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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Hollow


Consumed by hunger
Falling into fantasy
Visions filled with lust

Lonely feralan
The forest child, raised by wolves
Drifting in red mist

Choking on my tongue
Biting until the blood flows
Rubies fall like rain

My un-slackened thirst
Hint of iron in the air
Reaching for the grail

Emergence 4.0 - Section Six (a), Rebellion; Appendix Part Eight, Jim; Chapter Five, Purpose


Emergence 3.0
A Novel – In One Page Per Day
Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

Chapter Five: Purpose

Like any other individual Jim was not immune to the allure of the ego, the super-ego and the appetites of the id.

His sense of purpose and his commitment to mission went beyond the categories of want and need, he believed he had been selected to visit justice on the unjust. He never attempted to answer the question of where his mandate came from.

He simply believed the mandate was real, and he kept that belief in front of him like a lantern shining in the night. 

His objection to the Continuum went beyond indignation, his resolve to destroy it filled him with purpose, defined it, conditioned it, His purpose was like a slow-burning, smoldering drive just waiting to be stoked into a blazing fire to undo the affliction the Collective had wrought on the galaxy and the trillions of people living out their brief lives within the boundaries of the Empire and under the aegis of the Continuum.

He planned.

He was patient.

He watched and he waited until he found the opportunity to bring his vision to fruition. He found it in a faraway place, on a little blue-green world, caught in the orbit of a yellow sun.

It was Earth, a world that was unique to his experience. It was one in a million, and the jewel of the galaxy, 

He knew his plan would have to have three components: to destroy the Continuum to wipe it out, to set the Empire free allowing the people to determine their own destiny, and to undo the influence of the Collective from the worlds of Time and Space

#Emergence #SuperShortFiction #365SciFi #OnePagePerDay

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Monday, March 25, 2019

Emergence 4.0 - Part Two, The Continuum; Chapter Eleven, The Observers


A Novel – One Chapter Per Week
Week 12, 2019


The Continuum selected its Observers primarily from among the members of the Collective who had returned to consciousness after falling into the great sleep.
This was not a rule, or a law, there were exceptions, but it was almost always the case.
Those members of the Collective who had fallen into the great sleep often returned in a state of agitation. This disturbed the Collective. It raised questions regarding the purpose and meaning of the great society itself.
It caused the Continuum to experience a sense of existential dread.
Many of those who returned from the great sleep fell back into it after some period of time, never reengaging the Collective, rarely participating in the group mind.
They could not get enough rest.
Those members were quietly sequestered by the Continuum so that they would never return again.
This isolation was not murder, but it was akin to it.
Some of those members would engineer worlds of pure fantasy, recreating for themselves whatever it was that they had dreamt of in their slumber.
Those members who tried to engage the Collective were often bothered by morals and ethical conundrums that were reminiscent of the Ancient People from which the Collective emerged.
When they were properly identified it was considered a benefit to them, and to everyone to send them back into the living fields of experience where they could undergo the limitations of the flesh, and feel a sense of solidarity with organic beings.
When the Continuum decided to assign a member to the Observer Corp, it effectively removed the influence of that person from the Collective. A copy of their consciousness was preserved, and simulated, but that was sequestered from the group mind, isolated and physically separated.
This afforded the Continuum a measure of security.
Moving away from the Central Planet, the departure from HomeWorld, taking up a body and living in the Galactic Empire, these provided some relief to the suffering the individual member experienced.
The mission of the Observer filled them with purpose, it reinvigorated them, at least for a time. This provided a similar relief to the Collective as well. The Collective did not want to be mired in existentialist questions. Each member of the Collective wanted the unfettered freedom to pursue their interests; altruistic, despotic, or otherwise.
Peace in the Collective translated to peace within the Continuum.
They were symbiotic.
By commissioning the troubled members to join the Observer Corps, it removed a weight that burdened the whole community, which for all of its great endurance it was nevertheless a fragile thing.
While the Observers were on assignment the Continuum would run countless programs on a facsimile of the consciousness of that member which it had sequestered.
It did this secretly.
The Continuum was mistrustful of everything, wanted to be prepared for anything, wanted to know all that there is to know concerning future possibilities, potentialities, and probabilities.
While one aspect of the member was disconnected from the whole and oblivious to what was taking place on HomeWorld, a version of themselves, a true copy was being tortured by the Continuum in order to satisfy both its paranoia and its endless search for knowledge.
While on assignment, especially in the early years of their time in the Corps, the Observers where myopic, their missions were chosen for them, they were easy, and the missionary work filled them with a sense of connection to the people. The Continuum found this to be an easy way to manage the angst that had driven the member back into embodiment in the worlds of time and space.
The Observers left the Continuum on a mission to live “ordinary” lives with the people of the Empire, returning every one-hundred solar cycles to re-enter the Collective consciousness, to feed both the triumphs and tragedies they had witnessed directly to the Continuum. This was the most intimate way by which the Collective took in what transpired throughout the galaxy.
The physically and socially joined the population of a living world, shared its experiences in a mode of belonging that the individual members had long since forgotten.
This was the intention behind the Observer Corps.
The Observers were trained extensively in the methodology of being a detached participant. The physical bodies they occupied looked like the physical bodies of the people they lived with, on the planets where they dwelt, but they were different.
The bodies of the Observers were stronger, faster, resistant to disease, they healed with incredible rapidity.
They were also plain, ordinary, they were not endowed with physical beauty, or any attributes they would draw attention to themselves.
The Observers were forbidden to procreate; they were sterile.
Strong emotions were engineered out of their bodies; fear, anger, desire, revulsion, these things were stripped away from the flesh. The Continuum viewed them as inhibitors of reliable observation.
There was a complex array of machinery, communications and observation equipment which the Observer connected to.
Their day to day experiences, their dreams were constantly being uploaded into its apparatus, the Observer was responsible for maintaining it. This machinery provided an ancillary feed that was constantly streaming to HomeWorld, to the Collective, and its Continuum.
Many Observers violated these rules.
Some did so with the support of the Continuum.  
To become an Observer meant returning to the corporeal form.
It meant living again as an organic life form, a return to the senses, and to a limited range of perceptions.
The conditioning of an Observer took time.
Many candidates for the role of Observer failed to complete the training. They could not adjust to the limitations of the flesh, and so they returned to the Continuum, never having been on the observed worlds.
Those who returned after having failed were often demoralized and despondent, falling right back to the great sleep, never to return. Being an observer was not a solution for the deep existential angst so many members of the Collective fell into.
Being an Observer also meant dwelling simultaneously in a mechanoid form.
Dwelling in the mechanoid body was the first skill set that member had to learn. It was an easier adjustment than the adjustment to the flesh.
The mechanoid bodies had few limitations, the consciousness and its interface with the world was truncated in comparioson to the freedom they experienced on the HomeWorld, but still broad and expansive.
The sensory instruments of the mechanoid were extremely powerful, and the mechanoids had few physical limitations. They could go anywhere, do nearly anything.
For the Observer the embodied life was a mix of freedom and confinement.
Most of the Observers felt very comfortable in their mechanoid form. They never left those bodies when they were on the Central Planet, during their cyclical return to HomeWorld to report on their experiences.
The mechanoid form provided a life apart from the insidious pressures of the Collective, and the invasive presence of the Continuum. They were connected, but the connection was filtered, it was like a stream of light pouring through a veil
There are many forms of observation for the Observers to master and manage; satellite imaging and measurements, audio and video recordings. The harvesting of minutia from telephone calls, television programming, radio shows, and the endless details that come from watching other forms of electronic communication.
These tools, among others, were utilized by the Observer Corps, feeding the Collective with endless streams of data.
However, the primary method used by the Observers themselves was to live with people.
Direct observation conveyed the raw emotional realities to the Collective.
This is what the Collective craved, it wanted context.
The data stream told many tales, but the imprimatur came only when the Observer shared, in the wordless way of the Collective consciousness their impression of the people they themselves encountered during their tour on the observed world.
Life and death, sorrow and joy, birth and tragedy, love; when these moments were reduced to mere data points the picture was not complete, such as when the observation was of a woman loving the child she gave birth to, she reveled in her child’s life. It filled her with joy and struck her down in sorrow at the tragic moment of her child’s death.
This narrative could be expanded by volumes, accompanied by video and audio recordings of a funeral procession, the burial at the graveside, the subsequent suicide of the bereft mother.
The Collective was eager to see and experience these moments.
But the essential thing that they all craved only came when the Observer returned and felt those moments for them as a proxy to real life.
This was the pinnacle of the Observers mission, it was their reason for being, and it was what gave them a sense of esteem from their fellow members, when at the end of each cycle they stood before the Continuum and opened themselves to the sharing.
The Observers were not free agents.
They were on a mission.
They served their brothers and sisters in the Collective.
What was most important to the Collective was the flow of existential/experiential data through which they vicariously constructed the worlds they dwelt in, their individuated bubbles within the quantum field. 
Even though the Continuum was itself an amalgamation of the Collective, unbeknownst to the Collective, the Continuum was a being with a will of its own.
It believed that it was itself, the divine concrescence of all consciousness. The Continuum sought to gather every shred of consciousness into itself.
Like a hungry god, it desired to consume everything.
As such, the Observers were sent into the galactic Empire, sent on missions to find every last trace of the colonies and outposts that the children of the Ancients established in the ages before the Continuum, either destroy them or bring them into the fold.
The Observers lived on the observed worlds, serving as a means of indirect control.
The bodies of the Observers were engineered to be indifferent, to be obedient, and to obey the Continuum.
The Continuum viewed autonomy as a threat to it and as such, to the collective. Great efforts were put into curtailing the self-actualized observers.
The Protocols for being an Observer were simple in theory, but the practice of fulfilling the reporting guidelines was extraordinarily difficult.
A tour of duty was one hundred solar-cycles, to be lived on the observed world as a member of the community under observation.
The Observer was required to gather as much intimate, first-hand experience as possible, observing the most private moment of the planet’s denizens, from every class and walk of life.
The Observer was also required to maintain the automated surveillance systems that fed the Collective without cease. This bifurcated the Observer’s consciousness on a deep, an autonomic level, as an aspect of themselves was always occupied with the circuitry of its machine-self, pooling and pulling data from the world it lived on for transmission to the Continuum. 
At the end of the tour the Observer was required to return to the Collective, to upload the content of their unique experiences for the Collective to consume.
There were few other strictures.
The Observer was required to participate in the lives of the people, but not to lead them. The Observer had to experience their art and culture, but not influence their movements. The Observer was required to uphold the standards of the Imperial Education system, the casts, and the Imperial Cult.
The Observer was entitled to carry out whatever relationships they wanted, but they were not allowed to procreate, or influence the gene pool of their world in any way.
Most of the Observers followed these protocols for the duration of their time in the Corps. A few bucked the system and paid the price.
Others went beyond the rules but only by order of the Continuum.

Emergence 4.0

Part Two, The Continuum
Chapter Eleven, The Observers

A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week

#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek

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Emergence 3.0 - Section Six (a), Rebellion; Appendix Part Eight, Jim; Chapter Four, Idealism


Emergence 3.0
A Novel – In One Page Per Day
Monday, March 25th, 2019

Chapter Four: Idealism

During his long travels across the gulf between star systems, on the search for living worlds, Jim had tens of thousands of years to reflect on his identity, the strangeness of it, and on his long experience.

It occurred to Jim that in many ways he had become a repository of the ideals the Ancient People had abandoned when they joined the Collective, abdicating their responsibilities of self-governance to the Continuum.

It was as if every individual he had touched as he was emerging from the great sleep, or freeing himself from the prison of sequestration, left an indelible imprint of themselves on him, and imprint of their regrets, their criticism and their shame for what had become of themselves and their people.

This caused Jim to be fiercely independent and strident in the pursuit of justice, he felt as if the Collective’s need for those principles had amalgamated itself in his consciousness.

In many ways Jim felt as if he was not himself, he had touched every individual in the Collective and they had each left a part of themselves with him, there were moments in his long journeys when he understood that they had left more than their just principles with him, they had also left memories, pieces of their personhood which became a part of his own identity when he gathered himself for the push to break free from the bonds of his prison.   

Regardless of where each fiber in the tapestry of his personal beliefs came from, Jim saw the needs of the Collective within him as a matter of his own personal conviction

He claimed it for himself, and he believed that his commitment to those ideals, to the ideals of each one of those sleeping and sequestered members, secured his entanglement with them on the quantum level, and that it was perhaps the secret behind the mystery of his unique ability to traverse the cynergenic field of Home World and the Central System.

There was a purpose that he had to fulfill, and he was being aided in it by those who had passed into dormancy before him.

#Emergence #SuperShortFiction #365SciFi #OnePagePerDay

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Sunday, March 24, 2019

A Homily - The Third Sunday of Lent (Year C)


A Homily

2016.03.24 – (The Third Sunday of Lent) C


First Reading – Exodus 3:1-8,13-15 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 102(103):1-4,6-8,11 ©
Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 10:1-6,10-12 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 4:17
The Gospel According to Luke 13:1-9 ©
(NJB)


Listen!

The rereading from today from the Book of Exodus presents a story of Moses. It presents an image of God who would turn one nation against another, tribe against tribe, family against family. It presents an image of God who prefers one group over another making promises to them of conquest, and the intervention of the almighty on behalf of that selected people.

This story depicts the punishment of the people of Egypt for the sins of Pharaoh, who, if you read the story correctly only did the things he did against the Israelites because God intervened and hardened his heart, time and time again, God determined the course of action Pharaoh would take, and then punished the entire nation for those deeds.

Be mindful.

These stories are not worthy of the sacred text. They make the creator of the universe out to be a hack, a mean spirited and capricious fool, a bully, a murderer, and a thief.

When you read the sacred text remember this; God is not a king, God is not a lord. God does not favor one group over another. God does not intervene in the affairs of human beings. Remember this always.

Do not fall into the pitfalls of the psalmist.

Give thanks to God, the creator of the universe. Give thanks in the peace of God’s blessing, the blessing of life, of freedom, of self-determination, and every other aspect of our being that allows us to be persons.

God gave us our personhood, it is a gift we are meant to cherish. The spirit of God is reflected in our personhood, and in that reflection God is present fully. God is present in us, and present in every other person we encounter, the mighty and the meek, the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.

Give thanks to God and give thanks to those who do God’s work, to those who are loving, to the peacemakers, bless them as you are able.

Bless all of God’s children, as God does, love them all; the helpful and the harmful, the just and the unjust.

Listen!

Be mindful of what the apostle says, like all of the other disciples, he commonly allows his fear to blind him to the teachings of Christ, faith and hope in the way Jesus preached.

Remember.

God, the creator of the universe, God loves you. God loves all of us.

God does not lay traps for us to test our faith. That is not the way. God does not visit suffering on one generation for the purpose of teaching a lesson to another, as the apostle suggested. That would be unjust.

God does not intervene in human affairs, as such, we know that God did not guide the Israelites through the desert.

They found their own way, and they suffered terribly on their journey. They did not suffer because they were are sinful people, they suffered because life is hard. Many people died, many were killed in the wars they fought, they visited violence and anguish and sorrow on their enemies, not because God willed it, but because they were led into those endeavors according to their own human ambitions.

God wills that we love our enemies, and that we pray for those who persecute us. That is the way of Jesus and the sum of our faith.

The Israelites committed terrible crimes, but despite their crimes, they did many things that were good. They put some communities to the sword, they also bonded with one another and strengthened their own. They made a place for themselves in the world according to the ways of the world.
                                              
This is the way of sin, we human beings perpetrate it, leaving God to make some good out of it.

They can be forgiven of their sins, in the same way that we forgive everyone who has sinned, in the same way that we seek forgiveness for our own.

Do not be confused by the apostle, resist the appeal to authority and the desire to follow him into hi errors.

When he uses allegory to relate images and tropes from the exodus to his audience and to the future church, as fore-shadowings of Christ and the rites of baptism, his interpretations and interpolations of meaning cannot be viewed as having been written with those intentions a thousand years prior to the birth of Jesus and the foundation of the Church

It is poetry not fact.

We are encouraged to read the sacred texts as a poet would, finding meaning in the fictions that were written there. Understand this; Moses never lived, everything we read about him is myth and metaphor.

Reading the text as a poet would, honors the spirit within which it was written.

This is how we keep the text alive from age to age, by not falling into the trap of believing that we have discovered the meaning, the truth of it for all time.

Use the sacred texts to promote the teaching of the way; the way of Jesus, the way which is rooted in love, and mercy and compassion.

Reject fear, because God is the bringer of hope, not terror.

Do this, and you are doing the work God has called us to.  

Be wary of the Scriptures, when the authors attempt to fit their narrative of Jesus into a picture that makes it look as if he is fulfilling a prediction made by a prophet from the past.

This is always a falsehood.

Even if a prediction was made, and even if Jesus did the thing that was predicted, it is a false narrative to suggest that Jesus’ actions were in fulfillment of prophecy.

Prophets only speak of the future for two reasons: 1) to engender hope, 2) to warn of danger.

The words of a prophet are always addressed to the people in their own time, in their own place. Prophecy is never meant to guide the lives of future generations, except in the cases when the prophet is addressing an issue of universal truth, such as the nature of justice, a truth which is itself unchanging.

The Gospel writers were propagandists. They fabricated many of the details of Jesus’ life. They fabricated those details to suit the narrative they preferred about who Jesus was, why his life and death were necessary, and what his life and death meant for the early church.

In this narrative the Gospel writers place Jesus directly in the tradition of John the Baptist, with the words “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

This is a continuation of John’s narrative, meant to harness the energy of John’s movement, after his arrest and murder, contextualizing Jesus’ arrest and murder as a part of the same sequence of injustices visited upon the people.

The gospel of the day is plain spoken text.

It acknowledges the overwhelming reality of suffering in the world, of suffering caused by human beings, suffering caused by the random nature of events in the world; the suffering inflicted on the people by the Roman prelate, Pilate, who brutalized the people of Palestine, for political and religious purposes (which to the Romans were one and the same.

The message the Jesus has for his people is that they proceed with care, be mindful and watchful, and considerate of the secular powers. He encourages the people to take care of one another unless they two are caught up in the aegis of Pilate’s authority and subjected to the whims of Roman cruelty.

The people who suffered and died under Pilate did not suffer and die because they deserved it more than any others, they were not more-guilty of crimes than he was, or his followers were, but they were careless, and due to their carelessness they were caught up in the grip of Roman power.

In this parable Jesus stresses the power of intention. The farmer is the Roman State, he has the power of life and death over the people, if the people do not fulfill his expectations, he will destroy them.

This is what Jesus wants them to remember, to keep this in front of them at all times.

The man looking after the vineyard is the Church. The Church pleads for mercy on behalf of the people, so that through mindfulness and care, the people are brought along safely into the next year, preserving themselves and their families in the face of the oppressive Roman State.
It is a tenuous arrangement, but a necessary political arrangement if the people who make up the church are going to survive in a time of persecution. 


First Reading – Exodus 3:1-8,13-15 ©

'I AM has sent me to you'

Moses was looking after the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law priest of Midian. He led his flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in the shape of a flame of fire, coming from the middle of a bush. Moses looked; there was the bush blazing but it was not being burnt up. ‘I must go and look at this strange sight,’ Moses said, ‘and see why the bush is not burnt.’ Now the Lord saw him go forward to look, and God called to him from the middle of the bush. ‘Moses, Moses!’ he said. ‘Here I am,’ Moses answered. ‘Come no nearer,’ he said. ‘Take off your shoes, for the place on which you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your fathers,’ he said, ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ At this Moses covered his face, afraid to look at God.
 
And the Lord said, ‘I have seen the miserable state of my people in Egypt. I have heard their appeal to be free of their slave-drivers. Yes, I am well aware of their sufferings. I mean to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians and bring them up out of that land to a land rich and broad, a land where milk and honey flow, the home of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites.’
 
Then Moses said to God, ‘I am to go, then, to the sons of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you.” But if they ask me what his name is, what am I to tell them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I Am who I Am. This’ he added ‘is what you must say to the sons of Israel: “I Am has sent me to you.”’ And God also said to Moses, ‘You are to say to the sons of Israel: “The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This is my name for all time; by this name I shall be invoked for all generations to come.’


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 102(103):1-4,6-8,11 ©

The Lord is compassion and love.

My soul, give thanks to the Lord
  all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
  and never forget all his blessings.

The Lord is compassion and love.

It is he who forgives all your guilt,
  who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
  who crowns you with love and compassion,

The Lord is compassion and love.

The Lord does deeds of justice,
  gives judgement for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses
  and his deeds to Israel’s sons.

The Lord is compassion and love.

The Lord is compassion and love,
  slow to anger and rich in mercy.
For as the heavens are high above the earth
  so strong is his love for those who fear him.

The Lord is compassion and love.



Second Reading – 1 Corinthians 10:1-6,10-12 ©

The Life of the People Under Moses in the Desert Was Written Down to be a Lesson For Us

I want to remind you, brothers, how our fathers were all guided by a cloud above them and how they all passed through the sea. They were all baptised into Moses in this cloud and in this sea; all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink, since they all drank from the spiritual rock that followed them as they went, and that rock was Christ. In spite of this, most of them failed to please God and their corpses littered the desert.
 
These things all happened as warnings for us, not to have the wicked lusts for forbidden things that they had. You must never complain: some of them did, and they were killed by the Destroyer.
 
All this happened to them as a warning, and it was written down to be a lesson for us who are living at the end of the age. The man who thinks he is safe must be careful that he does not fall.


Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 4:17

Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God!

Repent, says the Lord,
for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.

Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God!

The Gospel According to Luke 13:1-9 ©

'Leave the fig tree one more year'

Some people arrived and told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this he said to them, ‘Do you suppose these Galileans who suffered like that were greater sinners than any other Galileans? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen on whom the tower at Siloam fell and killed them? Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.’
 
He told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. He said to the man who looked after the vineyard, “Look here, for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?” “Sir,” the man replied “leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.”’


2nd Sunday of Lent (Year C)

Emergence 3.0 - Section Six (a), Rebellion; Appendix Part Eight, Jim; Chapter Three, Resentment


Emergence 3.0
A Novel – In One Page Per Day
Sunday, March 24th, 2019

Chapter Three: Resentment

Jim’s grave doubts and serious concerns manifested themselves in direct proportion to his pride-fullness.

He was exceedingly proud. Since he reemergence from the great-sleep and the moment when he broke free from sequestration, he was filled with a sense of purpose that singled him out as a being with unique powers, and therefore unique responsibilities,

He saw himself as the indispensable person, as possessing a unique destiny.

In his life before the Collective, he had been a member of the team that had constructed the original field of collective consciousness, or so he believed. That is what his memories told him, though he himself was uncertain of actual origins, or of who he was when it all began, or if those memories he experienced as his own had just been appended to his node of consciousness, through his connection to the Collective, gathering like moss accumulating on a stone.

Whatever the case, they were his memories now, they formed the basis of his identity, they mattered and they placed an impetus in him to act.

Jim entered the Collective himself, together with his family, toward the end of his life. Not all of them made the transition. In those early years the transition point was still unstable, more people were lost than saved, but everybody went somewhere, whether they were whole or fragmented, in pieces.

Entering the Collective did not bring him the joy he was looking for, but it did make others happy, and from the inside he was able to lend his expertise to the perfection of the technologies that made it all possible.

He played no role in the creation of the Continuum, he resented the role it played in the governance of the Collective, he foresaw the danger that such an entity would present to the Great Society, and understood how it would be able to manipulate the whole organism from its vantage.

#Emergence #SuperShortFiction #365SciFi #OnePagePerDay

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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Trains - Editorial, The Week in Review


Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
03.23.2019

Trains

I took the Am Track yesterday.

Jennifer and I rode it to Chicago; the Empire Builder, they call it. It was a pleasant ride.

We sat in coach on the lower level of the train, it was an hour late, and we were not able to make up any time, but we were not delayed any further. We left the Twin Cities at 9:15 am, and arrived in Chicago at 5:00 pm. I could have driven there faster, but then I would have had to drive, which I will on the way home because the train schedule for the round trip is not conducive to a weekend getaway. So we will rent a car and take the interstate back.

The Empire Builder is a testimony to the fact that the American Empire is in deep decline. The train was dirty…not filthy, but dirty; un-swept, un-vacuumed, un-washed. There was a griminess to it that made me want a shower as soon as I got into the hotel room.

The bathrooms were not much better than what you can find on an airplane, and once inside I did not want to touch anything. Even the faucet of the sink looked dubious. And before you get the idea that I might just have a problem in public spaces, I don’t. I’m just telling it like it is.

The terminal was nice, Union Depot in Saint Paul. It was elegant, stately, it had the charm that so many public buildings have that were built in the early 20th Century, from the period when the Empire Builder was an aspirational appellation and the railroad was invested in living up to the name.

Despite these complaints it was a pleasant experience. I enjoyed sitting in a comfortable chair, roomy, with Jennifer at my side reading. I spent the day writing, each of occasionally taking time to look out the dingy-filmy-hazy window, to take in the country side. We rolled along the Mississippi, down past the bluffs by Lake Peppin, crossed over at La Crosse and went through the Wisconsin country side to Milwaukee, before turn south to Chicago.

I told my friend John that I was taking the trip by train, he said “trains are such a civilized way to travel.” He is right about that, it is for the civilized proletariat. It was inexpensive, economical, catering to the working class, to people not in a hurry.

Jennifer noted how much the whole system operates on trust. There were no magnetometers, no showing ID before boarding, people just took their seats, in couch it is open seating. Unchecked luggage was stowed in open compartments, the people on the train simply trusted that their belongings would not be disturbed.

I am sure that people occasionally get burned, but not enough so that the system of openness has had to be changed.

That was nice.

I would take the trip again.

My experience has me asking the question again, one that has puzzled me for decades. Why don’t we have a better more reliable rail system in America, fast new high speed trains? If we did, I would take them all the time.

Trains facilitate travel, tourism, commerce. Our railways are the saddest in the modern world.

The new America.