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BTW: The photo art and prose included in any given post are separate creations having nothing to do with each other. Duality and such …
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Sleeping With A New One
The drone was right there, hovering above him. He knew it. In a sky filled with drones sniffing every conceivable human behavior, this one was specifically watching him. It knew to specifically watch him, was programmed to specifically watch him, knew his face, knew his behaviors, knew his patterns, knew his addictions, his blood type, his pheromones. It communicated his every movement, every encounter, every breath for analysis, and if that analysis determined his dissidence, his deviance, that drone and other drones would drop from the sky. And then he would disappear.
When he thought about it logically he consoled himself that, while the drone was specifically watching him, it wasn’t specifically watching only him. The standard Mark XXI surveillance drone deployed by the Authoritarians could easily track several hundred specific targets at once, limited by the range of each target from the drone itself. It might prioritize a given set of targets and follow that set, allowing lower priority targets to wander out of range; those targets would be picked up by other drones, (and hundreds upon hundreds hummed through the sky at any given moment) but perhaps, perhaps not with the same intensity. The drones watched everyone, every living human being on the planet, sniffing at everything everyone did. But he knew – or perhaps just strongly suspected – he fell into the priority set. Knew it because it was the artists, right after the writers, who bore the most scrutiny. They were the most likely to harbor incorrect thoughts that might infect others. Dissident thoughts. And he was an artist.
He was also a dissident. And he was sleeping with the enemy.
He had never put a brush stroke wrong. Not in public, where he was now, along with half a dozen other artists applying their trade in the busy park across from the theater district on a warm summer night. It was here, amidst the stream of people moving in every direction, the artists were permitted to set up shop, demonstrate their talent, whip out quick works in approved styles of approved subjects to delight what audience might stop to watch. And since his works indeed covered approved subjects in the correct styles, and he did them well, and the delighted audience were conditioned to appreciate approved subjects done well in the approved styles, someone would likely buy something. He would smile broadly, and the buyer would smile happily and the passerbys would smile with appreciation of the fine artwork of the approved subject done in the correct style. And the buyer would stroll off into the night carrying under their arm their very own fine art … lie. A complete lie.
In his studio, off the alley down below street level, he could briefly expose the truth. There was no such thing as privacy anymore, of course, but there were methods and there were devices, highly illegal, to avoid detection by the drones. Devices that could subtly jam signals by splitting them into thousands of bits focused away from the target. Times of day the drones were less likely to cover every nook, cranny, and behavior. Situations in which a target could slip into anonymity. None of these methods could be employed very long, nor very often, nor regularly. Maybe just thirty minutes at random moments. Not much, but enough. Enough to for him to incrementally reveal unapproved truths in vibrant, lively styles that undermined the Authoritarian’s delusional and stagnant version of reality.
He believed, along with social scientists who had covertly disseminated well researched papers, that homo sapiens were inherently maladaptive, that they were innately self-destructive, and that just as they had replaced Neandertal and Denisovans, they themselves would be replaced by something new. And that those New Ones were emerging now. The process had already begun.
This observation drove the Authoritarians to frenetic repression. Of all the dissident thoughts the drones sought to detect, this one was the worst. Of course human beings were not inherently self-destructive, or there could not now be over ten billion on the planet. Of course humans were not, could not be maladaptive because humans were the top of the evolutionary pyramid so long as authoritarian principles were maintained. And of course there were no New Ones emerging to take their place. Certainly not! Absolutely positively not!
We would have seen them because we’re smart!
The gentle breeze had just the slightest chill to it as he and the other artists wrapped up for the evening, though, he thought, probably only seemed chilly after the heat of the day. He placed his equipment carefully in satchels, strapped tightly so nothing would be damaged by some clumsy lurch on his part, and strolled away from the lights, towards the less crowded streets, the poorer neighborhoods. The sounds of people thinned out, replaced by the background hum that permeated the city. A half hour walk before his building peaked out from between its neighbors, the window of his third story loft illuminated by the little lamp there. And there, she would be waiting for him, warm and comforting, concurrently translucent and dark. A transcendental being who would blanket him in contentment. He shuddered slightly in anticipation of the love he knew would soon embrace him. No drone had ever detected her – had ever detected any of them. The New Ones seemed to exist on a completely different plane. As the pandemics and the wars and the starvation raged, as the Earth tried to shake off humanity like a dog scratching at fleas, they would be there, impervious.
The art he created in dark spaces had brought her to him. Or, more likely, him to her. Willing himself to her through art on a higher plane.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.