you have no blood

An archive of the future, collected and curated.

The Oculus

I found my mother in the den, loosely cross-legged, her eyes half-shut and directed at the oculus, which was, at that moment, blue with a few streaks of purple. The appearance it presented to the world was of an ellipse, roughly the size of a grapefruit, hovering and lazily rotating over a hexagonal arrangement of singly jointed, copper-colored, phalangeal metal spikes. I knew the hovering was not actually as it appeared and that the oculus was not elliptical, but hyperbolic, its aphelion and perihelion being the hyperbola’s two vertices, which were inverted, somehow, but only virtually? Silent bolts of lightning played over its surface in what seemed to me like random formations at random intervals but might easily have been as legible and simple as a knock-knock joke to my mother. That was the way things were.

~

The gheeds are out. Everyone knows they’re dangerous, and most of us know they’re rarely dangerous if you know what to do. Among the things you need to know is that some nights are worse than others. That was the reason for all our hanging calendars.

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Tyeru Hedee’s journal, excerpts

[What follows are short excerpts from the journals of Tyeru Hedee, written while on an early extrasolar colonization mission. These journals, along with fiction and philosophy written by Hedee, later became the founding sources for the Gossamer school of philosophy.]

Imagine a fleet of starships with a shared destination: they come in many varieties, shapes, sizes, and situational usefulness. Some might be small passengers ships, others large cruisers, some might be slow or fast, some might be warships or medical ships or tourist ships or any vast number of hybrids. But each has the same two fundamental properties: they fly, and they are all flying to the same place. Any good philosophy is like this. Like flight, philosophy is simultaneously going and doing : both it’s function and it’s form are an action. The end of a flight is the destination; the death of the philosopher is how a good philosophy ends. Thus, philosophy is bipartite. Philosophy is a process of leading a flourishing life, directed toward ending with the death of its practitioner (but, as a starship might malfunction or be attacked and thus it’s flight ended prematurely, so might a philosophy). And like different starships with different uses, different philosophies will be useful to different people or in different contexts. This is what my philosophy does. It offers a way of living for some potential person in some potential context. It has given me a way of living. I “want no disciples, but people who are themselves”. I want my philosophy to be a way for a person to be his or her own self. 

At some point, my starship analogy breaks down: philosophies, good philosophies, are not nearly as hardy or impenetrable as starships.

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Topical Fiction:

[After the murder of two persons “fronteiring”—exploring beyond the extensive reach of cloud consciousness driven capabilities—a call was put out for narrative fictionalizations of the event. The following, written by Oiujhnu Klijhh, has been alternatively called “a look into the derangement of machismo beyond the reach of civilizing modifications” (Ti-Poce Lok, The Old Bearer) and “a dull, obvious, and reactionary account of a complex interpersonal and mecho-psychological malfunction”(Youlik Koi, Tau Ceti Shepard).]

A flying creature rides upward on a thermal coming from the hot springs, and the chances of crashing on a planet with wildlife I can eat and air I can breathe occurs again, because there shouldn’t be any chance, this is like the miracles of old myth, and maybe with my hobbyist’s obsession of the ancient art of survivalism I’m an element of this miracle: I know what it means to hunt, farm, and look for resources.

We crashed while exploring frontier, and we did so because frontiering means having reduced power, no cloud consciousness, no speeding mental process, everything slowed, and only basic biomodifications maintained. What happened to us almost never happens, the risk is always tiny, a pinprick, but regardless people still hate being made slow; this is why most don’t frontier, and why me and the crew wanted to, just for the value of being different and seeing different things and having stories others couldn’t. But something in the ship went wrong—some switching chip in those arcane computers—and outside the range of any satellite repair, in a place lightspeed help would be able to get to us in time except there’d be no way to find us, we hit a planetary gravity field when we shouldn’t have, and, most of the ship being unsuited to atmosphere, spun toward the planet and burned up. We were all pretty stunned, just spinning around safely in the emergency quarters till we hit dirt, and when we figured we could breathe we were happy except that ended pretty quick when we realized we were stuck. Still, there shouldn’t have been much of a chance to make it longer than a few weeks. But here we are, and again, it’s a miracle.

The flying creature riding thermals has a lot of wings, maybe four that I can see from this distance, and it’s a few meters big. It’s graceful, a good product of this world, and I enjoy watching it against the blue-green cloudless sky until boredom sets in and I decide to head back to camp for the sake of doing something. I don’t really look forward to getting back, though. Camp means an array of bitter looks from Leeland, who I like less and less. Leeland blames me for the crash in general because he expected me to know when something went wrong with the ship on account of being its captain. Niore, the other crew member, understands the difficulties, knows that no captain could ever make something out of a malfunction in deep space without cloud consciousness. Niore doesn’t hold much blame for me, and that I appreciate. She maybe even understands that I’m the reason we’re all alive; though the basic biomodifications still work, important ones like the ability to eat most things and optimized energy usage, we still need food, shelter, and plans and I’m the only one who knows how to get them, the knowledge coming secondhand through my hobby.

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From the Wolf 359 Review:

When We Were Alien is historical non-fiction set during the early years of interstellar travel, before the discovery of the Lievesy particle. It follows five starships dispatched during the first wave of  extrasolar colonization missions. Each ship held five-hundred and twenty volunteer colonizers who slept in a preservative stasis until reaching their destination planet or moon; the colonizers were accompanied by a ship’s crew of one-hundred and eighty who maintained the craft in three-person shifts until their deaths. Each ship spent thousands of years traveling, at near light speed, toward planets that were only theoretically inhabitable or terraformable.

Among the scenarios described in Liokuir’s magnificent prose: a crew awakens to find the bodies of the previous shift missing and the starship irretrievably off course, occasioning a meticulously recorded philosophical debate over allowing the next shift to wake (the debate never extends to the sleeping colonizers, who, Liokuir writes, “are  still moved through space by their ship’s momentum, preserved and ready to be awakened, frontier-people in perpetua.”); a starship lands and colonizes a planet, the beginning of our own Gilese-667c, establishing the first extra-solar human colony; another colonized planet is tragically decolonized when an errant miner punctures a 20-kilometer-wide NH3 subsurface deposit; a crewman who is the only successfully de-preserved member of her shift writes a library of philosophy and fiction that is now known as the Gossamer school of thought.

What makes When We Were Alien especially noteworthy is that it gives life to humans who had few, if any, biomodifications, and only the most primitive at that. It is famously difficult to render the consciousness of lightly modified humans—as Kanusia put it, “one is all too sharply aware of their mere three-dimensionality.” But Liokuir, through a combination of erudition and empathy, succeeds in de-alienating us from our origins. By mythologizing ancient humanity from the perspective of our own advancement, Liokuir manages to meet the potential of all great historical non-fiction: not only allowing us to learn from the past, but giving us a sense of relatedness to those who occupied it.

thesis christ

Lamentably, no recordings of pre-interstellar human music exist today. This lack prompted Andiron-Morus-alDer and M.Sbnnac to undertake a lengthy (and famous) study. The duo spent solar decades attempting to understand the few archival fragments and museum objects remaining from the pre-interstellar period.

These two minutes and thirty-two seconds are the result of novel and highly anticipated research; it’s a meticulous recreation of instruments, recording devices, and musical form in accordance with alDer and Sbnacc’s findings. This is what they call a “best approximation” of music from the Earth-bound stage of human development, hailed by the Arcturus Relay Review as “one of the greatest histiro-archeological achievements in recent history”.

Poem Eight

#8

Seerweed, screw-weed, biteweed, old burn
tumbledown ridge at the skirt of the Dgurik
you lay with your scales peeling upward
garment of hominid tongues with green overbellies
as if they knew I was coming and wanted
a last look.

Fold down to Deep Bellghel and line the brood nest
sweet thing
all those azure dunes must not have looked like wastes
from wherever you were
when you left home.

Your spit your hiss your reptile
mewlings and mucilaginous
chemical secretions doubtless were poetical
but I was too distracted by the thought
of where you thought
you were going
before
we met.

The murderer El-el Ek was a non-androgyne (pronoun “he,” possessive “his”) of Tau Ceti, and is thought to have been raised as a member of the preeminent caste of Bar Mol, a city notorious, in that age, for the extreme stratification of its populace. Although Bar Mol’s surviving institutions have expunged all record of Ek’s attendance or participation in their rites, scholars generally agree that Ek was possessed of extraordinary intelligence, even for a parahominid, and particularly for a parahominid whose biomodifications were barely able to support a lifestyle on the relatively temperate desert-world of Essessess. 

During his brief residence on Essessess, Ek committed a series of killings that met traditional definitions of the term “murder,” but he was never apprehended, and there is no evidence that he killed at any other point in his life.

Ek is notable for having composed a number of poems widely considered to be accounts of, or reflections on, his acts of “murder”; “#8” is perhaps the most widely recognizable. The numeral does not indicate that the poem is in any way related to Ek’s eighth killing: Ek did not title his work, and the Essessene authorities tasked with investigating his involvement numerated the poems as they were discovered. This system has led to some confusion over time.

On The First Interstellar Exodus

[Poem by Grety Nibeo]

A captain watches
passing harsh orange
Arcturus, her shift
near over, cargo sleeping

—we are strangers
sojourners
our days
on earth are shadows—

The ghosts of flowers
on an ancient ruined Earth
impel them gently,
old delicate garland

Persephone looked
back as flowers tumbled from
her breast, a starship 
past a foreign sun

Ghosts On Regulas: Excerpt From Jostry Varyalivh-Orick-Odana’s Journal

[ Varyalivh-Orick-Odana was the effective founder of the Authentics. Not long after the following experience, she reverted her bio-modifications and rendered herself “natural” until the end of her short human lifespan.]

The ghosts of different consciousnesses still linger on Regulas, many solar years after initial immatereality-post-human experiments failed. The disaster has been discussed extensively, and doesn’t require summarization. But little has been said about the subsequent phenomena on Regulas: the ability for the still present remnants of millions of consciousnesses to offer post-humans some of the few (or only) truly hallucinogenic experiences available to us. It is on Regulas that the daring traveler can come in touch with the unknown, the unpredictable, what can never be accounted for.

The common theory is that movement of old mental connections surrounding this planet causes direct interference with our own perpetually unhoused minds—whose thoughts and experiences occur in the immaterial aether—rearranging our perceptual formations, resulting in hallucinations. But this has never been proven, and these phenomena are probably of the few things that we can never prove, for here we run aground the limits of our own advancement. For my own part I believe that these are not hallucinations but genuine contact with other minds, individuals formed anew from the maelstrom of fragmented minds and relegated to existing immaterially forever. They, I think, are more like the ghosts that gives them this moniker than most believe.

On my visit to Regulas, I had an brief encounter with one such ghost. We conversed while I stood on one of the old ruined gray-purple plains of Regulas. The ghost appeared to me as a synesthetic mix of colors and shapes, a shifting multiformious thing pressing against the insides of some ancient plastic bag. Although I expected such an encounter, both the form of the vision and the direction of the conversation surprised me:

UNKNOWN: Never sated! Never sated! The post-human is never sated!

AUTHOR:   What do you mean?

UNKNOWN: This is what human has done: piled on its skin a thousand images, thoughts, a thousand sources of information and distraction, arts and philosophies, many sensational things, many experiences, many things that provoke. These things must be shed.

AUTHOR: I already see what you’re getting at. This is a tired supposition made long ago, that who we are is lost in the external things we consume. It is simple and annoying and not very interesting.

UNKNOWN: I know these things more than you! I have lived many lives; I am many lives. You are always awakening to a breakfast of fresh new things, always taking in, and what will sate you is not these things, assorted knowledge accumulated over thousands of years, but the taste of your own blood. The bodies of the old humans knew these things, urged them toward it. The body of the post-human is not even a body, for it came after something. It only has the urges and drives which has been placed in it. Those ancient words of ego id urge passion drive which knew of blood and pain and mortality disappear from such a body. I know this because I am mortal and immortal—I once lived, and I died, and now I am immortal as a thing which once lived and died.

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Among the Authentics, Part I

[by KALEAN PORTLEE, for The Agena Journal]

Two solar years ago, I went to Eridus IV as an ethnographic researcher. Eridus IV is a small moon with a small settlement, made up of individuals who choose not to undergo Bio-Mechanic recalibration. They call themselves Authentics.

My official purpose for going was academic: I wanted to compose an ethnography of these people. At the base of this want lay a simple curiosity to discover the Authentics’ reasons to deny Bio-Mechanization.

I expected to find a community full of savages with short lives, short attention spans, and even shorter tempers. All these expectations were, at least in part, fulfilled. I also found things I didn’t expect. Like those short lives being lived with surprising vivacity.

*

My ship lands on Eridus during the moon’s evening. The sunset here lasts for hours. I set my optics to receive the same input as the Authentics, the natural visible light spectrum for humans. I don’t like it. 

The first Authentic I’ve ever met greets me at the landing bay. It’s a man, young-looking, with dark brown hair. Because so many people decide to look like humans, I have to remind myself of how fragile, how simplistic, how constrained he is by his biology. And despite myself I can’t stop thinking that he’s an idiot for not going through the bio-mechanization process.

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Kien on Selfishness

“Many have criticized the humans for their history of self-interest. But we often forget the biological and historical constraints from which the humans were only relatively recently emancipated. Selflessness is easy for the Scibon, who through the abundant sacrifices required of procreation has evolved in a way that ensures a reasoning and generous offspring. But for the human, pleasure is derived from the act of procreation. As a species, the most self-interested of them creates offspring. The fact that any altruistic human exists, given its natural propensity towards selfishness, consistently amazes me.”

—Chuce Ahna-Wiel-Kien

Transcript Archives: Sentience Colloquium

Even with unlimited interstellar exploration, our ability to understand and communicate with life forms other than those we are familiar with is often limited. An evaluation of sentience is vital to the determination of the rights ascribed to these beings. In this excerpt from the Galactic Fora series—which took place nearly two-thousand years ago—Hadara Bar-Nadav and Ron Maclean, both professionals of biology, chemistry, neurology, and philosophy, discuss sentience and its implications for rights. Hadara Bar-Nadav’s most recent work is Under the Mind-Crossed Guise, which won the Wolf 359 award for non-fiction. Ron Maclean is a sophist who has mentored great intellectuals across hundreds of years, including Anne Leerhasen, Pia Merwin, and Lars Komunyakaa. This portion of the series was meant to introduce beginners to the ancients’ problems of understanding sentience.

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Excerpt from “Voyage Reports”

[Jericho Reyn is an interstellar explorer. Voyage Reports is a collection of essays, journals, stories, and poems he wrote during and after his travels.]

In the pre-God-particle universe, humanity’s focus was upon survival. We see the obvious horrors: resource wars and rampant poverty. Our advantage over such times of great suffering and need is clear. Yet under this same historical scope we can also see the negative impact of our own universe of surplus, in which thought has placed us under its sometimes terrifyingly powerful stranglehold. If I were to pose a diminishing-returns theory of intellect, its consideration would be serious. In a universe whose planets are often peopled with those who have the luxury to follow their philosophies to the letter, the state of personhood is one that allows for an absurd level of intellectual withdrawal.

Voyage 71
Location: HR 8799 - b

The first nation on “b” is abandoned
crumbling crops of corinthian growths
an organic-electric sign blooming
“A land of insanity, incontinence
and unmistakable incredulity. We left.”
-The Eltosinians

I move on from there to the Skippects, whose land is a dry desert.
They are at the tip of the rotational axis
close to a sun that scintillates and scorches without setting.
The inhabitants sit shelter-less, smiling under raw red faces.
I ask one why they don’t seek shade he grins and farts.

Osioc is the next nation.
Upon birth, Osiocs crawl
into great pools of lye, burning off their skin
leaving nothing but nerveless tissue.
As soon as they can hold knives, they take them to
their ears,
their noses,
their eyes,
and finally their tongues.
Senseless, leashed to feeding tubes,
their existence is a mystery
their perspective thought and world unknowable.
The horrors of themselves are relegated to those outside them:
they must only know their own reason.

Lievesy Particles

Racheal Lievesy’s research crew discovered the small particles during an unmanned interstellar mission to collect molecules in the debris disk orbiting Tau Ceti’s sun.

Lievesy particles have a constant required force, and an inconstant mass.  The force required to move a Lievesy particle is almost insignificantly small, yet the movement of these particles in interaction with other particles enact normal-level forces upon those other particles. For example, if a Lievesy particle were to touch a water molecule it would create the amount of force required to move that water particle without needing to transfer an equal amount of force from another source. For the Lievesy particles every action does not have an equal and opposite reaction; a small push of a Lievesy particle creates a large push in the other direction. Being such, a single Lievesy particle bouncing between two objects brings about perpetual motion.

The laws of physics have been adjusted—as they often are—to accommodate the existence of the Lievesy particle. It is now thought that much of the force and movement in the universe is due to the existence of the Lievesy particle.

The initial probe recovered, along with normal interstellar debris, six-hundred and forty-three of the particles. Within twenty years the first faster-than-light unmanned interstellar craft had been built using the particles. This craft,”Colony’s Hope”, recovered another three million of the particles in Tau Ceti. 

The human species has found its source of unlimited supply: with a single particle possessing the capacity to power and fuel anything that can be powered or fueled, the worries of survival have disappeared. The particles are rare on a universal scale, but considering a single particle’s potential, more than enough are available to sate the human species’ needs.With an abundance of unlimited, created energy, humanity is now limited only by its own ingenuity.