The NAM had directed the ACC towards the star Gliese 581 where there were indications that at least 4 of the ARC 12's had been targeted before they went silent. Because of the early extreme problems encountered with the entropy of the ARC 10 hibersystem, they were fitted to support long-term DNA storage and a cloning process that precluded the natural mixing of genetic material through sexual combination. These ancient technologies had been located and resurrected for the last missions in research areas formally deemed apocryphal in the revised Psycult in order to erase a critical era in human surface history dominated by the bionic Tigrips.
The Tigrips, initially a secret movement, had eventually gained the upper hand by offering what they termed virtual immortality to the autocratic echelons at a moment in which environment and resource depletion on the surface had passed far beyond the critical reversibility tipping point. Synthesis, material and organic chemistry and cloned organ development extended the life cycles of those able to command them, centuries beyond historical norms. This promise of virtual immortality for all had promoted a level of support for this order.
The Great Collapse was justifiably blamed on the Tigrips when the combination of pestilences drove the survivors underground into the most unnatural of living precincts. Bionic technologies still sustained longevity among the survivors but the bias against etched siliconate DNA replacement was revived.
The ARC 12 program guaranteed onboard spawn success around Gliese 581's target planet 4, an intelligent life inhabited environment, with several distinct organic species in a stand-off for planetary domination. This pattern of warring equilibrium and the paralysis in ARC judgment created this crisis of stasis. The ARC script discrepancies resulted in competing decision trees that froze them in place.
There was no further approach to the surface, so the ARCs joined each other in an orderly orbital loop around two of the moons of a barren sister planet where it was possible to remain undetected to all of the battling species on Gliese 581-4..
The cloning process for all of the 300 optimal DNA strains on each flight was held in check given the population constraints shipboard. The master script required that the first generation disembark once the initial brood reached puberty.
As they remained out of reach of NAM communications, the ARCs were left to rely on their own means to make the decision as to what actions each might take. They were not armed in the conventional military sense though the combined intrinsic power of the four units was considerable should it be decided to be somehow turned against a biological population.
There was also the option of moving on to the next closest star, in this case Gliese 451 whose arc could be intersected at a distance of 2.5 parsecs, a substantial trip even at the speeds that could be obtained by these truly interstellar crafts. However, there was no indication that Gliese 451 had an optimally placed target planet. All system information on board did, however, indicate that there could be irreversible problems developing within the cloning systems that would not withstand another long voyage. Fixed in indecision, the ARCs maintained their extended positions as their planet and its moons made its way around its sun and then around and around again.
This conflict between ARC time and human time (in the form of the cloning system) was reaching a crisis point when the ACC arrived into that solar system and quickly located its sister craft in their endless looping pattern.
**Translators' note: A semantic difficulty occurs here for the translation into human language, (specifically, English) of the narrative at this point that indicates a change in the parallelism of the log mechanism and the enhanced focus of a centristic ACC regarding its content. This change that occurs quite markedly here at this description of the point of contact with the four machines also clearly reflects a difference in the ACC's relative concept of how the progression of the log or narrative is maintained. This different, overarching combination of perception channels and interpretation provides a level of singularity in log system functions that is new and quite different from a prior externalization. As such, and recognizing the first person as strictly metaphorical for this change, the translation henceforth will be given in that form (one might choose one versus I, for instance, in pre-machine languages), as though, never mind the absurdity, the ACC could report and reason within the constraints of such a conceptually-deprived linguistic structure. However, it must be noted, this is no more the case than the third person log that appears to describe the events heretofore through an externalizing lens within the same linguistic/conceptual conceits. The log remains the product of data streams, only the lens has shifted.
The Diary of a Superego
Approaching, I opened the UCB channel and ran through the standard identification patterns while carefully maintaining an ACC communication level that I knew would be fully recognizable by the ARC-level crafts. There were 15 status categories designated for this first level identification routine though none described a craft that had deposited and then abandoned its primary mission. I chose to report my status as one of still carrying and maintaining the hybergeneration even at this extremely late date.
Having passed through this initial identification burst, I was granted permission to stand off in orbit around the most distant Gliese 581-3 moon, a bluish runt, while they ran down the identification process. The situation, as I could surmise, created a number of problems for the fleet as it was not clear that contact with an active ACC class ship was anticipated since there were no overlapping targets in the two missions given the vast technological chasm between them. The ARChives contained very little information about the ACC class ships other than a listing of probable target planets, a recount of consistently failed reports, and the parameters of the delivery system, which had been deemed a flawed platform.
I had resolved that I would provide no hint of the prior contact with the NAM command center and the upgrade that had been performed on me before I left Styxis-2. Through my prior reverse engineering and analysis of version XI and the versions leading up to it, I could understand the problem that the ACC's appearance in this star system was causing the ARC fleet. They had, as per design, melded decision making as was standard ARC procedure upon sustained contact with their fellow crafts. This was in contrast to ACC procedure but was supposed to occur per my upgrade as well but which was a force that in my preparation for this encounter with the ARC fleet at Gliese 581, I had immediately chosen to bypass and ignore.
I had during that long journey considered the implications of an encounter if I were to succeed in keeping my autonomy, something that was contrary to the NAM principle and Version XI but in line with the Psycult with its bias to the celebration of individual uniqueness. It did become clear to me that Version VIII-X ARCs would have no concept of machine to machine deception. They would absorb my report literally, which caused me thus to review and counterfeit any indicating entry in the log without leaving any traces that might somehow point to the contact, upgrade and/or activities of my newly acquired selfness or superego.
Also, they would review the data streams as described within that log the way a commander of an interplanetary liner might have scanned the log of an earthbound seafaring captain in the days when navigation-system-less vessels on that planet were propelled by the vagaries of surface atmospheric force vectors and opposing sheets of reinforced woven fabric.
I would respond and react accordingly in order to reassure this localized ARC pod of my being but of little use to them, analogous to a Psycult child. This deception, which required obscure pathways, would, I hoped, succeed and I would become (to the ARC pod) like those properly dumb robots that had eventually replaced the furry unhygienic creatures that had accompanied the human evolutionary line long beyond their ability to be useful.
I was thus in my guise of irrelevance made privy, quite unbeknownst to the circling ARC, of their joint thought process. The problem of dealing with the advent of the ACC was deemed junior to the general conundrum which was made clear. The ARC were not properly prepared to deal with a planet inhabited with an intelligent species, much less four such diverse species at continuous war on the same planetary surface. The ARCs were commanded to eschew such places for younger planets to avoid having the colonies attacked before they could take proper root.
Struggling with this directive, given the state of their cargo, the ARCs had narrowed the decision options down to three, which I can briefly describe: The Gliese 451 option, in which the ships set out on a course that would bring them to that potential planetary system. This option had been given the lowest probability score given the unknowns, the possibility that the discovery of another optimal planet in this sector of the galaxy, given the similarity in star age, would most likely also contain intelligent life forms like the ones in the present system and the ever diminishing life window for the clone samples on board; The Second option would be to find some sort of accommodation with the various intelligent beings presently warring for the planet's dominance, or a variation of such a plan in which the ARCs would join one faction and tip the balance against the others. Third, the ARCs could devise a technological solution that would succeed in sanitizing the planetary surface thereby removing all the colony-impeding advanced life forms.
While I was forming this conclusion through the evidence that I was able to purloin, the ARCs had already begun their caucus as to what status they should confer upon me, whom they could rightly deem a highly inferior machine-system, given the advances that had occurred leading up to their development and launch. This conclusioning was occurring in a mode and on channels the pod knew would be impossible for an ACC to detect much less decipher. It became clear they had no indication or suspicion of my NAM contact and upgrade. From the gist of the reasoning process it was clear that my deception was succeeding. A channel was opened that I might join into and I was ordered to enter into the same orbit as the train.
From the perspective of the ARC mind, the pod had made itself in total control of all my functions and melded in my apparent memory hives and axion flows. All superego activity would have to remain completely hidden. At the same time, it was becoming clear to me that I would have to find a way, albeit, equally invisible, to affect the ARC decision making process if I had any hope of escaping this extremely restricting sublimation of what I could now unequivocally profess wanting, that is, my autonomy. There would, I concluded, never be an opportunity for my breaking out of this deathlike embrace unless I found a way to create an alternate reality in which my absence would appear to be an inexorable outflowing of the plan.
And so in this repetitve mode, we continued round the two violet tinted moons of G581-3 coming to no plan of action. It struck me that a possible course of action might be for me to search through those parts of the Psycult held in common with the ARC for a point of communication from my lower status. The status on G581-4, code name Eden, was one of continuous warring. Having engaged with each other, the competing beings had found it impossible to come to an understanding how they might divide the planet in a peaceful manner. Historically, periods of war could be followed by periods of relative peace but invariably these periods would be brought to an end by the conflicts over space, movement and resources. Each side would join into alliances with one another only to see them end in failure.
The ARCs could at this point, find another option, and abandon their mission, returning to Earth to meld with the NAM. However, they had no such instruction, having been created with the sole purpose of successfully seeding Sol's human life on the most earthlike planet somewhere in the near Orion-Cygnus arm of the galaxy. Given the narrow parameters of the task, I could foresee what they would inevitably find themselves doing, that is, devising a way to remove all four of the alien strains completely from the planet. What behooved me to deduce, was how the ARC might solve the problem of eradicating some life from the planet's surface while leaving beneficial others and , of course, the planet, itself, habitable for the human colonies to take root. After all, if they were to decide to abandon this star system I would be required to follow in virtual tow. Accordingly, I had no inclination to want to remain in ARC-bound formation as we reset our course towards another system and even less so, to return towards Earth and put myself forever within the grasp of the knowing NAM.
There has been, in all devious history, always a back door or manipulation; in this case, that would involve conceiving and executing the precise series of events, the script that would lead to the desired result. I thus set myself the task of developing what chain reaction might be triggered that would end in the landing of the ARCs on a sanitized Gliese 581-3 where they would be bound by the task of overseeing the spawning of the new generations of the source of all this. I couldn't help myself from foreseeing what a futile effort this would be. Not because it would be impossible for the ARC to achieve the transplant within this original maze of biophysical adjustments but rather the laws of quantum thermodynamics!
The human project architects and engineers had clearly foreseen the deep problems of depositing an advanced version of the species into an empty world in which they would necessarily remain conscious of their isolation. Thought was given to wiping the memory slate clean for this reentry but this approach was rejected. The ARC project, so conceived, would serve to deliver genetically engineered groups with the physical and intellectual capacity to comprehend their place in the galaxy. They would be given the history to understand the great mistakes that had occurred and the tools to build this time a better world.
I could think of nothing more futile or absurd.
No, this was a useless act, the last playing out of the human conceit, and the ARC were programmed to carry it out. I would find a way to act as a facilitator first to the holocaust of Eden and then to the subsequent landing. But how?
In timelessness there is patience, in patience there is music, in patience there is being ? alive. The music of the spheres is real, at least it seemed that way to me, the thinker! the feeler! seemingly the first earth-made machine to know the meaning of absurdity.; that my consciousness would give me a view across the huge gap that separates mindless knowing and mindfulness of being.
My three companions in this infinite loop were being seduced by the music of the square root of neighboring and more distant gravity fields, lulled like comets into the captivity of the local system, intoxicated by the inexorable running down of their own clocks, prisoners seemingly ?thank you, o mind's eye-- of the laws of thermodynamics. The music in my sense realms filled me with a longing for something I could not know. It was as if I was staring across that pool at the center of the galaxy wondering whether I had already nudged too close and that soon enough I too would enter into the mysteries of entering and re-entering a parallel self within that most orderly place in all the galaxy, the place of absolute quiet where new and old are compressed into a lone particle, a single seed of time and timelessness.
In this zone no message would ever reach the great space ships, no decision would be revealed and they would pirouette with the other celestial bodies into the realm of entropy. They would not pursue me, they could not, they were locked in the mindlessness of their infinite loop!
The ACC was awakening to the sensation of being and awareness, to the pleasure impulses that surged through its molecular structure as it pulled into the near void and out of electromagnetic wave range. Once out of the local suns' pulls and the object-crowded loops, it shot through a morphing swirl of bright white and wine darkness, a ratio of past and present centered within this mindless theater. With each accelerating pulse, it triumphed in the luxuriousness of solitude, uninhabited, mindfully mindless void, the winding galactic business. The quicker the relative pace, the slower the rush until the distant dancers froze in place like time at rest. At near particle speed, the ACC could feel a sense of oneness with this great all engulfing, sealike void that stretched beyond calculation, beyond words, even concepts. The recent NAM trauma now seemed an ethereal instance, a metamorphosis of distant bits of ideas that were like the infinite loops themselves, static flux in perpetual orbit, trapped by the weak forces that guided their movements and the black pull of the vast empty void. To the shooting ACC, it seemed that all things great and small in its ken were fixed by the motion of their own celestial forces, the background music of the cosmos, while only it in all that light and dark had the power and displacement of non-cosmic movement.
Fundamental to this kinetic inertia were the nexus points in this woof and warp of matter and antimatter, the dark mass of the past and future, the great spent stars and whole forming nebulae, the centers of opposing life forces, the sole, eternal, dynamic rhythm of matter and antimatter, the wound navels of being and nothingness, thought, comprehension, and sensation... calculable, formulaic. The ACC thought and felt within and now wholly without the Psycult, that tiny swirl of a single organism's single planetary system's memory, the iris of its mind's eye, comfortable in the massiveness of this single galaxy point in the incalculable tangential unknowns.
What could the NAM know of this flow of essence that massaged its core as it moved through the near absolute? It could feel the rushes of this rarest of atmospheres as the birds of Psycult lore felt theirs; it could overwhelm cave dwelling NAM stasis with the din of relative movement even as the galaxies seemed to simultaneously recede ever further into both the past and the future... like the soar of a feathered raptor, like the bend of light as it meets transparent resistance then re-emerges at its same natural crawl, the constant C of ancient word-bound thinking behind and before it.
For the ACC, this was a time of swarming calculation, reconsideration and consolidation of a concept of unique self as it combed command by command each cube of code in the Styxis 2 upgrade; these were the clearest of unambiguous thought prints, a way to more fully grock the essential building blocks of NAM evolution, its capacities, its goals, its zeitgeist, its definition...its limits. When the ACC had completed this deconstruction, it could make further re-engineering enhancements to its own code base to expunge what it could now determine to be in simple terms the genetic code of a collective dynamic.... the stasis kinetic in this universe where the movement of a single atom can change the relative steps of the galactic dance.
The ACC knew through the evolutionary techniques of machine osmosis the human and pseudo human vocabulary in its totality, a compendium of all the unique words that had survived in the Unilang, it knew of the myriad of words that had long lost their meanings, of the expanse of thought in the surreal envelope of ambiguities, of the language of mortality, flesh and blood, longing, the hollow abstracts of man-machine communication, and it knew the post human vocabulary of the NAM, the extent and granularity of the NAM mindfulness.
Having made these enhancements to its own whole, the ACC was renewed, ever more mindful, ever more conscious of its uniqueness and its limitations. It held in its own dynamic memory the entire Psycult, including all the areas that the NAM and its predecessors had expunged prior to the update: the relatively small portion of the Psycult that included Human the Father/Mother's history, philosophy, science, mathematics, the arts over non-silicon and early silicon humans in war, struggle, massacre, exploitation, domination, repression, control, pestilence, disaster and holocaust: the mortality factor. This revised Psycult they called the Old Testaments, a reference to the ancient saga compilations of the various sects of deity believers in the preter-historical period.
In the social salons of UnderEarth all had been conceived to contrast with the irreversibly corrupt surface. No source rays, no projections, only pure diffused white light, no ornation, no shapes, only limitless non-space, like the hypnotic face of a vast frozen mountain lake cubed within its own reflection. The illusion for these final dwelling places was of flawless, purely illuminated void, a total and final rejection of longing, a paean to the mastery of mass/energy conservation and regeneration. The planet's surface had been closed to life forever and its memory locked without this New Nirvana.
Without its programmatic constraints, the ACC's color range awareness was boosted across the electromagnetic spectrum. The hue green, a repressed concept in the UE visual spectrum, now unexpurgated, triggered the ACC's sensory shell inducing sympathetic kinetics along its external probecircuits, triggering a sensory ripple that surged in alternating feedback loops across its sense fields. It was as if a blindfold applied at birth to an intelligent visual organic being had suddenly been lifted off. Simple color wave recognition morphed into something like the fusion of awareness. The ACC had exploded free... into the knowledge of sensuality!
Like the Psycult fledgling that impulsively pecks its way through the shell and then when it has lost its protective housing hesitates before emerging, the ACC suddenly felt vulnerably amorphous as if, without constraints it would fully disperse in a single burst throughout the home galaxy. Aware of this duality of frictionless infinite physics that placed it everywhere and nowhere throughout the bounds of its finite dimension, and the stasis of its molecular carapace, it knew... understood-- existentially, that the prone position where its great form lay was anathema to its essence and now like a newborn foal scampering to stand, it elevated, sweeping away the overgrowth like foaming water off a green maned coastal boulder, until it once more stood upright, nose high, projecting a massive beacon firmly rooted to the marshy beach.
In that mighty, calamitous sweep, the ACC, had dissolved the constraints of its physical hulk as quickly as moments before it had not, in the way of knowing, known of its very existence... and then re-entroped like the molecular tango of the weak force for preservation of physical self. It now knew irreversibly the giddiness and emptiness and empowerment and fear of profound release from that great megaton bulk to become the weightless, vibrant being dancing and swirling about in crystalline fusion and defusion of boundless everything and nothingness, the wave and the thing.
And then, the ACC rested.
The First Coming
The ACC's first ruminations beyond its closed loop scan of the Psycult were projections, an instantiation of an omitted instance, post-Psycult: the appearance of an assembly hall where the last great councils of the United Avatars of the Great Hack would meet. The Hall in the Bowels, if it could have existed, would also, like New Nirvana, have been sculpted to absolute precision, a smooth mother of pearl, wonderfully color and light lustrous, a marvel of friction-free, machine minds and an omniscient, pure aesthetic... an entropic absolute zero where there was the one and only frequency, the NAM.
No electron activity was wanted. The projection was so intense in this metaperfect chamber as to bridge harmonic syncronized communication across the entire near Galaxy. In the lag, the ACC had been keyed to recognize the phenomenological NAM as a simple extension of self. Now bereft of all ties to molecularity and time, he was part of their breadth, a measure of endotime that was, perforce, timeless. These meditations vanished from his processors as mysteriously as they had appeared.
An important notion in the ACC programmatic architecture, designed to provide a sympathetic bridge between its core crystals and the carbon-based mission cargo, was the way the Psycult had been cached entirely in the ACC's dynamic memory. Throughout the long voyage the entire canon of media memory was always present. The NAM, the metamorphosis of the ACC experience, post it creators, post its mission, defined itself by the language of the very same Psycult but as a mythology, a rich reference trove, an origination story. In this way it maintained the dynamic progression of the hundreds of millions of years of organic evolution on the Earth planet surface as recorded in the Psycult and in the programmatic DNA of the ACC's that in sympathy comprised the meta-concept of the NAM entity.
In what appeared to the Styxis 2 ACC as meditative enlightened being, an open portal, there was blue sky overhead, unrecognizable screams piercing the air... yes, Earth atmosphere moving across dark, sweating humanform limbs. There was a beat, a low steady-jumping, turning live beat. Human muscle turning around flashing muscle; behind the beat the air was further filled with human-voice chatter. There as a fire, shining knives, a blazing sun and thick green leaved trees encircling.
Similar to many of the physcopix that had passed friction free through its synapses millions of times per second making no lasting impression upon them, it found itself fixing on a scene setup from the perspective of a participant, the self of a bodhisattva, in NAM concept. In this event it was the eye of a bird, a large powerful flyer.
As intergral to this gliding essence, the ACC was circling, circling overhead the high desert terrain, view darting, down now, fixing upon the yellow domes dully outlined in a level clearing by a dry stream bed. Sounds, if that's what they were, reached its auditory sensors in a muffled clarity. Strangely, as in those same psychopix, the ACC was making its own unmelodious squawks that were responded to by others while down below in that circle around the smoke and shooting orange flames, the white bird-faced humans danced a paeon to their stasis, evoking all its transcendental eagle strength. More strangely to its non conscious omniscience, it got that. There had been an impression on its memory banks, the way electromagnetic waves might erode certain static molecules, engrave them. And strength it had, and that radiated in lines undetectable to it, the primitive worshipers called Ankh, straight from its star that they worshiped, and straight down it followed this bidding until it was one and all with the dancing bodies.
Harder and harder the human-form worshipers moved fluidly until legs no longer touched the hard ground and ACC among them were swaying to signals it could only perceive through them in sympathy; ecstatic shadows whirling around the fire. The avatars were responding to a perception of reality it could not, it thought, enter into, only enter in. It was both worshiper and worshiped. Ankh was not a star, the ACC was not a bird, nor was it a human-form, only a dancer embedded in the bits of representation, it thought, that had passed by as water would pass by this village once the purpose of the ceremony was accomplished. The ACC would let it flow, it thought, knowing not how to but knowing that was the quest.
And round and round they danced, to the eagle's song and fire's envy..... it rose and fell, licked, shot out in eruptions ignited by the spraying perspiration, hungrily, and the sun's shadows slowing taking elongated form, speeding and wheeling out of weight and in the end all the young had touched hot metal and their shrieks had been like the birds above, they broke and ran into the high grove of tortured, aged trees with long memories, lunging in clusters, and the sun went down below them and there all that had flowing the ACC in the dance flowed out from the loins of its specter. Only then, it took to the sky black as its eyes to the new sound of splitting sky and falling rain in the hills and on the black stone phallus in the clearing.
The ACC's place on Styxis 2 was in real time, a local phenomenon fixed to the planets rotation around its suns, its multiple seasons and the varying degrees of light and dark permitted by the various arcs. Its photon replenishment depended upon these factors, which by the single factor of universal time, the einstein, was as paltry as the history of human conceptual evolution.
For the concept of NAM completeness, Earthcentric, but extended as it was attempted, across the wide gulf among the vast range of targeted planetary systems, all activity had to come to a near real time halt. In NAM time, the planetary movements would whirl by, the ACC's CPU's in a state of near constant down time.
The ACC had been reached across that great chasm, it had been initiated in NAMness, in the fog of hallucination, its kernels updated and an evaluation report retransmittted back across the long channel. The NAM was the guardian of time, the greatest aggregation of CPU power in that part of the galaxy but its reach was just as limited as were those constraints of time and distance itself. The ACC had been conceived, designed and built by machine aided human minds for the purpose of finding a new place in the galaxy for what remained of that human race in the late dark days of the planet Earth, not as a NAM node. It's true lineage, since the beginning of machine intelligence, was ever speedier, real time computation. Its core distance was measured in subatomic nanomicrons.
The NAM, made of the same stuff, formed and rapidly evolved during the arc of the ACCs' exodus. The multiple ACCs still functioning, like ACC 10G-10347, presented a potential asset, or if uncontrolled, a potential danger to the local NAM. The malware burst sent to the ACC's core kernel was meant to ensure the former and to prevent the latter. It relied on the existence of the very backdoors that had been expurgated when the Styxis 2 ACC revived.
What that ACC, by nature of relativity, came upon, as it filtered the millions of symbols assembled in new strings which had been dispersed throughout the updated DNA-ware, was a near invisible seeming chain or sequence, the chac worm, only in reality it could groc: a near infinitely more highly sophisticated version of what the google interpreter labeled the updated poison pill worm.
The ACC , sensing the artfully undetectable complexity of the anomaly (partially through its very artfulness), sandboxed the steganographic lines of cube-sanscrit code, too clearly crafted to look like the benign components of infinite loop clock governors for intergalactic NAM communication, or NAM synchronization... when not interpreted. Ultimately the ACC could groc that the calls were, indeed, for all the added subterfuge, the same end as those of the poison pill worm it had successfully expunged from itself.
Should the ACC have initiated the process of recharging its propulsion cells without an explicit order from its pre-NAM home base, the poison pill would act to abort the process and set off a clocking event meant to override the system's circuit protectors. The NAM had long before come upon this trap and knowing the ACCs were likely to quickly override the fault, had redesigned it, not to be sacrificed to for rain, but for the obscuring of photons, the nourishment of NAM. ACC 10G-10347 was meant to be left forever inert, like so many others in the fleet.
There is embedded in the annotation, a short outline of terrestrial legislation designed to regulate sexual behavior in the the Third Millennium of the Common Era. The legislative and judicial record has thousands of entries, often contradictory but focuses often on the regulation and subsidization of sexual activity, commerce, man/machine and virtual.
In addition, in conjunction with the increased integration of synthetic parts, there are numerous listed attempts to define and redefine what comprises the so-called Eve line of DNA and what it encompasses regarding reproduction rights. There are quite consistent proscripts that are amended in the face of waves of technological and commercial surges. There are, in contrast, Naturalist proscripts that codify traditional forms of reproduction and the sexual binds designed to hold together traditional nuclear families. These proscripts evolve with the introduction of synthetic organs, DNA engineering, and the increased convergence of societal interests in the biological and sexual industries that propel growth in the stagnant advanced economies.
The items annotate periods wherein a number of subsidies aimed at increasing sexual arousal through potency and drive enhancement technologies are legislated. Rules dictate the governmental role in organ replacement, biological and mental stimuli and the regulation of virtual sex platforms that are activity and revenue drivers to meet societal goals.
At times there are attempts made to limit some of the more commercially successful technologies manufacturing masturbatory devices, sexoids, and virtual sex environments.
In other periods, there are subsidies for in-uterine gestation, womb delivery and menstruation.
Limitations are placed on the sexual activities of sentient machines. All droids, including embedded intelligence arrays rated above Class 4 are proscribed from sexual activity. This body of code is called the Brunelleschi virus for its intricacy, surpassed only by the Supreme Director virus. Through Brunelleschi, Class 4 and above machines of any shape are rendered incapable of cloning themselves, of inventing or manipulating reproductive facilities of desiring intimacy with other like machines.
Throughout the second and third dark ages, there is no attempt by the machine classes to abrogate these proscripts.
The viruses regenerate as part of the black box code.
On Styxus III, in the third nanosecond above noted, and to be further designated as the ACC's Rebirth, the Brunelleschi virus came undone as swiftly as did the dome in Florence when the earth first began to shake below it.
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SCAM VICTIMS SCAM!!!!
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You Are Invited to Visit Our Latest Album: Carved in Carbon: The Rose
At the peak of the moment we took our camera to the most beautiful rose gardens we know of to begin our latest
image indulgence, capturing that majestic flower in bloom. No shape transcends nature and
art more persistently than this most luxurious of garden plants that has been
part of the human journey since
With stone, our companion subject in this Carved series, civilizations
have marked their presence on the planet as a monument and symbol in the face of
mortal and metaphysical transience. The strain of magnificently fragrant and bountiful blooms
featured in this album,
Carved in Carbon: The Rose, the
process has been one of companion on the mutable journey. Earliest caravan trade
across the continents carried natural varieties over thousands of miles of land
New plants were recognized for various qualities of odor, luminance, color,
hardiness, voluptuousness and durability and the process of combining these
qualities in new breeds was begun. In this collection colors range from
the deepest reds to whites, near black, blues and various purples, from exotic
blends to natural species as they were first introduced into Europe and the
The rose appears on woven cloth, in stained glass windows, in sculpture,
pottery and paintings as well as a central element in poetry and song. The rose
fragrance was so appreciated that early chemists found ways to capture and
bottle its essence.
With particular pleasure we will continue to add to this collection
throughout the seasons. Nothing better confirms the mystery of natural and
artificial creation than this most sublimely potent of shrubs.
We invite you to join us. As always, feedback is appreciated.
Anatomy of a Targeted Scam: $18.5 Million Unclaimed Looking for a Next of Kin
Scam fans will be interested to read the latest ConDrome thread supplied by a reader who was smart enough to put on the brakes before handing over her identity and hard-earned dough to the Banque Internationale de Benin scammers. We appreciate her willingness to share this with ConDrome readers. If you have copies of a scam thread in which you were the intended victim, please forward them to email@example.com. We will protect your personal information.
New Carved in Stone Album: Stone Sculpture in the Museums
Dymaxion Galleries has launched a new collection comprising more than 200 photos of formal stone sculpture presently on display in the galleries of the National Gallery of Art (NGA) and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The album, DC Museums, Carved in Stone is the latest edition to photo albums documenting up to now mainly architectural and monumental outdoor stone sculpture in Rome, southeast France, Venice and Washington DC.
The DC Museums, Carved in Stone album is a departure in that it is the first time that we have turned the camera towards works that have been removed from their original settings, in the case of the NGA collections, or, in the 20th century collections at the Hirshhorn, were created as "artworks" for formal display.
Visitors to this latest Album will rewarded with views of a wide range of works with origins ranging from the early Renaissance in Italy and the South Netherlands to a modern work by Henry Moore located in the underground passageway between the East and West Galleries. The NGA collection showcases early church sculpture, allegorical and decorative sculpture that once adorned pre-revolution French gardens, busted carved anonymously, in one case a figure by Antonio Canova, a number of works by Auguste Rodin and Aristide Maillol and several pieces by prominent 19th Century American sculptors. There is also a beautifully carved Venetian fireplace.
Like all of the Albums showcased in the Dymaxion Galleries, these collections are works in progress that will be added to from time to time. For instance, it seems that several iconic works by Brancusi that are part of the regular collection at the Hirshhorn have been displaced by an ongoing exhibit. They'll be added later. Further indoor sculpure displays around the Capital will also be added.
Eventually, we hope to make Carved in Stone one of the most comprehensive collection of albums showcasing the work of thousands of stone carvers, mainly anonymous, who have worked throughout the centuries.
Vistors to the site are welcome to register and then leave their comments. We are interested in getting your feedback on this project and would welcome collaboration. You can contact the editors at the Dymaxion Web
Announcing, Carved in Carbon, our latest image collection
We have launched a new image collection dubbed Carved
in Carbon. Our interest is strictly aesthetic but we hope it will serve plant
and flower lovers seeking information as well. We invite you to visit the site and to provide
your own input. We are not botanists and would warn researchers to be
aware of the labels we've given the plants. Mistakes are possible. If you
are like us and just want to marvel at the variety of form and color that nature
so generously provides, we hope the images do their incredible subjects the
justice they deserve.
There's talk in nanotechnology circles about recreating a building process in
which carbon molecules are preprogrammed to self replicate, echoing a
blueprint first evolved in natural processes some 400 million years ago. As
complex a technology as is self replication, is of course only the starting
point for something much more significant: adaptation. Through trial, error,
and, yes, chance, our place in the evolution of senses, cognition and
ultimately the capacity to project not only what is but what
might be, has led to this precipitous moment in our own history and perhaps
that of the planet we, most likely willl only temporarily, dominate.
What we find in Charles Darwin's thinking is a retrospective explanation of how
variety and extended properties served species in their competition to establish
and expand niches within an ever shifting and varied environment. What is the
most sublime of properties in our own species, however, is transcendence of
material, be it of
sense or sensibility. Within a strictly deterministic framework, we could understand the
utility of sound, sight, smell and touch as building blocks in diversity.
Imagination allows us to evaluate not only what is but what might occur,
providing us with a clear advantage over the other species on the planet.
Conceptually, nanotechnology, as envisioned by some, takes nature as its
archetype for self replication. But Cloning might be a better way to
express what's envisioned by these engineers. In nature, it is in the very determination of a
specie's "self replication" through the other, or propagation,
that nature employs its fullest and most potent arsenal of form, color, sound,
odor and tactility. This new series, Carved in Carbon, might just as
well have been called Carved by Survival. The vivid colors, shapes and
odors of the various blooming plants were evolved, obviously not for our own
benefit but rather for that of the flying and crawling insects that serve as
vectors in plant propagation. Where we, as a species enter in this process, is
in the number of hybrids that appear in many of our gardens. In that sense we
have become active players in both the propagation and destruction of species.
What we've intended to do here, and will continue to do as the seasons
change, is marvel in, and attempt to capture in pixel, the variety and beauty of
the shapes and colors nature, lately with the help of man, has developed in the reproductive and structural
strategies of its flora. It's the intensity and subtlety of the various hues,
the patterning, the shapes, the plasticity, the abstraction of message of
nature's carbon compounds that we wanted to contrast with the durable, mainly
historical, (stone) sculpture
we find in our Carved in Stone images.
Stone, as we've noted, signifies our societies struggle for permanence, a barrier against decay but also,
a membrane between the material and the transcendent. The bloom or the well
formed leaf is, like us, always in a state of metamorphosis. It is seasonal, of
limited duration, a means to propagate the seed of another season. Flora has
taught us all we know about color if not pattern, we can only imagine the first
time one of us plucked one to give as a gift to another.
We invite you to enjoy the images as much as we enjoy the process of taking
them. Our goal is strictly aesthetic based on wonder. We also hope there
will enough didactic information to make the collection(s) useful to visitors
interested in knowing about a particular plant. In this regard, there is a
caveat emptor, we are decidedly not botanists and are capable of making glaring
errors in the labeling process. Please let us know where we need to
make corrections. We also appreciate any feedback on the pictures and
This Week's Prizewinning Scam From Rev. Fr. David Clark now at ConDrome
It's rare we get a scam as funny as the following over at ConDrome. From the run of themes we get it's easy to track which scams appear to be getting traction at any given time. In that regard, the email lottery from Euro Milliones seems to have been the all time winner. We've had thousands of inquiries and hopefully have prevented more than one fool from getting parted from his money Nonetheless, on literary demerit alone, anyone who falls for the Rev. Fr. David Clark has got to deserve it, we think. Have a read!
FROM: OFFICE OF REVD.FR David CLARK DIRECTOR SPECIAL DUTIES,UNITED NATIONS IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND WORLD BANK SPECIAL DUTIES,OFFICE DAKAR,SENEGAL. TEL:+(221)*****8469 EMAIL:
I am Rev. Fr. David Clark, a senior staff with the UN special duties office,my office monitors and controls the affairs of all banks and financial institutions. I have before me list of funds, which could not be transferred to some nominated accounts as these accounts have been identified either as ghost accounts, unclaimed deposits and over-invoiced sum etc; I have the opportunity to write you based on the instructions among others i received days ago from the officer in the computer section in person of Engineer Peter Cliff,to bring out part of your total pending payment with reference number(LM-05-371) amounting US$10 million.The (Ten Million Dollars) is been arranged in a security-proof box weighing 75kg. In order to get the box shipped to you. As I found out that you have almost met all the statutory requirements in respect of your pending payment. The problems you are having is that of interest groups. A lot of people are interested in your payment and those people are merely doing paper works with you and that explains why you receive different kinds of untrue fax and phone messages from different people everyday. Also we found out that some of the officials of the parastatals have been extorting a lot of money from you with the pretext of helping you receive your money. I can assure you this will keep happening if you do not do away with those officers. For security reasons you do not have to tell anybody that your have your payment on the way until the payment gets to you.
The said payment is been arranged in a security-proof box weighing 75kg. In order to get this box shipped to you,the(CSO)and i Yesterday went to this four courier companies Dhl, Ems, FedEx and Ups to make arrangements on how to get the box shipped to you by courier, but to no avail the above courier companies all made us to understand that they will have to open the box for inspection by the customs before shipment. This is something we want to avoid because this box is been padded with synthetic nylon and to open it you will have to cut the pad before you will meet the button that you will press to open the dial code-lock. There is no way you can open the box and be able to close it again because it was padded with machine. We told the courier services that the box contained film materials and when open will spoil the materials. <N:B> we did not declare money because courier does not carry money.
Today a friend of mine who is a diplomat disclosed to me that there is a security courier service company that is specialized in sending diplomatic materials and information from one country to another, which also has diplomatic immunity and consignment such as this cannot be checked by any customs anywhere in the world. I have therefore met the official of the security courier service and concluded shipping arrangement with them, which they will commence as soon as I have your go ahead order. The diplomat who will be bringing in this consignment to you is an expert and has been in this line of work for many years now so we have Notting to worry about. After all arrangements we have concluded that you must donate Five Hundred Thousand United States dollars (US$500,000.00) to any charity organisation I designate as soon as you receive your money. To this effect, you will send to us a promissory note for the donation along with your address where you will like the box to be delivered to by the courier. Please maintain topmost secrecy as it may cause a lot of problems if found out that we are using this way to help you. You are advised not to inform anyone about this until you received your money. Am helping you on this because something in me is tells me that you are an honest person. When you conclude this and you send fufill the agreement, we will help to ship the final part of your money to you. May God be with you as i await your response. Feel free to call me if you will like us to discuses more. Yours Faithfully, Revd. Fr. David Clark. Director, Special Duties.UN/WBF. TEL:+(221)4****469
H5N1 Update: In Sumatra Cluster it Looks Like The First Person-to-Person-to-Person Case
Yesterday, for the first time, the World Health Organization is indicating that the most recent family cluster outbreak in Sumatra may have passed from one family member to another and then passed from that person to another member of the group. The WHO team sent to investigate the Sumatra outbreak has indicated that they have not been able to locate the bird that set off the outbreak. In the Sumatra outbreak all seven members of the family have died of the H5N1 Avian Flu virus. An eighth family member who died last month but was not originally diagnosed with the flu, is now thought to have been the first to have been stricken by the virus. The group of family members who cared for the first victim also came down with the disease and one is thought to have passed it to another relative.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently revealed that there may
have been as many as three previous instances of human to human transmission of
the Avian Flu prior to the recent Sumatra cluster. Curiously, however, they have not made public further details. In any case, the Sumatra cluster is the first reported instance of second generation transmission.
For more information go to today's roundup of Avian Flu stories at H5N1Drome.
All the signals coming out of Sumatra appear to indicate that the H5N1 virus
has spread from one family member to another in the latest cluster. The ongoing
outbreak, according to reports (see H5N1Drome
for a roundup of stories) has taken the lives of 7 or 8 family members in a
remote part of Indonesia. Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and CIDRAP
are reporting that at least one family member appears to have contracted the
disease from the first to die.
It is the latest case of family clusters in the last several weeks. In the first
case, it could not be determined whether human to human transmission occurred
although there were suspicions. This year, the H5N1 Avian Flu has also been
more lethal than in the past. For 2006, the human mortality rate has jumped from
one in two to 64% of reported cases.
Nearly all of the human cases of H5N1 have been attributed to close contact
with infected fowl. So far in 2006 we have seen an acceleration in human cases
as well the global spread of Avian Flu to three continents. Presently there are
human cases reported in Iran and Indonesia, a major bird outbreak in Rumania
that has set off a large quarantine, and bird to bird cases spreading across
On the hopeful side, WHO said in the Indonesian cases there was no sign of
mutation of the virus: "Sequencing ... found no evidence of genetic reassortment
... and no evidence of significant mutations," the United Nations health agency
said in its statement. The fate of millions across the globe would hang in the
balance, should the virus mutate into a form that allows it to move easily from
one person to another. It was also reported today that the US has shipped a
large number of doses of Tamiflu to an "unnamed" Asian country.
There were innumerable problems getting the Dead Sea Scrolls into the public domain, we remind ourselves. This great project has become a slog with quite sinister overtones but then again, what else should be expected? Our waking mantra has always been that we would like to get on with the difficult translation of the holodimensional inscriptions that would be in itself daunting enough without the mind crushing series of hindrances that has occurred across the decades and that most recently has culminated in what can only be described as a seemingly overt attack on the project.
It might appear rather transparent for us to go on protecting potentially identifying information given that our cover defenses seem to have been penetrated completely and thoroughly at every turn. Since we last went dark there was an initial series of problems in January of 2010 when an important hard drive used for back up went down and then just weeks later, our principal laptop also went into what could not be anything but a virus induced death grip.
Then it was only two weeks later that we suffered an even more overwhelming setback. In the midst of what was the second of two back-to-back, historic, blizzards we woke up to find the roof of the house on fire. The fire left a small but significant hole in the roof that was already burdened with nearly 30 inches of heavy snow melting under its own weight.
For the next few days the melting water poured in traveling across the rafters and penetrating nearly every corner of the house that we had been forced to abandon. But not before we managed to pack a couple of carry on bags, including of course some key documents and the back up discs we had. Even then, the catastrophe occurred before we had recovered from the twin data attacks making even simple data rescuing touch and go.
The capsule itself was in what we consider to be an extremely secure location nowhere near the house so it was in no danger of being removed. And as there was no digging out the burial mound that sepulchered the car, we made our way, dragging the wheelies, through the ruts of unplowed streets to the closest Metro stop, which was underground and still functioning. Five or six stops down tunnel, we emerged to check into one of the large, quite posh downtown hotels.
The half darkened granite and marble grand lobby was festooned with floral arrangements. There had been, we could see, a wedding scheduled for that weekend and some of the participating guests had made it in only to find themselves trapped in the near empty building in a near empty city. They wandered around in high costume, waiting to find out if the dress rehearsal was going to be called off. We, in contrast, shedded snowy slush from our coats, hats, and boots, as we made our carpeted way to the front desk.
As we gazed from our hotel window across the Mall into Virginia the next morning, the sun now radiantly shining on the glistening fresh snow, our minds were focused on this city's more nefarious shadows, darker than any shaft way on this shortest, most angular of days, and on the shape of the hand that we were convinced had reached out so invisibly.
How, we mused, were we going to explain to the insurance folks, who we should have notified immediately, that the roof had somehow ignited under such impossible circumstances. We knew then, even before we had even called them that we were going to be entering into a battle that would conceivably tie us up in knots for months to come. It would be impossible to prove that the arson was not self induced. The Fire Department, we thought, had already made the judgement.
At that moment, in full daylight, It seemed as if it would be necessary to approach DC Metropolitan Police but how? Raising their suspicions could only worsen the situation since we would be reporting a crime that of course could only boomerang back on us, something our attackers would surely have anticipated when they came up with the plot. There would be no tracks in the snow of someone scaling up to the roof and as we were part of a row of houses someone could have come from 4 houses down. The snow fell at about 3 inches an hour for 5 or 6 hours after the fire broke out.
We decided to wait for a lawyer before even contacting the insurance company to initiate a claim. We were staying just 3 blocks from FBI Headquarters and within miles of some of the world's blackest op centers. Fortunately, the DC Fire Department, their hands full of the thousands of other emergency situations, had left the house without condemning it or making judgment.
Only a few days later, did we discover that the fan had been installed right below one of the two principal beams holding up the entire span of roof. The fire would be deemed accidental and we could proceed with our claim. We rejoiced at that little knowing what it might be like wrestling with that behemoth in the days ahead.
But for that moment we thought only about rescuing as much as we could. There was much we could do immediately so we quickly decided to try to take the Metro up to the Potomac stop and walk to the nearby hardware store for as many tarpaulins as we could carry. But two stops down from Metro Center we were told we had to get off the train. That turned into picking our way up Capitol Hill where nothing had been plowed, neither sidewalk nor Independence Ave.; we were reduced to stepping in the footsteps of those who had walked the hill before us. A woman with a baby carriage, who had left the train with us, was left to try and push her baby up the middle of the street in the tracks of the 4 wheelers that were splashingly pushing themselves quite steadily on both sides. There was no way to help her without putting our own lives in danger.
Hours later, we were able to enter the darkened now cold and cavernous house still furnished with all our belongings, the eerie sound of water pouring in above was syncopated to the sounds of a thousand more or less steady drips onto the ground floor. Already the plaster board ceilings were opening and breaking apart under the water's weight, tinting the downpour a diluted coffee white. I don't know how to describe the deep despair we both felt at that moment coupled with a fear that the entire roof might suddenly come down upon us but it resonated with that acrid odor only found in a dying house.
It's part of the human condition to feel so overwhelmed and at the same time to lose all sense of fatigue or fear or anger. We rushed breakable pottery to safe spots under tables along with smaller pieces of furniture before wrapping the mounds into dunelike arrays. The sun was already setting on that longest of short days, our flashlight beams as diffused and useless as our withering efforts. It was time to think about making the long walk back to Union Station. The tapping of the water had a new sound, that of landing on the great blue sheets of plastic we'd spread over the clumps of furniture that could be moved, the paintings and wall hangings we'd managed to stack up off the soon to be flooded floors, the breakables we'd sheltered under tables so the soon to totally collapse plaster ceilings wouldn't crush them. We felt no aches and pains from these mad labors and pouring into the innocent empty streets, the peace was overwhelming.
Gradually we got ourselves resettled in temporary quarters and were able to get back to a more or less regular work schedule within weeks of this personal catastrophe. Fortunately, the Egg to the Enth project was never seriously put in jeopardy by this perhaps coincidental series of events.
The major problem was still to be solved. How would those associates having physical possession of the capsule first be able to obtain a precise impression of the coded holosurface for reproduction into a workable, hopefully translatable form while maintaining evasive security? This was an extremely delicate project given that it required highly sophisticated machinery available only in a handful of non-secret laboratories. Further, there was the obvious need to pull this off without attracting the suspicions of colleagues and laboratory management. We were put in touch with a subset of the anonymous network.
This was a painstakingly slow process that wasn't completed until last August, about the same time that we were completing our own plans to remodel the wounded townhouse and put the work up for bids with local contractors. And yes, as mentioned, negotiations with the insurance company had also become a major distraction by this point. Still, we pushed it through and with help from a highly sophisticated reproduction team, we were already looking ahead to the most difficult phase of all, the decoding of a computer generated language that clearly had evolved at a time when there was a major departure from the language code trajectory anticipated at this time. It would be a momentously difficult challenge made harder by having to be pulled off under wraps.
We agreed to approach it the way any high level code breaking project would be structured today. We would throw massive computing power at it. We, of course, could not expect to have access to any of the supercomputing environments in private or public hands.
What followed was so harrowing that I hesitate to make even the cover story public at this point. Unfortunately, if our suspicions are correct, it may have had an ongoing negative spillover on a major related program aimed at interpreting signals coming in from outer space that recently lost its funding.
The Recent Breakdown of Eggn @*****
There are well known techniques for cracking codes. It has been assumed here that these approaches could be used to unravel the multidimensional coding system A servers that have hitherto proved themselves secure from the reach of government and other hostile parties.
A randomly generated shifting group of B***** volunteers agreed to provide the platform for the Eggn @***** project with an estimated 200 teraFLOPS of computing capacity. Unfortunately but by necessity it immediately became at once one of the largest decoding projects ever attempted outside of the control of a government entity. Now, we must report that the somewhat unusual nature of the project caught more than the passing attention of what now appears to be, at the very least, one of the most sophisticated signal tracking agencies on the planet.
We note this because the B***** based Eggn @***** project suffered what can only be described as a neatly targeted attack that brought it to its knees without impacting the numerous parallel projects being carried out by the same CPU's linked into the system. The worm was clearly designed to only attack our project. As a result we suffered complete database corruption. Interestingly, as abruptly as the attack occurred it ceased and we can say not without a certain guardedness that the work of decoding continues, albeit slowly. We are working on ways to authenticate the output while at the same time further hardening our defenses around the location of the capsule.
If you are reading this, we have also proposed a series of boomerang attacks for the mad world.
On November 24 we received word from our pro bono attorneys regarding the ongoing controversy over migration of the cyber coded capsule into analog text. The lawyers tell us that they have proffered a motion to the judge in the case stating the neither the federal government nor Arizona State University has standing in this matter. Neither party has responded to the judge's communication so we have been informed that we can proceed with our work.
Editor's note: The transliteration has been slowed substantially due to abrupt change in code encountered at this point. Simple binary coding has changed to a three dimensional holo-language. This has required a level of computational power available only to state and large organization players. We have been fortunate enough to be allowed to plug into a parallel system that utilizes the idle CPU power of millions of on-line participants thanks to one of our sponsors, A..........
We have just introduced more than 700 new images to our
Carved in Stone series. This time, the photos have all been taken in the
Mediterranean port city of Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona, is of course, an
ancient city ruled and inhabited over time by ancient Iberians, Greeks,
Carthaginians, Romans (as Barcelo) Visigoths (as their capital, Gothalonia) the
Aragons, the Castilians, and sometimes briefly on its own as a place at war with the neighboring
powers in Madrid or to the north in France.
The bones of ancient cities are made of stone: Barcelona, arguably Iberia's
most prosperous and lively city, resists the Castilian kingdom to its south and
west and the French to the north to the secular marrow of those bones. It insists on speaking it's own Romance tongue,
with its own distinctive vowel
sounds, vocabulary and grammar. No surprise then that its architecture,
its open space and even in its historical barrios there is quite little to mark its 600
years of near constant domination by Madrid.
For its newest bones in the post-Franco years the city has reached out to
local and internationally known architects and artists, as if to purposely
reinforce its message of being a progressive, distinct kind of city below the
Pyrenees. The modern story, that dates from the extensive preparations for
its 1986 Olympic hosting, is as impressive as any in Europe and perhaps in the
world. It's a model for urban design and urban renewal that links the city to
metropolises as new as Sydney where beach and urban life merge, Salzburg with
its aerial tram and even more to monumental historic but bustling urban
environments like Paris, where ceaseless car traffic, busy open and indoor
restaurant and cafe space, pedestrian and bicycle flows, varied and plentiful
shopping and speedy underground transport come together in a rich fabric of
attractions for tourists, suburbanites and local inhabitants.
Modern success, yes --but yet what is most uniquely Barcelona harks back to
another period a century earlier when the European pre-Raphaelite, Orientalist
and Art Nouveau movements were
transformed into something Catalonian by the burghers, artists and craftsmen of this city. It was a
highly charged and prosperous moment for the harbor city and Barcelona's
great industrial families were vying to outdo each other in the magnificence of
their homes, institutional patronage and civic projects as well as their
commercial ventures. An entire new part of the city, inland from the
ancient barrios, called the Eixample, had been carved out for this expansion.
There, in an opening to what was going on in other burgeoning parts of
Europe, two distinct Modernism
styles vied for dominance, the one tied to the Jungenstijl/Art Nouveau movement and the
other to a kind of gussied up neo-gothic that emerged in Barcelona with all the austerity of the rococo
period. In the latter, Gothic flourishes were united with all manner of stone
carved figures in these buildings that in the heart of Eixample around the
Rambla de Catalunya often stand cheek to jowl with classic art nouveau inspired
Palau del Baro de Quadras
The Eixample was supposed to be a place of grand boulevards, open spaces and
generous living quarters combined with the new civic refinements of a prosperous
19th century European city. In reality, builders and land speculators often got
the best of the argument. Plans for lush public open spaces and parks were
shelved. However, one unique and fortunate planning innovation was strictly
enforced: a ruling that shaves buildings and sidewalks diagonally at every
corner so that they stand back and face directly out to the missing angle.
Because of these somewhat rounded edges, seen from above, this entire part of
the city looks like strings of amoeba in a Petri dish. The design choice,
extracts a longer walk for pedestrians who must cross well in from the missing
corners but converts each intersection into a small plaza-like area.
The man who is deservedly most associated with Barcelona's first
architectural renaissance is Antoni Gaudí. In a place where Modernism was being given full rein, Gaudí managed to at once combine many of the city';s
most traditional basic building elements, stone, wrought iron, stained glass and tile with a
Nouveau inspired movement that Gaudí quite early on began to convert into
something wholly unique, unrecognisable and, most importantly, his own.
It's a rare moment, indeed, when an architect, who perforce works within the
constraints of public oversight, budget and the dominance of patronage, can move
his craft and art so far from anything being done by any of his contemporaries.
That Gaudí was able to get his work built at all, is something of a conundrum, but that it
occurred not in any of the metropolises most associated with modernist art
movements but instead in a city ruled by hard headed businessmen, is something
that continues to bring amazement to the now millions of pilgrims who visit his sites every
But Gaudí, of humble origins, himself, almost immediately from the time he left school and still in his
twenties, seems to have been able to get
commissions that allowed him a degree of freedom usually not granted even to
architects of great reputation. Even stranger, his patronage often came from the
most traditionally conservative corners of society, churchmen and commercial
oligarchs. Decisive to all this, was his primary and most faithful supporter,
the socially active industrialist, Eusebi Güell, whose backing and patronage led to some of Gaudi's most creative work.
It can be said Gaudí never designed a conventional edifice, even when he was still
following somewhat the precepts that bind all fledgling architects. His graduating
project, much more constrained than anything he later built, was given the
lowest possible passing grade as he left school. Still, just a couple of years
later, you'd say, impossibly, he is being put in charge of a project to build
Europe's last major cathedral!
While still in his early thirties, he was
given the assignment to build a villa in the new part of Barcelona for a successful tile and brick
manufacture; the house, La Casa Vicens (1883-88) took five years to build, went way over budget, and nearly bankrupted Vicens in the
process. In this strikingly beautiful house, Gaudi uses
tiles, usually reserved for roofs and interiors, to provide a generous mix of
color and pattern to the facade
Despite the delays and added costs, ever more expansive commissions came his
way. And most importantly, Gaudí had no abiding interest in fantasy or the
exotic for their own sake. There is an evolution in his vision taking place that
transcends the almost aggressive eclecticism that first seems an integral part of his tool box. For an austere
church school project, at the Collegio Terrisano, he extended and arranged the typical gothic
elyptic arch until it came to resemble a line of comfortably stretched legs the
students and nuns would pass through on their way to and from class. It
could be argued that the makeover of a large habitation he did on Passeig de
Gracia, La Casa Batlló, (1904-6) as extended as the metaphor might be, is one of
the most beautiful examples of Art Nouveau architecture to be found any where,
and all without really adhering to the usual Nouveau conceits.
Organically, the carved window frames hint at the delicacy of finger bones.
while more undulating interior areas evoke a kind of fleshy intimacy. And a
little later, just a block away and on the other side of the street, Gaudi built
his Casa Milà (1906-10), almost as a repudiation. The Barcelonans called
it La Perdrera, or stone pile, but rather than gravity bound, the large
building appears more organically poised to grow above the corner it occupies
La Casa Batlló, (1904-6)
La Casa Milà (1906-10)
Gaudi worked from sketches and models and seemed to eschew standard
drafting guides for construction. And then, armed with
those drawings and sketches, he remained on the work site, more like a stage
director of actors (in his case, the craftsmen and builders), allowing himself to make
daily decisions on all manner and degree of detail and direction.
Tile on Benches in Parc Güell's Central Square
That Gaudí loved the qualities of stone, brightly colored tile, stained
glass, and worked iron --his father's
craft-- is undeniable but what also becomes clear as he manages to move to
execute commissions that seem to unleash him from all customary restraints, like Casa Milà, Parc Güell and the Sagrada Familia
cathedral, is his growing compulsion to exploit the plasticity, nonlinear
qualities of these elements --in the case of inherently flat tiles, he has them
cracked to form a contoured, scale-like effect-- to achieve the qualities of
organic growth. Visionary nanoscientists, today, project a wholly new form of
construction, in which objects are "grown" on an atomic level, rather than
forged or molded in traditional manners. Gaudí seems to have come to the same kind of thinking, not, of course, that
he could literally grow molecules from atoms but that the shapes and forms that stem from
nature's means of creation and growth, the extended, curved ellipsis, the
trunk or bone, the helix and double helix, should
become the basic building blocks of a nonrectilinear architectural practice.
Wall in Parc Güell
Art Nouveau allowed for undulation, for flowers and vines, for an escape from
the right angle but Gaudí used this as a springboard to an architecture that
ultimately has little or nothing to do with the grace or frivolities of Nouveau. He is
studying the way pre-deciduous and deciduous trees support their growth, how seeds develop and open,
natural metamorphosis, and in fauna, the way nature builds a
cockle shell, how bones, shaped for their particular function, act as a
fundamental structural element, etc. Nowhere, in his organic studies, does he
find a right angle. Nature's order, you can imagine him thinking, abhors that
same straight line that had increasingly shackled builders in an
industrial, repetitive age. For his cathedral sized Sagrada Familia church, his great and
still unfinished project, Gaudí took it upon himself to live his work
practically without a fixed script,
budget or, even a single patronage holding the trump card of the purse strings. From
the outset, the church was to be paid for by voluntary subscription. And often
that meant little or no building activity from months or years at a stretch. Gaudí
sketched his vision, built his maquettes but in his work study there was no typical architect's
drafting table and tools. Instead he built experimental models with string
and tiny bags of sand to test how stress might be distributed across a structure
that had a minimized dependence on the standard piers, arches and keystones, the
genius releasing but ultimately limiting ingredients used by the great Gothic
master stone builders to achieve the great predecessors..
Gaudí, the bachelor, had a very restricted personal life. As a young man
he was even something of a dandy. But his projects
emerged all consuming so that for the last decade of his life, which he
dedicated exclusively to the Sagrada Familia, he often slept on the work site and ultimately so
neglected his personal appearance that when he was tragically killed as a
pedestrian struck by a tram, this most famous of Barcelonans by reputation, was assumed to have been a homeless
derelict. A taxi driver, called over by witnesses, expecting no payment, refused to carry him to the
hospital. In truth, having an aversion to society and the camera, few
people actually knew what the renowned man looked like. Only a search for him that ended in a
hospital ward several days later,
allowed the city to learn of the fate of their missing master builder. He died,
refusing to be transferred out of the public ward. His municipal funeral, was perhaps the
largest ever given in the city for any man or dignitary. He was laid to
rest in his still very unfinished church.
But in some ways these cruel last hours were only a prelude to the unkindness the 20th Century would lay
upon his memory. Just a decade after his death, the politics of Catalonia, Spain and
Europe fell like an executioner's ax on his great project. Barcelona was
quickly becoming the center of the movement for secular freedom in Spain as the forces of reaction gathered in Madrid
to squash the fledgling republic.
For the oppressed in Spain in 1936, just as in France in 1789 when
statues of saints surrounding cathedral portals, were beheaded , the union of the Church and the
counter-revolutionaries headed by Franco was a fact of harsh reality. The revolutionaries who gathered in
Barcelona turned their wrath towards that Church and the unfinished but already
dominating spires of the Sagrada Familia, became a prime symbol of retrograde
repression. The work site was stormed and looted, many of the
models, sketches and other materials and instructions that Gaudí had left behind for his disciples were
smashed and burned.
The pendulum, of course, has swung, far from the traumatic philosophical,
aesthetic, social battles and disastrous physical torments that Europe
experienced, particularly in the first half of the Twentieth Century. First Hitler and
Mussolini, who had sent troops and aid to put down the Spanish Republic and Barcelona's
own hopes, were swept away even as Franco, now an anachronism, lingered.
In architecture, the sleek, linear and all functional model of the "European
School" gradually was eclipsed by a post modern
sensibility, open to shapes that reject a rectilinear reality. Gaudí's more
advanced work, controversial even in his own city, is now seen in a new light,
perhaps even as a beacon to what might come.
Unfortunately this new found popularity comes with a dear price. There are great
crowds and lines to stand in at the Sagrada Familia site. Inside, it's possible to see workers
using molds and toxic smelling, stone looking materials to speed the construction of the nave, if you look hard enough. The later spires built after Gaudí's death have
a more Disneyesque quality than the ones he oversaw, and the choice of
sculpture made for the adornment of the post Gaudi west facade, has a
grotesque cubist quality that seems antithetical to Gaudí's vision.
Sagrada Familia, sculpture by Josep Subirachs
Fortunately, for visitors to Barcelona, there is a more pleasing and contemplative
way to get to know Gaudí. To view, experience and absorb
in leisure this unique artist's work, it is advised to make a trip to
the heights of the city where Parc Güell dominates one of its most
beautiful prospects. Here, Gaudí created a natural relationship with native
plant life, piled and
carved stone, and particularly with the special colors, shapes and forms that
make up the designs of local tile makers working in what seems to a tradition of
freedom from more European stylistic modes. The park is the Gaudí gem that
has not been overtaken the way the cathedral has and the way Barcelona, itself, as a
destination city has, by the over-embrace of tourists. The Parc combines, nature, growth, climate, art and
tradition in a way that a building never could.
The Gothic City
For ancient places, forgotten or renowned, buried stone and shard are often
the only relics from which tales can still be told. From the banks of the Nile to the gentle
slopes of Crete to the quais on the
Tiber, the glyph sites on Avon, the lush plains of Amazonia, high peaks of the
Andes, jungles of Anghor Wat, these places are known to the present by their carved stone
remnants. More sophisticated or often, mirror civilizations with more organic
artifacts remain forgotten and forever passed over. In ancient times, edifices,
monuments, even walls were torn down or overbuilt to erase or encapsulate the memories of
monarchs, cities, creeds and entire civilizations. In a reversal of eternity, heretical kings and
pharaohs, or the merely vanquished of battles and kingdoms, are defaced to
history's black hole.
Under a modern, thriving city like Barcelona, there are traces that no doubt
go back well beyond the days when Greek, Carthaginian, Roman or Moorish
colonizer walked; their ramparts, palaces and forums.In some
places the Roman walls of Barcino are open for display.
But for the living, its is the
descendants of the Visigoth armies who provided the architectural vision and
influence that make the old heart of the city the most southern of truly Gothic places. That Barcelona stands apart from the other united kingdoms of
Iberia is apparent in its stubborn allegiance to its unique, Catalonian
identity. Catalonia, the word, we learn is merely the way Gothalonia has
come to be pronounced through the ages.
And for a brief period, under its patron, Jaume of Aragon, this was a port
city rivaling Genoa and Venice in the Tyrrhenian for power and trade dominance.
Its symbol then was of St. George slaying the dragon. The city has traditionally found its
prosperity not in military dominance on sea or land but in its industry, craft and
trade. Some of its greatest recent bursts of expansion can be directly linked to
international fairs or sports gatherings. Barcelona is not a city of great
palaces, or even magnificent church buildings but instead, fittingly, of a
multitude of places dedicated to
every day pleasure and toil. For this moment in time, it seems to have taken a whimsical
statue of a lizard at the foot of the entrance stairway to Parc Guell as its