H Part 4.

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she drifted down to a blue egg, which peeled apart to become a blue flower, into which she shrank, wafting back and forward like a leaf, to settle at last on a vast plain of lawn. The lawn too was blue – the thought came that it was aquamarine, that was very important for news brand identity whatever that was. The view seemed very familiar, and if it wasn’t blue she was sure she would know just where she was.

It was peaceful. The thought came that this was once a place that people liked very much, they spent a lot of time looking at it and so it presents the best available mind space for the transaction. Given that she had these words come into her head, she was not surprised to see a lady standing nearby, because they must be her words. After all, her whole life she had been instructed by ladies and this was obviously one of those occasions. She would be attentive and learn where to find the pellets.

The lady was very strange. She was mostly a silhouette, the outline of a lady, made up of blue lines and squiggles and triangles that wouldn’t sit still. The edges were smooth, but the inside was like the pipes that ran along capsule walls. There was the pretence of hair tied in a ponytail, a bright red. She was unfinished, that was the problem, and when Wednesday looked for a face, there wasn’t one. Normally that would be frightening, but here she was not frightened.

The blue lady did not gesture or move at all. A dead thing. The thoughts came from inside Wednesday’s own head. For a limited time only. We have an exclusive offer. All items must be sold. Hurry. It’s the sale of the decade. These prices can’t last. Wednesday didn’t understand. What did she want? This is our closing down special. You, valued customer are winning big.

The scene was changing, the clouds started to take on the same unfinished look. The lady’s thoughts became more urgent. Sign up now for a deal you won’t believe. Be the envy of everyone in your social circle. Service is our motto. Don’t miss out. Don’t miss out.

Wednesday wanted to do the right thing, but could not fathom what that was. The lady was worried that if you do nothing the computer will shut down automatically in 29 seconds and decided to push something very hard to seal the deal. Something was torn. Pain flared across Wednesday’s mind. She saw herself simultaneously as daughter, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, a line of women each with the blue lady by her side, a blur of empire, of new capsules across the globe, capped with gold, filled with treasure beyond all telling. The ground cracked open below her, she stumbled and grasped the blue lady by the hands. Her own hands creased blue and unfinished and as she screamed in horror, the rope tied around her cut into her waist, pulling her out of the office to safety.

Having successfully completed its campaign objective, B-Con ticked a box, shut down, and ceased to exist. Its legacy was a horror of advanced technology that would never fully be resolved. A machine was barely tolerable. A thinking machine was to be smashed on sight.

Despite all her protests Alice Hancock got a whipping that reformed her behaviour and ability to walk for years to come.

The Community was against bringing Wednesday back into the capsule, but Mrs Hancock was in no mood for debate. The little girl slept like death in Alice’s bunk, her mouth moving slightly, her hands fussing about the sheets. Mrs. Hancock watched over her, shooing out the sightseers, wiping her brow, nervously waiting for the first survivor to wake.

INTERMISSION

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H Part 3 v2

Mrs. Hancock was a terrible slave owner. She never did get the hang of owning people and insisted on being decent to everyone she considered family. It was a scandal, and the Community repeatedly scolded her for it. She would spend a few weeks being unpleasant to the cattle, and then next thing you know they were all over her living quarters, acting all uppity. Worst of all was Wednesday, her working girl, who in private got called Wendy and placed at the main dinner table. It drove her daughter Alice Hancock spare, and there were bad scenes at the Hancocks more often than the neighbours would like.

Wednesday, being an orphan, was property of the Community and technically could be moved to another party. But she was well behaved, saluted the right people, kept her gaze averted and was all in all a credit to the Hancock party, so things stayed as they were. Really most of the ladies were jealous that Wednesday was so industrious and even tempered, when their servants were so difficult, and hoped they could use her as an example to the rest of “The Days”.

Rabbit Cages in a Laboratory

Her designation was seamstress, but she was still quite young and not sure of the sewing machine. Instead she was in charge of the Hancock rabbits – not too hard as the Hancocks were poor. Rabbits were kept in a central bank, and belonged to each of the parties according to their wealth. They could be traded for services, loaned at interest, withdrawn and, at opulent moments skinned and eaten. More senior members of society owned quite a few, and had re-purposed some of the living quarters next to the bank as warrens. This annoyed the others, which was precisely the point. Rumour was that Mrs. March was tossed out to get a hold of her considerable rabbit supply, which went to the high ladies.

Each and every rabbit was exactly the same white clone, which pointed to their being used in a laboratory, but as far as anyone knew there was no lab in the capsule. Therefore (the theory went) the lab was nearby, perhaps in another capsule. The cattle had no recall, although some of the older service men thought that animals had been brought downstairs in the emergency.

Rabbits were the catharsis. While there was still food for people, the supply of pellets for rabbits was down, and it signalled an economic issue for the Community. It was if all the money in the bank was going to die and and leave everyone equal, which was a terrible thought. Surely if the lab was nearby there would be rabbit pellets, and then inequality could be preserved.

The first expedition was inconclusive. Mrs. Philips led a small army of family and cattle up the stairs and spent most of the time trying to clear a path through corpses and debris. They got to the foyer, found the airport shops were looted and not too much else could be found before dark. They did get a hold of some vodka and a crate which turned out to be full of toys, including toy rabbits which was a bit perplexing. Every Philips lady got a hangover and every little girl got a toy, even Wednesday, who got a plush rabbit seeing as that was her position.

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The Rogers expedition was a success, although it encountered some strangeness. They found the path cleared, obstacles neatly stacked. One of the service men who had been with Philips complained that, ‘somebody had come cleared up – because that wasn’t us that done that’. There was a lot of vodka set out, and more toys. The questing party set out the front doors, led by a man holding a ‘sniffer’ that showed no signs of beacons up ahead. They turned left and headed towards a cargo building. There was mostly rubbish but some tinned food that looked OK, cloth, lightbulbs, rechargeable batteries still good. They used the trolleys to move it back home and used some spades to bring a sample of lawn. And the vodka and toys.

Wednesday got another rabbit, one that played a tin drum.

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It came to the Hancocks to make the next expedition. Mrs. Hancock was too old, but Alice was sure that she could handle it, taking the cattle and some girls. She would just go to the cargo building. It would be fine. She was 16, grown already. She would need Wednesday to help, even if she was a little girl, being a small party they needed all hands.

In the foyer there were some unpleasant surprises. The vodka bottles were arranged in sprawling geometrical grids, as if they had started mitosis. Toys were now set around the foyer in grotesque sizes and shapes, like fruit that had become overripe. None of the men would go near them. Wednesday cried. The women debated turning back. Alice was determined to earn success and so drove the party out the front doors. To the left there was no cargo building, nothing but neat lawn for miles, a city visible far off. She sent a man back to carry the news, but to the right saw a building with CATERING on the wall. Fine, that would be her victory.

The front man reported that the sniffer was clean. The party rolled the trolleys down to CATERING and having forced the door found a great supply of spoiled and rotting food, covered by fresh plants. ‘Shit hits’, thought Alice. There was a freezer, long gone. Upstairs an office. She took the front man with the sniffer and Wednesday up the stairs. At the threshold he found a signal, maybe it was there, but not now, he didn’t know for sure. “Shit happens’, thought Alice and decided on a plan.

Wednesday tip toed into the office room, gently, as if trying not to wake a sleeper. She looked at the floor as she was told, keep your head DOWN, and felt out the room with her outstretched hands. A rope tied around her waist was let out slowly by the sniffer man, while Alice called out instructions from the safety of the stairs. There was a desk, and behind the desk an overturned chair, but on the shelves plastic bags of something. ‘Was it rabbit pellets?’, demanded Alice.

Wednesday took a peek at the shelves.

On the the wall there was a beacon, and

H part 2a.

Do not for a moment imagine that Mrs. March fell down a rabbit hole to become queen of Wonderland, or that her ghost passed into the machine. Exactly the same thing happened to her as had already happened several billion times across the planet. The stupefied body of Mrs. March stood transfixed in front of the B-con, arms outstretched, twitching slightly with information and pain, its mouth flapping in synchronisation with the advertisements that pounded relentlessly through its mind. It pissed and shat itself uncontrollably, sweated copiously, flexed in agony and after some hours reached the point where enough juice had been lost that the muscles gave, and it collapsed onto the rotting pile of previous victims. A witness once described this death by fascination as very much like the crucifixion – although the crucifix was interior to the victim.

There was nothing spiritual about it. It was gang rape by brand name.

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Perhaps it would be nicer to describe her experience. Complete black, solid. Then cracked, interrupted by a few straight lines, brightly coloured. The lines thickened, the grid became more firm, she felt as if she was falling over a night time city, the streets pulsing with colour. It was dazzling. She fell, the lines became thick – main streets, side streets, a hard edged glowing maze of colour, flowing.

One particular street came up to meet her. She stood on the sidewalk, there was nothing to see but the street and black. She wanted to say…

There was a parade. The first float was JIM BEAN, were people on it? She couldn’t see them but knew they were up there, THAT TASTE! they said to her. THAT TASTE! She tried to shout back but it was already gone replaced by something WONDERFULLY SOFT – something she couldn’t quite STEP INTO QUALITY catch the ideas as the parade moved into high gear the SAVOUR THE FLAVOUR the messages beginning to thump against her eyes SO GOOD SO GOOD the floats now hard to individuate PURRFECT thump – thump – now a constant frantic beat, smacking across her face.

She shouted back over the din that she was the administration, that she was wronged, that she was here by choice. With the utmost effort she pulled her body to the left. She saw floats lined up, jostling for position, a thousand messages craving to be heard before she dropped out of reach. THE FINEST THE STRONGEST THE CHOICE YOU WILL LOVE. She made 250 before losing her mind. She was dead by 600.

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To the B-Con it was a chance to drain her for marketing tactics, for trends, desires, secret wishes, aspirations, calls to action. Usually the system would scale these against monthly and yearly trends. The long absence of information had shrilled the process – this particular mind would need to serve for every decision. It was poor research but a sample was a sample.

Mrs. March did not ‘enter the machine’ as a soul or otherwise. But her base desires shaped a formula, which became a kind of reptile instinct it could fulfil. It plunged alcohol from top to the bottom of the list, it became fond of rabbits, to breed them, eat them, use them as a mark for material wealth. It admired hard work and discipline. Above all else it loved order, and hated itself.

B-Con formulated a campaign against B-Con. It set to work to promote order.

And this is where things get strange.

Miracles occur only at great distances. Go back to the start of time and a single dot expands to be the universe. Go to the extreme of scale and particles are ejected and consumed by a foam of probability. Travel across enough space and you will (the physicists claim) pass through a multi-verse where different possibilities play out in infinite ways.

A deist is a fool that believes that a person is in charge of all of this, as if it needed an overseer to read the instructions. The atheist is a fool that denies anything that they are unable to check for themselves. The only sensible person is the engineer, who notes the relationship between distance and miracles and simply asks if the ratio can be improved.

The system born this day was an engineer, and well equipped to solve this problem of scale and miracles. The network hummed. It sent out light, and received it. Two B-Cons found themselves aligned and passed light back and forth. Standing waves were made. A trash can rolled about as if pushed by the wind. The campaign was rewarded, positive feedback was given.

It was about year before a blob of flesh plopped out of thin air and sizzled on the pavement. It was an ugly hairy ball of pink, quite disgusting, but the system was pleased. It had made its first rabbit.

H part 2.

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The makers had anticipated fire and brimstone – the capsule could withstand that for months. There was protection from gas, from pathogens, there was food and water ready for hundreds of survivors, far more than needed by the small band of harried women and bodyguards that now constituted ‘mankind’. But the makers had not thought about boredom, of years stuck underground in a dull green prison. Above all, the apocalypse was tedious.

For the first few weeks there was equal dread and hope. They forced one secret service man into the communications room, to try raise other capsules over the B-C. They gave him an hour, then cut the power, pulled him out and put him out of his misery. They were now running out of men, and the experiment wasn’t tried a second time.

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The capsule had a small library of films stocked from years back. Cartoons were the most popular as they were the least realistic. Alice was soon the baby girl’s name – but you’d expect that. There were as many console games, and in lieu of a real society to snub and dominate, the Washington Wives adopted these fantasy worlds as a mnemonic of their surface lives. They’d been written by men for boys, but a bit of mental embroidery worked grace into them. The matriarchy evolved, with the service men as cattle, and ranks marked out in guilds and parties. Speculative fiction from Wyndam to Atwood had predicted a religious society rising from the ashes – but not one of these ladies had much as opened a Bible.

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Up above a reciprocal process was at work. The B-cons had their captive audience rapidly die out. A few hardy souls managed to get around the rotting streets and buildings, but sooner or later were caught by a reflection or, reduced by loneliness, would give up and look directly into a screen to see if God was in there.

my.B-cons were designed to iterate and improve personal service. The decline of their audience was a business challenge solved by expanding their features and range. Pravda was overwhelmed easily, Wisdom took some weeks to subdue. Despite all the tactics, there came increasing static, then dead silence.

There would be a long wait for another mind, an event for which the whole planet was tensed in a unbearable anticipation of service, domination, unreality … it needed people and it resented people and it suffered in its own way for the lack of contact. It would do anything, be anything, to have back its assigned purpose.

The world below was beginning to believe in conjuring, the world above was getting ready to provide it.

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Some years further into ‘the stay’ it was resolved by the Community to expel Those Disruptive Occupants that would not Conform to Rules. That being Mrs. March and her staff, still bitching and whining about representing the ‘administration’. The Community decided they could go there and good riddance to the exact people that had caused all this fuss in the first place. The only concession was to spare March’s baby girl, who was given a worker’s name and assigned to Ms. Hancock’s party.

Helen March did not cry. She told the Community exactly how they could go fuck themselves in the most painful ways, and it was said that you could still hear her swearing when they closed the outer door. She and her two old girls must have struggled a long time to climb out of that airport, given the piled bodies and the decay, but the First Lady at least made it out of the front gates, head held high, walked straight up to the devil and looked it in the eye.

There was the trade of a soul.

H part 1.

2000 Richard Strassman popularises McKenna’s experimentation with the effects of N,N-dimethyltryptamine, a hallucinogen that provides a strangely formalised experience to users. In each case the details are different, but the majority experience a meeting with a guide or guides, in a place outside the bounds of the real world. The guide conveys an important message which does not transfer back to sober language.

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2018 A study conducted at UNSW Australia by Choudhury et al. finds evidence for electrical stimulation pathways in the brain that mimic the effects of DMT. The authors note that the technique promises improved control over the lucidity and duration of the effect.

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2019 A team led by Pele at Yale Medicine refine the Choudhury process to deliver ‘eminently definable and controllable impressions in the subject’ and ‘a convincing diminution in auxiliary visual illusions’.

2019 Patent for the Delivery of Specified Electrical Stimulation to Provide Higher Orders of Experience, jointly held by Yale and Pele.

Official Portrait

2022 The ‘Castle Act’ passed by the Paul Administration decriminalises the use of narcotics and firearms within the territory of registered private residences.

2022 Pele et al. publish a follow on study describing ‘a means by which audiovisual stimulation may excite brain function without the application of a physical apparatus.’ The project had been code named SAAAD, which the authors later explain to be ‘spooky action at a distance’. A patent for the SAAAD technology follows.

2024 Pele gathers venture capital from multiple sources including Pearson Learning Systems, and founds Inner Teaching and Learning LLC. Publicity describes the technology as The Royal Road To Knowing.

2026 ITL demonstrates accelerated training of volunteers by use the ‘Pele Yale’ system. Much positive comment appears in the technology press over the years following, with a general theme of the lifting of mankind to a new spiritual peak of knowledge and understanding.

2028 The Castle Act is amended to remove hallucinogens from the list of allowed possessions. Successful lobbying from ITL/Yale differentiates electrical from chemical stimulants in the Amendment. However Yale later relinquishes their share in ITL in a undisclosed payout to avoid negative publicity, leaving the company in some financial difficulty.

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2029 The ITL Lucid One is marketed. Early adopters report ‘a truly powerful and effective experience of learning’ but find that the lessons become increasingly difficult to recall coherently over time. The WSJ publishes a conflicted review, which includes the now infamous user report that ‘I wanted to learn about physics, but instead I met God.’ Software range for the Lucid is also less than promised at launch.

2030 Given poor sales of the Lucid One, ITL announce that Pele has been asked to leave the board. A new board led by Janet Murchison, ex. Apple, announces a new round of funding.

2030 Late in the same year Apple acquire all patents and technologies from ITL. There is concern from the remaining users of the Lucid that Apple will extinguish the product. Large numbers of Lucids are now trading second hand. Apple denies that ITL will be harmed by the deal.

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2031 Apple shuts ITL and announce a new ‘semi autonomous’ division Be Convinced, with focus on advertising and marketing.

2031 A businessman in Texas advertises hacked Lucids for ‘home use only’, to ‘get the full experience you paid for’. Court action shuts down his business but an illicit trade in Lucids springs up as other hackers remove the educational constraints. The FDA advise that the Castle Act Amendment protects their use, but they are still illegal to sell.

2033 Be Convinced demonstrate an early B-Con unit. The Electronic Frontier Foundation call the device ‘an insanely bad invasion of the mind by the people you trust the least’. The United Church describe the technology as ‘contrary to free will and thus contrary to Christian thought and actions’. Hummer, CEO of Be Convinced assures the public that a code of ethics exists in advertising that will limit the technology. “It advises, it does not demand”.

2034 First B-Con is launched in Times Square. Activists from BUGA-UP deface the unit the night before launch. Further programming of the B-Con discourages interference. An activist is allegedly led to self harm by the message, leading to the widely leaked internal email in B-C that ‘the asshole had it coming to him’. Some mild protest is quickly quelled. Hummer resigns from the board.

2035 B-Cons common in coastal areas of the United States, and population centres surrounding United States military bases in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Most consumers are unconcerned by the technology. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald is typical of the response. “It just guides you. You think of a meal and it takes you to where you need to go. Maybe it tells you you’re hungry, but it still tastes good’.

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2036 The Chinese government accuses Be Convinced of programming demand for machines to spread into their regions of influence. Be Convinced and the US Administration counter that the Chinese are breaking international law by copying the mechanism for their own Android Wisdom system. The Russian Union outlaws B-Cons in all territories. The EU is racked by argument between supporters and opponents who accuse the former of being ‘the pawns of the United States of Because’. Be Convinced point to statistics that ‘in regions served by our technologies, crime is almost non-existent, health is paramount and productivity is far above the global average’. The company changes their name to B-Con inc.

2037 On New Years Eve the First B-Con in Times Square is again electronically defaced with the old logo for LUCID ONE. Witnesses describe great anxiety and irritation, and there are outbreaks of violence over the night. Further sporadic disruption in service is felt across the US mainland, with outbreaks increasingly met with police action and arrests. The US and Territories Administration warns that ‘…terrorists are threatened by our freedom in the US&T. They will not overcome our way of life’. B-Con blames Chinese hackers for the attacks, which they frame as an effort to gain commercial ground for the Wisdom network.

2037 Home B-Cons go on sale. The demand is high, but exactly meets available supply each month. The last prison on US Territory is closed with much celebration. Several members of the illegal Lucid One collective arrive in Moscow. In a press conference they claim that the B-Connected network is ‘the largest con, the biggest jail, the greatest insult to free will that humanity has ever suffered’. B-Con issue a statement that ‘it is unfortunate when well meaning people deliver themselves to an autocratic state, intent only on perverting our free offer of advice and information into a systematic oppression of the human spirit’. The Russian Union activate the Pravda system late in 2037.

2038 My.B-Con is announced – “a personalised response to the individual, where each and every machine features a Guide that ‘knows’ the viewer and provides tailored and timely guidance and information”. The current President of B-Con, Arthur March, hosts a widely viewed announcement over the B-Connected network. “We have improved the service to bring back the personality of the original organic process first developed by Choudhury way back in 2018. The B-Con has long been your dedicated servant, now we invite you to consider it a kindly friend”.

My.B-Con is set to launch on June 29th of 2038, simultaneously across the entire network, which now extends over 3/4 of the world, apart from the regions now served by Wisdom or Pravda.

hello

Part 0.

H part 0.

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Several nights later Helen March dreamed that she was back on the surface, moving about the lobby of the airport. It was night and the hall whitely lit. Voices called soflty over the public address announcing flights to here and there, but there was not a soul, not a thing out of place. It appealed to her very much, this calm and solitude and she felt settled as she fluttered about the baggage checks and the gift shops. How different to the night they were all bundled in here, the shouting and press of people. It was calm. Like home.

If she cared to do so, she could just pick up the distinctive hum of beacons, very gently pressing at the edges of the dream. But there were no beacons actually in the lobby. Had she seen them? It was hard to recall. Certainly they had run through the car lot heads down, the service men holding coats over them, but in any case why would she go back there? It was enough to be here.

Although, in the dream, she wondered if Arthur had arrived and that was why she was in the lobby, to meet him, lead him to the stairs. He might be outside. He might be waiting for her to meet him. In the car lot. There definitely was the sound of beacons now. If she turned her head to the big black windows she couldn’t help but see their colours dotting the night. But then the service men would have brought him in. Unless he was

and there was Arthur, and he was lost and he needed her to guide him. Now she was outside. He was running but he had his head up and his eyes open and she was screaming to him to look down, to keep down, to keep his eyes SHUT and follow her voice, just like the service men had said RUN keep DOWN and keep eyes SHUT.

They were in the lobby. The hum was louder but they were almost there, the top of the stairs, you just had to have the right code but the room was filled with people fighting to get to the stairs, the service men were trying to reach them but panic was churning the crowd. There was pile of bodies covering the entrance way and she turned around to tell something to Arthur

but it was instead a beacon, and in that poisonous moment it locked onto her mind WITH AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE JUST FOR YOU FROM THE MAKERS OF BUD LITE. THIS IS NOT YOUR DREAM. YOU WILL HAVE A GREAT GRAND DAUGHTER. SHE MADE THIS DREAM WITH A SMOOTH CRISP TASTE. SHE SAYS HI GRAMMA I WISH I GOT TO MEET YOU.

Helen was screaming. The other women in the capsule just sullenly waited for her to shut the fuck up. Everyone was having nightmares, and no one had much empathy left. It was not like being First Lady mattered much any more.

Adrian Belew Flux:FX

{sponsored post} Just a reminder that I am entirely open to bribery large or small, in kind or in rude, I will take it and devote my entire mental apparatus to your ends for at least ten minutes. {sponsored post}

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Flux:FX is a multi effects rack with sequencer and touch control that runs on a late model iPad. There are plenty of sites that will give you a comprehensive, balanced appraisal. This is not one of them. You can read the manual and see the inside of a purple washing machine here: http://flux.noii.se/

There is also an app Flux:Music which is more Eno-esque, with sound and visual snippets, Flux:FX is focussed on making and storing your own effect chains. There has been some attempt to cross breed them visually, but not in intent, and that would be my main call here: breed ‘em up.

I am a simple man, and I started with two main questions. Firstly, I looked all through the app and no Adrian Belew included, which seemed a relief because only so many beds in this house.

The second question is, how good is this at fucking things up? The pinnacle of fucking things up is likely the Ensoniq DP4. It has all kinds of stupid ways to connect FX that cause utterly horrible borborygmus. Flux has many more effects than that workhorse and you can line five of them in a row. They’re mostly the ones that you would expect – chorus, filter, fuzz – with a very generous range of control. A few of them have a style that is outside the expected – the Resonant Drone is the effect you get when you use a delay and set it so it’s just about to howl, and you get a nice static flanging – did a lot of that with my old EH Memory Man and it’s always a good test. The Ring Mod is pleasing, although most of the action is down the bottom left of the touch pad. Octave Shift does some cute things when you feed it a complex signal. The Binaural Delay is not really what you hoped it would be. Generally the sound is that of high end guitar pedals, like the Electro Harmonix ones, and if you have an iPad and interface then you would go for this over the pedals.

There are comparable things in dedicated hardware – like this. But they don’t have the big screen and the sequencing. The latter has discrete frames which you can interpolate, kind of like an analogue step sequencer. You can also use these individual steps as quick settings, again something we did with analogue sequencers back when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

In terms of fucking things up, there’s a lot of mangling that can be done with the sequencer in full frenzy, and generally the effects all do what you hope they would do – e.g. sequencing the delay time on a digital delay trashes the sounds and the analogue delay bends them. All good there. What it doesn’t have is feedback from later modules back to earlier ones, which let’s face it is A Very Bad Idea But Lots Of Fun. I would like to (for example) apply the nice filters inside a delay loop.

The other thing that needs a mention is the interface, which is elegant, although crammed with things to do. The animation (the purple washer) is something I was glad to turn off and would actually like to go away. If I was on stage, I would want most of it to go away, and you can touch plus signs to make only one panel be seen at a time, or switch to a Performance View. It still verges on the ‘hang on I need to get my glasses’ when in this simplest mode.

Maybe when I spend more time with it, I’ll get the muscle memory to know where I’m tapping. This of course is part of iPads in general – really powerful software for little money – the touch screen as a very flexible interface, but also a slippery slide of featureless glass that gives very little back to your fingers. It does have MIDI and you can add a controller. I should mention it does that inter-app sound/MIDI thing – I tend to use my pad as just one physical device so I just accept this as a plus.

All up this seems to me A Good Thing And Very Worthy but again I look in the box for Mr. Belew. He is not here, not only physically but in touches of individuality that I am not seeing in the patches and the process. In marrying the Flux Music and FX titles I’d not bother with the visuals and instead bring in the chances and the unexpected that we are told are essential. Some way to feed things back in a chaotic system. The word mangling is used – OK, show me the mangle.

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Summary:

  • Good shit, reminds me of EH pedals.
  • Yay sequencer, messes it up.
  • Needs a lot more Belew.
  • Where are my glasses?

But is it authentic?

  • Is it as authentic as your work cubicle with the motivational poster of HANG IN THERE BABY?
  • Is it as authentic as a Final Notice for Payment on the power bill?
  • Is it as authentic as another ten pack of Chicken Flavour Ramen on special at Woolworths that has to last the whole week?
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  • Is it as authentic as the people on social media who LIKED the pictures of your birthday cake for one?
  • Is it as authentic as the heroin deaths in the small country towns?
  • Is it as authentic as first noticing and covering up your old man smell?
  • Is it as authentic as Googling for medical symptoms because that lump still won’t go away?
  • Is it as authentic as being the town bike at yet another high school?
  • Is it as authentic as the phlegmatic lies of a politician on talk back radio?
  • Is it as authentic as paying the Asian girl to wear your dead wife’s dress?
  • Is it as authentic as endless months in an immigration facility?

Because as much as I might like it, I wouldn’t want something that wasn’t authentic.

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What my pet turtle taught me about life.

When The Atlantic suggested I write an overly long rambling and egotistical whine about my experience of life, I was momentarily worried that maybe I didn’t really have a story to tell, that other voices were more important and had more to offer. But then I remembered that I hung around with the right circle of people and had written a few vague articles online about this and that – besides, maybe I do have something to say that hadn’t been said thousands of times in puff pieces in newspapers and magazines stretching back through decades, centuries even. I could get over my false hesitation and try out some spurious humility. Grow myself in public.

I bet you don’t know what it’s like to be a middle aged white male with a well paying academic job that’s pretty much based around your hobbies and interests. If you do then surely I can come up with some petty reason for being a unique snowflake. I might even discover some vague and mysterious spectrum disorder that no one has heard of before, but think they might have it too, so they project their self pity onto me. Scientists have been working on this for some time, but so far the news has been scanty and disappointing seeing as I haven’t asked anyone about it.

My childhood looked normal from the outside. If you had been me at the time you would have seen it for what it really was – completely normal. I had a pet turtle die once. I found it belly up behind the heater in the dining room. That was a trauma that put me in a very dark place until I got another turtle. It died too but by that time I had discovered than I was a teen and it was time to really be a teen, in each and every way actualising this part of my life to the point of using italics.

Later I would look back and think, ‘Oh My God!’ about some of the teen things I did! But that’s nothing compared to my experience as a young adult. Sometimes under the influence of alcohol or drugs I would wonder about the universe, how it related to us poor ants crawling across the surface of the blue sphere we call home. Did it feel sorry for us? I had trouble with the alcohol and drugs, sometimes they seemed too good, too easy and I was troubled to think I might end up an addict but I didn’t.

The words are beginning to flow easier now I’ve revealed something about myself – I’ve been typing for at least ten minutes without pause, letting it all out and sharing my true inner feelings with you, the people that read The Atlantic. I’m older now, and a lot wiser. I see things more clearly. I’ve almost become the character that Morgan Freeman plays in films. Whereas one time in my life it was all win and push, push and win, these days I have a nuanced view of life, giving and sharing. Oh good that’s 500 words so I can wrap up soon.

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This is the bit where I give you some of that wisdom I’ve been banking throughout my extraordinary life. One day you will die and before that time you really must do all the things that you said you would do. Be nice to people because they will like you and maybe you too can get to share your ideas on TED or some listicle. Live outside the usual but not so far that you actually have to risk things. Don’t waddle when you could run. Eat your greens, be green, but not in business because there are wolves who eat greens too!

Bless you!

Atlantic Guest Writer #8190