I am a slave to world you haven’t yet seen. Though now I sit alone on the bed of these woods, pants muddied, thoughts to myself …I am monitored by something, somewhere. All of the stars above me are connected, as I am, by an alien force moving through and around everything that has and will ever exist. There are no mysteries anymore, nor discoveries. Accident is the name of a devil unspoken. And everything that could be dear to me has become committed only to what is coherent about me; for there is no more potential, nor worry, nor regret. Everything has its name, or number. Floating about a quantified world as some sort of equation or algorithm that designates its limits in a relational space. Just like an accident, what is lonely in me can not be named and it can not be known. It is this emptiness that is my last hope…
Annabelle Fax woke up early to check outside her apartment door for the new AR, one-a-day lenses she had pre-ordered from Cornea-X. It wasn’t very long after their release was announced that she confirmed the order; but, since it was the day of the release there could always be last-minute setbacks. They had arrived in a small package, marked from an address only a few miles away. Though she was somewhat excited to explore the new features, her excitement was diverted by the practical necessity of installing them before she defended her latest client. This could be a brilliant advantage for her defense if she had everything organized and uploaded to the lenses in time.
Judge Fillmore was presiding over the ruling. He had become a well-known advocate in the world of cyberlaw for his unbending defense of harsh legislation against social media trolls. As one of the first generals in the United States’ Tenth Fleet serving under Vice Admiral Bernard J. McCullough III himself, you would think he would have become jaded to the lesser-transgressions in cyberspace. Anna was torn about her defense. Her client was Anchor Nabe, a celebrated actor that caught the media’s attention when the Anti-Troll Militia uncovered his secret hobby of trolling liberal welfare-reform forums. She had built a career on her defense of civil liberties activists, but in this case she sided with Judge Fillmore in every way conceivable …including is so-called War on Knowledge Bullies.
To put this in some context, the War on Knowledge Bullies was the title of a book written by Fillmore and published for free reading to anyone that signed up for his church’s e-mailed newsletters. It was a typical conservative rant against scientists and academics that he believed had become too abusive in their push against the religious right-wing and its cultural traditions. Anna was an agnostic however, and a fairly open one. She agreed with Fillmore’s sensitivities and prescriptions, but in application to the defense of those who have been bullied for their sexual and gender identities. For as much as she agreed with Fillmore and despised Anchor Nabe’s attacks on defenders of the poor, she took Nabe’s case because his celebrity charity went to one of her most beloved foundations for LGBTQ youth.
But back to the new one-a-day lenses! These things really had it all. Not only did they produce high definition overlays in the visual field, render images faster than any other brand, fare well with field gesture capture, and come equip with a series of killer apps …they were the first one-a-day lenses to sync with BeforeAfter’s prediction software. BeforeAfter’s prediction software could detect lies, detect the likelihood of crimes taking place based on location, give highly accurate variable-based health predictions, and most important for Anna, it could give her up to a 72% prediction on an individual’s moods and emotional shifts until the next time they experienced REM sleep. That 28% chance of shifting the judge’s predicted states could significantly inform Anna about how to negotiate according to his likely ruling.
The package opened easily enough and there was little in there besides the lenses and the wireless charging adapter. One-a-day’s didn’t need to be plugged into anything and they came pre-charged for up to 9 hours of wear; but at this point the technology hadn’t developed yet for a full 24-hours. This was one of the disadvantages compared to harder lenses, although even with those you would still need to take them out every 62-hours so that the resonance charging wouldn’t cause any potential damage. Anna rushed to get them in and walk through the New User Wizard. She was already familiar with most of the basics, so all she needed to do was get her notes into memory and make sure that BeforeAfter’s Human-State Prediction was up and ready to process everything that was happening in the courtroom.
Done, good… and now she could get in her car and let it drive her downtown.
30 years ago…
Everyone knew it was happening, no one knew it was happening so extensively. For decades there had been an escalating war taking place within cyberspace and sometimes targeting its material infrastructure. Its scale was global and its factions were many-sided. The 20th Century superpowers and the rapidly developing, formerly titled “Second World” had entered into a kaleidoscopic arrangement of pacts, treatises, strife, protocol, and institutions that kept each other in a deadlock. Eventually, that all began to change. The failing campaigns against the Middle East lost focus once disruptions from the underbelly effectively destabilized the global relationships between nation states and their off-the-record cyber-thugs.
The uncomfortable, low-level antagonisms from the occasional political power or criminal organization became amplified into large scale initiatives with the introduction of new combatants. Identity theft rings, information leakers, activist hackers, and denial-of-service attacks authored anonymously were everyday news by this point, but unheard of technologies began to filter down from national militaries, through their paid terrorist organizations, and into the hands of the others. Most of those who could afford to get their hands on this stuff were too consumed with pet causes or personal gain to create an impact of any geopolitical consequence. However when rebels from different backgrounds came into possession of the new technologies, some of them had larger agendas.
Slowly the global cyber-wars were exposed through actions from its original participants scrambling to keep the others away from the battlefield. Sloppy attempts to target mostly civilian actors led to public experiences of cyber-warfare and a mass awareness of its agents’ capacity to amass destruction. Systems providing energy and basic resources to neighborhoods would be disabled for weeks. Signal interferences would cause “traffic damns” that lasted long enough for motorists to abandon their vehicles permanently. All the while, federal governments were losing legitimacy to confederate organizations of different creed, better positioned to help victims of these circumstances. All of this was merely the introduction of an upheaval.
The more popular confederate organizations were surprised to find out which of their enemies it was that had a head start in annihilating the federal governments. It was the new capitalists! They had slowly been guided away from reformism and passive strategies, both by their enemies and by their ideological ancestors. Their disconnection from grass-roots struggles and the poor argumentative strategies they often employed had distracted most of those aware of their existence from noticing their power in a few key areas: technological skill, black markets, cynically loyal benefactors, and seniority in many open-source and maker societies.
More importantly, the only thing that separated their overt ideals from the covert plans of the nation states was an enmity created through struggling with those states for control over the new economy. An enmity that was tolerated by the states. Since the capitalists had confused their practical enemy with an enemy in principle, they considered themselves to be amongst the anarchists in a war against government. Even if that government was limited to state government. This association radicalised their notions of viable tactics. When they began active campaigns of aggression — to liberate markets from state influence — they naively struck a core pillar of the old systems.
All considerations of allegiance were thrown into question. Activists on the Left, small states, large states, neo-conservative forces were forced to reconsider these new capitalists. These ones who took down the entire technological infrastructure in a tiny Canadian city while the rest were lucky to break some windows or enact revenge against their opponents. While their goal was to speed along the process of development in the city, they miscalculated the strength of their allies. Without the power grid, water services, communications, transport, and all the rest, what happened instead of a unification of the masses for a free market was the mass slaughter of bosses and others in authority by a fed-up population, sick of being pushed aside…
A Human Face
“Queer Theory has won!” exclaimed Rinse. The Mentor’s Hall was silent, its dim flickering lights on the faces of the audience was exhausting. Dunbar Rinse was arousing enough to keep everyone on the edge of their seats. They were wearing a loose-fitting patchwork coat over a plain white undershirt, beige slacks, heeled dress boots. “Like so many stupid things humanity has transcended, we can thank the warriors of mind, body, and soul who came out and stood up against gender. Against even those who called themselves ‘ally’ and fought in the insurrections, it was necessary to take a stand. Even if at times, it meant that they must submit completely to our justice.”
This wasn’t really accurate. While Queer Theory became a well known and adopted approach to gender, it hadn’t actually displaced LGBT or even hetero-patriarchal conceptions of gender. It had simply become popular and respectable. Rinse was a survivor of numerous battles that emerged from the collapsing nation-states. They had taken a firm position that put them at odds as much as it endeared them to others. A credible thinker, a bona fide queer, and a leading voice in the ever-present discourse on sexuality, Dunbar Rinse was something you didn’t want to miss.
“When you go home tonight to your partners, masters, slaves, and solitudes, I want you to arrive with a sense of pride. Everyone attending tonight, even if the display of pride is forbade by your master, you will feel proud tonight! Pride is what brought us out of cis-gender hetero-normative hegemony, pride is what gave us the strength to fight the cults of womanhood and manhood, we will always on this day take pride in our conquest!”
If you are thinking to yourself, “slavery?” then you clearly haven’t become familiar with Rinse. Queer Theory had “won,” but something else also “won”: BDSM. And not so much the B, the S, and the M (which where of secondary importance), but the D. Dominance and Submission rode along to the fore of mainstream practices along with the deconstruction of gender. Some of this came out of a confusion, maybe a vacuum that was left for those who had previously organized their relationships based on gendered roles, but had given it up. A lot of the new genderless had accepted Queer Theory without entirely understanding it, whom became submissives. Others who understood it but were used to dominating their partners subtly, became overtly domineering and these were the dominants. There were more fluid relationships where these roles switched for one reason or another, but nevertheless dominance and submission became the predominant framework for queer sexual relationships. A framework that one would respond to, but usually accept as the polar spectrum upon which relating was measured.
This was fine for some, but for many others it was a completely arbitrary measure of conduct. Unfortunately for them, it was what those others came to be measured. They could either conform to the norm or resist it, but they couldn’t avoid the new rules. Worst of all, they were usually perceived as submissives. Sometimes you would hear complaints from people in this position that “queer relationships aren’t any better than patriarchy was!” And they were a real amusement for the dominants who fully embraced their role…
“Before we get this party started tonight, I have a joke for you all.” Rinse went on to deride LGBT activists that still accepted gender. “I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY THOUGHT THAT THEY COULD PRETEND TO BE QUEER! HaHAhHA” Everyone laughed with them, some visibly uncomfortable feeling themselves to be in the hot seat. Dunbar Rinse pulled out a bottle of champagne from behind a podium they were standing next to. “There are snacks by the fire exit over there and merchandise by the front door. Happy Pride!” They popped the cork and it disappeared into the dark, vaulted ceiling above. Everyone clapped, cheered, and slowly wandered off towards the the food.
Rinse picked up their cane and was escorted their slaves off of the stage to the prep room. “You there! Where, oh fucking where, is my beer? You were to my left, rule #210 states that the slave to my left will have a beer for me after every presentation. You’re aware of rule #210? Who trained you?” They had a lot of rules, #210 was in the introductory chapter.
Antipathy from Fullness
Everything had long ago become an appearance, and I mean… very long ago. There had been religions once: gods, angels, spirits. There had been a love once that forsake the world as much as a religion. There is now nothing of the sort. The validity of feeling is chemical because everything is short-term. The word “conviction” hasn’t been uttered in almost 100 years because now it is supposedly unnecessary. Spilling blood is a rational calculation. Fucking is a scrimmage, practiced until you make it to the big time. This is why the destroyers you meet have been so hated even before they destroy. They’re the only ones left with a secret.
Netropolis: the Advancement of Architectural Controls in a New World
Nabe’s Hearing: the Preliminary Court System
God’s New Flesh: Intellectual Property and Certified Skills
Remote Controls and the Uncontrollable: Shifts in Consensus-Reality and Ideology’s New Terrain
Decentralized Capitalism: Theo, the Open-Source Entrepreneur and his Deal with the School Board
Fame Debt: Non-Violence and the Global Pillory – Lexy and her Ghost Writing firm/Protection Racket
Freedom to Speak at Risk: Civil Cybernetic Justice and the New Police
Isolated Incidents: Revolt’s Last Remaining Configuration