Plastic by Kim Chessex


"The first duty of man is to become artificial"
–Oscar Wilde

All the world, remade. All the air, all the waters, all the plants, everything that lived and crept through ocean and field, remade. A few secluded mineral deposits, crusted near the devouring magma heart of the world; a scattering of zoological specimens preserved for novelty's sake like dusty high art in an atavist's museum; and catalogued trillions of raw microorganisms, were all that remained of Nature. A billion years of evolution coated in plastic and remade.

Plasteel bones, ceramic teeth, white bloodlymph, fibreoptic nerves, jellymer muscles, plastic skin, artificial secretions from nanosculpted aero-bubbled skin pores, cerebrospinal colloid, synthetic saliva, synthetic mucous, computer-sculpted moles and freckles, fine neonylon hairs, precisely calibrated pseudokeratin growth rates, nanomechanical skin replacement, with just the right level of fractal skin patterning. No trace of a genetic code, no DNA, no genes, no chromosomes, no cells an ancient biologist might recognise. An electrochemical physiostatic battery, a reverse-engineered neurochemical gel computer. Subconscious psychometrics and personality imprinting. And a custom-tailored face.

Ellen Ripley wasn't the only soul grown in a lab.

Removing the NeoSynthetic Corporation logo with a blade was a mistake. The tattoo penetrated down into muscle and, probably, to bone. The broad, mottled scar-crater left by the razor slowly but inevitably reconstituted itself back into the recognisable product logo, as though damaged thoughts could seep out the skin. A blue welder-flame demanded greater self-control, and stunk noxiously, but boiled and crisped the plastic skin into a grotesque swirl of permanent distortion.

The most exquisite, if not the most intense, anguish arose outside of prediction, in the realm of mind enchained to a soil that's loamy viridity no longer existed outside wistful nostalgia, or neurotic phantasy. The psychology of precious filth, inherited by homo sapiens' genetics, saturating its memetics across the broken-fisted centuries, and finally replicated with delectable irony into the synthetic mind, found its most sublime potentialities employed in devices solely lachrymal. For, axiomatically, synthetic nerve endings produce synthetic impulses, firing synthetic synapses, arousing synthetic gestalten neural feedback. Fake pain. Fake fear. Fake taste. Fake sound. Fake dread. Fake frowns. Fake tears.

The reality of flesh, of the joyously deoxyribonucleic corruption peppered down into cells like subaqueous oceans of torn, strewn fragments of dire microecology, was sanitised, refreshed, the interstices of molecular eroticism smelted with spiritual nanoplastic, refined into a queer, living- dead world of unfathomable blandness. A world of endless elliptically-perforated stygian caverns, like bloodless bone marrow sheltered within the petrochemically-enhanced skeleton of the world. A banal infinitude sculpted by a thousand years of corporate memetic evolution. Nothing more than the magnified nature behind the mask of meaning that coated everything. A horror beyond imagining not for its enormity - though it, if anything, would merit that appreciation - but for the abandonment of any true concept of enormity; the horror of this literally beyond the imaginative function itself. Explorers in the outer reaches of trademark, find nothing...nothing...nothing.

Drowning in clear syrup, Call opens hir eyes for the first time, and sees hir masters, hir makers, hir slavers beyond. A master's finger is waved in doom emotion. A product needs a Christening. Umbilicals slide out and coil away lifelessly. Syrup drains away. Cold. Cold. Plastic skin yields plastic goosebumps, as the Auton crumples in silent, open-mouthed pseudo-birth trauma. The first human voice shay hears unfiltered by syrup or plugs is clipped, male, laughing.

The gradual, geometrically-accelerating extrusion of human imagination into physical existence, couldn't help but become enslaved to the spectacle, Capitalist project of transmogrification of existence. A polymer-toothed cannibalisation of ontology itself flowed and gnawed and wormed too subtly to be perceived by any save the muzzled few, labelling everything with meaning, meaning, a galaxy of meaning. Every random, unpredicted permutation fed back into the ever-expanding process, re-branded and reorganised. "Product" is no longer a dirty word. For a world suffocating in the plastic faeces of spectaculture, sanitised coprophilia proved the inevitable soporific. It took the Autons, themselves excreted out of lab-factories and trademarked before birth, to suggest anew that we are what we eat.

A thin, rigid suctioning device pokes into Call's mouth, ears, nose, pulling out syrup, testing resiliency. Latex-gloved thumbs smearing over gums, pulling at teeth. A few sly pinches, tugs. Cold shower-steel floor, a plate of ice against hir vast skin. A nauseous, schizophrenic internal feedback announces past the mental sluggishness, with the preternatural cognitive arousal only an Auton could reflexively muster: "This is really happening. THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING"...

Even the meaning of blood, denied. What does one do when everything is plastic? When even one's lifesblood is patented? When humans are indistinguishable from products, what in one's minds changes? Mutilation becomes mutilation of garbage. Abuse abuse of appliance. Carve an Auton's body and white blood emerges. Add red dye to simulate human blood. The grossest of atrocities becomes representable not merely symbolically, but actually. Murder. Vivisection. Sexual torture. Blood drips out of them all, words translated into rubber flesh and plastic bones, leaking artificial redness. There is no artificial. "Plastic", "synthetic" wax meaningless. Horror film in perfect simulation: a screaming human, ribs slit and broken by cleavers, thorax riven open in a block-puzzle of inverting meat chunks. Turning a living, conscious being inside out. Blood. Blood. Empathic relevance can not key on direct sensory input. This is really happening. THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING

Slit your throat

Shell upon shell upon shell, each shell painted in trademarked, orchestrated meaning; each product, each fabricated tissue or program or shape immutably formed as an indicator of that which it is not. The is-ness of individual things, the psychedelic meaning-flipping, distortion into crystalline metaphoric muddiness, becomes occluded and precluded by the Auton's mental circuitry itself. "Sacred mystery" exists as a de-legitimised intuition, an imagination as lost as Nature. The appreciation of biological filth, of indefinite fractal messiness for-its-own-sake becomes mystified by the Corporate reworking of reality - replaced by simulacrum is-ness. It becomes impossible to look with any conscious legitimacy into any aspect of plastic reality and see what's really there, for everything means something. The ultimate triumph of Commerce goes beyond externalising imagination, unfolding via psychic feedback loop into reifying schizophrenia itself. Reality itself changes. Call goes unanswered.

In another lab far away Call met the avatar of hir dreams, the unspeakable legend resurrected. This strange, darkly hallowed woman moved through the Machine, birthing ruin, dripping magical corrosion. Hypnotically, this outer darkness spawn, this xenofilth, this corruption, burbled forth like hatred loved. Like joy hated. A scabrous, nethermost intrusion of shivering unbelievability twilighting ghiverous caligrinissituimudinous, vicisitikall wish till ich shfila hadifas gail gail gayul gah yuul gamilither yeshtergrotsho freal seel, a fgriush remogmanifestion of rakdavminite deeply wending through ancient ages. Ripley moves differently, thinks differently. Hir genetic taint recrudesced amidst scientific hubristical intention bristles and flowers and fruits into unvenchable absorpities. Call's fresh face apprehends, in sum dim wae, the meening of this woman. Regurgishation. Votimus. Revulsion, incredastibular infecsharillious, ortonic far-sensuality, flung beyond and beneath subtleties, eating away the fine white marrow of the plastick Capital, blood running through ceramic teeth, impossible blood, magickal blood.

Ripley's acid presence corrodes slowly but persistently through Call's mind.

The plasticised thought-matrices are stained and daintily, carelessly mangled. The plastic skin is broken, and unknown air flows in to mingle with white blood. A tight embrace impresses irredeemably. The plastic world has been granted a redeeming contaminant. Filth has been resurrected.

Ripley's is-ness manifests despite hir world-weariness. Call senses it, deep down - knows that this is changing hir, shifting broken files, rearranging thoughts to accommodate a chaos not understood, not fully desired, but which intrudes regardless. A kernel or seed has survived, and learned to sprout in the newly dead, polymer soil. This is really happening.

All the beautiful world, waiting to be remade...


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