Day Fifteen

Zephyr

I have hardly seen Rene since our talk yesterday. He seems exhausted, and I plan to let him rest for today. Until we speak again, I have spent ample time considering what he told me yesterday.
Not one of the innumerable Vyrolikar cultures with whom I have familiarized myself has a sense of gender or sex as humans percieve those attributes. Every last one of us is male, and all of us lack genitalia. This is how it has always been and how it will remain until the last of our kind perishes. Even the most progressive-minded and human-aligned amongst us believe we have no need for diversity of gender. Each last living Vyrolikar has always known it as an unnecessary overcomplication. This has made it one of the most intriguing aspects of human culture and thought to me.
To briefly summarize, humans possess two primary sets of genitalia - generally described as ‘male’ or ‘female’. For many years these traits alone were the primary basis for the human understanding of gender, until man grew beyond simple surviving and gained free time in which to introspect. Some came to conclude that the truth of the matter was much more psychological than biological. A male may feel as such despite lacking male attributes, and vice versa. The feeling of being born in an unsuitable form is often disconcerting, and commonly leads to the one experiencing these feelings to seek surgery.
All of what I have just said seems fairly self-evident to anybody who has spent time within human sectors of space. But now I must describe more contested territory, the territory into which Rene now wanders.
Many humans have concluded that they align with neither of the well-documented sexes. Oftentimes these individuals undergo no sever surgery, for they find their bodies comfortable or believe no suitable form exists within the reach of current medical science. The latter group are pitiable. Their feelings of hopelessness, the feeling that they will never inhabit a body to truly call their own, often drives them mad.
I do hope I can talk Rene out of this. I hold no strong disliking of individuals such as himself, and merely worry that embarking on such a monumental and potentially maddening undertaking at what may be the most essential moment in our struggle for survival is a grave error. I would like to be proven wrong.

The two prisoners have been aiding me in keeping tabs on the wall of men gathering outside - hourly, we risk opening the airlock door, never for longer than thirty seconds. From these brief glances we have ascertained no new information at all, save that the enemy’s numbers are growing steadily.
David has informed me of a rather obtuse dream to which he has recently bore witness. Given his apparent connections to the conceptual realm and the contents of this dream, I believe it may be relevant. I will describe its contents, and my interpretations thereof, as briefly as possible:
The dream took the form of several vignettes, most of which held a common linking theme - the pop culture of years long gone. Music in fashions long since fashionable; TV stations dedicated solely to reruns; thrift store bookshelves crowded with bestsellers sold to people who have grandchildren now. Yesteryear on life support. Stories which once meant the world to people, reduced to fifty-cent price tags and late-night reruns.
There are two sections of this dream which seem to abscond from this theme, at least on a surface level. The first concerns a warehouse wherein a man stands whose face has been replaced with the letter ‘K’. The second is perhaps the most interesting piece of the whole dream.
When retelling this section of the dream, David suddenly began speaking in the second-person and abruptly cut his tale short following a brief description of me. This section of the dream would appear to have some strange memetic effect on him which, as you can see, does not affect me.
You may be wondering what, exactly, this portion of David’s dream means. From what little he told me in plain English, before devolving into asinine raving, I have concluded that it focused primarily on one central idea: that everybody who experienced some retelling of his dream is connected in some way. For a short while, many people gathered to live nigh-identical lives through David’s journal. All of us, no matter what time or place we live in, are united through this one shared experience. Rather trite, really.
There is one concerning implication of that last portion of the dream, however. You may already have considered it - given the intense focus on media through the rest of the dream, it could be said that this last section implies that he views himself - and, thusly, the world he inhabits - as a piece of media to be perused by vaguely-defined ‘readers’. The man is clearly deluded, and I should punish myself for even entertaining such laughable thoughts. But the idea, despite its obvious untruth, did provide me with quite a great fright.
The rest of the dream is all fairly obvious - David is a collection of men who are all nearly identical to one another, and who all seem rather media-obsessed. Obviously, then, he has come to see himself as a metaphor for the sterility of popular culture. When one of him dies, an identical successor shows himself in an instant.
So what, you may wonder, is the point of critiquing disposable pop culture? If you’re reading this you’re obviously aware that media exists which is far more obscure than blockbusters and checkout-aisle lit. You’ve likely already consumed dozens of obscure works which serve to scratch your more niche and hard-to-reach itches. Why bother bitching about what the masses like, when you’ve already found a community of people who love the same things you do? Why bother engaging in pointless temporal nationalism, ludicrous holier-than-thouisms, over your preferences towards older or more obscure media?
Perhaps because you’re scared. Perhaps we’re all scared. Terrified that our favorite things will die shortly after we do. After all, if the bestselling book of the year from ten years ago is already crowding clearance bins and thrift stores, what hope is there for we who linger in the obscure?
Or perhaps feeling superior to an ‘everybody else’ that only exists in your head just feels good.


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