The Artist as Singularity

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A silk robed woman sat on a low platform in the midst of an exquisite garden of roses, dahlias, rhododendrons, azaleas, lilacs and lavender. The living visual and aromatic mandalas were intentional art. Deprived of any one sense, a pilgrim would still be in the presence of a fully realized combination of performance and installation art. Even the rustle of the plants in the breeze and the sounds of the specific insects attracted to each different flower were the product of creative design.
Though a divine spark stirred within her, the designer was human. Her legs were deformed and splayed under her. She did not hide them. The fact that she had lost the use of her legs should not have limiting, not with the puzzle of quantum gravity solved. On artistic principal however, she was not willing to experience the world in a manner that was not natural to the being she was.
She worked at floating screens with keyboard gloves; one screen with poetry, one with visual art, one with historical artifacts. Admirers approached quietly to watch; to speak with the Artist. They brought things to show her so that she could describe them according to her own perception as performance art. It was like flower arranging, depending upon what was at hand, a design formed in the mind; then the natural world was clipped and prodded into an aesthetic form; life as a metaphor of a metaphor.
She pointed out this or that beauty, observing and cataloging qualities, attributes, advantages and distractions. Those who frequented her garden turned on the point of her phrasing, absorbed her spontaneous art and set out to find its confirmation in experience.
Her garden caged her only with its beauty. The bars of her self-imposed cloister dissolved with the shared experience of her art. This was her gift and attraction. She had no lack of pilgrims.
Two men approached on a path winding down from a saddle between low green hills. They stopped and surveyed the scene through the narrow garden gate down the path into the grotto.
The faded white pickets of the fence and gate and the entry’s high curved arbor trellis entwined with wild rose and morning glory framed the Artist like an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe or Venus rising out of the sea foam.
One man said, “Why doesn’t she use a hover chair?”
His companion answered, “It’s an artistic and philosophical choice. She does not want her physical capabilities augmented.”
“But she uses technology.”
“I can’t explain it; it’s art.”
“Ah, well then, that explains it.” They slipped through the gate and arbor and take a patch of grass in the natural amphitheater, watching the procession and blessings. Over the years, through her audiences, the Artist had become aware of Xià lǜ dì and the Way of the Bodhisattva. She also began to know that there were other beings in the world with humans who were not limited by the requirement of physically moving through the world.
She of course, also knew that the new religion borrowed heavily from prior faiths. This had happened with historical religions as well, from Buddhism in Tibet to Catholicism in Mexico; syncretism, it was called. She even realized that it was a myth wrapped around a kernel of truth, but a perfectly serviceable myth, like all the others.
The kernel was spectacular for anyone who was an adult before the first contact with field sentients. Humans shared the universe, the multiverse, with other beings. Not only that, but one’s self might, likely as not, actually be such a non-human being. One visitor brought a floating ball to show her.
The Artist asked, “Does it have a name?”
As her mind created poetry around it, the ball spoke, “My name is Jaya.”
“You are not human, and yet you are, correct?”
“Some of us have lived in humans, but we are not human. How can one tell the difference?”
The Artist replied, “The question used to be answered by the Turing Test; just by asking questions, can a human detect artificial intelligence from the answers it gives? If the human can’t tell, then there is no difference, simple.”
Jaya said, “No longer so simple, now that there are non-human sentients.”
The Artist decided, “Then the Turing Test must be reapplied, to determine whether the subject is merely sentient.”
“Not so merely either,” Jaya said. “The test was designed to identify artificial sentience. But even so, if any sentient can inhabit this ball before you, there is really no need to determine the origin of that sentience. Therefore, what you see is a corporeal container for sentience, whatever its origin. You are correct, the Turing Test is no longer concerned with finding humans, only sentience. But the question itself is now meaningless”
“If a human wished to enter such a device, could that be done?” she asked.
The human visitor responded, “For a price, of course, your consciousness may be converted to a particle stream which enters into the device.”
“The device keeps one artificially alive?” Her furrowed brow considered the implications.
“No,” he said, “it merely provides protection from unpredictable effects a free sentient might otherwise cause, disturbances of wave functions, unpredictable quantum entanglements.”
“Fire and brimstone?”
“No, without the ball a human consciousness is just another field sentient, bosonic life in its natural state, deriving mass and sustenance from the Higgs field.”
“A natural state is acceptable. I think then, that I would like to become this something else, and see the Way.”
Jaya said, “You will have much company on that journey, blessings of Kali-Ma and
Xià lǜ dì be upon you.”
“And upon you,” said the Artist.
Her garden became empty and overgrown. Pilgrims no longer sought her there. She now followed them. In the long traverse of the Way, she became a priestess of sorts, now traveling under her natural powers as a field sentient whenever possible, as a matter of artistic principle, of course.

About the Author: 
Steven Schneider is an attorney and author in Spokane, Washington, USA. The story is an edited portion of Sweet Charlotte in the Higgs Field, a novel which started as a Quantum Short of the same name submitted in the 2013 competition.