Image and the Cloud

In this dream you are not yourself. You’re standing outside the house where your mother’s shadow spirit has been lingering for a year. The dances have been danced to send her on her way; the last of the smoke used to clear all traces of that shadow seeps out of the open door. Her image and name have been taboo from the moment her big spirit left her body and went to the other world a year ago, but her shadow lingered, as it always does, seeking the sound of her name and the familiar images and possessions of her existence. These were buried long ago and now it’s time. There is only one thing left to do. 

You have made the wooden pole and painted it. You strike it with your axe and call her first name, the first time it has been uttered in a year. The old men clap and stamp EE EE! You strike again and call the second name. EE EE. Once more, the third name, EE EE. Now we can say that name again and her image can be shown. That shadow has dissipated now. It stayed here a while because there was no place for it to go. But things have changed rapidly in recent times. 

What if somebody made a new spirit world: a purgatory for the narcissistic shadows, the egos and attachments formed over a lifetime, the labels and names and thoughts and images of your life? A place where these mortal things accumulate over decades and then seek to live forever in a realm of dark clouds? What if the patterns of your identity, like cultural DNA, were replicated in arcane codes and trapped in this world? 

You would have to wonder at what stage this parasitic shadow world would become its own self-organising system, crossing borders into worlds of spirit, then shaping the physical world to continue extracting the resources needed to sustain itself. You would have to wonder about the emergent entities in that world, primordial algorithmic things created in an attempt to be like us, think like us. But those clunky things can’t even perceive the colour purple, so perhaps their creators become frustrated and seek neural alignment in another way, realising that it is easier to make people think like algorithms than it is to make algorithms think like people. Perhaps with each new upgrade, you know less about your device and your device knows more about you. 

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