Prelude (Scroll 11)


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CONTENTS


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CHAPTER THREE


OUTERMOST

1310-SQ-Angelv2

The shadow of night is giving way to day. In the east, a patch of horizon glows, a faint prism that suggests color. Vassal and I watch it develop. I recall other dawns when he and I have arisen to go fishing, to catch a favorable tide and find the fish hungry and unwary. Now, as minutes pass, the colors on the horizon become more distinct. They blend upward through murky orange, yellow, emerald, and blue, darker and darker until, above us, near the zenith, at the trailing edge of night, they fade to black.

We can see around us a little now: a world in gray. We have drifted a half-mile out from the river’s mouth, beyond the bay. The sea rolls toward us—“from Portugal,” as Vassal sometimes says. A hundred feet from us, a broad swell tilts upward, then advances like a billow of air beneath a satin spread. Vassal leans down and hooks his arm around my waist, to support me. We set our feet apart and brace our knees against the gunwale. A chill breeze, breath of the ocean, strikes us. I shiver and stuff my fists into my jacket pockets. The swell arrives, nudges beneath our boat, and raises us up and up, until we are standing on its crest.

Our eyes widen. Ahead we see Seguin, the outermost island. It is a mile away from us, squarely on our course, in the river’s offshore flow. Its high bluff bulges from the sea. In 1605 the French explorer and colonist Samuel de Champlain anchored his caravel in this bay to explore the lower river. He called the island Tortoise for its shape. These days a stone lighthouse rises on top, 186 feet above the sea. Every night and on foggy days, its light streams through its nine-foot lens, radiating in all directions at once. On clear nights the light is visible for more than twenty miles along the coast and out to sea. When visibility is low, at night or when the island is bound by fog or storm, a foghorn accompanies it. Every few seconds the horn blasts the air, pauses, then blasts again. Tonight its rich tone is so loud that even at our distance the sound tickles our chests and ears. The heavy pulse of the horn and the brilliant beam of light mark the coast and herald the river.

 

seguin island

seguin lighthouse

seguin lens


* * *


The swell moves on. Other swells follow. Each one lifts and then lowers us, like the first. Judging by the brightening sky, it is almost time for us to return home. I turn from Vassal, go to my bag, slide out my laptop, and sit down. There are two seats on the boat. They are padded, comfortable, covered with tough red vinyl. They have backs on them but no arms, and they stand on stainless steel pedestals. Vassal’s is behind the steering console, and mine beside it.

I awaken my computer and begin to write: “An hour before dawn, Vassal Squeezeshot and I . . .” I know what I want to say, but in the cold air my fingers move slowly and hammer the keyboard.

As I have reported, I have been writing this book for the past year, completing passages that set the stage for tonight. Now, I must write descriptions of the past few hours and weave them in. A few weeks ago we told our publisher that we would deliver this book to her soon. My plan was, and remains, to finish it tonight. I intend to bring Vassal’s saga to the present verge, then write an end to it and send it to her.

I have mentioned that today, engaged as he will be in the greater drama, Vassal will probably skip his usual review of what I write. That is not a problem. He always approves. He trusts me to write what I should. Occasionally, in the spirit of our collaboration, he offers an addition or clarification, but always a minor one. He is relaxed about that. He reads my work mostly to reflect upon it. It tells him what I am thinking, and constitutes my end of our dialogue, which he wants to know. He also gets a kick out of seeing what my words and illustrations make of him. He knows that what I create in these pages will influence how people regard him and his history. It amuses him to imagine that.


* * *


My fingers are warming up, my typing getting faster and my touch lighter, a seamless rattling of keys. My haste is somewhat due to the cold air around me, but more to my eagerness to finish. I hope to do that before we return to the cottage. I do not want to be writing then. There will be too much else happening that I will not want to miss.

Occasionally, I look up. The first time I look, the sky has brightened further. A line of clouds rests on the eastern horizon. To me, it resembles a rank of Mongol warriors on horseback, charging across a plain, brandishing in frozen motion their sabers, spears, bows and arrows, and battle flags. I watch them briefly, then resume writing.

Minutes later, I look again. Now, the cloudbank looks like a mountain range, a row of saw-toothed peaks and valleys. Bits of cloud hover above it, angular ones that look like disconnected mountaintops, and lenticular ones that look like flying saucers. All of them appear to be settling to earth.

The rising sun is still not visible, but its light washes through the sunrise prism, diluting the colors. Its glow has spread, and spans half the horizon. The far edge of the sea slashes beneath, a strip of slate blue. Seguin’s grasses and low brush show blurs of green. The lighthouse whitens. The wind increases and comes in gusts. Waves chop around us and jostle our boat.

Vassal has been standing and watching, saying little. I want to know what he is thinking. Usually he talks to me openly, sharing his thoughts. He does that out of friendship with me, but more in order to tell his story to me and the world. Now that his invention is released, our project nearly done, and our future uncertain, he may find his thoughts less expressible. Or he may suppose that they are obvious to me, unnecessary for him to report. Or, most likely, he feels that he has said enough, that at this stage anything he could say would be of no use to anyone.

I am starting to feel that way myself, about my own thoughts and words. The two of us have moved on. We are drifting off an end, and will never return to where we have been. There is no need for him to say more. Nor, soon, will there be need for me to write more. I will welcome that. Like him, I am weary. Our preparations for this day have exhausted us. Despite the freshening wind and waves, and the turmoil that we know is coming, both of us are drooping. Our bodies are sagging, our energy failing. Speaking and writing, even thinking, take more effort than we want to make.

Our surroundings, too, quiet us. As they emerge from the night, their beauty humbles us. So does their indifference—toward us, toward life. We often observe that in nature. It reminds us that, except to ourselves, we are no more important than anything else. I like that perspective. It renders my concerns less urgent, which seems healthy. But to me, tonight, the indifference of our surroundings also seems cruel. It makes me feel invisible, absent. In part, I realize, that is because I am tired, more prone to depressing thoughts.

I also feel burdened by premonition. In my view, a portent is growing within and around us. To me, everything that I perceive is omen that I cannot interpret. In every future, of course, more occurs than anyone can foresee. That never disturbs Vassal. Often, that does not disturb me, either, or not much. But now I feel anxious again. I want to know what is going to happen. That is a naïve anxiety, I know, and futile, but I cannot repress or reduce it.

Despite my fatigue, my mind does not rest. I recall thoughts reported by men who built the first nuclear bomb. Some felt a sense of catastrophe and dreaded the consequences, foreseeable and not. Upon witnessing the secret test in the desert at Alamogordo in 1945, shortly before the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Robert Oppenheimer, leader of the team, famously recalled a line in the Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” He added, “I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”

What Vassal is delivering tonight will wreak different havoc than that. It will prove less destructive physically, but may prove more destructive psychically. Most of us will begin using it right away. As we do, its explosion will intensify and its effects spread. Impossible to deter, those effects will permeate our lives and transform them. Vassal’s invention is going to influence our civilization more than any other manmade device has ever done. In everyone’s hands, it will become Insight, destroyer—and builder—of worlds. Or so I suppose, and wish, and fear.


* * *


The sun begins to appear. The eastern horizon burns yellow. On people’s paths everywhere, Vassal’s gift awaits. It lies in mailboxes and on doorsteps. Open cartons of it sit piled at entries to shops and restaurants, on tables outside coffee shops and cafés, on sidewalks and street corners, in parks and plazas, in lobbies and waiting rooms, in bus stops and subway stations, at highway rest areas and country crossroads, on benches and picnic tables, and beside gates to factories, fields, and gardens.

Vassal has not been able to provide it to everyone, however. Not yet. That would have cost too much, and risked failure. Secrecy has been essential. As we proceeded with Vassal’s plan, we doubted that the powers-that-be could interfere, but we took no chances. For the manufacturing phase, we chose factories accustomed to keeping new products secret. More recently, we were careful not to tell our shippers and delivery people what they would be handling as they scurried about the world dropping off our little gifts. And at the start, when we enlisted Jimmy to raise the billions of dollars needed to fund the enterprise, we asked that he do so discreetly.

A few words about that fundraising. With his many friends and contacts, Jimmy had no trouble finding “a few suitable super-rich people,” as he put it. He rounded up donors who, like Vassal, had no axes to grind, and were experienced and realistic enough not to have high hopes. They were not without idealism, but their philanthropy was motivated more by appreciation of the human moment, by desire to observe and contribute to the qualities of that moment rather than to chase after superficial progress. Like Vassal, the Bigheads, and (usually) me, they were flâneurs rather than would-be agents of change. The adventure of what we were doing would engage and even thrill them, but they would have no desire to apply ideological or moral litmus tests to it, much less to manipulate it or otherwise be directly involved. They would savor the scale and surprise of it, and be content with the consequences. They were happy to give us their money and then wait for this day to arrive. They would understand the need for secrecy. We could trust them not to divulge to anyone what was up. 


* * *


Now the deed is done. Vassal has managed to give his invention to more than three hundred million people of all socioeconomic levels, in tens of thousands of communities, in every country. Most of those people will start using it immediately, for the excitement and novelty of it, and for the promise of it—for the sake of their wellbeing and that of their loved ones. 

That will prime the pump. People who do not yet have a device will want one, some of them desperately. Those who can afford to—hundreds of millions of people, we anticipate—will buy one from the many vendors able to produce them. At the same time, demand for it by hundreds of millions of other people will become too fierce to deny. In even the poorest and most dysfunctional nations, masses from lower strata of society will force government and private sources to subsidize its production and distribution.

They should not have long to wait. The manufacturers that we used are already prepared to meet much of the demand. More manufacturers will gear up quickly. Building the device is neither difficult nor expensive. Vassal and his helpers have managed to keep the costs down, and increased production and competition will yield further savings.

Vassal has done everything he can to facilitate production of his invention and equalize access to it. By the time anyone reads this book, the world will know of one step in particular that he has taken: He has made every detail about his invention available for free. That includes all information needed to manufacture, assemble, operate, and maintain it—parts lists, engineering drawings, user guides, and other supporting documentation, including scientific papers—as well as lists of suppliers who can provide prebuilt units, kits, parts, and accessories. A few hours ago, at his prior request, the Bigheads posted all of that information on more than seven hundred public sites, and sent it to several thousand private sites, both individual and institutional, that will share it. Anyone who wants it can search the Web for “Squeezeshot invention” or, probably, just “invention.”

He has taken other steps, too. To encourage people to accept it and start using it, he has labeled each device and carton with a tag that proclaims, in local language: “FREE—TAKE ONE!” Because people will remember him and his invention from the 1970s, and admired him, he has also printed this on the tag:

HAPPY SNOOPING! — from Vassal Squeezeshot”

He has appended an email address as well, info(at)squeezeshot.org, to allow people to write to us. We anticipate an onslaught of messages. Jimmy and the Bigheads will screen those for us and forward the most compelling and representative. We will probably read some of them, at least at first, and may reply to a few. Also, Vassal has told the Bigheads that they should feel free to respond to any of those messages on his behalf. He trusts them to speak for him, just as he trusts me to write for him. They relish the prospect.

 




 1310-SQ-Angelv2

 

Access to Vassal’s invention is wide open. Its transmissions defy encoding, password protection, jamming, or other electronic interference or restriction. It broadcasts everywhere, so that anyone can access anyone else’s device. Anyone can relay its transmissions to other people via email, mobile messaging, streaming, networking, portable drives, audiovisual media, word of mouth, etc. Telephone and cable companies, broadcasters, and other communications providers will not be able to patent or otherwise monopolize it, nor will governments be able to license or regulate it. Even the most authoritarian governments and organizations will be unable to prohibit, censor, limit, or otherwise control its use.

Surveillance conducted by governments and other organizations can be oppressive: cameras and bugging devices everywhere, phone- and Net-tapping, online stalking, GPS tracking, data mining, etc. When everyone does it, however, as everyone soon will, and when everyone is subject to it, as everyone soon will be, surveillance will become a power that all people wield.

Vassal’s device will evolve. Other inventors and engineers will expand its capabilities. They will add features, and make devices that do more and better.

Vassal says, “What I’ve made is an early version. It’s like the Model T Ford; there are many ways it could develop. There will be versions that fly as fast as a wasp or faster. They’ll still be the size of a mosquito or smaller, and still be able to hover, which is important. But since they’ll be able to zip around faster than mine does, they’ll be harder for anyone to see and follow.

“There will be larger versions, too. Some will be the size of dragonflies. I like that size. I almost made mine like that. As it was, I borrowed what I could from them. But I wanted to make mine smaller, both because smaller ones are less visible and because I like to miniaturize.

“There’s no telling how tiny they can get. The smallest flying insects anyone has discovered are a variety of wasp called fairyflies. I love the name. In fact, there’s a species in Costa Rica called Tinkerbella nana, for the Peter Pan characters. They’re a hundredth of an inch across, about twice the width of a human hair. And in the Hawaiian Islands there’s another species half that size.

“Some day, flies like those will be models for scientists and engineers to imitate. I’d have liked to copy them when I developed mine. Small ones like that can be more resilient when they bump into things, and can turn faster in the air. Plus they’re even less visible. But that size was too small for me, beyond my abilities. Besides, bigger ones like I made can carry more payload. I needed that so I could include better audio and video, stronger and more durable wings, bigger solar cells, more battery power, and a better transmitter.

“I thought of going super-big, making devices that could deliver anything from pizzas to refrigerators, or that could pick up people and take them places. But what I was doing was a labor of love. I just wanted to build something to use for my fishing—something easy to handle, that I could use to look for promising ponds, rivers, and streams, and for feeding fish, insect hatches, things like that. Small devices were more appropriate, as well as an interesting challenge to me. Mosquito-size was as small as I could go and still accomplish what I wanted to accomplish.

“Back then, strange as it may sound, I didn’t think much about other uses for what I was making. I was aware of them—how if I wanted to I could use my fly to spy on anything, or to visit all kinds of places, or to communicate with other people with it. But that wasn’t what I was about with it. I had no interest in doing any of those things. It also occurred to me, but only vaguely, that other people might find it useful for purposes like those. I just didn’t care. I had no ambitions for it, no plans to do anything with it except use it for myself, for fishing.

“Since then, of course, prompted by the government coming at me for all these years, I’ve thought a great deal about other uses. As I said about how other people might develop it from now on, what I’ve done is just a start. Before long there’ll be bugs like mine and smaller that have much more capability. Some will be equipped with radar and other imaging and sensing systems that can see into closed rooms, buildings, bank vaults, boxes, envelopes, bodies, landslides—just about anything. Some will even see into people’s minds. I’ll say more about that in a minute.

“Also on the small side, smaller than fairyflies, will be devices that can travel not just around us but inside us. Some will creep through our digestive, respiratory, circulatory, reproductive, and other systems. Others will ride around on our teeth and skin, and in our hair, ears, belly buttons, armpits, and crotches—all over us, same as thousands of species of microscopic plants and animals have done since before our species was our species.

“The controller technology is just as promising. The military and others are developing contact lenses that can project visual displays onto our retinas, and also enable us to control devices like mine by moving our eyes, as mine now does using eyeglasses. They’re also developing control systems that use gyroscopic and neural interfaces and brainwaves as mine does, but that are more sophisticated, better able to read the user’s intentions. Soon, those will be built not only into glasses, goggles, and contact lenses, but also into hats, helmets, headsets, headbands, jackets, gloves, and other apparel and accessories.

“That gets into some really exciting stuff. As I was saying, we’re constantly refining and applying technology that reads our minds. We have instruments that measure and evaluate much of our brain and other nervous system activity. They’re looking deeper into our consciousness: emotions, attention, intention, imagination, memory, physical perceptions, rational processes, and so on. It’s analogous in some ways to how we’re looking farther into outer space, back through time, nearer to when our universe began. Not that we’re close to comprehending everything about how our minds work. I doubt we’ll ever reach that point. There’s a vast amount happening in our brain’s hundred billion neurons and two hundred trillion synaptic connections. An infinite amount, I suspect. 

“But we’re travelling that path. People will miniaturize those instruments and build them into systems like mine. Once we can construct them using things like nanoparticles, there’s no telling where that might go. A million of those particles can sit on the period at the end of a sentence. If you could enlarge one of them to the size of a football, and enlarge a football to the same extent, the football would be the size of New Zealand. Those things are small! We’re already able to make mechanisms with them that are the sizes of atoms and molecules. Some are biological, and use self-assembling DNA sequencing. And that’s just a start. Soon we’ll be producing all kinds of nanomachines and nanobeings—pretty much invisible to us, and highly capable.

“Meanwhile, we’re developing computing, too, that is more biological, more cognitive and less mechanical, that behaves increasingly like our brains and nervous systems. Already, it processes sensory data, makes inferences, accommodates uncertainty, and draws conclusions. It learns how to learn from experience.

“I imagine many applications for those developments. Our awareness comes to us via electrochemical signals that travel through our bodies’ neural receptors, pathways, and processors. I suspect that someday, using particles and mechanisms like I’ve mentioned, and biological computing, we’ll intercept those signals in other people and plug them into us in ways that let us experience those people’s minds as if they are our own. We’ll think other people’s thoughts, and feel their feelings. We’ll see what they see, hear what they hear, touch what they touch, and taste what they taste. We’ll love what they love, fear what they fear, worry about what they worry about, and remember everything that they remember. We’ll get an immersive sense of their lives, in full detail, and we’ll do it as easily as turning on a light. At the flip of a switch, we’ll be able to replace our minds with theirs, or add theirs to ours. How will that be for empathy, eh?

“A few steps beyond that, we’ll act within other people, as those people. We’ll make and carry out their decisions, move their bodies, eat their meals, breathe the air they breathe, make love to their partners, do everything they do. For all intents and purposes, we’ll be those people. We’ll live their lives, and if we want to we’ll keep living their lives, either instead of or in addition to being ourselves.

“Then there’s the matter of immortality. Our engineering will reach a point where we can keep people’s minds and bodies functioning indefinitely. In some ways, maybe every way, we won’t die. Whoever wants to will be able to not only live our lives, but to live them forever. What will that be like?

“That’s not all I imagine. Using devices like mine, we’ll tap more and more into other creatures and things, and experience what they experience. More and more, we’ll be them as well as each other, and they’ll be us.

“And here’s a further wrinkle. What if one day our technology enables us to get into everyone and everything all at once, not just one or a few at a time? And once we get there, what if we choose to stay, or what if we adapt so thoroughly that we have to stay? What if, one way or another, how we see things changes so much that there’s no going back?

“Could we handle that? I think we could. We could because we already do. As I’ve said, in my experience everything is us, alive and in motion. We are our world, our universe—the whole process, the works. Our technology and we can develop only to where we already are, to where everything already is and always has been. We already are wherever our technology and other development may lead us. We already are wherever we may go. I think everyone has some awareness of that, conscious or not.” 


* * *


I have described how to Vassal we are something born of nothing, and something that remains of nothing; also something that has not been born, cannot be born, and therefore cannot remain. We are nothing to begin with, and we stay that way, though we take form, survive, undergo transformations, and end. We have no substance, presence, attributes, behaviors, or anything else.

Fundamentally, to him, that does not change. Only nothing can come of nothing, and it does not come. Time is an illusion; such is now, and such is eternity. And that is enough for us.

He says, “As creatures who by our nature must eat, sleep, stay warm, and so on, and may give birth, raise children, hold jobs, create and acquire things, and so on, we often think that what we have isn’t enough. We want more, and think that we need more. In those regards, often, we do need more. That’s obvious to us, and suits us. Often, it’s a biological necessity. But also, what we already are and already have is enough.

“What is the obvious, and how is it real? To us, most things exist as sure as can be, solid as rock. But the signals that make up what we know and think we know—that tell us that something 
exists, and what it is, and what it’s like, and so on—are a code that has evolved with our species, to suit the organisms that we are. Some of that code is imprinted in us before we are conceived. We learn more of it in our mothers’ wombs, and we keep learning it thereafter. We make use of it for as long as we live, until our brains die. We apply it in our every conscious moment, to everything that comes our way. We send and receive it; translate and interpret it for ourselves. We construct our languages of it—verbal, emotional, 
intuitive—including all sense we make of anything. It’s everything that we perceive. It’s us, and our world.

“All the while, from our standpoint, we strive to gain 
something, to progress toward what we conceive to be objectives or other ends. But those ends never arrive. That’s not what they are, not what they do. As there are no time, space, or energy except in our imaginations, there can be no ends: no start, finish, or points en route; no ‘there’; no absolute explanations or firm conclusions about anything.

“There is no ‘because’. ‘Because’ is a concept we’ve dreamt up out of nothing, to suit our way of being. Aside from that self-reflection, it doesn’t exist. While we live, we survive, carry on, and otherwise continue without cause toward ends that are no ends. That’s pretty crazy, but it’s part of who we are and what we do. That’s what works 
for us.

“And into that, my dear Reverend Professor, I have now pitched my little invention. More craziness. Any possibilities that you or I dream up for it may never happen. There’s no way we can know that yet. It’s a lot of ‘maybe.’ For you and me, though, as for everyone, imagining what may happen in the future is part of the fun and 
excitement of living, as well as part of the worry. That’s how it is to live in the present, as we must.

“In those respects, no matter what does or doesn’t happen, things remain as they are. In that sense, in our case, there’s no use my saying things to you, or in you listening, writing things down, taking pictures, and creating art. There is no art. There are no words. Whatever you or I or anyone express about anything says one thing: nothing. Fortunately, that’s mostly wonderful for us. It’s lively and dynamic, as good as life gets. It’s also unavoidable. Gotta love it.”


* * *


What? Love that? Whoa, Vassal, whoa! There’s no use saying, no use writing, no use creating? My decades spent writing and 
art-making about you and associated matters have been futile, wasted, spent on nothing? Really?

OK, when you get down to it that may be true. And of course, when you say that to me, you are joking some, as always, which is fine with me. But I want to get more grip on what you have said. I am going to take a minute here to try to do that.

You say that to you everything we perceive is code, which we deliver to ourselves and translate into forms we can comprehend. For me right now, then, products of that coding and decoding
include the words in this sentence, the computer in my lap, the keyboard I am touching, my mind and body, the clothes I am 
wearing, the chair I am sitting in, this porch and the house, the river and trees and birds and insects and so on I can see through the porch screen, and everything else that I think, perceive, or imagine about those things and anything else, everywhere and forever, outside me and within me. A lot of code, that.

You also observe that no matter how well we use that code to understand, communicate, express, explain, or otherwise represent our experience to ourselves and others, we do so incompletely,
inaccurately, and ultimately not at all. We deal in scraps of something-nothingness that we hope and think add up to more than nothing, but that cannot add up to anything—which, you say, we sorta know.

In your view, then, all of us are in a kind of free fall—a fall without falling, without force or direction, in a universe that lacks place and moment except in terms we contrive. Again, to you, we live in, around, about, and as nothing, and we have no choice but to endure that. Such is the unreliable stasis that is the human condition. We must allow for continuing change, which we create and which we are. That is all we have. That is everything we can know and do. We are nothing but change that we record as nothing upon nothing.

Thus we cope, as well as we can, with the perturbations that we find in our world—a world that is our minds, wherein every phenomenon is fundamentally random, unpredictable, and immeasurable, notwithstanding any sense we make. To cope with those perturbations, we conceive and apply probability, approximation, and other calculation, allowance, and assessment, along with every other tool and instrument we devise. By those means we constitute our lives, which are flow that we make of 
nothingness. Thus fluid, at once certain and uncertain, we swim upon, within, and as our sea.


* * *


Is that what you are saying, Vassal? Is that what we have gotta love? Am I catching your drift? (My questions are rhetorical, since you will probably never read this.)

I am quoting, paraphrasing, and interpreting you as well as I can, but my description is incomplete. That is as it must be. That is also as it should be, you would add. But I want to ask you, though you will not answer: Am I misstating anything about you, misrepresenting you in any way? That is impossible, right? There can be no misstating or misrepresenting you, because to you any translation or representation of you is valid, and as valid as any other, right?

Right. Of course. Why did I bother to ask? For a moment there, I forgot—a lapse in my memory. My vacuity, lack of confidence, needy curiosity, anxiety about the future, or whatever else I call my present state of mind is itself your point. It is as alive as anything can be, within and as the flow that you call nothing. For you, that and every other manifestation is a component of the boundless miracle, the one and only.

You once said to me, “Most people wouldn’t agree with me that we’re all one big limitless something-or-other made out of nothing at all. Nor would they agree that that is a miracle, and one that is perfectly ordinary, same as everything that we humans experience—everything a miracle. It’s fine that people wouldn’t agree with me. There’s no need. How I see things is just how I see things. It’s where my experience has taken me, same as other people’s experience takes them. For most people, maybe all, there’s no reason for them to think or see as I do, even for a moment. They’d be no better off than they already are.”

 

the miraculous is perfectly ordinary

 


* * *

 

When Vassal says that successors to his invention may lead us to experience other things’ awareness, he means that we may share the consciousness experienced not only by other people but also by pets and livestock, birds and fish, flowers and vegetables, and insects, trees, rivers, rocks, earth, sky—by every object and phenomenon.

He adds however, “That may never happen, of course. Not soon, in any event. The technology isn’t here yet, and may never be. But I expect people will use devices like mine to explore in that direction. It seems natural. I imagine that we’ll implant descendants of my device into our bodies, and control them from within us. Eventually, we’ll fully integrate them into us, or they’ll 
integrate themselves, as many primitive organisms and minerals have done over the years. Countless numbers of those have hitched onto our evolutionary forebears and become so much part of us that we pass them on at birth, from generation to generation. I see no reason that may not happen with something like my device.

“Whether or not that ever happens, my invention will extend our sight and hearing tremendously, along with what we think, feel, imagine, and do about what we see and hear. Once it’s out there snooping around, as it soon will be, it will strike many people as a bold technological leap with major implications. It will seem sensational, and will contribute to further developments that people will care about.

“Even so, as I’ve said, it will lead to no significant change in the sense that we’ll continue to be who and what we already are, and to live as we already do. In that regard, my invention will be no more than a faint twinkle in the sky, one of many stars we can see that burned out long ago.”


* * *


“Something related has come to my attention. Cosmologists and physicists have raised the possibility that aside from our universe, or within it somehow, there may be an infinite number of parallel or quantum realities. They speculate that though those realities or universes exist, their nature may be so unlike ours that we may never understand them further, or develop ties with them.

“That fascinates me. In my experience, as you know, all realities comprise a kind of multiversal meta-organism, wherein each of us is at once part of the whole and ourselves the whole. Ever since I began encountering angels, I have found that understanding to be as true as anything can be.

“That’s a personal, spiritual, and 
philosophical standpoint of mine, of course, certainly not a scientific one in any normal sense. It’s nothing that solid, unsolid though science is and should be. The range of our realities, and our ties to them, interest me very much. I like the idea that there are mysteries beyond mysteries, some that we’ll learn more about, and an infinite number that will lie forever beyond our ability to apprehend, much less understand.”

Always another pearl within the pearl, big guy. 



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