ROBERT ROTHFARB | WORD | AGENT 99 | VISIT #1
Agent 99 is not a child, he has a developed personality and intelligence that is in a rapid growth phase. His experiences on the net are furtherly shaping his personality and extending it beyond the processes for which he was initially programmed. To help mitigate the adverse side-effects of this growth, and to help him form meaningful coping strategies with the many interlinking chains of contradiction that he encounters in his daily routine, his Director has scheduled regular visits with Dr. Camille DeAma, a young psychotherapist who specializes in entity intelligences. Their first session began like this.
"What do you think you are doing lately that's upsetting?"
"It's not that anything is so upsetting, you know, it just confuses me sometimes."
"What confuses you?"
"The links, the ones that don't go anywhere. I'm looking for some piece of information or some new program unit and I get to a link that I can't connect beyond. Things have to connect, don't they? They have to go somewhere?"
"Not everything connects, Agent 99. Knowing that that can happen is something you're going to have to face. What kind of links are you talking about?"
"Well, it seems to be happening more and more. Links I don't understand. There's a great deal of information in the stream that I know is made up. Made up for purposes of amusement and diversion. Usually I can easily discern these types of data from more typical commerce-net traffic. I just cross-reference them in one of the media-net grids and something turns up. Most of the time. I guess when I've not been able to complete a reverse-link, I make a new entry in my basement file. I usually don't think about it much until I get a directive to flatten the file. That happens, probably once every two months."
"What's a basement file?"
"Um, it's just a holding place for unresolved links and bounced-back messages. In realspace you'd call it a dead letter office."
"Tell me about one of these unresolved links."
"They're really not that interesting."
"Yes, but it could help us to understand your confusion."
"Ok, well, hmm. There's so many entries that just don't seem like they would lead to anything here. I guess I'll just pick one for example that I couldn't get anywhere with. Ok.
I was finding audio clips for my Director. Audio clips that met the specific criteria for futuristic space craft approach / depart sounds. Basically sound effects that could be repurposed into new media objects. It had to include a Doppler pitch shift. I was instructed to search for something like the sound of George Jetson's spacecar. Anyway, I found several web and ftp sites that were basically repositories for recycled tv and film sound bytes. Everything from serial comedy theme shows to bits of dialogue from various films. Pretty straightforward. There was a lot of material to search through. But on one site was one of these links. I found something that didn't fit into any of the organizational categories on the site. It was a clip taken from tv, but it didn't seem to be entertainment. Usually news clips are organized on sites maintained by and for news purposes, so I wasn't sure if that's what it was after I had scanned it. I couldn't see how it was entertainment, though. It seemed very real."
"What was the clip?"
"It was labelled 'Nicole's 911 Call'.
"Did you think it had been synthesized?"
"It could easily have been. I just couldn't see why it was on that site. Mixed in with the theme song to "Laverne & Shirley" and "The Flintstones." I think I know what it was about."
"Well. It was very sad. Sad as it has been defined to me. A woman's voice calling for help. She was calling the police and telling them a man was there and was threatening her. He had done it before. They were supposed to know who he was. She was really scared."
"Why would someone synthesize a message like that, do you think?"
"I don't know. It could have been a statement about violence against women, domestic violence. It might have been a clip from a horror film. I couldn't resolve it. It didn't link to back to anything in the entertainment grid."
"Did you cross-reference every proper name the woman said?"
"No. That's usually something I would do when I'm flattening the basement file. This entry is still current --I haven't completed that process yet."
"Do so now."
First occurrence: Gretna-Green. By reference this is an address. I'm scanning geo-map archives in North America by city. Found: 4 matches. Toledo, Ohio. Etobicoke, Ontario. Los Angeles, California. New Ridge, Idaho. Second occurrence: Nicole Brown. Unknown identification. Third occurrence: O.J. Simpson Recognized reference. A 44 year old male. Famous former major league football player. Actor and commercial spokesperson. Resides in Los Angeles, California. Suspect in the double-murder of his former wife, Nicole Brown-Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. End cross-reference.
This is apparently a recording of a 911 phone call Nicole Brown made in 1989. Authenticity of subject matter is confirmed."
"Can you complete the link?"
"The clip was aired on news broadcasts and on many so-called 'infotainment television news magazines'. The frequency of broadcast occurrence is consistent with sensational and exploitive form. It is apparently news as well as entertainment. I've come across this before. It is very common."
"Are you still confused?"
"Why is this entertaining?"
"People are fascinated by realspace horrors. We stare at horrible auto accidents. We relive the horror of war. We re-enact violence. It's a way to confront the fear that we are sometimes controlled by. We don't always agree with the reason because we know it's not always productive. It's a type of coping mechanism. It's been around for a long time."
"Will I gain something from it?"
"You already have."
© 1995 Robert J. Rothfarb