Tuesday 24 April 2018

Dark Fiction - The Parable of the Self-Editing Human

The Parable of the Self-Editing Human

By Casey Douglass

The Parable of the Self-Editing Human

There was once a man who was wholly dissatisfied with the way he was. He disliked his external looks while also cringing away from his internal world. He was a brilliant mind in the world of science, and it was here that he met his downfall.

Utilising his vast expertise in many fields, he discovered a way to change his appearance, his body and his brain. The machinery to do so bankrupted him, but he believed all would be fine if he could just fix his flaws.

He began with small changes: an adjustment to his nose, a change in eye colour, the correcting of an arthritic joint. He felt slightly better about himself with each small change, and so fell into the trap of thinking that bigger changes would yield higher amounts of self-satisfaction.

He became more ambitious, changing his muscle structure, sluicing fat from unwanted places, broadening his shoulders, extending his penis. He praised himself on the self-restraint he displayed on this last one, only making it big enough to ease his concerns of being below average in that department.

It was during his renovations that he realised he had little idea as to what the most attractive features were for a man. He made copious use of his research network, and even ran his own experiments with photo sharing and rating websites. He posted photos with one variable changed in each picture, and gauged the results by way of the likes and favourites that each image garnered.

His form continued to change as he incorporated the spoils of each research project into his being. He began to be pestered in the street by all varieties of people of any gender, people that wanted to know more about this alluring and handsome man, particularly why he strolled in such a hunched manner.

The man’s changes had done little for his underlying mental states, and it was towards these that his mind now turned. Every undesirable thought and emotion was erased, deleted and binned. The slightest irritation was muffled by a pillow of quietude, every surge of panic castrated and evaporated by the humming machine nodes attached discretely to his spine. He began to walk more upright, more assured.

It only took seven days for his body and mind to be purged of all unpleasant fears, doubts and emotions. He stood before the mirror and gazed at the reflection, but rather than this being a case of narcissus, he realised that the stranger before him was both him and not at all him. He felt null about this, the closest he now came to any uncomfortable emotion, and promptly asked his machine to remove this feeling too.

He was still hounded by a strange disconnect while he went about his days, and with no real caution left, he attempted to erase all memory of who he was before his change. It was a delicate affair, having to unpick all imagery and sensation that linked to the old him, while not affecting any other content in his mind. His intelligence collapsed in the manner of someone sucking the air out of a balloon. First it wrinkled, then it shrivelled, then it lay limp and motionless. The machine could not search and sort with the accuracy required to preserve his personality.

In the process of trying to improve himself, the man lost himself, and it is for this reason that the State of Jitan Six has decreed that humans are only permitted to make three minor changes in one lifetime. They are a peculiar race, and wholly untrustworthy with the technology at their disposal. They are still integrating into the Galactic Council. They are young and they will learn, but for now, we must moderate them before they eradicate themselves or worse, become a danger to the other species under our care.