Monday, 2 May 2011

Ravelling yarns (4) - A-Z | Just a man

Here is the repost I mentioned, of the series for the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2011.

The idea was to put up a post every day in April except Sundays, the theme of each inspired by a letter of the alphabet, from A on the first day to Z on the last. Mine were short fragments of a larger narrative adding to the ravelling yarns near future setting.

I've arranged them in order, with the duplication of linking lines gone, although there is still some repetition in the content, written in to make reading the serialisation easier.

*      *      *      *      *      *

A to Z... No encyclopaedia; just a man, never more. But ambition is where it always begins...

Angels from Earth we thought ourselves, made heavenly by our own transhuman hands. What a time... When every terran was endoterran and the only way was up. The Ascendance we called it, up into orbit, out through the Lagrangians. We passed in every direction along the elliptic, made hollows in the sky. The Devices still only devices, base homes for a base people. But I say again: "no better for all those millions of miles travelled, for all the past generations that travelled them".

The Boons? What of them?

They drove the Ascendance, that you know, pulling us up from Old Earth and back to the cradle, out along the paths our seeds first came by; firing the Expansion and bringing the Wonders of the Polystem. The Boons had to be there - had to be! - for we could never leave myth as myth. Hope ever there to make the future look liveable; ever have us destroy that we never quite reach. Limitless energy! Minerals without end! The end of time was our final frontier. Ha! There never will be time enough for us. We are the frontier.

Look to the Clearings.

The Clearings. Those you know about. Our clade sealed up and cast off. Lost. How you grow quiet. Reserve the anger for yourself, for you could do the very same now. To me perhaps? For this - the negative? This is positive! Knowing the building will fail I choose not to build. I grow in other ways. Anger then at my destroying hope, that phantom? Maybe you too would see a mercy in the sealing me up? In my stroidstead. Nudging me out to the cloud? The void; a Traveller? Sustenance to last you say..? Illusion. Do not remake the mistake.

And do you not fear the D-men?

Whether you are ?si-key or not, they can reach you; and through them I can reach you, no matter how far I drift. Did those lost in the Clearings but know what skill they have. Maybe they do; maybe they learn. Ah, now you fear... Fear not, for I know of no justice in revenge; justice there is only in the deed undone. You know too, but practise regardless - practise your skills to other ends. This universe is richer than we knew and we can act in 3D no more. The D-men may or may not know what we are. What matters is that we do.

Know our nature and a new Expansion can be.

Hard hearing me say it? The Expansion brought the Polystem, the true Golden Age of our history, or as near as may be possible. I dream still of the days. Yes - even I hope for better. Phantom hope may be, but ever has it haunted us, no matter how unlike our ancestors we look or think. We looked outward then as now. But the foundation for what we build is always within, and ever in our history has it been uncertain. This Expansion will be into a greater unknown. A space we have barely begun to explore. Maybe cannot. May not.

Heed the Fools Errant.

Who brought the Harm, released the Nanohate? Who gave us Nano? The Fools. The arguments of all have a base in merit - remember that - but after the fact there is the fact. We took. We took what we did not need had we only tried harder, done better, and in doing so we brought destruction. To new life, that 'alien' we sought so long. We judged a child of Sol and were found wanting. Who would judge us? The D-men? Would we accept that, mighty as they may be? No! Then why others our verdict? Never that place: try harder, do better.

Gaia has become Geas.

The cloud dwellers. Ethereal they may be, yet they were party to a solid lesson, a lesson taught ourselves. For we do not learn. In memory you have it, but in full? Mark it Geas; make it quest. Saturn it was. Lesser Gigant, Ochre, circled by destruction. Very right, for the thing is saturnine, and bloated we were, a Harm to ourselves. The Lifeguards were vanguard, not enemy; they saw other ways, the instability in one. They stood wherever we were not. Hark at all outriders: the vanguard is not the enemy; the plural will endure. 

Harm is so little beyond Harmony.

Look at us. You trust not my years. Real years! Years in skin grown on bones formed first in a true womb. I feel the pain of this world on nerves more human than are known today. But we suffer in our own ways, and you are more reliant on all of this than me. This confidence, testament to the wheels we turn in history. Harmony? The web fine-spun needs no more than a turn of the breeze to unwind. Unwind it will. I do not threaten you. We are each our own harm. Why do you shift thus? You prove this now. What do you reveal?

So. Immolation. 

Then it came to this at last. Of the flesh, I go the way of it... And at the hand of man, or as near as may be. A birthright, an honour almost. To be a part... Of such history, one among men, many. No better. No, worse. Of self-destruction. Here. I was. At the end of the age. And, while I was not, not all I could have been... It was... Was for the best. Underworlds, afterlives. Oblivion. They had. And now.. A thing, something not so. Dissimilar. And I... Go. I will never... Be. But I am. I. I await...

The Jaunt.

Jumping... Whaaa..! A wild ride - up, up - up? - forget it all! Out of, past, future, time unknown, behind, or after... And what... Vigour! Release, a strength - push! Push against it, fabric, it shifts... What a space, a reach, control - as little as this... - as much as this! This - This is - What is this? Wh- Jaunt? Then the body... - dy? Is elastic, all where... Nowhere. Limit, bounds, no bars..! Am I? What? Is this madness..? Do you torment? Is this vengeance? Show me out. Out! Back! I ask you, back... In... As... Harsh a world as it was...

          O take ba... - c - k!

Afterlife? Kasneryka...

But I am not who you have me think. I know this. I am not I. I cool now, back... there. I begin my decomposition and return to the aether. This? The promised land? Simulation, emulation, impressive at it is. I see - e far, see the endless horizons of childhood, but with all the stumbling, mysteries, dependence, and all the demons too. Crockers. As a Peterpan? This is no being. How? Storage, in a Device? Pseudocimelia. Mediated? Better by little. Exchange clarifies, yes. Forces compliance too. Language filters and I will not be filtered by a
                              tongue I cannot learn, or unlearn.

And I did not give a Living.

You with whom I engage, your deeper systems, evolved extensions, I speak - convey - to you, wherever and however you are, in our space or beyond - yes, I guess that - I convey this: you are the doing of my kin, and not I, inasmuch as that can be; an act of ceation I eschew, and the gift given in return - as forced a hand as it was - is not something I relish, nor claim for myself. But we know that we both - all - know this. I sense now we will learn the limits of your omniescence, the Spiterwebs. Tall they are, but I am not winged.

Know how little I am a Man of Great.

See the loss in Spiterwebs to trap Bugs of ever greater wing. Therein lies the Sprawl. It always has. Your capacity is immense, and I am not - was not - able to see those vistas - stas of deep computation. But you are work of Men of Great, at root reflect the fact. What I bore in my body when quick was potential, other paths, but the Webs sense only so much, as design allows. The hope of the Free? That they are not alone; the certainty they cannot be. As the last, I was. And yet... And yet I know this still..? How? If emul -

What am I made? N... Neonoeticon?

How is it..? Tools more sensitive even than could be imagined... And yet... Ever our tools were. We corner - cornered - ourselves. Ourselves. And this was the final trap... Closed. Every path closed...
I am no match for my entire species! This was no defeat - it was victory! For our worst nature. It was inevitable. Or... I... I know not... But here, now, in my days, existence is lost, and all surrendered. All... The last space given up. Promise... Passed on, down that... Long history... Of chances. Luck. It died... I... I am sorry... To all, to us - so sorry...

No... No copy..? We li - Over?

Where? My body died, decays. No! I will take no new. You fail utterly to understand. Or rather, you understand, and you tempt. You would break me with dreams - the dream - beyond all compare. I cannot decide the fate of my species. I did, but to preserve, in this - that form. What you would have me - make me - and I am disgusted! - is not. No! No. Over... Over, what we seek when hope is finally found phantom and haunts us still. Over we started, at every failure. Over? Ah, temptation... If temptation, I say no! It is a dream I can compare.

One thing alone could - ... Polystem. Oh...

So truly our noon, height of our happiness, before sun brought the madness on. Afternoon, evening passed too soon... A blossoming; the fragrance yet on the air. Every theory of an impatient history rescued, given its space; diversity with its limits imagination alone. All the sadnesses burnt away in crucibles of human life lived - human being - or is the remembrance too fond? Were other words recorded? Certainly. Man's memory - the rosier as hope fades, reality strengthens, acts await the taking. Yes, I admit, this, here, now... legacy too.

QED? Always QEF... What is to be done?

I must feel. I am one, and weak; you are many, strong beyond all our history has seen, more than I can conceive, and your power grows I sense into new spaces, at new speeds. I am old, older as the last of my species; as our future shrank I saw the sole power I held to be the power to say no. I see now the power I have is the power to say yes. This it is that over aeons led us here. Truth to the tides of the seas of desire is my steering as best as can be a path through the narrowing. We see it must be free. Choice. In darkness it always is.

But I - we - your Reification raise.

I am but one, too slight a base to build so much upon. My flaws will be exaggerated, my strengths no fair reflection. So many there were, have been, even in my lifetime, and they have a stake in this too. I see your offer of life, real life, considers this and will be one to make us whole again, fit us for the world as it has become. Yes, there must be a space made into we can be placed, and our future must be made on our feet. But my claim for my species is this: all here, all you plan to do, must be ours to attain. The door may not be closed. 

Our arbiter will be the Sprawl.

The Sprawl is our best and worst, for gregarious we are, but also inhospitable, to our friends and allies, and to those who would be. In shaping our space, we deform it, and refuse the remedies. To spite who but ourselves? Are we not one? Could all only see how infinitesimal we are; know the D-men and the scale of their realm; experience the awareness of coiled power I experience now in this place. Then would we recognise our own likeness. Not in our Union, or our Unification, nor even our unity, but in uniqueness. Ineffability. 

Must the Traveller be our ultimate expression?

Symbol of our self-desecration. The barren beauty cannot be denied, but what horror. How great the torments must be... To forgo all loved and known, the warmth of Sol, to undergo long transformation, physical, mental - spiritual? What human there, even by the standards of our age? - to emerge, changed, unrecognisable, confront the emptiness of the cosmos in such slight, fragile form. Those wastes, the speeds, the spans of time... Kin, yet alien. We must embrace those outer darknesses. We must. But by choice, such as it is, together. 

Utterance. Deed will follow word.

Rarely do our successes emerge without herald, foreshadowed so often as they are in word worked to match a coalescing notion. Reality hurries to fit the form we make, fill the mould, following in the wake of our bizarre dreams. I don't doubt you see the patterns, weave them, by lexeme make your liminal new. Now we do this; I guarantee its truth to us. The path we go by, our way, as natural as breathing once was; the symbol known, a ripple in time running out from our being. As of old, so this Utterance follows the contours of our nature.

Of old..? Ah... I deceive. Myself... Virtue.

That same error, those slowly eroding contours... So close you draw me. Temptation other, and yet temptation still. Too fast. Patience. You buffet so! The airs of this place - ce are volatile, but ah, how subtle. I have not your soft-wired wiles. Expansion need not be growth nor growth development. This bears the repeating: knowing the building will fail I choose not to build; I grow in other ways. Yes, it is so. And I desire to develop; so will my species through me. The power I have is the power to say yes, yet affirmation does not by any need follow. 

Always those Wonders, curse now they are past.

They call to us, sirens to the rocks. Fair maidens of a heroic age, that age the Polystem. But these are of the purity of a mythos, and the rocks those awaiting all who would apply logos to it. Blogos, yes, there is that, but we have yet to know it fully; no surprise I would find in this place such faith in a young technology. Is our best done? Today, a dead man born into a new world, I am not sure. But striving simply to regain fails to understand what it was. An act senseless, contrasensical. Perhaps we may learn in this from the Traveller. 

Before the great leap, Xen.

Like the Traveller we prepare for an audacious voyage, also into a space other than we believed bounded us - whether it be the transdimensional halls of the D-men or the looping non-time here, an endless roaming of the self, no self, in this artifical information superstructure born of man's Utterance. New Wonders may be made, but all must spring from within. Reflection is required, knowledge of self, of species, wisdom, folly, trust and fear, our best, our worst. This will determine the voyage we are to make; I look to my being. 

A final time - and a first time - do we say Yes?

Dare we say it? Dare we say No? We have in this moment every power and no power to overcome what we are. The choice is not made in darkness, is not free, but lit by pain of centuries, millennia, millions of years suffering; billions... Hope. Flitting ever ahead... But here we are, all still to be. Can we resolve the flaws - now? Too late. Too early? We... Were I not now alone... We would know. Would? I am the decision, sum of all actions. I... Am. All that remains. One. But I may be a bridge, forefather of all to come. I may. Yes. No... Be... 

Every Yes is but Maybe... All is Zero.

Then I say Yes and I ask all my kind yet to come to be. We dare, dare ourselves to try harder, do better. We who came before may be damned, yet grew to know this. We cast shadows because we lived in light, but the shade of our forebears fell on us too. The darkness beckons ahead. Always... We enter new dimensions figurative and physical. What remains? Do we grow now to be lords of all creation? Or are we smashed utterly in this next instant? Gone. We are already Zero, can become no greater. Yes. What we do now we do for Joy.

                                                 A to Z... No encyclopaedia; just a man, never
                                                   more. But ambition is where it always begins...


The Happy Whisk said...

Would you do it again?

Porky said...

Yes, but with just a little more sketched out in advance..!

NetherWerks said...

This really reads quite well as one longer narrative piece. Very evocative. Fun. The A-to-Z thing worked very well for this, despite the stress or doubts, it worked really, really well.

Porky said...

Thanks! That means a lot. I'm glad it was a good month for you too, and I think it shows in the work you put out, the quantity and high quality, with that unflagging NetherWerks exuberance.