Richard Thieme, Mind Games
Publisher: Duncan Long Publications
Date: April 1, 2010
Length: 356 pp
ISBN: 0938326244; 978-0938326243
Mind Games is a unique collection of 19 stories of brave new worlds and alternate realities — stories of computer hackers, deception and intelligence, puzzling anomalies, spirituality and mysteries of consciousness, the paranormal, UFOs, alien life forms — in short, everyday life in the 21st century.
All have been previously published in literary, slipstream, and science fiction magazines and anthologies but have not been available in a single collection — until now. The stories concern hackers, deception, professional intelligence, alien life forms, explorations of deep states of consciousness, contact with other species — in short, everyday life in the 21st century.
I used to think that death bed revelations were nonsense. I knew lots of guys who kept their vows to the last breath. Some even spread disinformation as they died under torture. Intelligence professionals have discipline that sticks, most of the time.
I was sure that I did too.
Then I got the diagnosis. Cancer, inoperable. All through the gut. Stomach, liver, the intestines.
As if I couldn’t guess.
Luckily we manage pain well these days. I feel as much as I want to feel. The pain reminds me that my life is nearly over. I don’t want to forget that. A morphine haze reduces the urgency I need to make myself tell the truth. If I find myself drifting into a fog, dreaming about something in my non-existent future, I ease up on the meds until I vomit, bent double and clutching my gut, then take pills until I’m coherent again but can still remember that I only have a day or two left.
I am writing to three of you (you each know why and do not need to know the identity of the others) and sending one copy to a writer who will know how to use this information. He is not one of the usual suspects, not a name you would know, certainly not one of the useful idiots we use to spread disinformation. (We have more reporters in our stable than stars in the sky. And they say that two sources validate a story!) I am giving it to a man who understands that fiction is the only way to tell the truth.
I am also giving the story to a blogger, but just one. So real gold will be buried on the Net like the dwarf did in that fairy tale. (That’s an inside joke. You’ll understand in a minute.)
You remember the fairy tale, right? A guy forced a dwarf to tell him where gold was buried in a forest? But he didn’t have a shovel? So he tied a scarf around the tree and went to get one after making the dwarf swear he wouldn’t untie it? But while he was gone, the dwarf tied scarves around all of the trees?
So one blog, at least, will have it right.
My God but this pain is intense. With each wave, more of the contents of my life tumble into the darkness. I feel pieces of myself fall away with every breath. Memory modules disconnect and disappear?so many stories, so much distortion, so many lies. I don’t even know what’s true anymore.
I have been instrumental in building the false history that you live in, that you believe. I created false points of reference to anchor your beliefs. You have been wandering in a mist, thinking the sun was shining brightly. I confused the darkness for the sunlight, too. Is that any consolation? Maybe that’s why I want to tell you the truth about Roswell. I just want to shed a little real light before I die.
Introduction to “The Riverrun Dummy”
I did teach, once upon a time, at the University of Illinois in Chicago for most of five years, right out of graduate school, and I was pretty much an idiot, I think, when I look back at the posturing, despite my best attempts. I was young and “idiosyncratic,” as a therapist put it politely, and had not been taught a single thing about how to teach. That’s how they did it then and maybe they still do. You have an advanced degree so you are thrown into the classrom to teach poor hapless freshman, most of whom will flunk out by the end of the year, so you’re the best they can expect. Maybe they keep them these days what with grade inflation and cash flow problems. I don’t know.
So I taught by imitating people who had impressed me. I remember imitating William F Buckley — mostly by lifting my eyebrows and cultivating a snobby tone — and a professor of philosophy who hooked me at Northwestern, Eliseo Vivas. He rocked a lot and smiled, letting his pregnant silence suggest a meaningful ellipsis, so I did too, although my silence was a null space.
Oh well. We abide. Life goes on.
Anyway, Stephen Hawking said that Einsteinian relativity would be common sense reality for the next generation, not the Newtonian kind of physical world in which we had been taught to arrange space and time (and everything in them) in our minds.
He wasn’t right, I don’t think. Most kids and their kids too still see time and space in three dimensional ways, they see things fall and think of gravity as a force, not a curvature of spacetime. But he had a point — more and more, I see things in a four-dimensional sort of way, having read again and again, not the math (I can’t do the math) but all those popular science books that use pictures and parables to try to explain great ideas to the rest of us. It pretty much works for relativity, maybe because of years of repitition. (“Here is a clock approaching the speed of light ...the astronaut left the earth on his 21st birthday ... ”) It doesn’t work for me for string theory yet which remains a bunch of little noodles vibrating in space rendered in two-dimensional black and white. How those squiggles relate to reality is ... well, beyond me. The math, I am told, is beyond even those who do it.
But what would it be like, I wondered, if the subjective field of our understanding was relativistic? And if it could be tweaked by sophisticated biohacking? And what would it be like if the “teacher” was so locked into a prior paradigm that his students had to lead him gently to the truth about both big picture reality — each generation is way beyond the last one in some ways, mostly technical - and himself?
And once again — alas! — the riverrun dummy? C’est moi.
The Riverrun Dummy
My Position on the Faculty
Being a teaching assistant certainly has its moments.
The last field trip of the season from the Academy to the Riverrun Ranch out here in the mountains is intended to last “all day,” but by late morning, all but the dumbest kids in the class laughed when I said the words “late morning” and “all day” which they would have heard so unselfconsciously only hours before. That meant they were beginning to connect time-expressions either to a subjective field (their own) or a star system and its seasons (again, their own), which were in fact two sides of the same coin. Star systems can not exist outside of the subjective fields that construct them as systems and subjective fields never exist independently of the systems that inflect them.
The kids who laughed were getting it. The kids who didn’t would in all likelihood be culled before the year was over (this particular field trip has good predictive value, not a hundred per cent, but still, pretty good); they will be profiled, adjusted or made new, given different names, then entered into the system once again for modification and training. That will mean interlacing new designs of memory, perception and cognition with all the other designs in the solar system, orbiting cities, and colony ships so they will not be redundant or useless. By “redundant” I mean in the technical sense that “there are more than enough of that sort already, nearly identical in skills and perspective” and by “useless” I mean that their capacities are fatally anomalous, too far off the skew to integrate into the matrix. Often it’s only the timing that’s off, but timing, of course, is everything. Out of synch, they are beyond nexus.
That wasn’t our concern, of course. That’s how our civilization handles the inevitable sludge of a trial-and-error designer society. Our job was to enable the collective-in-residence to do an experiment that altered the interior space of a Dummy in all dimensions simultaneously. That would include doing a time trial, so we had to make sure the kids took in, comprehended, really “got” the module on duration and the subjective field from which it emanates so they could do something with it. Otherwise the parameters of the Dummy’s subjective field would be stretched too far out of shape. Anyone who has ever dealt with that funhouse mirror-looking kind of mess does not want to do it twice.
The learning module on duration can take forever — or a day. It all depends on the pace of the collective.
The Philadelphia Experiment
The kids always like hearing the old stories. UFOs, crop circles, even legends like the Philadelphia Experiment, are perennially sexy.
Yes, I told the class, the story is silly on the face of it, even sillier after you drill down. An electromagnetic field displaced — something — so that a battleship disappeared in Philadelphia and reappeared in Norfolk, miles away. Everyone on board, of course, flipped out, lost it, whatever. They would have, too. The chemical basis for recombination after the event could not have been known, so even if they had lucked out and displaced spacetime as some claimed, the crew would have been totally unable to make sense of what happened. Hence the event would have been useless (as defined above). It would have been terminally anomalous.
Copyright © 2010 by Richard Thieme