Turbo Gnosis A Slap Away!
by GRSTALT, October 10th 2022
Joyce Korchek Is Sent to Provide Some Clarity on the 'difidan Moment'
Turbo Gnosis, A Slap Away¹
¹ New Pragmatist, Q2, Turn 18 update: Idol >Adal <dev/newprag/log/thinkblob/difid-slaphorde-upsurge>
A GRSTALT Fiction
I am standing at the back of the Loss-Hop room in Glory Box, a world-renowned superclub in Little Abyssinia. Usually, Glory Box is the preserve of the international party caravan, but tonight it is hosting an altogether different constituency.
A man is standing on the stage, wearing a T-shirt with 'iamdifid:' across it, saying numbers into a microphone that keeps feeding back and causing him to step away from it. A big screen behind him is playing a succession of flashing words:
draft jeremiad draft casus draft emergent draft sanguine draft
Rows of chairs are being laid out by volunteers – known as the difidans. (Unique SOLIPShare slaps suggest that self-identifying difidans number in the tens of thousands.)
I am waiting for Zane Garlish, the organiser of tonight's event – one of the hundreds of similar events taking place simultaneously across the globe. It will be 4 a.m. in Tokyo, 6 a.m. in Sydney and 11 a.m. in Los Angeles when the difidans come together to pool their collective energy and send a 'supplicantation' to the mysterious figure known as 'difid'.
The messages began six months ago. The first instalment of what has become known as the 'difid manifesto' was purled to the SOLIPShare portal from thousands of dummy accounts which deactivated after the purl had been up-slapped by the requisite number of users. In the first weeks, a small number of organic users purled 'dm-1' to their SOLIPShare polip:
iamdifid: draft entity draft upsurge draft scan draft initiate
One such user was Garlish – a fair-haired, heavyset figure in his mid-twenties, who was a rising star at the Vicarious State elision agency before quitting to become a full-time difidan organiser (for which he receives no salary and relies on donations from fellow difidans).
'It was tough to justify at first. I felt like no-one was listening. I remember the first meet-up I arranged at my local church. Seven people showed up! Then the Spike happened.'
The Spike has been attributed to micro-influencer Ryker Soams, who purled 'dm-1' to zir SOLIPShare polip a month after it first began to germinate. Suddenly, 'dm-1' began to gain slap-traction, surpassing top-slapped digils like 'twaz bigum' and 'CORTZ!'
I ask Garlish how he first encountered 'dm-1':
'As a Senior Trend Analyst at Vicarious State, it was my role to track Device traffic for emergent currents. It's not always the obvious stuff that germinates, so you have to cover a lot of ground. One day, I saw something that wasn't like anything else I'd ever come across as a STAN. It didn't make sense, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. That was 'dm-1'.'
I ask Garlish what it was that appealed to him about 'dm-1':
'The more I thought about it, I realised it's got to be an alien intelligence trying to communicate in a medium we understand, but not quite getting it right, you know.'
There are several competing theories as to the true meaning of the 'difid manifesto': The Galactic School believes the 'difid manifesto' to be a communiqué from an alien intelligence. The Numinous School believes 'difid' to be a divine messenger warning of an impending cataclysm. The Internecine School sees the 'difid manifesto' as a call to enact a mutually destructive conflict against 'the Subterranean Forces of Obfuscation'.
The next instalments came quickly, each more debated than the last, each out-slapping the last. Attempts by my research team at New Pragmatist to locate the source of the original dummy accounts led them into one of the darkest catacombs of the Undervice – the Identity Bazaar, where users can purchase one of today's most valuable commodities: anonymity.
The Alliance of Self-Identifying difidans (ASId) successfully lobbied Gov. for membership of the Tax-Exempt-Status Council of Oversight (TESCO), and the proceeds from manifold 'iamdifid:' merchandise lines funded the meet-ups which grew in size and number.
Counterfeit 'iamdifid:' merchandise started appearing on Undervice bazaars, and measures to curb their spread began to be taken by the Upsurge, a militant wing which saw it as their duty to protect the 'semiotic integrity' of 'difid'. The Upsurge's 'wellspring campaign' culminated in the infamous attack on a distro unit suspected of collaborating with a counterfeiting ring, resulting in five deaths and nine-zero Mega-Big-Cash in property damage.
I ask Garlish about the tactics used by the Upsurge:
'We do not condone their actions. They do not speak for the mainstream of difidan belief. We completely disown anyone found to be affiliated with them. We immediately report them to the Comity Squad. We believe that someone has implanted them to stir up unrest among us.'
I ask Garlish who he believes has implanted the Upsurge:
'I don't believe in the Subterranean Forces of Obfuscation, obviously, but it's evident that there are actors trying to suppress our message. That's just a reality, Joyce.'
It is five hours before the doors of Glory Box open, but hundreds of difidans have already gathered outside. They are all wearing official 'iamdifid:' merchandise (every heavy-vest, romper, hat and bandana bearing a unique licensing code to verify its authenticity). They do not conform to any of the media stereotypes. These do not appear to be what the Daily Slime described as 'the feckless meeting the credulous to form a mob-in-waiting'. There appears to be no defining characteristic. They represent a broad demographic base, are welcoming and articulate as the crowd begins to envelop the central strip of Little Abyssinia.
Rahaf is engaging and energetic – in her early twenties, she occupies 1/3 of a position as a telepathy booth Unrest Tech, in between her outreach work for the Anti-Upsurge Coalition.
I ask Rahaf how she found 'difid':
'My friends were all slapping it. At first, I didn't pay attention, but by the time it got to 'dm-4' I couldn't ignore it, everyone was talking about it, arguing about what it meant, and I got sucked in. I have the kind of mind that gets obsessed by things. I have to unpack the meaning.'
I ask Rahaf if she has a theory on the meaning:
'I used to be in the Galactic School. But I think I'm in the Numinous School now. Since mum went. I think 'difid' is trying to tell us that everything's going to be fine.'
Grayford is something of a celebrity in fringe belief, his image frequently accompanies coverage of the movement (to the consternation of many, who view him as an embarrassment). Grayford cuts an eccentric figure – lanky and garrulous, mid-fifties, long grey hair obscuring his eyes as he holds forth on the various sects with which he has been affiliated:
'I was a pastor in the Church for a New Understanding with God, but we had some doctrinal differences. After that, I followed the Blind Guru Kasaluk, but that ended up going nowhere. Then I helped to form the Ineffable Order of Nisop, but they lost their nerve.'
Grayford is very much of the Internecine School. He anticipates 'a mighty conflagration that will reduce the landscape to ashes'. He informs me with giddy gusto:
'It's all been leading up to this, Joyce! 'difid' saw it before we did, but it's on the horizon. We need 'difid' to step out of the shadows and gird our spirits for battle.'
What is remarkable about the 'difid manifesto' is that there is no consensus. Even those who align themselves with a school don't seem to entirely agree on its exact nature. Is 'difid' Shiva? Is 'difid' Apollo? Is 'difid' Mephistopheles? It seems as though everyone is drawing something different from the 'difid manifesto', and it is only some nebulous idea of belonging that brings them here. What cannot be contested is that 'difid' has mobilised vast numbers of people yearning for a definitive shift in consciousness, whatever it may bring. The future is untenable, the present is a pallid recreation of a past nobody recognises as their own yet nonetheless accepts. But 'difid' is offering a break from continuity, from abnegation, from reason.
It is impossible to convey the frenzy that ensues when the doors open. Retinas are scanned by a hovering drone as bodies converge. The doors will auto-close when the building reaches maximum occupancy, and everyone knows it. The rest will have to content themselves with watching via live-rend in Yohannes Park. I flee across the street and seek refuge in the doorway of a telepathy booth. The Unrest Tech comes out with a Para-Lance, so I move on to the barricaded entrance of the Hotel Venelux. The scene is reminiscent of what I witnessed in the final days of the Country That No Longer Exists.
When everything has died down on the strip and the overflow has been moved on to the park, I take my place among the other specially invited observers on the Loss-Hop room's VIP tier. (I find myself standing next to none other than $w0li0.)
I move to the edge of the tier and look down. Vapour rises from the bodies, captured in the light from the descending numbers that blast from the stage.
The time is approaching for the 'supplicantation' to commence.
The countdown reaches zero and the room goes dark.
The big screen lights up:
iamdifid: draft hahaha draft rubes draft morons draft cretins
They make a sound like the air is leaving the room.
A stentorian voice comes from the stacked speakers:
'Regional Head of Outreach and Development for ASId, Bengt Ottekil.'
Ottekil walks squinting onto the stage – mid-thirties, shoulder-length blonde hair, a thick beard covered in blue glitter, tiny glasses and a puce romper that hugs his slender frame.
'Hello, everybody, it is a pleasure to be here on this special evening. What you just saw was 'dm-17'. You will notice that 'dm-17' is different from the previous instalments...'
The crowd begins to jeer. Ottekil raises his reedy voice.
'We believe 'difid' is trying to communicate something new! It is our job to work together to decipher! We are here because we believe in the vision 'difid' has presented! We are united in our desire to see! We must summon the will to make it real!'
Ottekil vacates the stage when projectiles – various 'difid' tchotchkes – are thrown at him. Reports are already beginning to filter through the News Feeds of trouble at the other events. The VIPs are ushered out of the building by their handlers.
Members of the Upsurge, wearing silver hats, commandeer the stage. They launch their own drone-mic and one of them speaks in a loud, gruff voice:
'This is the ultimate betrayal! 'difid' has betrayed us! We thought 'difid' was one of us, but it was all a sick game! We've been played!'
The crowd begins to fall silent.
'What we've got to do now is show whoever came up with this sick game that we can do it on our own! Tear it all down!'
One group of Upsurge members sprays the Upsurge logo on the big screen, while another goes round the room ripping down the 'iamdifid:' banners. The crowd begins to help them.
'We were the ones who created all this! We can do anything we want with it! We make the rules! We make the rules! We make the rules!'
The crowd begins to chant along.
I watch them from an upper floor as they gather on the strip, chanting 'we make the rules'. The crowd from the park joins them. I follow the procession on an overhead stream, until it hits a line of Comity Squad operators. Then I log off. I'll see what follows on the News Feeds the next morning – they're outnumbered and underequipped.
I try to find Garlish, but nobody has seen him since the doors opened. I walk through the backstage corridors, and find Ottekil cowering against a wall. He’s crying. His glasses are broken and blood is streaming from a cut on his top lip.
I call Garlish the next morning. His number is not recognised.
I go to the local branch of ASId.
There is a sign on the door:
We are currently closed.
For enquiries call...
I call the number. The number is not recognised.
The lobby window is smashed. I cut my left cheek as I climb inside.
The office has been ransacked. Upsurge logos have been sprayed on the walls.
I crawl under an upturned work terminal to retrieve a multi-crypt drive.
My research team is able to gain access to the drive – it transpires from the payroll logs that Garlish is drawing an annual salary of five-zero Ultra-Mega-Big-Cash from ASId.
There is also an address for Garlish – a trading unit in the Innovation District.
It belongs to something called the Lifestyle Institute, a consulting firm whose FAQs says it 'provides guidance on brand expansion in the belief sector'.
I call the listed number. The number is not recognised.
I go to the address. The unit is shuttered.
'We Make the Rules' hits SOLIPShare the next morning.
It out-slaps any previous digil in record time.
I am woken by a growing rumble. It is 04:17 a.m. I get up and go to the bedroom window. The window frame is shuddering. Ranks of silver hats are coming down the expressway. I open the window and the chant fills the air.