Author: Cartesia

Chapter 27

Reidl was learning.

      Sada was teaching her. Infinitesimal physics.

      Luth leaned on the doorframe, lingering at the threshold, unwilling to interrupt the lesson but listening, taking comfort in the normal, everyday sound of two people talking.

      Sada placed two rosy red apples on the table before them and pointed. “You have two apples. You eat two apples. How many apples do you have left?”

      Reidl sighed. The lesson was proving to be a challenge. Sada was reiterating the basics. Cyclometric philosophy. “No apples?”

      “Incorrect. Assuming you do not eat the entire apple, you have two apple cores on the table and the consumed flesh of two apples within your stomach.”

      “Okay.” Reidl didn’t look convinced. “But surely, there are no apples. Apple cores and consumed flesh of apples. Neither constitutes an apple, right?”

      “Actually they comprise the spheric components of two apples. Remember what I told you about cyclometric hierarchies. This apple,” Sada placed his hand on the nearest fruit, “represents a sphere. You perceive the sphere in numerous ways, most notably with your sensory organs. Your eyes witness the apple, your nose may smell the aroma of apple and your fingers may touch its solidity. You know it as apple. A word you probably learned in your infancy. Responsive feedback informs your brain that a familiar sphere is present and cerebration interprets the sphere, using previously categorised information matching cross references on visual, aroma and touch – also possibly taste, if you take a bite – with the appropriate identification moniker. Apple. But this is all simply perception, designed to clarify the presence of a recognisable sphere. If this process did not occur, every instance of encountering an apple would require new perceptual ramification. We could not function as sentient minds because our consciousness would be engaged at all times with an overwhelming array of new information and objects to identify. Nevertheless, an apple is only an apple to us. To itself it is something different. To a non-sentience it might be categorised as safe sustenance. The crucial thing is, the sphere remains identifiable as a sphere in and of itself.”

      “So it’s about recognition.”

      “In a way. But only recognition as the human and synth brain perceive recognition. Recognition differs on a species by species basis.” A book was open on the table next to the apples. A children’s picture book. Simple images on each page, alongside a corresponding word and letter of the alphabet. Sada pointed to two random pictures. “A flower, for example, or a squirrel, both are capable of spherical recognition, but their perceptual technique differs. In the case of the flower, the process is chemical rather than sensory. In the case of the squirrel the process is instinctive and reactive. A squirrel has no word for apple, but it recognises the sphere on an instinctive level and knows apple to be both edible, but not nearly so delectable as sunflower seed, nor does it feel compelled to bury apple in a storage buffer for later consumption.”

      “Squirrels huh?” Reidl looked amused. “And how do squirrels relate to my two apples?” Reidl picked up an apple and toyed with it.

      Sada took the apple from her and replaced it carefully on the table. “The apple is a sphere we call apple. But you cannot define the hierarchy of a sphere using annotation of language or indeed any application of simple vocabulary. Where languages change, Imperial to standard Galactic, for example, monikers no longer relate with enough elegance. Spherical perception requires more depth and cohesion than that. Look here,” he smoothed his fingertips over the surface of the apple. “The outermost sphere, or shell is not the skin, look beyond the skin and look beyond the apple. See instead the spheric nature of hierarchy.”

      “Okay, well, I can smell it,” Reidl held up the apple. “The smell carries beyond the skin, sorry, the shell. So aroma must be the outermost sphere.”

      Sada shook his head. “Aroma begins within the apple, not outside it. The perimeter of aroma is diffuse and carries beyond the physical skin of the fruit to be detected by the sensory apparatus of the observer, but once again you’re thinking in terms of coordinates and sensory perception, not spheric perception. Yes, the apple is orb-shaped and this may be the reason for your confusion, but the squirrel is not orb-shaped. Yet both are cyclometric hierarchies, or spheres. The squirrel, too, has its own indefinable aroma, but this aroma does not represent the outermost circle of the squirrel sphere, only the most likely physical aspect to be identified first by human sensory apparatus approaching the proximity of the squirrel.”

      “Yes. Okay. I see.”

      “So, once again, the shell – not the skin - represents the enclosing, outermost sphere. Within are concentric spheres or rings, each smaller than their enclosing counterparts. Smaller because at each successive inner level the options, complexities and organic components comprising the hierarchic position lessen exponentially until we reach the atomic level wherein we find ourselves at the inner fringe of the outermost spheres. At this point we enter the hierarchy of inverse or quantum spheres which behave diametrically, increasing in complexity and possibility as the rings decrease toward the infinitesimal. At infinitesimal level, there is no limit to possibility, only degrees of probability.”

      “So, even at infinitesimal level an apple is still an apple?”

      “No, and you’ve touched on the point I was myself about to broach. The shell of the apple sphere is, itself, merely a comma between spheres, a Holon, both independent and dependent. The apple is a working component part of a greater sphere called tree. Apple serves tree, but is simultaneously an individual sphere, capable of existence outside the nurturing and mutualist circle of its parent sphere. Just as tree is a unique but simultaneously servicing sub-assembly of forest, wood or garden. This is true of all spheres, including those that co-exist within the community of apple itself. The longevity of different spheres beyond the parent depends on variables in inter-dependency, but for the most part all spheres can exist in their original state for a time, if not permanently.

       “Another comma exists in the depths of the apple hierarchy, and this too is a duality, linked inextricably with the shell. But this comma is less easily perceptible on a sensory level than the shell of the Holon. The internal comma marks the point of death, where the sphere of apple degrades to a point where it no longer conforms to recognised structure. The internal comma or critical entropy, can be identified by the break down of formal chemical stability, molecular structures and the potential for reparation of the original spheric identity.”

      “If I take a bite out of this apple, there’s no way the apple can repair itself.”

      “True. But this doesn’t mark an end to the sphere of apple. It merely represents the assimilation of one sphere by another. This is the process whereby a dominant sphere, in this case you, attempts to devour and absorb, sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively, a lesser sphere, in this case an apple.

      “Absorption occurs in degrees and requires interaction of otherwise alien rings within different spheres. Think of it as a three dimensional Venn diagram, with two interlocked discs and three partitioned cavities. Each sphere houses the majority of its own internal rings, but certain elements will make the crossover, interposed within the shared cavity and introduced to functions at an appropriate level inside the shell on a gradual basis. Assimilation crossover, as opposed to mutualist combination, always occurs toward the dominant sphere, but the eventual encapsulation of the alien element is not always so straight forward. A detrimental alien element, such as poison – found in certain natural berries for example - might be an integral part of the assimilated sphere, but devastating to the established hierarchy of the dominant sphere. Assimilation in this case would lead to an erosion of the dominant sphere from the inside out and maybe even critical entropy.

      “But I digress. Basically, in a favourable assimilation, the dominant sphere consumes to its own advantage, serving its own needs, the needs of lesser spheres and those of greater spheres accordingly. Assimilation always leads to the natural decay of the dominated sphere. This decay may lead to total assimilation or partial assimilation. In the latter case, the sphere is eroded to a component level and those components, sub-assemblies previously making up the rings of the original Holon, become shell spheres, or solons, thriving only so far as they are able to exist without the original community. The process is sometimes laborious, sometimes quick, depending on the survival ability of decaying shells. The exact moment of critical entropy is often difficult to pinpoint but is generally recognised as the point when the solon no longer combines in any recognisable form. The length of combined survival ability, of course, determines the nature of the apple’s spherical shell and may differ depending on the severity of decay or assimilation.”

      “So if I eat the apple, I’m consuming the apple sphere, assimilating it into my own sphere?”

      “A Holon represented on a sensory level by the boundaries of your outer skin. But of course, the apple may simply fall from the tree and degrade on the ground. In this case the apple is assimilated into the sphere of soil, or the even greater sphere of local environment where the apple falls onto a rock. Irrespective, one sphere is consumed or assimilated into a greater, dominant sphere. No sphere ever simply decays into void and is lost from the universe. All death is interactive and energy recycles.”

      “You said, a Holon represented on a sensory level by the boundaries of my skin. But not on a spherical level?”

      “No. On a spherical level the shell, critical entropy, is bifold, represented by death of the physical and death of the mind, an ethereal sphere super imposed upon the physical sphere. Intelligent Holons differ from regular Holons, intelligence and spiritual health being as important to the whole as the capability of the whole to maintain its original integrity. Death may occur in human sentience but critical entropy may not occur until much later when the Holon has fully decayed. But we’re talking about advanced sentient cyclometry and I’d prefer to stay with the apples for now.”

      “Hmf. Just as it was getting interesting. Bloody apples.”

      “It is impossible to read without a basic knowledge of the alphabet.”

      “Yes, yes.”

      “So I’ve eaten some of the apple. And you’re saying the apple is still there. At what point does the apple stop being there? When can I say with all confidence that I have two apples, I take away two apples and now I have no apples.”

      “Ah, well, now you’re talking about application of possession, and that is also a lesson for another day. For now we are only concerned with spheric consumption and assimilation.”

      “Should’ve known.”

      At that point Sada glanced up and spotted Luth standing in the doorway. “Hello Luth. How are you feeling now?” Reidl turned in her seat and regarded Luth, eyebrows tenting at a sympathetic angle.

      “I’ve been better, thanks. Kinda hungry.”

      “Here,” Reidl tossed him an apple. “Assimilate this.”

      Luth turned the fruit over in his hand, took a bite. “This real?”

      “Real as any nanoloom product,” Reidl rose from her seat.

      “The lesson?” Sada enquired.

      “Let’s carry on tomorrow, ‘kay Sada? My mind has been expanded enough for one day.”

      “A most appropriate analogy, given our previous topic of super imposed intelligent spheres...”

      “Quit it.”

      Luth returned Reidl’s grin as she sauntered from the room. He sat down in her chair and replaced the apple on the table. “I’m glad I’ve got you alone,” he found it difficult to look Sada in the eye. Still the old guilt remained. Even if this Sada was alive. Somewhere out there was a Sada who didn’t make it. “I wanted a word.”

      “Certainly,” Sada rose to his feet and moved across to the life support. “Drink?”

      “No, thank you.” When the synth returned, a steaming cup of coffee in hand, Luth said, “we haven’t had a chance to talk, you and I. Since all this started.”

      “Is there some reason that we should?”

      “You maintain then, that you don’t remember any of it. You don’t remember me, or Woodrow?”

      Sada shook his head, sipped his drink, pale face obscured momentarily by a plume of vapour. “Nor is there any reason I should. There are no instances of amnesia in my life. I have always been what I am today. Never have I been a timetable agent. Nor have I any memory of ever meeting yourself or this Woodrow. I have no such memory because it never happened.”

      “May I ask you something?” Luth peered at his own hands.

      “Of course.”

      “What was your position? On the Aeneas?”

      “My position?”

      “Yes. You know. Your station.”

      “Ah. I was navigations officer.”

      “Navigations...” Luth smiled to himself. “Your record suggested a high probability you’d be naturally inclined toward transport vocation?”

      “Indeed. But I fail to see...”

      “It doesn’t matter,” Luth pushed back his chair. He’d figured it out, and any further discussion would only turn the conversation around in an infinite magnitude of circles. It wasn’t Sada’s fault. “Enjoy your coffee. I’ll see you at the meeting.”


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