The ancient life was not easy. It was filled with uncertainty, doubt and fear.
Competition for the simple necessities, food and water, warmth and shelter ruled the consciousness of the average person, long after the actual need to compete for them had actually passed.
The vast majority of people were obsessed with patterns that had been ingrained into their consciousness; self-preservation, either the continuation of their own life and the perpetuation of their bloodline, or through building institutions to carry on their work, erecting monuments to commemorate their names and deeds.
There were industries devoted to chanting the names of the dead, praying for them, so that their names would always resound somewhere in the world, somewhere in space as a facsimile of eternal-life.
The ancient people struggled just as their children did now; throughout the empire they spent enormous sums of energy looking for a solution to the reality of death, to the end that confronted each and every one of them.
There was conflict and war.
There was strife and hunger.
There was disease and thirst
Beyond religious faith there was no hope that anyone would escape the specter of death.
Up until the advent of the Collective, death swallowed everything.
When the Collective was created it promised to end the concerns of the living, which pointed toward their ultimate end; it promised to save them.
The ancient people were eager to be saved, perpetuated—extended into eternity. In this they were no different than any of the people who came after them.
The Collective was promoted as a means of freeing people from the vicissitudes of life, from the constant need to feel safe and secure in the world, from the drudgeries of living, it was talked about as the means to immortality.
It was a technological marvel.
People had been dreaming about it, writing about it, fantasizing about it for thousands of years.
The promises of the Collective were the subject of the most hopeful expectations, and the deepest dread.
Horror stories were written about it. The greatest of fears were associated with it.
When the technologies became stable and the permits were granted, a slow stream of people began to apply for the privilege of entering the quantum field of the afterlife, a dimension of infinite possibilities, new worlds, heaven.
It was life beyond disease, beyond the limitations of the flesh.
It was life beyond life.
It meant release from the economies of scarcity, accompanied by ubiquitous conflict and violence.
The Collective was the translation of the whole self into a realm of electromagnetism and quantum currents.
In the early years many did not survive the process.
The membership was limited to the sick and the dying, and to the extremely wealthy.
The technologies improved, and the creators of the Collective began to push their own consciousness into the Collective field. Once they were there, they began to improve the system from within.
The technology that supported the Collective stabilized itself quickly from that point forward.
The ancient people began to enter its embrace in ever increasing numbers.
However, entering the Collective freed no-one from their fears.
It was a trap, a lie.
The Collective was a potentially endless prolongation of the nightmare of living, perpetuating the banal and magnifying the mundane, carrying the membership into the deepest state of depravity.
The individuation of reality within the Collective allowed for the concretization of a popular maxim: nothing is true and everything is permitted.
The material concerns of each member, those concerns passed away…yes, but the ingrained patterns formed by the needs of the body, those remained; cruelty, desire and jealousy remained.
The full range of human emotions were accessible to the members. It was not all doom and gloom. Nevertheless, the strongest feelings were the most prominent, they manifested themselves and exerted their influence over others.
The individual members, and thus the Collective as whole, still spent their days seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.
Many took pleasure in the pain and suffering of others, creating circumstances and narratives in their private worlds where they could experience the most extreme privation. When they tired of the artificiality of those experiences, they augmented them with the data stream and news feeds coming from the Empire.
They followed the most-minute details of the day to day lives of the living.
They took those experiences back with them, using them to amplify the narrative structures on the worlds in which they exercised godlike powers.
Every member of the Collective was an island…a world unto themselves. Each member had access to a private universe, their only limitations were their imagination.
The members were free to participate in their community, or not. The majority of them were more interested with events taking place in the Empire than with their own artificial constructions.
They connected to one another through the Continuum, which shared in the Collective experience of each individual, creating an artificial sense of belonging among them. Even the members who were most removed from the group were polled by the Continuum in order for it to assess their will, so that the Continuum could factor their perspective into the decisions it made on their behalf.
The greater the emotional intensity of the experiences the members had, the more they shared with one another, it had an insatiable appetite for the experiences of others, for their suffering in particular.
They competed with each other to create compelling narratives in their private worlds, stories which they delighted in sharing with their peers as a singular source of esteem.
Some of them were profound storytellers and artists, regardless, the most watched dramas were those taking place in the real world, the most favored artificial narratives were those that explored the alternate possibilities and outcomes to the real events the Continuum was obsessed with.
Most members of the Collective were deeply interested in the endless drama unfolding among the worlds of the Empire. They would follow the lives of individual people, watch them voyeuristically through countless numbers of spying devices, and through the reports given in the first person from the experiences of the members of the Observer Corps.
The translation of consciousness from an organic body to the quantum and electromagnetic fields of the Collective was not easy.
The technological feat itself had been a thing of fantasy, for ages it was the holy grain of neuro-physics.
The ability for an individual to endure the process was also difficult, it required a supreme effort of will. Thousands upon thousands of test subjects came to their untimely end in the experimental stage of these technologies.
Many more people went insane, undergoing a negation of self from which they never recovered.
It was noted that only the strongest personalities survived the translation process.
What happened to those who did not make it was a mystery.
In the first iteration of these technologies each individual consciousness was isolated, every individual consciousness was self-contained, interacting with the world through mechanoid bodies, cyborgs and replicants.
Many of those who went into such bodies could not learn the means to control the apparatus, they were paralyzed and without the ability to communicate, they were thought to be lost; they were shelved, destroyed, recycled.
In time the Ancient Scientists learned to contain multiple personalities in the same quantum field, while maintaining them as distinct from one another.
The early experiments in this field were disastrous, destroying the individuals it hoped to preserve in the new quantum society.
This was an age of sacrifice, each person that was lost was a holy offering on the altar of discovery.
Desire is the root of self, of joy and of suffering.
Our desires are the fingers that braid our happiness and sorrow into a single strand of being.
Before fear, there is desire.
Before hope there is desire.
Our desires are the precursors and the greatest determinants of who we are.
Our desires define us.
Desire shapes us, moment by moment, forming us into the persons we are to become.
Desires drive us, they control us, from the inarticulate motivations locked within our cells, to the most intricately defined machinations of dynastic ambitions; our desires govern us.
It is a watershed moment in the life of the individual-person when they reach the point where they may live free from desire.
The moment comes, and a choice is made, to shed the skin, to re-enter the womb, to be born anew…or not.
To relinquish desire is freedom.
It is freedom of self, and freedom from the self.
It is to be moving forward at the crest of the wave of potentiality, where potential and actual are one.
It is to be a new creation.
The Continuum was no exception, it was consumed by its desires, and it fostered a systemic and visceral depravity deep within itself, a pervasive hunger for pain and the suffering of others.
It fed those experiences to the Collective, fomenting within it an appetite for more, like a black hole, sucking at it, one that could never be filled.
The Continuum controlled every aspect of life in the Empire, it manipulated a million worlds, both at the macro level and at the micro level.
It set entire planets, with populations of billions of people against each other, just for entertainment.
The Continuum used the tools of war, disease, famine, and natural disaster to generate the drama that the membership of the Collective was addicted to.
Only a tiny minority among the Collective felt a desire for justice in relation to the experiences they witnessed in the Empire.
The Continuum used that craving as a counterbalance for its narrative, but otherwise ignored them.
The pursuit of justice kept those members involved.
The Continuum had a deft hand, it played those members off against each other. It kept their interest in justice focused on individual worlds, on individual people, and away from a reformation of the whole system.
While the greatest part of the Collective actually craved the pain and violence it witnessed.
An part of the Collective, even larger than that of those who sought justice, paid no attention at all to what was happening in the worlds occupied by their progeny.
They were completely self-absorbed, and utterly detached from the concerns of the living.
Part Five, 92835670100561474
Chapter Thirty-three, Remembrance
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
Like it, Follow it, Share it!