A Quality of Grace: Part Three

A Quality of Grace Part 3

By Vasilis Adams A.

If you have yet to read the beginning of this story then click here to read part 1, or click here to read part 2.

Part 3

Is there a moral component in the order represented by the international system? had been the young scholar's essay title.

The young man had been an exchange student Mett had helped to bring Stateside (people still called the place Stateside back then) to study International Relations and Strategic Studies. Alexi, as Lovesigh used to call him, short for Alexandros, was a promising fellow, exceptionally sharp and acutely analytical for his tender years and experience (how unfortunate at these times to be so, thought Lovesigh bitterly). Alexi came to the house often, in those days, to get help from Alope and himself. And in those days Lovesigh had energy to spare, and then some. The Federate University was only a few blocks away.

Although Alexi's project essay encompassed the entire global community, it could as well have been applied to its constituent parts. And later on he did apply it--to his host constituent federation of NovaAmerica comprised of NewStates, EastCanada and WestCanada. Lovesigh remembered as if it had been yesterday the youth's vigorous support and allusions.

"An attempt, Dr. Lovesigh, to deal with the role of mores in international, or domestic, politics contains a lot of pressing needs," he began, a little bewildered at this first and challenging undertaking.

"It does indeed," Lovesigh had responded, as understandingly as any fellow colleague would have.

"In particular," Alexi continued, "the question of the existence or not of a moral code component in the international system can hardly be answered with a definite affirmative or negative answer. It can neither be supported that the international system is prevailed by immorality, nor that there is a critical mass of moral values identified and respected by all states. In fact," Alexi went on, "I have read in an old volume by E. H. Car, both the moralists--those who suggest that in international politics there are always clear-cut moral options-- and the cynics-- those who support that there are no moral options--offer extreme and insufficient answers on the issue of the role of ethics in the international system."

Lovesigh had rendered a slight nod.

Alexi went on with the gusto of one who had only then found one's true calling.

"Car, as well, said: 'The utopian who dreams that it is possible to eliminate self-assertion from politics and to base a political system on morality alone is just as wide of the mark as the realist who believes that altruism is an illusion and that all political action is self-seeking.'"

"All very true," Lovesigh replied, "and the balance of reason impeccable. But look around you." He had bent his had to one side, and had smiled a bit. "Who is the realist, and who the utopian today, Alexi?"

The boy had stared at him with what appeared to be regard, and gestured a nod of affirmation.

"Then, we see," Alexi went on, "that different ethical codes, give different content to each moral value. As a result, Hans Morgenthau is quite right to observe that: Universal moral principles, such as justice or equality, are capable of guiding political action only to the extend that they have been given concrete content and have been related to political situations by society."


"Therefore, given the absence of consensus between the states over the content of these common values, Morgenthau concludes that: The appeal to moral principles in the international sphere has no concrete universal meaning. It is either so vague as to have no concrete meaning that could provide rational guidance for political action, or it will be nothing but the reflection of the moral preconceptions of a particular nation and will by the same token be unable to gain the universal recognition it pretends to deserve."

"But for Machiavelli," put in Lovesigh, "moral and legal rules were taken not to impinge on the sphere of actions of the state. Consequently--like you mentioned to me earlier--as appropriately put by H. Bull, political and moral life were presented as alternatives and the pursuit of the national interest was perceived as alienated by any moral values."

"Still," said Alexi, "in the post-W.W.II period, within the Machiavellian tradition, it became obvious that such a hypothesis was based on a misconception of political morality. As Hans Morgenthau once again comments: the choice is not between moral principles and the national interest, devoid of moral dignity, but between one set of moral principles divorced from political reality, and another set of moral principles derived from political reality."

"The key word here, Alexi, and its derivative is 'moral preconceptions', 'misconception of political morality' and 'moral principles'. Nowhere are the words userpage, dictatorship or oligarchy referred to benevolently. You know why? Because all your references are from within the context leading to and not away from the route of democratic processes. Your books or sources are from an old and long gone system/code of government. They are not today's reality. Your own little country is one of very few that enjoys what those books talk about, constitutional liberty. It cherishes freedom and is cautious and weary of innovative promises. Why? Because it's been burned by such, maybe many times, and has the experience. In days of old, it has paid a price--even been crucified--for sharing lux et veritus with a blind, deaf and hostile world. Socrateses and Christs never are popular. Truth stings at first and light blinds those used to living in the dark. Blood wants to be drawn, eventually, and is. So, your tiny niche of the world has learned to know better, and now days keeps a low profile. It's the surest way a Democracy can survive on an ailing planet. Look around you. What do you see?"

A shadow befell on Alexi's otherwise bright eyes, and his lips pressed together tightly.

But the lethal words that had been the cause for Alexi to be hounded from that day on, to the day he was quietly 'deported' had already betrayed him.

"Finally (his last words), moral constraints on the undertaken policies come also from (Morgenthau again) the reactions of pressure groups, NGOs and the overall position of the public opinion. To illustrate it, we can refer to the reactions of the American public opinion to the revelations of the assassination plots being engendered by the ...."

How was the young man to know that those instruments of the governments whose name he uttered had banded together into a single pack, had been the direct predecessors to SIA? How was he to know that there was no such thing as freedom of expression in NovaAmerica, and in most of what had once been considered the richest and most enlightened countries in the world, but only a facade of such? How was Alexi to know that independence had atrophied and had been shoved aside in lieu of a bold 'neoteric' establishment. And that it had tagged onto itself a silly logo for a name?

"Fanfares, Alope," Lovesigh finally expelled, facing now the bright-eyed smile of the young woman atop his unkempt desk. "Pomp, shine and show are for Broadway..."

However, there persisted a glimmer in his eye. No, my young friend, as though the flickering gleam said, you had not been wrong. Only a young pup in a nest of wasps.

He brooded quietly.

They had taken the lad from him as they had later taken his light, his music, and his drinking water. Alope. The generals wanted that he have piece and quiet to develop his equations, so as to save their dutch gold buttocks.

Too much radiation from the ozone holes they had given as the cause of his wife's sudden death. And the boy had been an unforeseeable disruption: a wakening and weakening force in the life of the good Professor.

So they clipped off the smiling boy, too; like nipping off just another dew-baring rose at its time of bloom. Dictators, benevolent or not, are revolted by flowers, more so by fresh flowers; shudder the flowers' scent of independence and its free growth as they do the growth of open thought. They are repelled by blossoms, like devils by holy water.

"Pomp, shine and show are for Broadway," he repeated, "not staid civil servants." Lovesigh managed to protract his rendered soliloquy, "And I hate having to put up with the likes of Fingle...only second to that."

He nudged a lax elbow towards the wall to his right, which was covered by arrays and facets of tiny blinking pinpoints.

"My permanent 'Christmas tree'." A rectangular matrix of prismatic sheens flared from the wall just then.

For an instant he thought he saw in its depth of radiance the face of a young lad; his smile bright, eye-catching, as a refreshing rainbow after the fall of rain.


When Michael walked in. The porphyry glow of New Mexico dawn seeped through the high French windows recasting the room's interior into a downy sanguine-red ochre.

"How can I cooperate with the bureaucrat? Let him invade my body as Fingle sees fit?"

Michael bowed down and Lovesigh knotted his face into an expression of bitterness when he saw the kaleidoscopic cluster of pills the other handed him.

"Sir, haven't your endeavors relegated certain incidental patronages and protections by the government? After all, permit me, following Bludrose, Krell and Mett, your research has been the most coherent to a Grand Unified Theory. Others study the innards of the Universe. You, sir, dwell on the universe's fringe. Farther, if I might add. Outside, where there is no universe."

"Your physics background is trickling through." Lovesigh downed half the capsules. He grunted. "Michael, whatever made you change vocation?"

"The numbers and formulas, sir." Michael's face displayed a hint of ado. "To be rather candid, ministering to people, and to words occasionally, is considerably more to my confines of fealty, sir."

"Wish it were mine."

The slumping man in the electric wheelchair ingested the rest of his pills. He called to mind again the only Dr. Lukas T. Mettropoulos--Father Mettropoulos. The cleric outrider with the insight to tackle the Cosmos from the outside in.

In more ways than one.

"How can there be just entropy if the Universe is expanding, and in so doing is conveying order to that which lies beyond it?" The minister's rhetorical question had been left hanging. "Entropy," the priest went on to say, "indisputably, is a steady degradation and disorganization of a system. Even though the Universe be such, it inadvertently communicates its inherent physical laws, by means of a mechanism intrinsic to its surface perimeter, to a domain that has no laws. Therefore, this transfer of information," the clergyman had argued, "introduces and provides order where before there was none. In essence, reproduces the Universe."

"Nevertheless, sir," Michael interrupted Lovesigh's remembrances, "after Father Mett--you had taken the ball."

"That I did." Lovesigh sighed. "But the hoop, Michael, is unearthly high."

"Indeed, sir! You went on to prove that the Fringe exists. A hybrid peal that surrounds the universe, but fits neither set of parameters. That it is neither part of the universe or separate from it."

He approached within whispering distance.

"Demonstrated that this boundary layer is a super conductor. A cosmic converter that changes the vacuum of void into workable space. Like a loom weaves threads into fabric. And More, Sir. You dared go beyond imagination's end, it's very own fringe. Into the vast raw. Forge boldly through pristine-new manifolds," said Michael with rare ebullience. "I wish I could do that, sir."

Uncanny blue reflections played in the frail man's look. So intense was the scrutiny on the man's face that Michael drew back a step.

"More, Michael...the fringe fertilizes and strews the barrenness before it with seeds that grow into space-time of known and familiar axioms." Lovesigh's relentless rush of thinking now took over.

"It does not simply propagate the laws of physics into the 'lawless nether realms and utter absence' using ol' Mett's words..."

Dr. Lovesigh's listlessness cast off as he spoke. His head did not droop, he sensed no aches and cramps. He had migrated into a sphere beyond malady.

"...The Fringe is a universal Turing machine. A machine that emulates--perfectly simulates--all. Including itself."

Lovesigh took a breath, long past due.

"It is--the Infinite State Machine. A synergy with chaos. With mutual regulation. Counter-entropic in that it proliferates data outside our four dimensions. The 'raw'--as you call it-- Michael, beyond the sphere we term universe, can be ours to harvest now. The circle rendered complete. The cycle fulfilled. Armageddon, conquered--"

Lovesigh's face pinched.

"--If that parsimonious clambering of a computer modestly capitulates!"

But his employer's efforts did not linger just on this discovery, Michael regarded. As Mr. Chickbrow had put it, "Anthony G. Lovesigh is gifted with intuition that simply does not stop yielding. It takes him into domains other scientists use only as boundary conditions. Into cosmological terrain whose breadth pricks God, Himself. Uhm, and a few others."


"Step this way, sir." Chickbrow directed him through an immaculately white double-door.

Once inside, Fingle was confronted with an almost bare chamber, equally speckles as the entrance. Several stainless steel tables stood in the middle. On one, supine, lay a dark hairy thing.

Approaching closer Fingle discovered it to be a chimpanzee with a dent in its forehead as big as his thumb.

"What happened to it?"

"It's how we've found it. Roaming in the African bush, outside Pretoria. Must've fallen on some rock or Pruggia tree. They're wood is stone hard."

Tubes and wires ran from its face and partially shaved scalp to modules of equipment encompassing it. The animal was unconscious, clearly awaiting surgery.

Upon nearer examination of the apes face Fingle discerned that thin and transparent tubes came out of its nostrils. He raised the magnifying glass he held over them. He thought he detected motion before, now he saw them.

Orderly, ant-mites scooted within the tubes. One tube conveyed them into the right nostril and the other out the left. He looked on, in utter astonishment, then staggered back.

A parade of insects entered and exited the sleeping monkey's head.

In the right tube-lane the mites seemed bulkier to him. Actually, concentrating his attention on just one little creature, he saw that something the size of a fly's eye was locked in its pincers.

He moved to the one after it. It too carried a cubic grain of an object in its jaws. All did. Moving the magnifying glass over to the left nostril tube he observed the pincers empty.

He looked at Chickbrow.

"Nanochips," Chickbrow replied.


"Electronic circuitry, polyprotein-based, sensitive enough to be activated by neuron synopses potentials," Chickbrow parroted.

"In plain English?" Fingle pursed his mouth.

Chickbrow momentarily wondered if Fingle ever got past elementary school science. "In the twentieth century they used to call it lobotomy. A surgeon would insert a tool to penetrate up through the nasal cavity and into the cerebral cortex. That's the part of the brain that contains the higher nervous system. Intelligence, Mr. Fingle."

"I know that, Chickbrow. Go on."

"Of course."

Chickbrow was renown for egregious tact and patience. "The surgeon would then scramble, sever, the nerve fibbers there. Very simply accomplished. The patient then on after would be compliant as a peon. It is said that it was implemented on subjects with inherent violent mental attitudes. Effectively, their initiative and incentive were zapped. I think it was outlawed later on.

"In the twenty-first century we're basically using the same approach, but instead of stifling mental activity, we actually enhance it. The nanochips are used as neural prosthetics. Champ here, upon awakening, will be taught to do things even man covets."

He coughed perfunctorily.

"He'll be capable of guiding craft, a space probe for instance, turn it, change attitude and correct for its course--just by wanting it. All that the chimp was taught to do with its hands, now, would do by simply 'thinking' it.

"The ant-mites, Mr. Fingle, are performing an operation so subtle that a neural surgeon can only imagine about: they are interfacing individual, living, brain cells with artificial hardware."

The man from the government sponged his face. "What's it for?"

Chickbrow glimpsed at the chip-bank checking the counter. Half a million to go, he made a mental note.

"Champ is going to pilot the first ark through the fringe. He's a separate government negotiation. He'll be able to soft- and hard-link up to the Q-OMEGA 1 (c). He'll have adequate implants then to give him the skill of a robot technician--proficiency not a genius can boast of: Telekinesis, telemetry, peripheral telepathy, gigabytes of cache ROM and RAM, mainframe capacities to fit data in that would take several human brains decades to assimilate, marginal interactive speech command--"

Fingle's eyes suddenly widened. "He'll be human--superhuman!"

"Not by a long shot."

Chickbrow stalled a while, seemed to chew his gums.

"He will not have imagination, color dreams, aspirations--assertive self awareness, in a nut shell. Champ will not be cognizant of what his responses mean or able to reason why he has been given options to choose from. He will be incompetent of rationalizing, being inspired, self-sacrifice, or, an iota of abstract thought. Intelligence, Mr. Fingle, is not what distinguishes our species from another. It is sapience."

He saw the other's brows starting to rumple.

"Sapience, Mr. Fingle, is applied and sentient intelligence."

Chickbrow tarried.

"It is intuition, sageness and wisdom--qualities intrinsically absent from the chimp. Man cannot manufacture them. Champ, in essence, will be a cyborg, a very sophisticated hybrid of organics and artificials. His temperament and mien will not have changed. No wit, no sense of responsibility or consequence. He'll be as playful and carefree as ever before, but never, even for an instant, realize the power he's stocking."

Chickbrow waited for Fingle to assimilate.

"Sort of a micro-analogy to the honorable Professor," he added then. "You do recall our conversation initially, Mr. Fingle?"

"You bet." Fingle fidgeted and a little elver of uncertainty started to rouse within him. "But...yet, you refer to it as a 'he'."

"Simply semantics, sir. After all, the chimp is masculine."



The next few days were the most distressing period in Abe Fingles tightly drawn but orderly existence.

"I'm not a child, dad," Dantea finally said. "I've managed without Sean for six months. You weren't around all day long either. Right?"

"But I was in the same city. A ten-minute drive."

Fingle worried for her. He didn't want her to be found lying on the street some night, hemorrhaging from a gapping gut wound like his son-in-law. The hospital where they had both been working at was only two blocks down. Citizen Protection for this close a walk was for all practical purposes shelved. At least that's what Sean said. Not that he had any great sentiment for the 'hoodlums' as he referred to the ape-like CPs. "They're empty up here," he would say clipping his words out in customary Shannon fashion, probably a left-over from his granddad, and point below his curly red hair. "Got nothing in here, either," he'd pat his chest.

Fingle did not approve. But the boy had been good stock, an upcoming surgeon, and he had adored Dantea. He drew a long and quiet breath, and whispered through his teeth. "Bums."


"No--nothing, dear. Who's going to take you to the hospital while I'm gone?"

"Nobody," she said, and peeked at him childishly.

Fingle's head did a half pirouette, and two very round eyes pouted at her while the face ashened as she looked on.

"Oh, dad, I didn't mean I'd be going by my self...only joking. I'm moving into the intern dorms. I'll be staying there till the baby comes. And longer. Till you're back, OK?"

It was difficult for him to regain his color and speech.

He exhaled. "Don't ever do that again. Please!"

Dantea had already regretted it. Abe Fingle was not Sean O'Grady. But he had been trying to be that too since Sean's violent death.

She approached, put her arms around him and hugged him.

Fingle did not see the tears that welled up in her eyes.

He didn't give her any details of why he was going or that he would be a boarding guest at Mite Industries for an indefinite period of time. Only a nine digit telephone number had to suffice, for now at least. She, too, gave him her new number at the dorm where she'd be staying. Her work phone he already had. He helped with the packing and was surprised to see Dantea almost as agile with her movements as before her pregnancy. Nature never ceased to provide surprises, every so often. Only lately, there had been a deluge. Most were not the pleasant kind. Rather, they were infamous. To know something that your neighbors didn't, but which would involve their welfare--their and their family's life possibly--sometimes amounted to the onset of very crucial feelings, besides the sheer mental havoc.

There were still loose ends to tie off.

Thank those neighbors for one, for keeping an eye on his daughter. Even in a society governed by anxieties brought on by fear, mistrust and daily doubt, good will prevailed somehow in well-guarded pockets in individual communities. It had been this hidden aspect of society, the common sense mien of it, that imparted hope and patience to the overwhelming masses; and prevented an international uprising the likes of which the world had never seen.

Fingle shuttered at this thought.

To his mind came the Senator's incident. What could force people--and the Congressman was just one among the thousands--to believe that death could be far better than life? What form of disparagement or metaphysical promise could gather so many volunteers for a journey from which there was no return?

Fingle shook his head and pulled the security gate of Dantea's flat shut. They went to the old Polish couple that lived next door.

Dantea often enough recounted to him the stories the elderly burly woman had told her about the old country and the old days in this country. She trusted her, Dantea being a doctor and all; and not involved in any government matters or, worse, in this tattle about insurrection and liberation and the like.

Although Mrs. Jizensky was not an all out rebel, she could tell when things had taken a turn for the worst, had gone too far. Like now. Like with this country, the two Canadas, Europe, and most of the world; the unchecked steady spread of this disease called oligarchy, all over. A band of the cream of the crop of the business aristocracy and a cadre of top ranking military officers, the most powerful of the elite, had been summoned to join forces supposedly to regulate and damper the heedless abuse of the worlds foundering natural stocks. Summoned by no other than the monk, Xenon Glixxon, the visionary-theorist atop of the world.

North to The Faith Monastery was located on the precise Magnetic North of the Earth in the Arctic. The other Monastery, South to The Faith, had been built directly over the Magnetic South in the Antarctic. A retired loner-magnate himself, Xenon spend half his fortune bribing people and building his two Edens. All who had wanted to convert and had gone to his calling had been indoctrinated vowing to stay and never to leave. At first there had been only a trickle of proselytes. With time and the worsening of living conditions everywhere, it was many who turned their worldly possessions over to him and became devoted and loyal followers.

To be continued!

Copyright 1997 by Vasilis Afxentiou

Vasilis is from Athens, Greece and can be contacted at: vafx@hol.gr

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