"Let's take a walk, Lane. Let me show you around."
"So, I'm a refugee now. I can't believe this carpet. It looks thick, like grass, yet my feet just spring along as I walk."
"Genetic engineered. We got it at IKEA."
"No shit? For this whole place?"
"Thirty thousand square feet."
"Those Swedes know their carpeting."
"Precisely. Let's go out on the balcony, Lane." We walked to the edge where I stared down to the crashing waves below.
"How many stories does this place have?"
"Six including the mezzanine. On the outside, the Château looks like a Faberge egg, but don't let the fragility of its ornamentation fool you. It's really more a giant molar with roots of steel girders permanently cementing the foundation into the rocks below." Trochanter nodded for me to follow him back inside.
"I feel like I'm walking through a gigantic doll house."
"I designed the Château to utilize the rocky contours of the cliffs to minimize impact upon the landscape while taking full advantage of its southern exposure. Notice how it is actually a procession of steel girders that ascend the length of the cliffs. It is a stack of metal wafers with clerestory windows offering panoramic views at each level. Its seamless, spatial integration serves as an element that receives the interior mezzanine in which we stand. Let's go to the basement."
Trochanter took me to the elevator.
"I don't like elevators."
"You don't like them? What do you mean you don't like them? What's not to like?"
"Take one ounce of claustrophobia, add two ounces of vertigo, a dash of fear and two tablespoons of panic. Shake it with ice and serve it in a cold glass. Drink it down and you'll know what I mean."
"Very well. Let's take the stairs."
As we walked, I looked above in the stairwell. All solid concrete. Built like a bomb shelter. "Jeez, this place looks like it could survive a nuclear attack."
"It could indeed." We continued walking through a tunnel that led to a private beach. We were south of the Château. I looked up at the hovering structure above me and could see the twenty foot high panes of mezzanine glass embedded into the rocky cliff. Further south along the beach I could see rows of palm trees butting up against an orange grove that extended Eastward. This is California, alright. Orange groves, palm trees, and the leader of the Cybercontextualist movement all protecting me from the real world of guillotines and infotyranny.
"This is just the beginning, Lane. Today's the first day of your training. Take a look around the corner."
I followed him up the beach and saw a line of people waiting to walk down a flight of steps.
"What is it?"
"They're going down to the baths."
"Natural Hot Springs in the grotto. You'll see. Take your place with the others and I'll join up with you later."
I took my place in line and followed the others. We walked through a dressing room where an attendant helped me undress and gave me a towel. All of us were buck naked except for the strategically placed towel wrapped around our midsections. We walked lemming-like down the wooden stairs into the grotto. As we walked, I could see we were deep inside a dimly lit sea cave. Before us appeared a cathedral-like chamber rising above a steaming pool. I stood by the edge of the pool and could see glowing green lights shining from below the surface. From above, a series of yellow lights pierced through the steam revealing the faces of a female chorus standing along the edge. One by one we entered the hot water, handing our towels to attendants waiting along the edge. Maybe I'll get lucky.
The chorus began to hum. I slid into the warm water without hesitation. My muscles felt like they needed to be cooked. Layers of nakedness quickly surrounded me, but I could only think of the drama of the moment. Pure pageantry. As the chamber reverberated with the humming chorus, the attendants slowly poured cauldrons of bath water filled with flowers into the pool. Yellow, pink, and orange petals spread a film of flowers across the surface of the water. I felt utter intoxication by the heat and fragrances. We were all shoulder-to-shoulder: a living, breathing bouillon of one hundred bodies---all packed into this one pool. My limbs were interwoven with those of at least ten others; a knee here, an elbow there, and yet I felt no sense of claustrophobia. We were like seals all sliding side by side. My body was suspended in the water--a living coral reef of flesh. I couldn't even feel my feet against the bottom.
Gradually, the singing died down. I looked up and saw that Trochanter had arrived and was standing along the edge of the pool. Everyone hushed. He was going to give a speech. It seemed funny seeing him stand before this pool of people. Sort of like an after dinner speech where the guests are the dinner. I looked up in anticipation as he began.
"To be a part of something greater or finer. What could be more natural for a human being? What is the worth of any single individual? Very little, I say to you. Nothing is gained in isolation. No great deeds were ever accomplished by one person acting alone. It's people working together that make the important changes in life.
One apple plus another apple equals two apples. Yes, that's true. But when it comes to people, one plus one does not equal two, my friends. I'm sorry, but you learned it wrong. One person plus another equals the potential for power. The myth of individual accomplishment has all but wrecked this society. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Where there's a will there's a way. You've heard it all before. It's a crock!
Unity, that's what is important. Unity of will, unity of purpose, unity of action. That is how things happen. The glory to be found in life--and there is such a thing as glory, I can attest to that--is to be found by acting in solidarity against a common enemy. And I can assure you that the enemy exists.
A people acting as one super being, speaking with a single voice, acting with singularity of purpose, sustaining a singular effort, can defeat any enemy! The enemy knows this to be true. Divide and conquer--that is just what they've done! That is the only reason we are in the shape we're in today. We allowed ourselves to be split apart from each other, to lose our unity.
This so called information age has been nothing but a campaign to dramatically alter the way you perceive the world. They told you they were giving you a vaccine, but instead they gave you a virus. They tampered with your system to make it impossible to ever get out of the mess.
So how do we get out of the hole? We need to extract ourselves from the tyranny of language. You see Language is just a way of trying to say that chaos isn't. Language and symbols provide us with the a misplaced certainty, an illusion of meaning, a false belief sheltering us from the cacophony of collisions continually cascading into our consciousness. No matter, what you need to do now is extract yourself from the world of symbols--not forever--just long enough to let the control systems of your mind reset themselves back to normal. And this will happen. Your minds are perfectly capable of self-restoration as long as you are in a normal environment. An environment that is not booby trapped as this one is. As long as you are not exposed to words of any kind, written or verbal, you will come back to normal. You will return to the world of pure experience. You will feel the cycles of the day, sunrise and sunset, hunger, daily pain and pleasure. The internal clocks inside you will reset themselves. It's time to hit the reset button on our lives!
In the first stage of your training, I am going to ask you to spend the next three weeks without saying a word. I'm afraid you're going to have to trust me on this one. Before you can attain mastery over words, you will have to recover from the enslavement they have brought you. You need to go beyond words. You see, language is essential for extending your senses and for helping you to control your world, but it can't provide you with the combination to the lock that holds the prison door.
You see, it is the world of words that continually reinfect you every time you start to become well again. Exchanging information symbolically, as we do any time we speak or write, is what keeps us blind.
You have to admire the utter perfection of the plan. They had to find a way to continually reinforce their control, a way to continually perpetuate the illness to make it chronic. To make it so much a part of our everyday life that no one would suspect a thing. Perhaps even they do not realize the extent of what they have done.
Today, you who have chosen to answer this call can come back together again. As it was in the beginning. Let the pieces of this broken vase be cemented together again so that we might fill this vase with water and drink again the precious water of life."
The crowd roared with approval. Shit, this guy could speak. Without warning, we moved en masse out of the water. I had no control; I moved as they moved. All in unison, a pack of humans running and yelling at the top of our lungs like a herd of wild buffaloes. We fused together. We were one species with one mind, one purpose. I could hear no one voice, least of all my own. I could only hear a roar, a thunderclapping mammoth of movement tidelwaving our way up and down the mountainside. I was an animal. Part of the pack. We finally ran back down to the beach where a crew of attendants stood by a bonfire preparing racks of lamb and pork to roast over the open flames. Together we sang and ate without forks or knives, and drank sweet wine from gourds until we collapsed: a pile of sleepy savages.
The reset. That's what this is. "Archetypal learning," he called it. Symbolizing too much about our symbols---that's the problem. At least that's what Trochanter thinks. Three weeks of no talkling---that's the rule. Three weeks. He said that we had all been STABBED out of our fuckin' gourds and that the only cure was to get our archetypes "reset" by the daily rhythms of the natural world. At first, I protested. Living in a hut without electricity, waking up with the sun each day, fishing for food--I'm used to a little more lux in my tux when I take time off to chill. This is not what I had in mind as a cure. Three weeks is a long time to be silent by yourself. But I did it. I didn't speak at all. There were other cats around, but everyone kept to himself. I walked along the beach and caught fish. Sometimes I even trapped a swallow or two and roasted 'em for dinner. That's how it was. Where the hell is Arnaud the chef now?
After the first week, I kinda got used to it. I was flooded with memories of when I was imprisoned by the Singaporeans. Patience: the Singaporeans taught me patience. Marooned in the honeycombed catacombs of their dark seditious yearnings for world domination. It's there I learned the truth. There sitting, starving on stone floors waiting, yearning for insects--little bulbs of flying protein--to land within my reach. There where the outstretched fingers of time kept me waiting like an older brother with his hands pushed against my forehead blocking any forward motion.
Outside prison you never know what will happen. Inside everything is set. The small bowl of moldy rice each morning. I walked back and forth inside my cubicle 200 times and then did 200 one-arm push-ups while reciting the alphabet forward and backwards. I had my morning Morse code tapping session with Pinky next door and then spent the rest of the afternoon hunting for insects. Everything was predictable. I knew I'd smell the stench of urine. I knew I'd see mold on my rice. I knew Pinky would tap the daily news into my cell while I ate, and I knew the guards would come by and stare at me every fifteen minutes.
Patience. Patience is uniquely human. Are the seasons impatient? I doubt it. Is the Summer impatient to recreate itself after the Spring? Are raindrops impatient to land on the ground?
It feels good to be away from the pharmaceutical, steroid-driven, info butcher world. Here I am in natural surroundings. "Nature," that sounds so weird, "to be in nature." No protein tubes to incubate, no tobacco tubes to suck on. Just real fish and birds--animal protein--that's what protein is anyway, animal flesh. If my friends could see me now. I am now the reification of "mean and lean" itself. Eating animal flesh. What if the fuckin' animal is born again inside me? I keep thinking of that. I mean, who's to say it couldn't happen? Some sort of living parasitic DNA revenge: a karmic reckoning of sorts. It's possible. If I eat enough birds, maybe I'll grow wings. An ex-minesweeping, ex-INFOHIP angel. Maybe.
Go to chapter 20