This Mythic session is a continuation of the Taverna Glass session run some time ago. This time there were three of us playing: Simon, Todd and me. Todd was new to Mythic, but is an experienced Matrix gamer, so we were confident he could handle the system. Our faith was well placed. Todd came up with many great points that expended our understanding of the world we were exploring and amplified other areas that Simon and I had missed.
We used Brewer’s as an ink-blot ideas generator, but this time felt that it did not add much. There are many possible reasons for this. One may be that we failed to provide ourselves with clear enough objectives and so had no focus around which to create the next steps. Another may be that we are simply not experienced yet in Mythic to be able to turn any old hair into a thread of gold. I also deeply suspect that Mythic is an intimately social experience, driven as much by how the participants are feeling on the day as it is by consistent utilisation of ‘best practice’ free-form techniques.
In any case, the session progressed well, and produced many new threads, and again challenged our perceptions.
We were in a library on our destination planet, researching our new found interest in the author, Taverna Glass. It was a holiday, an event where this new building was opened as a memorial to the Author. The building was an impressive pile, being apparently made entirely of glass. Every wall and ceiling was a glass or crystal structure and the intelligence that motivated the library system was imbedded in this substrate. We could merely think of a topic and the system would appreciate our desire and present that data directly to our minds where it would appear as self-animated daydreams. Images floated before us, paired with sounds and smells and we could relax and defocus into the experience, or continue on with normal activity and enjoy it as peripheral event. This was total technological emersion at work. No machines or artificial devices of any kind interfered with the exchange. There was no sense of separateness from the device that motivated the system, or even the material at hand. Here, as in the immersive book, the mind of the individual could seamlessly be incorporated into a greater whole without alerting the primitive mind to the illusion.
Simon, as usual, was disturbed by this realisation.
Technology now operates at this continual seamless level. There are no ‘machines’ or ‘interfaces’. Where such technology exists it is so thoroughly pervasive and stable that it is not noticed by the users. One no longer ‘goes to get anything’. It is immediately and abundantly available for the asking. The economy of production and consumption is so thoroughly integrated with technology and culture that rules of usage are described mostly by manners, rather than by some intermediary moderating capacity to possess (in other words: money has been superseded).
The motivating intelligence behind this abundance also works in concert with ordinary human behaviour and processing style to ensure that ‘nothing is ever forbidden’, while at the same time ensuring standards of safety. For example: the doorway to the reactor room is there, in plain sight, available to anyone and everyone who might want to walk through it. However only those who have a specific interest or ‘need to know’ will be drawn to it, or even notice it. Just as we now only pay attention to those things that interest us, editing out all the peripheral or spurious information, the system consciously ‘knows our mind’ and works with this instinctive pre-processing mechanism to de-feature those areas of reality that we should have no interest in. As Simon would put it, the system hides things in plain sight. As Todd and I saw it, it is a practical way of ensuring safety and reducing cognitive clutter in a complex technological world while denying nothing to anyone who knows what questions to ask.
And so we interacted with the library, experiencing a biographical article about Taverna Glass in which we learnt of an early love affair he enjoyed. The reference was ‘to give a girl a green dress’ indicating a somewhat spontaneous and naturalistic event. The girl in question was identified as Vino Ludd, and we further estabished that she would be very old now, if not already dead. Though unverifyable we suspected that there may have been a child from this encounter.
This was interesting, but what of it? As we chewed this over we became aware that we were being watched. Each of us had noticed a man in antiquated clothes observing us from different vantage points (several rooms away – the place was glass). We tried to pursue him through the crystaline maze but he eluded us. Cleverly, Simon decided to use the library’s system to take a photo of the man from a vantage point close to him. Here, too, we considered the notions of privacy in this society. Anyone could record an image for personal use, store it in a personal ‘account’ in the worldwide data storage system, and share it with friends just by mentally calling it up an ‘telepathically’ sending it directly into their minds.
No problem. Simon did this: but we were stunned to find that the image was blurred. This was astounding, shocking, almost obscene. Simon and Todd found it incomprehensible until I explained, being a scholar who had read widely, that in past centuries there were military devices that might cause such an effect. But who would use such a barbaric device today? we asked ourselves. Who would want to keep secrets? We shuddered at the word.
Next day we met at a restaurant to discuss the matter. We were momentarily surprised to find that the place was full. Usually whenever any of us had walked into a place there was room. Perhaps, we concluded, this was part of the cognitive filtering that went on naturally. Under normal circumstances we voluntarily decided not to enter restaurants that were already plainly full. Simon was predicably apalled by the suggestion that he was not in control of his destiny. I was a little more worried that that the system did not seem to be working at the moment and I was faced with the embarrassment of asking for something that could not be given. How gauche. But then a table did become available and we gratefully sat.
Even before we had a chance to order, another customer entered, created a terrible scene (so embarrassing for her, the staff and for us), and then lobbed onto our table. She was an outworlder. A merchant. A visitor taking a break from the war raging at home on Beta Carotine between ‘us’ and the ‘alien invaders’. This was too much for us. The outer planets appeared to be run on different lines. What does a merchant do? We were at war? What aliens? We even have a military?
There was something compelling about her. Perhaps it was her competence. Perhaps her aggressive sexuality. Perhaps it was the thrill of discovering something so tantalisingly different. Whatever it was, we followed her suggestion to see some of the sights of town and allowed ourselves to be guided outside. Our thrill turned to terror as we again saw the man in the blurred photo. He headed towards us across the plaza, hovering a short distance above the ground on some device. And worst of all: no one else seemed to take any notice!
Unbidden, we ran. And while we ran she talked and talked. Talked about rubbish, really, but it kept our minds occupied…
Once in possession of these gifts the woman’s manner changed. She told us that the Blurred Man worked for The Agency, an organisation we’d never heard of. The military, and all other organs of what might be called a government system, operated on a volunteer basis. When a person has the aptitude and the interest in a paticular vocation the opportuities arise for them to gravitate towards people with similar tastes. Thus, the military (just to take an example) is a ‘group’ of people who have a taste for going to uncomfortable places in high adrenaline situations and gambling their lives in mortal combat. This ‘Agency’ doubtless operated the same way, but we had no idea what it was that they did.
She told us to meet a bicycle courier the next day to receive the next part of our instructions. “But what is this about?” we asked her. Taverna Glasses book was dangerous. By reading it we came into possession of the first part of a coded message or instruction set. The second part we accidentally (?) got when we accessed that biographical piece. This has been noticed. Dangerous to who? Is the Blurred Man protecting us, or society, or is he out to kill us so we don’t pass on the supposed intellectual contagion? And who could have such a monstrous plan as murder anyway? Why were we having such disturbing thoughts? We didn’t know.
Why not pull the book? Because it is in the public record and to remove it would only attract attention. Better to monitor anyone who showed signs of beng infected by its ideas.
The gifts we know owned were shields, like the Blurred Man’s, that shielded our thoughts from the system. Why old we want to shield ourselves from the sytem? More qustions to which we had no answer.
Next day there was a parade. The streets were crowded. Through the throng we saw the approaching courier. But beforewe could reach him, two men who were dressed just like the Blurred Man snatched him. By the time we eached the spot here was no sign of them or him.
And there, more or less, was where we left the adventure: our comfortable world vew shattered. As Todd observed, the universe was broken. What appeared to be a simple easy life was revealed to have layers of complexity that we had never suspected.