Conrad’s insight into the future came as a surprise to me. As I was recording this message, I expected Valentine’s interference, but I never expected to have a feed from the near future. From Conrad’s message, I surmise that the situation I bumped into has more repercussions for humanity than I’d previously calculated. I’m happy to say I’m proud of myself. Few things are relevant in today’s world, among them new knowledge and the opportunity to be able to discover it. So as not to steal my thunder and, more importantly, not to spoil the ending, Conrad has only redone an introduction to the subject and has left me the clues to unravel this story by myself, so I’m now even more encouraged to do so. Unfortunately, Milena is nowhere to be found; she simply vanished in thin air. However, I did receive from Conrad all the recordings from the compulsory psychotherapeutic sessions she starts in two weeks and which will last almost one year, after which she will be discharged and go back to her normal life until, eventually, she’ll resume her relationship with Valentin.
Let me now share the things she said during her sessions which may shed light on her decision to go back to him. But, firstly, I must clarify that Milena will consent to disclose this information, which would otherwise be strictly confidential. This consent is merely a formality since we believe in the free flow of information nowadays, but still, because the psychological health of a person is at stake, the information will be handled carefully and a warning will be triggered any time Milena is about to see or hear something related to her future self. This is a common feature today because some of the things we say or do are fed back when they’re relevant to the development of humanity. When it comes to scientific discoveries or other feats, they’re freely divulged, which means that today’s geniuses are famous from birth for something they’ll create or discover in their future, but in the case of sensitive information, such as conversations or facts about someone’s personal life, an algorithm is used to regulate their access it. Of course, the protagonists of the feed have the right to access information about their future private life if they want, but other people have no access to any form of register of these events, and word of mouth has stopped being a reliable source of information. Today we have a short memory span since our brains have specialized in analyzing information, not holding it.
Whether Milena learns about events in her life beforehand or not, it’s her decision, and actually, we don’t know for sure if she read about her story with Valentin before meeting him or not, because she never talked about it to any witnesses who went on record. In Valentin’s case, the question is simpler: He doesn’t have any access to files about his future. That is another reason for the isolation regressed people live in: for their protection against things they can’t cognitively handle, such as the knowledge of their future. This is no mere theory; a long time ago, some regressed people learned about their future from psychological works, and they couldn’t handle the information. Most of them showed an increase in erratic behavior and apathy toward life, just as if someone had spoiled the film of their lives for them. To normal people, however, knowing about their future is not detrimental to their lives, since today we know that the journey is the only thing that matters. The ending has always been known to humans, but also landmarks in our lives are quite predictable: Getting married, having kids, and also finally having a breakthrough at something we undertake with passion and seriousness. So to us, knowing what we’re going to achieve doesn’t take away from the fact that we still need to achieve it. The same as a good book can’t be spoiled by reading its ending, our lives today don’t lose their appeal when we learn about things in our future, since we enjoy every detail appertaining to how we get there. The means are more important to us than the end. Nonetheless, few people can find feedback on their lives, since retrotransmission is a technology that needs to be painstakingly implemented to properly work. That means that the feeds that we send or receive are only about events that affect the whole society, and not mere individuals.
My ignorance was actually a bliss, that is, I’m lucky I hadn’t heard about Valentine before meeting him; otherwise, my relationship with him would’ve been hindered by the moral and legal responsibility not to accidentally tell him anything about his future. As I mentioned before, we have a very short memory span nowadays, which doesn’t mean that we carry less information with us. We can access data literally in the blink of an eye and look up any information while we walk, drive or even talk to someone. Artificial intelligence notifies us of the most relevant facts we need during a speech or at work. Imagine a thought checker, which, similar to a spellchecker, corrects our mistakes, but also prompts us with relevant facts and information needed to better perform our thought processes. In the case of sensitive information, while it’s blocked to any other than the person concerned, it might leak from other sources, such as psychological research. So lucky me, I’m not generally interested in psychology, or I would surely have heard about this proverbial love relationship.
(The Cosmic Microwave Background sound is heard for a few seconds and it fades out as Milena speaks.)
“I rejected him to give him back his freedom because to love is to sacrifice your desire. Love is a moral obligation when you find the right person, and to love is to die for someone else than yourself. If someone rejects your love, they’re simply granting you back your freedom to go back to being selfish or to renounce your selfishness for a higher end: humanity, art or nature. Valentin is simply too wild to be contained in the frame of a relationship; I don’t think we have the social construct that answers his needs. It hurt me deeply to let him go, the same as it hurts to release a wild beast from captivity once this animal has become dear to us.”
“Do you associate love with death?”
“In some sense… but just like committing hara-kiri before being certainly killed by someone else. Love is choosing how to die. Isn’t it?”
“True, but what about redemptive love? The love that leads to the perpetuation of life. You talk about freedom, but aren’t we condemned to live? Do you think the best solution is to kill ourselves instead of further promoting life?“
“I see your point, and I’ll probably find a way to further promote life, but for now I have strong, self-destructive feelings for Valentine. I have hopes for him, and that’s the most difficult part. I expect him to snap out of his recession and be able to be happy with me, but I also contemplate the dangerous option of giving up my intellectual apprehensions to try and live unconsciously happy with him, as if the drunkenness of our feelings sufficed to our happiness.”
“That’s a very healthy feeling, despite your prejudices. It’s healthy to know when to let go of your intellect. We’ve evolved toward reason and logic, but feelings are far from logical. We’ve managed to control them and understand them, but they still need to be released, the same as that wild beast you mentioned. Nowadays, we show our feelings the direction in which to run, but what if you just let yours run wild? Do you think you would be able to herd them after?”
“That’s an interesting and relieving question. Do you think I could do it? Has there been any successful case?”
“It could work, in theory, but it wouldn’t be pleasant to you, the same as raising a child is rather taxing to the parent. However, you could get the altruistic pleasure parents get to see their child become a good person or the pleasure teachers get from seeing their students master their disciplines. Unfortunately, I don’t think you could totally let yourself go with Valentin, because it might trigger a chain reaction with his own, wild feelings. What I was proposing was that you let yourself go intermittently, that is, first he and then you, to keep your emotions in check. I’m sure you’re able to hold your emotions in front of his show of affection, but is he able not to react impulsively to yours?”
“No, he’s not, and that’s why I think we need time to cool his affection for me. If it survives, then we’ll be together again, if not, then, I would’ve wasted a year of my life waiting for him.”
“I think a year is a reasonable amount of time and I agree with your strategy and wish you luck. If ever you feel weak or hopeless, contact me immediately, please. Otherwise, let’s meet again in two weeks to see how you’re dealing with the concomitant emotions.”
“Thanks, doctor. Your words are of much help.”
On further sessions, however, Milena started showing erratic behavior, probably a withdrawal effect from not having contact with Valentin for months:
“ I don’t want normality; I want extraordinariness, and no one can do extraordinariness; we can only feel it…”
“Exactly, we can’t create extraordinariness, but only recreate it in our minds. Also, extraordinariness implies normality; without normality, how do you measure the extraordinariness of your emotions?”
“Finding love is always extraordinary, isn’t it?”
“Yes, but love is not an emotion, but a decision. We don’t find it; we assume it whenever we see the chance and feel like it.”
“I know. I think I meant the new courage I found when I decided to love Valentin. If only I had the strength …”
“If only. But allow Valentin the chance to be your stronghold. Let his absence be like the inspiring silence the public gifts musicians during their performance. How long have you been apart?”
“I’m sorry, doc, I lied by omission. I’ve met him a couple of times. I was too ashamed to tell you. I didn’t do it for my sake; he was distraught and I feared for his life. I know this may draw back the treatment to zero, but I didn’t have the heart to turn him down. Nothing physical happened, although he insisted so many times. I tried to soothe him with words, but I think my presence was more relevant to his peace of mind than my logic. I felt like a pacifier to a baby; I’d never felt like that before. It’s denigrating but so satisfying; I guess the way mothers feel when they learn to soothe their babies. So base, so inadequate to our human potential, but at the same time, so human, so close to our nature.”
“It’s not nature but nurture. Reproduction is indeed in our nature, but it takes away from our other nature: evolution. Reproduction is the resource of an organism that’s stuck in its development, and therefore, it’s archaic to us, together with its concomitant responsibility: raising a child. Fondness for parenthood is therefore today an atavistic nature, but we nurture it so our children can grow psychologically strong. There’s nothing wrong in wanting to be a good mother, but it’s wrong to transfer these feelings to the man you love. It’s an emotional trap you fell into because that man represents your fertility, that is, your potential progeny, and because he isn’t completely emotionally developed, you try to make up for his defectiveness by treating him as a baby. At the same time, you remind him of his carefree childhood, which reinforces his childish behavior. This wouldn’t happen were he not immature to start with, but now that you already find yourself in this situation, you need to learn to get out of the vicious circle. Also, if he wants to see you, he needs to do it for the right reasons, not to soothe his troubled mind, and you must simply trust that he will survive himself. If he isn’t able to stay alive by himself, then there’s nothing we can do to help, and we can only reap sorrows by trying to stop the inevitable.”
“I understand, doc, but he’s very convincing. It’s so hard to believe he’s less evolved than us when you listen to his eloquence.”
“Not all beautiful words are true; sometimes the truth is simply ugly. Remember that an animal fights back the hardest when it’s almost defeated. Just keep your humility and remember that you aren’t infallible and you can fall into logic traps too. I’m sure he’s very convincing in his wrongfulness.”
“He is, doc. It’s as if millennia of science and intellect had been in vain, whenever he presents to me a reality that’s far from how we understand it today. While I see the error in most of his train of thought, there are some sparks of genius that I can’t ignore.”
“That’s true for all regressed people, but especially for intellectual ones such as Valentin. They’re the key to our evolution, but they are not to be toyed with. They’re black holes of primitive knowledge, and we should keep the appropriate distance.”