Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Loop


“Motherfucker, motherfucker … ”

He remembered a dream or a movie he saw once where he or the character said “Motherfucker, motherfucker …” when the impossible thing popped up on the flatscreen TV. Déjà vu. A memory of a dream (or a movie) with the memory of a dream inside it. And another inside that, etc. Infinite recursion. Déjà vu all over again. And again and again …

She said, like he knew she was going to say, like she’d said a million times:

“What’s your problem?”

“That guy … ”

He sputtered, pointing at the Bob Dylan imitator. The classic early 60s Dylan with the Wayfarer sunglasses under the folky logo for the tribute concert: BOB DYLAN: 1945-1966.

“Bob Dylan isn’t dead …"

She looked at him like he was bug-eyed crazy. A head turn. A million heads, again and again and again.

“Yeah, he is,” she said. “He died in that motorcycle accident. Right before he became rilly popular. It’s like, so ironic. Everybody like knows that?”

A fat middle aged Elvis appeared on screen.

He brushed back his hair.

“How d’ya like my hair? Well. At my age, keeping it ain’t easy. That’s where the folks at Hair Restoration Center really came through for me, man.”

    

The solar wind spaceships resembled delicate, translucent sea creatures, sails blown back from a central main body of the ships like the petals of a flower, folded back now. There were four ships, arranged around the hub of a space station. The captain of one ship was up to no good and systematically killing everyone who was aware of it. This was particularly difficult as this was the post-privacy era and everyone was almost entirely aware of everything everyone else was doing. But he did his best.
The ships had a hollow core where gravity could be turned on or off as needed. A woman who (ironically) resembled June Lockhart was working in the core. Her face was peeking up over the edge like Killroy. The gravity was off. Kyle turned it on, then dropped a trash-can sized molybdenum coated cylinder on top of her.

“Catch,” he said.

She looked up. The thing came crashing down on her.

Kyle and Roger stood there looking at her. Watched the thing hit. Watched her quickly go down. Five levels down. Exaggerated smashing sounds, coolant escaping, liquid flying up. A mess to clean up, no doubt.

“She’s dead,” said Kyle, which was meant to be funny. One of those obvious things that didn’t need to be said, but he said it anyway. Ha-ha.

    

“An interactive map. You see the problem, right?”

“Of course I see the fucking problem. The map knows I’m looking at it.”

“It creates itself for me when I look at it.”

“It knows what I’m looking for.”

“It maps you.”

“Yeah. I guess you see the problem.”

    

“SimCity on steroids.”

“Say what?”

“A city has certain basic parameters. Bars, restaurants, government, housing, transportation system ...”

“Blah blah.”

“It’s a whole system. But the system is constantly mutating.”

“So what?”

“The records of the past—which are usually incomplete -- deal with pieces of the system, not the whole system. So, say, London of 1966 was an environment, a nexus of linked sites to move around in.”

“Physical sites.”

“No shit. The shops on Carnaby Row, all that mod shit. I don’t know specifically—all I know is what I saw in Austin Powers.”

“Which is basically fucking LA, you know.”

“I know. The point is, if I wanted to do a historical recreation of that environment –”

“As a gaming environment?”

“Maybe. There’s no one place to go for information about historical environments because there’s the data isn’t stored on that basis. There’s no place to put it.”

“Nobody’s looking to do a recreation of London in 1966.”

“No, it’s taxes, advertising, promotion. Every lens is distorted.”

“There’s guides and shit –”

“But that’s totally distorted. Anything that’s selling you something is distorted.”

“Then everything’s distorted.”

“Yeah. The guide books leave out the slums. Crime reporting makes it all look like shit. The point is: the parameters of a city are fairly simple.”

“SimCity on steroids.”

“SimCity on steroids. Yeah. I plug in the data. After that, the city becomes a self-generating. A self-generating environment. Mod London, Ratpack Vegas, whatever.”

“But it’d – You make it a recursive loop?”

“Yeah. Recursive loop. 1966 folds back in on itself.”

“Or 1999. Like the fucking Matrix.”

“The point being: you own the environments? The virtual environments based on the real ones?”

“Yeah. And license ‘em to gaming developers. Or some asshole selling virtual time machine nostalgia vacations. Or whatever.”

“It’s not your data.”

“It’s my expression of the data. According to the new laws –”

“You could own the fucking past.”

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