Argonautica Holographicum (Part V)

For Part I, click here

For Part II, click here

For Part III, click here

For Part IV, click here


V

Outside the holding cells of the local precinct the two gentlemen from the Pangu Foundation, Hoffit and Maldacena, are halfway through their golden cigarettes. They are wearing identical tang suits, black with white trim. Hoffit is leaning forward on the edge of a plastic chair attached to the wall, elbows on knees. Maldacena is standing beside him, balancing on his heels, his back against the white brick wall. Both men appear lost in deep thought.

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Argonautica Holographicum (Part IV)

For Part I, click here

For Part II, click here

For Part III, click here


IV

As part of his fellowship Talus stays in a townhouse just across the street from the student union. The small complex is owned by the university and straddles a dead forest extending over the cliffside. A single street connects the townhouses and curves down into the forest, following the edge of the cliff that overlooks the deep maw of the coastline, where the ocean falls off abruptly underneath the earth.

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Argonautica Holographicum (Part III)

To read Part I, click here

To read Part II, click here


III

Later that week Talus meets with two gentlemen from the Pangu Foundation, Hoffit and Maldacena. They’re both in their late forties, both white, European. They wear matching tang suits. Hoffit is balding and wears a white moustache and pair of heavy jowls. Maldacena wears a flat top, closely cropped and dyed black to hide his age, though he shows plenty of silver in his stubble. His eyes are black and his brow is heavy and level. They both smoke golden cigarettes, Maldacena very quickly and Hoffit slower, more absent-mindedly. By the time Talus finds them in one of the classrooms of the science building a yellow pall has settled over the desks. He shakes their hands and takes a seat at one of the chairs in the front row. Hoffit sits behind a long rectangular table across from Talus, while Maldacena rests his hip on top of the table.

“We read your email,” Maldacena says in a growling, baritone voice. “The one you sent to the Center’s director.”

“You read my email to Jen?” Talus asks, smiling at first. “Are you guys allowed to do that?”

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Argonautica Holographicum (Part II)

To read Part I, click here


II

The black box theory of consciousness states that the mind can be fully understood once its inputs and outputs are well-defined. That is to say, when everything surrounding the system is known, the system will be known, too. Though, at such a time, the understanding itself always loses its original intention, for a system whose inputs and outputs are well-defined has vanished into the background of yet another, larger system. And how one understands that still larger system must be answered again by the same endeavour.

To understand Midi, the simulated woman, and her peculiar response to Talus’s command line, is to understand the circumstances of her life within the simulated reality of the Q7.

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Argonautica Holographicum (Part I)

I

Somewhere on the west coast of the United States in the near future there is a university with great renown and plenty of funding. It’s summertime and the coastline shimmers like a lit fuse. Windmill propellers are spinning far out at sea, turning gyres in the boiling air. The deep wide moat that surrounds the bay has turned the shoreline into a great waterfall, draining the ocean underneath the earth’s crust, where it will find its way out again further inland, through towering pipeworks far beyond the valley.

On a windy day the university is near enough to the sea to smell of brine. Today it smells like a fish market. Many students and faculty choose to wear their filter masks in case a yellow smog should roll in, and so aren’t bothered by the smell of rancid fish. On some of their masks there is the university logo, a yellow seal and red crest, and motto streaming across the banner: humani nihil a me alienum puto. Nothing human is alien to me.

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