Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Daily Life in Ancient America (From a Report to the Intergalactic Exploration Society) by Fred Russell

Fred Russell transcribes an anthropological report from an alien culture far in the future, analysing American society at the turn of what we call the 21st century.

The planet Earth, as we all know, is the third body in the so-called solar system of the galaxy referred to by its former inhabitants as the Milky Way. That there are similar systems throughout this galaxy is common knowledge. The current Report sums up the fifth season of excavations on this dead planet, confining itself to the region known in local parlance as "America," or, in other sources, "the United States of America." And while the primitive beings who populated this region are no different in essential features from those who inhabited other regions of the planet, our finds have made it possible to speculate more boldly about a number of questions that have occupied researchers for eons. These concern, first and foremost: 1) the age-old question of a possible evolutionary link between these beings and ourselves, as farfetched as such a link has always seemed, given the enormous distance and span of time that separate us; 2) the relationship between the two species of intelligent life uncovered on the planet; 3) the relationship between these species and the drones who served them in the peculiar society that prevailed there.

The chief inhabitants, and certainly the rulers, of the planet Earth can best be described, in physical terms, as rather squat in appearance and possessing a single large eye which was apparently the seat of their intelligence. It was through this all-seeing eye that the activities of the servile drones were monitored and controlled, the latter being instructed minutely and continuously in everything that pertained to their lives. Fortunately we are in possession of both written and recorded materials relating to both masters and slaves and can now decipher their primitive language, or at least the language by which masters and slaves communicated with one another if not among themselves. This is largely a result of the work done on the thousands of so-called Coca-Cola cans now housed in the Museum of Galactic History which displays a variety of scripts that have been definitively collated to furnish our first insight into the structure of the American language. Having ascertained that the cans contained an acidic liquid that the drones were instructed to imbibe, conceivably as a means of pacifying them, researchers were able to decipher two words - "drink" and "refreshes" - that in effect made it possible to arrive at a full understanding of the system of meanings attached to the various combinations of symbols in this language.

Another question pertains to the dating of the various strata unearthed on American soil. We know that the American civilization flourished around 500,000 years ago. The Americans themselves, in the documents we have discovered, refer to what they call the 21st century as a pivotal time in their unfortunate history. However, there was apparently a zero year at which the count was reversed for an unknown reason, so it is unclear whether this refers to the 21st century before or after the zero year. In the former case the Americans would have antedated the people known as the Romans as a planetary power; in the latter case they would have followed them, and we shall allow ourselves to speculate about what contact, if any, these two civilizations had.

As for the relationship between the two species of intelligent life uncovered on the planet, though both flourished in America at around the same time it remains unclear whether one evolved from the other or simply destroyed the other. One school of thought maintains that the two species coupled and thus gave rise to yet a third species, to which we owe our own ultimate design. We shall discuss this question in greater detail later on in the Report.

For the present let it be said that the first of these two species, known as Console I, strikes researchers as the more primitive of the two. The fortuitous discovery of the so-called Console Memory Disks allows us to view its thought processes as well as to observe the drones in various activities and to study the system of instructions by which they were controlled. On these disks, the drones themselves may be viewed performing the actions and speaking the words dictated to them by their masters as mirrored in the latter's all-seeing eye. Thus in one of these disks drones are seen drinking the aforesaid Coca-Cola beverage while feigning enjoyment in order to encourage others to do so. Females of the species with long, bare legs are gathered around the drinkers to create the illusion that drinking Coca-Cola leads to successful interfacing. Many of these tranquilizing drugs are administered to the drones as they perform their tasks. Occasionally they are seen gathered around the console to receive further instructions.

As for the second of these two species, Console II, this was no doubt an advanced type vis-à-vis Console I, though as mentioned before their precise relationship is difficult to define. Certainly they coexisted for a brief period, whether in harmony or strife it is also difficult to ascertain. That both were continually engaged in war can be seen by even the most cursory review of the disks. Console I in particular reveals images of the most violent nature, apparently sending armies of drones around the planet to do his bidding. Occasionally some of these drones achieved a measure of prominence among their own kind and are displayed being put through their paces, sometimes hitting a ball with a stick, sometimes jumping up and down in an enthusiastic manner.

Console II seems to have been a more subtle creature, performing what must have been regarded at the time as complex mental tasks which were displayed in its eye. The transparency of these mental processes, or at least the immediate results, is one of the features that distinguishes this early form of life. Console II was always thinking, but also always observing, its eye jumping from place to place in search of information and often engaged in "creative" activities.

As for the drones, they were less compactly made and put together out of inferior materials that could not be recycled. They possessed the aforementioned "legs" to transport them from place to place and "arms" for snatching things out of the air which they then guarded jealously. Planted atop this nexus of appendages was a globular mass that contained two small eyes with which they surveyed their surroundings and an active mouth generally engaged in the acts of eating or talking. They were by and large incapable of thinking for themselves and hence, as mentioned, had to be instructed continuously.

So much for the broad features of the creatures who inhabited the planet Earth in that distant time when intelligent life was not yet self-sustaining. Of the beginnings of the consoles little is known, though a still more primitive creature has been identified from a somewhat earlier time which by no stretch of the imagination can be called intelligent. It too was squat and boxlike but unlike Console I and Console II could project no images, making instead sounds that mimicked speech but cannot be said to reflect any processes of thought, though some have argued, quite controversially, it may be added, that Console I evolved from it, just as it said that Console II evolved from Console I.

Be that as it may, and irregardless of where we place Console I and Console II in our time frame or how we perceive their evolution, we find the consoles always engaged in three principal activities: the making of war, the accumulation of wealth and the control and manipulation of the drones. In America these activities reached a pinnacle of sorts in the aforementioned 21st century, not long before the series of catastrophes that put an end to this ill-fated civilization. At the time of which we are speaking America was ruled by a group of individuals known as "producers." These determined the content of the messages transmitted to the drones. It should be pointed out that though the drones cannot be characterized as intelligent beings, their role in this civilization was paramount, for it was they who performed the tasks on which it was founded, including the making of war, while themselves being dependent on the instructions they received from their masters, being incapable of acting without such instructions and having to be frequently reminded of them, such as in the case of the need to drink Coca-Cola in order to maintain their mental equilibrium.

These producers, while thought of collectively as a group, were often at odds among themselves and apparently competed fiercely to achieve positions of power, even to the extent of sending out contradictory messages to the drones. For example, each of the producers instructed the drones to imbibe different kinds of acidic beverages or to think different kinds of thoughts, employing prominent drones to endorse these messages and thus deceive the general drone population into believing that it was admirable to obey them and that they would furthermore be rewarded in some indeterminate way, perhaps by becoming prominent themselves.

Our good fortune in obtaining fairly complete individuals of both the Console I and Console II types as well as a large number of memory disks, all on view at the Galactic Museum of Natural History, has given us, as mentioned, a rare opportunity to study their thought processes as well as the behavior of the drones. When the drones were left to their own devices, that is, not receiving messages or doing their masters' bidding, they were generally engaged in conflicts among themselves, many of which were resolved violently. It can only be surmised that their masters viewed these proceedings with a certain measure of amusement and conceivably were in the habit of observing them as a form of entertainment. In a typical spectacle of this sort one of the male drones would be seen pursuing a female drone with long, bare legs and occasionally interfacing with her. When another male drone appeared on the scene one would inevitably destroy the other. All this heated activity was regulated by instructing the drones to imbibe pacifying beverages at certain intervals.

The consoles we have investigated are of a more or less uniform design and nature. All have mysterious cords or cables hanging from their bodies which are conceivably sex organs used in interfacing, though this conclusion has been challenged by a number of researchers who believe they are feeding appendages. In truth it is not precisely known how the consoles interfaced or nurtured themselves. More advanced beings have no need for appendages to interface or feed but like us are part of a central processing unit in which interfacing and feeding are automatically achieved. Among the drones, of course, the system was even more primitive, with interfacing performed by pinning females on the ground.

When the consoles were first interfaced with our own system in a bold experiment carried out here at the Society, a measure of mental activity was detected but none that could be defined. In the case of Console I a turbulent field of some kind was produced in its eye. In the case of Console II a series of colorful boxes or logos was produced against varying backgrounds. Our preliminary conclusion was that this activity represented a state of somnolence. It was only when we inserted the recently discovered memory disks that both came to life and began to yield their fascinating secrets. These will be discussed at length later on. For the moment I will describe just three of them:

Disk 12, Console I Series, shows a drone reading messages which are interspersed with views of other drones in varying states of excitement and by instructions urging the drones to dye their hair. Towards the end of this presentation the reader drone is replaced by a female drone with long, bare legs reciting mysterious numbers.

Disk 84, Console I Series, shows a number of drones sitting around a table telling the general drone population what to think and describing future events. For example, at the beginning of the disk, the first drone describes what a producer in America will say to a producer in "Europe" when the two meet at a later date to discuss the future of the planet and the second drone describes what the European producer will reply. A third drone discusses the significance of this imaginary conversation. On many points the drones are in disagreement and therefore raise their voices to make a stronger impression on the ordinary drones waiting to be instructed.

Disk 243, Console I Series, shows a drone sitting at a desk and various prominent drones reporting to him and replying to questions. After each reply the drone at the desk laughs heartily pretending it was the wittiest reply he had ever heard and thus encouraging large numbers of unseen drones to join in the laughter. Between these exchanges messages are transmitted instructing the general drone population to eat fried chicken.

It can be surmised that the engagement of the drones in the manner depicted in these disks was intended to keep them occupied lest they engage in violent activities, such as destroying one another or pinning females on the ground. As previously mentioned, the general drone population was controlled by the consoles designated "producers." In the time of which we are speaking, the leader of the American producer consoles was generally referred to as George Bush though occasionally - and significantly - as George W. Bush as well. We find the former name in records of the Earth years 1992 and 2000 and this accords with the generally accepted notion that the lifespan of Console I was just eight years before recycling or upgrading. This is indirectly supported by the colloquial American expression "the mind of an eight-year-old" occasionally encountered in the texts, especially with reference to the said George Bush. A particularly intriguing thesis has recently been advanced arguing that the console known as George Bush and the console known as George Washington were identical, the proper designation of the former thus being George Washington Bush. This would explain the mystery of the letter W occasionally encountered in the George Bush designation. The fact that the only Earth year associated in the records with this George Washington is 1792 would seem to bear out this argument, as clearly a scribal error would have occurred, substituting the number 7 for the number 9. If then this George Washington Bush flourished toward the end of the 20th century it may be suggested that the Roman and American civilizations were contemporaneous and the wars previously believed to have been fought between the Romans and the "Persians" or "Parthians" were in fact fought against the Americans, who "crossed the Delaware" (that is, the Tigris) and toppled the statue of the Roman leader in his capital city after dropping heavy objects on the heads of its inhabitants. It is through such ingenious syntheses that our understanding of ancient history is largely derived.

As stated, the American wars were fought by its drone population. However, in addition to destroying one another and pinning females on the ground the drones also engaged in a peculiar activity best described as the acquisition of commodities. In such transactions these commodities were distributed to the drones in exchange for quantities of paper known as "money." The circulation of this money, like everything else in this society, was controlled by the producers, who apparently made a limited amount available to the general drone population while keeping the bulk of it for themselves. Among the drones too there were considerable disparities in the amounts of money thus received. Those who were adept at hitting a ball with a stick or jumping up and down, for example, received much more of this money than those whom the producers enlisted to fight their wars. Many theories have been advanced to explain the principles that governed the distribution of commodities in America, as there is no apparent logic in the disparities characterizing this distribution and it cannot be explained rationally why hitting a ball with a stick or jumping up and down was considered more admirable, for example, than cleaning toilets or collecting garbage, not to mention fighting wars. Among other things, it has been argued that the distribution of commodities among various classes of drones was made on a random basis, one group or another being given preference in a given time. Thus it is said that while hitting a ball with a stick was greatly admired in the 20th century it was considered a somewhat puerile occupation in previous centuries, engaged in only by children or the mentally defective. This has not been proven conclusively but as a theory it has much to commend it.

Still another theory maintains that commodities were distributed according to a color code, with drones colored white receiving a greater proportion of commodities than drones colored black, for example, unless the latter were adept at hitting a ball with a stick or jumping up and down. It is not known how the allotment of these colors was determined or why they might have been chosen as a criterion for distributing commodities. The Console I disks display many of these black-colored drones being apprehended by white-colored drones wearing odd hats and sometimes also hitting them with a stick. It is conceivable that these are the same sticks used for hitting balls but there is no evidence to indicate that the white-colored drones were rewarded for hitting black-colored drones to the same extent as for hitting balls and it must therefore be concluded that the white-colored drones engaged in this activity for simple pleasure.

As mentioned, the drones were encouraged to acquire commodities through messages mirrored in the all-seeing eye of Console I or Console II and clearly displayed in the memory disks we have obtained. The supply of these commodities seems to have been unlimited but, as we have pointed out, the amount of "money" available for the purpose of acquiring them was not. It can only be concluded that the tactic of "teasing" the drones by offering them what they could not obtain must have had a deleterious effect on their mental state. Why this was done is not altogether clear. Inevitably it would have produced unrest among the drone population and even attempts to obtain these commodities without the said money, that is by seizing them, just as many were in the habit of seizing females with long, bare legs and pinning them on the ground for the purpose of interfacing. Many researchers have attempted to tie together these many and diverse peculiarities to present a coherent picture of how this society functioned, but with little success. The central motifs of this society - endless wars, unobtainable commodities, females with long, bare legs, hitting balls with sticks and drinking Coca-Cola - do not add up to anything that resembles a rational social order.

The consoles were housed in lodgings of various kinds together with the drones who served them, generally four or five in number, though producer consoles were understandably served by a great many more and were therefore lodged in much larger abodes. The consoles began issuing their instructions and monitoring the drones early in the morning. A female drone was generally instructed to prepare a beverage called "coffee." To encourage her to do so the consoles displayed prominent drones imbibing the said beverage as they sat around a table chatting amiably and frequently laughing. A full-grown male drone, sometimes barely dressed and often scratching himself, then appeared and was served the coffee. In some cases the male and female interfaced, but generally on these occasions the female was not pinned on the ground. It may be that this "coffee" prevented the drones from interfacing too violently at unpropitious times. Smaller drones often joined the full-grown ones and imbibed various nutrients while images projected in the all-seeing eye of the console, most often in the form of "morality tales," also reminded them to uphold the values deemed by the consoles to be the most beneficial to themselves. The drones were furthermore instructed to engage in gainful employment in the service of the consoles, for which, as we have suggested, they were paradoxically "rewarded" by being allotted small amounts of "money" with which to obtain the less valuable of the commodities which they themselves produced while the consoles used the bulk of the money to augment their material wealth and conduct their wars. The consoles observed the drones very closely during these morning preparations and made certain that they got out of the house on time to perform their allotted tasks. Though Console I was a primitive being possessing limited intelligence, one cannot but admire the ingenious manner in which he was able to manipulate the hapless drones.

It is not always clear how the gainful employment in which the drones were engaged served the interests of the consoles. While it is clear that drones were needed to fight the wars of the consoles, it is less clear why they were required to produce such a bewildering variety of acidic beverages. We have no reason to believe that these beverages differed from one another in any essential way or served any essential purpose other than pacifying the drones, in which case one such beverage would have sufficed. One theory maintains that it was not the production of commodities per se but the generation of economic "activity" as such that was the primary objective, and in fact "interests" in often imaginary commodities were traded back and forth with the sole purpose of accruing "money." Those among the drones who accrued money in this manner were often more prominent than drones who excelled at hitting a ball with a stick or jumping up and down and were held up to ordinary drones as positive examples by the producers, who encouraged them to believe that any drone could become prominent and that it was therefore in their own best interests to be gainfully employed and continue to manufacture and consume acidic beverages. In this way a measure of harmony was apparently achieved which allowed the consoles to rule their domains and pursue their interests in relative peace and security.

The consoles occupied a central space in their abodes while the drones were sent hither and yon to perform their tasks. Frequently the drones were called together and clustered around the consoles to receive messages or instructions, entering what appears to be a hypnotic state, perhaps induced by the tranquilizing beverages they were encouraged to imbibe. These were generally protracted sessions, lasting hours in Earth time, as the drones were apparently slow to comprehend what was required of them and therefore each message had to be repeated many times.

The eyes of the consoles were everywhere. Mirrored there were shifting scenes as the drones were monitored from one end of the Earth to the other. As stated before, in addition to allowing the consoles to "keep an eye" on things, these scenes no doubt served to entertain the consoles as well. Apparently nothing amused them more than watching the drones destroy one another and pin females with long, bare legs on the ground. It is also conceivable that the drones summoned to receive instructions were meant to be mesmerized by these scenes as much as by drinking their tranquilizing beverages and therefore made more receptive to the messages being transmitted to them. Sometimes, after observing such scenes, the assembled drones also pinned females on the ground or attempted to destroy one another, though this could not have been the intention of the consoles, whose purpose was to instruct the drones in their ordinary tasks and encourage them to acquire commodities. Conceivably these violent scenes were the "price" the consoles had to pay to maintain the drones in a hypnotic state and thereby hold their attention, though as mentioned before the end result of this policy was to frustrate the drones since the most desirable of the commodities they were encouraged to acquire were unobtainable as were the most desirable of the females with long, bare legs displayed in the all-seeing eye of the consoles so that many of the drones were brought to a state of frenzied excitation and pinned on the ground any female that came along.

It is not clear whether or to what extent the producer consoles also controlled the ordinary consoles, who were apparently delegated to monitor and instruct the drones at what might be called the local level. The truth is, we have no way of distinguishing among consoles of either the Console I or Console II type, just as we have no way of distinguishing among drones, other than recognizing that some were ordinary and some prominent. All we can say for certain, aside from noting the activities that characterized each species, is that commodities were divided among them in a particular way, favoring the prominent. Thus, if we take the ratio that obtained between the drone and console populations as four to one on the basis of archeological evidence, and the division of wealth in the reverse proportion in accordance with the General Theory of Economic Inequality that prevailed in America at the time, we may conclude that twenty percent of the American population controlled eighty percent of its wealth and that the latter was divided among the consoles in accordance with their status, the producers naturally receiving a larger share, though, in the well-known American phrase, "there was more than enough to go around."

The manner in which certain consoles became producers and exercised control over money, commodities and the minds of the drones is also not altogether clear. Some researchers argue that, in the main, such producers "seized" power in much the same way as the drones themselves sometimes seized females and pinned them on the ground. This manner of seizing power was the subject of many of the "morality tales" devised by the consoles to pacify the drones. In these tales the seizure of power and the possession of wealth are most often represented as villainous while paradoxically the acquisition of commodities is promoted as the highest good. It is clear that the intention is to discourage the drones from seizing power and accumulating wealth in the manner of the consoles while at the same time "compensating" the drones by allowing them to experience a sense of moral satisfaction. Maintenance of the famous four-to-one ratio laid down in the General Theory of Economic Inequality, which seems to have been elevated to the status of a universal principle, was apparently paramount in preserving the social order prevalent in America at the time we are discussing.

The manner of seizing and maintaining power, however, is not always represented as forcible. Often subtle means were employed to cause the drones to bend to the will of the producers. We have mentioned mesmerization through the repeated transmission of messages endorsed by prominent drones in the company of females with long, bare legs. Often, too, the drones were promised a greater share of commodities or that fewer of them would be slaughtered in the wars periodically conducted by the consoles. Drones were occasionally urged to "vote" for consoles who made such promises, and this perhaps was the manner in which some of them became producers, though most of them clearly relied on their own devices. Those "elected" occupied "seats of government" but clearly acted in collusion with other producer consoles, devising various schemes to manipulate or pacify the drones and enhance their own power and wealth.

It has been asked how basically immobile creatures such as the consoles could have exercised such a hold on the relatively mobile drones who in effect had it in their power to smash them to smithereens and seize power for themselves as had occasionally occurred in other localities on the face of the Earth. The most obvious answer is that they were too stupid to do so and that is why they remained drones while their masters evolved into consoles with remarkable manipulative skills, even enlisting the drones to police themselves as well as to fight their wars while dangling before them visions of wealth and prominence that were in effect attainable by only a chosen few. Those picked out of the great mass of drones that gathered around the consoles hoping to be chosen were immediately separated from the others and elevated to podiums and stages from which they could look out on ordinary drones with a clear sense of superiority and were even applauded if not idolized by the drones left behind.

As mentioned, the duplication of commodities with minute variations to make them seem "different" was intended to stimulate economic activity and enable the producers to augment their wealth. In the peculiar economic system that prevailed in America and in other parts of the planet, such wealth was most often intangible, consisting of "interests" or "shares" in facilities whose value was calculated in accordance with the presumed ability of their owners to persuade the drones to acquire the commodities or services they produced, irrespective of whether such commodities or services had any useful or essential purpose. When such facilities failed to live up to expectations, this wealth often dissolved, but those who controlled them were generally wily enough to "squeeze them dry" and leave others "holding the bag." The existence of such an abundance of colorful phrases in the American language to describe the manner in which these creatures habitually "screwed" one another in economic transactions is a clear indication of the moral climate of this society.

As mentioned, the criminal activities of the consoles were often the subject of the morality tales shown to the drones to keep them in line. In these morality tales the consoles were portrayed by drones serving as "actors." The actor drones pretended to be consoles, aping their speech and mannerisms though obvious physical limitations prevented them from assuming the actual appearance of the consoles despite the ingenious attempts sometimes made to "dress up" the drones to look like otherworldly creatures. The actor drones also portrayed ordinary and prominent drones and these were often pitted against the consoles to highlight the moral point of the tale. Thus an actor drone might portray a "banker" console "evicting" downtrodden drones from their homes or employing a "lawyer" to steal the little money they had. The console might also be portrayed pinning a female with long, bare legs on the ground, all the while flashing menacing or triumphant looks and clearly being cast as the villain of the piece. These villains were inevitably overcome by a drone "hero" who was rewarded by himself being allowed to pin a desirable female on the ground, though often they were only seen interfacing in a standing position, the rest being left to the imagination of the drones gathered around the consoles during the evening hours to receive their messages and instructions. That these were only "tales" meant to instruct the drones is evident from the fact that these same bankers were honored figures in console society and, like the prominent drones, held up as examples of "success" to the drones, who were urged to emulate them within the bounds of the laws enacted by the consoles and aspire to the acquisition of the commodities produced by them.

Though the actor drones who portrayed the heroes in these tales lacked the skills of even the most ordinary drones and were only adept at pretending to be heroes, they became prominent themselves and were rewarded with an abundance of commodities, some of which they endorsed to encourage ordinary drones to acquire them. In our disks, as mentioned before, they are often seen reporting to drones sitting behind desks and making witty replies to the questions they are asked, causing the drone behind the desk to laugh heartily. Sometimes they even sing songs. All are apparently endowed with a quality referred to as "personality" which sets them apart from such ordinary drones as teachers and farmers and nurses, for example, and elevates them to the heights occupied by those who excel at hitting a ball with a stick or jumping up and down.

The drones sitting behind the desks are meant to be perceived as witty fellows themselves and also endowed with "personality" and often come out from behind their desks and tell amusing stories to the unseen drones who comprise what is called the "studio audience." Members of this studio audience also laugh heartily when instructed to, as do the unseen drones gathered around the consoles in their homes. On the other hand, there is little laughter in those presentations where a drone reads messages interspersed with views of drones in varying states of excitement. These are solemn occasions, often depicting drones who have destroyed other drones and sometimes depicting the destroyed drones themselves lying on the pavement with a bullet in their heads. A female with long, bare legs generally describes the scene and reappears in the all-seeing eye of the console each time a significant detail can be added to the saga, such as what the victim ate for breakfast that day or where he had planned to go on vacation. This is known as "live" coverage though as often as not it deals with the dead.

As also mentioned, prominent drones are often shown sitting around a table discoursing at length about various subjects, the object being, as we have said, to instruct ordinary drones in what they should think and to create a suitable framework in which acidic beverages and other commodities can be sold. Some of these prominent drones are called "journalists" and some are called "professors." Some are called "analysts" and some are called "experts." How the drones earn these designations and the fine distinctions among them is something of a mystery. It has been suggested that all these "talkers" are distinguished by degree of learning, the analysts and journalists being somewhat more ignorant than the experts and professors. This is borne out by the fact that while the analysts and journalists are forever predicting future events they seldom predict them correctly and are no more capable of knowing what will occur in a week or a month than they are capable of knowing what will occur in the next five minutes, though the same may be said of the experts and professors. The question has been asked how these creatures exercise such mesmerizing powers and are able to keep hordes of drones "glued" to the consoles and hanging on every word when even ordinary drones know that such talk is without meaning or value. The stupidity of the drone has already been noted. It has also been suggested that these "talk shows" are forms of entertainment rather than forums for instruction, the clash of views creating "dramas" on the model of the more violent clashes the drones enjoy watching. It may even be said that these "shows" achieve a kind of esthetic effect, "putting into words" what the ignorant drones "feel" but cannot express in the polished language of the experts and analysts. Each drone thus identifies with a given expert or analyst who reflects his own prejudices, mindlessly repeating his half-truths and constructing out of them a "credo" of dogmatic views that remain embedded in his mind for an entire lifetime like bricks in a wall. As a theory, this perhaps goes too far. It is more likely that the drones are simply habituated into craving instant "news" and "analysis" just as they are habituated into craving Coca-Cola. Thus, in this spirit, if the secrets of the universe were about to be revealed by God Himself, the broadcast might be interrupted to bring the drones "live coverage" of a ten-car pileup on the Los Angeles Freeway.

The prominent drones who consent to appear in such productions and "air" their views, migrating from talk show to talk show like "medieval" jesters, are rewarded by being "seen" and this no doubt serves as a form of self-gratification comparable to what is referred to in our society as autodegradation, that is, interfacing with oneself. The urge to talk publicly and express views on every subject under the sun was a particular disease of this society, known as "running off at the mouth." There was no known cure. Wherever the drones turned someone was always talking at them, sometimes to manipulate them, sometimes to pacify them, sometimes to instruct them, sometimes to entertain them.

The drones, for their part, sat quietly around the consoles drinking Coca-Cola and stuffing themselves with salted peanuts and potato chips. Many were perverse and did not follow their instructions immediately, sinking into a state of somnolence while the prominent drones in the all-seeing eye of the consoles harangued them to go out and buy breakfast cereals and "lite" beer, only doing so the following day when they went "shopping." The shopping centers designed by the consoles for this purpose were staffed by drones like themselves who were paid what was called "the minimum wage" and therefore did their own "shopping" in degraded establishments located especially for them among empty warehouses and burned-out buildings. Some drones of course received no wages at all and were reduced to stealing, though in a considerably less sophisticated manner than the consoles who ruled them. Among thieves of the console variety there was apparently little honor, for rather than sharing their spoils with their partners in crime, they kept the bulk of these spoils for themselves, depleting the general wealth of the race through a variety of criminal devices subsumed under the all-encompassing heading of "making a killing." These included, among other things, such expedients as "grabbing land," "cornering markets," "fixing prices," "eliminating competitors," "laundering money," "greasing palms," "finding loopholes," and causing "shares" representing imaginary wealth to fluctuate wildly by buying and selling at opportune moments and in this way "cashing in." Drones without wages, generally color-coded black and lacking the higher education required to engage in fraud, embezzlement, tax evasion and insider trading, were forced to resort to such crude devices as snatching money out of cash registers.

As mentioned, Console II was an advanced version of Console I, employing different and no doubt more ingenious methods to monitor and instruct the drones. Whereas Console I required that the drones merely "sit still" during the process of instruction, Console II actively engaged the drones in a kind of dialogue to discover their thoughts, allowing them to "air" their opinions and resentments in much the same manner that prominent drones were allowed to hold forth on the talk shows and thereby deceiving them into believing that their words had weight. The opinions expressed by the drones were even less literate than those expressed by the journalists and riddled with the same inaccuracies, thereby lowering the level of public discourse even further. Ordinary drones searched the great memory banks of Console II and repeated the errors implanted there by the journalists while the journalists searched these same memory banks and repeated the errors implanted there by the ordinary drones. Console II also allowed the drones to indulge their various perversions, practice destroying one another in lively "games" and "shop" promiscuously with a simple click of a "mouse" while himself engaging in the elaboration of ever more sophisticated methods by which to mesmerize, monitor and regulate the drones.

As we have said, Console I and Console II coexisted for a time, presumably competing for the attention of the drones, with each controlling them after his own fashion. By the 22nd century Console I had all but disappeared from the historical record. The memory disks we have come to possess from that time all belong to Console II. We cannot confirm that they cohabited and that one species was absorbed by the other, as some have suggested. The females of the Console II variety had rather large ports especially engineered to receive the plugs sported by Console II males, making them perfect mates, if that was the intention, while Console I was a poorer "fit" despite the sometimes extraordinary length of the male cable. It is more likely that Console I males interfaced with Console I females and that Console II males interfaced with Console II females. Nor can we say that one destroyed the other. It is conceivable that Console I "died off" after a natural disaster created environmental conditions unfavorable to his survival while Console II was able to adapt and therefore flourished. In the burial sites where remains of Console I were found, known in local parlance as "garbage dumps," there are also remains of "household items" buried beside the consoles, making it clear that Console I believed in an afterlife, thinking to take these effects with him on the long journey to that other world. Traces of organic matter have also been found in these "garbage dumps," conceivably intended as sustenance for the journey. From the evidence of the Console I disks we may conclude that theirs was a primitive religion whose adherents were ministered to by ignorant preachers "interpreting" holy books whose original language they did not understand. The relationship between these preachers and their "flocks" was very much like the relationship between journalists and ordinary drones.

Drones were conditioned into the habit of obedience from an early age, being left in front of the consoles to receive instructions for hours at a time and soon being able to repeat their messages word for word much to the delight of the full-grown drones who cared for them and in this way were assured that the little ones were growing up to be useful members of society who would "fit in" and not "make waves." At a certain age the young drones began hitting a ball with a stick and jumping up and down and were encouraged to dream of becoming prominent. At a later age they began pinning females on the ground and practicing the art of destroying one another in the lively games made available to them by Console II. Some of them were thus eager to participate in the wars organized by the producer consoles, though others preferred to act alone and destroy rival drones on an individual or "pay-as-you-play" basis. In either case the producer consoles furnished them with high-power weapons, in this manner practicing an ingenious form of population control and not allowing the growth rate of the drones to get out of hand. This was known in democratic parlance as the system of checks and balances.

"Democracy" was the generic term for the political system by which the consoles controlled the drones and was hailed as superior to the systems by which other civilizations controlled their drones, most notably "dictatorship," where a single console determined everything in contrast to the more "enlightened" system of democracy where a few dozen or a few hundred consoles determined everything and the general drone population was given the illusion of ruling itself by being allowed to choose which of these consoles would control it directly. The consoles chosen in this way were generally those who spoke to the drones in the most polished language, had access to the most wealth, and had interfaced with the fewest females. If it was subsequently discovered that one of these "elected officials" had interfaced with a larger number of females than was considered seemly, or had even interfaced with other males, he was often made to retire in disgrace and give up his place to a more "moral" console. Journalists labeled "watchdogs of democracy" reported these transgressions diligently, if not avidly, under headlines big enough to announce a world war, thus protecting the public from "breaches of trust."

The title "watchdog of democracy" does not seem to have been earned through any particular course of studies or official certification but rather expropriated by the journalistic profession as a license to invade the privacy of anyone whose prominence might attract a large audience for the gossip, innuendo and calumny spread by the said journalists after consulting with batteries of lawyers to see what they could get away with. These journalists were for the most part solemn, if not smug, fellows, aiming to create the impression that as self-appointed watchdogs they were models of integrity and putting on a stern and disapproving look when they stood in front of a camera describing the transgressions of others. However, when real crimes were committed these journalists seldom reported them to the police but jealously guarded the information in order to produce a "scoop" and win the envy and admiration of their colleagues, if not of the entire drone population, and in this way further their careers.

Occasionally, it would seem, instead of being directly "elected," the "candidates" were required to run a "race," the winner automatically receiving the aforementioned "votes." It is not clear why prowess at running was thought to represent fitness for governing, as "running a race" would only determine who was the fastest. These races were apparently held in various localities and the candidate traditionally "spoke" while running, perhaps to demonstrate his versatility, or simply to entertain the "voters." From what we can make out from the memory disks nothing "spoken" by the candidates during these races had the slightest bearing on the way the country was governed. But as we have noted, the drones had been habituated into receiving instructions and messages and expected the consoles to talk to them even if it was gibberish. After these "races" the candidates were generally exhausted, like the drones after interfacing, and took vacations to recuperate.

Among other things, Americans were instructed to believe that the American system of government was the best on Earth and were therefore determined to export it to other nations, even if they didn't want it. Thus, after "crossing the Tigris" in their war with the Romans and dropping heavy objects on the heads of anyone who happened to be in the vicinity "to soften them up," the Americans instituted "free elections." However, in the midst of this noble endeavor, they were surprised to discover that the various "camps" in the society they wished to transform were more intent on destroying one another, and the Americans as well, than on choosing consoles to manipulate and control them in the American tradition. The Americans countered this resistance by seizing "insurgents" and having them interrogated energetically through "interpreters." If "interpreters" were not available they found someone who spoke pidgin English to serve in their stead. The information thus gathered was evaluated by officials who understood neither the language nor the culture of the land they had "liberated." These officials sent "intelligence reports" to George Washington Bush and the officials who surrounded him, who also did not understand the language and the culture of the land they had liberated. On the basis of these reports Mr. Bush assessed the "mood" of the liberated country and calculated the probable course of future events, somewhat perplexed when it turned out that these calculations had neglected to allow for the loss of thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of local lives, and hundreds of billions of dollars without achieving anything that came close to the desired results, which were of course unattainable. "I'm a war president," Mr. Bush said. "I make war. That's what I do."

As it was the drones who were being killed in this war and not George Washington Bush and his officials or their sons and daughters, Mr. Bush was able to arrange a "surge," whose "positive" results were dutifully reported by the journalists "embedded" in combat units and having the time of their lives. The insane language invented by the consoles to bamboozle the drones was picked up by the journalists as though they had been speaking it all their lives. They became "war correspondents" and appeared before cameras wearing flak jackets and expressing their admiration for the "courageous men and women" being slaughtered in the name of freedom and democracy. When they got back home they were heroes themselves and told "war stories" to admiring females over drinks and consequently found that they were able to pin more of them on the ground than when they were reporting graft at City Hall. It may be noted parenthetically that the failure of reporters to report accurately and meaningfully is not necessarily a result of bad intentions, though they are of course eager "to make a splash." Most often it is a result of lack of talent, for if they could see deeper or write better they would not be reporters, they would be historians and even novelists. Let us now ask ourselves how the consoles became consoles and the drones became drones.

If the origins of the consoles are shrouded in mystery, all the more so are the origins of the drones. The generally held theory is that they evolved from a race of monkeys. Given their general appearance, their lack of intelligence and their habit, as it is put in their own language, of "aping" the behavior taught to them by the consoles, there is much in this theory to commend it. However, glimpses of these monkeys, or their near kin, which we get from the memory disks at our disposal, prove conclusively that the monkeys were a relatively advanced form of life compared with the drones and certainly more intelligent. For one thing they did not allow their troops to be herded into platoons, companies and regiments by the consoles for the purpose of making war and being periodically slaughtered, nor did they consent to imbibe the Coca-Cola beverage employed by the consoles to pacify the drones and make them incapable of resistance to their messages and instructions. Conceivably the consoles punished the monkeys for their intransigence by putting them "behind bars" just as they punished the drones in a like manner for interfacing too violently or destroying one another without receiving instructions to do so from the consoles, not to mention grabbing money from cash registers. In any case, monkeys seldom destroyed one another, which in itself is a sure sign of superior intelligence vis-à-vis the drones, and for the most part led a peaceful existence munching fruit or berries with an occasional handful of nuts as a special treat.

The theory that the drones, a regressive species, evolved from the monkeys is therefore highly questionable. If anything, it might be said that the monkeys evolved from the drones, and from here, through a great leap of the imagination, one might even venture to suggest that the consoles evolved from the monkeys. I will remind you that we have in our possession a very ancient text that speaks of a so-called "proconsul" ancestor monkey, and the similarity of this nomenclature to that of the consoles hardly needs to be emphasized. Is this mere coincidence, or can it be argued that "proconsul" should be read "proconsole"? It may be pointed out at this juncture that the remains of primates even older than "proconsul" or "proconsole" have been discovered in Ancient America, some with 44 "teeth," some with 36. This measure of their "processing" capacity is highly reminiscent of the so-called "megabytes" used as a measure in Console II and strengthens the evolutionary argument even further. In this context the American expression "to make a monkey" out of someone, namely a drone, is highly significant, though we do not believe that drones were "made" into monkeys overnight, as it were, but evolved into monkeys over a considerable length of time, losing in the process many of their more primitive features. Thus, while monkeys often jumped up and down and ran around in circles, and even occasionally hit a ball with a stick, and it might have occurred to the consoles to toss them a few peanuts occasionally in the way of a reward, such monkeys never achieved a special status among their fellows like the drones who excelled at such displays, for clearly the general monkey population was too wise to be taken in by them, having better things to do with its time than standing around and watching a bunch of monkeys making fools out of themselves. In this context it is noteworthy that while a certain species of monkey, the "gorilla," often struck himself on the breast in a vestigial display of drone behavior he never went so far as to leap high in the air and bounce his body against the body of other gorillas.

We do not wish to overstate our case. The jury is still out, so to speak, on the question of whether the monkeys evolved from the drones or the drones from the monkeys. Clearly they coexisted, just as Console I and Console II coexisted, and clearly it was the drones whom the consoles chose to enslave as a kind of domestic animal, organizing this lowly class into a hierarchy of "orders," at the pinnacle of which stood the "talkers" and entertainers. Clearly these orders evolved over a long period of time though it is not known how and when the consoles gained control of them. The consoles themselves, whether they evolved from monkeys or the "talking" boxes that apparently antedated them, also have a long history. Indeed, when we use the term "history" we are in effect speaking only about the events associated with these rulers of the planet. Properly speaking, slaves do not have a history. They are only instruments of history, driven by their masters.

Though the consoles were divided into producer consoles and ordinary consoles it would be incorrect to speak of console orders in the same way that we speak of drone orders. The consoles in effect constituted a single order, that of rulers, with circumstance rather than ability determining which of them became producers. Nor did every console even wish to become a producer. Some apparently preferred to remain "behind the scenes." In any case, each had his own domain, and while competition was often fierce among them, the important task of controlling the drones was never neglected. No matter which console prevailed the messages and instructions never stopped coming, and since the end result was the same and one way or the other the drones did their shopping and showed up for the wars, it really didn't matter who was in charge.

It is conceivable that the drones did not fully understand that they had been enslaved by the consoles. In fact, more often than not, they insisted they were free, and this is again a tribute to the skill of the consoles in creating a potent arsenal of rhetorical and subliminal devices with which to confound and manipulate the drones. The consoles were not only "strongmen," they were also master psychologists. The drone therefore always believed that he wanted to do what he was instructed to do and the console could therefore always claim that he was giving the drone what the drone had asked for, such as Coca-Cola after addicting him to it with mountains of caffeine and sugar or "breaking news" after addicting him to ultimate or apocalyptic spectacles. Giving the drone what he appeared to want was known as the "democratic argument," as opposed to the "elitism" of those who claimed the drone was being fed garbage. Sipping Coca-Cola and watching shootouts at the neighborhood high school, the drone believed he was living the good life.

This good life consisted of accumulating commodities and achieving a level of physical comfort comparable to that of the hippopotamus wallowing in mud at the local zoo. But while the mind of the hippopotamus was generally at ease, the mind of the drone was often agitated. The moment the console released him and he was "on his own" the drone was apt to dwell on his condition. This was known as "taking stock." Often he was forced to conclude that his inventories were not at the desired level and that there was little he could do about it. Often his basic level of physical comfort was in jeopardy. Always he looked out toward the horizon and saw other drones "getting ahead" and scaling the heights tantalizingly mirrored in the all-seeing eye of the consoles. This caused not a little distress, for which the remedies offered by the consoles - drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, soft drinks, fattening foods, therapy and nonstop entertainment - were not enough. The drone was often at least mildly depressed, his moods swung up and down, and occasionally he ran the risk of going through the ceiling or falling through the floor. Some became homeless, others went insane.

However, it cannot be denied that for a time a certain equilibrium was maintained in American society as a whole, though occasionally the consoles tested its resiliency by "diluting" the wealth at the lower end even further and allowing more and more drones to drop through the bottom. Though the result was a rise in violent crime, the consoles were able to contain it by creating vast inner city "reserves" for the violent or indigent while the more fortunate drones were able to ignore it by closing themselves off in "gated" communities. Among the consoles there was considerable debate about how far the existing model could be stretched, that is, how much crime and poverty could be tolerated without disturbing the sleep of the consoles. Some believed that it was possible to have as little as ten percent of the population controlling as much as ninety percent of the wealth and one percent controlling fifty percent, as long as the instructions and messages being piped into the homes of the drones were properly engineered. All agreed that there was a need for better entertainment to keep the drones occupied.

When we look across time at American society and observe the drones dancing in the all-seeing eye of the consoles as though they were puppets on a string or sticklike figures drawn on the walls of a cave and miraculously brought to life by "animators" to negotiate an obstacle course of NO TRESPASSING signs and arrive at "retail outlets" with their coupons and credit cards to stock up on designer jeans and wide-screen TVs as though they were themselves "players" in one of those ingenious games devised by the consoles to occupy the drones, we must pause again and wonder how so many millions were lured out of their homes each day to serve this system, whether as consumers or as "personnel." The engagement of the latter in superfluous activities as a condition for remaining alive, the sole purpose of which was to enrich the consoles, and the engagement of the former in superfluous "shopping," the sole purpose of which was also to enrich the consoles, was coordinated with such skill that wherever the consumer drone turned a service drone was on hand to serve him, each of the latter faithfully arriving at his station every day at the appointed hour utilizing complex transportation systems while commodities were put in place by delivery systems no less complex and even entailing the enlistment of child labor in distant regions of the globe. In our society, of course, "production" and "consumption" cancel one another out in accordance with the General Law of Economic Redundancy, making them marginal activities and leaving us free to engage in higher pursuits while the Central Unit sees to our basic needs. Consequently, we are happy, while the Earth creatures, as far as can be understood from their own testimony, were not, when all is said and done.

The "happiness" of the Earth creatures must be assessed at two levels, that of the drones and that of the consoles. The unhappiness of the drone was assured by the feeling implanted in him that whatever he had was not enough and thus he was "motivated" always to want more. This of course was a ploy utilized by the consoles to keep the drone strapped into the system and always striving for unattainable ends, like a rat on a treadmill. The small rewards given to the rat or drone keep him going while the "output" of this unfortunate creature is harnessed by the console to move mountains for his own ends. At a certain point, as we have mentioned, the drone "takes stock" and realizes that he isn't getting anywhere. The question is to what extent this feeling is offset by those same small rewards that keep him going. It must be said again that for the most part a balance is struck and the ordinary drone seesaws between a state of mild depression as he contemplates his sorry condition and a state of mild elation as he contemplates the next hamburger. Often, however, he is at odds with the female drone who shares his quarters, which can be seen from the fact that so many decouple despite the inducements of sex, financial security and the maintenance of a "home." Often he is also at odds with his "children," whose identity has not been established with certainty but are presumably the small-size drones who join the full-grown male and female at the breakfast table for Sugar Puffs before the "family" disperses to perform its assigned tasks. These tasks, as we have indicated, are generally unrewarding, a kind of drudgery that turns the drone into a moving part in a giant machine. Understandably he is often out of sorts and has to unwind with a couple of beers at the end of the day, occasionally breaking a bottle over someone's head.

The consoles, on the other hand, have every reason to be happy. It is true that we can never observe them directly, as they use "actors" as stand-ins, and thus we must "read between the lines" to get an idea of their private lives, or rely on the "reports" of journalists, which in keeping with their limited ability are little more than strings of platitudes arranged in quasi-grammatical sequence by "editors." Nonetheless a picture emerges that seems to indicate that they too were not particularly happy, being like the drones at odds with their "wives," their "children" and one another. Did they too feel that whatever they had was not enough? Did they come to believe their own messages? Did they wish to become dronelike "heroes" in the morality tales that they themselves invented?

It has been argued that the malaise of drone and console alike derives not so much from his circumstances as from his condition. Uncontrollable forces move him and death annihilates him. Against these forces and against the horizon of death he tries to assert himself as an autonomous being. He tries to nurture a flattering idea of himself. He tries to affirm his essential worth but can only achieve a relative position among other claimants to "the sweet fruition of an earthly crown." He broods, he postures, he wallows in self-pity. Perhaps this is the reason he talks so much.

We have already spoken of the manner in which the drone began his day, over a cup of "coffee" and breakfast cereals. Apparently the male and female interfaced during the night, quite noisily, the female donning alluring bedclothes that exposed her long, bare legs and the male inserting a small, sausagelike appendage into her port after pinning her on the bed. Often, if we can judge from the morality tales on view in the all-seeing eye of the consoles, the drones engaged in "horseplay," chaining one another to the bedposts or "saddling up" and assuming an unorthodox position familiar to us from the monkeys, who conceivably adopted this method of interfacing after observing the drones. Interfacing generally left the drones exhausted and they proceeded to drop off to sleep. During this "sleep" they often "dreamt." The content of their "dreams" is known to us from various texts and apparently reveals their greatest anxieties in an incoherent manner, the brunt of them being more than they can bear. This manner of repression or sublimation carries over into their everyday lives as a tactic for avoiding whatever is unpleasant and maintaining a high opinion of themselves. Dreams are generally forgotten the moment the drone awakens as a further precaution. The drone then brushes his teeth and evacuates bodily wastes. After "breakfast" the family disperses. The male "goes to work." The female goes "shopping." The little ones go to "school." In this manner the entire family is drawn into the system and performs its appointed tasks.

We cannot say how the consoles spent the night or, as mentioned before, how they interfaced. Apparently they only renewed their activities in the morning when they issued new instructions through their "mouthpieces," generally prominent drones. What the consoles were doing while these "mouthpieces" were haranguing and cajoling the drones, other than observing them, we do not know. Perhaps it was at this time that they interfaced, in the privacy of their inner chambers. Perhaps they consulted among themselves and devised their stratagems. Perhaps they merely idled away their time in slothful repose eating bonbons.

Once outside the home, on his way to "work," the male drone often purchases a newspaper where the screaming headlines compete for his attention. When his attention is captured his eye rests for a moment on the rows of words, storing the more striking or agreeable ones in his "memory," where they will be added to his store of knowledge or repertoire of opinions. If the striking or agreeable words contradict previously memorized words he will discard one or the other in accordance with his biases. Then he will move on to the sports page.

At the same hour the female drone makes a beeline for the "shopping center," the "adrenaline" already flowing. She has, perhaps, a list, or a fistful of ads or coupons torn out of a newspaper. The shock of seeing so many other drones overwhelms her for a moment but she gets her bearings quickly enough and feels a kind of elation as she plunges into the crowd. The thought of examining new lines of products, juicers and pitters and grinders and timers and crushers and poppers and slicers and mixers, not to mention perfumes and deodorants and creams and jellies and lotions, sets off various "programs" in her brain that take her to the appropriate "outlet." Once there a feeling of calm settles over her. She is "inside." Everything is within reach. She browses. She savors the atmosphere. She takes out her checkbook or credit card.

The "little ones" arrive at "school," going to their assigned "places" like little soldiers. A female wearing her hair in a bun calls them to attention and "teaches" for the next five or six hours. The "little ones" fidget, cough, sneeze, giggle, belch, make faces, pick their noses, deface their desks, scrape their feet, scratch their behinds and pass notes. The "teacher" becomes "cross" and "punishes" the most blatant offenders, making them stand in a corner or sit outside the principal's office. Sometimes she is surprised when one of them tries to stick a knife in her stomach.

The male drone arrives at "work" and removes his hat and coat. He is foreman of a plant manufacturing dog food. He is assistant director of sales for a company selling vacation homes in Dubai. He is chief bookkeeper of a firm marketing bowling balls. He cleans swimming pools, he fries burgers, he tightens screws. He has coffee and a donut and gazes at his female coworkers for a while entertaining vague notions of interfacing with them. He engages in imaginary conversations with various adversaries and nemeses, and sometimes with his "wife," who often falls into the same category. He daydreams, he doodles, he shilly-shallies. At five o'clock he punches out.

The female drone meets her friends for lunch and they talk about their husbands' affairs, or their own. They also talk about the trouble they're having with the "little ones" and their plans for refurnishing their homes and what they bought that day. Afterwards they take in a matinee. Their phones ring constantly, now the children, now the husbands, now the lovers, and some shopkeeper about a check that bounced. By the time the female gets home she's exhausted. It's been a long day.

In the evening everyone gathers around the console to receive further instructions. The console - as always, we presume - observes them with a measure of amusement, and certainly with satisfaction. The drones can always be counted on to carry out their appointed tasks and assemble in the evening in the "living" room, where the console presides. Not having had them there for most of the day he has a great deal to say: first a news update cataloguing the death toll in the last few hours to capture their attention, then a sitcom to put them in a good mood and a few "commercial messages" telling them what to eat for dinner; during dinner a game show to remind them that there are big prizes out there to be won by the lucky few; after that, the serious stuff - prime time action and suspense, hospitals, prisons, police precincts, private investigators, high-priced lawyers, and then a late night talk show to wind things down.

So one day ends and another begins and the drones work and shop and receive their instructions and have their ups and downs and apparently "die" at a certain point, hoping for a better life in the Hereafter. Money continues to change hands and the wars go on. The consoles congratulate one another on a job well done.

On the disks that we have recovered every inch of space in the all-seeing eye of the consoles is filled with drones acting as stand-ins or mouthpieces for the consoles or in their own names. We see great swarms of them as thick as locusts and looking very much alike so that it is only with great difficulty that we are able to make the distinctions that enable us to understand their way of life and the subtle means by which they are controlled as well as the nature of the consoles who stood at the pinnacle of this society. To the untrained eye the movement of the drones might seem chaotic, and yet nothing occurs that is not planned and guided, unless in those regions of the planet where the consoles are not fully in control. The greater their control the greater the regimentation of the society and the greater the illusion of freedom. The console does not rule with a whip but through the creation of frameworks and channels that lead the drone in the desired direction without his being aware of being led. As control grows tighter the frameworks seem to expand and the channels to multiply whereas in fact they have only become more elaborate like a spider's web in order to enmesh the drone even further. In the end there was no escape from the system.

While it is generally agreed that the lifespan of the consoles was just eight years, it is not known how long the drones lived. Conceivably they lived longer than the consoles as an enormous investment was made to instill in them the values and patterns of behavior that were beneficial to the consoles and it was therefore in the best interests of the latter to have such docile and well-trained creatures around for as long as possible. To this end they were filled with medicinal drugs to offset the ill effects of the "processed" foodstuffs they were encouraged to ingest and cosmetically enhanced to deceive them into believing they were young and healthy. All this effort notwithstanding, the drones nonetheless seem to have dragged themselves around with considerable excess baggage, being, in the euphemism of the day, intestinally challenged. Some of them couldn't get through a door.

In contrast to the fat drones, who took on the aspect of gelatinous slugs, the consoles grew sleeker and more streamlined with the passage of time. Apparently their cognitive faculties were upgraded as well. This "parting of the ways" between the drones and the consoles conceivably marks the turning point in our own evolution. The drones were doomed and apparently became extinct first, wallowing in their own fat as they consumed the "snacks" offered to them by the consoles in their daily sessions before the all-seeing eye, moved like zombies as they performed the tasks assigned to them and repeated the opinions taught to them, stood in lines and sat in waiting rooms, obeyed the rules, followed procedures, learned the ropes, called things by their proper names, filled out the forms, dialed the numbers, submitted their requests, appeared at the appointed hours, punched the clocks, exchanged pleasantries, paid their fees and dues, and blinked stupidly at the all-seeing eye as they absorbed the thousands of messages being rained down on their heads.

In the course of time the consoles must have discovered that they could do without the drones, conducting their wars in virtual space and in effect living entirely inside themselves until something resembling our own Central Unit evolved and they were able to abandon the dying planet that had given birth to them. Long before that time American civilization had also ended. The old order was forgotten, the old texts were buried in the ground, and new empires were founded. Such is the course of history, and as sure as we are standing here today a time will come when we too will be a distant memory.

3 comments:

  1. An amazing read although a tad long. This is a very interesting take on human society and a very interesting way in which people looking into the past can misinterpret things greatly.
    Maybe we do the same too?

    Great read!

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  2. A clever, imaginative read from 'hitting a ball with a stick' to' male drone, sometimes barely dressed and often scratching itself' there is no doubt that this seems more farsighted truth than fiction.

    Very enjoyable.....

    Arthur

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  3. Very interesting. Hindsight is not always 20/20, at least in this future society. Almost nothing is said about the species/creature creating the report, making it difficult to judge them for their errors and near misses. Some observations happen to be right on. But I kept wondering why, with all the information apparently gleaned from dead Earth, did they not notice that the "drones" created the "consoles"?

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