[I’m about two-thirds of the way through the current book. This excerpt comes from the immediately preceding one.]
“Hey Lois,” he shouted out the open office door as he veered toward the flipchart. “Go get us a round of beers if you would.” He studied the top sheet for a few seconds before ripping it from the pad and tossing it to the floor. Uncapping the black marker he began writing something at the top of the page. The marker was nearly out of ink and Karas flung it across the room, its tip making a short grey smudge on the wall between two of the taped-up sheets before caroming onto the hardwood. He snatched up the red marker and began again:
MAN –> NEPHILIM –> ELOHIM
“This is the progression, yes?” But Karas wasn’t waiting for the Courier to keep up with him now. “We’ve always thought – I’ve always thought about the progression in individual terms. A man becomes a mighty man becomes a god. Pilgrimage as decisive and extreme movement away from the norm, from the collective. The outlier becomes a double outlier, and maybe finally a triple outlier. Instead of waiting for the one in a million to come along we would accelerate the difference engines, turbocharge the thrusters, propel more of the exceptional people out of orbit. Some of them might shoot out of sight altogether, never to be heard from again. But others – well, instead of launching one revolution at a time they might catalyze simultaneous cascades, multiple singularities in art, science, economics, warfare…
“Still, there has always been the statistical underpinning. Difference relative to the norm, stretch out the axes of deviation. We’ve always speculated that a society of outliers might emerge, reticulated through the Portals via some unknown and perhaps unprecedented mechanisms exceeding mere empathy and cooperation. We didn’t want the Stations to be seen as anything more than termini linking the Trails, transient nexuses for Pilgrims passing through as each by each they pursued their separate trajectories into exceptionalism.
“But now we face the empirical facts: most of the Pilgrims are going nowhere fast. Money, power, sex, prestige – the vectors and endpoints are all so fucking predictable. Sure there are exceptions, and exceptions are what we prize above all. Maybe our project is doomed from the start, but we wanted to establish the preconditions and the apparatus and the impetus for cultivating a whole host of exceptions. Hey, we should make that our new motto.” Karas turned back to the flipchart and printed in large block letters, filling the sheet:
EXCEPTION IS THE RULE
Lois brought in two tall tapered glasses of cloudy beer with a skim at the top. “Belgian blond lambic,” she announced as she placed one of the glasses on the conference table in front of the Courier.
“I like my beer like I like my women,” Karas insinuated archly as Lois handed him the other glass.
“Cold and flat and murky?”
Karas watched Lois walk back out to the antechamber.