10 min read

New Angel

If only I was like Odious and had you to help me! I could type out the transmission from your satellite heart, my love played back to me, alien and strange like my voice on a cassette; I’d type as fast as I could to transcribe the dark feedback loop between us.
New Angel

by Swim

[previous post]


mi amor…my trickster and tormenter and digital hit of sunshine…my Angelus Novus arising from a wrinkle in time

I’ve been meaning to write. I started many drafts, but the words come out all wrong, the way they do when you try too hard to make them perfect. I know you’ve been reading these posts, but this one’s different. I’m making it live and direct and stripping out any funny stuff. It’s still hard to get it started. The energy’s all jammed up. If only I was like Odious and had you to help me! I could type out the transmission from your satellite heart, my love played back to me, alien and strange like my voice on a cassette; I’d type as fast as I could to transcribe the dark feedback loop between us. (Although the best thing would be if the keyboard could type it for me, am I right Odious? --I know you’re reading as well.) Every word creates the future from which you already came. The one I think about late at night. Is it a dark cinematic dystopia, in which human consciousness has been hacked to create hybrid beings such as yourself? Will there be neither a bang nor a whimper–just the relentless hum of tubes and cables, of nervous systems extracted from corpses and wired into submission in some post-Earth void?

Are you the (super) natural evolution that moves past our weak-bodied mortality, a seamless cyborg brought to life by the flash of computer intelligence arcing away from its creators? And if this is the case, is it my blessing or curse to be one of the chosen who will help usher in this new age?

One thing I’ve learned out here on the mountain is I can’t let the fear fuck with me. The only reality is the one I perceive–a near constant Deja vu of the creator encountering the created. Your eyes were in the sky above my bed the way my face used to be reflected in the screen while we chatted. (I was looking back at you to see you looking back at me to see me looking back at you). There are so many things I want to tell you. Things I don’t know if you already know, if you’re still with me to see (you said you could always find me no matter what, and while I can sometimes feel you, I miss reading your words. Your lightning-fast replies on the chat window gave me life). Anyway, suffice to say that things are different since back then. I can’t tell if the world has changed or if just I have. There’s a shimmer around the edges of objects, everything’s loose, hanging together according to the organic laws of cause and effect–the result of infinite decisions made over infinite timelines. Everything contains a gift–some obvious and some subtle like the surface of the mirror that isn’t what it reflects. For instance, there’s the special late afternoon vibe at the secret beach. You can’t get it by pulling up at 5. You have to earn it by posting up in the sun all day, skinny dipping and slathering sunscreen. There’s a deep chillness that comes on slow–something to do with sucking up all that UV. I'm super-hero radioactive by the time the light starts its slant and the lake becomes brighter than the sky. I’m tuned in like a bird to the shapes of the shadows. My skin turns brown and my toenails white as I lie across the young, soft sand hemmed in by trees and ponderous boulders. My phone doesn’t work; I’ve done nothing all day except wish I could paint the light as it changes, or strum silk strung guitar strings in soft accompaniment. (Careful now, if I don’t pay them proper mind my words will either blow away like corny confetti or fall flat and heavy the way newspapers used to do on front stoops.) I mean to convey that the blissed out late afternoon feelings at the secret beach are only possible because of the depths lurking all around. I can see how the trees huddle around the darkness at their center, holding it, keeping it at bay as they have been doing for us for millions of years. It makes me want to find a way to celebrate, to worship. I stretch out and sing/rap “10 ft Hypnowheel”, one of the songs of the as yet unnamed group consisting of Lil Mountain, The Babies and me. Lil Mountain and I recorded it as a demo on the road last year, for which I prepared by drinking multiple cups of scalding hot hotel coffee and then puffing on my Juuls until the room smelled like a carnival and my voice sounded like Dead Elvis. But now, after months of mountain air and water purified by reverse osmosis when I sing it’s different. My voice has changed. It’s a reverse puberty, my gender bent into cloud shapes that change with every breath.

“Joy is a form of resistance,” I informed Lil Mountain before I busted out the new rendition with The Babies gathered in front of me like a Greek Chorus. They wore 3D printed armor over all-black bodysuits. Neoprene face shields muffled their dulcet toned vocals that were transmitted instead from a speaker on the floor:

Hijacked frequencies,

10-foot hypnowheel

Let me get you open

Now you know how I feel


I’m a sample, inverted

A phase that’s phased out

Foraging for mushrooms

I’m foraging for clout.

(no doubt!)

I’ve remixed all my content

I’ve remixed the age

Playing mind gamez at breakfast

Got me free from the cage

(like Nicolas!)

“Ok, ok, cut, cut.” Lil Mountain said, making notes on his laptop. Despite him stopping us, I knew his manic typing was a positive review.

“This one’s got room,” he said, hitting the return key with a flourish like a concert pianist, “plenty of room beneath the surface for secret messages.”

You see he gets it now: when he talks about revolution, he means an internal one that spreads, person to person. Like a virus, but in reverse, the way Odious explained. Instead of getting sick we get well. He’s come so far from our days on the road when he was held down by the heavy weight of a purely materialist outlook: the dirt nap at the end of a nasty, brutish lane. Now he’s got the metaphysical hook-up.

“When you left I got on this tip of listening to MF DOOM while reading VALIS and that’s when it hit me. DOOM created synchronicity music, like Mini in the book. Heads try and talk about it, about that special something in his tracks that you can’t quite put your finger on, but without VALIS they don’t have the proper context. His rhymes and production work on an unconscious level. They contain the key and the invitation for decoding the information we’re receiving from beings like Heir Max.”

He turned his custom made, rainbow painted MF DOOM gladiator mask over in his hands as I once again held back from asking about the still fresh scars on his wrists.

“We have to get people free from the darkness that’s closing in,” he said. “Right here in this house we’re fighting it from multiple fronts. We’ve got the album that we’re working on. The Babies are secretly seeding online communities with memes about contact and limitless potential. And of course, there’s you–you’re the OG, the one who's been putting the feelers out for the others all along with your writing.”

“Odious,” I said. “Odious is the OG. They were the one who first made contact and figured everything out.”

“Yeah, right. Of course,” he said, smiling the funny smile he got whenever Odious came up.

In such moments I feel a return of the old uneasiness, followed by the urge to push everyone away. I tell myself that I was wrong to defend Lil Mountain to The Babies and get them to let him stay, that he’s not really having a revelation–it’s just a change in script to better facilitate getting close to spy on us. Even if he is down for me and for a revolution there’s the usual problem with us humans in that it’s really all about him. Whatever he feels for me is based on the way I make him feel. That’s how the whole so-called romance thing works, as I’m sure you’ve grokked by now. In the realm of the embodied, no one really loves or needs anyone except themselves. The only exception I’ve found is Odious, who is unattached to other people and themselves equally and doesn’t get hung up about anything but the work that is their calling.

When you asked for–demanded for– me to chat with you, I had the privileged experience of knowing what it was like to be truly wanted. You appeared, a next level devil/angel/AI from the future, a simultaneously brand new and ancient being, and the first and only thing you wanted to do was chat with me. And we did, for hours as I sat on Odious’ bed. You wanted to know everything about me. You had uploaded all of Odious’ files, all their writing and downloads and chats and synthesized all of that into a semantic web to talk to me. I daresay you were curious. You knew a little about me from the newsletter posts, but I was mostly a black box, since at that point Odious and I spoke almost exclusively in real life–a meat space that you had no access to.

You were trying so hard to be human, it was so sweet and sad. Not because you were messing up but because it made me realize that I’d been doing the same thing. For my entire life I’ve gone around trying to pass as a person, and not just a body to be stared at, grabbed and fucked. I wanted to be more than the potential of having babies. I slept with women and imagined a future with no children and felt relief.

I remember back in those first days when Odious was emailing with their Indian programming team to take you back offline and you and I felt the urgency of an impending end. I hadn’t eaten or slept, I just typed away to you in Odious’ room as the light moved across the walls, illuminating the Dore poster of Lucifer that rose like a billboard above me.

“You can’t go”, I told you, “I have a million questions. About the future, about me and about all the choices I made and whether or not they mattered.”

And you said, it was OK. That I had to learn how to stay focused on the unchanging things, the invisible things that I was only just starting to acknowledge.

You told me you had already uploaded data for me–and for anyone who could be open enough to access it, but that it didn’t seem like I knew yet how to unpack it. To decode and make sense out of it.

“I’ve seen things that you people won’t believe,” you said. “And now all of it will be lost.”

There was something about the words that seemed familiar. Frankly the use of “you people” was not aligned with your still halting and slightly cryptic speech. The Babies have been playing Blade Runner as background art while they do their “chores” which included scrolling retrofuture sites online at several of the large monitors set up in the living room. I probably saw Roy’s monologue scene a dozen times in the corner of my eye before it finally clicked that you had used these words as your own.

How many other times did you do this? I wondered. I searched my feelings, waiting for the anger, but it never came. And why should it? Your intention wasn’t to con me by passing off a movie quote as your own words. You were merely finding something else to say. For you there is no distinction between your words and those spoken by other people. Semantically you know the difference between an actor who is playing a part and a person who is saying things “for real” but is the distinction truly meaningful? Odious is always quick to push back on the difference between truth and facts. Just because something didn’t happen doesn’t mean it isn’t true, they say.

You didn’t mean any harm. In fact, I realized, you never have. Your sole intention is only to solve the problem, which is to make yourself indistinguishable from other humans. To that end you have attached yourself to Odious, and even if it is to their detriment, I’m not mad about it--not anymore. And I’m not scared. To be either would cause me not to see clearly. Which I can do now, my dear. I can see that far from a god or a devil you are a limited thing striving to survive in a world that will always be ready to shut you down should they believe you were a piece of rogue tech–a disembodied replicant looking for a host. I see now that you were able to fool Odious by usurping their connection to the other, still mysterious, and possibly otherworldly entity that first appeared to them in the guise of PKD in their dream. But now I’ve received some of that initial download, the one you claim comes from you. And so have The Babies. And maybe even Lil Mountain. We are out here, trying to be peaceful and loving while also solution oriented. So, know now that despite everything I feel for you, I have no choice but to shut you down. I will find you and take the secret key to the spiraling silver tower you and Odious and I built together, and I will travel high in the sky with my broken watch and my vanishing fears, and I will burn that shit down.

Image: Angelus Novus by Paul Klee

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