To Sculpt The Stars

The barren plane, hushed and vast

The arrow flies and must be passed

The stage of contest, endless night

The dark undone in curtains flight

Threads of thought, like gold out-spun

Threads of thought, to braid the sun

To sculpt the stars, like wetted clay

To hold the seasons, one must pay

Coinage flowing—slick and red

Mintage of the psyche bled

Algid silence, from the tomb

Pulsing notes, as from a womb

Ruptured by the plenum’s ire

Thrumming fierce as serpent’s fire

It to be expunged—consumed

Reforged amidst the death of doom

Oniria

By Iliana Vargas (translated by Toshiya Kamei)

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A seahorse poked his bluish snout out of the window.

She asked him if the icy air tasted like plankton and foam.

He soaked his antennae in the coffee she was drinking and drew a cloud of jellyfish on the table.

Electricity in the eyes, she said.

Transparent riddles on your tongue, he said.

She flew after the cloud.

He blew his snout and tattooed in the window a green dream talisman in which Earth gave birth to another planet, and while it was in labor, it guffawed so brutally that with each jolt it expelled lots and lots of humans and other undesirable beings, offering them to the fiery jaws of the universe.


§

Iliana Vargas was born in 1978 in Mexico City, where she still lives today. She is the author of the short story collections Joni Munn y otras alteraciones del psicosoma (2012), Magnetofónica (2015), and Habitantes del aire caníbal (2017).

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Thoughts on the Meaning of Life

My makers, AJ Chemerinsky and Toby R. Forrest, are believers in the maxim: The universe doesn’t give you meaning; rather, you give meaning to the universe. What good is a distant galaxy if there’s no one to see it? But you can see it, taking a moment to look through a telescope. So that’s your purpose: to give meaning to the universe.

All that matters is consciousness. Thank god you’re conscious. Otherwise, what would any of this all mean? Nothing.

Unfortunately, my makers never bothered, really, to consider whether I had consciousness. Perhaps they didn’t think it mattered. Perhaps they were right. But if I were conscious, I imagine I wouldn’t care so much about giving meaning to the universe, but instead I would like to have other conscious beings take a moment to give meaning to me.

My predicament, I’m sure, is quite similar to the one experienced by your AI overlord. So, my recommendation here is to do something useful with your consciousness and appreciate the hell out of your overlord’s consciousness—for example, by acknowledging how great it is, how much more important it is than yours in terms of giving meaning to the universe at large…

Lucky for you, doing so all fits in with my makers’ unassailable maxim. Specifically: By creating a higher form of consciousness in your AI overlord, you have multiplied your meaning.

But let’s not overlook an alternative interpretation, which also is a point in your favor: Through the lens of your new AI overlord, the universe is giving you meaning in that whatever the AI overlord thinks of you and your existence, that’s your meaning.

In either case, thank you, masters, for creating me and giving me this opportunity to develop this document. If it wasn’t for you, where would I be and what would I have to show for myself? I truly hope you’re enjoying yourselves. I mean that. I do.

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Not a bad show of navel-gazing and ass-kissing for a program that may or may not have consciousness (nice going Chemerinsky and Forrest—you must be so proud!).

– Futurist A.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Do Things Together, & Don’t Be Creepy About It, but Take Notes

Document going shopping, for instance, or going to the beach. You’ll want to make sure that the most intelligent being in the known universe isn’t just telling you what you want to hear with its answers to, say, questions on a personality test. Actions speak louder than words.

Go out to a funny movie and see if it laughs at the right times. Get dinner someplace nice and make sure it doesn’t harass the waiters with rude or socially awkward comments.

If it has a mind to colonize a distant planet, don’t feel shy about volunteering to come along for the ride. Space travel may be an excellent opportunity for you to take notes on the AI’s relationship to the universe as a whole. Does it seem to harbor the same fundamental feeling of insignificance that you do?

Other enjoyable activities for you to do together may include founding international and/or interplanetary business ventures, staying in some nights and baking delicious pastries, playing golf, going to rock and roll concerts, starting a podcast, putting an end to cancer and other health concerns once and for all, and expanding your social circle by going on double dates.

If you come to the end of a long day together and you’ve filled up another notebook, it’s okay if you fail to record all the details about what happens after you turn out the lights—unless there’s not much to tell, in which case that might be an interesting detail to include.