Floozman in Space
by Bertrand Cayzac
In a space station in Earth orbit, Janatone Waldenpond, a refugee from Europa, is trying to return to Earth. She meets a long-lost cousin, Fred Looseman. Meanwhile, Jenny Appleseed, the president of the Cosmitix Corporation, holds a conference to plan interstellar expeditions.
Chapter 13: The Seventh Ennead
Now the nano-electrodes are finding their place on Stuart’s skin and are searching his scalp. Meanwhile, he has discovered the frescoes. He sees gendered angels in vermillion skies and a cyborg Venus beckoning to them. In the foreground is a landscape of rich plains, mountains and forests and their animals inhabitants. He is scared. He doesn’t hide this from himself. That girl is nuts, he thinks. They’re all nuts. Of that I am sure.
“You want to know, huh?” snarls the CosmiGirl. She is lying in a neighboring nacelle, her almost naked body caught in a silver network.
“Mm...” mumbles Surof. Yes, he does want to know what’s going on at the palace. Of course, spies have been reporting on the sumptuous parties at Appleseed’s court. He has information about the cult of fecundity inaugurated by the president. He also knows the profiles of the research scientists as well as the market value of the artists and craftsmen who populate the presidential complex.
He has heard that all these movements correspond to a scientific paradigm shift. In fact, little Glabulie has called them “paradigm explosions.” Her hands were making a funny gesture when she said that; they were awkward yet gracefully childlike... And to think that this little girl held more than ten percent of the company’s capital. And it’s not of just any ordinary shop, mind you; she owned ten percent of the number one firm in the Solar System!
As a former financial director, Stuart knows better than anyone the complete cost of each day under the ice domes. His analyses break down the cost according to activities, and yet they fail to provide him with the detailed interactive picture he needs. He cannot explain why the academy’s laboratories record huge peaks in electrical consumption. Along with the presidential forges, those institutions constitute Jenny Appleseed’s protected domain, the Holy of Holies of the presidency. But for how long now?
He can hear himself saying, “This can’t go on.” He thinks of the balance sheet crippled by expenses, by the rupture of the trade relationship with the Earth, by asset depreciation and the increasing weight of debt. He wants to know what’s been hidden from him, he wants to lift the veil. Besides, he thinks JayBeeh must know something he doesn’t.
“Well, you’ll know it all, Surof. You’re going into the real world. And I think you’ll go at least as far as I have. This is where it gets interesting for you, if I’m not mistaken.”
“The real world?” Winaretta’s tone and all her remarks make Stuart Surof fear that she knows precisely what Comex’s intentions are. He’s got to be lucid: he must assume she knows them. He represses a puff of shame. All the palace knows that JayBeeh will eventually intervene. Why then is she making disclosures instead of killing him? There must be a reason. Anyway, something must be done.
“Yes, this world is only a reflection, we are just shadows on the cave’s wall, you know: THE CAVE. And you, Stuart Surof, you’re gonna get out of the cave. Mind your eyes!”
“What? Psychotropic stuff again?!” asks the ex-director, disappointed.
“Naw, you’ll see. Ah! You need a cuddly toy.”
“A cuddly toy!” These girls are nuts.
“Or a rag. If you don’t have any, we’ll chose one and install it in the singularity bubble. You may need it to recrystallize your personality. Trust me.”
“I don’t have any... Any rag, I mean,” Surof whispers with an empty gaze, as empty as the one he turns on his subordinates when they report to him on how budgeting is taking shape.
“Yes, you need something, a talisman. Experience has shown it’s required. Its mana binds the traveler to the material world. Jenny has her squirter, for example.” And I have nothing, Winaretta says to herself.
Winaretta may have been born on Mars. Her memory has been tampered with, and she feels like a rolling stone. Anyway, when she goes to the superworld she concentrates on the lips that touch and give her unity. Still she would have liked to have a cuddly toy and be able to remember.
“Here, take the book. After all, it is in the natural course of things that it return to the... to a director of the Finance Department.”
“It comes from the Banca Nella Figa’s treasure. Have you heard of it?”
Stuart is startled at this. He feels exposed. The CosmiGirls are warriors and artists, they are not interested in money. Winaretta must know something about the personal fund transfers he has been making with help from La Figa. Do they want their share of the pie? What if JayBeeh has come to know about this by way of the presidency?
“The business bank? Yes, Jenny bought it a long time ago, on Earth, when she was director of Worldwide Credit.”
“She stole the treasure when she left Earth for the first laboratories, when the going got tough. You can say it, we all know this.”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“The book describes some sort of financial hypostasis consistent with Plotinus’ cosmology as the Byzantine philosopher Gemistus Pletho taught it in his lectures at the council of Florence. It was written by Cristoforo Marsupilami, a poet, humanist and bank manager. It is dedicated to the Prince Cosmo de’ Medici. Cosmo happened to be the owner of La Figa and the founder of the neo-Platonic academy. You see, here conspires with there.
“And that’s not all: another book deals with a loan granted by Marsupilami to Verrocchio’s workshop to finance the development of a mathematical machine. Another talks about the journey of a factor sent to scout another world: it is said never to have returned.
“To tell the truth, it’s when I saw you in the garden that everything came together for me: the colophon’s formulas look like what I had seen. They’re probably some sort of key. It would be fun if we could get through with that, especially if you are the first to enter....” She laughs.
“What are you talking about?!”
“What are you talking about...?” She makes a face; she is mocking him.
She knows! What trap have I got myself into?!
A mutant ape is watching the psycho-pump’s batteries. He lights up a cigarette on the immediate Web. An incandescent node forms instantaneously when he thinks of the gesture.
Winaretta activates the commands as she speaks. In this more recent version of the system, an inverse multiplexor has replaced the catapult.
Stuart Surof has a panic movement when he feels the inversion of all the forces that are holding him, those he knows, those he recognizes and those he doesn’t know at all.
No, he doesn’t know them at all! He flaps his arms and legs. He tries to grip an armrest, but there is none. A subtle principle seems to escape from each particle of his body. But he quickly notes that this sensation is painless. It’s almost agreeable, almost too agreeable. Nothing escapes that he is not instantly aware of.
Then the young ex-director catches his breath. He looks from above at Winaretta, who is breathing faster, her grey breasts rise when she inhales. Then she moves away from him, as if nailed at the bottom of a well of light in which he would rise. Stuart is familiar with the techno-biological revolutions that are, after all, Cosmitic’s business. But, this time, he doesn’t understand anything. He needs to take a leak.
“I can feel your questions, Stuart,” the cyborg says, invisible, as if she was talking from inside him.
“What is this?!” This is psychotropic stuff, for sure!
“Don’t be afraid. You are simply TRANSHUMANING, as Beatrice says...We are being flashed alive into the superworld.” Her voice trembles as she says “alive.”
“Naw, Dante Alighieri’s girlfriend. He, too, imagined something like the superworld. Our labs are interested in intuitions and the way they come to artists and visionaries.. And it’s paid off. The superworld does exist.”
“Oh, that Beatrice...” Stuart Surof has studied finance in the best schools of Earth. He has been exposed to literature and history, but the dead are not his friends.
“Plato was right, and Cosmitics’ science is right, too. We, too, will rely on imagination, because what we see up there, we are not yet able to see in all its dimensions. Think of the formula, Stuart. Don’t stop thinking about the book.”
Ever faster now, they rise towards a sky of light. Stuart sees Winaretta by his side, but with eyes he did not know he had. How beautiful she is! He perceives the image of her body with new senses.
Soon, he notices that Jenny is infusing their thoughts, like a faraway music. They distinguish it because this faculty is given to them. In reality, he feels it; he is present to all beings in all worlds, and all these beings are present in his mind. This multiplicity is like air and light, but no word can express it. Stuart retracts; he doesn’t want to follow that idea to its conclusion.
“Yes, you’re recognizing Jenny’s wave signature. She is present, but we’re not making the same journey.” Having said these words, Winaretta revs the pump up to full power. A flower of energy blooms as far as they can see in a stream of bright, meaningful colors. Then they see rivers of diamonds and skies paved with kaleidoscopic brightness.
“I’m taking you where Jenny has not yet been. She is far too busy with her intellect, there are so many shining things.”
The intensity of light in the sky blazes all his imaginal senses. And yet, he distinguishes gradations and subtle diffractions without being able to measure them. All these silky movements palpitate and spawn living patterns in their folds, where shadows give birth to color. Sheaves of light shroud and pervade them like a heady breath of air he might have always breathed. Where does he get this calm confidence if not from the sky of the recovered homeland?
“Yes. There is the One-Good who is unborn, neither finite nor infinite who begets out of pure generosity, for what is perfect cannot do otherwise. Attached to him is the Intellect, where forms and numbers are.
“Then there is the World Soul, one and many at the same time. Finally, radically out of everything, is mere matter. Souls avid for power project themselves in it and take shape for as long as a reflection lasts. We are among those souls, Stuart, but we have the good luck to come close to the hypostasis’ higher layers.”
Lights break their round dance and come to meet Surof. “Go away!” he hisses, waving them away. He tries to concentrate.
“Later, girls,” goes Winaretta, smiling. Then, to Surof: “They just wanted to chat about Florence and Lorenzo de’ Medici, you know. That’s because I’m still thinking about the book, and thoughts are everywhere at the same time. But we are in a hurry, aren’t we?”
They accelerate. Like a small boat setting sail through a large delta to the ocean, they cross the width of the Soul. They are oriented in the Intellect, which this Soul is contemplating, but do not linger on any idea. Human language is too limited to make visible that which has no place. They journey as much in one hypostasis as in another, and the vector of their motion cannot be calculated in the geometry of this world.
* * *
On the morning of the 21st of Clinamen, on the eve of the polyhedrons’ festival, they encounter a wall, a wave of authority bristling with sharp singularities. It interposes itself without concealing what lies behind it.
One fine night comes the time when the parents bring the little child to the May Day festival. His eyes newly opened to the gold of his wicker cradle discover in a single glance a town adorned with vivid garlands, a jubilant crowd, and the multicolored crowns in the starry sky where fireworks bloom.
And thus is the incommensurable procession of mobile numbers to the trans-human couple.
They immediately perceive an animated stained glass window with the certainty that their own sidereal flesh was contained in it for all eternity. It was not made of actualized numbers but of the idea of each number. And far beyond it, like storms or aurorae borealis, there are fulgurations.
“That does it. I couldn’t go farther.”
“But what’s going on?” Hardly has Winaretta finished speaking than the book’s functions leap joyfully to the wall. They were by Stuart’s and Winaretta’s side, but they couldn’t see the numbers. Now the numbers deploy themselves in all their beauty and seize and envelop the couple.
A force as powerful as reason stretches out their numinous substance and guides it irresistibly into contact with the immaterial obstacle. There, kindred but nobler formulas, which their pure mind recognizes, come to meet the travelers. Attracted to these transcendent numbers, they are soon caught into a whirl of light and find themselves on the other side, in the idea of a vast system of concentric rooms.
“Would you like a cup of coffee?” asks a sweet light who soon takes on the form of a young woman in a suit. She shows them two steaming cups of the best ristretto.
“Don’t be alarmed. It’s something you can taste out of pure pleasure. Your incorruptible bodies don’t need anything. As Augustine tells us about the righteous: ‘Clothed in immortality, a favor certain and completely unalienable, they will feed only if they want to, because they can, not because they need to’.”
She speaks with ease and simplicity. Her cheekbones are lightly tinged with emotion and her saffron gold hair are twisting in English curls around the pure oval of her face.
“Who are you?”
Heavenly commodities appear or fade away depending on their attention to the place: chairs of crimson velvet, floors, wall hangings, windows opening onto peaceful countrysides, paintings, a smell of wax...
“I am your advisor during your stay in the heavenly Florence, Mr. Surof, owing to the agreement my house has concluded with la Banca Nella Figa. I’m delighted to make your acquaintance and the acquaintance of Madame.” Birdsong is heard, as are cries carried by the wind from the street. Boats are being moored and others are departing.
“My name is Winaretta. I am a CosmiGirl and I am not related to ‘Mister’.”
The advisor ignores the answer and, without lessening her smile, she addresses the ex-financial director again: “Could we take stock of your company’s portfolio? Lorenzo has requested that we put to use the celestial assets owned by sublunary clients.”
Sublunary clients! The young man is puzzled but also elated by fine bodily vigor, his own, to begin with. He tastes the strength of this world so full of meaning and energy that his earthly life now seems only a phantasm.
“I don’t know... Who is Lorenzo? Is it... he?”
“Yes, Lorenzo de’ Medici, Lorenzo the Magnificent! He is here with me and in me, inasmuch as he wants to be. For heavenly persons, it is the same with individuation as with appetite: we exist only out of pure joy and, when we do exist, in no way does our appearance separate us from the unity we contemplate.”
As she speaks these words, her back widens and her neck thickens. Her curls uncoil and become black as a raven’s plumage. A new quality of presence, sweet and virile, infuses the place. The illustrious prince stands before them, smiling. “Welcome to Heaven, my friends.”
“Err... hullo,” mumbles Surof.
* * *
Proceed to part 3...
Copyright © 2015 by Bertrand Cayzac