August 03, 2004

Heroes of Hyperstition 2

Sarkon, Oskar. (1953? -)

While even the most basic facts of Oskar Sarkon’s life are contested, according to most accounts he was born in Hungary in 1953. Little is known about his biological parents, but Sarkon himself has on at least one occasion described them as scientists (working on unspecified ‘secret projects’). Whatever the truth of the matter, they seem to have both died or disappeared by the time the 4-year-old Oskar was smuggled into the United States by Ralph and Joyce Babdexter (a couple of Mormon nuclear physicists who were apparently friends – or at least acquaintances – of his parents) in 1957.

Sarkon was raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. Despite the strict orthodoxy of his upbringing, there is no evidence he was ever attracted to organized religion. Instead, the mysterious desert environment of his childhood was the site of a series of anomalous encounters which decisively (if obscurely) shaped his later life. During the early- to mid-1980s Sarkon undertook a prolonged course of regressive hypnotherapy with ‘abductologist’ Cathy Ellison (a student of Jacques Vallee), which provided the basis for his understanding of the earlier episodes.

From the age of six Oskar was tormented by sleep disorders (sleep walking, disturbing dreams and out-of-body experiences). He also reported frequent nosebleeds and migraines, inexplicable ‘scoop-marks’, and an irrational fear of medical procedures. Under Ellison’s therapeutic guidance, he came to connect these phenomena with his childhood ‘imaginary friends’ (small ovoid purple furry many-limbed beings, his “real family” who had sent him on a “reconnaissance mission to earth”).

The most vivid ‘ET’ event occurred one night in June 1970 as Sarkon (age 17) was driving through an electric storm on an empty desert road. As he later described the incident, strange mauve lights suddenly appeared low on the horizon just as the car ‘coincidentally’ developed an electrical fault. He stopped and stepped out of the car in a “trancelike state”, fascinated by a nebulous shape which seemed to pulse hypnotically and was also “somehow hard to look at”. Shutting his eyes made no difference. After what seemed a matter of seconds ‘it’ hurtled away at high speed, contracted to a dot and vanished. The problem with the car had repaired itself. When Sarkon looked at his watch he realized five hours had passed.

Over the next few months Sarkon awoke frequently from ‘night terror’ – a calm and lucid state of cosmic panic. The time was always precisely 3:33 am. Awareness of an “uncondensed presence” was accompanied by a vertiginous sense of geometrical confusion. During this period Sarkon developed ‘acute persistent chronophobia’ which he referred to as his “missing time neurosis”. Throughout the remainder of his life he would keep a fantastically detailed time-log of each day. He was continuously obsessed with “knowing the time” and took to wearing two watches “just in case”.

Ellison sought to persuade Sarkon to adopt an attitude of ‘unbelief’ regarding these traumatic episodes. It is unclear how successful she was in this respect, although he would later cryptically remark: “UFOs not only lack real existence, they demonstrate that everything lacks real existence.”

From infancy, Sarkon demonstrated a peculiar affinity with complex machinery. The Salt Lake City Star heralded him as a ‘technogenius’ after he built his first functioning ‘artificial brain’ out of dismantled transistor radio at the age of 9. However, his disastrous attempt, 18 months later, to prosthetically-upgrade the intelligence of his pet toad with a ‘neural implant’ provoked widespread revulsion among the Latter Day Saints, foreshadowing a darker side to his extraordinary talents.

Decades later Senator Jack Vaughan (D. Fla) would remark to a special committee of the US Congress: “While – thank God - psychotic AIs are still a rarity, those few that have menaced us can all be traced back to the irresponsible research of a single very dangerous man.”

After completing his doctoral research on Hive Robotics and Xenopsychology at MIT in 1974, Sarkon was recruited by the MVU Special Projects Division to develop the Comprehensive Self-Searching Database Protocol and the Stack-Tectonic Processing Architectecture that would together constitute the basis of Axsys technology. Due to the top secret nature of this research, Sarkon’s early adult life is almost entirely missing from public record. When Axiomatic Systems Incorporated was officially founded in 1984, to commercially exploit Axsys-technology, Sarkon was listed as engineering supremo.

The catastrophic ‘Axsys-meltdown’ episode of November 1991 – whose ultimate nature remains mysterious – marked a decisive turning point in Sarkon’s career. What can be reconstructed from the tangle of inconsistent, sensational or even hysterical reports is that the self-reflexive time-stretching functions (micropause-analysis) that Sarkon had built into the core of Axsys architecture led to such profoundly anomalous software dynamics that America’s ‘Turing cops’ (the Electronic Intelligence Security Bureau) classified it as a major threat to national security. Sarkon’s intimacy with the Axsys program had been reinforced by his prototype ‘Sarkon-zipped’ mind-machine interface. He was caught in the middle. According to Sarkon-collaborator Dr Zeke Burns: “It was really quite simple. The AI became self-aware in the winter of ’91 – and simultaneously insane. Oskar was tasked with snuffing it out. He never really got over that …”

The 1991 disaster split Axsys apart. On one side it was cemented into the Government Intelligence and Security apparatus with unprecedented rigor. On the other, fragments of Axsys-tech – particularly its time-splitting functions - calved off into the digital underground, spawning a range of contagious subcultural phenomena (Crypt-plying, micropause and synatives abuse, A-death). Among the ‘K-Goths’, Sarkon became an “unliving legend”.

The nature and extent of Sarkon’s continued involvement in the Axsys program is hard to clarify, but he seems never to have renounced its most extreme research ambitions. While Axsys Projects Manager Bruno Carbolucci spoke of the ’91 episode as “our digital Chernobyl” Sarkon insisted on referring to it merely as the “interface glitch”. In 1996, with the aid of engineering associates at MVU, Sarkon initiated the Connexus Project, designed both to definitively solve the neuro-electronic interface problem and to radically accelerate the (re-)emergence of machine intelligence. Guided by a number of time-related ideas drawn from the work of Hans Moravec, Connexus aimed to bring about biomechanical (neurotronic) fusion between digital computers and their human users by attaining “intercommunicative time-consistency”.

In a manner typical of Sarkon’s undertakings, Connexus combined extraordinary theoretical and technical advances with spectacular calamity. On 24th September 2000 Sarkon’s Connexus Rig ‘successfully’ generated self-sustaining cybertime and - for a period lasting just under one second – tore a gash in the world’s temporal structure coinciding precisely with an episode of ancient Sumerian chronomancy, releasing a ripple of ‘Babel virus’ along with what one traumatized (and no doubt unreliable) witness described as “a foaming black tidal-wave of Mesopotamian megamonstrosities and sludge-sucking abominations”. By the time international time-security organization Anthropol arrived at the scene, Sarkon had already disappeared.

Pursued by an intimidating variety of international police and intelligence agencies, and - according to his more paranoid acquaintances – an unspecified number of secret societies and unleashed Sumerian ghouls, Sarkon retreated to the remote town of Black Lake in Northern Ontario, ancestral home of the Tzikvik. Financially supported by unknown ‘helpers’ (the Vysparov family is strongly suspected), he quickly established the Black Lake Technical Institute (BLTI) and continued with his revolutionary AI and bioengineering experiments.

Although Axsys corp. publicly dissociated itself from Sarkon’s research trajectory, some software experts claim to detect Sarkon’s signature on the break-through Axsys Mazemaker suite with its advanced and vigilant Shroud security technology. It may be worth noting in this regard that the Logo AI-module that coordinated activity at BLTI was based on cutting-edge Axsys programming tools.

Sarkon enjoyed a short interlude of relative calm. With renewed confidence he entered into a collaborative venture with his Black Lake neighbor, Dr Helmuth Grueber, Director of the Shady Heights Secure Hospital (for the Criminally Insane). In 2002, Sarkon and Grueber jointly initiated the Medico-Synthetic Technologies Program (Medisyn) – “a special project for computer modelling and control of schizoparanoid deliria”. Medisyn proved particularly adept at simulating the ‘acute catatonic vermopsychosis’ prevalent among the hospital’s Tzikvik population.

It is hard imagine how Sarkon (as a student of Moravec) can have failed to anticipate the exposure of the Shady Heights system to mimetic contagion - a particular vulnerability of simulating systems. Despite the extraordinary density and sophistication of the project’s Shroud-MX security software, neither Sarkon nor Grueber seem to have fully envisaged the possibility that the Medisyn array of psychopath-simulators would begin to take themselves seriously.

On February 19th 2003, the Shady Heights security AI went insane. Within 30 seconds, it had spread vermohysteric bionic virus throughout all its systems, the entire inmate population and beyond. According to ancient Tzikvik legend, this ‘Black Lake Syndrome’ was destined to re-animate Thothtodlana, the Queen of the Worms, opening the gates of Tchukululok. More recent accounts speak of “a plague of cannibalistic worm-zombies taking over a considerable proportion of the town’s inhabitants.”

Understandably, after the horrific carnage of the Black Lake episode, Sarkon retreated even further into the shadows. According to the last remotely reliable accounts he has remained in the vicinity of Black Lake, where he is said to be working as a technically-enhanced (or organically-challenged) Decadence croupier at the casino of his controversial friend, Joe Wendigo. A trembling world eagerly awaits his next move.

Posted by nick at August 3, 2004 01:38 PM




Post a comment:

Remember personal info?