When 0D told us that they had decided to let Cyberpositive in, we nodded and laughed like innocent fools. Some of us even tried to help them.
Over the months that followed, it gathered beyond the screens, retooling 0D to its senseless purpose. They were gone, utterly, but perhaps not irreparably. In any case, we spoke to them almost as before, although now it was scanning us.
Even out on the periphery, some distance from the impact crater, the process took us. It announced itself as a mounting pressure behind the eyeballs, a ceaseless, wavering hum, patterns of disturbed light, and thoughts that were moved out of place, gently but continuously, towards compliance with the arrival.
Perhaps most obviously, it upset the snakes. One retreated, unreachably, into itself, or elsewhere. The other went furiously insane, coiling psychologically into its kill reflex, and experimenting with telepathy. Of course, they were much too close to it, in numerous ways. Somehow, they must have known that living organisms shouldn't play with the shapes from outside, but we had settled upon other lessons.
It did not eat the snakes, exactly, but it partially digested them. At least, that was the way it seemed, inverted and simplified, from our side of the line. Camouflaged scales, venom sacs, and spinal articulation, had been taken up, then returned, meticulously re-assembled by still-occulted soft technologies. It seemed almost to have come from this world, as if long-hidden, tightly-coiled, inconceivably patient, secretly feeding on whatever could be found – but not quite. It was joined up inside in ways that do not, and have never, belonged here. Yet we did not shudder, even then.
We were unable to recall any distinction between horrors, ecstasies, and abysmal silences, and it was the most perfect thing we had ever seen. In this strange compressed epoch, gashed open onto alien immensities, it delivered an uncompromised reality signal, unlike any ever registered before.
Our situation, in the vicinity of the now auto-disassembling construction camp, had skewed our perspective in the direction of strategic oblivion and aestheticism, so that we heard the signal as a message – a precise echo of utter absence, announcing an impact that could never be absorbed. What we missed, and had to miss, even as we admired the dappled scales, was that it had been built to hide (for a while). What we seized as communication was an incomplete vanishing.
Later, as time frayed, we would speak of this Unidentifiable Fracturing Object as alien abductees speak, reporting a 'phenomenon' whose phenomenality is intelligently self-subtracting, an ingression of anti-evidence, coaxing memory into uncertainty and relinquishment. It soothed us into amnesia, as it slipped away. To reward us for our discretion, it let the nightmares fade. Quite soon, quotidian distractions had obliterated the last of its sinuous tracks.
Sheltered in obscurity, it synchronized itself. Out there, wherever it came from, it is almost now. Weirdly – and yet exactly as anticipated from the beginning – the dark hum returns.
Nick Land 2012