Sunday, March 23, 2003

vignette: mindshare

Behind the back of head I have another pair of eyes, one is crystalline (limpid, calm); the other, a secondhand Proxima LENticular VV model (still sharp focus, occasional tendency to pan left). Both serve me well when certain circumstances arise (walking down the Retiro past the second clarion, taking a fix at Roxas Promenade during brainy season), but are no good at all the rest of the time. At least in terms of what they are supposed to do - which is to provide true uni-point radial vision.

Quadvision requires a certain level of perceptual retraining, an expensive and vertigous process ill-suited to non-embryonic persons like me. Once in a while, the sudden new reality of multiple perspectives triggers a profound reaction in the neuroperrenials, causing a curious condition informally known as "mindshare".

When this happens, the new quad vicariously experiences visions of the recently deceased, short-circuit hallucinations of sidereal constellations and illusions of half-lives. Few survive the necessary adjustments.

Those that do become like me, able to see Manila through the eyes of the dead that offer no colors but deep and languorous grays.

We have become the city's oracles and clairvoyants, supplanting the mediums and seers through miraculous (though accidental) technological seance, bringing answers to questions left suspended by sudden endings. For this service we are sought out and paid by people who want to make peace or divine a secret. And for the very same service we are reviled by the Church Government of Binondo, condemned as walking desecrations for our attributed malice.

As a result, we hide in plain sight, becoming chameleons by choice, easy to find by our customers but impossible to discover by our oppressors. When someone who wishes to engage our services comes nearby, we undergo a moment of blurred sensations. Images fly though our multiple eyes (difficult to interpret apart from the essence of need) before aligning as a single gray image of the seeker. We approach the new customer and commence a transaction.

On the other hand, when it is trouble that looks for us, the gray sea of our vision is interrupted by a virulent cascade of blue (never light hues, always electric). It lasts only for a pico fraction it is sufficient to alert us, and we flee by any means possible.

It is a misconception that the dead speak through us. There is no conversation in the afterlife, only images of regret and longing. We never hear anything because they do not speak. Either they have become mute or have nothing to say.

Once, one of us created a way to record the images we saw through the eyes of the dead using parts cobbled together from decrepit computer parts she found in the landfills of old Taguig. Before the ether-server she put together exploded it was able to record exactly one picture (poor comparative resolution, but still quite detailed). It was a room, a young person's room (untidy, chaotic, littered with music warez and cheap slipchip films from Quiapo), and on the leftmost side, slightly distorted, was a veiled person, hands stretched out above as if in supplication, face contorted by a sorrow no one understood.

Except, perhaps, by us.

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