Monday, August 8, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: June 5, 2398

For the last five weeks, Mateo has had a standing appointment at Magnus Sharpe’s office to discuss his psycho-emotional issues in a presumably safe and consequence-free environment. He hasn’t been able to make it to every Friday, but he’s always made it up. Today, he doesn’t feel like going in, but he didn’t come to this decision in time to cancel appropriately, so Ramses has asked to take his place. He could do with some therapy himself after the recent abduction, and Mag. Sharpe has apparently proven herself to be reliable, and to provide a safe space for time travelers, so he figured he would give it a try. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, because he didn’t grow up in a world where this sort of thing was available.
“What do you mean?” Magus Sharpe asks. “Had the science of psychology not yet been developed in your time?”
“Oh no, it definitely had. From my team’s perspective,” Ramses begins, “I’m from the future, not the past. And that’s why this is weird. You see, in my time, and in my culture, trust was a real issue. Artificial intelligence dominated our lives, and it was just about impossible to get away from. It made decisions for us, and gave us everything we needed. If you wanted to avoid it completely, you were shit out of luck. Oops, sorry.”
“It’s quite all right,” Mag. Sharpe promises.
Ramses nods, and pets her dog some more. “My family taught me to be a essentially fetishize a world of haves and have-nots. I’m not sure if that’s an idiom that exists in your world.”
“I can grasp the meaning. Go on.”
“Of course, the capitalist movement was composed of rich and privileged people, because if anyone who believed in it started to lose their status, they would...well, they would jump ship, and go back to normal society. That’s why it didn’t work, but obviously the diehard fans could never accept that. They just kept fighting and fighting for it, and it eventually died out, because capitalism survived for thousands of years on a planet founded upon capitalism. It only lasted because everyone agreed to it. Once the majority of inhabitants agreed to reject it, it became unrealistic and unsustainable. I’m kind of overexplaining things, because the reason I’m telling you all this is because therapy was sort of the one thing that never went back to the capitalistic format. It just didn’t work. Humans stopped studying medicine almost altogether, so if you needed mental health help, you got it from an AI, whether you were normal, or like me and my family. So yes, we had psychological tools, but we did not have human support, so I don’t know how to do this, which is why I’m rambling on about unimportant nonsense.”
“I don’t think it’s unimportant nonsense,” Mag. Sharpe says. “It’s clearly important to you, or you wouldn’t have said anything.”
“You would have just told me you had never tried therapy, and moved on, but you went over the basics of your society, because you want me to understand where it is you come from. It seems as though that’s what you’re struggling with. I’m not supposed to do this, but from what I gather, the way you grew up was wildly different than your friends. Do you have trouble relating to them because of that?”
“I don’t know about that, I love them.”
“Sure you do, and they love you too, but how do you feel about the changes you experienced over time? To them, the future was an idealistic paradise; full of adventure, yes, but noble in its pursuit of equality. You, on the other hand, were born into such a world, but were denied its advantages by a subculture that spurned its teachings, and romanticized an economic format that prized winners over losers.”
“Yeah, well, you seem to get it.”
“I’m just going by what you told me. I can only imagine that your parents taught you that inequality formed the basis of a healthy and competitive world that valued innovation, which they likely believed was impossible to achieve without the possibility of true failure and loss.”
“You act as if you’ve been there before.”
“No, it’s just that the world you describe, I’ve heard of it before.”
“Where, one of the others on my team?”
“No.” She stands and steps over to her bookcase to scan the titles until she finds what she’s looking for. “Here.” She hands it to him.
Capital With a Capital C,” he reads aloud.
“It’s eerily similar to what you describe. You should read it,” she urges.
He speedreads the description on the back, choosing to read one excerpt out loud as well, “...but in this world are multiple subcultures who idealize the inequality of yesteryear. As they attempt to plunge the world into the darkness of the past—some in truly violent ways—another group desperately tries to make that past better than it once was. This is fiction?”
“You tell me?”
Ramses flips the book back over, half-expecting to find the author calling himself The Superintendent, or some self-aggrandizing bullshit like that. It’s not. “Who the hell is Ildemire Lorenz?”

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