The novel is about the remnants of a civilisation of beings who, in their natural form, are non-corporeal.

Chapter Two

= Chapter 2 = 

“How do you want to get to Peppermint Grove?”

The laundry machines had, by now, all stopped their rumbling, and Stephanie was inspecting the many rows of the equipment that had all been installed inside the house. Drago had removed several walls, as well as the carpet and tiles, from all the surfaces elsewhere in the house. The cavernous space was lit with a single fluorescent tube from the ceiling, and by all accounts exactly resembled a dry-cleaning facility.

“Let's drive.” Drago was learning against the door frame of the division between the habitable part of the house and the facility.

“Really?” Would be it be faster to get you to teleport us?”

“No—-let's not transmit today. The weather has cleared up and I would like to spend some time in the sunlight. If we managed to see the Army Boss then I will probably not be back in Perth for some time.”

“Do you want to drive then?” Stephanie turned to Drago, banding her hand twice on a laundry machine. “We can take the scenic route.”

“You are a better driver than me, Drago.”

“I suppose so.”

The two had reached the Indian Ocean, and the weather was indeed pleasant. The sun shimmered off the water, and the sky was clear, and it was possible to see for kilometres. Rottnest was easily visible, and the Toyota sped past the many beach goers.

“I think that man is being sick.”

“Yes—-he has had too much to drink.”

“So what is going on back in your ... land ... with your people?—-You told me ages ago that you couldn't tell me the reason for all this questing and all these missions. You said you were sworn to secrecy. Can you tell me what all of this is about? It's about to be over—-and if I am right, I may not see you again for a long time.”

“Oh of course. Yes, I can tell you now.”

“What?” Stephanie threw her hands up in frustration. “You're just going to tell me now?” At that instant a car had pulled up beside them. Two blonde men wearing highly reflective sunglasses, transporting surfboards in the tray of their car turned to face the exclaiming Stephanie. The traffic lights changed green and Drago waited for them to speed off.

“I'm sorry Stephanie.” Drago looked very sheepish. “But there is no need for secrecy now. Letting you know the reason I am here on Earth will now no longer put anyone in danger.”

“Well I am—-and have been—-very curious. Spill the beans, space man!”

“Alright. Well, as you know, my race was once a people who existed in a physical form beyond this dimension—-the third dimension. The official label that many human science fiction authors have had for beings such as myself is that we are an ‘extra-dimensional sentience’. It is highly likely that humans possess the possibility of evolutionary trajectory exactly the same as my people. We once existed as biological life forms, and we have a good idea about which part of the Milky Way we originated from. A great deal of human folklore and supernatural philosophies—-such as, say—-theology, mysticism, mythologies that involve magic and creatures such as Gods and Deities speculate about the possibility of humans being able to subvert or transcend what Western academies refer to as the 'laws of nature' or the 'laws of physics'. As far as my people understand the composition of ...”

Drago paused for a moment, searching for the right word in English—–“... 'reality', that is, all that is real and true and actually existing—-there is no such opposition between what the dominant model of science humans currently conduct, and what these practitioners of science, these ... bureaucrats consider to be supernatural. Whatever passes for science and truth now under class society on Earth is a very dim shadow of all the methods of inquiry and exploration of the physical universe.

“Anyway, humans usually depict beings who are able to do 'magic' or break the laws of nature as gods, or demons, or highly perfect, or the absolute reverse, as evil spirits that need to be purged from society and so on. In fact all sentience is exactly the same—-so far as my people have been able to discover, much of the enormous bodies of human thought that have performed investigations of methods of inquiry into the nature of reality and the universe are absolutely correct.”

Stephanie turned to Drago, as they passed right by the Swanbourne

“Absolutely.” Drago nodded. “Oh look, the gate is wide open.”

“Would you look at that...! Anyway—go on—I find it hard to believe that a civilisation of tyrannical and destructive people such as humans have gotten anything right.”

“Oh you have perhaps stumbled ignorantly, or recklessly onto some incredible discoveries that my people also did, but for the most part humans are highly intelligent—-and perhaps more to the point—compassionate, empathetic, and loving people.”

“I think I am going to need you to unpack this a little more for me, Drago. So
far, I don't really agree.”

“You might find it hard to believe, but humans can rid themselves of political devices of oppression such as states, armies, police, prisons, the bureaucracy. All forms of external and coercive discipline. I'm sure you agree with this as well—-punishment, especially in the form the state prefers best, retributive punishment, is entirely temporary and will eventually be overthrown. In fact for long stretches of the history of humanity there were no political and social hierarchies and humans were in fact the happiest and most content they have ever been.”

“No, that is true, I suppose I need to have a little more faith in humanity.”

“Yes, I have noticed how it is fashionable and highly persuasive among all kinds of humans in Perth to avow about how humans are somehow treacherous and oppressive by nature. Even when all the best human scientific inquiry shows that there is very little evidence at all to support this sort of common colloquial topic of conversation.

“But it is true that Earth is currently in the grip of political and economic control of a small group of tyrants who are making life miserable for those Earthlings who are sentient. In fact the parallels between the current condition of your society and mine are very close. My people are also in the grip of a horrible authoritarian class-based political system much like humanity. Except instead of our state oppression being administered by third dimensional instruments of torture and misery, it occurs extra-dimensionally.”

“That sounds horrific.”

“It is. The perfection of our social system is regressing. It is very similar to human social regression—-we are slipping back into a mode of existence with less individual and collective personal autonomy, and as a result we are becoming plagued by pestilence and great misery.

“Except we are much closer to the destruction of our kind than humans are. Our former mode of political existence enabled us to persist extra-dimensionally indefinitely. But since our society regressed back into class society, we have been descending through the full gamut of physical modes of existence, and have barely been able to support ourselves within the third physical dimension.”

“So is your political system related to how many ... dimensions of reality you
can exist in and ... travel through?”

“It is the same way for all beings which exhibit properties of sentience.”

“What? Even humans?”

“Oh especially humans. Like I said, one day, humans may discover how to move out of third dimensional physics.”

“How is a political system related to science at all? I don't understand you in
the slightest!”

“Humans have some conception of liberating themselves from the ... 'prison' or limitations of third dimensional space and time most definitely.”

“I certainly don't have any conception of that at all.”

“Oh, every culture does. I quite like the story told by the German Idealist
philosophers. I seem to remember you told me that you once studied philosophy.”

“They never spoke of moving beyond the third dimension.”

“It's certainly not a big jump to extend what they were talking about—-especially Hegel. What if I told you the current political authorities that my people suffer under are currently operating within a political structure very similar to the Prussian state that Hegel theorised about in his text the Philosophy of Right? The main reason why I am here on Earth is to gain the necessary resources to be able to carry out a transformative revolution within my colony so that we may be able to overthrow our rulers, collectivise our current forms of property once more, and abolish the state which currently controls and parasites off our labouring classes. The same thing is without a doubt similar by analogy to the human conception of libertarian communism.”

Stephanie furrowed her brow, and gazed out leftward from her car passenger
window and saw a little glimmer of the ocean again from Cottesloe beach.

“I think we've driven too far, Drago.”

“Ah. Yes—–”

“Anyway go on. I've heard this stuff before, but I had never thought about it much, it seemed too fantastic and disconnected from my life. I hear people in silicon valley talking about “Social Technology” and bitcoin and software project governance based on federation and decentralisation, but those people—-they all seem to be men—-all talk with enormous words that really have me the impression that they had no idea what they were talking about.”

“Ah—-the techbros. Quite a few of them are millenarians, aren't they. If they had gained anymore power that would go from saying: The World Is Ending! To: Let's End It!”

“That's the impression I got as well. But from what it sounds like, humans would be able to—-I don't know—-leave this planet and initiate some sort of social system of infinite productivity and perfectly equality.”

“Equality of some kind is part of my point—-I suppose I talk more in terms of absolute and infinite freedom, but that is just my own choice of English words. Anyway computers are currently in the grip of Earth's ruling class, and for that reason I would probably not use them as a tool for achieving total human liberation. Not right now, anyway. Computers are deployed right now as a means for making humans work harder and surrender more of their freedom.”

“I certainly agree with that. What was supposed to be a technology for increasing economic productivity and allowing more free time for humans has enslaved us and robbed us of even more of our time—-have you seen the videos of warehouse workers competing against robots in their workplaces?”

“It has been the same way for all class societies whenever they sink into a more stratified and unequal form of class society—-it is the same for mine right now.”

“Do you use computers where you come from? Robots and automation and the like?”

“Oh. No. Actually I cannot think of another civilisation compared to humans who are so obsessed with computers. I will admit that they are quite entertaining, but they have none of the magical properties that humans regularly attach to them. Really, humans are quite fetishistic about these machines. The way they are presently used socially will not bring humans any closer to liberation.

“There are probably some computer system still in operation in my colony, but they are an obsolete technology to us. Where humans would deploy computation to solve a problem or achieve some task, we would appeal to the Transcendental Aesthetic. But even that is an ancient technology in our civilisation—-they way we used to live required no recourse to objects or processes in third dimensional physics or—-individual personal consciousness for that matter.”

“What is the Transcendental Aesthetic?”

“It is a label I borrowed from the German philosopher Kant, and the capacity we have to use it is not quite the same as he explained, but, put simply, it is the ability or 'technology' my people use in order to 'look into' the third dimension and see objects and relationships between third dimensional physical entities.”

“How does that work?”

“Well, the universe does not really operate the way humans normally think it does. Humans think that the world is made up of objects like atoms and photons and pet animals, all of which are neutrally given to them in empirical experience. When you close your eyes and go to sleep and become unconscious, it is true that the world does indeed go on existing, and that when you resume consciousness, time has passed and you are experiencing a world which your mind is not wholly involved in creating or maintaining, but that is where humans usually stop in their understanding of the metaphysics of the objectivity of the universe. Actually, the consciousness of the minds that sentient beings possess—-and it is absolutely true that all sentience requires a mind of some sort—-is actually a critical element in 'constructing' or 'creating' the objectivity of the universe. There is nothing neutral and uncontested about empirical facts. All knowledge and experience through the conduit of a conscious mind is laden with concepts and values, and interpretations. Nietzsche used the phrase “transvaluation of norms” to describe the process whereby a ... rational or autonomous agent would be able to re-intepreted the meaning of sentient experience in such a way as to radically and completely transform the appearance and function of living existence. Not that Nietzsche would ever have said the words 'rational' or 'autonomous agent’.”

“So are you saying humans just have to think differently in order to free themselves from their fleshy, puny bodies—-and ... transcend the third dimension?” Stephanie was absolutely not buying it. “You didn't slip me something every time I come see you, do you? I'm not tripping right now, am I?”

Drago sighed. “It is difficult to explain. Maybe I'll start from a different perspective. Every sentient creature of some kind possesses some form of consciousness, and therefore some kind of mind. The ... awareness you have of your experience of being awake and alert, and being able to monitor your emotional state—-as well as being able to detect continuity and a reliability in your conscious awakeness is a critical and active capacity. For that reason, humans are definitely not a kind of computer made up of little biological machines like proteins or cells or even physical objects. That is not what makes humans humans. You would be able to put me on a surgical table right now and cut me open and give me an autopsy right now, and my body in this dimension would flawlessly appear to be human, but I can assure you that this manifestation of the person you know is a Zombie. This body has no mind or consciousness. This body is a puppet for a ... consciousness or spirit that exists beyond this dimension. Whereas you, and every other actual human, possesses a kind of ... kernel of what Hegel called 'spirit'. You possess the capacity for 'apperception'—that is, you have the active rational capacity for forming a unified and coherent experience of space and time within the third dimension. That is the most advanced stage of your civilisation's development and sentient beings.”

“I think I follow—-you're right, humans usually don't acknowledge that all of the 'facts' or objects we see or take as verification of our theories all take
within and through our conscious experience.”

“Yes. It is a shame indeed that the phrases 'expand your mind' and 'transcend your consciousness' have both acquired derogatory and derisive connotations within English-speaking society. That was my point earlier: when humans—-and all civilisations of sentient beings, for that matter—free themselves from the oppression of tyrannies and absurd irrational social modes of organisation such as 'work' and 'war' and 'accumulation of capital', the social and mental development of their race will, in time, be able to advance to such a stage that the physical limitations of the third dimension, and all other physical dimensions of extension, will not be a productive or useful mode of existence, and will be a fetter upon the operation or organisation of their sentience, and it will be dispensed with and left with altogether.”

“The same way your people did.”

“Yes, the way we were once able to existence without having to worry or navigate what English refers to as third, or even fourth physical dimensions. But once you move beyond those sorts of axes of physical extension, I believe you are no longer really referring to anything a human would comprehend as, or desire to refer to as 'physical'.”

“It sounds quite blissful...”

“Well, it is anything but blissful for us right now. I think we have arrived in Peppermint Grove. Let me just get out and ask someone where the Commandant lives.”