Regression- Chapter Two

Erin has made coffee today, as usual, even though she seldom drinks it. I won’t start a lecture on the healthiness of coffee now; it suffices to say that it’s good if properly consumed, as everything else in nature. It’s not that I don’t know how to make my own coffee, but Erin is just glad to make it for me and I don’t object. I like mine milky and sugary. We have this artificial milk that I couldn’t describe to you well enough. But researching it in the olfactory-gustatory archives, I dare say its taste approximates that of your crème brûlée. That goes to show that we live a comparatively normal life today, if by the norm we take the standards of your era. Not much has changed in social fabrics, but everything has progressed naturally; evolution doesn’t handle impositions very well, and it always finds its way around hindrances.

We’ve been married for two years now. Dating takes on average one year before people decide to marry or not. No one likes protracting relationships and giving false hopes to their partners. One year is the make-or-break point nowadays, and the first anniversary of any relationship is a big deal. We joke that everyone has emotional ADHD nowadays because we enjoy things short and sweet. Life is too short if we think of all the possible paths: all the ways we can choose to develop ourselves. But marriage is another issue. Evolution implies the proliferation of the species, and we can’t do it properly without families. At this high level of evolution, quality is more relevant than quantity, and a high-quality level of progeny is only ensured by a psychologically healthy and stimulating childhood environment. Paradoxically, the more evolved the species is, the more fragile it becomes. It’s almost as if the ultimate end of every species was extinction.

 Properly raising a child is considered by some as an exciting challenge and, although some people decide not to take it up, we all know that we’re not above life’s cycle and that our greatest contribution to life is progeny. This era is called the Homogeneous Morality Era, and it’s defined by the principle of horizontal harmony: Horizontal harmony is only possible when all the individuals of a society have attained the same moral level; otherwise a vertical harmony must be created, that is, a social system where the more moral individuals are not affected by the less moral individuals. The first vertically harmonious system was the retaliatory justice system whose symbol is the Hammurabi code, and which prevailed for almost five millennia. Less moral people were locked up to prevent them from harming more moral people. Later, I’ll talk about our current moral organization, which differs greatly from the primitive form of social organization based on restrictions and imprisonment, which is unfortunately still in force in your era. Nowadays, we’ve attained a homogeneous moral level. There are those whose geniuses allow them to think metamorally, and this discipline: metamorality, creates sound laws that are mostly theoretical, but which inform our legal system. I’ll say more about this later.

Going back to procreation, there is an actual eight-centuries-old global procreation law, which is basically taxation on infertility. Because of the obvious inconveniences and their natural inclination, some people opt out of procreation. They’re generally geniuses in some areas, and their excessive drives towards their art or science make them less inclined towards procreation. But those who decide not to have kids must pay with a few hours of extra work per week. This tax starts being applied from the age of forty, if someone hasn’t had a child. By this means, society can afford free caregiving for people who decide to have more than two kids, thus balancing the population growth. To further promote procreation, we have a free educational and socialization system from the age of three, but because of all the free time people have at their disposal, parents are actually very involved in their kids’ development. Most people have only one or two kids nowadays, which has led to a great decrease in population in the past till it stabilized three hundred years ago. This is due mainly to practical and cultural reasons: A child takes a lot of effort, and most couples can’t emotionally deal with more than two. In history, this period which started with the decrease in world population was called the Default Wealth Period. It means that if you had parents who’ve saved some money, and you were an only child or one of two children, you were prone to be always well off, or at least to marry into wealth. Some wealth is always destructed or exhausted, but nowadays, it’s easy to create new wealth. Basically speaking, an aging population is the best boom to the economic system because it equalizes society automatically. The price of commodities decreased, that is, there was a deflation of the economy, and everything became more affordable. The only ones who relatively suffered in this transition were the filthily wealthy people, who could afford to lose a few million. That’s why the current period is called post-economic because we’ve stopped measuring wealth by gross domestic product. The expansionist capitalistic paradigm has been left behind, and we’ve embraced what’s called palpable wealth, that is, wealth that translates into better living standards. If we look at a chart of the gross domestic product in the world, there’s been an exponential decrease from the year two thousand and three hundred till the end of the third millennium and since then it has stabilized. This means new wealth is only produced nowadays when old wealth is depleted. We generally don’t work for money; we do it only to maintain living standards.

We haven’t had a kid yet. That can wait, since I’m only twenty-eight and she’s only twenty-six. We could’ve not married, but I’m very confident in her and monogamy implies a small sacrifice, which in psychology is called the conundrum of multiple choice, more popularly known as the conundrum of the cake: We think that by choosing something over other things, we’re giving up on the rest of our choices, and therefore we don’t choose, so we can keep them all, but in this way, we’re actually losing all of our choices, since they eventually run out. Basically speaking, nowadays, we know that we need to eat our cakes; that it’s useless to simply have them. People in the past were very resilient to commit to a long-term relationship. They attributed it mainly to its risk and gave excuses such as “We need time to see if we’re a good match.” Nowadays, we know better. Falling in love is a predictable psychological process. It’s a combination of sexual instincts plus a basic need for change. We’re continually changing and evolving, and we need someone to be able to evolve with us, what is basically called companionship. We can fully know a person’s character and form an emotional connection in a few months, but later on, we may simply fall out of love, that is, stop feeling physically or psychically attracted to the other person. This is a normal process. There’s nothing wrong with changing partners as many times someone needs to, but protracted, aimless relationships are detrimental to the evolution of the individual. We’re by nature social animals, and to pair ourselves up is the simplest way to neutralize our sexual drive and focus our energies on our development. 

People from your millennium leave romance to chance and are purposefully careless about meeting their partners. They fall in love haphazardly, with no conscious effort on their part. On the other hand, they want to rationalize the fact that they could pair up with anyone but have to choose only one person. This means an existential conflict to them and the more they date, the less they feel inclined towards monogamy. There are simply too many choices, so they don’t choose. They are unable to switch on and off the search instinct, so they mostly prefer not to search at all and leave it to chance. There is also the problem of sexism, so women who search are badly seen by society. Women can’t overtly show their interest in men, so most of them rather resort to superfluous activities to kill time or to vainly expose themselves to draw male attention.

The situation started changing at the beginning of the third millennium, with the appearance of dating apps and sites. Women gained relative anonymity and men gained the opportunity to interact with many women and thus make up for their shyness, overcoming rejection by the mere bulk of their attempts. The amount of interaction between sexes augmented exponentially, and that changed the courtship process. More and more, the focus of attention shifted towards oneself. People became more self-aware. It wasn’t about finding “the one” anymore, but about finding oneself in another person. That dramatically shortened the courtship period, a trend that peaked by the middle of the third millennium. People were marrying or breaking up just after a month’s courtship. The process stabilized gradually and today we have an average of a year of courtship till marriage or breakup. As with everything else, in the end, one single app monopolized the dating market: 2get-her. The few hippies left, who lived and died by the rules of free love and would never partner up through the app, eventually phased out, because people would just assume that they weren’t mature enough to be in a serious relationship. Of course, they didn’t phase out genetically speaking, but the free-love habit did, and nowadays, no one would be taken seriously if they argued that they don’t want to pair up with you because they want to be free. We know better today; we know that the use of freedom comes from the acceptance of responsibility. The same as space is useless without the matter that delimits it, freedom is useless without bonds. 

After breakfast, we went to visit my horses. Erin is a dear, so she accommodates this great pleasure of mine. She came with me to the cabin, as she comes with me every day to the riding hall. She doesn’t enjoy nature that much, so she brings her books and reads the whole day. I’m more of a contemplative person, so I enjoy having my mind clear of alien thoughts. I’m well enough alone with my thoughts and nature: Pure philosophy. I like wandering around for countless minutes till I get completely lost, and only then do I switch back on the cyber halo and make use of the Automatic Positioning System to get back. That’s how I came across Valentin. He’s one of the horse caretakers, but I’d never seen him before. He lives a secluded life, almost like a hermit, and there’s something off about him. It’s as if he wasn’t meant to live in seclusion, but he was forced to do it despite his own will. To start with, he struck me as very sociable; so much that I wondered what he was doing in such a deserted place. I thought he was on vacation like me, but when he told me he’d been working there for more than three years I almost shrieked in astonishment. I started working at this riding hall four years ago and I’d never heard of him before. I tried to find friends in common, but he seemed to know no one, except for the manager. His job is dispensable but very interesting: he analyzes the evolution of horses in captivity and the eventual way to bring them back into their primitive, wild state. He even showed me a few specimens that were part of his project. It shocked me to know that there was a whole project I was unaware of, but I was fascinated by the sight of these animals, which were a wilder version of our horses. They were completely untamed, and they had as little contact with humans as possible, to compensate for millennia of domestication. When the horses saw us, they immediately galloped away, so we couldn’t see them for long. His job is very difficult because he needs to take care of them as unintrusively as possible, so he doesn’t even have the satisfaction of bonding with the objects of his care and effort. I was too enthused by the project of the wild horses to think of asking about his life; where he lived, whether he was married, and so on. This lack of attention on my part became evident when I went back to the riding hall and told Erin about the project, after which she asked me about Valentin and she told me how odd it seemed to her that he worked in isolation and secrecy and that there must be a very good reason for this confidentiality. I was rather upset that no one had told me about this interesting project, so I called Maja, the manager, and asked her all about it. She just admitted to everything as if it wasn’t a big deal. She apologized for not telling me, but she also asked me not to tell anyone else, so Valentin wouldn’t be disturbed. That the reason behind his isolation from the rest was confidential, and she couldn’t divulge it herself, but there was no reason why I couldn’t go and ask Valentin whether he wanted to disclose his secret. She sounded amazed at the fact that I got along with him. She confessed she’d seen him in person less than a dozen times, and that they mainly exchanged messages and holocalls. Likewise, she said she was happy that I’d met him by chance, and practically pushed me to go and see him again. I felt hopelessness in the tone of the conversation, as if there was something terrible about Valentin that couldn’t be solved, but that could be alleviated by my visits. The impression she gave me was completely different from the one from my encounter with him, which had been cheerful and exciting. I decided to go and visit him tomorrow.


Read more: Chapter Three


I'm a writer born in Argentina, but currently living in Poland. I work as an English and French teacher, translator and copywriter.


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