His fists, twin rocks of the republic, collided with the stretched skin of jihadist belief. Formed of flesh, muscle, and bone, his arms - liberty’s pillars - worked to blunt the screams of “Allahu Akbar”. The dry leather phalanxes of his muscled palms reached out and enveloped the neck of the ISIS soldier. The words of the Quran were muted as he ripped the esophagus from the soldier's body. He smiled as the extremist's mortal coil, wrapped around his 'pursuit of happiness', poured out into the dark and terrible night.
Borne of industrial stress, his limbs acted as a stony logic, emanating from a gridiron structure. These tightly knit arguments, bearing the innate right to freedom, were reinforced by broad shoulders and a barrel chest, thrusting out in a scream of guttural aggression. He expressed his right to the 2nd amendment in a barrage of high-velocity projectiles, aimed at the throng of radicalized Islam. The hot metal and incendiary fluid exploded flesh from bone, painting a Jackson Pollack on the adjacent rock wall. It had the refreshing fragrance of militarized American democracy.
Atop this mountain, built of testosterone and activated enzymes, stood a bulbous head, where a lattice structure of pounding veins marched in rhythm to a heart consummate with fury. This ill-tempered globe of meat fed neurons held two bags of white vitreous fluid, bearing a red-veined sunset and an orchestra of vacant stares. In the back of these stoic eyes, danced two amino-rich roads, hard-wired into the electrical storm that was raging against the end of the night.
Hugo Bones, who was the collective sum of these parts, bore no resemblance to anything you would want to meet in a dark alley. He was a blue-balled bull, charging headlong into a politically correct, china shop world and he had the odour of a man who was in the habit of winning.
The staccato rhythm of his automatic gunfire mixed well with the exploding heads of fanatic ideals. As disparate words from various suras were sprayed out into the starry sky, Hugo sang the song of his alma mater:
“And in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.”
Hugo felt right, in step with a world that respected and rewarded strength. Hugo danced in the shower of blood to the rhythm of fear and weakness he had exorcised from fundamentalism. The red fluid wrapped him in a warm wet blanket, rocking him into a gentle dream. This tender moment was suddenly drained of its vitality when Hugo heard the echo of Ha Pi’s tweet:
“I will shape it into the face of doG”.
Who said this or why is something that I can’t explain. Perhaps science could illustrate it in a rational manner, but I am not privy to this information. Maybe the spiritual world would be better equipped to solve this question, but I have no direct channel into the world of mysticism. Whatever it may be, it was a pervasive and purposeful moment which created an odd feeling for Hugo. It was like eating a bitter peanut, a taste he couldn’t get out of his mouth.
Hugo was a man of action. Thoughts rarely entered his mind when he was on the job. This one was an invasion. Not only had it disturbed him, It had also altered his brain chemistry. Although it hadn’t stopped him from doing his task of killing terrorists, it had transformed him into an observer, watching the scene from above, disconnected. The visceral feeling of blood in his mouth had disappeared. Hugo didn’t like this.
This peculiar takeover of body and mind had encouraged him to return to the office of Albert Lorenz. This sense of dislocation, and the intellectual imposition that had been placed upon him, needed to be extinguished. He wanted to have the smell of victory warm his loins once again.
Hugo opened the door and went in. Albert's office was clean and orderly. It had a bookshelf filled with technical manuals and theoretical treatises. Adjoining the office was a large laboratory where machines and computers were crunching data and fabricating tools needed for experiments. In the back, there were animals in cages waiting to be tested. Hugo approached Albert's desk.
“Albert, this is the correct time,” Hugo said purposefully.
Albert was perched like a vulture in his plush leather chair. He wore tranquility as a mask. Behind this mask, and under the umbrella of rationality, a sea of unpredictable, yet patterned madness, ebbed and flowed in his reptilian brain.
“We are not completely ready, Hugo. I think it is best if we wait a little longer,” Albert replied with a piercing glance.
Hugo and Albert were working together on a black ops project run through SOCOM, the U.S. Special Operations Command. Neither was in charge, but Albert, who had more diplomatic pull and official connections than Hugo, controlled the theoretical needs of the project. In the field, Hugo was the one running things. Albert wanted to keep things in the lab. Hugo wanted to lead a charge into battle.
“We will never be ready, Albert. This much you have taught me,” Hugo said, trying to sound learned.
“Why not open up the cage and release the dogs of war. You can fine tune things from here,” Hugo continued, feeling ill at ease in this foreign world of fluorescent lights, post-it notes, and portable electronic devices.
“But, before it can be altered you will need data. I can give you the feedback so you will know what needs to be changed,” Hugo finished, exhausted from having strung together so many sentences in a semi-logical fashion.
Albert’s gaze was clear. He had the look of a scientist dispassionately observing an experiment while puzzling over an anomaly. Hugo was this anomaly. Hugo was a tool who had been designed for a very particular function. He was a result of random genetic mutations, a survivor of what fits best at a certain point in space-time. He was nothing more than a complex chemical system resulting from the great mother of chaos. And, at this point in space-time, for the best results of this project, Hugo was absolutely necessary.
“Well, Hugo, I suppose you could talk to Chester Field and Harvey Kalapski and see if it is possible,” Albert replied as his thoughts drifted toward subjects 4005 and 4006 - Chester Field and Harvey Kalapski.
Chester Field and Harvey Kalapski were two civilians who had been selected to help with the project. The project demanded duality and these two artists were perfect. One was a social Dionysian and the other a solitary Apollonian. Equally important, both of them had a thirst for inebriation, which was a crucial element for success.
Albert considered this need for altered consciousness and more succinctly about the Neolithic Revolution, which saw the great transition of humanity from hunters and gatherers to sedentary dwellers.
"The First Agricultural Revolution was the primary step needed to bring about the real flowers of civilization, the industrial and information revolution," Albert thought, hoping to impress himself.
What was so curious about this development, however, was what caused this development. As usual, with an event of great uncertainty, there was a long list of theories. Albert was not convinced by any of these ideas.
"It wasn’t the invention of the plow, a significant change in the climate, or a change in the population that prompted this great movement; beer had been the start of it all," Albert opined, trying to persuade himself of something important.
“Anything is possible if you have the right attitude,” Hugo interjected, completely unaware that Albert was deep in thought about something unrelated to the project.
Albert gazed at Hugo realizing that random brutish forces could explain the sublime. He threw him a smile, giving Hugo something to chew over and allowing Albert to return to his thoughts.
"The Agricultural Revolution had swung upon the axis of drunken nights where boisterous voices and sexual rhythms created a drug-influenced dream of what could be," thought Albert as he straightened his shirt.
"We didn’t stop wandering the plains to sit down to a meal of moldy bread and stale cabbage. We stopped walking because we couldn’t stand up. We stopped roaming because we had learned to transform our consciousness through drinking beer. We drank. We laughed. We played music. We fucked. Then, because there was no beer left, we fell asleep only to awake from this Dionysian festival with a massive hangover," Albert argued in his head while fiddling with his pen.
Hugo had finished contemplating the importance of Albert's smile and was now feeling impatient. He knew Albert took his time to consider things and if he interrupted him, it might just make him angry. He turned and looked at a picture hanging on the wall. It was a copy of Salvador Dali's Persistence of Memory. Hugo just saw a painting with melting clocks hanging over tables and trees, which he thought to be very weird.
"Once the headache subsided and the dry heaves gave way to listless bodies in need of more rest, we had an epiphany: Drugs are good. Drugs enhance our consciousness. Depressants, hallucinogenics, stimulants, and anti-psychotics help us navigate through life. They squeeze every last drop of life out of us and pour it into the cup of progress," Albert thought, continuing on his string of logical deduction, turning his gaze to the Dali picture hanging on the wall.
"It was at this point that we decided to never have a home devoid of drugs. It was at this point that we decided to learn everything about our environment and live a life fueled by chemicals. We are a chemical system creating music, stories, and science for we are chemicals that react to music, stories, and science," Albert pondered, turning his attention back to Hugo.
Hugo turned his gaze from the painting and looked at Albert. Hugo was secreting an abnormally high level of norepinephrine causing him to feel a great deal of anxiety. He could feel tremors in his eyes and beads of sweat growing on his brow.
"So, this is Hugo's fate. His genetic codes are a brew of information standing upon the shores of now; a manicured statue of proteins and chemical bonds radiating a fine ale of probabilistic wave-particle duality, ready to serve God and country," Albert concluded, disembarking from his train of thought which had just completed its journey.
"This is the correct time Albert. Everything is screaming, now. Just do it!” Harvey pleaded in his advertising slogan jargon.
“Fine, go talk to the subjects and observe the RV. However, if we decide to go ahead, I will need to change the design on the fly and that might lead to some rather strange results. It might be dangerous,” Albert said, breathing a slight air of unease.
“Of course, it will make the project more interesting,” shouted Hugo, pleased with what he thought was his successful use of oratorical persuasion.
Whereas Hugo embodied action, Albert could have lived his whole life in a thought experiment. Yet, he also knew that this project could only progress through a deliberate step, one that propelled the ideas into motion, making the theory resemble vitality. Here, Hugo came into play. He was the catalyst that drove the engine.
Albert felt a bead of sweat forming on his brow. Then, he noticed a sense of disquiet. It wasn’t that he was worried or in fear, but he felt off, in the distance, in between things. He wasn’t fully here. Part of him was there. He had been "there" far too often of late. The "there" that was in the middle of the abyss, that period before the singularity where there was no time or space. That epoch that was the absence of a something. It was the antithesis of an oasis. It was a deserted island in the middle of rapture. It was like being Tantalus on crystal meth.
“Okay, Hugo. I will start the process,” Albert said waving his hand in dismissal.
Hugo turned and strode determinedly to the exit when, suddenly, something pulled him back. What caused him to do this? Was it an act of purpose to give him poise? To make him prepared? Had he made this choice? Whatever it was that gripped him, it gripped him tight. These unseen hands were aiming him, turning him into an inanimate object, an arrow imagining freedom. Potential energy was rippling everywhere. It saturated the air, moving through the room like a cat on the prowl, waiting to excite the particles that lived as a wave. It wanted to make matter and energy reinvent itself.
Then, in a moment which could only be called exquisite, the four forces of the universe plucked the text -“I will shape it into the face of doG” - out of Hugo and placed it in the air where it began a slow migration toward Albert. Hugo was perplexed, but it wasn't because of the text. The text had done its work. It had wormed its way into his DNA and written its message in the language of nucleotides. It had become part of his programming. But he was mindless to all this. This wasn't what bothered him. What did bewilder him was the fact that he was standing still and unable to move, like one of those melted clocks in Dali's painting.
Luckily, as part of this new programming, he was able to use functions which could reassure himself. First, Hugo thought it might have been the steak sandwich or the two pints of ale he had for lunch which had put him off. Then, he was consoled by the fact that he was a marine. Marines were trained to muscle through these strange aberrations that visit from time to time. Next, the thought of strangling a helpless enemy was placed in his mind. The vision of those helpless eyes praying for pity put him back in the mood. Finally, feeling a new sense of purpose, off he went, whistling a marching song.
As he left, Albert watched and wondered. Albert wondered if this would be the last time he would see Hugo as he was before. Before the next step. Before society evolved into something else. Hugo was unaware, but Albert had considered the consequences of their actions. He knew that things were about to evolve.
Albert gazed back at the painting of melting clocks and he saw a shimmer. It was the text that had been extracted from Hugo. It had radiated throughout the air, like the music from Gabriel’s horn, reaching out to Albert and impregnating him. Unlike Hugo, he welcomed this seed. In fact, he had been waiting for it. As with Hugo, it changed his DNA. It had given him an upgrade.
He stood up and walked to the middle of the room. His eyes drifted to a painting on the wall. It was a copy of a 1915 painting by Kazimir Malevich called Black Square. True to its name, it was a very simple painting of a black square on a white background. There was nothing stunning about the paining, but like the text in his head, it had signalled change. Like the text, it had altered the course of history.
“Society,” he murmured to himself.
“Society is one step in a self-replicating cycle. Cells replicate themselves. Individuals are made of cells. Individuals replicate themselves. Society is composed of individuals. Society replicates itself. Civilization is made up of societies. Now, it is time for the next step. Civilization must become a self-replicating entity,” he claimed, talking to nobody in particular but obviously quite pleased with himself.
“Cells evolved in the embryonic fluid of the ocean creating a homeostatic environment where they could repair and reproduce themselves. These cells came together to develop multi-cellular animals. Within this homeostatic system they evolved into increasingly complex entities, eventually becoming complex social networks that emulated the environment's homeostatic systems. Now, it is time for the next step where civilization can become a single entity, comprised of machines, software, and humanity. It will be a prototype, a unique system that can create a new level of complexity,” He spoke with his arms spread, embracing the emptiness surrounding him.
"Society has outgrown nature. In fact, we are no longer a part of it. We are in exile, a self-imposed prison that pours our energies into the great engine, which is destined to build a great image of humanity on the sands of time," Albert extolled as he looked longingly at the peculiar face of the abyss.
"There was a time when we were the magic in the stream of timelessness. Our consciousness was filled with ancient dreams and genetic artifacts. We were unconscious fevers touching our souls within the looking glass. Now, our state of being has become the future that had been built upon a shimmering double helix. We have become small insignificant particles, bits of protein in a cell doing its part. Individual freedom is just a chemical reaction, a line of code in an endless algorithm giving us the illusion of conscious choice," Albert had finished his Shakespearean soliloquy without any triumphant applause. He felt a tad annoyed at this, but he had one last thought to complete. He was hoping this would bring them to their feet.
"Hugo is just one of those bits of protein, but I am different. I think I am. Therefore, I am God”
There was no applause, but there had been change. The painting on the wall, Black Square, had transformed into Malevich's 1918 painting, White on White. And, if you had looked closely at Albert's copy of Dali's Persistence of Memory, you would have seen a very small US military RV parked in front of the mountains next to the water. The text had begun its job of mining the future in order to shape the past, a series of freeze frame nows that were connected via the bridge of quantum entanglement.