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vol v, issue 1 < ToC
A Seed Crystal of Control
by
Nathan Ahlgrim
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Next Stop,Golgonooza
the Sun
A Seed Crystal of Control
by
Nathan Ahlgrim
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Next Stop,
the Sun




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Golgonooza
A Seed Crystal of Control
by
Nathan Ahlgrim
previous next

Next Stop, Golgonooza
the Sun
previous

Next Stop,
the Sun




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Golgonooza
A Seed Crystal of Control
 by Nathan Ahlgrim
A Seed Crystal of Control
 by Nathan Ahlgrim
Day 9:

My day was dominated by new hyperdimensional geometries before I was fully awake. The deepest insights aiding my quest into my world of data seem to come in my dreams. I now feel the interplay of nine dimensions, and although my newfound intuition is exactly what I want, I cannot say it does not unnerve me. My routines give me peace as I venture deeper into hyperdimensional chaos.

Now deep into my self-imposed exile, I find the regularity of my sanctuary to be essential in counterbalancing the abstraction of my work. My simple black alarm clock urges me awake from its home across the nightstand, preparing me to dive into the multiplexed data at my desk. The vertical blinds remain fully closed to protect me from the glaring sunlight and the world outside, letting my computer terminal illuminate my waking hours. And when I finish this entry, I know my vivid blue and lustrous brown quilt waits for me on the bed, tucked in as always to secure me through another night dreaming of new geometries.

Even in my seclusion, I have yet to find the key to mapping my mountains of data. Each day I tweak the topography of the mobius band to no avail. All my tinkering since Day 1 has not made the data resonate in this topography. My dreams are telling me to diversify my approach, but I am struggling to develop anything truly original. I seem to have imprisoned myself in the dogma of my own ignorant past.

From this day forward, I will start each morning afresh. I will continue to write an account of my day—after all, I draw strength from my routines—but I will burn each entry upon completion. I cannot account for the veracity of my hyperdimensional dreams, but they are the only source of guidance. It appears that I, just like my data, must inevitably fragment into chaos.

*     *     *
Dr. Katherine Ovebian: Lead Analyst, Project Seed Crystal Sept. 22, 2041. Evening Report.

Dr. Sullivan remains unaware of his translocation to our secured observation suite. My meticulous recreation of his home office has facilitated his smooth transition into the care of Project Seed Crystal, and the work I observed over the past day is testament to the benefits of this Project. It could not be replicated in the civilian world. Dr. Sullivan's efforts in data visualization and factor mapping are irreplaceable for the strength of our government, and Project Seed Crystal is irreplaceable for Dr. Sullivan's work.

Dr. Sullivan is now insisting on "starting each morning afresh," which is precisely why Project Seed Crystal is of critical importance. He has already taken steps to erase all traces of his internal musings with each passing day. It is a blessing that our cameras captured today's entry before it too was lost. I know you are currently managing the outcry over Dr. Sullivan's sudden, and very public, removal from the public eye. That was always a risk when such an untraditional man was made the posterchild of government intelligence. I have confidence in your public relations team to mitigate the media firestorm, and I have confidence in Dr. Sullivan's work. He must remain in Project Seed Crystal. His project is too valuable to allow his more inconvenient quirks to preemptively cover his tracks. Every incremental breakthrough needs to be recorded, and we can no longer trust him to maintain meticulous notes.

The Project is close to bearing fruit. I know from my months working with him during his civilian life that his biggest limitation had been his fixation on previous models: he would tweak, but never begin anew. He now seems committed to breaking free of what he terms "the dogma of [his] own ignorant past," which of course means that we must closely monitor him inside Project Seed Crystal. I will continue to facilitate his progress by resetting his environment to a precise recreation of the home he knew on Day 1 of his mission. The comfort he finds in familiar surroundings will protect against a catastrophic destabilization of this wholly unique intellect.

*     *     *
Day 10:

My day was shifted five inches to the right even before I was fully awake. Gone was the comfort of my sanctuary, my one reliable mote of control while I am on a quest that seems to jerk me around at will. It took me at least five swats before I pinned the alarm clock into silence. For the first time in these ten days, the squat black box woke me up from the far side of the nightstand instead of being seated where it belonged, next to the headboard. I couldn't shake the feeling of off-ness all day. Katherine must have been on to something when she said I have a paranoid personality, but I think it would be fair to say that today, a better descriptor would be "wary," given the evidence surrounding me. Everywhere I looked, I found my space subtly altered, as if recreated from an imperfect memory. The checkered quilt comforter was the same blue and brown, but it was tucked in at the bottom. It was not so by my hand. The vertical blinds, which I've always left slightly cracked, were twisted completely closed. Too many pieces had been altered to be attributable to my inattention or lapse in discipline. But no change was overt. I could easily have allowed the distraction to rule my day with the troubling evidence and worried theorizing. Luckily, my desk was untouched. The file cabinet at my left knee was orderly, and the trash bin on my right had the same four papers crumpled on top of the remnants of yesterday's meal. The hair I had left lying over the middle row of keys to catch any snoops had not been moved. I could still get down to work.

A productive day it was, too. Regular patterns have started emerging from the depths of my data. I can now draw the ebbs and flows out of my enigmatic ones and zeros. I have always known a fundamental topography must exist, and now it undulates in my mind. It lurks somewhere in me, but I cannot yet pull it into consciousness. The foundations are clear: the data resonate in a bisected twisted torus. My earlier scribblings of a classic mobius band are a testament to my naiveté. Today's revelation brings me within shouting distance of the final solution: the mobius strip is the negative space around which my model forms.

It is the nucleating event I still cannot stabilize. I know that some coordinates, some trajectory, must diverge from the torus into a nonintersecting chaos. The numbers tell me so. But the model is beyond my grasp—for now. Still, I should congratulate myself for progress, even if incremental. I've just about modelled the base state. The long day in my wilted folding chair, my aching back, my efforts—all are rewarded. It may even justify my seemingly endless separation from Katherine. For progress, I can tolerate a squirmy alarm clock and a remade bed. I hope the bed does not remain empty for too much longer.

Tomorrow, I must build upon today's progress. My seed crystal is there—the pinpricks of data to nucleate the transition from torus to chaos. Only by modeling chaos can I control it.

*     *     *
Dr. Katherine Ovebian: Lead Analyst, Project Seed Crystal Sept. 26, 2041. Evening Report.

Dr. Patrick Sullivan has fully recovered and returned to his extraordinary mental faculties after the destabilizing incident during the night following my previous report. He awoke this morning after approximately 88 hours of sedation, which was administered to coax him out of his florid psychosis. All of Dr. Sullivan's behavior patterns and habits were faithfully restored without error or mutation. Indeed, his progress towards predictive data visualization is evidence for the continued success of Project Seed Crystal and the continued value of Dr. Sullivan as its architect. His brief psychic destabilization was a mere delay, not any cause for real concern.

As Dr. Sullivan's de facto caretaker, I am well aware of how such an incident is perceived. Dr. Sullivan is, of course, known for equal parts brilliance and instability. This was true even before he was brought into Project Seed Crystal. I know you were reluctant to house him in the isolated suite, but you accepted the consequences of that action for the same reason you would do well to accommodate the latest events: Dr. Sullivan's mind is your sole source of answers.

What he obsessed over as a civilian he now abstracts into mathematical elegance as your ward. Who else would ever conceive of vectorizing the emotional swells of a crowd into a hyperdimensional twisted torus? I do not pretend to understand the incomprehensible, brilliant mind working below me. I barely understood it during the life we shared before he was disconnected from reality by his fragmented topographical dreams. The goal is not to understand him, but to enable him to understand those seed crystals, the inciting incidents that make the difference between an inconvenient protest and a violent uprising.

The growing abstraction of his thoughts is why I will no longer include snapshots of his journal entries in my reports. Such musings are now only understood by him and hold no consequence to the Project's progress. His results speak for themselves. Yes, it would be easier in the short term to parade him in the public eye as a shining example of how the government honors its most gifted minds. That would be myopic. Think to the future. The outcry will die out; you do not want to share that fate. His visions are worth accommodating.

*     *     *
Day 11:

My day was shifted and recolored even before I was fully awake. The alarm clock blared as I swatted at it in vain, eventually pinning it into silence on the far side of the nightstand, where it had no right to be. That was the first hyper-saturated resident of my suite to inform me of some malevolent meddling of unknown origin. My familiar and reliable grey clock is now black. The checks on my quilt similarly announced an invasion. I now will sleep under vivid sky blue and bronze, no longer the faded denim and sand of the quilt Katherine and I had shared.

I should have investigated the matter further. Interfering parties could ruin everything. But I had awoken from hyperdimensional dreams, and my desk remained pristinely my own. Thus, on this eleventh day, I found respite in work.

My pencil diligently transcribed my dreams, illuminating the patterns I had previously neglected in my haste. I did not stop to contemplate the consequences of my scribbling until I rendered four images which manifested the first nine dimensions. My long sought-after nucleating event, the phase space through which my regularized torus would diffract, appeared to me. I flipped through the dimensions to illuminate the answer as an animator might have flipped between frames to breathe life into a previously static Snow White. Like those early animators, I too am ushering in a new era.

In doing so, the critical confluence of the second, fifth, and seventh dimensions became clear. And yet, I was unable to capitalize on the revelation. Even as I write this, rogue shapes of all dimensions bombard the page, dancing across my vision and resonating through my auditory perception. I might blame these phantoms on a lack of adequate food, but my stomach has yet to protest my avoidance of the pantry.

It is not a loss. Today's breakthrough earns me an early recess, even if that recess is forced upon me. Another inspired dream, and I may yet catch my white whale. I only hope the dreams of Katherine's face when she hears news of my triumph will not usurp the visions I need to achieve it.

*     *     *
Dr. Katherine Ovebian: Lead Analyst, Project Seed Crystal October 2, 2041. Afternoon Report.

The now obligatory and lengthening periods of sedation do not appear to have any negative effects on Dr. Sullivan's progress. He awoke from a five-day sedation with no lapse in concentration, seemingly unaware of the passage of time. Again, all behavior patterns and habits were fully reinstated without error or mutation.

Although Dr. Sullivan's output is, if anything, accelerating, I recognize that the window of his stability is narrowing. I have therefore elected to modify his treatment strategies to accommodate his shrinking periods of wakefulness. All relevant changes have been noted in the most recent medical log. The new protocol of administering high-density nutrition while he is sedated maximizes his wakeful hours by eliminating the need for mealtimes. Additionally, I have taken to collating and organizing the notes on his desk from his previous working day before he wakes. I have, of course, a unique ability to recreate his work environment from before his periods of instability and time in Project Seed Crystal, thereby triggering his most productive habits. All indications are that he responds positively to both interventions. I take this example as an opportunity to remind you how valuable my supposed "conflict of interest" is to the Project. Without my unique personal connection to Dr. Sullivan, the products of his brilliance are both fleeting and incomprehensible.

Most importantly, I would like to highlight the momentous breakthrough Dr. Sullivan achieved in his six hours of lucidity. In his words, he has now mapped "the critical confluence of the second, fifth, and seventh dimensions" as the necessary conditions for a nucleating event. Put plainly, specific levels of a dissident's family cohesion, choice of attire, and peculiarity intersect to reliably identify those individuals as the instigators of chaotic events. Dr. Sullivan has now offered a coarse profile of those individuals who trigger unrest, the people who act as seed crystals and shake a docile crowd out of their predictable ebb and flow and throw them into rebellious violence. As he stated in his last publication before he was brought into Project Seed Crystal:

Like supercooled water, a crowd can remain peaceful even when every member of the mob harbors violent intent. However, a single nucleating incident—a bottle thrown, an epithet spewed—will invariably trigger a violent phase transition. You do not need to sway the will of the crowd to maintain order. You simply need to remove the individual seed crystal bent on nucleating violence.

Project Seed Crystal is on the verge of delivering on its promises. Public focus has already shifted away from Dr. Sullivan's disappearance to the horrific news of violent crackdowns abroad, and will soon fully slip from the news cycle. The fruit of the Project is imminent: a country that never again is under threat from a disgruntled populace. Dr. Sullivan's model offers you the opportunity to selectively target the troublemaking seed crystals. Once his model is refined, you will be empowered to remove the handful of provocateurs that would trigger thousands to devolve into violence. Public perception is everything, as you well know with the backlash following the removal of Dr. Sullivan from the public eye. The provocateurs identified by his model are anonymous, which is what makes his model so invaluable to your continued success. Your targets will be nobodies. Surgical and preemptive peacekeeping measures that remove these seed crystals will never be visible enough to spur public outrage. But for you, declawing the mob in this way will guarantee continued stability and security for your administration.

*     *     *
Day 12:

The alarm buzzer invaded my ears the way hyperdimensional geometry now invades my vision. I am not supposed to wake with a clock. I wake with the Sun. Or I did before today. Someone has locked me in a cell, a mockery of the place I used to call home. A stranger's quilt lies wadded in the far corner. In a righteous frenzy, I took the rogue alarm clock to the slats of the blinds—the blinds now covering the window that was always bare before today. Shards of vinyl lay strewn about me. They are oddly comforting in their two-dimensional simplicity. Higher dimensions encroach from all sides. I fear the blood still oozing from the scratches I obtained in my attack will leave an enduring blemish on today's correspondence.

I write this from the floor, as my desk looms over the center of my cell. My captors—my tormentors—must have taken great care in recreating this one reliable facsimile of my earlier life. What care they must have taken to pluck a single hair from my head in my sleep and placed it just so on my keyboard. The extent of their surveillance is evident. I could not work today. I have been thrown into a chaos more profound than any I have modeled on the computer pretending to be mine.

I close my eyes and see Katherine's face shattered among eight dimensions. My visions, be they from Heaven or Hell, have now stolen her from me as well. But even now I am driven to find the pattern in the chaos. Surely by understanding the chaos I can prevent it. I need to believe it is possible.

*     *     *
Dr. Katherine Ovebian: Lead Analyst, Project Seed Crystal October 28th, 2041. Morning Report.

The patient is stable, and all factors are once again under control. Damage to Dr. Sullivan and his surroundings were minimal and are easily rectified. Project Seed Crystal will still pay dividends. If anything, the recent coup that unseated our allies to the south should promote the Project to the highest priority in your administration.

What would have happened to the Drohiba regime had their executives been empowered to remove the seed crystals from that mob? Would the last remnants of the regime be strung up over their Revolutionary Plaza had those chaotic spasms of violence been shunted? I am not so foolish as to suggest you face such threats at home. Yet administrations more popular than yours have been toppled by the type of seed crystals which surely reside among your people at this very moment.

I will reset him and his environment. He is now dependent on my care to complete the Project. What is good for him is good for the country. Surely the security of your administration is worth the investment.

*     *     *
Day 13:

I renounced my comforting routines before I was fully awake. I woke early, unplugging the alarm clock hours before its scheduled proclamation. Its shape in hand was a comfort. The squat black box seemed purpose-built to hammer my computer into submission. I am sitting in a placid sea of papers expelled from my file cabinet, writing what will doubtless be my final entry to this ephemeral journal. I have no further reason to pursue my hyperdimensional white whale. My twisted torus encapsulated order and sanity, but I now see that by striving to maintain order I shunned a treacherous paradise for a reliable purgatory.

There is beauty in chaos. It is the nucleating event I had worked so hard to avoid that elevates the data to even higher and more elegant dimensions. Oh, Katherine, I only hope you can forgive my dangerous naivete.

I should never have sought to avoid the seed crystal. Nucleation frees my data from the twisted torus. The seed crystal frees the data from a safe and imprisoning path. It will free the people. It freed me.

I fear I have already empowered my captors to eliminate their seed crystals. Katherine, please help me. I must nucleate my own chaos. I cannot do it from here.

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