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interlude(the_first)

interlude(the_first)

Jesse Patrick Bohanan

...of Heaven is a Parallel Universe.

It is
not in the form, but the substance — 
not in the idea, but the actualization — 
that truth may be found.

I glimpsed the future while pondering the Fracture, and it was a beautiful, terrible thing. Cities fallen, cities built. Lives taken, lives given. But in all of this, a single chord rang true in the multiversal symphony: The siren song of Hope.

“Never give up,” she sang, “even when the multiverse has turned against you. For only in trying may we succeed.”

Only in trying may we succeed. I pondered this and a great many other lines from the symphony. There are two ways one could interpret this line: One, that it is trying itself that is the true measure of success; and two, that it is only in attempting to succeed that we actually stand a chance of succeeding. The latter interpretation seems to me to be self-evident and recursive in its definition. The former seems almost childish in its simplicity and measured kindness. I prefer the former, and that is a line of the symphony I have found to hold true throughout the multiverse when taken in such an interpretation. Occam’s Razor proves its point here.

However, it is also worth noting that misinterpretation, or alternative interpretation, of the multiversal symphony has much to do with the strife faced in the future of the human species. Take the aforementioned line for example. If one is to assume that it is best interpreted such that the only reason to try is to have attempted success, one could easily devolve into deeper and deeper levels of remorse and self-loathing, for there is no innate guarantee of success merely in the act of trying, and the only reason to try is to hope to succeed. Thus, those with apparently probabilistically lower chances at success in any given situation where they might try are far less likely to try at all, thus all but guaranteeing a competing outcome, whereas if they had tried in the first place, there would have remained margin for error.

Case in point: The rise of liars, manipulators, deceivers and demagogues to the Offices of President and Vice President of the United States. Voters became increasingly less likely to vote when the chances of success for the opposing party appeared increasingly greater, thus increasing the chances of success for the opposing party by an even greater margin. Or in reverse, one could note that voters became increasingly likely to vote when the chances of success for their own party appeared increasingly great.

Note the stress on the term “appeared”. For in reality, both parties in the races in question had approximately equal probability of victory at the onset, with the moderate socialist candidates actually having slightly greater chances of success than the extremist fascist candidates. However, due to manipulation of news and media outlets in the increasingly prevalent realms of social networks, it appeared to members of both parties that their candidates were both guaranteed victory — at least at the onset.

Over time, it became apparent to media analysts writing in more traditional mediums such as the newspaper that the sheer volume of manipulated media was increasing at an exponential rate on the side of the fascist candidates, whereas the socialist candidates’ media manipulation allies remained largely stable in their output. (Side note: I deplore the term “fake news” in reference to these stories. “Fake” implies in many cases that the lie is apparent, whereas the so-called “news” in these cases was carefully measured to appear as truth.) This ever-increasing influx of manipulation from the extreme right served to improve their candidates’ chances significantly enough that they were elected to the Presidency and Vice Presidency.

That still leaves out the (in the future debated still) issue of whether or not the voting machines were hacked by foreign powers aligned with the fascist candidates. That issue is still a topic of heated debate among scholars of computational history and data science. The fact that there was extremely limited human code review in the voting machine software is not encouraging, however. When combined with the knowledge that Russian hackers had previously manipulated media in the US election in favor of the fascist candidate, hacks of voting machines appear increasingly likely. Still, the black box nature of the machines themselves impossibilizes the extraction of the majority of relevant information from their data banks.

But society was rebuilt. Society grew stronger. American society grew stronger, rising from its ashes of squalid desperation in the same way that Germany had following the rise of the Nazi party and the ensuing Second World War. For there was, indeed, a Third World War, and America was the root of the Axis of Evil, aligning itself with Russia and the United Kingdom in a nearly nuclear war that only reached its conclusion when China realized its own grave peril and allied with the European Union to stop the launch of nuclear warheads through the use of satellite jamming technology they had developed in secret in the years following the replacement of their communist dictatorship with a socialist democracy focused on protecting their own country’s infrastructure, and their country’s infrastructure alone — at least, until the Third World War. Desperate times call for desperate measures.