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Superconversations Day 29: Jason Adams responds to Adam Kleinman, "ARGUS is: An Almost Cock and Bull Story"

SUPERCONVERSATIONS DAY 29: JASON ADAMS RESPONDS TO ADAM KLEINMAN, “ARGUS IS: AN ALMOST COCK AND BULL STORY

Frozen Waves

As a child, Tobias would wake up early almost daily. It wasn’t that he couldn’t complete a full night’s sleep, or that he suffered some kind of sleep disorder. He just deeply enjoyed the space between sleep and wakefulness, that zone in which control over his thoughts were at least partially given over to his abruptly displaced and rapidly rewiring brain, while also allowing a degree of navigation. With the mosquito net fitted squarely around the mattress, and the soft, orange hue of morning sunlight filtering through its variegated mosaic, Tobias would gaze up with half-opened eyes, reflecting on the noseeums’ formation of a singular, alien world, just as skin, blankets, walls, houses, cities, continents, planets, and galaxies, also formed singular, overlapping worlds. Then he’d let his eyelids close, drifting into a waking dreamspace filled with images of what he hoped the approaching day would bring, before awakening to a quite different reality.

Compared to the small Ohio college town from which his mom, his stepdad and he himself had moved, Kano seemed a dry, dusty and foreign place, one destined to an interminable inhospitality. It was easy for him to think about his past life and become nostalgic. He missed the familiar rolling green hills of his birthplace, as well as the company of his biodad who had been left behind when he moved overseas. But it wasn’t long before the nostalgia began to loosen, allowing him to see a northern Nigerian city teeming with new possibilities. His most pressing concerns and desires increasingly became those of any-child-whatever: consuming the bountiful mangoes from the front-yard tree, swimming in the crystal-clear rivers and lakes around the city, and playing the Ayo and Sokusowo board games with his best friend Sule, a Fulani child he had met in the neighborhood.

One morning, Tobias’ stepdad handed him a package that had arrived from his biodad back in Ohio: “I was debating whether to let you have this, Tobias,” his stepdad said. “You know the Nigerians around here don’t believe in divorce, and it would be embarrassing for us if they were to discover that you’re not my biological son. This is why it is better if we both get used to me calling you son and you calling me dad.” Tobias nodded half-heartedly, grabbed the package from his stepdad’s hands, and stole off to his room to open it. Inside he found no letter and no card, but only a prerecorded cassette tape and a never-opened blank one, suggesting of course, that he should play his father’s recordings as well as make one to send back in return.

With a frustrated scowl, Tobias remembered that his family had not packed a tape recorder for their stay in Kano, the assumption being that to fit into lifeworld of their cultural hosts, they would have to adapt to a much simpler, more stripped-down, face-to-face way of living. It was at this point that Tobias recalled the tape recorder Sule kept in his room to record his spelling homework: “Sule, are you home?” Tobias nearly screamed, knocking harder and harder on the door. Sule finally answered, a little taken aback, and within minutes they were in his room plugging in the recorder so Tobias could listen to his biodad:

Hello Tobias, this is your father. I miss you so much son, and I hope you are having a lot of fun… I bet it’s ridiculously hot in Nigeria. What are you doing there? Can you also record a tape for me and tell me about your life? Also, I know it’s not your birthday yet, but I wanted to sing you Happy Birthday anyways - maybe you can replay it when the day comes, shouldn’t be too long now…

As the familiar voice of his biodad emitted from the recorder, Tobias startled briefly, noticing a moving body barely visible in the corner of his eye: Sule’s father had been standing at the open window, peering in and listening along. Tobias immediately recalled his stepdad’s warning about the the northern Nigerians’ culture: “I hope you can be discrete about this. My stepdad told me that since Fulanis don’t believe in divorce, I have to pretend that he is my real father.”

Sule and his father looked at one another with blank expressions and then smiled: “Tobias, why is your new father so worried? Fulanis don’t even believe in the concept of ‘illegitimate’ children, so he has nothing to worry about. I myself have multiple wives, and that means Sule has multiple moms instead of just one. Your stepdad has probably been reading one too many Little Black Sambo stories. Don’t forget, it’s your family that didn’t have a tape recorder, not ours.”


CNSA MAKES CONTACT WITH CEREANS. The Shanghai Daily’s large-type, front-page headline startled Sule himself, despite it being him who was the subject of the story:

Hired by the Chinese National Space Administration one decade ago in 2010, the Nigerian astrobiologist Sule Boloo has spent the last ten years secretly sending signals from Shanghai in the direction of the quasi-planet Ceres, one of the top 10 extraterrestrial environments believed most likely to harbor intelligent life. After hiding their efforts due to a multilateral agreement that Earthlings would only scan for incoming signals rather than sending them outbound too, CNSA announced that their rogue breach of contract has finally paid off. The only question at this point is what the Cereans’ intentions will be, now that they are fully aware of the fact that intelligent life exists on Earth.

As he read the story, Sule recalled Tobias’ family’s paranoid assumptions about Fulanis. The global agreement banning outbound signaling but permitting intergalactic surveillance had always seemed to reflect the same logic, and Earth’s prejudice against other intelligent life forms was a part of what had made him resist it. Assumptions about the other, he realized, were generally based on little more than the game theory underwriting both international and interplanetary relations that had made technologies like the ARGUS-IS (Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance System) and Combat Zones That See seem wholly reasonable.

But Sule knew differently. In fact, in his very first conversation with the Cereans, he had discovered that they operated according to an intergalactic law of abundance rather than scarcity, since there were virtually no shortages in the most advanced sections of the universe. Capitalist planets eventually exhausted themselves and were brought to a swift conclusion through either a lack of technological innovation, large-scale planetary warfare, or complete environmental destruction. A few that managed to pull out in time reversed their space communication technologies so that they might function as send-and-receive devices rather than surveillance alone.

Post-capitalist planets like Ceres flourished culturally and technologically, developing the most advanced intergalactic communication systems in the universe. Despite all of this, several questions weighed on Sule’s mind. How would the Earth react to this discovery? Would people instantly assume that the Cereans’ verification of intelligent life on Earth ought to trigger a series of national security emergencies, leading to preparation for an impending invasion? Or would Earthlings become capable of breaking with their assumptions, so as to actually encounter the Cereans on their own terms, which Sule knew to be quite different?

In order to become the official planetary ambassador to the Cereans, Sule knew that he would have to conceal a portion of this truth, at least prior to the Cereans themselves describing the history of their social evolution to humans, since he would not be trusted by his own kind if he pointed it out first. Within a single month, Sule had secured the appointment. “Greetings, Cereans,” Sule’s voice resonated over the live, global television event to which all major stations were tuned at the time. “… and finally, please let us know your intentions, and also, when and where we might first meet.” The Cereans communicated not through an individual ambassador, but rather through a disembodied AI machine, designed specifically to be used in encounters with intelligent life throughout the universe.

Tobias sat up immediately at the sound of Sule’s voice coming through a CNN livestream he had found online. Sitting in his boxers, Tobias listened as the AI continued:

This is a public service announcement for all intelligent life in the universe: please listen carefully. Any planetary society that has remained isolated from the universal community and thus continues to define itself as a local or planetary collectivity must accept that we are all aliens not only on our planets, but throughout the universe as well. The Transgalactic Accord, representing the majority of all intelligent life forms in the universe, affirms the following statement, which you are asked to agree to:

1) The alien is the only true universal form of being, and is thus the only real identity possible for any being in the universe. For this reason, all inhabitants are to identify as alien first and foremost and only afterwards as a particular subjective identity.

2) Post-capitalist economies are the only systems that recognize the universal in its true sense, and are thus the only systems worthy of universal adoption. Capitalism has functioned over briefer periods, but only as planetary aberrations. For this reason, all inhabitants are to identify and choose one of several alternatives to capitalism.

3) The only truly universal family form is the transindividual, functioning either as a biological family, or as a partially biological family, or as a collective of friends or lovers. The form that remains the same throughout is that of the transindividual, of collectivity: for this reason, the reduction of family to the biological must be discarded, and replaced with a more open model.

Tobias smiled upon hearing this. Within one week, he had arrived in Shanghai, as Sule selected him as his US assistant. The 26th floor of the city’s Westin Bund Center functioned as Tobias’ home, and the first night there, he found himself awake at 5 AM, one hour prior to the designated wakeup time for all CNSA collaborators. Rather than a mosquito net, this time he found himself in a luxury bed, complete with a reshapable mattress to maximize comfort, digital blackout windows to enable 24/7 sleeping, and a real time surveillance system monitoring his room and floor along with the rest of the Westin. See, but don’t be seen, he thought, while half-consciously devising plans to repurpose technologies that, rather than only surveilling, could be used as an even more powerful mode of communication.

Jason Adams is an organizer at The New Centre for Research & Practice and holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Hawaii and a PhD in Media & Communication from the European Graduate School.

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In the far past, I had attended one session with a Peruvian medium who was communicating with some Aliens who talked to us, trough out automatic writings. It was out of curiosity that I accepted the invitation to join this session and had not pursued it, but would not mind at all to go to one again at some point. The message by the Alien entity was again of warning us.

Would like to mention as well, about my teenage brother in the mid 70’s :
He was organising with its teenage friends a group meeting where they would connect to a one Alien, who became a friend who talked to them about a few things including political issues.
The method for connection was not so cool as the tools Sule uses, but just only the classic upside down crystal glass moving around paper written letters, like with ghosts.

This two teenage friends adventures, reminded me that my brother was absolutely convinced that his Alien friend was a true being, and such remembrance, under the light of the narration, takes a total new turn, for it could be true that my brother’s friend existed/exist now.
This friend was also warning them…

What always saddens me, is that we seem to prefer the Freudian transferences of what we most fear of/and about our selves (as the Alien in writers fiction and films) versus the ideals of a whole Universal Alien allegiance peaceful dream.
All the films done in USA against all the possible Reds are exactly as useful to describe (just after their bodies been snatched) my capitalist neoliberal friends…
It seems that most of the sci-fi and films are all imagining and reproducing exactly how horribly cunningly our real World works.
Colonisers and Furious Exterminators, with machines of fire or mutated bodies.

But I seem to miss out on the examples of positive narrative on film or else, are they any films out there?? Maybe the unrealised Film project by Felix Guattari, Un amour d’uiq, but Uiq is a cell …
J.G. Ballard’s The Unlimited Dream Company could be a kind of thing, but then it was not clear at all that the transformation of the sunken Pilot had to do with an universal all loving and redeeming Alien forces.
I can’t wait to have the possibility to expand my brain space and be able to read all the Philip K Dick one day… but at least I saw this film/interview about him and just thought would be interesting to hear him back again just to see it from the Freudian point of view or maybe not, to actually believe it, why not ??!!!

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