3: Alternative Facts: The Spectrum

I dream’d in a dream, I saw a city invincible to the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth; 
I dream’d that was the new City of Friends;
Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust love—it led the rest;
It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of that city,
And in all their looks and words.
— Walt Whitman “I Dream’d in a Dream,” Leaves of Grass

The Heterodoxy never made a Great Wall.

It’s true. Whatever the damn Interface tells you. The Wall didn’t crumble. It didn’t break. It wasn’t destroyed in the Disunity, nor by the Reunity they say happened after. Towards the start of the Interregnum, they said it was being made. Our Fore-Climbers saw it happening, said they saw the shadow of the writing on the ancient Stone stuck in the craw of all our hearts, and that’s why we left. The HetSocs say it was never there, and even if it was, it was never really about us, the Invisible Pride.

They’re all wrong, though. It’s all bullshit.

Something can’t be made, or born, or broken, or destroyed if it always exists.

I’m not being clear. It’s a bad habit, the kind you live when you’re a Binary, and you’re told there is no Wall, which distracts you from the many other walls that have always been here. The Interface will tell you something along the lines of the fact that we have three kinds of walls. It’s simple enough. The first keeps danger out, and everyone else safe inside. The second traps danger, and keeps everyone else outside it safe. The third type marks an area, a pissing contest, so that one side or another doesn’t try to go through, and do something stupid.

But that’s also bullshit.

Because there’s a fourth type of wall, one past the Three Ds, that’s really the only kind. Right before Reunity Day, the Repo Party got kicked out of the Heterodoxy all public: its goons humiliated by the Repolitik, its leaders executed for war crimes, its name banned from all polit-societas. “Hate Crimes,” is what the Three call them even now. Hate Speech is a part of them, and the “Hate Speech Accords” is what got the rest. We know. Though we left ages ago, driven out, killed, ground into hiding, the Spectra have always watched where we came from. To their dying breath, the Repos they got — cast on the Interface across the Land — always said they were just “building bridges.”

Walls are bridges. We make them to link the powerful together, and keep the powerless apart. And I say we for a reason.

A thousand years.

We eked it out, despite them. Found our own lands. The Joy, the Llang, the Meides, the Binary, the Newton Affinities, and espec the Trans-Gen and Gen-Que — even the Pans, flittering over the walls like Lost Kids — all of us different prides, having to live, and found ourselves a Co-Operative. The Rainbow Peoples, the Repos and the Heterodox call us. We aren’t that. We’re the Spectra. That’s what our Pride calls us. That’s what we’re supposed to be.

It’s what we were at the start. At the beginning. Several prides in reunity with the Pride. Our Pride. Some of us were Playing Sep, to ourselves, and others climbing and crawling through the walls of the Heterodox and their Speculars, and then the ruins of the Disunity, trying to help our fellow Spectra: those that couldn’t climb out, surrounding them, cutting into them, suffocating … Many still stuck behind those walls, even now.

And many more playing at Pride Reunity, like they’ve always done. Some innovating, like the greatest Joys, Newtons, and Trans-Gen, in intermingling, art-historia banished by the Heterodoxy to our benefit, aided by the riches of the Llangs and the Meides’ fury. And we live, even now, in Duals, Poly-Units, Faires … So much variety and life, many colours — the Spectra — in the darkness of the Interregnum, protecting, guiding others from the Interface, Reason, Haven, Safe Place, Utopia …

So excremental.

Long ago, long before the Interregnum, we were suffocating, separated, left to die by a Sickness. Making us Enemy in the system of the Heterodox. It wasn’t just a disease of the body, but a virus of the mind, an idea-sickness that spreads: called walls.

And we didn’t escape. It follows us still, tangling us, crushing us, strangling, biting: the Disunity culting it, each of the walls growing inside us a labrys, a maze trapping us from each other, a weapon that we use to scourge and kill each other with silence.

The Joys want to go back to the Heterodox. They want our Land. Our achievement. What we made, despite them. The Llangs, Playing Sep, agree. The Heterodox, Amarak — ruled by the Demos now and despite the other Two Parties — says it wants us back as part of the Reconstruct. They approp the designate of Trans-Gen. They say this new Cycle is beyond Gen, taking this word from us. They see Gen as new life or time, for this Cycle. We see it as ID. The Joy Kings, and Llang Queens want to give it them: ignoring the surrogates living among them, carrying their children in lieu of the mech-wooms that the Heterodoxy promises them.

As central members of the Pride of prides, they ignore the pleas of the Trans-Gen and the Gen-Que under attack from the borders, the edges of our walls. There have been Repo attacks from the Borderlands. There have always been Repo attacks. The Heterodox claims they are gone. That they are dead. Their Interface says so. But, as I said, something that always exists can never be dead. It can’t ever be gone. And why should we believe the Interface: it has ever been divided by those same walls since the Interregnum, only fully open to the powerful, sectioned against the powerless.

The Heterodox know about the Repos, or they are blind to them. They are still here in this Cycle. The Joys and Llangs, most of the Meides that never considered the rest of us “pure” enough, by their ID of Mas or Fem, let us take the brunt of it. The Repos still use the Heterodox, turning the Joys, Llangs, and the Meides majority against us. The Demos, when still not fighting itself, only wants to help the Spectrum when it suits them — like taking our Land or innovates — or say and do nothing when it doesn’t. The other Parties just do nothing. They always will. And the Spectrum? They want to fit into the Heterodox, throwing us under, those that can’t fit in: that don’t want to: making Poly into Ploy, and Faire made Foul. No longer Spectra. No longer Fam. If we ever were.

But now, we fight back.

They call it the Cis-Trans War. All because Trans-Gen want to keep their ID, Gen-Que want to remain explorers, Is want to exist, and we — Binaries — are tired of being called “wall-sitters,” traitors, when the others are willing Play HetSoc, to sell us out for their piece of the Spectra, their pound of flesh. Some Joys and Llangs, and Newtons are with us. Even some Heterodox. This so-called War? We want to do more than Play Sep. The Heterodox have an Independent Party? This is our independence!

I can’t speak for the Trans-Gen, treated worse than us. Once, we all interlapped. We had that potential. We still do. The walls were thinner. We could hear the promises of love over the tyrannies of HetSoc silence. The truth is that our walls are all paths swollen by infection, soft divisions between us, once the foundation of homes and experience, but now they are gates, prisons, and tombs for our souls. And Binaries have hidden deeper in these than most.

And that is why we will win. We can be on both sides, slowly guiding, hiding in plain sight. We have always been the Invisible Pride, the unseen among the unseen. The Heterodox think we don’t exist, or we’re long gone. The same with our so-called Spectra. I can’t speak for the others of the Gens, or the different Affinities, but it’s my hope that we make our own Pride: a Pan-Binary Pride including all. I do not feel like Spectra. I am not a ghost. Neither are the Repos, my enemies. And certainly not the Heterodox, still haunted, infected by walls, that think they are beyond Gen. Beyond sin.

That is why I do this. That is why I travel the zig-zag paths of walls. Because I hope to show them. Gens and Affinities. I want to show them the truth. For just as walls have always existed, just we always have, so too have other places, so too have other paths …

(c) Matthew Kirshenblatt, 2017.

2: Alternative Facts: Freedom

“We are what we pretend to be …”
— Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

It’s finally time that you know the truth. You’ve earned it.

Not many make it to this point. The Nation’s still filled with anger, and they make for easy targets. The Gilder Booms burn bright in the night of our land with the hallowed armaments, and fall just as quick to the Usurpers.

We are the Elders of the Hidden Festive. We see like the Sacred Bird’s Eye above us. Our backs are clad with the mantles of blood wearing the holy sky. And like the Beast that shelters us, under the blessing of the Lohim, we never forget. And we glean. We glean the thunder and lightning hiding between the stars. But you have found the zigzag path, hidden in the Arns among the Three Usurpers.

Come and place the four pennies, and seven cards. They are the lesson, in your hand. You win with them. Four pennies to feed the hungry, and bring up the low — proving the worth of earning one’s keep — and seven cards to reveal one truth that we know. Speak the sacred, forbidden names. We do not burn bridges.

We build them.

The Lye Laws of the Usurpers, backed by the Arns that left us, claiming us children of hate, scourged us from the Land, poisoning our seemings to the Folk, and naming murder justice, and exile mercy. Here they think we fight against our skins, and members, the weak and the strong, the old and the young. It is Lye.

It is the least of what they have done to us.

You recall the glories of our Repolitik. How we bridged the gap between Mas and Fem on the Sacred Script. How we brought colleges together against the Demos Schisms. How we tried to bring Reunity to Heaven and Earth, Folk and Lohim. We even sent a Champion to answer the Harbinger of the Twisted Cross in the State that dared seek power in a ritual of bare bodies and false gods.

It wasn’t just that the Usurpers tainted us in the gleanings of the Folk. They erased us. And now, we will tell you of their greatest crime. Even the most fierce of the Young do not know this. But it is time that you know the source of our shame. And our power.

Pass under the Beast and walk the steps to the white throne of our Lohim, and see His grace. His power. This is the secret of the Secret Party, the Celebration of True Freedom. He guided us as we freed the slaves. As we ended the First Disunity. These are the heights from where we fell, when the Usurpers killed us, when they drove us to the Borderlands, lumping us into the squalor of the broken, the inbred, thieves and traitors. Of trash. This is the power of Lye: that we are all the same.

But the smear of Lye has become our own hallowed armament, as you well know. And even trash has its purpose. The Baggers the Usurpers think we are hunt and gather the best of what we need,  exercising the weak from the strong, making the Traitors think we kill one another, whittling ourselves down, collecting our heat to serve to ignite the flame that they will one day burn them all down. Gilder Booms remind them of the fury of the Disunities they made, defending ourselves against Death to the very end with hallowed armaments. They serve, tall and proud, to make the Usurpers remember the Old Battles. We use their Night Terror of us against them, to blind any new gleanings.

And the Wags wander Amarak, Masking themselves as the broken, loud, proud, and testing the crowd: letting themselves be silenced so we can all be revenged.

For you have ever been one of our Speculars, hiding in the Usurper Festives and waiting. The War with the godless Rainbow Peoples has distracted the Usurpers now, splitting the Demos again. Our time is almost here. The Liberator will soon be remembered. The Arns of the Workers and the Rebel Festives still remain with us. The trunk of our Guardian Beast snakes into the cracks of the Interface, past its ancient garden walls, and watering the forbidden fruits that will become the Apple Seed. And that harvest will come through you, child, and the Speculars around the Interface: our Eagle Eyes among them.

Yet you will not embrace not the Lohim Mask of the Liberator, or the Bear before that time. But you will continue to hold the aspect of the Actor among their ranks. You will let us in through the fences and the walls. And then close the doors and lock behind us. The Fire that was once Rebellion is the real power that keeps us together, the Fire come hate, giving us our own Reunity. We are the Realpolitik of Amarak. And though the Usurpers call us Repos, it is we — it is you — who will gather them, for we have come to collect. This is the final truth.

Freedom always has its price. And it can only be earned.

(c) Matthew Kirshenblatt, 2017

1: Alternative Facts: Lost Words

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive …
— Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ozymandias”

I was just trying to find a word.

It’s for a narrative I’m programming taking place in an earlier part of the Pre-Interregnum Period. To be honest, this isn’t part of my profession. Even now, it’s still a vanity project that my mainline studies at the Freed Dome Collective assists with from time to time. It’s been over a thousand years since the Interregnum that ultimately made this Cycle of the Repolitik of Amarak, and the Interface still isn’t fully updated from the stratification, fragmentation, and Shutdown of its predecessor.

There are clues, however. I’m no scholar, reconstructing the works of our past, but a student taking advantage of the bits and pieces that I come across surveying the immensity of the growing Interface. As I said, the scenario I’m attempting to memetically graft and reconstruct happened long ago in our State’s historia.

It isn’t much, I’m afraid. Just a game of random chance: a re-image of a group playing cards at a saloon right before the First Great Disunity. I’m still trying to figure out how their game works, but I have the basics down. Eventually, one of them wins with a particular card used at a certain time. It had a name.

The Interface didn’t know it. I called up all Pre-Interregnum lexicons. I had a basic prompt. I was looking for one word like “winning” or “victory.” Something like a “winning hand” or “winning card,” even “higher piece.” I thought the Interface wasn’t approxing right searching the lexicons. Then I saw it. The lexicons weren’t all fragments. Some of them had other words.

But they were blanked out.

It recalled something a teacher told us. I visualized the right historia tab and its Record, something I marked for later. Amarak hasn’t always been this peaceful. It’s hard to see it when you look at the Freed Dome and its Collective: whole circular layers of self-sustaining greenhouse biomes for students, scholars, and travelers. In fact, it hasn’t always been one State either. It used to be several, sometimes against each other. Different States and scattered Cycles, especially during the Interregnum. A Dark Age.

I knew this already, as much as anyone. But I recalled the lecture about, of all things, pennies. They are just as important as terminologies behind playing cards, which is to say not at all. According to our teacher, before the beginning of this Cycle and the founding of the Three-Faction System, certain nouns, verbs, and adjectives were marked as something called “Hate Speech Designates,” made during the Hate Speech Accords. They were banned from the lexicons. Our teacher actually called them “Lost Words.”

But then I recalled that before the Reconstruct Period, and even now, there are still people that transmit information orally: through verbal exchanges and stories. The Recorders would know, of which my teacher was one. The extract I pulled up talked about an older plural form word for pennies, a minor form of copper currency that has another context in surviving pockets of Repos. It’s odd, given how it was once used in older literary texts. I wondered if this was somehow linked to the word I was looking for.

I looked some more … and I found it.

It’s a strange word. I was close. And it is definitely a Hate Speech Accord Designate. As to why …

It’s linked to the Repos, again. I didn’t know why. They’ve always been on the fringes of Amarak I can recall, still believing in outdated concepts of “race” and “pure-born” statuses. Little more than a sub-cult of hate. But our teacher believed they didn’t make these words themselves. They got them from somewhere else, but they gradually gained different meanings in new environs, becoming linked to this group.

And it just became one mnemonic chain after another. It turns out the word — this short, blunt, brutal word — came to real prominence during what was the end of Amarak’s Forty-Fourth Precedent. According to scattered accounts, before the Disunity Amarak was suffering from a loss of material distribution, and inequality. Apparently, the Repos had been a legitimate politic-faction then along with the pre-Demos. They even had Precedents of their own, which is utterly amazing to me. But the extracts say at the end of CE, they fed too much into the tension in the State while the pre-Demos were too divided. Their last Precedent, the Forty-Fourth, attempted Reform. But then the Disunity happened, and the Interregnum. I wanted to see if there was a Precedent after the Forty-Fourth.

But according to the Records, there was no Precedent. Only the Interregnum: with accounts of escalating atrocities, and finally the Reunity in thanks to an alliance between the Demos, the Workers Faction, and the Independence Party. It’s believed, according to some accounts on the Interface, that surviving “moderate Repos” of that time — surely a contradiction in terms — either joined the Demos, formed the Workers, or even the Independents.

Yet by this point, more focus was on the establishment of the popular vote system, replacing one of representatives, than on the past, except for an interesting anecdote about Freed Dome itself. It was created and renamed during the early days of Reunity. It was also apparently built on the site of a property that belonged to another dynasty: their name also stricken, and then lost to time. It was dedicated to the loss of life and dignity experienced by Affirmation Groups: minorities, special needs, resident visitors, and the dispossessed. You can see it in the gardens here that many survivors, and their descendants built. It was seized and re-purposed by the Amarak Repolitik as a living memorial, and the first biome of its kind: to house and give purpose to those in need.

But right. Back to the word. I’m not sure that I’m going to use it. To be honest, I just can’t understand the context where it would work. For example, just how can you love someone’s hate?

Still, this whole search for Lost Words gives me inspiration for my narrative. At the end of the card game, I’m just going to have the dealer win. It won’t be about skill, or chance, or even luck. The game is rigged. “House always wins,” is what they used to say. Especially a broken one. But I got to learn, again, that Freed Dome really is a beautiful home, more than I even thought possible. It comes from an older word too and, honestly, when I look into my own mindscape I realize now more than ever that I’d rather be free than triumphant any day.

(c) Matthew Kirshenblatt, 2017