The Synaptic Snap

A vast wall of numbers, stretching away to some far-flung vanishing point that you know is just another dot on this staggering plain of digits, and upon closer inspection those numerals resolve themselves into further fields of numbers, fractals within fractals, spiraling ever downward and inward into some invisible truth, but pulling the senses along for the ride nonetheless... that endless ride into infinity.

After years of abuse, the veil had disintegrated with one great God Almighty snap. The patterns were written clear as day in every piece of physical reality that I could see. Everything was information. Data sped along at the molecular level, communicated faster than synapses, exchanged energy, divided and combined faster than any human-made tool could ever hope to measure.

I'd always suspected that the terrible truth about reality was that it was layered, like some metaphysical creme cake, or worse: a hierarchy of hidden checks and balances, compartmentalized so that the head knew not of what the body did, with the right hand washing the left without ever feeling the bubbles of the scrub. With such a structure it would be impossible for the lower levels to discern those above. It was a perfect segregation and the ultimate trickle-down control system. But by whose design?

Perhaps it fell into such form by nature, a self-organizing machine that merely sorted its inputs based on genetic performance. Not really a "survival of the fittest" mechanism, no. That expression had always bothered me, in the same way the apparent simplicity of certain mathematical formulas expressed things that were really beyond the ken of most folk. It was one thing to say that energy equals mass multiplied by the speed of light, squared. A child could recite that line. But to truly understand the implications of the theory? That was beyond the minds of most folks. And the real humor lied in the fact that even that formula was just a guess at the inner workings of the universe. I'd held no such illusions. I was content to let the more scientific minds around me go about their business. At best we could only imagine how things worked, and occasionally invoke a reasoned estimation that led to ever more theories, and those in turn owed ever more reliance to their base theory, until that was proven inaccurate by however many degrees as to cause the entire structure built upon it to come tumbling down.

Anyway, I'd managed to peel back a layer. It was the best way my primitive mind could describe the sensation. First a snap, then a great peeling as the scales fell from my eyes and I could see something that was truly new. The relationships between shapes that went beyond their aesthetics, that moments in chaos produced beauty. To know that they were the result of eons of time and circumstances aligning, sending hot lances of experience forward through the space between the ages to hit our human sensory organs, which themselves were a result of the constant unfolding of quantum relationships.

Such luck! I remained stunned for a very long time indeed, and I marveled at just how fortunate all of existence was. For the soupy miasma of the cosmos to have produced as complex a creature as we, with all the right tools to smell, and taste, and reason with the inputs that flowed forth from the blackness of the unknowable void out into the light from our and other suns. Lovingly baked by the background radiation of an explosion that had occurred so long ago it might as well have been a dream, or an erotic fantasy of an alien mind.

But I knew in those first moments that even the theories had to have come from somewhere. Those synaptic connections made in the brains of folks who'd taken the time to contemplate the secrets of reality had to be informed by something, be it ancient code locked away in the genetic material that swarmed through the physical being, or an alteration of existing structures with narcotics, alcohol, and other such traumas. Radio waves from distant galaxies, perhaps. And where did the information in those signals originate? An endless spinning fractal mandala of data that knew no origin, or had an unknowable origin to all except whatever intelligence inhabited the very top tier of this great machine.

All around me the data swirled. It flowed over and between all things, and I understood just how little I knew.


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