A Short Essay on Bioputers

(Not really an essay. Also, picture from outside one of Magnoliophyta’s facilities, at night, real spooky.)

 

You wouldn’t think Sweden would ever win this race, or any race for that matter, but here we are. In urban Sweden, Magnoliophyta permeates everything. Different names are distinguished in other nations, but none of them are as established as Magnoliophyta is here. This is the bioputer playground. The test site.

As is with every swedish non-IKEA corporation, no one has ever heard of Magnoliophyta. But they were first to develop the technology. Probably some of their fucked-up employees did some sick experiments in their basement, and now we have bioputers. I’m not sure I want to know that origin story.

Anyway, Magnoliophyta have passed on the technology on their daughters abroad, who are now struggling to overcome the initial gross-out unaccustomed people feel when faced with a computer containing an actual beating heart, as in, with blood (sort of) and shit. But I’m sure the technology will take off eventually, and spread across the globe. People say these bioputers have huge potential. It’s something new. It’s some biopunk science fiction kind of shit. Everything new has huge potential.

Magnoliophyta is a bad name though. It means “Flowering plant”, which I guess could be a kind of neat company name, if it weren’t for all those syllables. No one has the time to pronounce them all. Surely there’s a story behind why they stuck with the name, but that story I haven’t heard. Anyway, people just calls them “Big-M” or “Magno.” Most people call them Magno. It’s even gone so far that Magnoliophyta themselves sign of their commercials with this shortened version of their name.

 

A living part of the home — Magno.

 

A beautiful shell and a beautiful heart, but nothing you should open up on your own. You shouldn’t need to. We guarantee that everything will just keep on pumpin’ — Magno.

 

A very advanced pet that does exactly what you want, all the time. It can’t walk though. Sorry about that — Magno.

 

(All quotes translated from swedish.)

I will henceforth follow their example and just write Magno, because I still can’t spell the full thing properly.

The commercialization of bioputers is a quite natural follow-up to the so called “provrörsdjur”, or “test tube pets”, that were hugely popular for a short while… What fur-texture do you like? Green eyes, maybe? How about a gene that spikes its intelligence? We have a sale on those at the moment… I too wanted a pet I could design myself.

By the way, have you ever seen a dog race with ten genetically identical greyhounds—all modeled on some ancient master? No? Well, It’s a shitshow, and boring, I’ll tell you that. The most interesting part is how the owners shave them, or spray paint them, or whatever, to make sure they know which dog is theirs.

After a while, more interesting test tube pets got commercialized, like those tiny bear like dog-ish beings called “toy grizzlies”, and also “Löpplar”: the first life form with a 100% unique genome, not related to any other creature on earth, looking like a creation by Patricia Piccinini (https://www.google.se/search?q=patricia+piccinini&biw=1536&bih=735&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj-tJb8wsHRAhVFFSwKHV8mAmoQ_AUIBigB), and still extremely popular among certain people—mostly from the upper class—who found some pug-like cuteness in them.

It should have been the other way around, when you think about it. First bioputers, then weird Patricia-Piccinini-ish-pug-creatures. Especially since regular animals are scary now.

 

What makes bioputers so great are apparently their flexibility. They can literally morph their hardware into the desired shape. Some people call it “moistware”, which is disgusting. The entire thing repels me a bit. I don’t own one and have no plans on changing that. But I have friends who give informal lectures whenever there’s an update or some breakthrough or a cool new commercial. They say, “It won’t be long till the nutrient batteries are rechargeable. In the future, we’ll probably have nutrient solutions flowing in our walls, the same way we have water and electricity.” They also say, “Traditional electric circuits will not go obsolete, that’s a stupid remark. Imagine a biological computer screen. That would be ugly, and weird, and probably real messy. No, the key thing here is the cooperation.”

What I’m wondering is, why is this technology being promoted so heavily? The campaign is aggressive: you almost feel assaulted, going outside. Ads litter our streets. It’s also important to note that Microsoft owns Magno. Yes. And Microsoft have funneled obscene amounts of money into the development of the bioputer technology, which may be interpreted as suicidal, given that this technology may very well compete with Microsoft’s ordinary products in the future. Maybe Microsoft think they are ready to transition, maybe they see real prospects in this new industry, but one would think their entire infrastructure is all wrong for this kind of shit. Wouldn’t they make way more money by continuing with their traditional products.

One theory behind the aggressive campaign and money-funneling is that they—Magno, and Microsoft, and whatever unseen giants pull the strings in the background—believe they’re on the verge of discovering something truly world-changing, and they therefore need to establish a market for the technology, to fund secretive research.

What this world-changing thing is, I don’t know. There’s some batshit crazy conspiracy theories out there, theories that border on the supernatural, theories I refuse to go into.

Instead, let’s talk about the so called “gash in the neck.” In swedish: “Jacket i nacken.” It rhymes. This is what’s going on underground: people doing experiments in their basements, trying to connect their bioputers, or whatever haphazard system they’ve managed to grow on their own, directly to their brain through the brain stem. As you might expect, these attempts have all ended quite tragically. At the moment, here in Sweden, an epidemic of bold and vivid news articles make people puke all over their newspapers upon seeing pictures of those basements—dead biomass hanging from the roof, rotting nutrient solutions all over the floor, dying rodents crawling around, and in the center of the scene: a human being lying face down, with what looks like an umbilical cord coming out of their neck.

(Makes you wonder why the newspapers keep printing them.)

This is the dark side. And if this is happening in regular people’s basements, you know it’s happening in the grand basements of Magnoliophyta, too.

Let’s assume this is what the ad campaign is trying to create funding for. It probably isn’t, but let’s speculate. Now, imagine what this means. VR has been a thing for a long time, but what will happen when people are conditioned to want what’s even more real? Because, who wants a screen right in their face, right? Who wants headphones over their ears? Don’t we all want to see, for real, with the mind’s eye, and hear right there in our heads, and maybe even physically feel, whatever virtual reality we choose to visit?

Now imagine the future, where every Magno store offers the quick procedure necessary to use this technology, right there in the story, free of charge when purchasing for more than 1000 kr. Let’s just step aside to this bright room, for a quick “jack i din nacke”. It will not hurt at all.

Now that’s some freaky shit.

Also: imagine commercials, soft corporate voices, right there in your head. Imagine not being able to close your eyes to the big-M logo, or cover your ears to shut out that soft corporate voice, saying, “Thank you for choosing Magno.”

 

 

 

Post 004 – Somnambulism

Observant readers might have noticed the URL of this blog: somnambulism. This name isn’t accidental, or something I thought sounded cool. I suffer from it. I walk in my sleep. A lot. Most nights I still wake up in bed, but with this kind of mental ache, like when you wake up and just know the alarm will sound, any minute now, without having to look at the watch. I know when I’ve been walking. I feel it.

And then, there’s also those nights where I wake up in front of the window, looking out, or standing fully dressed by the wardrobe, or laying on the floor, staring at the cracks in the ceiling. I once awoke underneath my bed, still shaking from a nightmare involving crawling shadows in all the room’s corners.

My parents used to buy me medicine. I’ve been on Klonopin and Prosom and other mind-numbing shit. It made me stop sleepwalking for a while, but whichever medicine we tried, it made me anxious and paranoid and convinced me my brain was in the process of dissolving. I couldn’t stand it. And sometimes, I still walked.

Soon the pills went down the toilet. I locked my room’s door with a screwdriver, to keep me from roaming the house, and kept taking my nocturnal trips in secret, now only within my room’s four walls. And when my parents decided I was old enough to pay for school and clothes and everything like that myself, I didn’t even buy a single batch of medication. I just kept the door locked, the windows firmly shut, and the screwdriver well hidden.

Before this, nightly incidents often occurred. When one of my parents got up for a nightly toilet visit, they sometimes found me right outside their bedroom door; or about to pee on a household plant; or standing in the middle of the living room, with the TV turned to static, dead-eye watching.

At one point, my sister woke up as my walk began, and she decided to make use of the situation. She made me fetch her the bowl of cookies hidden on a top shelf, way out of her reach. She ate them all, almost, and then led me back to bed, leaving the empty bowl outside my door, where my parents could find it. The next morning, crumbs clearly covered the kitchen table, and I didn’t remember shit, while my sister claimed innocence. Then mom found the bowl outside my door…

I only know the truth because Felicia told me, smiling, playing with a headless doll. She was only five then, but already she knew my parents would never believe me, the teenage sleepwalker, over the innocent child.

So I keep my door locked. These days, my parents have either forgot about my sleepwalking, denied it ever was a thing, or think I’m still on medication. I do not care which, as long as they do not bother me about it. But, the problem is, if one of the twins is to sleep in my room, I can’t just lock the door at night, with a screwdriver, without explaining everything to them. And more importantly: I can impossibly keep a locked door between them and myself…

This is a problem.

To me, sleepwalking is like walking around nude, literally and mentally. When walking, you are suggestive, and fragile, and only in your underwear, walking around, doing shit you can’t control or even remember. And it doesn’t help that I can’t remember it, because I know I’ve been walking the minute I wake up. I can see my future eyes wander towards the person sleeping in my room, either still asleep or already up—only a mattress on the floor. Did I wake them? What did I do, or say? What did they think? What will they do?

My parents would be zero help. I know them. Mom would take charge, and hold a speech about “responsibility” and “hospitality” and “not being selfish and take the fucking medication, like real people do”, and then my brain would once again turn into oatmeal, and I hate oatmeal, and all I could do would be to worry about my brain turning to oatmeal.

And I do not want my brain to turn into oatmeal.

So yes, it’s a fucked-up situation, yes it is.

Post 003.

Here, where I live, and everywhere around, big corporations have the habit of buying entire lower-class neighbourhoods, and then increase rent until everyone has to leave. Sometimes they let a few people stay in exchange for whatever slave-like services these corporations require.

Ten years ago, there was the so called “Great Buy-up.” Several thousand people were dispatched, turned landless, or allowed to stay, but now even more under the influence of the corporations in question. I was young then, everything blurry, but I do remember the shanty towns growing seemingly organically from the ground, sprouting up in parks and suburbs.

Today, all the shacks are gone. I don’t know where they, or their inhabitants, went. And I refrain from doing any research.

Similar shit is happening again. Of course, it’s happening all the time, but once again on a larger scale. The difference now is 1) that rents are already record high, everywhere, and 2) no one cares. Already, whenever you leave home you’ll see people sleeping under billboards, in ditches along the freeway, or in hundred-year-old ruins by the railroad. What difference could a couple more do?

Neighbourhoods are being converted into research facilities or factories or new offices or concrete structures behind barb wire, or testing grounds: fenced-in blocks with God knows what kind of chemicals in the drinking water, or whatever, places where desperate people live for free in exchange for a signature there, there, and there. Only to end up dead. I’ve read about people dying in not-so-pleasant ways because of projects like these. Maybe you see why I refrain from research.

Anyway, I suspect my father’s cousin and his twins are victims of the most recent buy-up. That’s why The Man with the Pig’s Heart is coming to stay here… and apparently, one of the twins is to sleep in my room.

Today at the dinner table, all of us silent in the loud sunset’s curtain-filtered light, my mother Marie (who refuse to be called anything but Marie) broke the silence and explained that Albert is to sleep in the Igloo, where he also will set up office, and one twin is to sleep in my room, the other in my sister’s.

My sister, Felicia, or Fela, is seven, but she already has her own room, of which she only occupies one corner, where she sits, humming, playing weird games with her broken dolls and howling fire truck and gnawed-on lego pieces. At the dinner table, she begins humming, too, on a tune probably made up, because I can’t imagine popular music playing any of the shit coming out of her mouth… She doesn’t care one bit what is being said around her.

But I care. A lot.

Because one of the twins is to sleep in my room. This is an issue.

Post 002.

It seems like my initial premise already failed. Everyday life, I said. Well, my very own everyday life will apparently change for a while, starting soon.

Simon, or Simba, (my father, who’s real nickname refers to another Disney character) told me we are expecting long term visitors, who’ll stay here in our house as well as in our back yard’s extra-house, a small two-roomer called The Igloo (the rough shape of the building is that of an igloo, because the architect was high when they made it). These visitors are two of my second cousins, the twins, and their father, Albert, Simba’s cousin.

Albert: a tall man seen from a distance at family gatherings, always oddly surrounded by other grown-ups, everyone laughing those loud, obscene grown-up laughs. In secret, Albert is known as “The Man with the Pig’s Heart”, because supposedly, he had real fucked-up heart problems when young, and now a pig’s heart is beating in his chest.

At those family gatherings—christmas or someone’s fiftieth birthday or whatever—everyone below twenty years old are placed at the same table, and awkwardness begins, there at the farthest end of a party tent, or in some grandparent’s basement. I don’t know my cousins, and they do not know each other. Kris, one of the twins, is our only solace on those occasions.

Kris will gather a crowd of bored family youths, and sit down on the basement floor to tell them all his new ghost-like stories about his father: “The Man with the Pig’s heart.” He once told us Albert got his replacement heart well before animals became scary and ungodly—animals, with their untethered, chaotically developing genomes, free from human intervention. And now Albert too is scary, because that pig’s heart beating in his chest is something ungodly—something from Before. Kris says it gave his father the ability to speak to animals. Walking through the forest, Albert would stop to listen to whatever he hears in the absolute silence. Sometimes he can be found on the laundry room floor, whispering to the spiders beneath the washing machines. He’ll make them kill you, Kris once said. He’ll make them crawl into your ear and up your brain at night.

Especially the younger kids surround Kris, their arms around their legs, listening, while we older kids stand dormant in the background, also listening. I think Kris enjoys scaring people. It’s his power: the ability to entrance, induce fear, and turn himself, too, into some kind of mythological, superhuman being. Because, after all, he’s living with that strange, tall, grown-up man with a pig’s heart.

I have no strong memories of Kris’ sister. I can’t recall her name. All I know is that I’ve seen her hovering in the basement’s shadows, and roaming about upstairs, talking to the grown-ups, maybe pretending she is one.

It’s a weird thing about these twins: I don’t think they like each other. That’s the impression I’ve got, at least, although I don’t know what gave me that impression. Maybe it is because I’ve never seen them stand beside each other, or talk to each other, or look at each other.

Simba, my father, didn’t tell me why they are coming. All he said was, “They’re traveling through, like nomads, and plan to make use of the hospitality of this house.” And then he laughed and squeezed my shoulder and retreated back into his office.

He played on this joke, an inside joke about how my closest family, especially my mom, are notoriously bad at receiving guests. But dad plays on the joke without bitterness, non-serious. He’s got the ability to make everything lighthearted: he could produce genuine laughs at the expense of a newly deceased relative. People meeting him for the first time always get the impression he’s the kind of person who views life as a big ol’ joke.

Post 001.

I grew up where urban Sweden intersects with rural Sweden—close to fields and creeks and deep dark forests, but also close to protective fencing shielding us from the forest; close to noisy construction sites and big-billboard-commercials and home. My childhood is reminiscent of the artwork of Simon Stålenhag, especially his “Things of The Flood” (http://www.simonstalenhag.se/), if you subtract the giant robots and dinosaurs. Didn’t have any of those unfortunately. But the atmosphere was there, and there was whole lot of other shit that went on, and is still going on—everyday life now. (I’d also like to add that if Stålenhag would have known what was in store for the future of bioputers, he might not have made some of those pictures—biomass growing in electric appliances; a spine coming out of a radio; guts within an old-timey TV-screen. It’s eery, often, how life mimics art, or however the saying goes.)

The plan is to write about everyday life using this blog. And not necessarily the objective “this is how it is here in central Sweden where big business roams free and test their shit on us” kind of everyday life, but my own everyday life. Imagine this as an internet based diary, in which I might also post some rants and random pictures and stuff I make… or something. Hopefully someone is interested, because the door is open: step inside, taste some joy and cheer and big-eyed wonder, and also some deep dark feelings like frustration and hate and shaudenfreude and other fucked-up shit. This is a journal after all: nothing I would like my family to read.

And I highly doubt they, or anyone I know, ever will. This blog will be thoroughly hidden in the noise of the great internet. But just in case someone I know do find it: all the names will be switched up, for the sake of anonymity. My name is not really Max. My sister’s name is not really Felicia.

However, if someone who do know me more than as an acquaintance were to find this place, and take a closer look, they would probably have no trouble seeing through my shallow attempts at integrity.

Anyway: there will be no introduction. I will not tell you, “This is me.” Just keep reading if you want to know more. It’s a journal after all: everything I write here should be adequate for you to get an idea of who I am. And if you do not care to know the first thing about me, just stick around to read about a Simon Stålenhag-ish kind of life, here in the outskirts of urban Sweden, where we do not have huge robots but a bunch of other shit all over the place. I once found a dead “Sperret”, with cables coming out of it’s spinal cord, dead in the middle of a field.

So there’s that.

(I also apologize in advance for potential grammar errors. As you probably understood, English is not my mother tongue.)