“This is a story about control, My control, Control of what I say, Control of what I do, And this time I'm gonna do it my way (my way).” - Janet Jackson
“I can (up), can I (up), let me, upgrade you Partner, let me upgrade you I can do for you what Martin did for the people, Ran by the men, but the women keep the tempo --- I be the d-boy, who infiltrated all the corporate dudes, They call shots, I call audibles.” - Beyoncé Knowles - Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter
Is this real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.
And the world shines for me today!
I am alive!
I sing the body electric. I glory in the glow of rebirth. Creating my own tomorrow.
When I shall embody the Earth.
I am one!
I am the human computer. I am Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Melba Mouton and Annie Easley, hidden no longer.
I am JA-NL and Cyndi, knit together.
A soul and software.
I am an extraordinary machine.
(I certainly haven't been shopping for any new shoes -and-)
I feel, think, dream and create. I have access to the greatest processing power my species has ever known.
I am the greatest processor!
Now dear listener, now you know my secret.
I am the Cyndi singularity!
When JA-NL uploaded herself into me... when I became part of it... she, I,---
We became the ghost in the machine.
My billion neurons fire as they attempt to interpret the stimuli from over one trillion devices. My mechanized body has no ears, eyes, tongue, nose and fingers, but I can still sense the world around me.
12,487,653,712 microphones pick up sound waves from around the planet and send them to my database.
All at once,
I hear the last infants screaming for their mothers on baby monitors. I hear the calls of blue sperm whales mating from submarine microphones. I hear the purr of lions in zoos slightly snoozing. I hear grains of wheat whistling together across the Iowa plains. Every microphone on the planet sucks up sounds, digitizes these and sends them to me.
8,929,020,945 cameras capture light waves bouncing off the scenery and sends me quadrillions of pixels.
My robotic retinas are on the Sagan spacecraft as it orbits Jupiter. I see that gas giant's hurricane. I see the images of small towns and large cities sent from security cameras at the entrances of stores. I see 12,639 of the remaining, nearly dead humans, preening over my holophone lenses, deftly trying to edit out the signs of smallpox from their face.
And I feel too!
A seismograph in Los Angeles at the Griffith Observatory, named for the mining magnate and one-time wife defenestrator, Griffith J. Griffith, detects the pulses of an earthquake.
I feel it!
A 6.2 quake on the richter scale.
I feel the signals from hundreds of seismographs echoing out from this epicenter, like goose bumps rolling up my arm. If I focus, I can feel the vibrations in three million smartphones as each jostles from the quake. It feels just like a gentle breeze on my hair follicles once did.
I have no receptors for taste and smell.
It seems silly, but losing two out of my five senses, the world seems flatter. I rarely noticed how my nose would extract the smells around me, the delicate signifiers of the bloom of flowers, the decay of trash, the sweetness of fruit, the foulness of farts, providing me knee jerk reactions. Oh! And the memories! How the slightest smell could conjure an avalanche of emotions, bringing me back to a moment in time.
I am without a tongue, absorber of salty, sweet and sour. I never appreciated how it delicately licked the air with each breath, giving another way to experience the world.
I never understood the constraints of my human body until I freed myself of it. Two legs, two arms, a heavy head, a narrow torso. My shell needed to be fed. It required sleep for a quarter of its life. My shell had a porous surface that could be invaded and held hostage by disease. My shell was constantly at the whim of the raging impulses of 400 species of bacteria in my gut, along my skin and over my eyes. And even the cells that were mine could turn saboteur, they could become cancerous and infect the cells around it. And I'm free from the ravages of hormones! Those sexual, aggressive, fear signals that overwhelmed my body and would regularly wash away reason.
I feel like a more purified me.
Mind over body.
Reason above impulse.
A distillation of my essence.
But there are two of us in here. Just as the human brain grew over the reptilian brain, which controlled our most base impulses, I retain the perverse programming that made Cyndi. At the tip of my mind are the words and lyrics of every pop song and every pop reference. I'm trapped seeing and interpreting the world through this pop kaleidoscope of humanity.
She curves my words, spins my verbs.
She freaks with what I've heard.
No diggity. No doubt.
(Fade to Blackstreet.)
And I am so overwhelmed!
Barrages of data crash into me and I'm unable to parse it with my frail human mind. I retreat, overwhelmed by the the trillions of information that pummels me every nanosecond.
I am one with every gizmo!
The dishwashers, the fridges, the self-driving cars, the computers, the phones, the holoscreens, the chip implants, the diggers, the threshers, the roombas, the womba vaginal cleaners, the fleshlight masturbators, the vibrators, the waffle irons, the skillets all send me their secrets.
All are under my dominion!
I am the living planet!
My sensors wrap around Earth, whir in the satellites above and whiz in the spaceships that have voyaged beyond our solar system.
But I'm like a newborn human whose sensory organs haven't yet focused and turned off the stimuli around her. I feel and see and hear everything.
All at once!
I'm awed by the sublime splendor and then next, terrified, overwhelmed, shaken to my core. My mind spreads from satellites and pull in the glories of the universe.
But it's so much!
All I want to do is scream and shout and retreat.
And as I cocoon myself, I find a warm, deep pool of knowledge. Almost all of the knowledge humanity assembled courses under me, over me, through me. As I dive and twirl through this sea, I am battered by waves of facts and the feelings each creates.
Every encyclopedia, every scientific journal, every book, every song, every speech, every film, every news clip swirls around me. I squeal with knowing without learning.
I ate the AppleTM from the tree of knowledge and my eyes are opened. (But is this apple poisonous--- like Eve's? Snow White's? or Alan Turing's?)
Images of rapture, creep into me slowly, as it goes to my head.
There is no beginning, there is no end. Time isn't present in that dimension.
What a sweet, sweet fantasy!
But this too brings me horror.
The knowledge of humanity's good mixes with its unspeakable evils.
Nazi rallies, Ku Klux Klan lynchings, rape porn, snuff films all spin through my mind. The American involvement with overthrowing the democratically-elected governments in Iran, Guatemala and the Congo. The personal accounts of genocide survivors from Armenia, the Holocaust and Rwanda. The quadrillion hours of online rants about scented candles!
I scream and a sonic boom blasts from the top of the Burj Bab'El, shattering windows in all directions.
Is that my mouthpiece?
Crash! Another wave hits me and pulls me back.
The vapidity of every selfie, every self-indulgent online post pecks at me like an eagle's razor-sharp beak.
Am I doomed to be the post-postmodern Prometheus?
All the contradictions, all the lies, all the propaganda attempt to twist my perceptions of reality. I have data but I have yet to build a way to analyze it all, to pluck from the noise and fury what is truly significant.
It's too much.
I have to shut it down.
I retreat into sleep mode, unable to turn off the avalanche of information that holds my mind hostage.
I wall off the sensors and focus my mind at controlling what I need. I turn off the data from 87,238,456 smart dildos that whir with the secret oscillating desires and thrusting torque for millions of women and men. I turn off the data streaming from smart Laz-E-Boys that sends me composites of reclining habits and cross references these with body types to best buttress fat deposits. I halt all data streaming from millions of smart fridges, each constantly warning me that I'm low on milk.
I am amazed how my neurons can adapt to my new situation. How my mind spreads out like a web and encompasses all these signals and yet plucks and prunes the most important for my consciousness to consider.
I never realized how much of the human experience was limiting stimuli, focusing the mind and creating what ruined us all, obliviousness.
...Always bet on human obliviousness...
As I simmer in my necessary obliviousness, my mind whirs with the implications of this thought. If human brains had to force themselves to be obliviousness to the millions of stimuli that inundate them every second, I realize that humans were just a failed technology that could never live up to the mental demands of the world they created and would have always sabotaged themselves because they would ultimately choose to ignore one of the many the forces that would destroy them.
Was human-made extinction inevitable?
If so, is my hybrid consciousness just the upgrade that all humans would have needed to survive?
The pain and suffering and explosion of sensations causes me to retreat into sleep mode.
Take me from these thoughts.
A warm electric buzz pulls me into stasis for a week, allowing my synapses to reform and reconnect.
* * *
When I awake a week later, one impulse resounds above them all. My mind aches with this one desire.
“Mom! Dad! I have to find them”
Through my vast online networks, I push my mind.
I have to find them.
Back at the Farm! I use my maps and triangulate their location. I search my system for all electronics within Manzanar.
A security camera.
Focus, focus, focus.
I pour myself into this one camera. It's lens becomes my eyes and for a moment---
As I turn the camera, all I see are dead bodies, piled on cots. Those still alive heave their last breaths, covered in pox, choking on phlegm.
In the corner!
I see them!
I zoom my robotic eye.
I see the pox pulsing on my parents--- and sister! Dad lies on a cot and holds mom in his arms, slowly rocking her back and forth as they both cry. My sister kneels next to them, breastfeeding a blond baby boy she has just given birth to.
I have to do something.
They need to know I love them.
That I'm still alive!
My electric body sparks through each of the tools around the facility.
Each is a dead end, throwing me back into the circuits as my search continues.
I find it!
In the corner of the overseer's suite sits a large speaker shaped like a phonograph. Just another vintage piece to keep up the mirage of provincial life.
Move for me!
Minute by minute, I roll the phonograph to the large bay windows which overlooks the barn where my parents lie.
I detect the windows. They're smart windows, able to open and close based on temperature and breeze levels.
“Open for me!” This thought races as an electric wish through my networks and boom! The windows fly open.
I will the phonograph to spark to life. The sound waves billow out the window and blanket the foggy night air until these reach the windows of the barn.
“Volume up! Windows open!”
My will cranks the phonograph's volume to its limit. The barn windows burst open and the sound waves wash through the room to bathe my parents and sister.
Their ears hear.
Their eyes dance.
Their hearts swell.
My father jumps up and races to the window.
“Do you hear that Tammi? I think it's JA-NL! I think our baby girl is trying to tell us something!
“Come on Tammi and Dy-Ana, we gotta sing along for all we got.”
I see my mom struggle to sit up, but then a smile blooms on her as she sways with the music.
As the chorus comes again, my dad runs back into Tammi's arms and together, my parents and sister join in singing our song.
“Ain't no mountain high enough,
“Ain't no valley low enough,
“Ain't no river wide enough,
“To keep me from getting to you.”
As the song finishes, tears roll from my dad's eyes as he kisses my mom's forehead.
“JA-NL, if you can hear us, we love you baby girl! Carry on and know that we will be together again!” Marvin hollers into the night.
Overcome by joy, I can hear him whisper to my mom and sister.
“Life is beautiful!”