Ch. 16 ~ A little bit of history repeating
You could just about hear the laughter in Lucy’s voice, but she wasn’t laughing. She was born with a smile in her eye that trickled down into her throat and set into motion a rolling-swaying kind of lumber to her upper body that, well, rolled and swayed and lumbered ever so slightly as she sat cross-legged on the ground. She had flowers in her hair, Lucy did. That’s right. In. Her. Hair. In fact, she had Flowers Everywhere. Not to mention Diamonds in her Kaleidoscope Eyes. And all of this made Lucy smile even more deeply than her non-photorealistic skin caused her to do. Because all of this reminded Lucy that she could be or do or create anything she wanted to, anything at all. She almost wished someone would alt-click onto her face so she could flash her pearly whites and reflect to the outside inworld what Lucy felt so deeply within her inside outer world being.
Everything this fine day was so absolutely “Groovy,” Lucy breathed into the universe. Heck, that was true every day because Lucy was one of the very first few adventurous souls to enter into and live and be in this Brave New Inworld. In fact, the Bleeding Edge Gridworld that Lucy found herself in was *the* very first of the Brave New Inworlds that would be born over the next dozen or more years like so many stars scattered across the universe back to the beginning of time. But that was later. Billions and Billions of years and stars later, as the saying would kind of go. As for now, in the beginnings, the stars and universes that busied themselves with being born were digital, and this First of all Inworlds constituted the precise time and place for the rezzing of Lucy Galaxy, who usually spent all of that precise time and place inworld in this Brave New Frontier flying unassisted in the sky because – “WOW!,” she’d laugh and yell as she pulled her arms into her sides and lifted her chin, using her head to propel her body through the heavens, “where ELSE can you do this!”
But for now, for today, Lucy had parked her tuckus on Gaia’s Good Green or even Technocolor Grid and sat down for a sit-in with some like-minded early-adopter souls. Today, the metaverse mood and culture was all Peace, Love, and of course, Freebies. Well, not only today, but every day. Because that was the way of this world. Except when it suddenly wasn’t, but that critical juncture — and it was highly critical in every sense of the word — happened later. As for this present moment, well, Lucy swayed and rolled and smiled so brightly her Freebie Warehouse “Diamond-Iris Purple Sunrise Kaleidoscope Eyes” sparkled and dazzled nearly as blindingly as the most popular of all the freebie facelights. She knew this to be the case because TimothyLeary Writer, HunterThompson Gestalt, and GloriaSteinem Bunny each nodded their heads in appreciation while they too sat in on this sit in, pointed their fingers in the general direction of Lucy’s eyes, and muttered in a long cool drawl of near Valley Avatar speak, “whoaaa…blindingly cool, man. Mind blowing righteousness.”
Maybe it was Lucy’s eyes they admired. Or maybe it was the Flower Particle Shower that enveloped their little sit in. Suddenly, there were more flowers in her hair. More flowers everywhere. Someone had set the particle show off for no other reason than they could. It was probably that HunterThompson fellow, Lucy decided. He made manifest the coin of the realm in the early days of this Brave New World, and that coin of the realm was simply Imagination. Everything that happened there, happened because it could. Un-hindered. Un-judged. Un-classified. Un-categorized. Un-navel gazed. It existed because it existed. It was the best aspect of the cult of Rand, minus the Rand Vaccuum made up entirely of an unmitigated self-absorption: because it was only Rand’s perspective and Rand’s alone that was declared “truth.” (Just ask her jilted lover who she had banished from the Inner Rand Truth Circle to an Intellectual Siberia soley because his particular perspective of freedom and truth included cheating on her when her particular perspective of “universal” freedom and truth came with several caveats, chief among them his particular freedom to act on all of his perspectives…including cheating on her.) The truth of the matter was that everything was because it was but also that everything was interconnected. And that made everything basically free, so that imagination wasn’t forced to torque itself into the unimagined consequences of supply and demand, consequences that so often eventually crashed every party. This party proved to be no different. But that was later.
As for now, for today, Lucy giggled. She was actually breathing, but she didn’t know how to breathe without a lilt of a laugh, which had the effect of making her sound like she was perpetually giggling. Her tonsils danced with the air bubbles lifting the Flower particles around her head. “I love the flowers,” she laughed. And on a rolling, swaying, lumbering whim, she passed some Inworld Currency Love over to that HunterThompson fellow as a kind of a thank-you gesture for the particle show.
“Gonzo!” he muttered in surprise.
“And what’s so horrible about ‘Gonza’,” GloriaSteinem asked the air precisely. Precisely, because she rarely let her hair down…even as a Bunny. And the Air because not many paid much attention to her initially. They just liked looking at her pretty face and figure.
“Uh, Lucy would be a ‘woman’, Hunter. Hear her roar…but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself,” Gloria drew each word out carefully.
“Lucy, chick…” Hunter slurred a bit relunctantly. Taking direction just wasn’t his bag but that weird Bunny chick over there scared the crap out of him. She talked too much for a pretty girl, and she still had her top on. How weird was she. “You dropped some money on my head. Do you know…” he paused, suddenly listening to a diatribe in his mind “…the Fat Cat on the bill talks? He keeps saying ‘catnip! catnip!'”
“Well, stop sitting there letting the Fat Cat get up in your grill, Hunter,” TimothyLeary said, “and whip out the catnip!”
And so HunterThompson did, and everyone in their little sit-in and eveyrone nearby shared in the catnip until everyone got positively spazzy. And when they ran out of catnip, everyone dropped more Inworld Currency Love on HunterThompson’s head until the Fat Cat in his mind barked “catnip! catnip!”, and then they would all have catnip again in spades. And Lucy giggled and Gloria nearly tore off her top but started with her bra instead and burned it in the fire while her perky little mounds dangled and bounced precisely in the air and everybody cheered until the cheering morphed into a breathy moaning from a sudden orgy that everyone writhed themselves into and all was good Inworld.
Until it wasn’t.
Another revolution aside from the sex and drug revolution was tangled in the air right under their very noses. TimothyLeary wasn’t as stoned as he looked to be. He possessed a calculating mind that one. Even when he found himself in positions that involved other people’s thighs being wrapped around his head, he constantly crunched the numbers of opportunity. He knew when to sit-in and when to drop out, and he was soon about to drop out yet again but this time into the edges of the culture’s new margins. How can you be an iconoclast when you suddenly find yourself doing what everyone else is doing, he reasoned. At this point, mounds of people inworld dropped in and dropped out and soon found themselves with multiple pairs of thighs wrapped around their heads. Sure, Lucy, Hunter, Gloria and he may have been one of the very first ones to define the Inworld Anti-Establishment Movement but as soon as the Anti-Establishment Movement went Mainstream, well then, TimothyLeary figured, all bets were off. Because at that point the only sure bet was that the Anti-Establishment Movement had just become the New Establishment. And that bummed his head, because if nothing else, TimothyLeary was all about fighting The Man. On that, the Intellectual Bunny and he agreed. TimothyLeary just went about fighting The Man in his own way; that was the only difference (if you could really call even that a difference). So, now feeling the weight of the New Establishment bearing down on his shoulders and his back at every twist and turn (with most of that New Establishment wearing temporary tattoos of brightly colored flowers along the legs), TimothyLeary watched with great interest as hordes of people wound themselves into a tizzy of dropping Inworld Currency Love on HunterThompson’s head, the poor wretch. Hunter was on an unusually aggressive trip and didn’t have a clue what was going on. Half the time, he unwittingly gave the money back, all the while shrieking “Gonzo! Damned Fat Cat!” and swatting furiously at it. This only encouraged the hordes to drop even more money on his head until, exhausted from flailing about at the Damned Talking Fat Cat, he finally gave up and accepted it. And then there was once again “Catnip! Catnip!” for all.
“So this is free…” TimothyLeary muttered at the edge of his consciousness. He expanded his mind even more, crunching the opportunity until it took shape. “The freedom to give money in exchange…for something even if it wasn’t much of anything really. What a concept! A concept not currently mainstream. So, this was the New Anti-Establishment Movement. Fight the Freebie Man!” And so was born the New Anti-Establishment Movement, ushered forth just as rapidly by Leary.
“Hey, man,” he said now in a stronger voice that weaved its way through the throngs of limbs writhing around his head. “Who loves this groovy good Gaia land that gives us this wild orgy, man?” (Cleverly avoiding the fact that the land had nothing to do with generating the wild orgy, but it was belief systems Leary addressed, not fact.)
“I love this groovy good Gaia land, man,” Lucy giggled up through a tangle of interwoven arms and legs.
“Hey man, me too, man!” “Yeah man!” a chorus erupted.
And then all at once the owners of all those voices began to alt-click on the parcel, dropping mounds of Inworld Currency Love into the account of the land owner: one TimothyLeary Writer…who also claimed a percentage — call it the top 1 percent — on every bit of currency the thrashing HunterThompson realized in exchange for his catnip, cleverly avoiding the fact that Leary had absolutely nothing to do with generating the catnip and HunterThompson was in no state of mind in those moments to even realize much less bring up this point.
It didn’t take long for word to travel far and wide, with all the juicy details of the Free Love and Free Sex on TimothyLeary’s property (not to mention the Free Catnip). Droves of folks from all cultures and all backgrounds flocked to the grid, mainly out of curiousity to turn on, tune in and drop out on Leary’s parcel, where they pursued all things Free: free love, free sex, free catnip! At least they thought they were in pursuit of all things free, because on Leary’s property, “free” was theirs only when they freely parted with their Inworld Currency, something Leary called “Thanks-Giving.” The key was “Freely” parting — at least in the beginning — because of course it was an individual choice, and the “Thanks-Giving” was any amount the partiers wanted to give. But very soon from that point forward, TimothyLeary took it upon himself to declare his first incarnation as a freedom loving hippy as “dead and over.” Instead, he now fully personified this updated incarnation of TimothyLeary the Capitalist (otherwise known as TimothyLeary the 1 Percent, because who else had landed on this incredible idea of his to make hordes of money from virtually nothing!). Sure, he continued to rail against the current Establishment, only now he railed against the New Establishment — the Freebie Man — that he himself had had a major hand in creating! And he fought the Good Fight by creating a fixed-price entrance fee that he attached to the Pursuit of All Things Free as well as to all of its soon to be endless lines of merchandise: fixed-priced Free Love tshirts, fixed-price Free Sex hot pants, fixed-price Free Catnip bongs, you name it. Even Free Land that initially sold for just pennies on the inworld currency but rapidly became priced increasingly higher with each flip from one seller to the next and all because of the ever addictive TimothyLeary hype. Free Hot Potato! Just throw the word Free in front of it and attach a price. Because how better to fight the Establishment than by redefining the institution and redefining its language. Free now meant that it came at a cost…yes, so low that it was just about free, but far enough above zero that it was, in fact, a price. Leary’s “Thanks-Giving” surcharge started out as 1 dollar here, then 5 dollars there, then 50 dollars just about everywhere before things went chaotic and the prices on all the items varied based on some value of “Thanks” that Leary felt justified in requiring the partiers to give to him, the host of these increasingly popular and heavily attended soirees. And all because he could…because the hordes paid without question.
Then one day, a moment of clarity not only emerged but also seeped into HunterThompson’s pores and he sweated out a question. He asked in a voice muffled by GloriaSteinem’s flower-covered inked upper hips, “Hey man…how loaded are you now, Damned Fat Cat Leary!” With that question, HunterThompson, just as much a king of altered states as TimothyLeary, dropped what amounted to the most rational of all possible buzz kills, because out of all the gonzos uttered by the man, the question of TimothyLeary’s new-found wealth was the one thing that actually registered with people and that they actually took seriously.
There was an unmistakable lull among the hordes of partiers. They held their collective breaths in wait of an answer. Each set of eyes stared at TimothyLeary through the veil of entwined limbs and flesh. (Don’t ask what their hands were doing.)
He wasn’t about to wiggle out of this one and he knew it.
“Um…” he hemmed and hawed. But he was a fast thinker and stuck to what he knew. Everything was all about fighting the Establishment, whatever the particular Establishment de Jour was. Even if he, himself, had created it, dammit. That irony hadn’t escaped him. And yet. …he thrust a finger at the Good Gaia Grid. He wailed and cried, “Do you have ANY idea how robbed blind I am by Governor Rand!? She demands everything I own and everything that I possess because EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE IS ALL her SET OF RULES!” His perspective, his truth…so it must have been real, eh? Hell, yeah.
“Freedom!” someone yelled.
“Yeah, yeah,” Leary rebounded. “Freedom that is being terrorized by the Governor’s rules of what freedom is and should be! Who is the GOVERNOR to dictate what freedom is and isn’t, what is owed to her by others, I ask you! Think for yourself and challenge authority…even Randian authority that masquerades as freedom!”
“FREEDOM,” HunterThompson echoed, then half tripping added, “FREEDOM FROM THE GOVERNMENT!” And TimothyLeary’s eyes lit up like the fiery end of HunterThompson’s ever-present cigarette. “Psychedelic, baby,” was all that he said, and he watched as the horde’s hallucinogenic fervor shaped the New New Anti-Establishment Movement: Fighting the NEW Man – Fighting the Governor!”
“Gonzo! Fight those Damned Fat Cats along with it!” HunterThompson crackled and continued to flail at the air. Unfortunately, far too many took this far too literally.
Flower particles and orgies gave way with alarming ease to griefing attacks and demonstrations, class and identity wars at every level of the culture and subcultures. Where once there had been cats and dogs living together, now Nekos and Kitsunes savaged each other’s appearances and belief systems. Immersionists and Augmentalists carved out diametrically opposed viewpoints and attacked the other’s position with lazer tipped tongues. Scientists and Spiritualists clashed over the strength of that which could be measured versus the power over all of that which was yet to be learned. Prepsters and Stylists reemerged from their long slumber and Freebie Warehouse gluttony and networking to issue directives on everything from how to dress, how to speak, what colors to wear, what shape to own, what form to be, what friends to have, what skin to buy to what stores to frequent. The meaning of Nudity — once a source of celebration and expression — turned itself inside out and became a source of shame and embarrassment. GloriaSteinem rediscovered not only the bra but a seamless padded corset stuffed with enough material to just about pulverize any evidence of a nipple or a navel. Child avatars were admonished while bratty behavior in the blogosphere was exonerated just so long as the brattiness came from an adult avatar. There was a run on the grid with increasingly vocal demands from the community that the Governor provide access to land in a way that was Fast, Easy, Fun…which translated into premium parcels for cheap, cheap, cheap, with those prices skyrocketing as the parcels were flipped at a manic pace and traded hands between all the fully-organized inworld real estate developers. In no short order, the new social order flirted with intolerance, which resulted in anything “different” being plucked from the masses and quarantined into a grid all of its own complete with iron-clad rules for entry. And strip malls popped up everywhere. Soon, the Inworld feast for imagination kept its meal ticket stridently clean by flirting dangerously closely with Thought Control and by refusing to mix peas with carrots or carrots with potatoes and gravy or patotoes and gravy with meat. And still the tide of chaotic Mainstream couldn’t be held back. Before long with prices on everything from parcels to freebie items skyrocketing and a widespread drought in terms of parties interested in those things, panic spread throughout the grid, content creators closed up shops, markets collapsed, parcels sat barren and empty, differing viewpoints were stifled, hell, if there had been books inworld they would have been burned, moles in the Governor’s employ felt the blade of the unemployment axe and on and on and on. The cry went out for Authentification. Unleashed was the fight for getting rid of the ridiculousness of all of this free imagination crap when there existed plain as day the lunacy of the vapor markets in the atomic world! (And does anyone still expect others to believe that Inworld is somehow any more “unreal” than something like the global market meltdown of the atomic world? Please.) Because who would take imagination seriously without monetization, the new hip buzzword, come on! Even vapor monetization! Avatars began shouting for customers!, partiers!, buyers!, employers!, jobs! jobs! jobs!, currency! currency! currency! The right to flip! They marched along the routes of the forums and the blogosphere, protesting the greed of the top 1 percent, the very group founded by TimothyLeary who had lit this chaos-nomic frenzy firepit of overpriced hype and who had benefitted from it at the top of every successive wave ridden to the hilt by what seemed to be an endless stream of starry-eyed entrepreneurs who chased the monetizing pyramid scheme.
Until the stream chasing that scheme proved itself not to be endless. Because suddenly it wasn’t.
It was then that Lucy pulled her head up to breathe. She stared at the sky, all awash in windlight. She flopped her arms slowly out from the tangle of bodies and laid them to rest quietly on either one set of legs, or legs from two or more avatars, she wasn’t entirely sure which. It was difficult to see where it all began and where it all ended…if in fact it ever did.
“Like a big ole plate of spaghetti,” Lucy laughed softly to no one in particular.
The mound of tangled, entwined bodies rippled slightly. HunterThompson turned first an ear toward Lucy’s statement then his eyes. He watched in fascination as the Damned Fat Cat tap-danced along each strand of spaghetti, spraying meatballs and sauce everywhere, startling HunterThompson and annoying the china plate no end, which quickly grabbed a fork and pointed it in an ominous manner at the Damned Fat Cat, demanding that the dancing feline guzzle a liter of wine.
Hunter blinked through the sauce and shouted at the spaghetti, “Resist conformity! Fight the Damned Fat Cat!”, then immediately dueled with the fork-weilding plate by waving his cigarette furiously at it.
“Hey, man,” Lucy Galaxy giggled, not because she was laughing but because she was born with a smile in her eye that trickled down into her throat and set into motion a rolling-swaying kind of lumber to her upper body that, well, rolled and swayed and lumbered ever so slightly as she lay sprawled and entwined with multiple bodies heaped onto each other across the parcel on Gaia’s Good Technicolor Grid. “That is sommmmeeeee Damned Fat Catnip! I just took the most wild trip…that you just wouldn’t believe,” she laughed and this time she did indeed laugh because she was so relieved to see flowers and orgies everywhere and GloriaSteinem’s bra still burning.
“Had to have been hell if the Damned Fat Cat was involved,” HunterThompson growled and swirled the tip of his burning cigarette wildly in the air.
Lucy nodded, her sparkling Freebie Warehouse “Diamond-Iris Purple Sunrise Kaleidoscope Eyes” shining. “You just wouldn’t believe it…even if I could describe it. You just wouldn’t…” she muttered, shaking the memory from her head, “You just can’t make this stuff up…”
But then again, maybe it all could be believed. Because after all “…fiction often makes the best fact” ~ Hunter S. Thompson.
Nanowrimo10 total word count: 3,650. Total wordcount to date: 44,470 of 50,000 (not including any of this notation). Yes, I intend to hit the 50,000 word count if it takes me one year to do it.