A Predator of Information

Our songs will all be silenced, but what of it? Go on singing.

Special Thanks to Horselover Fat

27 June 2016 3:15 PM (dream)

It started with cardamom. A friend and I were talking about making chai masala and went looking for the spices. I closed my fingers on something that felt like a pod of cardamom but larger. Suddenly, I noticed it was chitonous; it started moving in my fingers. I threw it out the window and stared up at the stars.

Far too bright[1], the stars moved closer, falling to the ground in bright streaks of light. On the Internet, news sources published interviews with The Creator of Earth who announced it had lost interest in the project and would no longer be sustaining the planet. The falling stars were aliens come to tour the place as it disintegrated, pick over it, see how it worked and take bits home (including its inhabitants) to study.

I saw some stars landing, they stood up. I tried talking to one but it paid no more mind to me than you would to a songbird chirping overhead while you examined a tree. They started taking the ground apart to look for interesting geological structures, and I could feel it starting to fall to pieces beneath my feet. I ran away as quickly as I could.

I ran into government agents. I thought they were government agents: a man and woman wearing spiffy looking suits. They knew everything that had happened and said to me “You feel confused. Afraid. You have no idea what's going on.”, and I agreed that was exactly how I felt. They told me to follow them, and when I did the stars stopped falling and we slowed down.

The agents told me I had taken a drug called Candy[2] (they had a big duffel bag full of the stuff with each dose in gaudily colored, shiny wrapping). They weren't actually government agents, they were my fellow drug-abusing psychonauts.

Candy had been developed to solve the problem that traditional psychedelics were not disruptively transformative enough. You could take LSD, but you always knew you had taken LSD, and you always had your own past and your own memories. You could take DMT and talk to the DMT aliens, but you still knew you had taken DMT. You had a baseline of the normal world to compare against.

That simply wouldn't do.

The guiding principle of Candy was that you should, as soon as you had taken the drug, forget you had taken it. (Other drugs caused anterograde amnesia, sure, but they weren't selective enough. They often made you forget your entire experience on them, which removed the whole point.) Candy would also cause you to forget certain elements of your past or clearly remember the nature of the world to be other than it was.

Thus, you could experience being someone else, with a different life history, in a different world (where the idea that someone had created it and they gave interviews on the news was normal, for example) and have full recollection of how you reacted and how you felt and what it was like.

As I talked to my fellow psychonauts, I realized they didn't exist and that I wasn't talking. I was instead in a classroom, listening to a lecture and following along as we were lead through mental exercises.

The goal was to develop the faculty of psychokinesis. Our method was to clearly and vividly perceive our bodies as having a third arm coming out from the chest with which we should reach out and pick up the object before us on the desk. Mine happened to be ‘Pink Pet’ hand-held pencil eraser, and I could feel its texture beneath the fingers of my third arm, feel its weight in my third-hand.

My foot bumped against the duffel bag of Candy beneath my chair. I lost my focus on the psychokinesis practice and started listening to the lecture again, which was getting to the dangers of psychokinetic practice. One could, of course, succeed which was the goal. One could also simply fail.

One could think one had succeeded, truly feeling and seeing the effect of one's action, but not actually affect the world. As more and more of reality (the reactions of others, the layout of physical objects) contradicted your beliefs about what you had achieved psychokinetically, your mind would reject its senses and be devoured by a malignant hallucination until the patient became completely divorced from the world and catatonic. This was not the worst outcome.

If one had a strong imagination but a weak will, such that one's mind wandered from their center and ones attention became more diffuse, one would not fail, nor would one hallucinate. Someone so afflicted would, instead, rewrite their past and life circumstance. To those around them, the affected person would softly and suddenly vanish away and never be heard from again. It was theorized that they would find themselves having (and having always had) a third arm, or whatever visualization aid they were using, in a world transformed to make such things natural and normal.

I got up from my seat, on the train. it was a lovely train, too, wood paneled inside, ornately gilded. I could see out the window the bustling city of Detroit with its grand spires supporting the skyway along which autonomic carriages drove. People in the streets danced on their way to work, cascades of light pouring down their clothing like waterfalls or dripping necklaces.

I walked up the aisle of the train, edging my way past alien visitors to the world who were getting their luggage and trying to remember where they'd put their tongues so they could speak human languages. Some of them weren't from other planets; some were angels or abstract concepts who had stepped into the universe on some errand or other. I noticed I was holding a duffel bag of Candy in one hand and, when the train came to a stop, I used both my other hands to steady myself against the door frame as I jumped down onto the sidewalk.

Footnotes

[1] In waking life I can't really see stars well, not near any built-up area. I have gone out into the country and seen them as a luminous mist concentrated around the horizon with a few individuals visible.

[2] I read the complete novels of Philip K. Dick at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. It wasn't CAN-D, at least.

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