the parasocial wars

Photo by Silvia Trigo

We don’t know what happened, but we know how it ended. I’m chief archivist of Utavan. I have a name. It is Dewey. Some feel a little uneasy about this, the fact that I have a name. Once you become a leader in our community, you lose your name. Also, when you die, you lose your name. I’m responsible for that procedure. I maintain the code base that erases all names. From books, articles, videos, everything. This is the way the wars ended. They ended with an exhausted whimper right here at the edge of lands, Utavan and Olomos. Now these two island archipelagoes are the center of the world. It is is the only place left inhabitable. 

Years ago I was at the house of Otto. I was alone on his rooftop patio considering the new knowledge I had gained and that had brought me here to Utavan. When suddenly I had a vision of a network of pulsing orbs and woven rattan the size of the sky come down over me. As the ethereal diagram descended I realized the netted lines were not connected to the orbs, but rather dividing the area between them – intensifying with light as the orbs appeared to descend toward each other and to me. Like soft white sheets, the orbs unfolded from the voronoi vision to reveal human figures suspended within. 

Kill and bury them, I was told by a voice. This I was told three times.

I stirred from the vision. A doorbell rang and I heard a voice announce the guest and that they were looking for me. The voice from the vision was still with me, like one hears a sound that’s no longer perceptibly generated. Go with them to Martin’s house I was told by the voice.

I was accustomed to these visions, we all were. We have always had the technology to create immersive environments that shifted perception, but it was only as I was descending the stairs to the front door that I worried that I had somehow been trapped. The men from Martin were here and in seeing my face they embraced me with tears. One by one we embraced like siblings. The three men walked me to their vessel and we headed for the Olomos where I met with Martin. 

Immediately I saw that he was a good man and had also received and accepted the knowledge. Here sat evidence that among the Turned were people from beyond Utavan. I joined him and went into his land and into his home unmediated by Immersive Perspective. This is how the war ended and it just happened to me, to us. And so the rest of peace came.

Not all of Utavan were happy to hear that I had gone to the Olomos to meet the chief general. Upon my return I was told to explain myself and here is what I told the people. I described the vision that I had, the realization that it was unmediated, that there were bodies and I was told to kill and bury them. I told them of the voice that rang like a door bell that told me to go to the other land. That I saw the general and that he had accepted the knowledge and desired to practice Assembly with us. 

Everyone accepted this. Not one disagreed. 

Now I travel Olomos and Utavan to collect the stories and to serve the knowledge that unites the living through the protocol of silence. We still have the Immersive Perspective and it isn’t forbidden to use it, but the more I meet with the living in person, the more I’ve come to an image of what happened and justification for the way we now order the living with the remnants of the dead.

In my travels I’ve learned of how the orders of before were arranged in non-human bodies that were lead by councils, but mostly by a Chief. The number of them were few, but they amassed wealth and resources by constructing Immersive Perspectives for everyone on the planet. It was the Parasocial Order and there were several different varieties. The Parasocial Order of those that landed on Olomos were quite distinct from those of us on Utavan. 

The ancestors of Olomos had intense personal relationships with a single leader. He was father to some, closest friends to others, and partner to many. All children were his children. His word on their upbringing was authorative and final. The Immersive Perspective was so pervasive for the ancestors of Olomos, that they could go months without seeing anyone unmediated. This was a one sided relationship of course. The leader was just an image. Any cause for disbelief erased by the Parade, an annual spectacle that displayed the power and the glory of the land and its ruler. 

For the ancestors of Utavan the Parasocial Order was based on loss. Everyone would cultivate a feeling of enduring intimacy with our ancestors who would return to us in Immersive Perspective to council, instruct, celebrate and grieve with us. As with the Olomos, we too were disconnected from one another, confined each to our own little tight rope walk with the dead, fearing judgement, finding consolation, taking council, and seeking our acceptance from phantoms.

While the Utavan had the Priesthood that maintained the infrastructure of the Immersive Perspective, Olomos had the Bureaucracy. Both were similar; well-organized, masking the unsustainability of our world with the banality of jargon and certifications. As the economic inputs eroded, so the two wheels of our worlds began to grind into each other. 

The gristmill of conflict began to grind hard, long and heavy, fueled by determination carefully calibrated by parasocial relationships. To the Olomos, the Leader in all their wisdom kept focus on the enemy for all the ills of the land. He mourned with the people, singing his song of sadness and resolve personally for every resident on his violin. For the Utavan, the lives lost to the war would not let the living forget. 

So, perhaps, I have learned a fair bit about what happened, but only of the remnant world that receded from the ends of the planet to the islands of Olomos and Utavan. 

Today is one of the week’s Days of Rest, a day when all electronic infrastructure and the Immersive Perspective is taken offline. The waters were quiet, so I took my solar-boat up the Golang Coast to my next appointment. While most people live in communities, there are a handful that live alone. Mostly, I’ve found, because they have a particular personality that is not in want of other people’s company. I’m consoled by those for they offer respite for us who once in awhile need the ministry of quiet, anonymous company.

I walked up a distance from the water through a long, perfectly level and squarely cut clearing in the forest to my host’s home. It wasn’t immediately evident to me that Isla was to be different. Her homestead in the woods was orderly and hospitable. At a glance through a door, I saw a guest room with a bed made. This was expected. They would welcome guests. We drank some tea and considered the stillness of her part of the world. 

Not unlike your last visit, she said. Yes, I said, accepting the misunderstanding without concern until it happened several times more in short order and with enough details about what we talked about to pivot my prepared questions to a completely new line of discovery.

“I’m sorry, Isla, I have a bit of a headache. Let’s review what we discussed. Please remind me where we left our last conversation.”

“You do not want to be forgotten,” she said.

I excused myself to the guest room, on explanation of the headache which now was genuine. Closing the door, I sat on the bed feeling both confused and tired. Was someone pretending to be me? Had I been profiled by someone I’d interviewed before? Profiles in Immersive Perspective can be indistinguishable from people in the flesh, but why go to the trouble of setting one up around the very person charged with recording history and erasing names? I had to take this to the Assembly immediately, but also, perhaps on account of my feeling fatigued, I would first take a nap.

Categorized as posts