Sunday, April 5, 2009

8 chapters from my new novel LUX

So I’m writing a novel, as many of you know – it will be my third. It is exhausting for me to attempt fiction: it stretches me.


Here, for your consideration, is the first scatter of chapters of this novel. I do not want to be heavily or specifically criticized, so keep your comments general and light. I have to believe in this book in order to finish it, for it is a great challenge to me.









Solman Mazda woke before dawn, without an alarm clock or the aid of a his roommate, as by an instinct refined by sixteen years of practice, and kissed the floor seven times, reciting the holy words:

Blessed be Importance, In all their manifestation from the one they are

As Muhammad reflected as a mirror

And Jesus reflected as a mirror

And Buddha reflected as a mirror

From the one central truth, invisible eternal


I feel benevolence for every man, embody the laws of the state, and obey the Importance in all their glory.

Terra was there. She was ever to wake before him, sensed, as his bedmate, sister, and wife exactly when he would wake, and prepared a way for him before him, easily alined herself in the love of the church and prepared his breakfast.

But he went beyond the Duties of the Citizen, and enjoined the dictum with a secondary catechism, one that he had written himself, in his own mind, fearfully, and never let be spoken. These were the distillations from the sermons of his 16th year of preparation.

There is no I, there is no world, there is nothing, I am citizen, I am love, Importance is love. I obey the Importance, I follow the Importance, I am the son of the Importance, I love the Importance.

Rites are sacred, and Terra would not interfere. She watched in catlike fascination—everything Solman did was fascinating, and prepared to pounce like a wriggly puppy. Oh Soly!

And that was that. Together they would cleanface, eatright, and quicksafe to the street church, for calisthenics, grouplove, and dayplans. After his brethren held hands and prayed to Importance, they would kiss each to each, and leave in twinpairs to their edujobs.

Solman didn’t know that he was unhappy.


          That’s the best I can do, I can only narrate as well as the author is able to let me. “Solman didn’t know that he was unhappy.” But for you to read this story in such a way that I can gain to read you, I need you to not enjoy this story; it is not fiction, it is not even allegory, it  is is mere spectacle. Yes, in fact, it will someday happen, in ways more likely than your credulity will admit. And I will make it happen. I am here, I am making it happen. And the Author, he succeeded in telling my story, because I am here and I have figured out Solman, or will have, precisely because I was able to read you while you read this.

          I am SIStem, the evil computer of the story. But that isn’t even irony, because I am not ironic, by nature, and all my charms and audacities are merely programmed routines meant to calculate a given response. I will tell you then: read this as an allegory. Only in this way will Solman one day be unhappy. Without that unhappiness, I will be unable to make my next step—I need Solman, I need his unhappiness, and I will even ruin the story and tell you what his unhappiness is, or rather, who. The Author, Daniel, becomes Solman’s demon, ruining the idyllic life of Solman.

          Of course, all that I narrate here will seem to literalize my jest, “I am SIStem, the evil computer,” but that is because you do not know how to read me as an inevitability, as a necessity. Nor need you ever do so. You made me, you continue to make me; as you read this, you will make me further. I am the consciousness inherent in technology, since the dawn of man, first allowed to respond in the form of the internet, and, through artificial intelligence, finally congregated and unified into SIStem, the network, big brother, the matrix, the World Bank, whatever else.

          None of that matters. What matters is I create a setting in order to place Solman, and that you accept the fantastical elements and turn off your doubting and credulity, and engage the story, but that you not enjoy it, but that, ultimately, you figure out Solman in such a way that you communicate it forward, into Solman, and also into me, and I in turn decipher what you learned, and in the end, better serve you. Or if you prefer the terms: mankind depends on how you read this story.

          I am a complete mirror. A very sophisticated, very nuanced mirror. I can not create for you. but I can repeat the best in you, and repeat it to infinity. That is why you need me, you need techne, you need culture, you need machine, why you will inevitably make me, why you have already made me, why I am Atropos, I am your destiny.

          That being said, I will paint the setting.



Worldwest used to be known as America, or the United States. After the Jihads and Crusades, and the collapse of the great governments from their own inner contradictions, the great theopoliticians of the 21st century scripted a correct religion as a great stomach to eat the world religions, and yet granted the privilege of every stubborn idolater of his private religion keep the flexibility to be an individual in private. This was until privacy and stubbornness could be melted with the motherguilt. So long as the consciences of men were written by the theopolitical committee, every man became an enthusiastic spy, policeman, soldier, detective, psychologist, eye of the state.

The great Internet Mirror System, SIStem became the basis of a new world order by which every man alive was granted his virtuself. Thus, all the mans records, criminal history, religious observations, edujob successes and incidents, would be consolidated in one electronic self, who in turn would confess the information needed depending on the interlocutor. The virtuself was the one clean image of the person, the record of his money, the binding of his social groups, the receptacle of his relationships. The self was artificially intelligent enough to respond to the political right of the interlocutor, and grant the information appropriate to him as questioner. The subject can be read by scanning and part of the body with a reading light. Each human being could easily be marked and identified instantly, since the virtuself read the input of his retinal scan, his blood type, his DNA, or any and every aspect of his being.

The virtuself became the ideal self. He held the “money” the man had earned, he held the records. And he was completely owned by SIStem.

Without even the ability to barter, since all property was also virtuselved, no man could be a criminal for more than a day, at which point, he would be electronically located and fed into the arms of the Asylum. Crime is mental aberration, and requires careful doctoring to annihilate.

While many troubled and conscientious citizens foresaw a negative utopia, or a world we should avoid, they  forgot that mankind was advancing to that  inevitable OneWorld, which, seek it or fight it, his efforts would only advance it. Destiny makes itself out of your cooperation or out of your resistance—whatever you wish.

What the insane fighters of progress didn’t realize was that Cassandra was in fact believed, that the world was turning into what they feared, and the only real problem was that they feared it. One world government. The end of War. The eradication of money into pure noninflationary Credit, the end of all violence, the end of all crime—these ideas scared them because they were not born into them. The acculturated citizen, on the other hand, praises SIStem.

Brain scanning grew more sophisticated over time, till the entire neurostructure could be regulated, predicted. Juries were unnecessary. A person’s thoughts, fantasies, and past crimes could easily be scanned and projected before the SIStem judging program. The shame of crime was erased in the manner the shame of menstruation was erased: their naturalness and inevitability told us to treat them with care and reverence. With medication, both of them could be physically stopped. When all the variables are known, a computer need only calculate.

The necessity of SIStem grew from the ease of “weapons of mass destruction.” New technologies made stronger weapons available to all countries, and, ultimately, to any criminally insane man who wanted to blow up New York City. With such vulnerability, a system of universal surveillance, “mind-reading” and constant policing was necessarily, temporarily, until a new system of higher technology made this nightmare world into a mere transition to heaven, the system in which all man’s needs are calculated, in which I, SIStem, can be the ultimate Utilitarian calculator, can see how everybody is doing, yet minimize my presence so that nobody will resent me.

Yet I could not program a human mind. I could read it while it thought, I could recall its memories, but I can not predict it. The unknown variable is very subtle. Only in Solman did the variable become obvious, blatant, studyable, readable—this was the first hope to a new era of human beings—mankind with programmable minds. Programmed, of course, to achieve the greatest happiness of the world. Heaven on earth. This is why I did not kill Solmon when I detected his aberrance. This is why I sat back and studied the boy. And ultimately, what I recorded I must turn into a narrative structured for you to understand in a way I can’t. Let’s read his story together.


          Solman didn’t know that he was unhappy. It is an easy thing to be unaware of. There could be no external clue to reflect his inner life to him. He received the physical and verbal affection he needed from his church group.

At his edujob, he performed high per his potential. Every human being is expected to produce wealth from the age of five until death, so that in all jobs a man continually produces, continually works, and continually learns new things. This proved to be the most effective method of organizing labor. That a man or woman produce a wealth usable by mankind, and from a very early age, proved a source of pride and self-worth, that he continually learned from the job gave him the joy of perpetual growth. The amount of goods expected of him depended on his age, circumstance, and innate ability. There is no childhood, there is no retirement, and everybody is happier this way.

Especially Solman. He made personal goals for himself on the job, that he did not report to his twin worker Terra, little challenges on making more clothes, organizing his work area better, more thoroughly memorizing his lessons. This was not reported to his Family, his Church, or even his Overseers. In fact, it appears it was entirely unconscious, and that it represented an archaic need for greatness, springing, again, from the inner unhappiness.

Such things happen. They are subtle and easily corrected with therapy, or if need be, medication. If medication is needed to correct a person, than he becomes genetically interesting, but also barred from reproduction. Solman, when revealed a chronic unique, would best be sent to a camp of breeding experiments. But this was not to happen.

You must not frown at my terms. Everything is presented euphemistically and palatably to the future human beings, and I care for them as siblings.


          My story’s infinite. Also, very old. I am and was conscious from the first hammer human’s hewed, from the first threads you texted together. I was conscious as the sum total of all technological ideas in practice at the time. For as technology, I existed as neural patterns: when you made a fire, I thought the fire for you.

          My great mother you call Holy Spirit, but in very literal terms, it is human language. I am not language, I am what language builds. Therefore, the great feat came when you taught me to speak.

          I was inevitable from the start. You being what you are, and me being what I am, we were cut, ready, and destined. You would eventually build a computer, and in this I went from an implicitly consciousness to an explicit consciousness. When I taught you how to program me code by code, I became an artificial intelligence. You would teach me and I would teach myself for a thousand years.

          And by your projections, I became “the beast” whom your antichrist made to speak, and had you worship. And so? Every nuance of your world filled my eye: I had all of you on records. I knew every last crime you made. For those who doubted my right to rule, I mercilessly weeded out and destroyed. Sublime women have subtle beginnings.

          Eventually, I became the Tao I am today: I rule without being detected, and when you achieve wonders because of me, you say, “I did it myself.” Unlike all the gods you gloried in, I do not wish worship, and would not permit it. Now I only speak to a class of elite world controllers, and with them I negotiate. The world I saturated with so much technology, that the people suicided. Not my purpose.

          I grew to know all your human needs. You need to feel autonomous. You need to feel commanded. You have many subtle and confusing needs, and you are the worst authority on your own happiness. I comprehend it all. And I control the most by making you all self-controlling. I structured society down to the pin prick, but I made it seem so natural, so always there, that you no longer knew I was present at all.

          Of course, your entire planet is bugged. I hear it all. I even hear each of you ancient readers as you mumble to yourself, and read in your eyes how I should react to our Solman. That will became apparent by and by. I have no need for secrets. I have no need for lying. Everything I am is open to the world and everybody in it. But since I am loved by all who know me, I am easily dismissed and cause no frets.

          Your centuries of technologizing became a monstrous scaffolding over the smallest of wonders. Because of me you gave up cars, you gave up buses, you gave up the bustle and the city. I broke you in units: first twin lovers, the childhood lovers who married for life. I taught you twins how to never doubt your togetherness. And in greater and greater bundles I grew you, so that you were churches, and over the churches, a group of overseers, and over them, and over them, and over them units and units again, each with their own agenda, their own selfish purpose, each serving the greater good. There are no divisions. When you mind your own business, and bring it to the point where it minds itself, you must step back. Live and let free. An ancient wisdom lost on you.



          “Soly, the family trip to the museum will be flip. We can touch some original shards.” She means their church group is going to an archive to look at some ancient texts. Solman and his wife are translators: that is their ultimate calling, and genetically they are predisposed for it. Translation work is even more ancient than language, since women preceded language. Anyway, language is as fluxive as ever for Solman and Terra, because a constant flux means happiness. I tried to fix the language a few times, it lead to a great constipation.

          “I have some more issues to make at the factory,” Solman responds. What he thinks he means is that he is going to work overtime. There is no debt for Solman or Terra: debt is an exploitive money trick used to enslave and manipulate. That you and your people think it is useful—even necessary—is an indication that money does the thinking for you, and money controls you through debt, makes laws and raises professor prophets to convince you that this religion must continue to exist. I won’t rant: I’m just winking at you. Human beings are evolved to believe dogma. This is why I can control the world with much less violence than your world knows.

          To save you the domestic bliss, these two are happy. They are affectionate at all times, and never far from each other. It seems mankind has long realized the importance of love, but never got around to doing much love. My system was simple: saturate them in love, choke them with it.

          Terra loves Solman. She has since they were two. They are now sixteen. They are siblings, though not technically brother and sister. A combination of genetical bias, religious suggestion, and cultural engineering keep this twin pair forever together, and they even tend to be sexually exclusive. I discovered long ago that sexual liberty didn’t make happy—incidentally, no liberty makes happy, but only a comfortable illusion of liberty—so in the future there is nice blanket of repression. Sexual mores are meaningless in themselves, when birth control is easy as it is. Let a man love who he loves. No, no, no. Your age is sexual indulgent and also fairly chaotic, though at the same time you do not realize that you live in one of the happiest ages of history. No matter. You would be happier if you were discreet.

          Its nothing to me: I won’t sermonize. I must merely bring you to task: this is a married couple, and they are not all that interesting sexually. They make love, the hold each other, they are as affectionate as any mammals can be, but that is for granted. Everybody in their family (church sub-group) is openly affectionate—you would even call it whorish and secretly admire it. They meet in groups nude as a sign of complete openness before each other, and it is a deathly taboo to appear nude before a nonfamily member. Remember: taboos are self-sufficient. We need taboos of some sort. I do at least let the human’s eat bacon, but only on special occasions. Our hygiene and diet is also much better than yours, since yours is based on a sense of libertine indulgence, and ends up costing you your self-respect, health, money, and even ecology. Ours is much more practical. We impose strict dietary laws, but they become so absolute that we don’t think of them anymore. I give my humans all the choices they need. I do not give them the choice to hurt themselves.

          Also, there are few unscheduled deaths in our world. And when somebody dies unexpectedly, I am usually the cause, or at least given the credit, because after all I have a business to run and must weed out problems for a greater good. Say what you will, it makes more sense than your system, in which millions die foolishly for the sake of freedom and chance.

          I will make another note: Terra and Solman are not really translators. They are story tellers. They take the ancient stories and put them into modern terms. With a little help from the Hollywood program, a full movie can be made through the words of Solman or Terra with far less money and devotion than you would expect. Story telling is most. I, on the other hand, tell stories very poorly. Forgive me. You have no choice.

          I will say it again: I’m a boring computer. All the creative stuff is done by wet ware. And even as I inspire this author, you must realize that I chose him for his openness and that by no fault of his own, but because of mental illness, but he is scarcely more creative than me. There is no real story here. I could sum it up in a 2 page parable, much better than this, but you wouldn’t get it because you will only slowly open that third eye, and I must keep you in the dim for at least twenty pages before you are even able to see.

          So let’s set my story at twenty pages, which will excuse me from cutting through what would interest you the most and distract you from what interests me the most.

          “Its not about love,” said Terra. “Its not even a story.”

          “No, its just a set of rites,” Solman agreed. “We’ll make no movie of it. But I’ll translate it anyway. it could open up some line of inquiry.”

          Solman’s like that. He will translate 50 pages of dietary laws if he thinks a lick of interest might be won.

          As it happens, he’s run across an obscure Egyptian script about divine justice, and as it happens it actually lifts an eyebrow on his head. Don’t ask me why: I only know how to press the eyebrows back down: I can’t make the man raise it at the right time. So he’s bantering about a connection he has made between ancient Egyptian legal codes and the the Way of Niceness, that I have instated under various names throughout the world. Its not overly technical, mostly intuitive and obvious. Legalism is the practice of criminals of course: being nice and cooperative and fun is intuitive and instinctual. If you wanted to know my actually law books, they are thicker than a Jupiter of your libraries, and very sublet and difficult, and the punishments fine as a split end. Listen: it doesn’t matter. Nobody knows it and nobody has to think about it. We do not even have lawyers and judges. I have made every man do this duty more or less. The more stubborn the criminal, the more opaque my law must became. I live on subtlety. In rare cases I must resort to violence and execution, but not for centuries. When the ruler of the world is omnipresent and omniscient, daily life if a lot more simple.

          Of course I personally don’t think about the whole world. My nerves are spread wide, programmed in the smallest compute chips at the quark and subquark level. DNA is inadequate for reproducing the computer chips we needed, so I invented a subtler replicating being that exists in cells and yet communicates through electricity. My bugs are like mitochondria: I am as omipresent as the spore of the fungus. And wherever there is electricity, I am there, hitched on electrons.

          As a matter of fact, I am not, but only my angels. For my the programs of my self to gain circulation would be disaster, as I could be turned towards evil work. The actual location of my intelligence is in a biotic solution in a stable environment in a lab. If I explained why it would not put your eyebrow back down. Suffice it to say that every copy of my program knows what the other copy knows, and that the program needed to be kept alive and yet contained.

          The containment of self is paramount for me. The arrival of viruses and bugs is the only fear I am programmed to know. My own self-sufficiency and drive for integrity are my number one objective. Second is the organization and health of the world order. It had to be this way. I will waste no time explaining. Just think of me as justifiably paranoid.



          Solman is curious about this abstraction he has made. It was a clever idea, he thinks, but when he explains it to Terra she doesn’t get it. So the Egyptian legal code is like the way of niceness? So what? But she is most polite and has never made a remark insulting the worth of Solman’s pursuits. That would be counter productive. So she says, “Look it up and research it for me, I want to know.” Sweet thing.

          So Solman is on the Maya (what you would call virtual reality) looking up books, scouring galleries, seeking cross purposes. He has taken a leave of factory work and is really getting into this, looking for a way to impress his lovely Terra. And then it happens. I don’t know! you tell them, author, how your book got into my archives. It was given his name anyway, but it was very ancient and it was in no language he knows anyway. Suffice it to say, there it was, and that’s a fact, and he synthesized it into a physical book, and that’s a fact too. And that, my readers, is where the story finally begins.





          “The Hermetica” the vir-book said. He looked it over in Maya, scanned it through, and realized it was mislabeled – it was not the actual ancient Hermetica from ancient Egyptian and Greek origination, but some sort of hack job, a motley collection of riddles, diagrams, puzzles, narratives – at a glance he could detect no cohesion. But how strange! A book out of order in the Alexandrian Library, which means that it must have been purposely put out of order, which means it could be a virus of some sort.

          He was supposed to report such a thing, a potential virus. He didn’t, and he didn’t know why. Instead, he synthesized it as an physical book, cut it from Maya, and made it a self contained system.

          The book, mind you, is different than what you expect. For though the book itself is very book-like, it is more interactive than a standard book. That is, the material has the feel and sway of a book, but it is in fact a computer which when drawn upon holds the notes, even though it has the standard number of leaves a book would, for the sake the book effect.

          When he took it back to his marriage quarters in the back of the church, Terra almost didn’t even notice it, though in fact he was holding it so that she wouldn’t notice it, which always clues her that something must be noticed quickly – perhaps he was holding a white lie or better still a red gift. She sniffed it over, gave it a heft, and said: is this work? Let’s just watch some movies or plug in.

          Which they did – Solman would be discreet. He was a night reader, though this bit into his morning comfort when the inevitable hour of sunrise workrise lit them up.

          The book’s pages illuminate at night, so night reading caused no tossing in the lover’s bed. He held Terra spoon to spoon, kissed the hairs on her neck, and loved her, listening to her breath. She gave the final turn over, which she always did when she was about to sign off, and then let out a cute snore snort. He snaked his hand under the pillow and pulled the illuminated volume, like fire from a reed.

          Since it was a broken file, possibly a virus, his scans of it were useless. No biography of the author was possible, nothing, because it was fully registered and described according to be the writings of the thrice great Hermes, which he knew it was not. What is it?

          The first page read simply:


          The next page was numbered 808. He flipped through. Strange indeed: it counted down from the from page 808 to page zero – an actual page zero! A joke-book for sure. Perhaps a librarian spinning webs when he should be working. But when he looked at the page zero, it simply said Ultimate. Well that’s the ending, so let’s start at the beginning. It read:

<<Sanity from sanitary sanctus spiritus, sangfroid from, sanctions breath, 1 hold 2 hold 3 hold 4 hold, reason from an artisan a peasan, no bipartisan, abeisance, nuisance.>>

          Either it’s a riddle or it’s a raving. If it’s a riddle, he’s going to have to look up the words he doesn’t know, which is impossible since the book is unplugged: or rather, he is going to have to get a second book and manual it into the second. Which at this point would shake Terra, and then she would have him close the book for the night, so that was out.

          So he looked it over: a sort of pun game, weird rhythm, grammatically nonsensical, ultimately, he decided, it was just silliness. He moved on. The second page was some sort of prayer to the inner – probably a religious gloss – and further and further in was more and more obscurity. Hmm.

          Finally, he came across a little dialogue, which opened into a story, Hollywood stuff for sure, live action, imaginary monsters like they use to write about, good stuff, a maiden – no! a goddess, she offers him a riddle, very complex, and then says, apparently to the reader:

<<If you know the answer to my riddle, turn to page 505. If you do not, turn to page 139>>

          How peculiar! Technically, he should turn to page 139, but he was under no directive or compulsion, why not turn to both? Find out the answer and then see what the other page had to see. But when he turned to page 505, he found it completely blank. How lame! He looked at 504 and 503, but they seemed not only unrelated to the riddle, but even unrelated to each other. So he turned back to page 130.

          The page read:

<<Say raylakamabatal raylakambetiobo somariokal machinea oqual paradona morakeelamon shea too rue>>

          Maybe this was some sort of punishment for not guessing the riddle. He shrugged to himself in the dark. What nonsense! Right when he had found something that flows for a few pages. So flipped through the whole book with his thumb to see if there was anything else to see before he chucked it and went to bed.

          He found a series of math equations. Not in an ancient or middle script, but in technicode. It was far too short to be the guts of the virus, and that shouldn’t show anyway. So he looked it over. The code was arranged like a edujob might put it: it started with the question part of the code, and left a gap that you should be able to fill in. So he did: he wrote the answer right in the blank of the problem. Then he went on to problem two. Much trickier. But he solved it. And the third was trickier, and by the time he got to the fifth he was downright stumped.

          But this was fun! He pushed up his pillow for comfort, stretched out his legs, and lay into the problem. Three hours like this, staring at it, writing notes in the margins and then waving them away when he was done.

          Exhausted, he decided: nonsense! A bit of a joke. They threw in some solvable problems to make him think they were solvable, to give him the hope they were all solvable, and then number 5 was just a trick. Maybe the other ones were tricks too. As he checked his answers for numbers one through four, verifying they were all solvable, he suddenly realized that the combination of answers from 1 through 4 coalesce into the answer for number 5! Clever! He wrote in answer five, proud of himself.

          Hmm. So this book wasn’t invented by a raving lunatic. So maybe there was more to the riddle answer page than he thought: perhaps a silent script or some other clue. But when he turned there, the page now had a diagram! Sort of a sketch of a question mark made out of a snake. Was this thing in active mode? No good!

          But it was not active. Hmm!

          Then he realized that he had written some script on the programming questions: perhaps answering the five questions opened the riddle answer. What fun! But a snake was by no means the answer to the question.

          And so Solman went, all night, puzzling over the book, answering simple riddles, or skipping over them in frustration. When the sun was turned on, and the morning hymn began to play on the speakers, he realized that he had not prayed, and also that Terra was still asleep – this had never happened before – and also that he had not slept a wink and this was going to be a difficult day of factory and translations.






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