Wordcount: 10 by 100
You must understand that in their world, information is a commodity. Something bought and sold. It comes at a price. You have to bargain. It’s never free.
You must understand that this commodity is heavily encrypted. And there are rendezvous points for pickup. The free market? What free market. Words are sold in secret.
You must understand that because it’s encrypted, not only do you have to buy the words, but you must also pay for the key. Extortion. But that’s the way it’s always been.
You must understand... but you won’t understand. That freedom to know is never free.
In every society where there is censorship, those who wish to express anything must speak in similes. Murmur in metaphors. At some point, it becomes a habit. It’s useful, having life saving skills drummed in as habit.
Characters provide deniability, you see.
Still, one must be careful. Careful to curtail the free phrases that slip smoothly from those loose lips. It’s too easy to envy the false freedom of their phantasmic reality. Always: how to multiply the message without running risks of aluminum arrest?
Read rhythm, abhor alliteration.
Do you see what I’m saying, do you see what I’m saying?
They would smuggle manuscripts from abroad. They would stay up all night to read a pile of loose papers wrinkled, stained, missing pages. Only a few hours to absorb the text because they had to pass it on.
Transformed by literature, it was a tradition.
Relying on writers to speak the truth in a place where information is a commodity.
Getting caught—put that thought off. “Buy the truth and sell it not,” isn’t that the phrase?
Do you understand? When there’s nothing they can take, when nothing has ever been your own, not even life or air, truth is—
The Panopticon doesn’t matter. As long as our minds are free, there is always a place they cannot see. Something they can’t reach.
They might watch every movement and monitor each breath, they might strangle you with their surveillance. But as long as the mind is free, self can survive.
It can’t live, but it can survive.
As long as you can survive, you can rebuild.
Therein lies all hope.
Hope is not rational. It is necessary. Faith is mandatory—faith that humans cannot abide slavery. That freedom is breathing. That we will never forget or abandon it.
Buy the truth and sell it not.
Never betray yourself. Never betray those who trust you. Never trust without testing. Always test everyone.
This is paranoia. This is what it takes to survive.
It’s fucking exhausting.
Always test everyone. Abandon anyone who fails. Keep up your guard, always look out for traitors. Never be surprised by betrayal. Anticipate everything. Never trust without testing. Always test everyone.
There’s a reason why traitors lie at the center of Dante’s hell.
Words are bought and sold, but trust is a gift. You own nothing but your mind and trust. Never desecrate those gifts.
Oh god. Freedom.
A dream. Holy shit a paradise that you can’t enjoy because you’re still living like it’s the Panopticon. And people just don’t understand you. They’ve been living breathing fucking freedom and they have no idea.
They think you’re delusional.
Freedom. Just the thought of it. Afraid that if you touch it you’ll shatter. Elation and ecstasy but no concept how to actually live it. You’re trying to buy and sell words that they throw around casually. Like throwing away money. They’re so fucking rich they wipe their asses with it.
Even their asses speak better than you.
What I’m trying to say is. What I’m trying to say is.
Characters provide deniability.
I can’t speak, so they speak for me. A whole range of voices at my disposal.
This is the trap that literary critics write about. A writer is not their work, a work is not the writer. I am, I am not everyone anyone anything.
The best part is that I get to say everything I want to say, but you’ll never know which parts are me. I’ll never tell. It’s the paranoia. I don’t trust you. Nothing personal.
That’s the glorious beauty of anonymity.
Did you know that slaves, dreaming of freedom, think that emancipation is the end of all their problems? They’re wrong. It’s exactly where their problems begin.
Integrating into a world where most people don’t even think about the price of words is jarring. Even more bizarre: seeing a world where trust is granted immediately and people subtract from 100, rather than add from 0.
The thing about paranoia is that you never let go. It’s too risky. They tell you to unlearn, that it’s safe now. But the fear is always there, that the dark days will return.
This is a construct. This is a constructed voice.
Who is speaking?
Let’s make it meta.
Who is “I” “You” “We” “They”?
The power of the internet, its hypnotic pull, is the ability to strike from darkness.
You have a voice; you are not anonymous.
So many anonymous voices speak that it turns into noise.
Your voice is lost in the noise; you return to anonymity.
Everything you post on the internet is, by definition, not private.
There is so much stuff on the internet that volume makes it a proverbial needle.
Private, public, filters, firewalls, searches, ciphers. Find/hide me.
What am I trying to say? Do you see what I’m saying?
100 words. Ten sets of 100 words and this is what happens. In this case, it’s natural to count up from 0 than down from 100.
Does it tell you anything that I’m hesitant to even let you read this? Circuitous and convoluted and encrypted as it is, I don’t trust you. What if, by some stroke of unimaginable luck—always anticipate everything—you have the key? Never unlearn.
I’ll never tell.
Characters provide deniability.
The best censorship happens when writers censor themselves. That is Panopticon.