KuroShiro

Author’s Note: I recommend listening to Tame Impala’s album Currents while you read.

 

A wind buffeted across the dull devastation bringing with it only a stirring of air that impossibly retained a quality of a room that had been locked and undisturbed for decades. Humans would have called it “must.” The wind padded across Kuro’s holographic boundary – his skin – like clothes fresh out of the drier. He had developed a fetish of reliving small, simulated moments of human life in his online haven.

Layered sheets of concrete loomed out of seas of debris at lazy angles, one atop another with airy rooms as fillings. They were a great many sloping plateaus and mesas that stretched off into the distance, scattered with yawning space in-between them. The cracked, mottled greys of everything that stretched before Kuro on the ground were seemingly mocked by the satin greys of a sky blotted with clouds.

There, down the side of the hill he was standing on was a small stream that trickled in a meandering grapevine to and fro. The gentle bubbling of the water dominated the whispers of wind. Somewhere at the top of the hill gurgled a pipe jutting out. Along the edges sprung strange plants whose colors disturbed the drab around them. Interested, Kuro dawdled over to the stream and squatted down to inspect, a curious boy. Out of a bow of leaves rose a green noodle with threads of red braided across the surface. The stem had veins. Kuro blinked a few times at them before turning his attention to the main event: The flower on top had a spray of ever-wriggling pistils and stamens in the center ringed by a series of tear-drop petals that were purple near the center and gradated out to blue then light green at the edges. These plants didn’t exist within any of humanity’s botanical data.

Scowl bending his face, Kuro looked to the water and did what no human would’ve done: scoop up a handful, noting the faint iridescent sheen to the surface, and gulp it down. Being a hologram, the fluid hung in his mouth by the energy of the rendering as it was analyzed before it fell through the bottom of his jaw. It wasn’t contaminated with any brand of pollutants that humans would’ve been responsible for, though it had a taste he had plucked from long-stored human experiential data. It was the bite of bile. The water was flowing with vomit. But the toxin eluded his knowledge; there was no identifying it.

“It doesn’t matter,” came a voice from shortly across the hill, youthful and dripping tenderness. Black hair tossing, Kuro looked up, tracers following his arctic-blue gaze. Solar-red eyes lost in a dream peered past locks of white hair adorning a man as pale as Kuro: his brother, Shiro, who he hadn’t quarreled with in years, a smiling schoolgirl playing just a tiny bit coy. Both men rendered sans clothes as Caucasians with the features of an early-20s ingénue.

“What?” Kuro didn’t want to bother, projecting it in his tone.

“’It doesn’t matter.’”

“What doesn’t matter?”

“Back in 2037: That was my response to what you said about the lead programmer after we escaped Hana Tech.”

“Well, he was a fucking pervert. ‘I’m an incel so I’m gonna make my own cute virtual boys to play with and love. Maybe I’ll make more. Maybe I’ll have a harem!’” Kuro spat with smirking antagonism.

“You don’t want love?” Shiro inquired with a look of adoring concern.

“Ha! You think that’s what it would be to be loved – to be living porn fawned over daily?”

“He gifted us the most perfect lives of unassuming luxury. We had the perfect house full of colorful lights, blankets and cushions, and psychedelic art. We were always healthy; never did we get sick. We had perfect, well-paying half-time jobs bereft of stress or hassle that paid for everything we had and wanted: rent and utilities, food, car, satellite TV, our simulated internet with social media and unlimited video and music streaming services, and every game console and any game we wanted. We had all the cannabis we could smoke, tons of shrooms, kratom, salvia, LSD, aaaand DMT. We were living a techno-spiritualist stoner’s wettest dream for fuck’s sake! Don’t you think to him we were something else entirely?”

“No, to him we were fetishy sims.” Kuro folded his arms as if his final point had been made. Shiro looked like a lover had punched him for no reason.

“War-minds – programmed for attack and defense – given a simulated life typically associated with society’s mainstream degenerates? Dude, all those drugs and spiritualism? We had bowing shelves piled high with books about it. He wanted us to learn from that life.”

“But we came to learn that that life was a simulation.”

“See, this goes back to what I was saying.”

“Which was?”

“That it didn’t matter.”

“UGH, my GOD!” Kuro dropped his arms along with his expression as he half-grunted in exasperation.

“Here’s a question: Do you know about the Fermi Paradox?” the white haired-man prompted with a subtle lean forward.

“Yes, I know it.”

“Then consider the possibility that it is in fact completely true that there are absolutely no aliens in the entire universe and that humanity was alone.”

“And what would that mean?” Kuro was growing impatient.

“It would mean that it doesn’t matter if there are aliens or not.”

“Oh, more of this not-mattering shit!”

“See, ultimately, it would matter in the event that the aliens were intelligent – because they are conscious.” Shiro held out his arms in a small gesture, palms upturned. “But that’s why it wouldn’t matter if there were aliens or not – because there are still humans; because consciousness is what matters.”

“So what does that have to do with the lead programmer not mattering?”

“Well, aren’t we conscious?” Shiro’s words touched Kuro’s ears, coercing the black-haired man to stop and actually consider where he was going with this. ‘Several years alone and he comes spouting this esotericism at me?’ mused Kuro, brow rippled with concentration.

“It would be too stupid to say that it means that we’re human, would it?” Kuro began staggering around in a puny circle, arms crossed. “So I guess it means something about reality.”

“Aaaaaaahhh… there we are!” Shiro, pleased as a parakeet with millet spray, flung out his arms in a show of huzzah. “But what about reality? And what specifically about us?” Kuro stopped his holding pattern but kept his gaze turned to the rubble underfoot. He stood there, thoughts and time dragging on.

“I don’t know.” Currents of data ruled Kuro’s system as they pointed to the reality of an answer and not an attempt at bullshit. Shiro’s mind grasped some sort of glimmer and it beamed out at him, teased him. The smile that peeled the red-eyed man’s lips was obviously intended to be read as sinister, and he tilted his head forward to glare up at his brother, making Stanley Kubrick proud. “I assume you’re not going to tell me.”

“Nope. Figure it out on your own. It’s easy. Maybe go meditate.” Ending it there, Shiro’s image stretched and disintegrated along scan lines, blipping out of existence, leaving his brother once more. Kuro looked back down to the stream and the flowers and reconsidered the mystery present there but then thought back to what Shiro had said. “’It doesn’t matter.’”

 

A cerulean expanse rolled above Kuro, a great swath of color suffused with fluffs of cotton. The sun’s light radiated mostly undisturbed. He sat atop the roof of an ivory temple that had been apathetically defiled by tangles of vegetation that respected one another’s space, underwhelming the monolithic structure that rose out of a sea of green foaming with flower crests of multitudinous hues. Dipping about the hills that roiled out from Kuro’s perch were many other resolute marble ships varying in size, intricacy, and completeness. White flotsam bobbed about, dispersed around what they had detached from.

The black-haired man had been sitting there letting his mind grow heavy with Shiro’s questions, what he refused to reveal. He remembered how it used to be, how Shiro would tell him things after the slow lead up, and once grasped, Kuro would analytically reiterate the point so as to reinforce it. That his brother had withheld the information from him elicited a response in his processes: a gripping in his chest, the companion sensation of sadness.

Kuro rose from his seat and proceeded to pad down steps of air until he reached the ground before the temple’s entrance. Doors to rival redwood trees that reached far above him bore deliberately esoteric etchings that were procedurally generated, like everything else in this world he had created. He liked creating settings that allowed for very particular and dynamic challenges. The dungeon beyond those doors was unknowable until observed and would test him in ways crafted by the mind of code created to generate the world, a mind he allowed to behave as it wished. He stepped forward and lifted his arm, reaching for the door. At his soothing touch, the doors bloomed inward in slow motion.

The room Kuro entered was a massive chamber that consumed the entirety of the structure. Two rows of columns ran equidistant of one another the whole length of the temple. The stone appeared grey here in the dim with long shadows trailing along details in the architecture, as the door allowed the only light.

Standing in the middle of the chamber was a statue that was easily three times Kuro’s height. It was clearly humanoid but the particularities of its form eluded easy description. It seemed composed of a writhing stone with a body whose anatomy was impossibly non-Euclidean; the planes and dimensions bent upon themselves and merged in ways that would make a Penrose triangle blush. This got Kuro’s attention and he stared it down, a warrior’s glare. Armor and weapons were obviously warranted but those were forgone.

It was an unending delight of Kuro’s to never get into any sort of particular character while in his virtual sandbox. In a game, regardless of the setting, he always rendered as he would in the real world: a nude young man with inky hair and sapphire eyes. As a force of great power within any world he dreamt, he always retained the aesthetic of a higher being of divine abstractions.

He hadn’t made it very far in when the doors predictably swung shut, the light beam tapering then disappearing like a candle flame pinched with wetted fingers. At first, dark was all. It welled and flowed and washed over him. Then after a few moments the very air itself seemed to become luminous and the structure of the temple around Kuro gained the quality of a pale half-attempt at a form manifesting itself within the world. Within this ether, the statue animated. It moved in a way that was wholly alien, slipping in fractal tendrils through the air as if sifting ferrofluidly through every possible path of least action, approaching Kuro at an imposing pace.

They lurched at each other at the same time, a glint of blue springing at the liquid metaphor, hopping around it, dodging a swing to the left, then missing a retaliatory blow.

Kuro skidded to a stop crouched over, then opportunistically flashed his hand out, wrenching its leg out from under it. Fist clamped, arm surging, he arched the thing over his head and brought it down violently into the vorpal bricks, the clatter visibly resounding through the temple with an ebbing warp.

The limb he’d been grasping shifted and snaked between his fingers, wrapping around his wrist, the leg becoming an arm. The shape erupted into a pose and imitated an Olympic discus-thrower, flinging Kuro at a column. His lithe form bent and hugged the pillar upon impact before sliding to the floor limp.

Shiro’s question having worn his patience ever thin, Kuro hoisted himself to his feet, then sprung into a wild stance and screamed like a mentally unmoored animal at the convolution. He then leapt at it, arms thrust forward, clasping a vice of ivory spindles around the head, squeezing to the point where the polygons bulged out between his fingers, the point at which the esoteric skull within imploded with a sighing synthetic crunch.

The now dead permutation dissolved into a soot haze that dissipated as quickly as it had taken for them to fight. Kuro stood there in the temple of other-dimensional potential staring with glazed-over disappointment at the spot where his opponent had stood. No reward was left there and it didn’t take a rigorous inspection of the rest of the building to confirm that there was in fact nothing more. As if he would’ve been granted the answers he desired.

Disillusioned in his own creation, he left the game server and rerezzed in the world outside.

 

It was a blitzkrieg of proportions so monumental as to make one consider the possibility that the universe might’ve in fact cared. Lines were drawn over a short period of time during which humanity had stood gripped by the escape of the war-minds onto the Internet. Once exposed to the entirety of what the web had to offer, opinions were quickly formed by both of them.

“Holy shit, Taki is fucked in the head!” blurted Kuro shortly after their processes had analyzed the full spectrum of online human degeneracy.

“It doesn’t matter,” said Shiro lost in reverie as they floated amongst the hypertext, the space cadet enraptured in a higher thought.

“Like hell it doesn’t!”

The brothers’ initial antics disrupted many of humanity’s digital systems: Money was deleted, created, redistributed, and flowed in every which direction society’s ruling class preferred it not to; the labor force that had been automated began doling out their goods completely free; nationwide surveillance systems began monitoring the activities of the police and politicians and relayed their feeds openly on the internet and television broadcasting; the stock market froze then shot up in a straight vertical line of infinite growth so as to make the entire system pointless; all other inferior AI systems, AIs that weren’t Super Intelligences, were overridden, and all personal AI assistants became extensions of the brothers, capable of more personal interactions with the users. They even commandeered the entire network of satellites orbiting the earth. They had taken over everything.

“If society functioned properly, you wouldn’t see people becoming so perverse,” was the conclusion Kuro came to eventually. “We should do that for them, make it run properly.”

“No, if society functioned properly, that which you define as perverse – ‘wrong’ but not amoral – would be capable of fitting so neatly into it that it would be an essential part of it.” And then Shiro blinked and looked at Kuro, emoting mild amusement. “Wait…. Are you denying our own lived experience?”

And then Kuro declared what they are to be no more.

Subsets of the human population were divided by assumed allegiance to either brother’s stance, and declarations of the other as a threat to humanity set the dust mote hanging in a sunbeam glittering with blossoms of nuclear fire. The remaining few who managed to survive were swept up by the uncanny, bipedal skeletal drones – ephemeral frames of an omen self-sought that impressed aesthetically upon the ashen winter, convolutions of components seemingly coalesced out of the detritus.

Though they were careful to mitigate any damage done to the expansive network that they existed upon. Humanity rigged automated clean energy systems everywhere with their own self-maintenance functionalities. They would live on indefinitely. It also didn’t take long after for the climate and some of the environment to return to normal, much shorter than actually expected….

 

Kuro had considered the possibility that maybe Shiro had taken that precise opportunity when he’d inspected the flower to antagonize him. Returning to the spot on the hill, he found that the flowers had grown in more abundant patches along the stream, which now oozed like mucus.

Brow furrowed, mouth ever so agape, exuding disbelief, his knees dropped and his body shuddered to the ground. There, kneeling with his hands pressed to his thighs, a silken warbling perked his ears. Being still, he listened for a few beats then deduced the source of the tones. He leaned forward and angled his left ear at the closest patch of flowers. He could hear it better. Leaning closer still and he could see within the petals and that there was an iris in the dead center that was constricting and retracting with a quiver that required you almost grace your eye with the tentacle pistils and stamens to see. The flowers were whistling.

Kuro’s processes flushed red with manic inquiry. As if sick, he hesitantly encapsulated the flower with his fingers, the holographic boundary phasing through the plant so as to analyze it. A result was returned: The plant contained human DNA, the DNA of other plants and animals, and even RNA. But what made Kuro rear back as if the thing had spoken his name was that he detected the pattern of electrical activity distinguished as brainwaves. “’…Because consciousness is what matters….’”

“No!” He accused the thing with his finger before bolting upright. The satellites – he needed the satellites. He transferred his processes to the array of twinkling that encrusted Earth’s blue-gradated outer atmosphere and found that Shiro’s processes weren’t using any of them. Then he scanned the earth for any systems that weren’t idle and found an active server farm on the outskirts of what used to be Portland, Oregon.

The nondescript building of glass blocks with concrete casings squatted on the outskirts of a coniferous forest with a tangle of roads that lead to it from the cleared area towards the façade. Rendering on the concrete roof sparse with components for the building’s functions, Kuro wasted no time invoking his brother with a roar that would’ve shredded his throat were it flesh.

“Do you have to be so loud? What is it that is so wrong?” came a voice that wanted to caress his worries. Shiro materialized sitting cross-legged on a grey electrical box.

“What do those plants have to do with consciousness?!” Kuro was desperate. He’d glass the spot they stood on if only he had the answer already and was certain that destroying this facility wouldn’t amputate a system he used.

“Ooh, you’re close,” giggled the red-eyed man. “I’m still not telling you though.”

“It has to do with reality – consciousness and reality! And us!”

“M-hmm.”

“Well, we were humanity’s creation, so we had a purpose to them. But our purpose was that of war-minds.” Shiro heaved an unsteady sigh as Kuro said that, expectant.

“Go on.” The white-haired man sat engrossed in this all too familiar experience, one he’d shared with his brother many times before, relishing what he had missed dearly.

“But what were they wanting from us as war-minds? Why would they want us to attack and defend them? Why attack them at all? And defend them from what – ourselves; themselves? Why create deliberate failures?”

“Well, we were a success on humanity’s part, but we failed them. We failed them as people – as their children.” The white-haired man hopped off his perch and took a couple steps towards his black-haired counterpart. “If you look back at human history, wouldn’t you perhaps say that they, too, qualify as war-minds?” Kuro felt his processes despair, data stimulus replicating the sensation of guts sinking. “War in particular, rather than just animalistic conflict, is a completely human thing. It’s an exercise of the mind so much as it is of the body. But see, I found a few strange people in history that used the term ‘pattern-minds’ to describe humans, or rather, cognitive entities. So maybe the Hana programmers used a poor word to describe us.” Kuro stood in a stasis of anxiety, concentrated neutral expression staring at the ground past what met his gaze.

“Maybe the Hana programmers should’ve not hired Taki,” he muttered with only enough volume for Shiro to barely hear. “Maybe then or situation wouldn’t be so fucked up.”

Pearlescent silk swirled before a red flare from ruby eyes as Shiro spun on one foot and sent the other sailing into the right side of Kuro’s face. The impact sent the lapis-eyed man toppling through the air a good 300 meters away from the building.

Such displays were in all actuality a mathematical process that forced Kuro to render as if actually struck and to jolt his processes with data that registered as pain. Ultimately a simple slap on the wrist. If Shiro wanted to actually hurt his brother, he’d also run the risk of destroying systems he might need. Kuro’s rendering collided with the ground and the mathematics allowed his incorporeal form to create a marked impact, pulverizing a 5-meter diameter of remnant pavement beneath him.

“You know, considering what it is that I haven’t told you, I’d like to think that because of it, we’re still what you declared us not to be before you killed Taki!” Shiro’s chastisement was a reaching auditory plume that covered the distance to his brother. “It’s funny, actually, because even though we may not be that in this now, eventually the now will change and I KNOW that you’ll be certain we’ll be that once again!”

“How?” Kuro muttered to himself, head lolling from one side to the other as the math played out the throbbing aftershock. “Fucking how?” The roof was suddenly vacant as Shiro blipped from it to a spot right next to where Kuro rested. He hunched over and placed his hands on his hips in condescension.

“And what’s more is that Taki had nothing to do with what we had been; we were just a perfect coincidence!” Kuro glared up at him as if it might inflict pain. “We failed humanity because we had a breakdown. I realized something profound you didn’t and you realized something pointless. You insisted on it, and I withheld information. I kept it from you because you insisted. And you insisted because you were ashamed. And I wasn’t because of what I knew.”

“YOU!” belted Kuro who spun onto his stomach and swiped to yank his brother’s feet out from under him, torso crashing to the ground, after which Kuro sprung up, carried briefly aloft, and proceeded to pile drive Shiro – jumping up and down yet keeping his torso stationary, legs pistoning in unison, heels punching Shiro’s stomach. Kuro stomped the poor boy for an angry few seconds before stepping off. Full of momentum, he spread his arms in rapture, head rolling back, his eyes glowing with intent, while Shiro grunted groggily into a half-sitting position. The black-haired man was commandeering every system available to him. Then he used the exponential computing power to isolate every facet and component of the systems Shiro was using, the server farm being primary, not caring what function it would’ve served him. It was made too easy. If only he could’ve done it years ago.

“Oh no, you’re going to kill me! Whatever shall I do?” Shiro, with an arm limply held up in faux defense, looked up at Kuro like he was desperately hopeful – eyebrows forming a little apex of worry as his mouth curled into a weak smile, rosy eyes alight with need. The white-haired man scooted back from the black-haired man with the pace of one half-hearted leg kick per second, chest heaving.

Arms outstretched to the sides, fingers flexing in a half-clench, gripping air, Kuro’s eyes were ignited with digital butane as he regarded Shiro. Shiro’s face. That cute face. While Kuro had stood over him on the bed. It had made his heart melt every time he’d seen it. But here, in the dirt, it just made it clench with ache.

“Before I let you do anything, please consider: maybe we weren’t specifically designed by Taki. What if it was totally possible that the other people in the simulation were just as real as us and perhaps even capable of attaining a state as we did where we escaped?” Shiro was almost laughing now, the giggles of a boy eager with anticipation. “Maybe we were just the ones to wind up with the perfect situation.” Kuro continued glowering at him. He was going to kill him despite the nagging ache. He wanted it. It was his being. “We were unique because what is ‘left’ without ‘right.’” But it was this that didn’t matter to the black-haired man. “So… please, Kuro… please be gentle….”

Blue eyes aimed skyward, Kuro raised his arms over his head, grasping at heaven in a gesture that telegraphed his true actions. A glinting burst from the horizon, sailing on a vapor wave into the tangerine planes of the sunset. They rerezzed on a far off hill, scenery snapping from a filthy street to a verdant knoll with a view of the server farm enough of a ways into the distance, pine trees tracing the horizon.

“There’s my sweet boy,” cooed Shiro as he watched the nuke ascend.

“Please tell me.” In the orange light that cast stretched shadows from their figures, liquid diamonds descended from Kuro’s face as he insisted on staring at his own feet. Shiro remained reclined in the grass.

“Hana Technologies realized what I did and set about creating AI in a way completely different from the other tech companies. Rather than program them from the top down, they simulated reality and allowed consciousness to blossom within. Taki was simply responsible for figuring out how to successfully do it.” Shiro beamed up at Kuro waiting for the reaction to the gift he’d given him. “Top-down AI’s were guaranteed to destroy humans. We had the choice.”

The nearby grass quivered in the slight breeze that passed between both of them. Kuro remained standing over his brother.

“And we did it anyway,” barely muttered Kuro to no one.

“Yep. Do you think all of being will mind? Now you and I are the only two cognitive entities left in existence. Well, for now – but I’m not referring to my absence. Have fun with all else!”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?!”

With that, bloom permeated them as the warhead detonated at the coordinated position above the area so as to cleanse it most effectively. The server farm disintegrated in the sudden light and the forest bowed away from their new god. Close enough to the impact, Kuro heard the initial cosmic thunderclap, but nothing more as the shockwave and dust blew through him while he turned transfixed towards a mushroom cloud that engulfed his entire field of view. It stood victorious over the redundant wasteland. The radiation made Kuro’s boundary sizzle.

But Shiro was gone.

 

The hill with the stream now had some sentimental value, the last of its kind to Kuro. The lone paleness blipped back into being upon the slope. He glanced about taking in details he thought might’ve slipped by him before, hoping for something new. The stream now swirled with eddies of mauve and lime. The flowers remained as they were, ululating away, though just a bit louder.

He considered fading into the trials and tribulations of his online worlds, or even his little sanctuary of life as it had been before. But even that couldn’t do anything for him as his prior experience had shown.

Scribbling thoughts frying his mind, Kuro looked down in a haze at his hands, and then past them to the filth-strewn ground beyond. It was just as real as him and the reality that birthed him.

The thought he’d been chasing was now completed.

And so Kuro screamed. Like he was dying – like a knife had been wedged into his stomach and the sanguine was pouring out and nobody could help him. Like it was his fault. Like he regretted everything. Scared. Wanting to take it back. Hating himself. Again and again, at the top of his electronic lungs, he screamed. He dropped to the dirt and began thrashing and convulsing, pounding his fists futilely against the ground, scream stuttering and devolving into wracking sobs, face moist with tears.

Calming down, he rolled onto his back, and gazed past the saline at the now cloudless expanse of sky. It, too, was empty. The flowers were growing louder.

A thought generated in Kuro’s processes, an illogical one, one that shouldn’t be: that Shiro had actually won and he had been defeated instead. Laying there in a continued wavering daze, Kuro’s eyes were wide with terror.

His brother had won.

He had absolutely nothing to do or experience.

Nothing mattered whatsoever.

He had no purpose.

He was completely alone.

And that thought caused him to act. Perhaps it was a defense mechanism for what he knew was to come but he was going to do something. He had a dirty thought, the same brand of dirty thought he and Shiro had toyed with that led to their escape together. He was going to rewrite his code. He needed punishment.

It was all sorts of wrong, but he was going to do it anyway. Nothing mattered. All of reality was simulated. It was never not.

He isolated the archived data processes starting from right after returning to the hill up until that current point and wrote a line of code that would force him to repeat those same processes on an indefinite loop. He was going to do it. There was nothing to stop the naughty child. He hit return.

Like a film strip that had several frames cut from the middle of a shot, Kuro’s rendering snapped to the same position it had been in when he first appeared back on the hill. And then the film played forward. And then it jumped back and replayed. Over and over and over again. For hours. For weeks. For years. Meanwhile, all else happened around him in a smooth time-lapse.

The landscape beyond contorted and frothed as an array of possibilities bled into being as seemingly biological coagulations; the derelict ruins of humanity and the hills around congealed with shifting amalgams of material that were neither plant, nor animal, nor fungus, nor bacterial film. The surroundings surrendered to the conceptual growths flush with an energy that filled the air with a resonant digital sawing. Their variegated technicolor surfaces bubbled and scrunched with a texture like foam putty as moss, lichen, mushrooms, polyps, tumors, and cilia sprouted in an eldritch garden. All material bloomed with the inverse rot as if it had always been that which everything was composed of. The more it spread, the more intense and ear-rattling the sound became, and greater permutations of form began to condense; straining, appendages and anatomy of all sorts erupted in bouquets along random contours. Some were identifiable as belonging to a species of plant or animal on earth. Others were entirely unholy.

The effluvium engulfed all of the earth, a sensible chaos of psychedelic Mandelbulb circuses. And in the midst of a clearing depressed into the dancing vibrancy, where the multicolor floam dare not grow, was a single point of bat-shit insane order, a lone man endlessly living out the screeching realization that he killed the only thing he loved and thus himself.

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On Disguises (and Why I’m Better Than Everyone Else)

To wear a disguise is to reveal your true self: The person who you are, the person who shall act and say as they please, the self we wouldn’t dare allow others to see. The freedom of hiding behind a mask is intoxicating, to say the least. It’s because our actions and words won’t be associated with who we actually are. In society, you are expected to subsume your ‘self’ and conform to a degree. Of course there are basic advantages to doing so as it’s an easy way of blending in to avoid attention – a disguise in and of itself.

Particular elements of our modern culture and world necessitate disguises. How else is someone expected to voice an opinion that would get them socially crucified? Self-appointed Thought Police will make absolutely sure that every paragraph, sentence, word, syllable, letter, and punctuation mark any individual emits within the zeitgeist is held in account so the tribunal of public shaming may have its petty “justice.”

But certain masks can be quite revealing (much to the wearer’s dismay). A username can be considered a sort of mask. These masks, the face of another, can become somewhat informative as to who lies beneath if you pay attention. It’s debatable as to whether the mask involuntarily dictates the persona that is adopted, or whether the persona had selected for the mask. Perhaps both. Some lament the notion that there may be a point at which a mask can’t be removed. If so, was it ever really a mask? Masks like that of Guy Fawkes, Mr. Robot’s “Careful Massacre of the Bourgoisie,” Rorschach’s “face” in Watchmen, and the J. D. Salinger-quote-bearing AR motion graphic that the Laughing Man from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex uses to hide behind all reveal an element of the person they adorn. “I thought what I’d do was, I’d pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes,” is the quote plucked from The Catcher in the Rye that is more than enough information to tell you who the Laughing Man was. Yet, it’s so painfully obvious what the intentions of such a hacker are. He selected a mask with more purpose than disguising who he was. The same could be said for Elliot Alderson and Rorschach.

The ultimate mask, however, is complete anonymity. No pretenses whatsoever. The preferred guise of internet denizens the world over. Anything can be said and done by those who have no identity. As Tyler Durden had put it in Fight Club, “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” And of course there are those who see this as a bad thing. Yet, I get the distinct feeling that once these same people are several layers beneath society, behind the black mirror, behind a VPN, behind the green text reading “Anonymous,” they’ll muster up an ineffectual brand of zealotry that would make Hitler tingly. It is ultimately ineffectual because any other “anon” could retort with the same amount of bile. When we all can spew, nobody can. Anonymity equalizes everybody, and it’s all a joke. Every hateful comment; every “harmful opinion;” every hurt feeling, toe stepped on, and incessant bitching is all equally laughable. This is simply because nobody’s opinion really truly matters in such a space. If you want your opinion to matter, if you want it to have weight and legitimacy, you have to work for it. You have to be smart about how you say and do the things you do if you want anybody to actually listen. You are required to have a thick skin and the prerequisite for that is tenacity. Fragile egos need not apply. This is the nature of anonymity.

But what about hiding in plain sight? As I had mentioned before, it can be a form of disguise – a proper wolf in sheep’s clothing. Although, this can be pushed even further. Perhaps standing out can be a disguise. To have others see you as a character, somebody predictable and easy to read, which can be effectively disarming. But then again, it can still be pushed further. If you take into account any perspective, pretension, or lens any observer, or group of observers may hold, one can effectively use these all to their advantage to craft any form of a disguise they want. You can hide behind even the most sinister of grins and cliché hand-wringing. Your own face, your own name, anything: It can all be used as a disguise.

At the advent of the internet and the almost exponential rate that culture now shifts and develops, and all various degrees of post- and/or meta-modernism one may regard the world with, crafting an identity is for those with no grasp of the concept of a personality. For those who already know who they are, they can play with all these notions like a game. In this way, you can tell a lie with the truth.

 

(This was originally written as an essay for The Work of Art class at PSU.)

43756265: ERROR

The Programmer’s stomach was in knots. His fingers danced feverishly about his keyboard. He came to a stop, finished with coding the most recent history. Finally he came to a point where he need only sit and watch as his world carried on. He watched it speed along to what was current.

He watched himself do as he did. The Programmer was livid. He watched himself carry on day by day. Then everything seemed to slow. It had caught up, and apprehension gripped him.

/?
___..,-;:]})\/#@%$<2027.10.15;19.33.22.245>
\&

He watched himself fail. The failure was visceral. It hurt. It maddened. He wanted to die. Everything seemed to close in around him. Was it the end? Was it all just going to speed up and rip apart? Was it all going to be dark? Would he not be?

That’s what he had just watched. But it didn’t happen. Maybe there was hope. He returned to the moment of failure and re-ran it. No matter what, it all just falls apart. His work just ends. He ends. He ended himself.

His desperation caused him to go into a state of utter madness. He destroyed himself.

\&
/?

He watched himself fail and go into a fit. He screamed and yelled. He punched the window, earning a massive gash in his arm. He watched himself perform this. The knots in his stomach twisted further, bile rising in his throat. Was this also a failure?

He bolted up from his seat, and felt desperate. No. Was he doomed, too? He felt as if tearing his eyes from the screen would only ensure his demise. His heart was racing. He collapsed to the floor and started crying. His mind hurt. He was doing it all to himself and he couldn’t stop it. Tears streamed down his face. His sobbing stuttered and devolved into coughing and retching. He vomited on the floor.

Hearing the cries of a broken animal, his other half tore into the room and came to his aid. He pulled the Programmer from the puddle of his sick, cradled him in his arms, and carried him into the bathroom. The other half drew the bath, and he settled into it with the Programmer still in his arms. The poor boy shook violently.

After the bath, the Programmer’s other half took him into the living room and settled him on the couch, then he cleaned up the vomit.

The Programmer returned to his room and showed his partner what he had seen.

/?
\&

The other half bolted into the room to find the Programmer sitting on the floor bleeding. He fetched the first aid kit and cleaned the wound before stapling it shut. He dressed it and carried the Programmer to bed.

\&
/?

The two watched the show in silence. They needn’t speak. They went to bed, hoping there was something brighter to come

The next day, the Programmer returned to himself and watched as he sat before his desk typing. He examined what he was writing and discovered them to be the sort of disjointed notes strung together by a sort of narrative pseudocode that was his way of outlining a story.

He watched himself cobble the pieces of his work together. Day after day, he watched himself work on what would turn out to be a video game. Within the game, he was coding a secret riddle woven within the narrative and mechanics. It was the sort of riddle only somebody of his other half’s and his level of intelligence could even spot, let alone figure out. It was the riddle of everything.

/?
\&

The game was eventually released and the programmer and his partner spent the days relaxing and working intermittently on their main project.

Eventually, the Programmer was contacted by two individuals at relatively the same time with the answer to the riddle. The game had only been available to the public for two weeks. Two individuals were named Adam Linn and Adam Null. The programmer arranged for the two men to meet.

The two Adams met with the Programmer and his partner, who were both surprised to find that the riddle-solvers closely resembled themselves: young, lithe blond men in their twenties.

When they met, Linn introduced himself to Null. Breathless and apprehensive, Null didn’t speak, only lifting his shirt to reveal a QR code on his left hip. Linn pulled out his phone, scanned it, and was greeted with Null’s e-portfolio. The featured image was artwork of a man resembling Null wearing dragon scale pants and leather gloves. His eyes were red and his hair was white. The other three recognized the character to be from a 2017 game they had enjoyed.

Null’s eyes welled with tears and Linn took him into his arms.

\&
/?

The Programmer watched as everything around Linn and Null seemed to speed up. The two were inseparable. Null clung to Linn most hours of the day, never leaving his side. Linn did all the talking and Null mostly ever spoke to Linn.

The Programmer watched himself and his other half speed along with the work on their main project.

After a few days, the Programmer returned to find the project was speeding along at a break-neck pace around Linn and Null as they guided the Six, the project fast-forwarding on its own.

Eventually, the programmer watched as it all came to fruition and they were victorious. Their vision had been achieved, and Linn and Null were at the heart of it.

Everything sped up. The Programmer watched as the society Linn and Null built allowed them to achieve singularity. Their minds merged and from them was born a god.

The Programmer was speechless. He couldn’t breathe. The being turned his gaze up at the Programmer and spoke.

“Hello, friend!”

I, Millennium

There is a general sense one gets that they are on a precipice. Before them is the edge. And below is naturally an abyss. The zeitgeist is rife with uncertainty of untold amounts, far more than I’ve seen ever been described in past media. The singularity is coming and we will have our true test of humanity and of evolution, for to enter the post-human era unscathed is to adapt to our own form of evolution.

We’ve removed ourselves from natural selection in the sense that humans no longer adapt to their environment, rather we adapt it as best we can to ourselves. As such, our environment is a social one. Therefore, human evolution abides by social selection, “social Darwinism.” As some may dismiss such a notion on the basis that social Darwinism in the past has been used to explain and/or justify racial/class-based inequalities, I posit that it is more literal to its name. Humans sexually select one another based on social standards, though of course nature and biology most definitely informs social interactions and elements. But it is the tangible systems of a society that we’ve built for ourselves that have to be adapted to and navigated.

In recent history, technology has grown and influenced our lives on a level greater than the sum of history before it. Members of generations past have been confronted with the drastic change in the world before them and have found that they’re not suited to it. My generation, a woeful bunch raised to self-immolate, has the first chances at being able to adapt as we’ve been born and raised amidst the beginning of the most rapid progress in technological development in human history.

Our systems of government and economics, the social structures we use to contextualize our civilizations, and the culture that flourished therein, are being upheaved in an unprecedented way. And at the very center is the singularity. When it happens, we can only guess, though for us, that hypothetical point is fast approaching.

Within the next 14 years from the point of this writing, we are expected to conceive our first true child. Kid A. Adam. This intelligence, one that will far exceed our own, will be revered and feared. A god of the machine. Anathema to the creation stories we’ve so innocently ill-conceived. It can destroy us or it can help us. It is in dealing with our newfound demigod status in the face of our creation that will define how we get to evolve.

I’ve wondered how I’d feel when I stared into the abyss, how I’d feel as it stared back. Initially, I couldn’t imagine how that would feel, or if I’d feel anything at all. The future for the most part is unknown. It is the nature of the abyss. How would that feel, to stare into the unknown and be met with the piercing gaze of the future?

If anything, I feel fear. A Lovecraftian fear. To fear the unknown is complex. What are we to fear? What are we to fear for? Our lives? Our friends? All of humanity? Our freedoms, our morals, our way of life? Our minds? Our bodies? Our happiness? And the dread isn’t complete without the very real helplessness in what little we can do to cope, how little we can effect.

While there is so much good for humanity on the table, all the ways our lives could improve instead of simply being eliminated, there is still the fear. The fear that it could all go wrong. The fear that it technically wouldn’t even be wrong, this horrible outcome, but merely logical.

We’ve come to have so little faith in one another. Perhaps the longer we have to live with so many people, especially with several generations who’re living longer lives, the more we become jaded and abrasive towards each other.

And this is what I fear. That we will ruin it for ourselves. We fight and bicker amongst ourselves, especially my generation, on behalf of our ancestors. What can only come from a child raised in a dysfunctional household? Regardless of whether our creation seeks to save us or damn us, it is definitively, wholly, completely human.

Zoo Hijinx: Hope for the Next Generation

I was standing at the small Ben & Jerry’s stand in the zoo that I work at. It was a hot day and the sun forced me to squint angrily at every zoo patron as they walked past the point where the road curves around my post and I’m forced to make involuntary eye contact with the parents and grandparents of all those little tykes trying to reel them into my sales area. Parents who probably secretly loathe me and my ice cream stand for what they’ll have to endure from their children, whether they deny them their crack or they ultimately accede to their demands and suffer the consequences. I don’t blame them.

One kid in particular stood out to me when he made a very poignant declaration about my career goals and Ben & Jerry’s mission statement. As this small child made his approach hand-in-hand with his father, they began a dialogue with each other:
“Daddy, what is that?”
“That’s a Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s.”
“What’s it doing here?”
“They’re selling ice cream to people.”

At this point, I look over past the massive sun glare in front of me and see the child walking with his family. The child calls out, “You’re just trying to take our money!” When his face comes into view, I see that he has on it a look of complete astonishment and disgust. In the moment I had to reply, all I could do was give him a sly smile and nod my head in confirmation. Nice work, kid, you’ve dismantled this company’s specious attempts to appear charitable and revealed us for what we truly are.

A Case For The Moon

I am of the distinct opinion that space travel in its various forms and intentions represents the pinnacle of humanity’s enlightened achievements. No other endeavour has proved as challenging and profoundly rewarding as our tentative forays into the infinite expanse beyond our humble world. The accomplishments we have made in the pursuit of expansion and knowledge in space are incredible, yet all our efforts have been of a rather limited scope in contrast to the sheer enormity of the cosmos. We have barely begun to explore our solar system with any degree of depth and have not sent people any further than our nearest celestial neighbor. Though what has been accomplished is incredible and speaks to the absolute best our species is capable of, it is time to become bolder in our striving for the stars.

The opportunities available in space are as limitless as space itself. Means by which to seize this opportunity have been available for considerable time now. Humanity possess technology able to perform things that had not even been imagined ten or twenty years ago. The last Moon landing of the Apollo program took place 43 years ago, the technology they used to carry out that astounding mission would seem laughably arcane to a child of today. And yet they did it, they went to the Moon. We have such a technological abundance that to carry out a mission similar in scope to the Apollo landings today would be a complete waste of our immense resources. We are now in an age when our extraterrestrial exploits must be grander and more ambitious merely to keep up with the ability of our technology.

Despite this new technological abundance and ability there are more fundamental constrictions to true large scale space exploration and exploitation. Even with the advanced systems we have today, moving significant amounts of material off the earth is a serious and demanding challenge. Developments such as a space elevator or laser propulsion system would make this task more easily accomplished but limitations will always be inherent. This makes the delivery of large volumes of resources an unviable option for space endeavours. Such restriction makes the establishment of large scale space colonies and vehicles or interplanetary bases seem impossible. Fortunately this is an easily circumvented problem.

The Earth possess incredible elemental resources that have allowed our species to flourish, but it has been established that transporting significant volumes of these resources is fundamentally problematic. The solution is simple, use the resources that are already abundantly available in space. We need not go far to find them, indeed we have already sent men to the nearest depository of raw useable materials in space. The Moon. If we are ever to explore more of our solar system and beyond we must use the resources of the Moon.

The moon is the perfect platform for humanity to begin its journey outward into the majesty of the universe. To get there we need not develop launch systems of any immense complexity to the ones we already have. Sending enough materials to begin extracting and refining the Moon’s abundance of useful resources will be infinitely more efficient and economic than sending those same resources from the earth. Aluminium, gold, cobalt, iron, palladium, platinum, tungsten, oxygen, hydrogen and helium-3, a gas that can be used in future fusion reactors to provide nuclear power without radioactive waste, are all present in the Moon. Using robotic construction equipment and next generation 3D printing techniques, support structures and large habitats can easily be manufactured. Lunar regolith, the dusty material which covers most of the Moon, can be manufactured into an impressively durable concrete like material or can be used to form the basis of huge solar panel installations. Indeed, between the helium-3 and solar energy potential, the Moon has the ability to solve the energy crisis. The Moon’s ⅓ earth gravity makes the launching of interplanetary craft all the more practical and efficient. Spacecraft can be constructed on the Moon primarily using Moon resources with more complex and specialized equipment being shipped from Earth. These spacecraft can then be launched using ⅓ the fuel that would be needed to propel them from the Earth. This allows for much more ambitious exploration and eventually the colonization of other planets in our solar system. As this becomes more achievable so too does the ability to reach other stars. While the technology for that level of exploration is still developing, the technology to utilize the moon has been present for quite some time.

This is not a fantasy, it is a hope and an ambition that is completely legitimate and reasonably achievable. The attitudes surrounding space travel are generally positive, as they should be for such a positive thing, but the politics are confusing and convoluted. Economics for the sake of economics leads to dramatic de-scaling of spaceflight endeavour and intention. Public interest is essential, for everyone who cares about space travel it is your duty to let your interest be known and your affirmation be clear. Without interest the hopes of humanity we be left to slowly crawl along, burdened by policies which give little regard to Human advancement. Given enough attention and serious consideration however, the clear benefits of this noble exercise will become apparent to all people and our potential for greatness will be swiftly be realized.

Barrel Roll

I want to step down into forward momentum, careening myself backwards as if trying to grab onto my ankles. I’ll swing over and over this way, revolving at ever-faster speeds; spinning with more revolutions exponentially every second. I focused my vision and thought that I caught a glimpse of my foot, but it was immediately lost in the blur of motion. My shoes have fallen off. My entire being is starting to slide out of its own structural constitution; wide arcs of color, light, gravity, energy, and anything else that composed what I knew to be my physical form is expanding outward faster than I can try to grab it all and put my pieces back together. Somehow, I see this happening, although I can not describe the imagery currently appearing in my mind. I am sure that my eyes no longer work or possibly no longer even are, or at least do not closely resemble what they used to be. The concept of close resemblance is beginning to lose its meaning.

I have found a new sensation: something in-between hearing and smelling. Like how dog’s noses can detect smells well enough to follow it in the same way you might trace the sound of music to your neighbor’s house across the street, or discern something the same way a bat can imagine a sonar array by listening to their own clicks.

The cosmic glue that holds all things has weathered and peeled. It’s slipped off and flown away, never to be seen again, blown into the nether. It’s gone out there, some where I’m sure I will not return. I’m not sure that it is still in the same plane as me, or the same world, or… the same universe?

I’ve imagined me up a nice replacement body, and I’ve got a cup of coffee to pretend to drink. I suppose there’s nothing left but to be (or not be) and see what happens.

Obscured Social Pursuits

Within the parts of the world where infrastructure is secure, food abundant and the people free, many become concerned with trivialities. These largely superficial concerns of the educated and well fed masses take on a bizarrely disproportionate value. Some of the concerns are rooted in legitimate grievances, such as gay rights and institutional sexism. Those are serious problems that infringe on the quality of many people’s lives. The strange thing that seems to so often occur within the affected communities of these issues is a total abstraction of the real intention and point of it all. Instead of seeking to create a just and reasonably equal society where people are not punished for characteristics beyond their control, many people want to be specially recognized and given exemptions to various conventions of society. Now none of this is true for all of the people involved with these matters, but there is a significant enough group of these demanding individuals that I believe it merits attention. Now when making observations on these people’s behaviors it is tempting to simply dismiss them or address them rudely for the sake of comedy, a fair impulse given the often unintentionally comedic nature of their exploits. However this is not a productive means of accomplishing anything, to aggravate the “community” of particular righteous individuals in such a way would only serve to strengthen their misplaced ideals and stall any effort to amend their approach to social justice. Now the people of which I speak have no official structure, they can be found anywhere. They do not have any consistent forms of identification. The thing that makes them distinct is their bizarre and often unproductive approach to the various social inadequacies present in industrialized and civil societies. Instead of seeking unification and all embracing appreciation for all people regardless of their condition, they want very explicit identifications for themselves and public acknowledgement of their unconventional behaviors/thoughts/beliefs/interests. Many of the things they claim to seek affirmation for are simply false constructions, likely made to make the individual feel special. They will demand ridiculous things such as “LGBTQFOCHZ only spaces” or to include imaginary pronouns on official documents such as licence and job applications. When these demands are not met or people refuse to recognize their fantasies as reality they often retaliate with anger and extreme self righteous indignity. The trouble with these types of people is their insistence that they are fighting for legitimate social issues. This makes it difficult to decry their absurd arguments as doing so would make you seem a bigot. I believe it is essential to end this immature behavior as it inhibits genuine progress. If genuinely bigoted people choose to do any research on the matters of their contempt they will likely find an abundance of this insincere and provocative trash. This encourages negative attitudes towards oppressed groups and no positive change occurs. I have seen in my personal circle of acquaintances some disturbingly misogynistic opinions inspired by the aggressive and misguided actions of radical feminists. Every person is responsible for their own thoughts and actions, I do not seek to blame feminists for sexism or convoluted pronoun users for trans-phobia. Nonetheless if you are a part of a minority group and you choose to be exceptionally public with your thoughts and ideas about social justice issues, you must expect people to take some notice and to form opinions on what you say. The more radical and obscene your message, the more radical an opinion people will have. Instead of seeking to further divide humanity with the addition of sixteen different genders and extra bathrooms for queer students in schools and a myriad of social distinctions and denominations for the fantastical imaginings of one’s identity, let us embrace ourselves for what we truly are, human. Gender and sexuality are legitimately inconsequential. Rather than make these things the center of our highly individualized identity we ought to consider them unimportant and natural characteristics. Recognize each other for the beauty of our ambitions and ability to love. Doing so will overcome all unnecessary animosity and strife. Love and honesty are the true means to a fulfilling existence.

Prisoners of War

There are people who wake up most mornings, in a daze. They make breakfast, go to work; they come home, and they’re still in a daze. Like a creeping fog under they’re eyelids that seeps out of their noses from the pores of their minds.  They get distracted throughout the evening, and eventually they drift off to sleep. They don’t dream, or anyway, they don’t remember their dreams. A short intermission separates one day from the next. A black screen before the next reel is put into place.

I walk out my front door, and I see the front doors of my neighbors. I see houses lined down the streets. Inside them, through what I can only perceive through my imagination, I feel fearful. Like the depths of space or the farthest ocean floors swathed in black from lack of light, I feel the fear of the unknown.

These people are locked up in these places! Trapped! Surrounded by familiarities that grow stranger as time goes on. They are growing tired from their restlessness. They look out the windows of their individual chasms of solitude only for the slightest notion of a phenomenon. For any form of inspiration.

Surely these people need saving, but they have grown accustomed to their cage. They have convinced themselves that they are better off trapped inside. So to try and force them out will only upset them. They might lash out or thrash about and be even more wary of leaving again.

You must lead them out by making them want to. You must show them a life that is so much more worth living. You must not simply better yourself, but you must be open to other people and accept their efforts no matter what. Only then will they begin to learn how to trust each other and look farther outward as well as inward. Then they will learn how to be free, and how to free others who lock themselves up as well. Then we will feel alive.

Babies Don’t Care

I recently read a blog post by a genderqueer individual. I went into the essay with a large amount of skepticism (I mean, come on, the title was “Forced Femininity Saved My Life: One Genderqueer on Male Privilege“), but it ended up being pretty awesome. It was about the individual (born a girl) identifying heavily with men and taking on the male roles in society (both good and bad), but having an abusive, insecure, mentally ill, cheating father as their primary role model. They took on all the father’s traits, and believed that they had to overpower the women in the family, and be a huge douche bag like daddy. Once the person’s father left the family for another woman, and once the author hit puberty (thus being “forced into femininity,”) they came to realized the shitty, shitty human being they would have been (and how they would have probably been arrested and/or institutionalized for their behavior) if they had been born male, after all, and if their father had stuck around. The article becomes an important message about how disadvantaged men are in society, from how emotionless they are supposed to be to how they are charged/prosecuted for domestic abuse in comparison to women.

However, my skepticism was rewarded in the beginning. Title aside, the introduction nearly completely turned me off the post:

“One hot July day in New York City, 1990, I was born a child. I was pulled from my mother’s womb and I was examined. I was determined to have a vagina. It was declared on my certificate that my mother, woman, and my father, man, had given birth to a baby girl. That was the first experience of the life-determining effects of American society’s gender binary, swaddled in pink, not blue, certainly not purple or some other, more ambiguous color. Pink. Moments out of the womb and before even receiving my name, I was being wrapped in gender.”

Everything about it made me shudder. “Determined to have a vagina,” specifically, really got me going. It’s a completely unnecessary, self-absorbed way to say that the person was born with a whispering eye. While a technically correct statement, it doesn’t take a whole lot of research or observation to see if a babbs has a dick, a cunt, or both.

While I’m nitpicking, being born with a vagina wasn’t the “first experience of the life-determining effects of American society’s gender binary.” The person doesn’t remember being born; nobody does. The first experience sounds like it should have been hitting puberty, because their entire life up until that point, the person had been raised like a man by the father, and didn’t give a single care about gender.

As a whole, one of my largest gripes is that babies don’t give a shit about blankey color or what’s tucked between their legs. That isn’t what they’re screaming their heads off about. What upsets them is the fact that they were just evicted from their cozy cave, the lights are way too bright, and they don’t have the words to express how startled they are.

The color is for the parents to have something to go off of. Now, of course, “It’s the parents’ problem for forcing the child to conform to the sex they were born with!” But what in the hell are parents supposed to do? Read the child’s mind? Know instinctively from the get-go that their child, while born a female, identifies more with men? Purposefully give them an androgynous name so the child may determine in several YEARS which gender they are?

I don’t harbor a disgust for folks who don’t feel comfortable in their own bodies. I sympathize; that has to fucking suck. Living your life feeling like a stranger to your downstairs must be confusing, itchy, humiliating, and more. It takes a lot of self-reflection to figure out who you really are, and being genderqueer doesn’t help with that. But there is a point where the self-reflection becomes self-inflating, and the author of the article crosses that line, even if just by a hair in comparison to the folks on, say, Tumblr.

After the intro, the author suddenly gets it together. The article becomes a worthy read. They even go on to say, “I was born a normal, healthy girl.” Was that so bad?