Place Tree

May 30, 2017

I enjoyed the forest when I built it, but I always hated it in testing. There’s nothing worse than seeing something from far away, approaching it hoping for all of the payoffs of the varities of nostalgia that drives your feelings of beauty, and then finding the same cheap trick repeated over and over again.

Each tree was distinct, to be sure, but they were using patterns I had established ten years before. The bark followed shapes that were as obvious to me as a critic of any distinct genre could detect the notes or flows of their specialty. That worl was like the 3 notes of Punk. That knot was an analogy for the princess locked behind a giant lizard. This nest of ants was a ring-station around a dead earth. I had seen every one of these trees in ten thousand other trees. I had heard these cicadas in ten thousand other forests. I had felt this undergrowth in ten thousand other experiences.

And yet the sun peeking through the leaves always stopped me.

Though most people can’t remember it anymore, when I was a child I visited King’s Canyon in California before the war. One of my sharpest memories was the wonder at seeing a tree my parents could drive through. Not only the mastery of technology that allowed a group of humans to cut through a living tree and allow it to thrive, but the ancient and hoary power of a tree to grow to such power and girth. It was the perfect marriage of the past and the future as a kitchy picture spot.

And then it died.

I feel as if this is a perfect metaphor for the beginning of the 21st century. My childhood was punctuated by vacilations from one apocalypse to another by my parents and political leaders, to the point where the country suffered for generations. It wasn’t until I was 30 that it felt like anything made sense again, and that’s when I started creating Experiences.

While most computer programs were owned by an increasingly complex network of corporations formed in the early 21st century, one small group of open source programmers created a modified reality system that allowed us to either overlay elements of code onto projections or even project into strong coding systems that used either lights or sounds to hijack the brain’s processes. Later on, someone perjected a full AR/VR combo system that tapped into the skin’s sensory systems to transmit “real” information to the brain and tell it to interpret whatever world we built.

Then came Experiences – fully loaded and automated systems that took you somewhere Else. This is where I first made art, then made a cultulral sensation, and now where I made a living like any other pop star. Making variations of the same thing over and over again. For me it was that walk through the forest, seeing the sun break through, hearing the insects, finding a path to walk down, and syncing that to small music numbers at the right intverals.

Every Exerpience either started or ended this way for me. It was what my audience expected. I accessed a subroutine they didn’t have access to and lit up a cigarette, feeling the strange combination of the nicottine flush and the punch in the throat and chest as the degrading chemicals assaulted my virutal system. Cigarettes were illegal Upstairs, or in the real world, and were banned in above-board Experiences. Most of us, though, had hidden dev routines that let us smoke here. We remember smoking, and some of us still did with hidden plants or highly sophisticated chem sticks.

For me it was mostly an affectation. I vaped in the real world, a mostly harmless system according to the government, but the need to have something in my mouth while thinking persisted in the virtual world as well. The smoking subroutines were just so much better than the vaping ones. While I wish I could sit down with an autohookah, I was stuck with the fake cigarettes.

A flashing message popped up in my vision;

“Hey, Mike, we need you. We’ve got another murder and this is too many too fast. We’ll be there in ten.”

The police? Why me?

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