Anny Ballardini


Diane, Mary Ann, Elizabeth (Lizzy), Corinne, what her name was, who knows or cares. The acute razor-like sound kept on increasing in intensity until she finally waved her hand at the maximum allowed distance to distract it and send it back to its off mode. She got to the bath, ejected from the in-built enameled device a thin but stiff tablet about an inch long and introduced it into the slot in the forefront of her skull. Her hair, skin, shape started acquiring volume and lightening up. Even if this was an automated movement, it seemed she enjoyed watching her arms shape themselves once more against the white tiles, her face reflected in the long mirror, her hair become blond and soft with a Barbie like coiffure. At that point she could remember she had always thought for the fraction of a second she had wanted to wear a soft fluffy dressing gown, the one advertised eons before on the compact trailers of the inhabitants of earth.

Millions of millions of Dianes, Mary Anns, Elizabeths (Lizzys), Corinnes were doing the same thing at the same time all over the same satellite that hosted them. They all, at that point, walked through the sensitive tunnel that let a shower of lukewarm water fall on their newly regenerated bodies, the following rounded tunnel acted as a smokestack with warm air blowing from below to the escape hole at the top, and finally through the one with the dark velvet carpet that exhibited several uniforms of different colors, slacks, pullovers, short boots. The way the Central Satellite bodies were supposed to dress had to respect only one color – the one given by the tablet to their hair, it could be yellow, or pink, or red, or green, or black. They were a nice bunch once they gathered in the main meeting room to pick up an envelope and get to their separate desks in the different aisles equipped with anatomical seats, screens, and telepathic touch buttons.

Around the Central Satellite other smaller Satellites rotated. One would think that the Central acted as an Intelligence, which was not true, or that the Central was run by at least one or several bodies of Intelligences but also this was wrong.

The envelopes that piled up neatly at the beginning of the Shift had been deposited by those who had just left to disappear into their Boredom, if a personal emotional connotation can be used.

The smaller Satellites were also inhabited by similar automata. The fact that instead of Dianes, Mary Anns, Elizabeths (Lizzys), Corinnes we had Johns, Petes, Carls, Bobs or other names like Jean, Rick, Joe and Lori, did not mean anything, at least according to the average human meaning conferred to terms by which one defines the psychological interactions between male and female. There was no procreation involved since there was no death. Regeneration was given each day through the energized tablets that brought back visibility to what was invisible, body to nothingness, senses to the lack of them. Nobody ever saw a Diane or a Rick once their tablets were deposited in the slot before the off time, it was darkness from that moment to the one in which they were inserted again. Still that darkness required a board on which to rest until the razor-like buzz brought them back to the state of being. A human eye could describe that state of nothingness as a dehydrated skeleton-like frame but deprived of the firmness of the bones, the same bones - still able to allow for displacement - were more of the consistency of a material similar to thick rubber, a substance no one has ever seen or thought could exist.

No existential, post-modern, romantic, decadent thoughts ever crossed the peaceful coexistence of the Projections, in the same way that electric appliances can easily be stored in a shop without any interference. Since they could talk, and perform what from the outside seemed jobs and maybe an ordinary human life, they could be better compared to radios or televisions heaped up in a warehouse, one close to the other.

Was there a finality in their work, an aim, a revolution, an ideal, something, just something that could give us a plot, the need to partake, the urgency to side with one or the other, to prefer one to the other, a movement that betrayed them and brought an outsider to see something different, an evolution, a regression, a flaw. Absolutely nothing. The Projections were programmed to get up, get to one of the common rooms, pick up an envelope, go to their screens, input, cancel, revise data, print out a series of tasks to be put into an envelope, and finally leave it in the place of the one they had received to disappear into their lodgings. The perfectly computerized system was self-sufficient. Thanks to materials like polypargiform, bentianolon, sudderene, and the synthesized distillations from minerals taken from the various moons and constellations, any intervention required because of wear or accident was successfully carried out. An entire army of robots was periodically sent out into space and every day they explored the whole surface of the many satellites and the equipment used, scanned towers, caves and cellars, detected possible meteorological variations, atomic movements, transformed data into mathematical fractions and brought the necessary solutions or displacements.

The experiment had started eons before. It had all stemmed from the brain of two human scientists who fearing the worse, which happened, and supported by UNO, the University of New Orleans, carried out research they themselves thought was mere science fiction and would never have anticipated its actual existence.

It was back in the year 2056 that the President of the International Committee of Universities (ICU), Mr. Richard Miller, called for papers for the great symposium that had to take place on July 24 in Reykjavik, Iceland: “New ways of survival for the human race”. The number of speakers that attended the congress was impressionable, this what the media recorded all along the 3 months in which the meeting made the news, fora were extended to all living beings who via satellite expressed their opinions. The project of Mr. Alfred Bourgerois, psychiatrist and engineer, and Mr. Carl Dorn, poet, playwright and multilingual major, was unanimously accepted. Humanity decided that what was going to destroy the race, as it had till then been conceived, was emotions. They therefore applauded Mr. Bourgerois and Mr. Dorn’s choice to create satellites with robots deprived of lower reactions based on sensitive inputs, thus technical assemblages moved by mere rational intelligence. In their exposition, the two professors drew back to Leibnitz’s music of the spheres, to the perfection of the universe that looked down at the inhuman usurpation of man on man and on his land, at the rapaciousness of reactions triggered by unconscious and conscious impulses to annihilate the other, be the other a wife, a husband, daughter or son, brother or sister. The system, as they showed, was deeply ego-centered and they based their thesis on an articulated and structured criticism against logocentrism, phallocentrism, graphocentrism and phonocentrism that made electrical what was by now nothing but an average worn out collective nervous system. Being the mind, or what was commonly known as consciousness, some sort of combination of thought, perception, emotion, will and imagination – love, hate, fear, joy, as Rudolf Steiner so well identified, belonged to the lowest or primitive sphere or level. These primitive heated waves invaded the human system and altered what could instead be seen as a perfectly relaxed awareness of the being, ready to bloom in all his/her potential beauty. Rousseau after Derrida was dusted out again and his Essay shone once more in front of billions of eyes. Rousseau’s natural tendency to protect poetry was turned upside down and the passage by the ancient Greeks from poetry used to arouse passions, to speech cultivated only to exercise on reason, was emphasized; dutifully cancelled was his remark on Plato: “envious of Homer and Euripides”. The many inputs of their speech persuaded the two scientists to underline man’s limited life expectancy due to unwanted emotional interferences with the subsequent inevitable disappearance of the human race. Humanity was on the verge of collapsing in just a decade “unless we find new means of expression, an armor to shield every and each human being from the negative counter-reactions of emotions, or better if we do not switch off that spark that ignites emotions. In other words, if we do not suppress and transform what we have learned up to now to start a new life on earth based on a more refined and reasonable behavior”. These gloomy words expressed by Carl Dorn on August 15 at 2.05am, 2056, at the end of his speech in front of the entire world, Bourgerois having previously shown the 3-D movie: Documentary on the end of Earth – Earth as Our Self, were not only applauded but gave a twist to the entire symposium that from that moment onward involved the speakers in an executive task to ease the start of Bourgerois and Dorn’s work.

The following month and a half was dedicated to calculations of funds, the building of lodgings, of the needed devices and equipment, to the elections of teams to work on the project: “Intelligence Program: Experimental Satellites & Projections”. Finally after three months from the opening of the meeting, on October 24, 2056, UNO, the University of New Orleans, welcomed in its new detached quarters the 3,555,555 scholars and scientists that from that moment until the destruction of earth would work in the floating section of the Gulf serviced by aerial bridges and ferries. The choice of the University of New Orleans was made because of its proximity to the Tropics, anthropologists, ethnographers, geologists and historians, as well as theologists who suggested that the high concentrations of iron that created sensitive magnetism were ideal to protect and enhance in a natural way the work of such eminences devoted to the safety of humanity. The historical hypothesis of Atlantis was brought up again – having abandoned Ignatius L. Donnelly’s version that dated back to Plato for the more credible one by the American psychic Edgar Cayce that set it in the Caribbean Sea; to which the theory of the triangle of the Bermudas was added. Further support came from the illustration of previous neighboring civilizations: Maya, Aztec and Incas, not to mention the numerous speeches on the autochthonous Indian tribes.

Washington, Brussels, Beijing, Tokyo, Moscow, Cape Town, Bern, Oslo, Stockholm, Bangkok, Abu Dhabi, Brasilia, Buenos Aires, all the capital cities of existing countries sent foreign ministers to show their interest with healthy financial investment, and the IP:ESP, Intelligence Program: Experimental Satellites & Projections, started. On this occasion mention has to be given to the playful gift of colored candies and red balls bestowed by the City of the Vatican through His Incarnation of Christ Rudolph 1st in his fourth year of age, accompanied by his Archbishop Tutors who transferred to the UNO bank account a conspicuous sum, i.e. the net amount of profit earned from the resale of weapons to Nigeria and neighboring states for the year 2056 and the promise that all proceeds from such sales would be directly deposited to the account of the said university for the entire length of the project.

The festivity on October 24, 2056, has to be regarded as the most intense emotional encounter the universe has ever experienced. OOSB, Out Of Space Beings, recorded the momentum as the equivalent of soaking cream cakes dripping down thick chocolate drops the consistency of lava jets, to the point that the Singing Planets at 881 AU from the Kuiper Belt still have enough energy stored to keep on singing for eons and eons to come. As everybody knows, the Singing Planets were discovered 50 years after Mike Brown’s Eris I Dysnomia thanks to the Equalizing Program (EP) established to offset the conflicting quality implied in the name of the moon of the dwarf planet Eris, Dysnomia in Greek meaning “lawlessness”. Even if blind, therefore incapable of giving a reasonable explanation to their own discoveries, humans were sometimes motivated to go beyond their limited awareness in scientific discoveries, as in this specific case. But their presumption, loudly and noisily boasted by tiny steps forward, prevented them stopping searching, and when Black Scythe 1 (BS1) on January 24, 2066, at 9.09pm was first met by Fuad Necron through his powerful telescope in the Alps, at that exact moment two things happened, one inside the earth and the other on earth.

Mr. Necron and his telescope, acting as an excellent conductor, brought the destroying electro-magnetism of the thick velvet bands of the planet in its perpendicular power straight down to the middle of Earth. The inner core cracked, sucked in the semi-viscous outer core, unbalanced the asthenosphere in its weaker, hotter and deeper part with the sliding of the viscous mantle, with this roaring and growling movement the lithosphere splintered and the uppermost mantle and silicate solid crust cracked in billions and billions of chunks and particles. Thus Fuad Necron stands in the Universal Records as the first man who died in the EC (Earth Collapse) even if just a fraction of a nanosecond before the others.

The second fact was due to Mrs. Slaion Hanif-Mors, a revengeful creature who had dedicated her life to the destruction of her enemies. Originally from South Africa and of English and Pakistani origins, with other complications in her genealogical tree, seeing that her grandparents were a mixture of French and Irish on her mother’s side and South Arabian and Indian on her father’s side and no one knows in which country her previous forbears first appeared, and having developed a diseased attachment to her father with the consequent sharp denial of her mother, she identified in the populations of the northern hemisphere her most hateful enemies. Orphaned at a very young age, rebellious and stubborn, and having inherited a remarkable amount of money, she succeeded in turning her estate into a nuclear center with about 20 faithful researchers who, handsomely paid, had no idea of what kind of plan their manager was working on. When on January 24, 2066, after her private meetings with each researcher who worked in separate laboratories had ended, she entered her own to draw the final touches of her madness to her long awaited conclusion. She assembled the last pieces of information to her stored data, visualized on her screen her hydrogen bomb waiting to be kicked on the cusp of the north pole. Her plan was to make the entire northern hemisphere blow away as if it was a bowler hat. It was exactly a few minutes before 9.09 pm that, overexcited by the fact that she was able to assemble all coordinates several months before her most hopeful plans, she clicked the start button that triggered the detonation. What Mrs. Slaion Hanif-Mors did not foresee in her fanatical enthusiasm, was one of the commonest notions even children know, the shifting of the earth by 11 degrees at its western point, the bomb having been planned to go off in the morning. By hitting the wrong angles and in zigzagging movements, instead of stopping at the Equator its devastating force caught by surprise the same Mrs. Hanif-Mors who for the occasion had run into the garden waiting for something she herself did not exactly know.

That is how the little planet Earth disappeared. Two were the causes, and unbelievably exact the inauspicious omen of Mr. Carl Dorn at the “New ways of survival for the human race” symposium ten years before.

Stepping back a decade, and after the colorful celebrations for the beginning of the IP:ESP, life resumed on earth as usual, except in the Caribbean area that hosted this colossal town inhabited by 3,555,555 scholars together with a population of over 2 million people employed for services. Bourgerois and Dorn were at the presidential headquarters, surrounded by an efficient executive team of eight members, each one directing eight teams of eight members, and so forth. The two scientists were to create another world with the projection of the inhabitants of earth in space dislocated on several satellites in order to avoid the destruction of the entire race, were there to be any accidents. The original idea was to transform the emotional sphere into efficiency and to grant immortality to the Projections by trying to confer on them the likelihood of human beings. In-depth preliminary studies showed that such Projections would be ready in a decade, after which each human was to be assigned one, as a matter of fact, her/his own. Learning was to be carried out by mimicking and by sustained observance, new ways of social and individual behavior would have inevitably been interiorized and triggered a new global society. The first years of the second decade were to be considered “experimental”, that is liable to perfecting and to readjustments, finally the full re-educational program was to start in the second half of the second decade with the ever-present Projections but this time interacting with human beings as an ever-present double. Where a man or a woman slid into “primitive” behavior, the Projection was supposed to enter to bring back to normality what from the outside at that point could have required the intervention of governmental forces. In this way the shut down of correctional facilities was foreseen, as well as a remarkable reduction of the forces of order and the related funds were to be used for the new structures the No-Emotion Reign would require. A magmatic plan that saw the laboriousness of so many motivated people.

Bourgerois, who inherited his blue looks from his Swedish mother and savoir faire from his French father, had the dual task of supervising the accomplishment of all technical details both in the actual making of the Projections, of the satellites, and the more delicate duty of being able to balance at a psychological level the integration of the single into the future No-Emotion Reign.

Dorn, of Jewish-German and Japanese ancestors, was given the faculty to choose the best suggestions of how to incorporate codified knowledge into the Projections in order to make them self-sufficient from a psychological point of view so that any unbalance due to reactions of the other were to be minimized, if not completely and automatically eliminated. An architectonic masterpiece that started from the idea of self-sufficient satellites and exhausted itself into the self-sufficiency of each automated Projection that was to inhabit the different spheres. Numbers and music, poetry, physics, lines, visible and invisible energies, all had to be synthesized or recognized in its noumena to be elaborated into new phenomena by which to invest what was going to be.

“Gods on earth”, the “Creators of The New World”, that is how media convened in titling the frequent reportages that along the years became more and more repetitive because of the complexity of the discoveries and of the secrecy of the formulas. Many people in the streets were interviewed. After the initial jubilation that stemmed from the unavoidable delirium that carries away masses usually in political and religious pseudo-fanaticism, people started questioning themselves on the finality of the project and on its validity. At the beginning the interviews passed through the magnifying glass of journalists interested in keeping their jobs and a project that was initially meant to last about three decades translated for them into a good deal of bread and a safe comfortable position, to the point that many started studying the stars, physics, philosophy, psychology, and whatnot. That is also why media depicted smiling faces ready to give up their emotional sphere for the possibility of a lasting earth, and maybe even immortality, since behind it all someone suggested that in time the Projections were to take the place of the projectors and become the same being. An ethereal cloning, so to say.

It was after a year or so, when finally the intricate complications of the structure and the highly refined research carried out created a deep gap in between the culture of journalists and reporters, not to mention the one of the average street man, that things started cooling down. IP:ESP, Intelligence Program: Experimental Satellites & Projections, was not the top top of the tops, but started snailing down to the second, third, fourth page of the luminous tabloids and was supplanted by heated discussions on the leveling of the mountains, the checkering of the poles, or on the new Central-Atlantic and Central-Pacific City with parades of tycoons and politicians together with robotized models and exotic refreshments. And finally Bourgerois and Dorn with their teams and sub-teams were forgotten and they could start working without being continuously and senselessly interrupted.

Anny Ballardini lives and teaches in Bolzano, Italy. Her work appears on several online sites and her poetry was recently collected in Opening and Closing Numbers, published by Moria Editions, 2005. She is the curator/editor of the Poets’ Corner on the Fieralingue.it site. Among her many translations from and into English and Italian, see the Poets’ Corner; on paper: In RI by Henry Gould published by H. Gould, ’06; Smokestacks Allegro by R. Cominolli, Centro Studi Judicaria, ‘98; still to be published The Renaissance of the Self by Arturo Onofri. Her blog can be found under Narcissus Works.

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