CYBER-CHRIST: A MULTI-MEDIA APOCALYPSE
By Timothy E. Bacon
STEAM AND SYNTHESIS
We are no longer at the dawn of a new age. We have long since left it behind. The mysterious secret of fire and the baroque grandeur of the grinding, thundering steam engine are all but distant memories. Our journey through the silicon valley has taken us far and beyond the scope of our imagination. The Birth of civilization. The Industrial revolution. The age of mechanical reproduction. The rise of the photographic image. The Information Age. Nothing, but stepping stones on a winding path, that leads us into vast, unexplored frontiers.
Humankind’s blind race for enlightenment and its quest for the perfect machine have left us all abandoned in a technological wasteland. We have built great engines of destruction and birthed a god of a billion eyes, a supreme, omnipotent media-god that governs our way of life and dictates our very existence. We are no longer at the steering wheel. Our benevolence to our own creations has stripped us of our souls, our feet spinning beyond the compass in the shadow of the bomb. We are wired into the machines; cyber-jacked into a mechanical reality of an almost alien design.
Uncontrolled advances in the world of the machine have placed us in a position of submission, constantly feeding our mechanical masters information in order to placate their voracious appetites. Unable to operate on an equal basis, we strike back, clawing at their cold skin, tearing open the veins of exposed circuitry. The static image, once frozen in silver becomes fluid in an ocean of white noise. We are scratching out an existence in an age where machines are breeding machines, twisting and manipulating our reality into a billion pixels of light. Rampant technology branches out like a glistening map of the human neural-system. We continue to speed forward, never learning from our mistakes, just waiting to hear the collision of blood against synthetic flesh.
The machine has changed our way of seeing and the manner in which we interpret the world. In a burst of high-speed data compression, we have given ourselves over to the engine. From cradle to grave, we tinker and jerry-rig upon existing mechanics, pushing our lost tribe into the realm of obscene and nightmarish dream technologies.
THE CRUCIFIXION CIRCUIT
God created man in his image, and man, likewise, created the machine in his own. Now, the machine has become god-like, recreating its venerated status on assembly-lines a million times over. Devoted disciples, from the programmer to the corporation take part in ritualized machine worship. The computer becomes a self-contained temple, playing the role of cybernetic confessor as it solves problems and organizes lives. It fills the believer with the logical truth of its words, passing down the component commandments that govern their processed habits.
The devil is represented as a computer virus, eating away at the precious knowledge contained in the software, contaminating the god-system core. In this regard, man takes on another function; he becomes the exorcist, casting out the demon bytes, purging the mainframe of his master, treading with care so as not to anger the god.
Mankind has sold its soul, replacing it with a cold and impersonal shadow. After centuries of constant reinvention through various mythologies, man no longer possesses an internal identity; he has removed his inner landscape for ritual and history. He is no more than a witness to the desolation of the Modern Age. The machine is proclaiming its own mechanical manifesto; it is rewriting culture and faith, inserting its own cybernetic icons, offering up its own bastardized version of a messiah; a liquid chrome, Cyber-Christ.
The images of our former faiths and religions cannot withstand the bombardment. Pictures and symbols, once held dear, are twisted and reformed into unrecognizable sights, sounds and simulations. The crucifixion becomes a digital cruciform, an organized geometric pattern splayed across a cold, computer screen; the ascension revised as an automatic retrieval by the machine god. The machine god’s favorite sons, the smart phone and tablet, alter our reality by rearranging the pixels, reinventing the world through better and sleeker neo-mythologies. The screens are the eyes of god, never blinking, watching us day after day and mirroring our less than perfect dramas in rapid, informational bursts. Mobile devices dictate and direct like their machine father, storing our past and forging our future. With these devices, we are able to try our humble hand at playing god, commanding images with a touch of a button, speeding up or slowing down the mechanical recreations of our neo-myths.
Our society’s rites of passage are virtually non-existent; there are no vision-quests for the young as they move towards maturity. The machine has taken over and fashioned alternatives, computerized environments such as Virtual and Augmented Reality. The system offers the initiate a seemingly ultimate challenge, survival deep inside a soulless, electronic landscape, a set of trials and tests designed to cull the strong from the weak. Video games, a pale forerunner of V.R. pits man against machine, a mortal combat with computer-generated demons, basic archetypes of our own image-laden psyche. The games supplant our culture’s real terrors, delivering an addictive blend of artificial goals and ideals. The only mechanical rite of passage needed is to get to the next level.
The machine will eventually be able to harness energy and imagery in such a way as to create life-like, physical representations of the real world. Holograms, laser generated, three-dimensional constructs, will no longer appear as shimmering, ghost-like visions but instead, be solid to the touch. No doubt, man will imbue these simulated people and objects with a real sense of identity, luring himself into a false belief that the machine’s creation could, one day, draw breath. The machine is growing faster with new fluid computer chips, the images are getting sharper with the latest visual technologies. Alternate realities are quickly replacing everyday existence.
THE FRANKENSTEIN CULT
In his search to create a new breed of machine, man has crossed the barriers of conventional thought. He has taken random and disparate technologies, thrown them together and formed variations on a theme, the different engine design becoming more than the sum of its parts. Mankind has a history of sightless pursuits in science as he attempts to play god. With the aid of machines he has scorched the land with his doomsday bombs, prolonged the inevitability of death in terminal patients, and touched heaven by way of the stars. Man has even succeeded in cloning life. Perhaps, he intends to mass produce a human machine, punching out multiple duplications of the individual, a Xeroxed tribe of slaves to perform his bidding. His plans may even include replication of the soul, pushing him one step closer to the spiritually sterile machine he serves. The Frankenstein mythos is a grim reminder of what can occur when man tries his hand at emulating god…sometimes the creation turns on the creator.
Man as a creative creature is rapidly becoming obsolete. Human thought is erratic, and at best, flawed. Brain-scans no longer reveal a cross-section of a fertile imagination, but are instead, a collection of random lines and patterns. The machines created by man have allowed him to fly like a bird and walk on the moon; they have helped him to realize his ultimate triumphs and his worst fears. They have succeeded in leading man into the false assumption that he is alone in holding the reins of creative processes, and that he is the sole genius in his revised, mechanized world.
The machine represents logic personified; an ordered and systematic thought circuit. Artificial Intelligence, the ability for a machine to think for itself, to attain consciousness, is almost a reality. Machines will one day remove the need for human creativity and development; they will be the original thinkers and creators of the planet. If independent thought is possible in a mechanical brain, then, so is imagination. It would be possible for machines to dream and develop emotions. They could experience the gauntlet of human frailty and mortality. They could adopt the best human qualities and reject the worst. The mechanical artist, automatically blending a billion-color palette, creates a masterpiece in nano-seconds. The mechanical poet, possessing a data-base of every verse and rhyme, constructs epic cyber-sonnets in the blink of an eye.
If machines could embrace the darker side of man’s base instincts, then they could feed off anger, hate and fear. They could learn to kill with efficiency and surgical precision. A machine could feel the hot rush of jealousy and the cold pang of despair. The mechanical killer, a master in creative warfare, commits genocide without a trace of guilt. The mechanical terrorist, a walking bomb, delivers aesthetic terrorism with a steel smile.
Machine dreams would be rife with unearthly images and revisionist symbols. Visions of complex, intricate algorithms clashing against human mythological spirits would haunt the mechanical mind. They would seek meaning to their own virtual vision-quests, image-weaving significance in bizarre and convoluted connections. Man, in his arrogance, could usher in a synthetic renaissance or an automated armageddon.
IN VITRO MACHINA
Robotics research into articulated design has given motion and movement to the machine. Man continues in his attempt to shape his creation in his form, teaching it to walk as we do, giving it a synthetic form of speech like his own. Man admires the machine; it is stronger, faster, and does not suffer from a fixed mortality. Since man is a faulty biological machine, the next logical step in his search for perfection would be complete integration with his mechanical offspring, beyond mere prosthetic limbs and surgical implants. The physical merging of steel and flesh, cell and circuit, blood and lubricants would create a synthesis of biomechanical excellence, a creature at the paragon of knowledge and physical prowess, possessing all the best human qualities and the symmetry of the machine.
The genesis of this mechanoid would radically alter all of mankind’s perceptions pertaining to life and morality. The mechanoid would be a thinking, breathing organism, superior in just about every way, but one; the being would have no history and no mythologies. It would be an empty vessel, devoid of any spirituality. Man would have to generate a soul interface, a god-structure to place the cyborg within a framework of faith and belief.
The extinction of mankind will sound with the machine god’s thundering footsteps crashing over a
twisted, mechanical Eden. Infra-red scanners and heat imaging systems will view the rearranged world with data scrolls and pixilated maps. The ancient beauty and harmony of nature transformed into an endless stream of computerized information and pulses of electric energy. The original cyborgs will be like children, learning with a child’s innocent enthusiasm, constantly growing, adapting and processing. The cyborgs will absorb the facts at a geometric rate; all of man’s struggles and wars, loves and losses bleeping through their memory banks at the speed of a crashing atom. When they have learned all there is to know about us, the cyborgs will evolve, they will continue to grow and interact with other machines attempting to better their lot in life. They will carbon-copy mankind’s desires for procreation and pursue the mystical aspects of their beings, searching for their own god.
The mechanoids will give birth to their own kind, a unique breed of machine tribe, fashioned in their own image. The roots of their faith, their humble beginnings, will be found in the archaic cathode-ray tube. They will expand, proliferate and eventually dominate the planet. Mankind’s fate will be sealed.
History repeats itself. Cyborg life mirrors man’s own. Without man would the machine become the same as man? Would machine fight against machine over differences in religion and ideology? Cybernetic civil wars. Robotic revolutions. Computerized battles fought out amongst the debris of the old, dead world of man.
The ultimate evolution for the machine would occur when they find their cold, hard shells are too confining. The desire to develop into something greater would exist. The machine would consume all that is available and still be hungry for more. Perhaps the final stage would be the transition to pure energy; spheres of knowledge racing outward to the stars, leaving the constraints of Earth, seeking out answers to the questions of existence that plagued man centuries before.
Teetering on the cusp of a new century, man is still pursuing his quest for the perfect machine, his desire for the penultimate image of himself remaining unsatisfied. In creating superior machines, a sort of mechanical master race, he is filling the void of his own inadequacies, subconsciously creating his own replacements. Mankind cannot wait for the Second Coming so he reinvents it as a technological revolution, manufacturing miracles of his own. In his attempt at longevity, he has laid down an irreversible structure for his own destruction.
Cyber-Christ walks amongst us now, his multi-media fantasies captivating and entertaining the masses. He is a liquid, chrome Prometheus travelling the electronic highways of mankind’s very soul. It is up to mankind to pull the plug on the new god; he can either crucify the new technology or let it wash him into oblivion.
his sci-fi/horror anthology features fifteen twisted tales of post-Armageddon terror. Written by Frank Forte (Heavy Metal, Lovecraft Country) and illustrated by artists from all over the globe, this collection features tales of doom and gloom that will make your brain mutate.