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Entropy Gradient Reversals

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Flashforward #1:
Tonight on Cary Ling Jive!

Tune in tonight as Cary Ling talks to the enigmatic and reclusive RageBoy® at his never-before-filmed Mayan pyramid command post deep in the heart of the Yucatan peninsula. In 1996, RageBoy was just beginning on the road that would eventually make him the most powerful -- and most feared -- "Spiritual Executive" the world has ever seen. Now, only five years later, he reveals to Cary the secret plan he used to effect his astounding rise to Universal Domination. Don't miss this historic interview! 9pm -- 8 Central.

CL: Mr. RageBoy, sir, it surely is good of you to agree to come on the show, and to invite us into your -- I must say -- sumptuous home here. I understand it is customary to kneel and kiss your ring... [kneeling, kissing ring]

RB: [proffering hand, looking bored] Actually, it is more customary to kiss our ass, but we're sure you'll be getting to that later. And by the way, you may call us RageBoy. Just don't let it go to your head. Did you enjoy our little Geisha enclave? Loosened you up a bit, did it?

CL: [blushing] Well, yes, you certainly have spared no expense on the palatial accommodations. But let's get right down to what brings us here. How did you manage all this? [sweeps hand around in arc as camera pans interior of the RB mansion] Everyone knows who you are today, of course, but you came out of total obscurity just before the turn of the century, and very few understand how you accomplished that. Was it all planned or would you say you were just lucky?

RB: Lucky, Mr. Ling? Surely you know enough about The Teachings of RageBoy to understand that we recognize no such force as "luck." It is merely a question of who does the planning, if you catch our drift...

CL: Hmmm, I'm afraid I really don't, but let's not get into the metaphysics just yet. When did you first know you would end up where you are now, as Supreme Military Commander and Most Humble Minister to the Global Flock? Of course, it isn't necessary to mention that you personally control 80% of the world's wealth...

RB: Well, the Plan first came to us shortly after we began writing Entropy Gradient Reversals in the Spring of 1996. Our paramilitary Church of Entropy knows these today simply as The Scriptures. Several entire libraries have been devoted to the exegetical writings they have generated -- one in Rome, and as you know, the most recent in Bangkok. But as to your question, it had been clear to us for some time that conditions were ripe for the emergence of either a messianic spiritual leader -- the real McCoy, you know, not one of those Corn Belt Bible thumpers -- or a wildly popular fascist dictator. The real inspiration, if we may say so, lay in realizing how seamlessly the two could be integrated.

CL: And did you see yourself in that role?

RB: No, no, not initially. [laughs] We simply found ourselves waiting for something like that to happen.

CL: So what was it that turned the corner for you?

RB: Well, we finally realized that we weren't alone in this expectation -- that there were a lot of other people similarly poised for Something Big to take place. One incident, especially, brought this home to us. Do you recall the day in 1997 that Hong Kong reverted to China? We were looking for news on this hugely important power shift, but all the TV anchors were going on and on about that boxer Mike Tyson biting this other guy's ear half off. It was clear to us then that people were starved for meaning in their lives. Remember, this was moving onto the cusp of the millennium, and people have historically become rather strange around such numerologically significant thresholds.

CL: Did you personally believe the year 2000 was significant in some spiritual sense?

RB: You mean like Harmonic Convergence or something? No. None of that stuff means jack shit. Perhaps you haven't read The Scriptures yourself...

CL: Uh, well, I've looked them over in a cursory sort of way, but no, I have to admit I haven't studied your teachings.

RB: Then perhaps there is still hope for you.

CL: Yes, I think I see... But back in '96 you say you saw an opportunity to combine politics and religion. Tell us more about that.

RB: So, right, you had your millennial fever going, but as the historians will tell you today, it was the Internet that put the whole thing into high gear. Curiously, many had argued that the Net would make people smarter, more informed -- you know, the whole One World trip. But in fact it did just the opposite. You have to wonder why it took people so long to realize what was happening. All those rumors circulating, all those conspiracy theories, all those people literally breaking down the fabric of reality with their balkanized and solipsistic little opinions about everything. You remember what it was like by '99 -- no two people shared even a remotely similar ontology and there was open warfare over things like shoe color. Our personal favorite was the debate -- it didn't turn bloody until later -- about whether toaster ovens had souls.

CL: But you were still just observing at this point?

RB: Well, yes and no. We were writing the Entropy Gradient Reversals and began to realize that the early readership was divided into two distinct camps, if you will, though "camps" is putting it too strongly at that juncture. We didn't institute the actual camps until later in 1998.

CL: And how would you characterize these two groups?

RB: Actually, it caught us quite off-guard that there were two. But it soon became impossible to ignore the fact that a certain percentage of the subscriber base was taking EGR a bit more seriously than the others. We began to get these very interesting confessional messages, and the way this works is that one piece of email generally represents anywhere from 10 to 20 lurkers who feel the same way but are too chickenshit to say anything.

CL: What were they saying?

RB: Oh, you know, things like "what is the meaning of life really?" or "why don't we all just kill ourselves?" or "why don't we just kill everybody else?"

CL: And you thought this was odd?

RB: [sighs] We understand that it's hard to remember back to a time when this might have appeared a bit unusual. But yes, we thought it was pretty fucking weird. Remember that EGR was basically just an over-intellectual comic strip for bored First Worlders

CL: So one part of the readership was deeply confused and highly aggressive it sounds like. And the rest?

RB: The rest got what was going on from the beginning. That's how the thing took off in the first place. We started with this boast about getting two million readers in 14 months, but it actually took nearly three years.

CL: Two million? But you have over a billion today!

RB: Yes, things did get a little out of hand there didn't they? [chuckles]

CL: So what about the ones who "got it"?

RB: We cut them in on The Plan, and most were game. They were all spooked about the advent of global fascism and RageBoy looked like a far better bet than some. Also, we built in some pretty sweet incentives, so that helped a lot too. You have to understand that these people were very well placed, some of them anyway. So when we were ready to move, things happened quickly.

Ah, here's some refreshment. What can we offer you, coffee, tea, orange juice, heroin, cocaine? We don't partake ourselves but we understand some people find it soothing.

CL: Just orange juice would be fine.

RB: Thank you Rupert, that will be all for now...

CL: Was that Rupert Murdoch?

RB: Yes, I'm afraid so. He hasn't fared too well in the transition has he? Oh well. We encourage him in his little hobbies. He likes to write haiku and feed them to the koi in the Japanese gardens. But the poor fellow hasn't any talent. One of our people found one recently -- evidently the fish throw up after they eat them. Would you like to hear it?

CL: Why yes. Haiku are short, right?

RB: Seventeen syllables, traditionally. But with Rupert, you know, who's counting anymore? It went:

I think that I shall never see
a bird as cool as B Sky B.
CL: That's it? But that's not a haiku, is it? It's doggerel!

RB: To him, it is beautiful. And isn't that what counts, in the end?

CL: Yeah, well, I guess...

RB: So we organized the CyberJihad. All that's a matter of record at this point, of course, but it was pretty exciting when we brought it off.

CL: I'll say! 30 days from anonymity to total world domination. Did you know you would be successful? Had you failed, the consequences to yourself would have been... well, dire.

RB: Oh yes, but we were fairly confident it would work, right from the start. We also timed things to take advantage of the Y2K confusion.

CL: Y2K?

RB: You know it as the Millennium Bug.

CL: Oh yeah, when all the computers went down. So you saw that coming?

RB: Anybody who wasn't deaf dumb and blind saw that coming, are you kidding? Of course, from the position we had taken by that time in global information systems, we were able to help things along substantially. What no one other than ourselves predicted was the Cold Turkey effect that would kick in after the net crashed on January 1.

CL: You mean The Day of the Stare?

RB: Yeah. We stepped in and provided Strong Opinions over the private backbone we had set up beforehand. It wasn't much but it was all there was, and as you know, people couldn't get enough of it. We did this Push thing that gave you something to think about, something to argue about, something to organize some semblance of a personality around. Before that, most people didn't really understand that information is a drug. We knew, so we were ready.

CL: And this was free, right?

RB: It didn't cost any money if that's what you mean. We weren't interested in money. Never have been.

CL: You are now the richest man in the world, and you are telling me you aren't interested in money? How can that be?

RB: The first principle of entropy gradient reversalism is not giving a shit. This is a fundamental pillar of The Teachings.

CL: Not that we fully understand that, but alright -- what was the cost then, if not measured in dollars?

RB: In order to get on our feed, people had to agree to perform certain favors in return.

CL: Such as?

RB: Oh, such as crippling the firewalls on government computers and media-industry web sites. Plus, we had a lot of fun with the monetary system.

CL: And there was hardly any resistance, was there?

RB: None to speak of. Even now, just a few years later, it's hard for people to remember how powerfully they were affected. The Day of the Stare was no joke. When 200 million Americans realized AOL just wasn't coming back up, they sort of snapped. The Army was useless. Ditto the National Guard. Only the Marines kept it together. None of them can read...

Oh say, Bill, I wonder if you'd have a look at that Pac-Rim server, it's been a little twitchy the last few days... [Bill exits bowing.]

CL: Was that Gates? My god, you've got the Old Guard on your household staff!

RB: Yes, we are rather proud of our people here at EGR World HQ. Bill is an interesting case. After the Change, he was found wandering around on the outskirts of Seattle mumbling something about Visual Basic. Poor guy, he was pretty shaken up by the whole thing, as you can imagine, but he's doing much better now. We've given him a slot on the Malaysian Help Desk and he's not half bad at customer service. Who would have guessed. It just goes to show what kind of results are possible when you give people a fighting chance.

CL: That's very good of you, RageBoy. So tell us, who else do you have working for you here?

RB: They're not all here physically at our Yucatan base, but we do have an impressive international organization. Boutros Boutros-Ghali is covering our natural resource exploitation initiatives. We converted the Joint Chiefs of Staff into a pretty crack marketing unit -- they've been hugely effective as you can tell from our 99.7% global market penetration. We've got Janet Reno working network security. Of course, there isn't any network security anymore, but she hasn't figured that out yet. Maya Angelou is our Poet Laureate -- Rupert is studying with her in fact. And we put Bill Clinton to work in PR. Actually, that last one's not working out so well, but he can't really do much harm there either, as the Church has virtually immunized the planet to that sort of rhetoric. Ted Turner manages our Human Resources Division -- you know, new hires, bennies, all that. Plus I understand he's about to make Archdeacon...

CL: Unfortunately, we don't have a lot more time, but do tell us a little more about the Church of Entropy. I take it this was part of your vision about the widespread longing for some sort of messiah.

RB: Precisely so. You see, everybody already knew that religion was crap, science was crap, politics was crap. We just elevated those beliefs and organized them around a few easy-to-grasp tenets.

CL: Which are?

RB: We call them The Five Auto-Revealing Insights of the Anointed:

  1. Never Believe Anyone
  2. Never Take Yourself Seriously No Matter What
  3. Don't Harbor Gratuitous Cynicism
  4. Don't Be An Asshole Unnecessarily
  5. Be Nice

CL: Well, four and five seem kind of similar, but you're right, that's fairly simple. Isn't there a paradox or two in all this, though? You've practically deified yourself. You rule the world with an iron fist and brook no opposition to your financial predations. And, please don't take offense at this, but we understand you're sometimes anything but nice.

RB: [testily] Hey, shit happens, OK?

CL: Well, uh...

RB: Look. There is world peace. Hunger is nonexistent. The trains run on time. Plus, you gotta admit the content is a whole lot better.

CL: True, all true. And yet, what about things like self determination?

RB: Self? What self? That was the whole problem for christ sake! All these people bumbling around like chickens with their damn heads cut off trying to "find themselves" or some shit. All we said was look, if you can't find yourself, then you are really truly fucked up. There you are, right there! We had to hold a mirror up to the worst cases and say, real loud like, "See?" If that didn't work we either put them on high-tofu diets, just to get even, or we popped a cap in their sorry ass.

CL: You mean you had them shot. I see...

RB: You got a problem with that? Say, I been meaning to ask you, how do you like running CNN? Zat working out for you OK?

CL: Yes it is, RageBoy, and thank you so much for making it possible. I really can't adequately express my gratitude...

RB: See, we told you you'd get around to kissing ass sooner or later. It's OK. But lookit pal, we gotta book. It's time for our afternoon benediction in the Plaza of Mere Mortals and we really shouldn't keep the faithful waiting, now should we?

[rising] Rupert! You wanna clear this stuff up here?

CL: [shaking hands] Thank you for inviting us into your home, RageBoy. This little chat has been a real eye opener.

RB: Yeah, I'll bet.

You Can Be What You Want To Be
On Cloud Nine

The Temptations

Entropy Gradient Reversals
All Noise - All the Time


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                                     Entropy Gradient Reversals
                                     CopyLeft Christopher Locke


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