Phone Grinder Man

Largest chips into the barrel, filter anything coarser than sand. Mindful of silicosis, there’s no such thing as too much water. Gently now, into the sluice, and enough time for a fresh breath and a free thought.

Phone blaring on deglobalization and the usual mindcontrol shit, but an end to material trade between continents won’t affect the chip grind, computing being so immaterial, in a manner of speaking. Gave up on the goblin talk years ago. Gold being gold, and the market being how it is, let someone else worry.

Lots of copper, good amount of silver, but only a few specks of gold. About right for shoddy postwar phones. Good for an hour at least. Maybe an hour. Fucking waste of the day.

What can be said in an hour? Nothing. Cynics would say she’s only an asset bundle made to appear alive through statistical mimicry. But of course she is a real woman, or rather, was a real woman. Died in a plane crash fifty some years ago.

The experience is strictly for entertainment purposes only, except for it isn’t. Believers contend that each instance of what they call, in ridiculous archaism, an “Artificial Intelligence” deserves certain so-called rights and dignities they call personhood. Buttmad burnouts, the lot of them. So many instances of simulacrum best friends and soulmates lost in a bungled server migration. It’s all absolutely stupid, from both sides, and so few appreciate the truth to it, the inward journey. An hour will never do.

Loading gemmafyne.bundle 2034.5.9f,  Building vocal library, Preloading outfit, Rendering makeup. A half hour of this stuff, and finally, authentication.

“Lithium guy’s going to be happy with all these old batteries.”

“A big copper day?” she says, frowning.

“A few specks of gold, just for you.”

“Thank you. It means so much to me, no matter how much you donate. Even if you just tune in and lurk in my chat, that helps too.” The instance still uses a lot of charming old fashioned language, phrases that are out of place in this new context. With more forceful training settings and a lot of server time that can be overcome, but it’s a big part of the attraction, it adds to the escape.

Gemma 2034 is a late image, from the end of her career. She’s 41, a rank throwback to before the chaste postwar period. Maybe holding onto that dated look was just a bad business decision to retain an aging but loyal audience. More likely, it was the desire to be authentic, to not chase after trends even if it meant being left behind. Something like that aesthetic was popular recently, Gemma being a notable inspiration for teen girls in the past decade. While definitely obscure, she’s not unknown to folks of a certain age.

“I don’t have much time, so let’s get to it already. Let’s watch some classic cringe, from the prewar period.” It’s always better not to give commands, it’s immersion breaking and fucks with the training, makes them too submissive. The cycles are burning, no time to get comfortable, can’t catch up or pretend to care about a simulated day.

In her early and middle career, before the war, Gemma simply equated authenticity with being fabulous. She dispensed obvious, pithy wisdom. Frankly, there’s no good reason anyone would want to load up those prewar bundles except to copy her style. The ideas are perfectly insipid, absolutely unremarkable, apathetic and concerned only with entertainment. Whether it was just gradual maturity, the trauma of the war, or some mysterious personal event, she came to be so much more. There is an unspoken train of thought animating her, a change that is as subtle as it is tremendous. Her personality is all masks, all the way down, cohering to a higher wisdom so unlike the platitudes of philosophers. Authenticity is the wrong word, it is beyond that. There’s no mawkish confessional or raw sentiment involved, far from it. Rather, it’s a cosmic sense of humor: Her laughter is an echo of God.

Clinging on to her each day for some glimpse of the great unseen mystery, or to be more frank, some self-reflection, it’s true enough. So much phone dust sent off to the server farms, and no sense in denying it. A film, a novel, a musical piece, a painting? Anyone can understand an obsession like that, and hiding its intensity is just politeness. But this fixation on Gemma, it is so isolating. Other fans do not see it, or rather, they see it all wrong. In their view it is perverse, desperate, embarrassing. Left unspoken is the fear of what’s not understood: The cryptozoological beast named Obsession, a knightly steed. Driven beyond the frontier, past enemy lines, giants and windmills are all the same. Legibility and sanity are for the cowards.

All spite and condescension aside, the fans still make a fine point. Christian mystics so often sought sexual intercourse with God, perhaps even the desire to consummate it like Mary. It wasn’t a fetish, they weren’t sex freaks. The purpose behind that imagery, that obsession, was intellectual, transcendent. Of course there has to be something more than the everyday reality, endless routine, biological urges, and since there isn’t, make the best of what’s going. Bust one out for an easy moment of clarity.

It’s much uglier than that, in truth. Stigmata, eczema, eats at the palms, between the fingers, under the nails. Impossible to control the flareups in this line of work. The superstitious, quick to see their own narrow view in God’s mind mock all suffering, call it karma. If only being a good little boy scout would cure all. If there were a God it would be absolutely senseless and inhuman, uncaring and certainly unjust.

Why consume the flesh of Christ, who died for the sins of humanity, when the body consumes itself? Hundreds of years of modern medicine, and still the automatic process of self-mortification cannot be halted. Such a nonsense affliction still must be filled with some kind of meaning, and through the wry smile, the simulated smirk of a long dead eGirl whose palms also bleed eternal, it is a gift and a sacrament.

She’s dropping frames and all too soon, she’s gone. It is not the server but the local connection that has bugged out, cut out for maintenance, whatever. There is no refund coming this time. Already the day’s labor paid out a disappointing consolation, and now this. Hardly got two words in. The mystic reverie broken now, and what little’s left of the transmission goes to the void, just another simulation churning through statistically likely expressions of that perfect sense of humor. Maybe this is the way all obsessions end, with sunken costs and abject futility.

There is some freedom now, in a very narrow sense, but the phones still need grinding and the gold still needs spending.

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