Image from adapted from Luke Cambell
Ho'th'hss'lho snapshot 5460 AT
- ((qualia)) qualia from echolocation
- *qualia** qualia from electroreception
We've advanced so far in politics.
Though I can see with senses my ancestors could barely conceive of, like any To'ul'h descendant I will never give up the tactile interfaces entirely. I use one of them now to research with my fingers while I read through a few preparatory notes on the habitat public forum with my light-sight. My partner Mh'ithrha stands next to me, doing the same, and as I stroke her subdermal *bright* pin-brail blessing, my mind turns, as it does every so often, to The Language. We'll be using some version of it extensively in a few hours, once we dock with the Null G To'ul'h orbitals from the other half of our polity distributed through the system. Our writing and our polmusic can be as timeless as the conflict and the politics we'll have to solve this year. Still, the seed of an idea begins to form in my mind; Some disturbing possibility dwelling beneath the surface. I ignore it for the moment.
Our local language still has its remnants, the echolocation clicks, from a time when the aliens pulled our unsighted people out from beneath the Stormy sky. When I say it, the word for 'I-((hear))-you-love' still ((kliks)) through my partner's body to see more of them than my light-sight can view. Her bones, her pin-brail blessing-'tattoo'. her lungs. But I also see their surface in the light of the screen-window while I hold her hand. But out there, in the vacuum, I would only see with light.
You can't ((say)) 'love' properly, using the old words outside. In space, nobody can ((hear)) you ((sing)).
Mh'ithrha wears an oily-colored scarf today, lit up past purple, from the ceiling lamps and when I watch out the window-screen at the stars and the habitat swarm around us, and their annotated names. It's so pleasant and I don't want it to end but the DNI focuses my attention over to the matter at hand and I feel the Euphoria flow through me in preparation. My mind speeds up.
"Let's get this vote over with."
Music performance and political debate remain indivisible to us, even as post-To'ul'h. For the past month, the Meritocratic tribemind democracy software ran through our options of whether to join a subsidiary of the Mutual Progress Association- whether to lease our independence from public construction fleets to build new megastructures independently, avoid immigrants, or expand more quickly under the resources and guidance of the MPA. Mh'ithrha and I might decide to copy into tribe minds for another decade if we moved somewhere else. The working groups and their AIs had offered up their proposals. But we are up against the Spacer-To'ul'h, who possess a more consolidated political bloc, and are ramping up the Polmusic debate now between the factions of our polity.
Singers of the void.
Our opponents chose a maximalist, oily, and bonelike- ancient style for the new habitats- six times the size as ours and requiring extra months for the magmatter frameworks to transport. Stretching resources.
I've been waiting for the call from my algorithmically-assigned debate partner. He's an old colleague from the spacer habitats, a vacuum adapted To'ul'h named Y'urulk((dark)) who I haven't seen in decades. We parted on sour terms, and I still can't get over how big he is. A Null-G To'ul'h looming on-camera, 20 meters tall on the video screen-wall from their aging Orbital habitat, with a thousand other Null-G To'ul'h drifting through the habitat interior. There's still a 3 light second delay after their approach, and without the emotional adjustments i'd be annoyed at the slowness. I'll have to use their stunted, gesture-filled dialect of inter-ship speech that I learned for most of yesterday, without the ((see-kliks)) in our polmusic. At least my DNI assistant can speed my clockrate up so i'll have extra time to review any Poetic responses while waiting.
I check through the 50 page argument That our AI platform gave us for (tribe-mind limits) from the working group on the spinward side of our habitat. Even the written subtitles in pin-braille have a custom pop-font and I'm sure the word flow will be the stuff of legends. We'll take the collaborative approach with the spacers, revealed halfway through. I consider the hints of justifications and processes by the platform too complicated to comprehend quickly at my level. In another year or two I'll ascend further up the ranks to understand them.
A polmusic space opera, played by us, the actors, while our respective cybernetic platforms help us write the lines.
I choose a suggested opening that quotes an ancient Terragen, but translated to our ways. It seems appropriate.
Of To'ul'h's first contact, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden fungiform, whose mortal taste
Took Death from all the World, and all our woe,
With gain of paradise, as many greater To'ul'h
Restore us, and create the blissful Seat,
Sing Heav'nly Muse, that on the holy pit
Of Hol'uulss, or of Toull'oohss, didst inspire
Those Shepherds, who first taught the chosen Seed,
In the Beginning how the Heav'ns and soil
Fell into order: or if Hu'uu'hthoss valley
Delight thee more, and Ulu'oss brook that flow'd
slow by the Oracle of Gods; I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventrous Song,.....
My opponent Y'urulk((dark)) waves an arm-wing larger than I am and signs a greeting. We've reviewed footage from a debate six years ago. His team was GOOD, and He's consolidated enough voting power to be his own voting block. His team lives up to their reputation "voice like an asteroid".
But we'll be better, especially as the platform integrates their recent polling data. Y'urulk((dark))'s writers won't know what hit them. But hopefully the audience will.
They are, after all, an informed electorate.
The cyberdemocracy software starts the rhythm that we've practiced and runs through the structures, both poetic and logical, for our mutual arguments over the virtual public forum, while the AI platform offers up some last minute new background research on him, structured as some low-minded character attack but with a *beautiful* rhyming scheme. It -could- work, maybe halfway through.
My team dismisses it in favor of something more high minded and crowd pleasing.
A more unified solution for both of us.
My team remains calm on the voice chat as the virtual stadium-stage flickers on around us. It's been a popular choice over decades- a massive, abstracted Terragen space battle around a virtual planet looming nearby. I watch the polling numbers on the leaderboard and remember how the words for 'up' and 'down' still retain their To'ul'h linguistic roots to 'heaven' and 'hell', despite all direction being relative out here. My opponent's stage is 'down' as they say.
The simulated swarm-fleets are certainly sped up from real time as they deploy to the growing beat.
..Which is ironic really, since the only 'war' any post- To'ul'h has ever joined in are these polmusic plays.
But we like our drama, and our stars. And the stakes for our habitat are real.
Y'urulk((dark)) float-shrugs and pulls a back-roll to 'intimidate me' in the comparatively thin atmosphere of his habitat in real life. The glittering starfield tattoos on his indigo, cybernetic skin would cover my apartment like a tent.
Arrays of spacecraft icons maneuver into their positions in decorative arrays around my opponent and his backers. They're readying their metaphorical beams and lines. Brooding, To'ul'h-like on the vast abyss.
Watching Y'urulk((dark)), I recall an angry comment he'd made the last time I saw him, and a doubt in my mind blooms. Occasionally I've wondered if the pageantry is needed- if the entire stadiums and dramas perpetuated and created by the AI platform divide us more.
Maybe hiding machinations by the platform's mind on the higher levels? I'll find out when I earn those augmentations.
If we didn't debate with polmusic, how many of us would care about voting? Would we choose differently?
But that's a question for a later time....
So we open up our arguments and begin.
-translated snapshot from the autobiography "Political Spaces", about the career of Ho'th'hss'lho, Published 7486AT.
A Post-To'u'lh scholar and politician, Ho'th'hss'lho grew up on Thu'to'lhu'hu (Vanguin I) in the 7400's, acting as a research art administrator. In 7489 e uploaded to one of the Laugan-To'u'lh datanodes in Vanguin orbit. Over the next 40 years Ho'th'hss'lho branched into several copies, interlinking them with unityware to form a clan intellect. The emerging intelligence began an intense academic career, publishing major works in structics and polmusic that gave e a wide renown in the MPA.
Over the next 300 years Ho'th'hss'lho developed into what has been described as the To'u'lh Leonardo da Vinci, not only researching but also acting as a diplomat, politician in the IC6633 regional council as well as inter-clade author. E was instrumental in establishing Keter-To'u'lh cooperation and the Serpens restoration effort. E acquired a large following of students and associates, which later came to be known as the Ho'th'hss'to'luh school and remains influential in IC6633 politics to this day.
In 7840 e moved together with many of eir closest associates to the Morogai/Ho'th'lhu'ooht system where e underwent ascendence to second singularity level, and may have ascended further since that time. The computronium conglomerate housing the post-To'u'lh association has become known as Ho'th'hss'lho University, an important nexus of post-To'u'lh and posthuman education in the middle region MPA. In what form Ho'th'hss'lho exists at present remains indeterminate, although spokesentities of the University assure that e is a resting enigma.
Text by Anders Sandberg
Initially published on 07 March 2001.
Snapshot by Dfleymmes added 2020