by Thomas White
From: Ibis Smith, Chief Inspector, Office of Mind-Body Inspection Services (OMBIS), New Bright City.
To: Jason Taggort, Administrative Controller, Office of Minister of Hygiene (MOH), New Bright City.
Subject: Preliminary Threat Analysis of Security Guests # 7689 and # 7690.
Date: 7 May 5145, Year of Our Hygieia.
Greetings to the Honorable Minister of Hygiene! All Hail to our beloved Hygieia, Goddess of Sanitation and Civilization! Blessed be our glorious species, Homo Perfectus!
This report is in response to an urgent personal inquiry from the Minister of Hygiene regarding two alleged inhabitants (hereafter “Intercepts”) of the Unsanitary Orifice Zone (hereafter “UOZ”) intercepted by a convoy brigade of the Knights of Purity (hereafter “KOP”) while the latter was on a security patrol near the Wilderness Road bordering the UOZ and New Bright City.
An investigation is ongoing, but given the personal interest of the MOH, the OMBIS is providing herewith a preliminary report, including a brief account of the interception action, scientific findings, and excerpts from the interrogation transcripts of the aforesaid Intercepts, which incorporate interrogator observations.
It is respectfully noted that some of the details provided by the interrogation officer are unseemly and graphic, but the OMBIS is dedicated to the full disclosure of all facts to the Minister. That said, the OMBIS is providing a full report to the MOH within ten (10) days of the date of this preliminary report.
On two separate dates, April 30, 5145, and May 1, 5145, a Knights of Purity brigade separately arrested the two aforesaid Intercepts upon their entry into the rural outskirts of New Bright City via the Wilderness Road from the Unsanitary Orifice Zone.
It is unclear at this stage if these two Intercepts are cohorts engaged in a common mission; however, for the reasons explained below, they were formally designated as security risks. Our ongoing investigation is probing whether not only the two Intercepts know each other but also whether they are part of a broader UOZ conspiracy aimed at subverting the purity and tranquility of our social order.
a) SSgt. Jay Chenwith, Brigade Commander, after officially arresting the two individuals, ordered that his brigade’s security officer extract evidence of any incriminating link to the UOZ:
i) Security Officer Michael Jones examined grains of matter from the Intercepts’ palms using the field kit’s certified, portable digital geo-magnification micro-lens. The holographic feedback generated clearly indicated that both Intercepts had soiled their hands in an unsanitary environment where there were unwashed dishes and coffee cups.
ii) An additional analysis using a micro-global positioning device verified that said unclean environment was located inside Café Camus, a known UOZ gathering place for poets, philosophers, “intellectuals,” and other marginal types committed to the illegal ideology of radical imperfection, normally implemented via the Socratic Dialogue and its variations.
iii) Further analysis, using an olfactory scanning device on the collected data, revealed the chemical traces of body odors and bad breath—consistent with a crowded café full of self-styled bohemian wastrels.
b) Given these incriminating facts, SSgt. Chenwith further ordered that Security Officer Jones, in conjunction with the brigade’s medical officer, Dr. William Sanders, conduct a species-specific identification saliva test on the Intercepts. The genetic markers showed a positive ID: both Intercepts were CONFIRMED as members of the species Homo Impurus. They were then officially designated as “Security Guests,” aka security risks, to be held in custody.
SSgt. Chenwith, as per the standard protocols, then holographed his chief operations officer at the Knights of Purity headquarters to query whether he should bring the Intercepts in for a formal interrogation or first conduct a preliminary inquiry in the field.
SSgt. Chenwith was advised that he should conduct the interrogation in the field, transcribe the proceedings, and then report in two days to the KOP HQ along with Intercepts #1 and #2 for further briefings and interrogations. SSgt. Chenwith agreed with this decision, as it would take his convoy about a day to reach City Central, while his brigade had on board an experienced, certified interrogation officer familiar with the ideological and philosophical writings studied by members of Homo Impurus.
Hereafter is a brief executive summary of the said preliminary field interrogation, which includes excerpts from the transcript of the exchanges between the Intercepts and the interrogation officer, as well as the latter’s comments:
Under questioning, supplemented by electro-heat points briefly applied to their fingers, the Intercepts admitted that the reason for their intrusion into New Bright City was what they called a “cultural-intellectual mission,” although they denied conspiring with each other (an allegation that, as noted, is still currently under investigation).
Interrogator: “So, you both deny conspiring to implement this so-called ‘cultural-intellectual mission, yet we have found that each of you was carrying an identical copy of Plato’s Dialogues.”
Intercept # 1: “A mere coincidence.”
Intercept # 2: [Nods in agreement.]
Interrogator: “Okay, we will leave that question for the main interrogation unit at headquarters to sort out. On another point: I noted that you both had ‘coincidentally’ highlighted in your copies the section in the Republic on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. [The interrogator then held up the open, underlined pages in front of them.]
Intercept #1: [No reply.]
Intercept #2: [No reply.]
Interrogator: “Surely, your mission is not some confused effort trying to bring the ‘truth’ to a ‘cave’ full of ignorant people living in the shadows, which you probably think New Bright City is? That is not only a foul slander against the good and wise people of our fair land, but a fool’s errand. We long ago found the truth: cleanliness is godliness.”
[No reply from Intercept #1 or #2.]
Interrogator: “We are really having a terribly one-sided Platonic dialogue, aren’t we? Do not worry. There will be no more of the ‘hot finger’ procedure. I will leave that to headquarters, which has more expertise. I prefer to keep our little session at the civilized, intellectual level.”
[The interrogation officer then held up a copy of Plato’s Dialogues, opened a page, and showed it to the Intercepts. He then handed the two Intercepts their copies.]
Interrogator: “I am giving back your copies, and I want you to open at the dialogue of Parmenides. I call your attention to Section 130 b-d: another philosopher asks Socrates if there is any abstract idea linked to ‘hair, mud, dirt’ and he says that is absurd. There you have it. Even your great hero, Socrates, thinks you are preposterous. You longhaired Homo Impurus mutants lounge all day in your UOZ cafes, clad in your muddy hippie boots amid dirty bodies and bad breath, absurdly thinking that you can connect with meaningful philosophical ideas. Your intellectual lives, full of unanswered questions and poetic meanderings, disturb and confuse our minds. New Bright City is beyond all that. We want both the calmness and peace of mind, as well as the purity of clean bodies. Our government wellness meditation teams work hard to instill inner peace in our citizens, and we don’t need meddling from Socratic radicals subverting New Bright City’s beloved social tranquility with troubling questions that can lead to community unrest, poor sleep, and the general curse of imperfection.”
[End of Transcript Excerpt].
These excerpts from the first interrogation session by the Knights of Purity’s field brigade clearly show why SSgt. Chenwith was correct in designating the two Intercepts as security threats. They obviously were on a mission, driven by an ideology of radical imperfection, to ask the citizens of New Bright City disturbing philosophical questions disruptive of the citizens’ perfect, untroubled minds—a subversive plan enhanced by the disgust inflicted on the citizens via the Homo Impurus’ chronically unhygienic bodies.
I respectfully urge the Minister of Hygiene to give this serious matter of Homo Impurus threats the utmost attention, including the construction of an electrified wall at the border between the Unsanitary Orifice Zone and New Bright City.
My entreaty to you is given fresh impetus by recent reports from my field inspection staff: various youth with unclean bodies and in possession of philosophy books have been discovered having sexual intercourse in broad daylight. When confronted, they called our beloved Hygieia “a filthy whore” and shouted “Long live Diogenes,” an allusion, as you know, to that ancient, unsanitary philosopher who performed intimate bodily functions in public. Have other Homo Impurus subversives successfully infiltrated our fair land and, using their dangerous Socratic weapons, corrupted our youth? A full investigation at the ministerial level is urgently needed.
However, no matter what course of action the Minister of Hygiene ultimately chooses, I can assure the MOH of the complete cooperation of the Office of Mind-Body Inspection Services.
Office of Mind-Body Inspection Services
New Bright City
Philosophical speculations and speculative fiction have long mixed and mingled in Thomas White’s mind. Spinoza, Dune, Plato, Socrates, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Star Trek, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Descartes, Shelly’s Frankenstein, Twilight Zone, Kant, Hume, as well as a host of dystopian classics, such as We, Fahrenheit 451, 1984, and Brave New World, have all energized his creative and intellectual spirits, as have the writings of philosophers J-P Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, and Iris Murdoch, who brilliantly combined philosophical themes and fictional narratives. He has published his poetry, essays, and fiction in online and offline (paper) journals in Australia, United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, was named the best philosophy student by his undergraduate university, was featured in the essay section of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and founded & coordinated a Socrates Cafe.
This story is a dystopian tale of two city-states wherein humans have evolved into two radically different civilizations. One version is still fiercely dedicated to Socratic questioning, including of the social order; the other, intensely anti-philosophical, wants to maintain a perfect, stable society at all costs, including the freedom of its citizens from disturbing Socratic-style questions.
The Time Machine‘s two civilizations, the Eloi and the Morlocks, in part, inspired this piece. Additional inspirations include the Socratic Method, bohemian café life, Plato’s Dialogues, Diogenes, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Kafka’s The Trial, Brave New World, 1984, and Fahrenheit 451. Besides the well-known dystopian novels cited above, I recommend these sources for reading:
https://nickbostrom.com/fut/evolution.pdf (see page 6)
http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/allegory.htmI (Plato’s Allegory of the Cave)
https://www.newscientist.com/lastword/mg25133531-100-could-humans-evolve-into-two-different-species-in-the-future (see reference to The Time Machine)
https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0174%3Atext%3DParm.%3Apage%3D130 (see Section 130 b-d, Parmenides)