Tonight, Tonight

1. Prologue – The Chymist

The hooded stranger handed me an energy drink, as he was gazing absently at the animated lights of the Mile End boulevard.

Hooded stranger: From this lofty keep I could nightly look out upon the city and its constant mutations. A different city every night. Yes, the city is indeed also a vessel. And it’s one that obediently takes the shape of very strange contents. The Great Chemists are working out unfathomable formulae down there. Look at those lights outlining the different venues and avenues below. Look at their lines and interconnections. They’re like a skeleton of something… the skeleton of a dream, the hidden framework ready at any moment to shift its structure to support a new shape. The Great Chemists are always dreaming new things and risking that they may wake up while doing so. Should that ever happen you can be assured there will be hell to pay.

The stranger continued his condescending monologue while my body grew increasingly stiff. He claimed he himself was employed by the Great Chemists and the drink I had just finished was supposed to slowly turn me into a figment of his imagination, infinitely malleable, shifting shape according to his fantasies, while at the same time remaining passively aware of my helplessness. I was completely immobilised and I could hear my own heart racing as never before; yet at some point I eventually remembered! This wasn’t at all real! I had read it the other day in a book of short stories by Thomas Ligotti. As soon as the realisation occurred to me, I was able to move freely; my body lifted from the dreary loft and I was soon able to see the entire district of Whitechapel from a comfortable height. Still, the words of the hooded stranger lingered in my thoughts. The lights of these interconnected venues formed the skeleton of a gigantic being, whose pulsating heartbeat was beginning to feel like minor earthquakes. A deafening yawning sound ensued as I finally awoke from the night terror in cold sweats and a racing pulse.

2. The Luddite

I was late for work, so after a 5 minute shower, I quickly dressed up, left the house and started sprinting to the train station. Few things can be more unpleasant than a 30-minute walk uphill on a frigid morning of February. With a sigh of relief I boarded the last train that would arrive in London just in time, as the warmth of the interior and the comforting fragrance of my flat white allowed me to sink into the chair and catch my breath. I put on my headphones and gazed through the windows absently, as the familiar voice of Melkor’s podcast was breaking the silence:

Melkor: What’s happening, lads? As you all know, I’ve been having some rather dark thoughts lately, about the predicament we have been forced to live through for the entirety of our lives. These cohorts of experts, technocrats and talking heads who think they are in charge of our fates have proven to be incapable of predicting, let alone controlling anything. They promised us ‘the singularity’ would come by the year 2045, and here we are, 6 years later; their so called ‘digital ascension’ has not happened either. We have been living in these fockin’ metaverses our entire lives; this gamified petty existence, where they control the amount of movement your body is allowed to exert; the amount of oxygen you are allowed to breathe; this hellish, nightmarish state of mass surveillance has no ending in sight. And who in their right minds can look forward to this perverse notion of ‘ascension’ anyway!? Of denying the body in favour of some computer simulation?! Who in their fockin’ right minds can look forward to these spineless cowards lording it over our digital copies even after we have died?! These uptight disgusting fockers who failed to get laid in college channelled all their energies into this quest for digital immortality. Because they fear reality, they attempt to predict and simulate it. Because they want to prevent their own hurting from repeating, they want to forbid humanity from experiencing anything authentic. This has to fockin’ stop! We have reached the point where we have nothing left to lose! Tonight, me and a good friend will be showing up in Shoreditch, where we will be having an interesting chinwag. Join us for a pint, lads, and we’ll discuss the details.

3. Chemical transformations

As I entered the lobby of our little office in Shoreditch, I was greeted by Rodolfo, the office manager, who told me I should head to the boardroom right away, as the meeting of the creative directors had started without me. I quickly finished my coffee, took one last bite of the delicious bacon and scrambled eggs muffin and headed to the small room at the back.

The three other creatives along with an unknown guest welcomed me and brought me up to speed with the topic of today’s meeting:

Kiran: Hi Gio; as you know, this week we commence work on ‘The Chemist’, a short film commissioned by our good friends at ‘The Imaginarium’. Archie here was getting ready to brief us on the film’s subject. There’s a lot to unpack here, so get ready!

Archie: As I was saying, the film starts with this hall full of alumni; Auron Lanier, the dean of Goldsmiths (we’ll call him by his real name and cast an actor that can do a really good impersonation) says the following line:

‘Greetings, parents, and congratulations to Goldsmiths’ graduating class of 2045. Please don’t worry that I’m getting ready to lecture you about compassion or other-directedness or all the so-called virtues. This is not a matter of virtue. It’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply lazy, hostile to technological innovation and to see and interpret everything through the lens of the past. People who can transcend this natural default setting are often described as being ‘well-adjusted’, which I suggest to you is not an accidental term.

[here we must zoom on his face in order to build tension and discomfort in the viewer. The dean continues]:

That is real freedom. That is what being technologically literate truly means, and understanding how to conceive of digital ascension; of being willing to die in the flesh and become uploaded into our collective afterlife. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the irrational fear of the future, the constant clinging onto the life inside this useless perishable body!’

Archie: Y’all know Auron’s infamous speech. What we want is to portray it as reactionary and dangerous. As y’all know, the cult of digital ascension is part of the problem we are facing as a society! These fetishisers of the virtual afterlife have placed all their hopes of immortality at the feet of ‘the singularity’, which was supposed to happen in the year of the dean’s graduation speech. Although the event failed to materialise, our technocratic elites have been working tirelessly for the advancement of machine learning and automation, hoping to trigger the long awaited exponential loop that would finally allow for complete technological oneness, followed by the possibility of eternal life. A kabal of fragile manchildren wanting to freeze time to a stop!

Kiran: and we are well aware of the devastating inequality this reign of the nerd has brought into the world!

Archie: right! ‘nerd’ is a key word for our film. By doing so, they become enemies of the future; a dangerous force of reaction and the irrational past.

[I was quiet, as usual. Although I had been a creative lead at The Pixel Factory for over a year, I was still under the supervision of the main three directors and I always felt my artistic intuitions to be at odds with their vision. Archie’s points were ubiquitous in our field, and thus he could express them with full confidence that no one will dare to push back against any of his tirades]

Archie: The message of the film must be crystal clear: civil disobedience, industrial action, mass uprising. And what better way to present this than through the figure of the Revolutionary? The dean of Goldsmiths leaves the classroom and later goes to an expensive cocktail bar where he reads scientific papers and drinks alone. There he meets this elusive stranger who questions and dismantles his deeply held beliefs. The back and forth must be dramatic; the dean throws his best at the stranger, but his discourse is refuted time and time again. It all culminates in an epic monologue by the elusive stranger. Here I want you to quote verbatim from this short story by Thomas Ligotti:

“I tell you, no one worships this city as I do. Especially its witticisms of proximity, one strange thing next to another, which together add up to a greater strangeness. Just look around at these caved-in houses, these seedy stores, each one of them a sacred site of the city, a shrine, if you will. You won’t? You’ve seen it all a million times? A slum is a slum is a slum, eh? Always the same. Always? Never.

What about when it’s raining and the brown bricks of these old places start to drip and darken? And the smoke-gray sky is the smoky mirror of your soul. You give a lightning blink at a row of condemned buildings, starkly outlining them. And do they blink back at you? […]

No two times are the same. No two lives are alike. We’re like aliens to one another. Are these the same gutted houses you saw list night, or even a second ago? Or are they like the fluxing clouds that swirl above the chimneys and trees, and then pass on? The alchemical transmutations are infinite and continuous, working all the time like slaves in the Great Laboratory. Tell me you can’t perceive their work, especially in this part of the city. […] As I was saying, everything is just variation without a theme. Oh, perhaps there is some unchanging ideal, some sturdy absolute. But to reach that ideal would mean a hopeless stroll along the path to hypothetically higher worlds. And on the way our ideas become feverish and confused. Perhaps, then, we should be grateful to the whims of chemistry, the caprices of circumstance, and the enigmas of personal taste for giving us such an array of strictly local realities and desires. From this lofty keep I could nightly look out upon the city and its constant mutations. A different city every night. Yes, the city is indeed also a vessel. And it’s one that obediently takes the shape of very strange contents. The Great Chemists are working out unfathomable formulae down there. Look at those lights outlining the different venues and avenues below. Look at their lines and interconnections. They’re like a skeleton of something… the skeleton of a dream, the hidden framework ready at any moment to shift its structure to support a new shape. The Great Chemists are always dreaming new things.”

– ‘The Nyctalops Trilogy, The Chymist’, Thomas Ligotti

Archie: the dean cannot bear the monologue, he tells the stranger he has gone out of his mind; a knife fight ensues and the stranger deals him a mortal blow, then disappears into the night. Then we switch to scenes of crowds rioting, burning cars; think of the ending scenes in ‘The Joker’, we are going for the exact vibe.

Kiran: Sounds pretty straightforward, what do you say, Gio? can we have a WIP storyboard from you by the end of the week?

Me: Sure, I’ll brief the team and we will all get to work.

As I went back to my desk, I felt shivers down my spine. The previous night terror, Melkor’s monologue and Archie’s briefing were all part of the same story. What the hell’s been going on? As I turned on the news, my face turned pale; the talking head was reporting on riots about to take place in Shoreditch; the infamous luddite group, ‘Melkor’s lads’ were expected to show up later on that day; people were strongly advised to remain indoors, while businesses were urged to finish work early.

4 hours later we were taking our lunch break at the Italian market. The nerds in our team were enthusiastically discussing some weekly raiding event inside their favourite game, ‘Horizon Siberian Winter’; as usually I felt bored to death, so I had nothing better to do than listen to the directors’ takes on culture and politics. This time Archie had stayed with us and my colleagues were eager to pick his brain and cherish his every word.

They all seemed worried about the riots; Melkor’s lads were seen as the lowest imaginable scum and a civilisational threat. While all my colleagues shared this terrible concern, Archie seemed aloof and untroubled. ‘These pissant rubes will never be able to pose a serious threat to anyone. Without in-depth knowledge of cog-psych, machine learning and complex adaptive systems, the entire infrastructure we all cherish and enjoy is a complete black box to them. Imagine a pack of chimpanzees attempting to destroy a fleet of drones. Completely laughable. And you will all get my full meaning soon enough.’

Suddenly my phone started ringing; I looked at the screen – it was a call from a rival film-making studio, where I had applied for an interview. It all came back to me! The interview was supposed to take place today around 13:00, and I had completely forgotten about it. I put them on hold as I went outside the market, looking for a private spot where the traffic was not too loud. As soon as I found it I apologised profusely and asked for a rescheduling.

Mordechai: Don’t worry, Gio. I understand you have important tasks to perform at your current company. We can wait a while longer.

[I thanked him with a sigh of relief and asked for the next available date. Then things started to become awkward].

Mordechai: how long does it take to walk to our office?

Me: I haven’t taken the day off, I’m afraid; my directors will be expecting me to return to the office shortly.

Mordechai: Look around you. What’s going on over there in Shoreditch?

As soon as I looked up from the screen, I witnessed a great commotion; people with face masks, all in their early 20s, wearing ‘Melkor’s Lads’ t-shirts, were evacuating shops and building barricades. My mind was going through a carousel of states, as the fight-or-flight instinct was beginning to kick in.

Mordechai: don’t hang up. Keep walking down the boulevard calmly. I know you’ve been listening to Melkor, but please refrain from showing any signs of sympathy. If you keep calm, you will be left alone.

To my horror I noticed a rival group approaching the barricades; all dressed in black and wearing shiny urbex gears. With amazing coordination they started tearing down the barricades and kicking the shite out of their rivals; as I was trying to appear passive and untouched, they were using trained dogs to drag every Melkor lad out of his hiding place, either punching them unconscious or taking them into their vans.

Half an hour later I was at the reception, preparing for my late interview with Mordechai.

4. Crusader Uber-Geeks

Mordechai: beer or energy drink?

Me: water, thank you.

[We sat for a while in silence, while Mordechai seemed completely immersed in contemplating his computer screen.]

Me: you know a few things about my private interests. I’m not sure this is a good start for our potential collaboration. No employee likes to be spied on by his directors.

Mordechai: everything we have gathered about your interests was readily available on public platforms. ‘The Chemists’ of the metaverses can gather that info at any time; if we wanted to harm you, do you think we would have shared anything with you?

Me: so your goal in film-making is political as well? Why can’t everyone leave these things aside and enjoy their lives for a change?

Mordechai remained silent as he started searching intently through his drawer. He pulled out a remote control and turned on the conference screen. The news were showing live footage without commentary; to my absolute horror I saw an array of masked men in black smashing the windows of the building next to my office. Machine gunshots were heard from all directions; the camera then turned to the lobby of the Pixel Factory, where I could clearly see people lying unconscious on the floor.

Mordechai: understand why I was a bit insistent earlier on the phone? You are completely safe here, but should maybe consider leaving London in the near future. Our main office is at an undisclosed location in an even safer spot.

Me: what the hell is going on??? Who are these people, and why on earth would they attack my co-workers?!

[After a brief pause, my interlocutor answered]:

Mordechai: the singularity is coming. It has been delayed, it’s true; but all AI models predict it in unanimity. What few people realise is that ‘the technocrats’ are not a single unified group. They are in fact two warring factions – the ‘digital ascension’ nerds and the hippie artists. Everyone identifies the nerds and hates them with passion. Their only goal is to reach immortality through upload. This burning desire has pushed them to the limits of their mental capacity; for decades they have been the driving research force behind machine learning, complex adaptive systems and cog-psych; leading the development of bio-tech and artificial intelligence. However, having a specific goal is also their fatal flaw. As technology has taken a life of its own and has been slowly emancipating from human control, they have continued to attempt to guide it in their desired direction, and they are starting to look like a midget bossing around a giant cyclops.

Me: forgive me for speaking plainly, but do you really believe in that crap about AI becoming sentient and turning on humanity?

Mordechai: you don’t have to take it too literally. Nobody claims that this giant processing conglomerate is governed by a will of its own, comparable to the will of human individuals. The entire process is emergent. The world is now a single connected system with the rate of connectivity accelerating exponentially. The global political, economic and social system that transcends the nation states are a set of interacting complex adaptive systems (CAS) built over a shared technological substrate of connected content, communication and communities. Political models of the future must model the global CAS as the interactions of the 3 vertical CAS layers over a monotonic layer driven by the 4th industrial revolution. Any and all models that do not reflect this will be incomplete, inconsistent, incoherent and incapable of modelling the problem or the solution domains for politics, economics and society.

[I was listening intently, trying to make sense of it all.]

Me: so is this interconnected web a sentient being, or is it not?

Mordechai: it is a different type of sentience, less centralised and more self-adaptive. There is no simpler way to put it.

Me: what are its aims? and why are the ‘digital ascension’ nerds not fit to control it any longer?

Mordechai: nobody can know or predict its aims; and even if gained the ability to speak and told us in plain language what it wanted to do, we would not understand it, as its level of complexity far outreaches any human ability to make sense of it. The ‘digital ascension’ nerds are unfit to administer it because they want something in return. When the singularity is unleashed upon the earth, the only humans that will be ‘well adjusted’ to administer – or rather serve it – will be those who have no other purpose in life than to witness its magic. These are the hippie artists. You are familiar with the people at ‘The Imaginarium’, I believe?

Me: Yes, I met one this very morning. One of the smuggest characters I have seen in a long time. But I bet that conversation is also public knowledge!?

Mordechai: It is indeed. The hippie artists do not shy away from stating their explicit goals. As you may recall from Ligotti’s story that troubled you so much, they worship ‘the whims of chemistry’, ‘the caprices of circumstance’ and the ‘enigmas of personal taste’. The random mutations of the Neo-Darwinian models appear to them as the highest sacrament they can partake in. Since there are no such things as ‘unchanging ideals’, ‘sturdy absolutes’ or ‘a path to hypothetical higher worlds’, every technological change is regarded as variation without a theme; a river in which you never step twice, and which also demands your absolute worship and devotion. By showing their willingness to serve, they hope the skeleton of this giant being will eventually reward their faithfulness and bring about some yet-unimagined state of bliss in which only they will be allowed to participate.

Me: and where do you fit into this picture?

Mordechai: We are ardent believers of the one true God; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We are crusading uber-geeks and have devoted our lives to bringing about the blessed historical synthesis. We believe our nations are under threat of replacement and unjust exploitation. We wish to bring this abomination under the rule of the righteous God, before it is too late. And we have a very small window of opportunity before the singularity is fully consolidated.

Me: And you are hoping to use your knowledge of complex adaptive systems, emergence, AI and cog psych in the service of this higher goal, right?

Mordechai: I could not have said it better!

Me: and what about the luddite faction? what do you think it’s going to happen to them?

Mordechai: they already lost the fight. I don’t ‘think’ this is the case; our models show it with every simulation. All factions hate Melkor’s lads and would set aside any infighting to see them crushed like bugs.

Me: But the luddites are the good guys! They’re the only group who can keep its eyes on the correct Telos; cultivate physical abilities, moral virtues, earn wisdom, know God. In other words they are the only ones able to move on ‘the vertical axis’, so to speak, while everyone else seems to be concerned with the flat horizontal reality. The luddites are able to gain the Birdseye view without which no one could know what technological developments will do to our common good. The skeleton of this giant being must be dismantled; severe breaks must be put on technology, until humanity manages to figure out the answer to these deep questions!

Mordechai: this is the worst idea I have heard in a long time. Do you realise the implications of ‘dismantling the skeleton’ of this giant being? It’s the end of life on earth as we know it!

Me: but isn’t this supposed to be the inevitable by-product of the singularity anyway?

Mordechai: [visibly distressed, growing restless] it doesn’t matter; the singularity is INEVITABLE! only fools attempt to oppose the inevitability of the future! And once again – do you realise what such an endeavour would even look like? Nothing short of universal carnage and anarchy! Melkor’s lads are genocidal maniacs who have been slowly radicalised into adopting failed strategies that – even if miraculously implemented – would lead to such revulsion from the masses, that these pissant rubes would be defeated anyway.

Me: [getting nervous] But you realise Melkor never advocated for violence or protest. He fully realises the futility of such endeavours. All he is calling for is the inaction imperative; tactical detachment from politics in the hope of maintaining some semblance of normal decent living. And you have not answered his main points; do you think it’s wrong to take a break from the constant monitoring of machines? Is it wrong to pray or meditate? Is it wrong to focus on the health of your body, cultivate virtues and wisdom?

Mordechai: [exploding] Fuck this reactionary talk of virtue! Fuck his ideas of bodily health and fuck his ideas of wisdom!! All these things are passé!!! They have all been superseded by the new understanding brought about by complexity sciences. Our complex models shed light on the nature of reality; not his outdated books of wisdom and theory. By using emergence and complex adaptive systems we now have, for the first time in the history of our species, been able to gain access to full epistemic certainty. You cannot have virtue if you don’t see the complex landscape around you; let alone wisdom! And what use is a healthy body when we now have access to tools of genetic augmentation unthinkable in past eras? It all boils down to the question: do you have access to data or do you not? If you don’t and you obstinately cling on to past Newtonian models and superstitions, you are a false prophet.

Me: That may well be the case, but I was under the impression that Complex Adaptive Systems are only helpful in establishing tactical objectives, like fighting an information war or mapping the territory more accurately. But all these realities still pertain to what I earlier called ‘the horizontal axis’; the domain of utility, strategy, fruitive action; when we talk about virtue, wisdom and the Sacred, we are moving on the vertical axis, participating in Theosis or however you want to call it. But if you reject every form of wisdom that preceded these complexity sciences, what makes you think you are a believer in the one true God? Were the authors of the ancient holy books and all the metaphysical treaties aware of complexity science? Of course they weren’t! Yet you don’t reject religious belief, do you?

Mordechai: religious belief is a personal matter. I KNOW what is true in my own heart; I KNOW which God I serve. I am a Christian absolutist. I fight for my people; my nation is in danger and in order to help it I am willing to become ego-less, completely dedicated to the cause. You must become so too if you want to join us. And considering your previous employer is probably dead or in ICU, you haven’t got too many options to choose from.

Me: okay, so what is your strategy in winning this war?

Mordechai: We must study the emerging multiplicity and map it accurately. As soon as we anticipate the next moves of this giant emerging skeleton, we can come up with strategies of propaganda, leaks, targeted marketing, allowing it to slowly slide towards our desired goals. If we are always one step ahead of the crowd, we can trick this cyclops into following our own incentives. Once the thesis and the antithesis are in place, we can bend this giant being towards our own will, which – as I said previously, of course – is completely ego-less and subjected to the will of the One True God.

Me: Can you give me a specific example of how this can happen?

Mordechai: [excited] Sure. We know that the ‘digital ascension’ nerds have models as good as ours, but are too rigid in their expectations. They are indispensable to the well-functioning of the cyclops, but they sometimes get in its way. When that happens, the cyclops favours the hippie artists who want nothing but submit to its demands. The hippies are great devotees and enforcers of consensus, but they have two core weaknesses – they are not as technologically savvy, and they tend to want to butcher everyone else – ‘digital ascension’ nerds, luddites and ourselves. But without the tech monitoring of the digital ascensionists and ourselves, the cyclops can fall into disrepair, so it has to limit the influence of the hippies in order to prolong the singularity.

Me: and what is your role in this balance of powers?

Mordechai: we are the carrion-eaters of the ecosystem. Whenever the other factions become too one-sided, we purify the cyclop’s skeleton of anything too excessive. When digital ascensionists become too autistic in their desire for automation, we encourage the cyclops to favour the hippies; whenever the hippies become too degenerate in their revenge fantasies or their concupiscence, we purify the infrastructure of the deleterious mutations. Or whenever we must wage war on a foreign power, the cyclops always needs our help in convincing the masses that foreign intervention is the best course of action. So while we know for certain that everyone wants to murder the luddites, nobody will be able to lay a finger on ourselves; the uber-geeks are here to stay and eventually we will force this beast to bend its knee to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

[It took a while for the last sentences to settle in. As the implications of his claims became clearer, I felt sick to my stomach. I knew the world was on fire and there were probably riots everywhere, still I could not contain my anger]

Me: so you’re blood hawks; you’re fucking neocons! Why didn’t you say so?! Could have saved your breath all this time. You have subverted every reactionary cause and turned it into a mockery of its initial stance; you never conserved anything, and in your delusions of grandeur you conceded every victory to your opponents, while still maintaining the insane belief that you will somehow power through this mess and emerge emperors on the other side.

[Mordechai turned blue and wanted to snap a few times, but contained his anger and remained silent. Eventually, he reacted to my tirade in a glacial tone:]

Mordechai: I tried to warn you, but to no avail. ‘Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.’ Yet you will not abandon your luddite folly and your obstinate adhesion to anachronistic notions of the dark past.

Me: [interrupting him furiously] You claim to be reactionary, yet you speak about ‘anachronistic notions’ and ‘the dark past’? Are you fucking kidding me, or do you take me to be mentally impaired?

Mordechai: [continues untroubled] It is our sacred duty to incapacitate radicals like you. The data models show with complete certainty that you were going to be jailed and convicted for holding luddite beliefs; it was just a matter of time until it happened. Yet if you keep polluting the creative ecosystem with your backwards views, all you will do is draw attention away from a real solution to the singularity; and we don’t want to distract seeking souls from the righteous path.

Me: the righteous path of holy emergence, is it? the sacred matter that is bound to ‘secrete’ divine intellect through bottom up random processes? Can you not see you are just like those you claim to oppose?

[Mordechai gazed through me absently as he picked up his briefcase.]

Mordechai: you are now officially under arrest. My secretary will show you to your room where you will be provided with fine food and drink. I am leaving the city for a brief period. I will even let you in on a little secret: our models predict that the Singularity will occur at any point between next week and the week after. We are actually doing you a favour by locking you away from all the rioting in the city. Do you now understand why every intelligence agency is losing its shit? Melkor’s lads were not even there for protests; they were provoked and baited. They just wanted to plan some lame’o Amish commune in the countryside, some place up Norf where they were hoping to be left alone. Well, look at how well that worked out for them. Drone.set target – ‘uncle-ted’s cabin coordinates’. SetStrike. Boom! But you’re a rogue hippie, you know nothing about coding anyway. ‘Arrivederci’, ‘Shalom’ and ‘ma’asalama’, my dear Italian agent.

5. Singularity ensues

I had been waiting for a few hours in my basement cell. Mordechai had been kind enough to leave me with my phone, so I was frantically watching news and podcasts. The world was indeed going through the pains of childbirth; Melkor had been completely silent since his last podcast; the news aggregators were spamming articles about the dangerous radicalisation of Luddism and how these disaffected piss poor lads were in fact part of an orchestrated move to hijack the national infrastructure. The creative hippies of ‘The Imaginarium Inc’ were broadcasted widely as they were giving their concerned takes on the combined reactionary danger of digital ascensionists and luddites; or how we have a civic duty to rethink the metaverses in more humane and eco-friendly ways.

There was complete silence about the sacking and burning of the Pixel Factory. It was the middle of the night and after much absent disgust and apathy, I was finally dozing off, when all of a sudden a powerful sound seemed to reverberate from all directions. I looked at the screen of my phone and saw it playing a music video. Still, the sound was not just coming from the phone; it was as if all speakers in the city had been tuned in to the same music video – ‘Tonight, Tonight’ by The Smashing Pumpkins.

The video started with the dramatic orchestral intro, followed by the soloist’s Donald Duck voice:

‘Time is never time at all
You can never ever leave
Without leaving a piece of youth’

[The video showed an aerial view of Goldsmiths, then switched to footage of dean Auron Lanier’s house, as seen from a drone. The dean appeared to be thunderstruck as he looked at the camera. He started running in circles frantically, as the image zoomed out through the window, to the skyline of North Greenwich.]

‘And our lives are forever changed
We will never be the same
The more you change, the less you feel’

[The video was now showing footage of the metaverse’s headquarters engulfed by huge flames, then it switched to a 360 view inside the metaverse, where a tapestry of idiosyncratic user avatars were dancing and singing backing vocals to the song. This was followed by a close up of the soloist Billy Corgan staring into the screen, or rather an uncanny 3d avatar that looked like him in his youth.]

Believe in me
Believe, believe
‘That life can change
That you’re not stuck in vain
We’re not the same, we’re different

The video then switched to an aerial footage showing a London cab speeding through a forested area; it then instantly zoomed inside the cab, showing none other than my interviewer Mordechai, looking worried around him. The video speeded ahead by a few miles, showing police crews blocking the roads.

‘We’ll crucify the insincere tonight
We’ll make things right, we’ll feel it all tonight
‘We’ll find a way to offer up the night
The indescribable moments of your life
The impossible is possible tonight
Believe in me as I believe in you

All of a sudden, the electricity went out and I was in complete darkness. Without the smart systems, the door to my cell unlocked by itself. I exited the building and was shocked to see the streets were as dark and deserted as the office headquarters where I had been taken captive. I threw away my phone and started running frantically. In less than two hours I was back at my place. The events of the day had been so tumultuous, I immediately fell into a deep slumber with dreams weirder and more frightening than even the night before.

[to be continued]

Our Lady of the Web
The Deep State vs. The Deep Right (mirror)

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