficult to distinguish from a flesh and blood human gang.
"The Things to do are: the things that need doing, that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done. Then you will conceive your own way of doing that which needs to be done — that no one else has told you to do or how to do it. This will bring out the real you that often gets buried inside a character that has acquired a superficial array of behaviors induced or imposed by others on the individual."
Buckminster Fuller: Letter to “Micheal” (16 February 1970) Micheal was a 10 year old boy who had inquired in a letter as to whether Fuller was a “doer” or a “thinker”.
A cool track from the Slovenian producer Gramatik. It features an excellent hip-hop / traditional (guessing eastern-euro) fusion. I’m eager to write a scene to this, so keep posted. I’m picturing a chase through a futuristic open-air market maybe. In the meantime enjoy the track.