To Hell with Protocol


“The primary model for human relations in consumer society is the ‘contactless’ tap or swipe.” — Milda Tinguali, The Consumer Vortex

Nasrul awoke to the news that the town square had been firebombed and the area cordoned off by military police. Interferences and disturbances had become commonplace in the last few days of the dying of the embers of the empire of the senses.

There were those who said there was a panicked, frenzied grasping for the familiarity of undying chaos and slaughter.

The electricity supply ran out, making it impossible to uphold data transfer rates in another region where the in-communicability of the known impressed itself, rendering members of the general populace speechless, while some stared into space for hours on end, only pausing to eat. Without servility and submission to enterprise, there was nothing left for anyone to speak about, nothing to communicate.

N assessed the situation and decided that while the pool was being drained he might be able to formulate a plan to venture away from the encampment. It had become painfully obvious that otherwise nothing would get done.

His slow dive into caricature where tension was pliable was at one with eulogy and atonement, as the rickshaw of his journal recorded an anomaly. His knuckles went white as he gripped the reins. The animal curse of his saliva, muscular as the ocean, was spat at statues that entranced the human realm to trick it.

N and Lakshmi had been instructed by force of discipleship to pass by silently the pillagers of their condensed minds. Uncanny to behold, Lakshmi was deep asleep in a living room, dreaming. She was only human, or so it seemed. The circumstances in which L found herself were such that she had read the book but hadn’t as yet seen the movie, the one about going missing in action.

To Hell with protocol,” she thought, “I do like a bit of disruption.” She walked across the tiled floor and as she left her body she took possession of it.

N was bouncing on the bedspread and speaking the language of water. His fantasy had turned into non-fiction assessed and analysed by critical means.

“Non-fiction is best avoided,” suggested L.

Those she spied at a distance absorbed in the artifice of belief reminded her of her own ego strategy. Their need to react, to turn American or inward showed her thoughts to herself.

Motion and action persisted. The linearity of time and its perception was a facet of life ebbing and flowing like a minstrel’s tale or a song cycle.

Every citizen or voter had to account for themselves to participate in the democratic order that prevailed at that time. Technocrat psychopaths were seeking to manufacture and replicate by design with the injection of predictable behaviour patterns that could generate vast revenue datastreams. This meant having to regard physical objects and certain forces such as the law, war or the TV as things which had to be ignored in favour of one’s own immediate survival and pro-consumer concerns. More significantly, it placed upon the participant the responsibility to comply with and fulfil the terms for being taken seriously as a subjective identity with the capacity to express certain tendencies or attitudes. People who were ciphers for property values and algorithms behaved accordingly.

God was a mild irritant, a pest living beneath the floor like a stray rat or bird.

The satisfied consumer durable investigating its iconographic data, its dedication to iconoclastic imagery, clever advertising, the surreal unfamiliarity of the dreamer’s dystopian aesthetic, was ruined by non-compliance with the banality of the presiding immersive narrative decoy.

Removing breeding insects from furniture and windows, pollution was avoided but no-one could object to opinions. Opinions mattered.

Such impositions on the increasingly burdensome facts of social reality, an imaginary game it seemed, were too much to bear. The delusions got worse for us. It was the same for all telepaths at that time. When they disconnected they had the choice to sample the delights of empty thought or indoctrination.

[Either way, the pre-programmers began to discard some of their earlier methods. Claiming to be a channel for equality, the TV station developer demonstrated that the deal rested on uncorroborated evidence which stated what was already known to be the case, in which case there were no conversations.]

When telepathy only went one way we called it, “under-thought”, when it was blocked deliberately by one party it was called, “going blank”, when two parties were in unison, “interlock”, when both agreed to break, “unlock”, preparation for a telepathic interchange for a stated purpose was referred to as “download”, and so on.

Fascism produced fascists, many of whose enemies would like to have seen banished to the hinterland in some prison-hell. Ideology would be the sacrifice, but removal was its only replacement.

For some unknown reason, most people suspected nothing. Alternatively, an idea to improve on capitalism by producing more capitalism, as long as it did not seem unethical, had taken hold of many minds.

If memory had served him correctly, N walked past a golden figurine, a sacred calf, the head of a goat, some howling coyotes and a church in the remote mountains which crumbled behind him, but it was inadvisable to venture much further beyond the encampment than that.

A bewildering remark was made about a folding chair.

The pioneers of humanity communicated with their past and future counterparts the idea that being human rested on heroism, pathos, wonder and style. As if all parts of humankind were naturally in a perpetual state of union visualised as one billowing flag representing oneness and the beauty of striving, as if sublime truth was an abstract principle or a minor deity presiding over the mythology of consciousness.

In time, N would show how he’d been served up as an allegorical trope, a cathartic persona, an antidote for all those statements of the obvious, but his device would over time flourish then become outré and perish.

N tried out the heavenly levers and dials just to see what would happen. He made rain fall on the crowds, turned the sun up a tad brighter and made a hologram of the Messiah appear in the clouds, much to the astonishment of the pioneers. The Second Coming visited Earth on several occasions on a chariot, on horseback, in a Ferrari, in a wheelchair, on a quad bike, etc. A new virtuality had begun, claiming human airs and graces, but a word was missing. What word would the Messiah speak?

Predictability had been injected with a thrival figure. A discussion in a restaurant went at a punishing rate. Apparently, a new number had been discovered by some mathematicians, a number which had never been calculated before. The media portrayed it as if it were as remarkable as the discovery of a new planet identical to earth. Even more remarkable, it altered all previous calculations so they now turned out to be equal to something higher or lower.

The line above the bottom line appeared to fluctuate because the different figures had a plus or a minus before them, but just because the figure changed didn’t mean it wasn’t a straight line that remained static on the screen. It did not serve a function.

The same went for emotionality, plus or minus, and to preserve emotionality, N would re-conduct the data-flow by means of the novel strategy of turning day into night. It was an act of blasphemy against the holy order of the scheme of things, as it defiled the given order. It was an amoral act, but emotionally vibrant.

Day was not night. The two things were separate and constructed the social world distinctly. Day was for work and activity, night was for relaxation and sleep, but N would make the day serve the usual purposes of night. He would make his work and activities relaxation and sleep which would be functional, normal and integrated within the light of day yet of the numinous night. Each day would be a night with a different name, and no night would be the same or have the same name as another.

Without a sense-machine, simulations were deconstructed out of the husk of a facsimile, textural like sawdust or marble, engineered by joy, unravelled and carving the lineaments of gratification.

N would conduct a small ceremony for the naming of the days and nights at 12 O’clock. He would give them emotive names according to his inclination, and these continually changed, so there might be a night or day of dry mud, another of asphyxiation, another of yellow and green, one of the low rumbling skies, another of desolation, eulogy, epiphany, surrender, nausea, etc.

Operating from the vantage point prior to the belief in day or night, prior to the usual days of the week, months, years, etc., and while re-arranging the qualities therein, N was able to construct a new paradoxical paradigm and escape the tyranny of the calendar.

The properties of human flesh and bone and blood, having been predestined by quantification and the trade in numbers, would be transferred across space and time in innumerable data packets set to burst open into the sky and swarm around intricate values and analyses of values which would be gathered into one unthinkable figure and absorbed into the etheric fields.

But there came a time when telepathy was denied. Although it could be entered into or transcribed at any time, the decision was made to ignore it. The heart moved its attention away from the current of thought between us, and I looked all over the heart, turned it around in my hands until I could find no trace of any thought or feeling or emotion in the heart which could transmit telepathically, even by accident.

This way I was able to employ other ruses for thought in general. If the central receiver of telepathic outflow was still readable on the screen yet disinclined to partake of my discourse (i.e.: listen to my rants) and would rather condemn me for crimes for which I had already served time, yet kept on transmitting a signal, then it was futile. I severed the connection, and although it was almost too easy to tune in, I blocked my receiver.

This left a cold, stale air, a numbness.

Without the electricity of connected thought there was the attempt to construct an idea for it, as though people who agreed to think together could between them make an image of communication and linked through it could share thought, as if confirmation of appearing to think the same thing proved one is linked to another.

What proved there was a connection of thought was the way it unfolded and developed as ongoing discourse and conversation. There was no fakery when there was no attempt to contrive, mimic or dictate the notion of how thoughts should link or combine.

The banality and mediocrity of life without telepathy eventually began to sink in. It was a mundane social realism, a genre in which material facts dictated everything, which meant of course, therefore, that telepathy didn’t even exist.

The Conversations 2: To Hell with Protocol | text & image © A. A. Walker