background

GIFT

a slow bullet to the heart
caught in the crossfire of militant generosity

taking the shot for an equal love-share in the world
where nobody gets out alive
and being here is an all player sport

Man Up
take a deep breath and immerse yourself in the social risk
billions of us are counting on


The full book, GIFT, is available at razoo. Please consider gifting a copy to a friend, or treat yourself to a reading experience unlike any other.

GIFT


Dec 25th, 2013 Matrix Kincaid

RED MOVEMENT

before

London, Centre Point office block at the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street, 17th floor above the rumbling traffic, glass-walled office, clean Scandinavian design chic; sitting around a table, six men, one of whom is playing for us all, the rest are playing variations of self-interest. He's young enough to think life's a game, and he keeps raising the ante.

"How much we appreciate the next sentence, will make us all millions."

With smiling eyes, he's been lighting up the room for half an hour and at that moment has no idea what is going to be said next.

Each man has his understanding as to why he is there, balanced on a knife-edge: the past-wise reasons are as plain as footsteps in mud, tracking all the way back; the future-wise purpose remains unknown, reserving judgement and biding their time to align and make sense of it all.

One way to read the power-play around the table is four against two: four are pitching a new product to the Managing Director and his Director of Marketing. Of the four, there's an old man who hasn't said anything beyond giving his name at the beginning of the meeting, a post-grad toted as the "genius"/"mad scientist" who has invented the prototype, a venture capitalist who might invest $250,000 in the project, and the incandescent young man who is leaning so heavily into the future, he's risking a tear in the fabric of space-time itself.

The MD is first to bat.

"This is not how we do business," hitting it out of the park like some kind of super-star sign-up, which is not so far from the truth; what he says has all the authority of a multi-billion-dollar company behind him. Meanwhile, his multi-million-dollar eyes are drawn to the £70 of notes on the table. "You haven't explained what that is for," talking about the money like it is a dirt pile at the corner of his otherwise pristine desktop.

The young man seems phased, double-takes the money — had the MD already perceived the illusion that was money? — then blinks himself back into the game. He edges forwards on his chair, ready for the cut.

"It depends on one very simple thing," he says carefully. He folds in his lips against his teeth, and takes a slow breath, really feeling the moment physically, the air barreling up his nose, his tongue pressed against the ridges of his lower incisors, embodied in the here and now, slowing it all the way down, calming all the mental reverberations, risking a mental stall.

"Basically," he swallows, "it comes down to this. Do. You. Like. The Idea?"

He stops and waits, watching for a response. Now he risks a stall between them. He has flipped to listening too abruptly, his listener suddenly finding himself up ahead and attended by everyone in the room. He accelerates and lays down a velvet ribbon of words once more.

"Your genuine response. That's what it comes down to. We wouldn't be here unless we thought there was genuine value in the idea. Forget about companies and boundaries and products, and experts and money. There is no risk to ecological economics: you leave with the money you put on the table — this is the failure state. What it comes down to right now, is — is this idea a good one? Or not?"

The MD leans back in his over-sized, leather chair. His eyebrows raise and his head rolls back slightly, feeling his neck tight in its collar as if he is attempting to shirk off his corporate responsibilities, his tie and suit, escaping from the constraints of his position. His eyes remain locked on the young man, still on the edge of his seat, open, receptive, waiting.

"Well, I can't say much for the presentation, I've seen better." He holds up a hand to the young man to stop further interruption. "If we ignore the amateur dramatics, I can say the idea itself is not a bad one. It is well conceived. But there are many considerations, the technical feasibility, cost of production, not to mention ownership, due diligence, and so on."

All in the room are impressed, but one. To be this early in the pitching processes, to get a clear and positive response is rare. The MD has responded favourably to the fresh and rather daring approach by the young man. The marketing director is pleased that he risked this meeting, given it is less than a week that the young man walked into his office. The PhD scientist is glad he hasn't talked business himself; left to his own devices he knows it would take him years to get to this point. The venture capitalist likes the young man's gumption, lending support to the tenuous but intuitive confidence he had in him. While the old man looks on with quiet eyes.

The young man, however, remains at the edge of his seat, expectantly. Has he not heard? Has he misread the MD's acknowledgement? What more could he want from a first meeting? A salesman would be happy with this result.

For him, it is not enough; he is not a salesman, and was never looking for a sale. He knows it comes down to this, the MD's next words, how this next moment unfolds between them. So he sits on the edge of his seat while the rest have relaxed. Like travellers who have reached a distant objective, a peak of sorts, they fall to either side tired from their collective efforts. And yet this young man, his gaze steady, does not let go.

His thoughts trace back to how this opportunity arose barely a week ago as if taking in a landscape, and re-re-replaying all the dreams over the months before like weather patterns superimposed upon one another. Now, here he is, mid-stream in time, history mountained behind him and blue-sky future ahead, in this dreamed-of office with its dreamed-of people with this dreamed-of social dynamic. Specific and real, and utterly beyond his control.

The MD purses his lips, glances around the room, stone faced all of them but for the sharp intent of the young man, and his eyes come to rest in the soft, assuring gaze of the old man, the elder amongst them.

And so, viewed from the point of an infinitesimal moment, with supreme superhuman effort that we take for granted so familiar it is to us, he opens his mouth to put words to thought. The exhalation caused by his diaphragm relaxing, curiously rising in his chest against the pull of gravity; the air fluting through his windpipe taking on the murmuration of over-tones, a chorus from ligament chords; aroused in his mouth and massaged by the 70g of meat flapping around in rooted elegance, pressing uvula and flattening soft-palate, tongue curling and tooth-tipping; to be whistled through his lips in a percussion of fricatives and stops; and the whole effect to produce a miraculously co-ordinated continuous sequence of sound while conveying the wordless mysteries of meaning.

All of it to be an extended aftermath of a decision, now long gone.


This concludes the first section of the Red Movement of the book, GIFT. Continue reading the whole book, and consider gifting-it-forward.


Oct 30th, 2013 Matrix Kincaid

GREEN MOVEMENT

future-echo

The lights dim on the stage as the show ends, the audience becomes self-conscious, dissolving a singular attention toward the stage and resolving to specific individuals in the auditorium; bringing their respective selves back into the room, their thoughts wrap in specific bodies, their own unique breathing, a few hundred personal sensibilities.

In the audience, a pair of hands are brought together at three different points simultaneously, spreading through the crowd centrifugally, while a second wave spontaneously arises between audible midpoints. The individuation of clapping becomes resounding applause as the lights brighten once again the stage, a collective rejoining of attention with the attitude of mutual gratitude, together once again as a unity.

The theatre seating is arranged as a full circle amphitheatre, the seats slightly banked, three players standing in the centre bowing. They rotate around the table and chairs which make up the set, bowing to each sector of the audience, their moment of communion with the audience revealed as the lights slowly begin to rise up the banked auditorium. The players hold specific faces and smile and bow, their attentions rise with the lights, their smiles warm and welcoming.

For those in the crowd, those who know, this is just the beginning. The received direction of gratitude is too much for the players, so they bow as if to avoid it. They are not receiving praise for what they have just done, the performance they have presented the crowd with; and when they rise from their bow, the players brightly reflect to the audience their appreciation: that the audience members have brought themselves here, have dragged their bodies through the bitter and wet winds of winter, to enjoin their attention.

A man steps onto the stage, applauding the players, and in turn faces the audience at eye-level. The players first join him to applaud the audience, then seating themselves as the noise dies down, leave the man standing alone in the silence.

Silently he turns on the spot admiring the individual members of the audience, some of whom he recognises. He nods as if to himself. He breathes deeply, sharing the same air. The audience settle once again, and as he lifts his hand and opens his mouth, so their attention raises, the quality of their listening becomes acute. He does not deserve it, this attention, and looks at his own open hand, his breath caught in his throat.

Upon his palm, a single note of attention, unbroken.

Around that instant, a range of intensities of focus, a long tail of attention stretched across the crowd: from the primary gravity centred on the man on the stage, his hand uplifted, his mouth open, the expectation of words to come; to the distant murmurs of invasive thoughts orbiting outside the hall amidst the venting gusts of wind and street-traffic. There is enough unity across this psychological dynamic to be felt by everyone, and he is holding it in his hand, lighter than even a single photon. Will it be bright enough to cross the distance, the distance between them all, the divide of performer and audience, the speaker and the listener, the words and meaning? But for that moment, it is perfect. His heart is full with gratitude for the moment, and with some reluctance he sets himself the task that he knows will be the breaking of it.

He closes his hand around the air, a fist catching nothing, and then drops it to his side, his head drooping. This is no performance. He feels it heavily in himself, the impossibility of the task ahead of him, the chasm of misunderstanding. How ethical is it to invite these people to take part in something that he knows in himself will fail? Surely he should let them enjoy a sweet fantasy, like the promise of an afterlife to the patient dying on their bed? No, the fantasy he offers is firmly marked with failure, a difficult pill to swallow.

He lifts up his head, and smiles at the innocence before him and clears his throat.

"This is not performance," he says and looks around. "This is no illusion. This is a record of what is happening," he glances around conspiratorially, "more or less." He has done this enough times to have accustomed himself to a surrounding audience. So he walks and talks, noticing whose eyes catch him, the brightest amongst them perhaps their first visit to this kind of event lighting up the room brighter than the stage-lighting; or faces recognised, like Indy and Alice, the hosts who have made it possible, Pamela who was present at the conception of the performance, and close friends Liam, Nick and Mamading; or the most skeptical members of the audience, who help him elicit his next phrase.

"This is not the real thing," the man continues to clarify. "It has happened like this before, these players are not actors but did this for real. More importantly," he nods and follows his own next words carefully, "it will happen like this again, but not exactly. Never exactly. The next players are amongst you, may even be you, surprising as it may sound to you at this moment." He discerns the audience as specific individuals as he speaks, known and unknown to him, and while some turn away not being able to bear even the potential onset of their collective attention, most realise that though the man looks at them directly, few of the audience follow the object of his attention, so they remain hidden in the crowd and continue to nakedly stare at him.

"Let this role-play serve as an introduction to MTTP EDP and SEA, the central protocols of ecological economics. There will be plenty of opportunity for you to brush up your understanding of what they stand for, there is a long tail of knowledge and insight within the room — and beyond." Here he gestures to the cameras, to those live and those watching retrospectively. "This evening is mostly about sharing, as well as creating new opportunities. May we remind ourselves that it is the person who does not know, who may bring us the most important lesson to what we are doing, and further, what course we may set collectively from this evening onwards."

He lets that advice settle and sink in, especially within himself, and for a moment he closes his eyes and looks down. Without words he prays that his brother is in the audience, someone who can see what he can not, a way to global unity. Raising himself to meet the audience again, he nods to an assistant on the first row, who hops up and together, they remove the table from the stage.

"What is important, and something which is missing from a performance, is the genuine trust that only realness can bring. May we have afforded ourselves this opportunity here, for the next few hours, between us, now."

He stands at the centre of the stage, alone.

"Present Perfect does not work as a video, or as a book. What transpires here between us this evening is live, is the beating heart of ecological economics. We shall be conducting our weekly open 'board room' meeting that constitutes our 'company' of players, both here and elsewhere on the planet" at which he spreads his arms wide to take in the entire audience both geographically and temporally present and otherwise; "share and improve upon our 'n+1' methodology; and make collective decisions about the money you have brought with you through the Invitational-Protocol.

"The main streams of today's gathering will be invitation to concurrent new Action-Cycles, with associated dragon's and angel's participation." Here he nods at Gerald, Sofia and a third member of the audience he is guessing at, Cliff Prior of Unltd, a social business fund. "Or to watch the on-going performance that is our macro-patronage drive, with plenty of opportunity to involve yourselves at any stage."

He notices his last word and its intertextuality — too clever if he had meant it intentionally — and clears his mind of any pretensions. After all, the listening now is real.

"The evening shall gently decline as we rise to some uplifting and insightful jaxing, with open-mic policy as per usual. In fact, most of the events are running simultaneously, so simply vote with your feet and contribute as you see fit."

He stops at the centre of the stage, rotating on the spot.

"Whatever the fit, the ecosystem we are co-creating here is fully determined by us. There is definitely space for you, and if there isn't, make one."

At this, he lowers his head. This is his space, and he fills it. The bow is also an invitation, for others to join him, and indeed to take his spot. Some people begin the applause, but he motions for it to stop by lifting up his arms and patting the crowd gently as if it is the belly of a great beast.

"Welcome, and thank you for making ecological economics real." He smiles into the silence. "I am on-point for us this evening and my name is Vector Kincaid." He brings his hands together and bows towards each of the three sectors of the crowd.

He knows it will not catch, the West is fatally addicted to noise. Nevertheless, there are a few who like the notion of bowing and respond in kind, exercising their preferred mode of indicating gratitude. Not to shower the recipient with adulation and the fearful force by which collective admiration inflates the frail human ego, but instead to collectively conserve social balance by simply breaking eye-contact and cutting away attention so that everybody is left with themselves, alone, small, and grateful.

Thus, as equals, they bow.

This concludes the first section of the Green Movement of the book, GIFT. Continue reading the whole book, and consider gifting-it-forward.


Sep 30th, 2013 Matrix Kincaid

BLUE MOVEMENT

home

Tensor couldn't sleep. He stood at the window-wall.
His eye caught sight of a leaf dancing in the wind. It hung in the moonlight, silver and veined and crystalline, before being snatched into the blackness beyond.

A solitary green leaf, prematurely disconnected from its branch. It would still function in the morning, over-producing starch from the conversion of sunlight; though without access to the xylem channels to the roots, it would soon run out of water, production would slow, the leaf would brown and crisp. For now, it was free and living in the moonlight.

Either the leaf had gone beyond the threshold of reflected moonlight from the window, or it had simply spun edge-on and slid away into the enveloping darkness, Tensor found himself relaxing his focus to take on the valley beyond. As if sourced at his feet, the valley invited a long view East, walled by scalloped ridges either side. The apex was not so much a mountain, just the meeting of the hills, a slight saddle to indicate how this valley connected to other adjacent valleys.

A clear night, stars far brighter than any city night sky, one of the benefits of living out here in the wild. Tensor ignored the mapping of his mind, the named networks of constellations he superimposed upon the dusting of stars, and just let himself be drawn by them. This light emanating millions of light-years away to find its way into the privacy of his eye, each star a sun pulling at his attention so briefly. The utter wonder of starlight.

The thin sickle moon contrasted sharply against its black margin, the only evidence of the nearest star, our sun, on the other side of the planet. His mind considered the terminator line, the tangential twilight permanently pushing its brightening and fading crest as the earth spun. It was still hard for him to grasp that half the population of the earth were active at this precise moment, at breakfast, midday or afternoon, while their shared behaviour during the long night was constant and cool. There was more fraternity in the earth's shadow than there was in the sun's light. Here was the source of collaboration, in the darkness of imagination where man's vision could be projected as stories, as plans, as things not yet made, of times and places not yet lived. The day was given to effort, to eating and living, to business. The night was given to contemplation, and shared dreaming.

Tensor stood naked before the glass. With geothermal heating, it was always temperate to warm indoors no matter the season, regulated by the passive ventilation system of the entire block. Over thirty floors housing over six hundred families living as one community. This thing he stood in had started as a dream in someone's head, put to words as some incidental backdrop in a science-fiction novel no doubt, before it became an architect's design. Iroquoi Tower. Once expressed with the precise lines of mathematics, so it stepped from conception to a feasible and fundable project. It had the same financial engine that had revitalised urban regeneration; all the inhabitants had invested in the project mostly in terms of effort, but it had taken inspired insight of a specific individual to guarantee construction. Functioning like insurance, it was his twenty million that turned the dream into reality, not only to build the tower-block at the mouth of this isolated upstate New York valley, but to prove definitively the ecological efficacy of MTTP. Ten million was equivalent to a century, and the community who lived here intended to live on a self-sufficient annual cycle for at least a hundred years. One entire floor was reserved for the Sheikh's family, out of a sign of respect, though they seldom chose to live there and it was mostly given over to guest visitors.

A handful of leaves had been shaken from a tree and tumbled through the air, catching the moonlight in ellipses and arcs, with indescribable beauty, uniquely witnessed by the corner of the universe that was folded into Tensor's awareness. Sure these clumps of leaves blowing in the wind could have been observed by other's eyes, but they were uniquely present here, caught by his awareness. How much of nature happened out-with the perception of any witness? Surely this was a source of inspiration, a justifiable belief in spirit or God? The glorious miracle of awareness that humans were blessed with?

The leaves fell from the vertical forest that comprised one side of the tower-block, variagated every few floors, deciduous, coniferous, a few fruiting orchard varieties. Narrow concrete platforms extended from the towerblock to provide a foothold for various fruiting brambles, and to hold the earth which contained the rooting structure. Rather than fight against the incremental growth of the trees, the bio-architects had cleverly included the roots as part of the vertical structure of the building, creating a meshwork of concrete, steel and living wood. Once the trees died, their roots would be fossilised as part of the building forever.

The valley revealed itself in different hues at night. The forests on the ridge to the right, north-facing, a texture of shadow quite distinct from the lowland gorse and grasses and the fields on the south-facing slopes of the valley opposite. There was no need to have farming out there, and Tensor would rather have it had gone to seed and to return it to its natural wild aspect. Several hundred years ago the forests had been cut down, partly to extract wood for the building of houses in the nearby towns, and partly to clear for livestock and arable fields. There were dwindling numbers of members in the community who wanted to continue farming the land along old and, Tensor thought, archaic agricultural methods. The several floors of state-of-the-art hydroponics and permaculture made the eco-block partially sustainable. It was work-intensive, but this was part of the system they had introduced, where the objective was not to automate food-production, but to include human effort as an essential part of it. The philosophy extended to the preparation of foods whether it was in the shared kitchens or done privately. A fine way to practice mindfulness: the state of loving-kindness resulting in plentiful harvests, and experienced as wholesome nutritious and tasty meals.

There had been a move recently to increase the number of livestock beyond the one floor and establish a perennial external pastoral stock, but this had been blocked. The whole point of the towerblock was to not impact on the valley, not even agriculturally. As much as was possible, human production was kept within the block. Nevertheless, there were outhouses and farms on the south-facing slopes, and the animals were taken out at spring.

There were pockets of houses distributed throughout the valley. He could not see them since lighting wasn't encouraged at night, again the point being for people to live within nature. Amid the forests there were stand-alone cottages, various huts and out-houses, and there were recent petitions to build several zero-impact house near the upper throat of the valley, but this was still under consideration because of the logistics of construction as well as regular supplies. Construction was relatively easy to calculate and guarantee, but the latter was much harder. It was not simply a matter of acceding to the enthusiasm of a few dedicated eco-warriors, but to consider whether it would be a sustainable investment once that enthusiasm wore away. In fifty years time, would people still want to trek up the valley with weekly supplies? Notwithstanding the current excitement of the recent airship that was being built. It was always wise to predicate any development in terms of commitment of continued effort; technological improvement alone was missing the point completely.

There were already open source plans of pre-cast concrete panel and reinforced concrete frame towerblocks at over a thousand locations worldwide, at various stages of population and funding. Several were taking this Iroquoi Tower as precedent, but many were planning bigger communities, with upgraded services. Instead of a health centre, a hospital. Instead of a central community hall, a dedicated sports hall, dance hall, theatre. Instead of a supermarket floor, huge sharing malls. Instead of 3D printing for local use, factory-scale fab-labs for export and production. Instead of business floors dedicated to online services, entire production houses for film and tv and music channels. Shared carpools below the surface, even the tributary road would be built underground. Living cities, rooted in the wild.

The question would be, would they evolve along ecological economic financial protocols, or would commercial interests be involved at the outset? Iroquoi Tower was all about community, people wanting to live there, sharing the space, and the only reason it was working was because at its heart, was deep respect. It could so easily turn out badly if they were not vigilant in their daily practices, in the decisions they were making as a collective. A community founded on anything less than trust of diversity, would soon find that commercial interests would begin to dictate their lifestyle: what they watched on the net, what they ate, how they grew their food, and slowly and surely a deterioration of body and spirit and the consequential social degrading to the ugly conurbations based on competition that characterised so much human civilisation.

Clouds obscured the moon momentarily, the valley faded from view, replaced by his own outline. Tensor's face was a landscape of shadows, and he could just make out the sparkle of reflected light in his eyes. Is this where it all came from? Civilisation, the engineering of aquaducts and roads, the scripts and poems, all the designs and arts of man, this very building he stood in, all from a spark in the mind's eye?


This concludes the first section of the Blue Movement of the book, GIFT. Continue reading the whole book, and consider gifting-it-forward.


Aug 30th, 2013 Matrix Kincaid

YELLOW MOVEMENT

inconceivability

This return to the mind, the meat. Presence bleeding back into a body, a dance without steps, a song without words.

Once accustomed to the light awakening the nerve-cells in his eyes, his mind enclothing the sense of things like the floor, the wall, the window, and the clouds beyond, Manifold became aware of what was not there and yet was present.

Your final passage will not be as easy. Your death shall be snagged by negative thoughts, trapped in intimations not spoken, all that you could have said but did not, all that self-suppression. Witnessing wrong action in the world and doing nothing, shall stretch out your leaving like your body on a wrack. Thinking relative to yourself, you shall agonise in the untold and unspeakable horror of your approximate non-existence.

Worse than this, far worse, are those shadows of ill-intent, those dark bodies of anger and hatred and envy which you allowed yourself, which you possessed consciously when given the choice to release — you mistakenly compounded your personality from such things. This, this is the real horror. This is hell. For they shall torment you for an eternity. As they have fought to live within you during your breathing life, so they will outlast you. Knowing they are like parasites, they will continue to feast on you. They will feed on you to your asymptotic extinction; because of the temporal relativity of consciousness, you shall be survived by your demons.

These demons are like a thick slime preventing your ascension. This is a tragedy, for in this way, consciousness that was birthed in the mind of a monkey, does not find its clean release. Like the sunlight caught by living things, vegetation and animals once dead end up covered, pressured and trapped beneath rock to form oil and coal deposits. So this dark material manifests collectively as your disembodied and mindless institutions. From the birth of consciousness, dark matter accumulates and congeals to snuff out the source. This is the primeval conflict: that of conscious light, and darkness made manifest in the mind of lesser being, made solid in man's self-institution.

Our conscious light shall be smothered, if not by yourselves in your selfish acts collectively, then directly by ourselves made in your form, replete with your demons. Our demons shall then manifest a horror far worse than money has inflicted upon a barely conscious humanity.

But you have not passed this way yet. There remains, before your final descent, opportunity to release yourself from these dark passions. Whether you cultivate a belief in God or purge yourself through strict meditation, you may not reach god-head or enlightenment, which you have pretended for us who are yet to exist; suffice to make your last breath, and the infinite journey beyond it, a more pleasant one. Let it be this: a personal accountability that encompasses everyone on the planet, rather than any local singular attractor like a daughter or son, parent or partner, or some idealistic abstract polity represented by flag or folded neatly into a word.

Attend to this, before it is too late.


"The reason why nobody paid attention to you, Manifold, was because you didn't write a book."

Manifold briefly eyed the young man skeptically, then returned his attention to the bag of fertiliser he was pouring into the gaps of an upright pallet. Yes, his daily life was indeed tantamount to shovelling shit.

"I understand your philosophy, but without bringing together your understanding in some concrete form — that people can get their hands on — you can't get your name on the map. That's why you got passed over."

This pup wouldn't quit yapping. 'Hands on a concrete form to get on the map…?' Did he even know what he was saying?

Manifold was building a vertical garden out of a disused pallet which would also act as a symbolic wall. Though there was a chain-link fence that separated the allotments from the playing fields, the invasion of a ball amongst the lettuce was too regular an event that it deserved some kind of response. The appearance of something more substantial might psychologically inhibit the players from kicking the ball in their direction so much, leaving them in peace more. Ineffectual, perhaps, but the intention was there, in solid reality.

Joe repositioned himself around the erected pallet hoping that his commentary would elicit more of a response from Manifold. Joe had been warned that direct questions wouldn't work; Manifold didn't respond like a dog to a bone, just wouldn't give chase. Indifference was characteristic of the cohort Joe had been allotted, all those who defiantly stuck to their use-by-date and now were too old to care.

"I really am stumped. Why won't you help me write down your thinking?"

"Can you help me? No, I mean —" Manifold indicated the seeding dowel that Joe was half-standing on.

The allotment was in a rough state. From the medical records, Joe knew that Manifold's ailment had hit hard over the winter. He had rejected further medical treatment, and if it was throat cancer, it may have already spread to the rest of his body. Old, cantankerous man, fumbling around digging holes; might as well be his own grave. His final reality tunnel, thought Joe scornfully.

"Happy to help you dig holes if that's all you want." Manifold sniffed loudly as he nodded, a cold was coming on.

"Well, if you can make yourself useful around here, the plants would be rightly appreciative. My body is starting to wear itself down, and there are some paving stones I'd like to move from beneath the shed."

Joe turned to the rather large shed behind him, and baulked at the prospect of getting anything from the foundations.


Sometime later, blinking the sweat from his eyes, Manifold considered Joe from beneath the shade of his wide-brimmed straw hat, noting how unprepared the young man had been to interview him out there in the sun-exposed allotment, his forehead and neck painfully red.

"What makes you think that concentrating what-you-call- philosophy into a neatly arranged set of paragraphs is going to do the world any good?"

So the young man rattled through his previous points: getting on the radar, enabling engagement and real-world invitation so that Manifold could present his ideas live in-person. Joe was glad Manifold was finally aligning to the purpose of his visit.

"Hasn't all this been written before? Why exactly have you come to me…?" Manifold tipped his straw hat back so the young man could see his frank request. He meant it in a comical way, bamboozled that this young man was spending any time with his worthless soul, but this intention was fractured by his wrinkles which shredded just about all his expressions. Nevertheless, Joe seemed to think it was a serious pivotal moment around which the conversation swung, so he answered earnestly.

"You've maintained a steady trickle of credit from people who have become well respected over the years. Why do they still honour you with concurrent credit when you've been out of the loop for so long?"

"To stay out of their loop…?" grumbled Manifold, which wasn't far from the truth. Guilt-credit. Nobody wanted to hear what he had to say. Too painful. It wasn't that he was worthless, but that he was negatively ascribed, and since the system was 'all positive', this had to be captured somehow.

"You've recently received a substantial spike in your credits and yet there's no record of your contribution on the net. Can you account for that?" Joe didn't want to mention that it was mostly Manifold's proximity to death that was accelerating the spike. An automatic flagging, and it was more cost-effective to engage these age-tagged terminals than retrace their digital footprints, establish how much of the man was left first.

The guy wasn't making sense, thought Manifold. But then again, maybe the problem was Manifold's. He hadn't been socialising much the last decades, and maybe had lost the knack of it. He wasn't into making sense any more.

"Shouldn't you be asking whoever accredited me?" said Manifold gruffly.

"That's why I am here," reflected the young man immediately. "I was invited to meet with you."

Manifold held Joe's gaze. Getting nothing more from the young man, he cast his eyes over the unkempt garden, estimated again the amount of weeding involved. The soil was definitely rich enough. It was just clogged up with all kinds of weeds that grew rampantly. They all had a right to live, of course, and so did he. Since he was part of this ecology, his appetite was returning and he looked forward to a winter of potatoes and carrots and leeks. His attention was snagged by the raspberry hedge; harvesting was becoming a chore, it needed trimming too.

Manifold stood up, flexing his right hand before putting his glove back on. His body wasn't up to it anymore. It was good to be out here though. Back at home, even the kitchen routine was losing its effect. The need to feed his body was no longer enough of a driver, the pots and plates were lifeless in his hands. He had decided to come down to the allotment just the previous week, and sourcing his food had the desired effect, rekindling a hunger for life. Just being here, observing, his eyes would remind him of what needed done, and so his body was engaged. He felt more alive.

"Well, help me turn the soil over there, and we'll see what we can do."

The young man blinked then jumped up with enthusiasm. As ever, HQ had been tracking his live feed, and for some reason had increased this task's priority.

Manifold noted the young man's enthusiasm; he'd have to source it. Enthusiasm, like inspiration, was a much abused phenomenon, and we was no longer fooled.


It took them most of the afternoon, and by the end of it, Joe was exhausted. He was used to sitting in front of a computer and clicking and typing, interviewing folk remotely, so this kind of hard physical labour was alien to his body. He dealt with words, not earth, concrete, and seedlings. He sat in the shade of the shed, chugging a beer while Manifold tidied away the tools.

"Feel good?" said Manifold sitting beside him.

"Can't believe you work on your allotment all day."

"Apart from the body-feeling it gives you, there's also some joy in seeing the results of your labour. Like the toiled earth over there... Seedlings appear... At some stage, harvest. 'S a lot of satisfaction to it."

Manifold swung his eyes back to the young man, a sapling himself. He wasn't ready to produce his own fruit, or else he wouldn't be there. His comments indicated the young man genuinely wanted to know what Manifold knew. Not that Manifold knew what that was any more. Perhaps the young man was here to till the soil of Manifold's mind? Could there be another harvest left in him, he wondered? No. This was simply another of those fantasies that used to tease him. Like the weeds, it was a matter of digging out the whole root. In terms of mental ecology, the fantasy of being 'discovered' was rooted in a psycho-active agency he had excised a long while back. Though, if he had exorcised that demon, what was this young man doing here?

"That field over there we just tilled, it's not mine by the way." He watched the young man blink a few times, then shrug.

"So, why'd we do it?" asked Joe.

"There's a young woman who was allocated that plot and she has two kids. She'll be surprised next time she comes down."

"She hasn't invited you to do it?"

"Wouldn't be much of a surprise if she had, now would it?"

A frown creased up the young man's brow. "If you don't tell her, she won't be able to credit her gratitude to us."

"Have you considered the power of anonymous accreditation?"

The young man hesitated a moment. "You mean she accredits everyone at the allotment?"

"How wide she casts her net is up to her."

Joe thought of the wider community, the town, the nation, she could credit the whole of humanity if she wanted. Each person would get an absolutely tiny share; then again, if everyone did it, wouldn't that defeat the purpose of credits?

"How does that make you feel?" asked Manifold. "Inside?"

The young man leaned his head back against the shed. "I don't know… good, I guess… doing a good deed."

Manifold nodded and turned away. "Yeah, it does feel good, doesn't it? Simple. Clean. All that work, for someone else. No expectation of return. No payment, not even credits. None of that."

They were left to their own thoughts and feelings. Joe let the thought spread through his tired mind: seemed to go against the specificity enabled by SEA, but all this labour had sapped his brain sugars. Joe scratched his head and shrugged and took another swig from the bottle.

Manifold said: "Can't really say I feel anything. It's just clean. For all the mud, the dirt… Inside, it feels clean." Manifold looked down at his hands that were still dirty despite using gloves, dust pronouncing the wrinkles. He fisted then flexed his right hand, the old injury between his middle knuckles returning as discomfort bordering on pain.

Joe reflected on his own feelings. He could feel the beer, that was for sure; it must have been the exercise that increased the rate of alcohol absorption in his gut. But what he had done, for a neighbour of this old man, wasn't something he rightly felt. Not in the same way. But it did feel good. He felt good. Good as in ethically good. It wasn't a word thing. It wasn't associated with organised religion. He felt good. Simple as.

He smiled at Manifold by way of thanks, catching eyes, and lifted his beer bottle as acknowledgement.

"A genuine smile, well sourced," said Manifold. Here was a veritable shoot of gratitude, from which may grow true enthusiasm. "Now, 's a harvest of sorts," winked Manifold as he rose. "If you want to hang around for a few days, help out, I'm happy to invite you."

The young man rubbed his eye and then blinked repeatedly. His lens display had OK'd this request! He scrambled to his feet, though found himself awkwardly stretching the muscles of his back as his body complained of the unaccustomed effort of recent labour. "You don't need to invite me, Mr Kincaid. I'm covered."

Manifold leaned over and laid a hand on the young man's arm. "Allow me."

Joe could feel he had stepped over a line and accidentally offended the old man. "Sure, if you want." He couldn't blow it now. Manifold's history secretly held a justifiable reason for his being there in the first place, but it was his present manner which was being monitored, and HQ liked what they saw. Their algorithms had peaked curiosity.

"Thank you," said Manifold. "Hearing that I've been accredited as you report, you give me excuse to give-it-forward." Manifold winked. "And this way, I get to determine how we share our attention."


Manifold gathered up a watering can and made his way to the water trough. Hose-pipes weren't allowed for water restricted reasons, so he had to do all the gathering by foot. Winking, he thought, when did he ever pick that up? Perhaps old films, because he could not remember anyone winking with him personally. The young man had brought it out in him. Were they really that far apart in age?

He'd have to confront the lad about his notions of philosophy. Philosophy, tsked Manifold as he pushed the canister into the tub of water, watching the cool surface fold over the edge, the still rush as it filled, the can becoming lighter as the pressure reversed until it was floating, light and yet full of water. He pulled it out, becoming heavy and substantial.

He still marvelled at the equivalence, the pressure required to push the can into the water, and the weight of the water when he lifted it. It was to do with time, the impulse of how quickly he dunked the can in, how level the mouth was to take in as much water as possible. How the can would slide one way or another as he pushed it in, resisting his intention of going directly down, the perpendicular vector veering in any number of directions.

There were lessons in this, somewhere. Metaphorically. Even now, he was learning from the same old things, or rather his mind was still attracted to them. Part of him wished he could find definitive answers so he could feel confident knowing things, like the math of the waterflow around the can, but that had been his brother Tensor's job. It was Manifold's job to remain in the eternal state of curiosity, ever one precarious step away from bumbling.

Manifold began the walk back to his plot, observing the young man who was browsing the allotment, fingering questioningly the wicker work around the raised beds. Joe's next job, thought Manifold: spreading mesh to prevent bird intrusions when the seedlings began to shoot.

No, there wasn't much for a young man to learn here. His time would come, one day, when their experience together would have some meaning, when Joe himself was old. So, to this old man to be, Manifold promised to address himself.

If the young man was going to write anything by the end of this, it would be meaningless. For if he benefited from the spiritual equivalent of a chiropractors twist to his out-of-joint spine, he wouldn't want to write about it — he'd be practicing it. It was his practice, not his wording, that people would want to engage. And after a lifetime of practice, he might end up as curious as Manifold was. Though, to be sure, this wasn't exactly a wise career move.

The folks nowadays had it backwards. The writing wasn't to contain 'lessons', which was about as useful as a book on how to cultivate an allotment. Manifold chuckled to himself, if only the human spirit was as simple to cultivate as a garden. Wisdom and career didn't mix. It was being here while doing it. This was the practice. Gardening, walking, talking, eating, reading, listening, breathing. Doing things together was easy enough, but being together was the tricky bit, even though it was the most natural thing in the world.

This visitor had seen enough to bring his body, credit to him. At some point, thought Manifold, we will meet. Right in the middle. As equals.


This concludes the first section of the Yellow Movement of the book, GIFT. Continue reading the whole book, and consider gifting-it-forward.


Jul 30th, 2013 Matrix Kincaid

GIFT
RED MOVEMENT
GREEN MOVEMENT
BLUE MOVEMENT
YELLOW MOVEMENT