A faint sign of lucidity is taking place under the covers, the muffled soundscapes call back to Ris, asking her— to remember… There is feeling of uncertainty billowing about as the origami of music lingers in the air like the fragrance of a former lover as it folds into her translucent green eyes. The iridescence of the sun casts through a crystal that hangs in the window; transitioning awareness from the spectrums of light to the streets below. A piano echoes against the walls from the alarm. The music serving its only purpose as it reverberates throughout her loft as she begins a new day; a cordial invitation to tai chi tango with the sound waves and molecules dancing in the light rays of the morning dust; form colliding with form, entangled in space together, spoiling the air around her with such beauty that it most certainly will never be the same.
Such a profoundness from music can never be truly understood; time capsules encased in melodies; at a whim sounds have an ability to change her emotions but also teleport her to particular times and places, reminding her of all the things forgotten; preserved for eternity in the sound of a melody.
"What is that sound? No. 4 or No. 6?", she thinks.
"You're still not here.", she says lifting her eyelids as if expecting someone to magically appear next to her. Which, if the truth be told, is exactly what she wished would happen for over the past 3 months. Whispering, "I love you" every night before she went to sleep in quiet desperation in a hope that, wherever he was, he would eventually hear her and return. A hope that has gone in vain for so long she’s not even sure it will ever happen.
She sits up and begins looks around the room, “How the hell? “, she says as rhetorical as possible. “Not again." The 'again’, Ris happens to be referring to, is what most people might consider a blackout. Ris, 29 years old, might normally be able to write this off as just another night of fun on the town. Which for the most part is true, except for the fact she doesn’t drink or do any drugs; as a neuroscientist she wants to preserve her cognitive abilities as long as possible. The only evidence that these blackouts even exist are usually her pissed off friends; no call, no shows or just ghosting them at events, also eloquently known as the Irish goodbye. These Houdini like qualities are a little troubling to her friends, some just write it off as it’s just Ris while others tend to classify it as rude. Neither of which Ris is as easily accepting. She looks over to her phone on the nightstand, by the look of her message notifications this morning that most certainly happened—again.
Staring out the window, Ris could hear the birds outside singing in tune with the piano. "How can this be?", she thinks. In a world full of so much chaos, what are the odds that the birds fall in complete harmony with the sounds being played next to her? Is it one in a billion or possibly even a billion billion?
Looking down at her on the bench, he smiles as if to know exactly what she is thinking. "Space is the key Ris", he used to say. "It's easy to find melodies once you create a space to share them in. It's a resonation you feel in your core just like the birds do. The right space will transform the very essence of who you are." Closing his eyes he strikes a key on the piano and takes a deep breath as if he was inhaling the sound of the fall leaves.
"Sound becomes a catalyst for many things, it is the pulse of who you are. It connects our senses to each other and our environment; creates form, gives rise and explains the world around you. Never ever underestimate its importance. It's a fundamental building block of everything you see.", he emphasized as he brought her closer. "Stop for a moment, close your eyes and listen Ris, you can feel a whole world existing inside your mind. Let go of what you think you hear, sculpt and create your own story.", he said in a whisper.
Her father always had a way with words especially when talking about sound. Sometimes she felt it was like he could literally see the sound waves traveling around him in all directions.
"Just listen...", he said as he struck another single note on the piano. As the note vibrated and fluttered around the room it moved through her heart, ringing a space between the cells encompassing her body. At the same moment, a bird outside sang the fourth harmonic of the note as it resonated within the room.
Inside Ris was filled with clarity that was beyond comprehension for a girl just 10 years old. It was a taste of happiness that had been previously unknown to her. A door inside her opened in that moment and she stepped through.
"What do you see?", her father asked gently.
"I don't see anything daddy. It's blank.", she said.
"Exactly Ris. This is where worlds are created and art is made; whether it is in songs, films, paintings, solutions, games or stories. It comes from here. This place is where you truly are. This canvas is called you. Create with it, be it, return to it. It's as close as you'll get to who you really are.", stopping for a minute to absorb, as the note and the bird drifted away across time.
"Now open your eyes.", quietly leading her out of the happiest place she's ever been.
She opened her eyes and looked up at him. Her father's eyes now spoke in a different language to her in that moment; something anciently abstract and yet somehow familiar, it was a deep understanding of all things unknown and unspoken.
She was lost for a few more moments afterwards. The loud sound of the doorbell snapped Ris back to reality and as her father requested her to get the door; she was still in a place of quiet resolve. Unbeknowenst to Ris, he had invited his friend Stefan over that evening. She walked out of the room to answer the door when she opened it she let out a squeak that sounded more like a dog toy than the excitement of a ten year old girl. She ran up and wrapped her little arms around Stefan's legs so tight he couldn't move without falling over.
"Well, hello Ris. How are you doing?", he chuckled.
"I'm great now that you're here.", she smiled.
"Eh hmmmmm...", Jim said as he walked around the corner. "I guess I'm just old news now."
They all laughed.
"That's not true, daddy", she said while still squeezing Stefan's legs.
“Hi Ris.”, Sherilyn said bending down to her.
Ris waved shyly. Her father said, “Don’t be rude Ris, at least say Hi.”
“Hi.”, said Ris with her head tilted to the side between Stefan’s legs, as she squeezed again.
Ris always loved when Stefan would come over and visit. There was something about him and all the conversations they would have in her father's 'lab', as he called it.
Stefan was a gangly sort of guy that might be confused with a new born giraffe, if it wasn't for that whole biped thing. It was not an awkwardness that came from an equilibrium but an awkwardness that stemmed from his inability to find out who he really was. It created an uncomfortableness with the world around him, a self consciousness that made him unable to communicate within the delicate structures, interests and language that most people preferred. He just didn’t understand, why would people would waste so much time on the trivialness of the world; small talk that created separation between self and environment instead of the wholeness of the system, dividing people and places based on who has more pull with the Almighty, particular production of melatonin or who has the most cash points. These lines of division, so minute and the cause of so much chaos and sadness, left him to wonder about his own sanity after awhile, could he be the one that is wrong? Could he have missed something that defined the boundaries of people’s hate and jealousy? The underscore of human existence that proved once and for all that we are separate after all. He didn’t think so but it was still the cause of so much anxiety for him that he had to wonder, why? Why are we polluting our minds this way? Spending so much time dividing instead of creating a system that could organize and disseminate information for the benefit of humankind.
“Stefan, show me another frac..frac…”, as Ris tugged on his shirt.
“Fractal”, said Stefan.
“Yeah, that.”, Ris said with charming grin on her face.
Stefan smiled, “Ok, ok. Let’s go.”
As they walked down the hallway towards the lab, a flurry of motion detectors sand security cameras peaked from the corners. After they turned down another corridor and made their way to a inconspicuous door with a symbol located above the lock keypad on the wall.
Jim removed a small device from his pocket and waited for a moment as it ran an encryption algorithm. The door unlocked and Jim opened it to let everyone in the lab.
“Well that’s new.”, Stefan said with a hint of jealousy in his voice.
Jim smiled as he looked up, “Yeah, I decided it was time for an upgrade.”
The lab, as it was called, was a creative space that just so happened to take on the ambience of Van Halen's recording studio during the making of their first album, if you were to replace the Jack Daniels bottles with keyboards and oscilloscopes that is. It was a night terror, made for all the people in the world who suffer from OCD: one part miscellaneous cables of all shapes and sizes, five parts solder, two parts of assorted devices (dissembled or not) and a plethora of capacitors, oscillators, resistors, speakers and boxes, all part of her father's incessant mixture in developing a some sort of secret device. So much a secret that no one had yet managed to convince him to let them see it, not even his best friend Stefan.
“Come on Jim, let me see it. It’s not like I’m going to steal your project.”, he said with an air of excitement as he walked into the room.
“It’s not ready and until it’s ready I’m keeping it under wraps.”, Jim said, on more than one occasion.
“Suit yourself. I still think I might be able to help.”, Stefan encouraged.
As he walked over to one of the computer stations that was next to the desk that had a whole bunch of oscilloscopes, Stefan wondered if what Jim was working on was contained in the device he just used to open the door.
“Alright here you go.”, Stefan said to Ris, showing her the fractal algorithm he had been working on. “All you have to do is hit the ’n’ key to make a new one.”
Ris smiled up at Stefan.
If the truth be known, contrary to his ability to seem awkward even at DragonCon, Ris has had a bit of a crush on Stefan since the age of seven. There was something about his disheveled curly hair down to his shoulders that gave her a tingly sensation down her spine whenever he was around. There was also a rare patience that he showed in his blue eyes, that resembled an azurite stalactite peering from behind his black frame plastic glasses, when he would answer all of her 120 questions about science for her homework assignments. He was the one who introduced her to the beautiful pictures of fractal universes after all, peaking her curiosity in math and even more so in him. She always thought that if she only was born only 20 years earlier their lives might have be intertwined like DNA from ivy on the castle wall of her dreams. These daydreams were places that Ris loved to imagine, past and future lives and sometimes taking place even in other worlds.
Yet it was not meant to be, at least not in this lifetime, as he married a few years earlier to the younger french Canadian lady named Sherilyn, she looked a lot like Isabella Rossellini vis-à-vis with her 90's Lancomé ads. She was a risqué petite woman with short brunette hair and a french accent; who's extensive passion and knowledge about ancient civilizations and psychology only enhanced her classic beauty, most of the time. Ris would most certainly have nothing to do with her though, as her penchant for psychological discussions were a tad overbearing, especially being that she had an inability to discern when her professional opinions were asked for and when she should just kept them to herself. Which is exactly what led to Ris over hearing Sherilyn tell her father later that evening that she thought, "Ris might suffer from a mild form of schizophrenia", and if he would like she could write a prescription for her.
To which her fathered replied, "Why is it that prescriptions are the first tool in solving the problems of humans? It would be so much better if we could pretend that prescription medication wasn't a cure all for everything.” Looking around for Ris. “Don't you think it’s a little quick and she's just a little young to be making a diagnosis like that?”, he said adamantly in a whisper. "My daughter is perfectly fine, thanks for your concern.”, he walked away and went back to his conversation with Stefan treating her words as if they evaporated into the ether.
Stefan looked at Sherilyn and just shrugged.
"Passion begets formal knowledge", he continued. Knowledge he had, of course, in varying degrees on the wall; in things which he never really used.
"Everyone pretends life is such a clear path, this is how you do it; start here and go there. It's quite simple just follow me, I know the way to your happiness. It's an amalgamation of studying, rooms, drinking and writing papers. Usually finding out in the end, it's directly influenced by who has the most money to be gained. Never realizing that their way doesn't provide solace to anyone but them and their bank accounts."
Stefan moved his dark hair away from the rim of his glasses. As a computer scientist he was a little more analytical in his approach; he thought about his life in that brief moment and concluded everything wasn't as bad as Jim had made the pursuit seem. Matter of fact, he felt his life was pretty good these days. This was a first, because it was that feeling of happiness that had eluded him like the Higgs Boson for so many years.
The Higgs, as it was eloquently referred to as among many circles, was eventually found but it turned out to be nothing more than another distraction from the universe to keep scientists busy searching, instead of being happy, including himself; this epiphany closely resembled his own adult life so much that it almost caused him to lose his opposing train of thought.
"So you don't think there's any validity to the system that's in place. Look around you, you may not like everything you see but it's still an amazing world that has been built with technology. That technology created by people within the system by harnessing all the human knowledge about the universe in which we live. Collecting, sorting and organizing all the pervasive information has to come together within a some kind of system, Jim.", contemplating his thoughts further. "It's not like the system is set in stone and that's the only way. It's just like... a map, but for life."
"Heuristics be damned, especially when most people are looking out for the own monetary interests disguised as heuristics. I'm not against the system like some kind of anarchist. I'm saying we shouldn't keep building a system based off the same ideas as the industrial revolution. Creating worker bees that do the same thing over and over is not good for the human spirit. Specialization has never been good for anything but control, it is nothing more than mental slavery packaged as the 'american dream' and/or 'reality', justifying the belief in the illusion of happiness."
Stefan looked at Jim, before he could even form a sentence Jim continued.
"It's really just a magician keeping your attention focused away from the hand doing the trick. Distracting the people away from their life long enough to slide the ball of debt under a different cup.", he quipped. Referring to the debt incurred for a college education versus a society based on consumption. Both debts our world had plenty of already.
"You do realize your being a bit paranoid right. I mean the world isn't aligned in some grand conspiracy to control people. There's too much chaos around us built in to our everyday lives for such grandiose... mind control.", Stefan looked around and whispered these last words in a hushed tone like he was telling some kind of racist joke.
"Yeah I understand that, but let us not distracted from the facts. Specialization brings us nothing beneficial. Let's take a someone like yourself coming straight out of college for an example. He gets into a startup or research and starts making 80,000 a year for his efforts. He then climbs over the years and by year 5-6 he is a project manager and now has doubled his income. We as a society think that is awesome, and for the most part is but he now doesn't commit a line of code at that point because he is too busy managing people. He loses sight of what his passions and drive were in the first place because by now he has committed to other things in life called the dream: spouse, house, cars, kids, boat, daycare, phones...the usual accessories and ornaments of life that now have become time and space vampires."
"Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to trivialize our modern day existence as it has brought us many great accomplishments but the monetary aspect of consumptionism has destroyed creativity; dwindling it down to nothing more than an asset than can be bought and sold to the highest bidder. Other than the open source movement I find the principal upon which our existence is built quite an arbitrary one.", as he picks up a rectangular device off the table in front of him and holds it up. "Here in lies the beauty of humanity working together to create and share their collective knowledge. For no other reason than because they have a passion and desire to benefit those who come after. It is open to build, hack, improve, print and distribute. There's no proprietary guard that keeps the knowledge out of here.", he points to the device in his hand. "Free the information and you see, creativity will flourish and evolve into the most beautiful and unexpected areas. Solutions to problems that could be solved just by releasing information and making it available to anyone with an interest to stumble upon. This opens the doorways to true creativity. Non-attachment to information brings us all closer to a reality that we can agree on and not be forced into believing just because the generations before us laid the foundation. How long do we hold on to the dilapidated illusion before we tear it down and start over?", finishing he reaches out to Ris and puts his hand on her shoulder.
"I want her to see and hear the world in a different way. Her experience of 'reality' shouldn't just be a forward projection through the time and space continuum. It should encompass other possible experiences that exist in our universe."
"What kind of experiences are you referring to?", said Stefan.
"Gateways in the fabric of space/time opening to multiverses or new dimensions we have yet to even fathom.", Jim said enthusiastically.
"How do you suppose we find these gateways or portals?", Stefan inquired.
"We will discover them... or maybe...", pausing for dramatic effect. “We might just create them ourselves.", Jim said vehemently.
Stefan, now obviously perplexed, is intrigued by such a statement, all the while being very skeptical about such nonsensical declarations involving teleportation, even if it might be only a qubit. Quantum entanglement is one thing but moving molecular structures in space and time is a bit...well impossible. At least with the knowledge that is known about the universe so far.
"How exactly?", Stefan tried to say without sounding too condescending.
“Using the most basic building blocks of geometry, mathematics and resonance!", Jim declared.