It was in ancient times when Sapperstein, a teenage pot-smoker, used to cruise up and down Woodward Avenue in the environs of Detroit. He would listen to classic rock on FM radio. His main concern at the moment in question was, “Is Jethro Tull heavy metal or heavy wood?” This was before the various metals became segregated into genres of their own: death metal, krautrock, nerdcore, etc. In a way, Sapperstein was ahead of his time.
He jolted to a stop, coming to full consciousness of the traffic around him just in time to avoid rear-ending a restored classic Pontiac GTO. He almost dropped his pipe. Unknowingly, he’d accidentally hit the “band” button. The radio was now tuned to an AM station. A male voice emerged, speaking in crisp, insistent salvos of rhetoric. “Feminazis,” the voice said. “Reverse discrimination,” it said. “Tree-huggers,” the voice of the man mocked in his flurry of affected disgust.
What was this disembodied spirit? It was infectious. It didn’t infect Sapperstein, but Sapperstein’s father became obsessed with it. Soon the voice was everywhere, and imitators flourished. The landscape of discourse changed for the worse as regulations were dissolved in the service of capitalism’s desires. This history-making voice went by many names, but we now know him as “Lush Rimjob or something, the drug-addict from Missouri.”
Within half a century, the Rimjob ethos had swept the world, and it was a short journey, from the bloviating bag of fecal matter who sprinkled his polemics with lies, to entire networks of so-called news based entirely on lies. That evolution is one of the many reasons, if not the key reason, we find ourselves in the Era of SuperTruth®.
The Sappersteins of the world, and everyone else from his historical context, eventually grew old and ceased to exist. There arose in the West capitalists lauded for turning intellectual property, usually that of others, to their own profit. And from among these so-called thought-leaders, success-gurus, and oracles of progress came one called Elon Kuru III.
Elon was a devotee of Kurtzweil, who predicted the advent of a “singularity,” when synthetic cognition would leave the minds of human beings behind, intellectually and physically. Elon believed he could join that elite mental rapturing. To that end, he had his consciousness encoded and uploaded.
Years thence, utterly elsewhere, far from Elon’s crystal, wars of desperation were storming. The starving, choking, burning, bleeding rabble clawed and trampled each other in vain struggle to prolong their unenviable lives, like the damned souls in the Inferno, or a crowd locked in a theater afire. Civilization was moribund, its long age approaching its terminus. Humans led the way into extinction, but soon would follow the animals. The last of the elephants, giraffes, big cats, great apes, baleen cetaceans and the toothed whales would soon follow – and not long afterward, every mammal a person could claim distant evolutionary class kinship with.
Details. It was inevitable it would all be gone. Down the drain of oblivion. True, the force at fault was the social behavior of Homo sapiens. Ants couldn’t have done it. Worms couldn’t have done it. Beavers couldn’t have done it. Only humanity could have so dominated and subjugated the biosphere as to bring it down completely.
But Elon Kuru III was safe in his private simulacrum. The enriched condensate-crystal giga-processor onto which he’d uploaded his consciousness was indestructible for the entire extent of eternity that a human could imagine. Powered by the multi-spectrum radiation of the sun, the hydrogen demise of which would launch him out of Earth’s orbit and send him on what his physicists had calculated would be at least a four-billion-year journey to come to coast around and around the lip of the gravitational well of the red dwarf star, Proxima Centauri, his existence was assured for another couple-three trillion years, give or take. And by that time he’d have figured out what to do next. Elon was effectively immortal.
Striding down the simulated Rue de J’n’-Sais-Quoi in his smartly-tailored McQueen kurta of silk, his Guccis and silk trousers cocooning his perfect feet and legs, he could feel the entirely reasonable weight of his penis against his inner thigh. Its dimensions were his to decide, and he was proud of the good taste and restraint he’d demonstrated in the matter.
Not that he would have anything to prove to a sexual conquest. All the women in his world were as attracted to him as he was to them. And, in preparation for long-term psychological vicissitudes of an immortal mind, projected by his private psychoanalysts (now most likely dead in that all-too real world Elon had left behind), the male cast of the simulacrum looked, as did the females, all the different ways a young, sexually-attractive person could. And they were no mere automatons, these twinks and bimbos, not at all. They were as close to individual, unpredictable refractions of a luminous, complex personality as any AI could generate.
For example, this heartbreaking beauty he is meeting at the sidewalk restaurant for champagne and oysters, on a corner a few blocks from St. Chapelle. Estelle is her name. Originally from Austria. Mother North African. Strawberry blond hair with olive skin and green eyes, a light pink shirt, unbuttoned at the collar, the hint of a lacy bra peeking up. She sets her hardcover copy of Middlemarch on the table as they take their seats. He has never read it. She goes on at length, quite delightfully, about it.
Already he’s challenged. Literature to read. People who love this but hate that. All the many flavors of lipstick to taste, shapes of lips to explore with his. She has joined him on his side of the table, solely for kissing purposes. How chaste, yet carnal.
They both ache to consummate. Or, he assumes she does, whatever that might mean in the imperceptible shifts in verisimilitude. They decide to take a walk to see the St. Chapelle windows. Patience is now effortless for him. The joy and ease of delicious withholding rises in him like fragrant breath in his lungs. They have all the time in the world and then some.
He wonders if his perceptions and responses are being manipulated by the Artificial Intelligence he inhabits, but he doesn’t wonder long, because he is not a self-reflecting, thoughtful person.
Eternity, he says to himself, is not going to be unpleasant in the least.
This had been the Moment of Truth. Good day!
image by Phillip Random Reay