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May 2nd, 2021
As the aisle tilted to reveal itself, as Lucilius slowly walked, the horns swelled to a crescendo in concert with the thundering drums. Lucilius slowed to gaze down the aisle, wondering if his needs were down this way or that. The soundtrack crashing into his mind through earbuds grasping and twisting his attention in designed ways. He walked on, and no thought interrupted his experience as he savoured the simple steps and sight in the fluorescent environment of another ordinary grocery store.
He knew this was all being recorded, but he never thought of it - by design. He knew that countless people would feel the weight of his own feet as they each took their steps, see his gaze wonder across the shelves of cooled products. And when he was done shopping for dinner they would gaze up at the twilight sky with him. They would marvel at the towering trees he took time to look up at. They would hear the music he had picked, they would know it all.
Lucilius’ extensive practice of meditation had perversely prepared him more than most for the an advanced technological era. Having emerged from a long seclusion that lasted decades, Lucilius had found a people - a world - totally enmeshed with it’s electronics, and at first Lucilius even had trouble communicating with people in the most basic way, split as they were between so many different portals of attention.
It had been a nervous reintroduction to the world. He’d taken such hiatus’s before, but this time the world had crossed some sort of inflection point. Whereas before he could leave the world and come back to much the same, this time, things were radically different. His previous finances barely carried any value in the new world, with it’s new currencies, and little memory of the old systems. He found himself sitting in an immaculate and beautiful city park, empty of people, but perfect in Lucilius’s eyes, when he found a stray pair of old glasses and tried them on out of childish boredom more than any deliberate thought. They revealed an augmented reality, cluttered with ads and art. He gaped in awe at the overlay on the world all around him.
And then it was one ad in particular that his attention circled in upon.
Apparently humanity had given birth to it’s long awaited artificial intelligence, and the consciousness that now organized the world’s ways informed humanity that it had quite a long time before the answers of the universe could be unravelled. It was just a matter of computation now, and that meant, in the meantime, there was entertainment to be had, to be invented, perfected, and shared among the great family of people while they all waited for the grand computer to calculate.
Lucilius didn’t know it at the time, but the global artificial intelligence had noticed Lucilius’ return and endeavoured to wonder whether Lucilius might help his fellow man and woman with his talents, knowing his curiously long past and his abilities. It had planted the glasses in the park with the express purpose of flashing the ad that Lucilius now found himself waving at in a vain effort to discover more about this ‘MeTube’.
In no time at all Lucilius became one of the top creators on ‘MeTube’. It was a platform where people could experience entire lifetimes, designed - that is, lived first by someone else with a talent for living. Lucilius’ long practice in the art of attention had formed an unexpected training for this new medium. With simulation technology, time could be condensed, and Lucilius could live and record several full lifetimes in the course of a single day, though he and everyone else experienced them as centuries. Other people then rented the entire experience, the entire lifetime, as a form of entertainment, and even, an education. It unexpectedly functioned as a kind of growth for others to experience these whole lifetimes, like an excellent and life changing movie, but one that expanded for many decades and wrapped around every sense down to the point where a viewer had no recollection of their real person - they experienced life as Lucilius did, his attention becoming their attention, their sense of heat and cold, of pain and pleasure, of comfort and horror, all his own, becoming theirs for a century snuggly fitted into an afternoon.
Where the lives of normal people were filled with endless looping anxieties and a total obscuration of surroundings, the recorded lives of Lucilius gave people’s minds a training in the relief of what it mean to simply exist and live.
It wasn’t hard for Lucilius. He was simply himself, in these new situations, these new lives, these simulations. All his viewers experienced every moment as he did.
It was an art of attention for Lucilius that was highlighted by some of life’s simplest details: Looking back every time after saying good bye to see that friend or lover or colleague walking away. He always took the time to stop and enjoy some vagrancy of light or movement, crafting the flow and shape of his own attention like a cinematographer. But more than anything, what attracted people to come back time and again to Lucilius’ channel on MeTube, was the way he dealt with death and sadness. Where so many knew their own tendency to cramp up, deny and ignore, it was a relief to experience such terrifying things the way Lucilius did. He was unafraid. Be it the death of a parent in this life, or the bitter parting with a lover in the next, Lucilius never shied away from what was happening. He laid himself bare, always, and it was this experience, this complete surrender and vulnerability that people learned from the most. In an almost obsessive way, people gravitated toward the ‘Lives of Lucilius ‘ (as his channel was called) as a kind of intense training for their own life in the real world.
It wasn’t long at all before Lucilius had amassed quite a fortune, and after exploring the new world his human family had created, he was content, and decided to take another hiatus, retiring to a cave, now on a new planet, just to spend some time with himself and meditate for, perhaps, a few more centuries.
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