Hysteron Proteron


Hysteron Proteron (his’-ter-on pro’-ter-on): Disorder of time. (What should be first, isn’t.)


Tick-tock had started going tock-tick. The end became the beginning and the beginning became the end. The finish was the start, and the start was the finish. I felt like a tumbleweed tumbling through outer space. I was a mystery choking on clues. I was fake, then I was real. Now I am a corn dog propped in my swivel chair in front of my computer screen waiting for instructions from the Apposphere where the APP of APPs—the overlord of all computer applications—has started melding all computer APPs into the Uberapp: a seamless representation of difference that imperceptibly combines all contexts of cyber-experience into a single streaming horizon consisting of everything-all-at-once: everything—Google earth, Microsoft Word, the weather, PDF, Layer, Wordscape: 100s of thousands of vantage points, unknowable as such, singular in their consumption, merged and experienced as one: the Uberapp.

As I stared at the screen I could feel my next metamorphosis beginning. It was always a surprise. Just as I was getting used to being a corn dog, I felt the rumbling. I could see my reflection in the screen, and I felt my stick being pulled away. My corn meal crust started to crack revealing my pulsing hot dog glowing a sickly yellow-green beneath. My hot dog skin started to tear, as if it was giving birth—and it was! A flat head emerged—it had my face. Oh my God. It was a gingerbread man version of me. Suddenly, I was the gingerbread man hopping out of the torn hot dog skin and growing into a me-sized cookie. Thank God I was flexible.

I ran downstairs to tell my parents how insane the world had become. They were sitting in their chairs in the living room, laptops open on their laps: a gingerbread man and a gingerbread woman tangled in the Uberapp. They smelled really good—like Old Spice soap. “What is it son?” my mother asked. “Oh nothing. We’ve all just turned into gingerbread people, that’s all.” My mother sniffed her armpit and said, “I certainly smell like gingerbread.” I grabbed a small hand mirror from the bathroom and held it in front of my mother’s face. “See? You’re made out of gingerbread! Admit it!” My gingerbread father grabbed the mirror and looked in it. He asked, “Son, you’re going over the edge again. Take your medication!” I had taken my medication: it was the Uberapp taking over the construction of realty—my parents were in denial. They were gingerbread, and they couldn’t, or didn’t want to, see it. Then I felt the transformational rumbling in my gut again.

“”Now what?” I asked myself as the rumbling intensified. I was puffing up and fleshing out! I had skin. I had clothes. I was me again! There was a lingering trace of gingerbread smell in the living room, but Mom and Dad were restored to humans too. I ran up to my room and Googled “Uberapp.” My computer made a humming sound and displayed FU over and over again. I looked at my cellphone, and it was the same there. I tried to call my friend William, and it went to voicemail with the greeting saying “FU” over and over in a synthetic voice. Clearly, it was the end of the world. Maybe we would all be turned into loaves of bread or canned gravy.

There was one person I could think of who might be able to help save the world. Professor Cane. He had been fired from the local community college by ultra conservative politicians for his unorthodox computer science theories. For example, he taught that the “Matrix” is a work of fiction. When he was fired, he purchased a government surplus missile silo in North Dakota where he currently resides. I had tried to call him, but he doesn’t have a phone. I couldn’t find him on the internet, so ZOOM or Skype were out of the question. So, I had to take a bus to North Dakota. When I arrived in Bismarck, I took a cab to his lair, and he met me at the hatch cover, demanding to know who I was and why I was there. When I told him, we took the silo’s elevator down to his living quarters. He handed me a tin foil hat to wear for “protection.” Then he said: “You want to save the world? Turn off your phone and your computer. Doing so will starve the Uberapp to death.” I asked him about the rest of the world. He said “I don’t know. Now, get out of here and go to your gingerbread home, whoops, I mean, your cozy happy home.” “Gingerbread! What do you mean? How do you know? Are you working for the Uberapp?” Then, I passed out. When I awoke, I was on the bus headed back home. There was an envelope duct-taped to my coat. The letter inside it said, “Do what I told you to do. It will trigger a virus that will wipe out the Uberapp and save the world. It is up to you. I am banned from Cyberspace. Sincerely, Professor Cane.” I had to trust the Professor. What choice did I have? Just then, the bus began to morph into a four-wheeled Twinkie.

Time was running out.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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