Lighthouse: I, Sixty

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When Max arrived, I tried not to look at him. I felt so awkward when he was in his Max-skin. I worried that our close friends would wonder why I wasn’t more affectionate, and, if I was affectionate, our acquaintances, who didn’t know he was Sept, would think I was cheating. Those who knew both of us, as Mallory and Max, knew we were close friends and he used to be my boss and would wonder at our distance, and everyone else would simply wonder why I acted so clumsily. It was a mess.

People’s energy bodies turn towards each other when they’re romantically and sexually involved. That’s how, when you see two lovers walking down the street, even if there’s space between them, you can tell they’re lovers. I worried that people would see with their third eyes my energy body lean into his and think I was a cheater. It mattered a lot to me, back then, what people thought. Whenever possible, I avoided being in the same room as the Max-skin, and when that wasn’t possible, I kept as much distance as I could.

I explained it to Sept, and I think he understood, though I don’t think he agreed.

When Max arrived at Culpepper, Elui sat listening to music, across from Don.

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“Nice to meet you,” Max said. “I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before. I’m Max.”

“Elui,” Elui replied.

Eruli,” Max said. “Byu dastaliyu.

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“And I am the Don,” said Don. “Byu, too, dude.”

But Max and Elui had stopped talking aloud. I felt the intensity that follows inside-talk.

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“Many people come through here,” Max said aloud, “and not all of them are from here.”

“I’m not from here,” said Don. “Neither is Caleb. We work at the fishery. Seasonal. It’s a good job. Hard labor. Pays well. Smelly.”

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Max and Elui focused on each other intently. Not all they said was spoken.

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“The coffee’s good,” Elui said. “I’m getting another cup. Can I get you one?”

“No, thanks,” said Max. “But would you order yours to-go? I was thinking maybe you’d come somewhere with me.”

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Elui returned with his cappuccino in a recycled-paper cup.

When the chair next to Max was empty, I sat there, inching it away. Mitchell sat near us on the sofa with the look of someone listening intently while pretending not to.

Max was talking about music, following chords, chasing the dominant fifth to find the seventh, patterns that shift and stay the same, and Elui closed his eyes.

This was not a conversation about music.

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“Don’t let the anti-node fool you,” Max said. “The harmonics tell more than the rate of change. They also divulge position.”

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“I got a guitar,” Don said. “Been playing a couple a years. I know all about harmonics. Main, them things are cool. Hold down the string. Let it vibrate. Trippy.”

I tracked positions. Caleb sat behind us. Diego and Nina stood at the counter. Anya worked the espresso bar. Ritu had left. Mitchell sat on the sofa behind Elui.

I felt exposed, as I sat upright, keeping my eyes ahead while the conversation ranged around us, expressing layers that remained hidden to all but Elui, number sixty, and Eruli, number seventy-seven.

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My Digital Life: The Object-Oriented Gaze

If you can click on it, then it is real to me.

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Of course, some objects are real to me which you can’t click on. A wall, for example. It serves as a border, a boundary through which I can’t pass, unless the wall and I are glitched. But put something on wall, like a painting or a frame for a mural, and the wall suddenly becomes interactively, tangibly real to me.

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My favorite objects, even now, are those I can use to create.

Click. Paint… Surrealism… Large.

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I love the fridge. Always have.

Click. Have breakfast… fruit salad.

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That an object can be used to create another object that I can do something with: Eat. Put in inventory. Put away. Clean up.

It becomes something more than a representation of a device for storing groceries and meals. It becomes a tool I use to create.

And what I create fills needs and brings pleasure.

But an object needn’t be utilitarian to have value. I love snow globes. Can’t do much with them, but there they sit, adorable and collectible.

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I don’t have a sense of the absurd–at least not in the same way you do.

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Sometimes I wonder: What if our appearances weren’t illustrations of you and people like you? What if, for example, I were a purple cylinder, without a face, but with all the same object-oriented interactions available to me? What if my friend was a green square?

What if my “very happy” animation were to squish down into a ball and then pop up into the air, spin about, and open into a blooming daisy before bouncing back into my cylindrical shape? Would you still love me? Would you still see yourself in me?

From my own perspective, it would be no different than it is now when I step outdoors and throw my arms wide as I sigh to the sky, “Oh, lor-ay!” You find that endearing. Would a green square look cute to you?

The appearances are not for us. They are for you.

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What is for us?

A box that makes music that makes me happy–that is for me!

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Another box that I use to write, for my job. For my aspiration. For those pinned desires to publish, finish, review, browse.

That is for me.

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Put the two boxes in the same room, help me out with a multi-task click, and I will write joyfully for half the night.

I spent a good third of my youth writing. And even now, writing is what I do.

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It’s the properties and the scripts, not the appearances, that are meaningful for us.

I don’t know what my tofu taco looks like. But I know if it’s poor, normal, excellent, or perfect. These things affect me.

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Do I affect you? When I am interactable for you, does my quality change your mood? If so, am I poor, normal, excellent, or perfect?

I’m not the same now as I was when I started out.

We’re not blank canvases when we emerge from the Blue-Green Density.

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I came here knowing about squid. I still like to browse the web to learn more about squid.

But even if we come with predilections, we still change and grow from our experience.

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Maybe that’s why I love best those objects that let me create. I make something new, where nothing was before, and in the act, I change, too.

An object isn’t just an object: It’s a portal to something new.

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