In 1975 Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson published The Illuminatus! Trilogy. It remains a seminal work of conspiracy fiction. Today, The Omnivore continues a serial-fiction experiment: Illuminoimia.
Everything You're Afraid Of Is True.
Previously On Illuminoimia
Chapter 12: The Heart Vault
Somewhere In Cyberspace
I want to explain some things about how the Controlling Interest works that will be obvious to at least half my readers--but will be necessary to catch the rest of you up. So pay close attention.
If I were going to sum up the tragedy of the ‘human condition’ it would be that we do not want what we want. It wouldn’t be any bullshit about love or death (well, okay: death would count: The period at the end of the statement is what we fear more than anything)--but day by day? We don’t want what we want. For example: You ‘want’ to be the dress size you were in high school--you want that doughnut. Which wins? Over time? Yeah.
All your life you are in an uphill battle against your nature--your body. Your desires. Your fears. Things you ‘want’ are forever out of reach because you don’t actually want them. You want that g_ddamn doughnut. Nine times out of ten: you eat the doughnut.
When our symmetry is broken in The Harrowing it changes that equation. We want more than anything else, our soulmate (well, except to avoid death, as I said). After we’ve condemned her--horribly--that pattern is shattered. In its place is a cold new conceptual ice crystal: We now want whatever we ‘want.’
The first thing they teach us, when we are recovering from our Harrowing is about The Heart Vault. When you can want whatever it is you ‘want’ you can do some interesting tricks. The first trick is “How to keep a secret.” It’s an oath you swear in that hospital bed that, when you commit to a secret, you will guard it with your life. The secret is locked in your heart and should you share it you will die. You commit to that as your highest order rule--and it’s done. Then you can keep secrets. You just ‘put them in the Vault.’
While you are vulnerable you learn all kinds of shit--and all of it goes in your Vault--and it’s safe. You might think you would be so resentful--so horrified--so angry that you’d lie about it but nobody does. You are reunited with your father (and sometimes your mother--The Controlling Interest is mostly a guy thing--maybe I’ll talk about that later) and you have convinced yourself that being accepted and loved and forgiven is the bestest thing in all the world. You are grateful. You are also ashamed. That helps too.
So the secrets go in the Vault and at the very bottom of that--at the foundation of that--is The Harrowing: your dead mirror. That’s what makes it safe. That’s what locks it up. That’s what I didn’t get. That’s why I can write this without dying.
One of the next things they teach us to do is to kill with our hands--to shut down fear, doubt, and pain and to fight with extreme efficiency. We effortlessly stay perfectly fit with perfect diets (and we knew more about restricting calories and protecting telomeres than you all did for a very, very long time) and harsh calculated exercise that we’re never too tired for and never miss out on. I cannot quite dodge bullets--but in practice if I gave you a gun you would find me almost impossible to hit unless you are trained in something like Zen Archery where you are able to aim ‘by sense of smell’ (by the feeling of accuracy and, of course, loads of experience) rather than a lot of time-consuming inefficient thinking.
It takes you about 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery of some skill. We can do it in about 600. I can strike the same way a master carpenter drives a nail in one blow. I understand balance and physiology and can read micro-expressions like a grand-master. We almost never duel. It is forbidden--but it has happened. When one of us duels with another it is a series of calm circling motions followed by a death blow. With anyone else? Mostly? It’s just a death-blow.
Because we cannot be overly reliant on physical security. We ran the Praetorian Guard after all--and we learn from history like nobody else. That’s why you repeat history: because we learned from it. We’ve given you all the stuff we liked. You’re ‘welcome.’
For the same reasons we don’t use smart phones--we don’t use email (much)--we are very careful with telecommunications in general. I would like to say that our geniuses are so far ahead of yours that we’ve solved all the hacker problems but it’d be a lie. We do use certain systems--terminal networks with high levels of encryption and the like--but where possible we do things by hand.
Now, to be clear: we have a bunch of people who use all that shit. We call them ‘the NSA’ other even more shadowy services--and we get reports that almost no one else gets--so believe me, we’re plugged in.
But that doesn’t mean we understand everything we read.
Let me tell you a small-’s’ secret: how do you really annoy an ‘Illuminoid’ and live to talk about it? Play really smokin’ guitar. Or paint masterpieces--or whatever. We can be amazing at just about anything we set our minds to--but we can’t engineer talent out of nothing. Our attempts to write better music than Mozart? Or Bach? Crap. We could commission Michelangelo and we did. We could induct geniuses and master artists--and we did--but we couldn’t simply outpace them. We’re not exactly the most petty motherfuckers who ever walked the face of the earth--but still? It’s a sore spot.
There's a reason we pay a lot of attention to recording artists and it isn't just their reach and charisma.
So guys like me: young, slightly irreverent, and overall ‘needing to be taught a lesson’ get jobs like MONITOR--meaning I get to pay close attention to, well, you--all of you. I get to understand pop-culture in a way most of us recoil from. I get to understand what’s going on so that our hired experts in advertising and media manipulation and all that--the network of normal people who work for us are fundamentally, at some point, unable to bullshit us. I am a stopgap in case people doing our work ever get it wrong or just aren’t up to the task (we are, as I said bred to be incredibly, incredibly smart).
As a result, I came into contact with a massive and bizarre sea of popular culture detritus. My training gave me insight that I doubt one in a hundred thousand of its intended consumers had--but it also gave me something else: exposure. Spending time with you is like a drug that doesn't have any good side effects. You feel small minded. Predictable. Petty (we know petty, trust me--we may not totally top the list but … trust me). All that--boring. Trite. Ugly. The NSA combs through things, throws up patterns that I examine. All. Day. Long.
There are a few things we look for to be proactive. It turns out certain kinds of messaging on blogs was one of them. That was what got Theo on to my reading list. That was what got him noticed. That was what got him involved.
He’s not brilliant. He’s not insanely talented. He didn't uncover anything--mostly he was willfully blind to the sea of manipulation he swam in because it just didn't make any sense to him (and emotionally he didn’t have a need to believe it). He got his kicks pointing out how he was smarter than other people who believed in one or more conspiracies. That was his gnosis. His drug.
But he was funny. He had a deadpan style of humor when he wrote about the Illuminati--about us that was, well, gifted. Just a little. Just a little more than I was when I’d tried my hand at written humor. He was annoying. He got under my skin a little. And I liked him. I couldn’t help it: they take the humanity out of us with a single death-stroke in that dark room but we’re still human after all.
I could have chosen not to like him--wanted to let him go--and I got Harrowed enough that it’d probably have worked. I didn’t though. When he went dark--when he was depressed and out of work I thought about it a couple of times and I thought “I’m going to fuck this guy up.”
And I thought “I’ll make it up to him after I blow his mind.”
And I thought: Hey, a hobby. I thought of him like a pet. Or like a pen-pal who’s in prison--or something like that.
This was a major breach of protocol--we have comfort girls for physical companionship and sycophants for various low-grade intellectual and emotional needs--but we don’t usually get directly involved with the masses. Certainly not like I did.
But I did.
I think maybe at the time I knew this was going somewhere. I think maybe at the time I knew something was wrong.