Yes and What If

The year is 2025. Virgo Solutions, a technology solutions company known for its head scratching introductions to the market, has designed a new media title for VR platforms simply called Yes. It is unclear if the title is intended as a game, training module, or is one of Virgo Solution’s infamous self-punishment devices. The game consists of a blank but open world environment consisting of a white void with menus upon menus of customizable content (think apple orchards, bicycles your avatar can ride around, or cheeky knock offs of familiar fast casual restaurants). However, the main thrust of the game appears to be an application where users can input personal data about their acquaintances, friends and family to create simulacra characters and engage in truly impressive unpredictive AI dialogue strings. However, the purpose of these conversational interactions appears to be that inevitable conclusion that these characters will make devastating and insulting observations about the user’s personal character, lifestyle choices, and overall validity as a human being. Based on personal testing by this reviewer and others, it is assumed that the content for these cutting and frighteningly accurate remarks is dawn from Solutions’s expansive database on its users. It is also speculated that Solutions may be using Yes as a means to develop an algorithm and attendant collection worm that seeks to map and refine our society’s moving understanding of what constitutes true emotional injury to another person. However, many owners, testers and prospective buyers of Yes have expressed excitement and relief for a product that finally tells them what they have believed all their lives to be true but no one has said to their faces.

As usual with products from this particular company, it is vague what purpose this product directly serves. However, Virgo Solutions has remained solvent for over a decade and has expanded many of its already-existing products so the market has spoken.

Yes and What If?

The year is 2056. SinguClarity is an international data collection conglomerate. Their database storage warehouses span over 175 square kilometers in various locations on the planet and they have won countless corporate and government bids to facilitate, store, and collect personal data on an estimated 68% of the world’s total population. This includes purchasing behavior, medical records, private correspondence and a textured behavioral analysis of individuals’ social media posting habits both in substance and form. Joris Landau, an upstart freethinker journalist for a prominent New York publication pens a meticulously researched article deriding SinguClarity as one of the greatest menaces to public life and human rights, prompting a series of strategic marketing responses from the company.

One such effort is a retail product intended to demonstrate the tremendous social benefits of widespread data collection. The product is a marketed as “The Dossier,” a comprehensive packets and sells for $299.99 in US markets. Using all available data on individuals (which can range widely in scope, as it specified on the company’s retail-facing website), an individual’s Dossier details all available information on a purchaser’s personality and tailored recommendations for self improvement. The Dossier can also be paired with a DNA test for an additional fee of $15.99.

Joris Landau, along with other prominent detractors of The Dossier, purchase their own copies in an effort to publicize the kind of information available within one. Landau reports that his Dossier describes him as “brooding, temperamental and weighted down by feelings of scorn from loved ones or respected persons. A tendency towards flights of imagination, personal strife in relationships, and mildly lactose intolerant.” Landau takes his public denunciation of the Dossier on a national reading tour. His primary critiques are about both the irrelevance and overdeterminism of the product. Over the course of his national tour, he opens himself up to a series of scrutinizing televised interviews where it is later revealed that Landau has conflated both his own Dossier and one that he purchased without permission about his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Anselvisc. Anselvisc, an Iowa poet laureate and first year assistant professor of English literature at Syracuse, was unaware that Landau knew her social security number, as this was all that was necessary to successfully purchase her Dossier. After a brief social media exchange, termed a “battle” by some score-keeping popular news outlets, Anselvisc sequestered herself from all media coverage, obtained the representation of a prominent DC law firm and sued SinguClarity for violation of her human right to privacy. Her complaint quickly becomes a class-action suit which, after 36 months, she wins. SinguClarity agrees to pay an undisclosed sum to the class and the company is required to convey opt-out forms to all of their patrons, subscribers, and collectees.

Landau is asked to leave his prominent publication which he strenuously objects to. After prolonged posturing, Landau is able to obtain seed money and starts a successful media outlet called The Long Haul which has a self stated libertarian agenda and promises advanced content from a book thesis that Landau is developing on the credulity of “five finger feminism,” a term the self-styled author claims to have coined.

gifts my enemies gave me

gifts my enemies gave me:

money; war; a keen sense of the ironic, you know

but also blankets, mugs, a spice rack

that over-the-door hanging shoe pocket thing

a coffee maker

a tassel from graduation ceremony

6 albums

that every single one of you left behind

including that one from the dead one

a lifetime of bad dreams

a taste for scented tabacco

one of those dumb alternative indie band shirts that i hate

but i wear it when i’m cleaning

ironing out the creases

and listening to techno, fuck you

i left you and you left the entire fucking solar system

did you hear Jeff Bezos tried it too?

what a goddamn poser, right?

oh my god you’d be laughing

and spearing me with some latest unlistenable track

that turns into yesterday’s new music

your chin jutting out below a halo of

curling black locks

your wild stupid hair

that every single person made fun of

and you liked it

because it made you different

more different than the heroin

thanks, by the way,

and sorry to be, like, so obvious,

or whatever

but your mom didn’t even cry at the funeral

maybe she didn’t want to even give you the satisfaction

would you?

didn’t you feel how much we all wanted you

beckoning against the traffic

sweating it out anew that you’ve crossed over and we’re all just stuck here waiting

down and out and trapped in a maze on the 405

and it’s hard

it’s hard for us

you sore loser

why didn’t you call me before you did it?

Yes and What If?

The year is 2031. A popular new podcast format has swept the audio media space: Podcast hosts describe, at length, still images provided to them by their listenership. One image per episode described in painstaking detail. These images can be works of fashion photography, paintings, screengrabs from film and television, memes, or “vintage” physical print media. The descriptive format is soon referred to popularly as “Photo Pods.” The length and style of any given photo pod is unique to each podcaster and can vary greatly in both length and intention. Some are comedic in nature, rapid fire newsy revues while others are more academic recapturings. A seemingly infinite range of niche and fringe subgroups among this legion of content producers emerges. One such show is hosted by Norrid Matrice, an amatuer art collector and voiceover actor. His photo pod focuses mainly on unappreciated amateur work from the San Francisco art scene. In episode 91, “Humidity from My Clattering Bowl” he describes a work of art by lithographer Jenni Xi, who is deceased by the time of the recording. She was hit by a car and killed 4 years prior to episode 91’s broadcast.

Due to Matrice’s dazzling review of “Humidity from My Clattering Bowl” there is a sudden interest in Xi’s limited collection of work which spawns a proliferation of forged lithographs in her name. Noticing the strange market bubble, Xi’s more business minded sister, Bina, takes action. She purchases the secondary resale market of the forgeries, opens an art gallery in Oakland, CA with an accompanying photo pod of her own, describing the minute differences between all of the forgeries compared with his sister’s originals. Critiqued for its bland style and unoriginal premise, Xi’s photo pod soon fails and the collection’s notierty dissipates. The gallery is shuttered and both the forgeries and the originals are then sold to collage master Daniel McCrupsky who binds all of the lithographs together, both the forgeries and the originals, to create a single work of art called “46 of Xi, Smaze.” To formalize the piece, he takes a series of photographs of “46 of Xi, Smaze” which he later repurposes into a textile print. He submits the textile print to a corporate contest with an entrenched international retail distributor where it wins first prize. The textile print is now commonly found on many disposable paper products.