A Little Party
A young man living with his father and grandmother on the east side of town came home from his shift as convenience store clerk one night and stabbed them both to death in their beds, a report stated—hiding the bodies in his car and under the front porch, respectively, to be discovered by police the following afternoon. The reason for moving the bodies, or so the accused gave it, was that he had invited friends over for a little party.
The postal service, most would agree, is a decrepit and wasteful branch of federal government, one completely helpless, for example, to cease its delivery of junk mail nominally intended for the tenant who last dwelled in my apartment. Email and other modes of digital messaging, while presented as solution to the sloth and basic incompetence of the postal service, pose the trouble of users being too stupid to manage the transmission of their ideas—people say private things publicly or else communicate with mindless haste. In looking at both systems it might be asked whether contact, and neither method, is at fault.
If, as the present suggests, we are fated to spend ever more time in virtual realities, funneling ourselves into the abstractions of code, then so too will human savagery fold into this nonspace. Murder will be wiping a hard drive with minds on it. Infoterror and thoughtwar the apocalyptic threats. History a projection—even more than it is right now—of outcomes purely algorithmic. Meanwhile the disused, external matter will fall to ruin as if all our phantom atrocities were true.
A young woman who read no one but nasty old novelists in the twilight of their talent was quite assured, in reading such bilious and hateful fiction, of her own loathing and acidic wit, and therefore rather insulted when taken for an empathetic friend. What howled within her as fury against mankind came out as the undifferentiated politeness she found so repulsive in others. She termed this an essential flaw in misanthropy, even as the suitors, invitations and goodwill piled up around her, promising suffocation.
The Other Nine
It is estimated that, at this moment, our universe contains a grand total of ten planets capable of supporting life. How the other nine have resolved the problem is not a question we care to address.