The framework of Splinter In The Eye (for Percipio ergo sum please scroll down)
A small research team led by the internationally reputed psychiatrist Dr. Abbott Barnaby is undertaking an experiment about the development of personality in the overcrowded flood of information in our world today.
In an artificial environment a girl is created but the leader of the team gives us no information about the origin of her heredity, e.g. of the sperm or egg cells. For the following 18 years she is to live in a hermetically sealed living area without any visible doors to the outside world nor to the existence of other human beings. Afterwards the girl is to be informed (about the life she has led till now) and prepared for life in the real world outside. This living area is equipped everywhere with hidden cameras and microphones, and roughly 50 screens are installed on one wall of the main living room.
In the baby and toddler phases robots, without any resemblance to human beings, look after the girl; in addition on one of the installed screens runs a learning programme that is adapted to the actual phase of the girl’s development and which, helped by robots, teaches the girl to speak and, later to read and write. In the course of time the robots will become more and more inactive, staying more and more frequently in a motionless “Stand-by”-function and then, on the girl’s 11th birthday, they become completely inactive. The girl understands this state (of the robots) as being “Death”, as she has learnt that her life, too, will end one day. A few days later all the screens will be switched on and from this moment on will continuously show specially selected programmes of all sorts, for example, films, news, entertainment shows and documentaries.
At the beginning of this phase, the girl is very confused and shocked but quickly develops a great interest in these moving pictures, which, after some months, leads to a black-and-white way of thinking and finally even assumes religious characteristics. Threatening or disgusting pictures are classified as “Hell”, all things beautiful and positive as “Paradise/Heaven” and both of these represent to her a possible place for the time after her present life (“Life after Death”).
As her thoughts about influencing the decision about her personal place for “life after death” circle without any conclusion in her head she begins to believe in a “higher Power” which takes that decision for her and, at length, she even begins to pray.
During all this time life on our planet is changing enormously. The chasm between the rich and the poor widens, environmental problems become more acute. Religious wars (also between smaller groups) break out and finally provoke international military conflicts. During the years of the girl’s isolation Dr.Barnaby has developed an increasingly personal relationship towards the girl. He sees what she has written in a sort-of diary, listens to her soliloquies, sees her facial expressions and gesticulation. Increasingly he feels doubts, even shame, and finally begins to question the experiment and even wonders whether he should not terminate the whole project.
One evening, when the girl has reached the age of 16, Dr. Barnaby gets a phone call from a colleague, who informs him that part of a religiously fanatical army has deployed an extremely infectious virus as a biological warfare agent (also in intercontinental rockets). There is no antidote, no longer any way out. In his despair Dr. Barnaby (who is in fact an atheist) folds his hands and prays. Then he composes a kind of farewell letter addressed to the girl because he knows that he too will succumb to this deadly virus; then he activates the 48-hour-long countdown to the opening of the doors in the girl’s living quarters.
PERCIPIO ERGO SUM
...continuation of the story of the album "Splinter in the eye"...
The release of the artificial virus through the worldwide attack with bioweapons (religious extremists are suspected to be behind it) has, contrary to expectations, not wiped out mankind! About 5% of the people survived, a little less than half of them because of their relatively rare blood type which was immune to the virus, the rest had taken refuge in hermetically sealed bunkers to be protected.
Both the "TV girl" (the TV girl had been locked in a sealed-off living wing from birth until the day of the bioweapons attack and was constantly monitored there, unaware that there was an outside world and other people) and the leader and initiator of the psychological experiment, Dr Barnaby, survived because of their blood type.
The girl had fainted and Barnaby rescued her and took her to a bunker hospital where other members of Barnaby's research team had also taken refuge.
Barnaby wasn’t really willing to continue the experiment because for a long time he had already had serious doubts about the moral and ethical justifiability of his actions. Due to this, he and some of his closest confidants and a group of other researchers got into a heated dispute about the continuation of the experiment.
The proponents argued differently: After all, the girl was now "free" and the second part of the observation could now be tackled without harming the "object" - as they called her; only an implantation of chips in the girl's body was necessary to realise tracking, interception, etc. (all in the service of science, of course). The problem however, was that a world destroyed in large parts was too much of a "disruptive factor" and would not permit the desired research. The dispute escalated and government agencies stripped Barnaby and his confidants of their positions, finally forbidding them any further contact with the rest of the research team or the girl.
The remaining scientists decided to continue the experiment, but not before the world would be "rebuilt". Therefore, they agreed to put the TV girl into an artificial deep sleep for at least 5 years.
The world changed drastically after the decisive break and the political blocs separated even further from each other, distrust guided all actions and contacts were reduced to the bare minimum. So-called Civil Zones were built, protected from the outside by walls and controlled borders. Inside, clear rules applied, people were safe, but at the same time transparent because they were heavily monitored.
Outside the Civil Zones nature reclaimed a lot of space but there were also settlements where people lived, so-called "Outer Zones", roughly at the technical level of the 1990s. There were few internet access points, the internet had also changed a lot, because even there, users were much more "glassy" than before, incognito or private mode functions of browsers were forbidden. The people living there organised themselves into smaller communities, quasi as an antipole to the strongly "controlled" Civil Zones. Barnaby's friends had also retreated into such an environment, but he himself had remained in a Civil Zone and only rarely had contact with his former confidants. They were very critical of both the social structure and the organisation in the zones. In the course of time, they began – partly for political reasons, partly for the fun of "hacking" - to penetrate the network of these zones again and again, in order to briefly paralyse the surveillance and similar structures there.
Barnaby was unable to cope with the past and plunged deeper and deeper into a quagmire of self-pity, self-loathing, repression and the naïve hope that perhaps all would be well one day when the girl would finally lead a self-determined life.
7 years after the collapse of civilisation, the research team decided to wake up the TV girl from artificial deep sleep in order to then prepare her, piece by piece, for an independent life - a life that would be the subject of the continuation of Barnaby's experiment (but now without his participation). Therefore, several chips were implanted in the girl's body before she woke up (including a camera in her eye; a microphone in her ears; a tracker to know her location at all times; a sensor with a micropump to monitor hormones and messenger substances, which offered the possibility of intervening if, in the scientists' view, something was out of balance). 7 years, 3 months and 11 days after she "fell asleep", the girl woke up.
Carefully and bit by bit, the "TV girl" was informed about her "former" role as "test subject", about the events of the past, what happened immediately after the release of the virus, the reconstruction and, of course, the role of Barnaby, who was supposedly responsible for everything. The girl was told that she was now safe, under the good care of doctors and psychotherapists, as well as a personal carer whom she could contact at any time. After a few weeks in hospital, during which she was also given access to online libraries to read up on anything that interested her, she was given the opportunity to move into her own flat to slowly find her way into a self-determined life. At first, the TV girl only made use of her flat for a few hours during the day, because at night she was still often plagued by nightmares and the girl she preferred to have people in her immediate vicinity.
She developed an insatiable hunger for knowledge, was interested in the most diverse fields of science, art, music and literature, but above all in the history of human evolution - biological, social and emotional - and philosophy, because the question of the meaning of existence itself had already preoccupied her in her former living quarters before the catastrophe. Early on, the girl suspected that she would encounter many inconclusive and difficult-to-understand facts.
What fascinated her most was the immersion in "real" reality. Wind on the skin, hearing other people, seeing - trying to read their faces, flowers, trees, smells, "natural food" (in her former living quarters she had only eaten concentrates from tubes and cans).
But relatively soon doubts crept in. The TV girl was disconcerted by the behaviour of most other people. Disinterest in culture, in the immediate environment, in actively shaping one's life, almost phlegmatic behavioural traits, and a constant being sprinkled with shallow, stupid entertainment on all channels seemed to be widespread. Hardly anyone (except the respective experts) could answer her questions, no matter whether they were about recent history, scientific contexts or cultural facts.
On closer inspection, even the politicians seemed to have learned nothing from the past.
The girl felt increasingly alien - and alone. Her carers kept placating her, talking about settling in and pointing out the achievements of the Civil Zones, and in addition, an artificial release of endorphins, dopamine and nonadrenaline was activated in the girl's brain to lighten her mood. The consequences were insomnia and nightmares, because body feelings and thoughts increasingly contradicted each other.
Barnaby's former friends discovered during one of their illegal internet forays that the TV girl had become more than ever the plaything of the remaining researchers and were horrified by the emotional brutality the experiment had reached. In the process, they were also able to access all the data collected from the girl, which could be used to infer her poor mental state. The next time they were in contact with Barnaby, they asked him to leave the zone to visit them for a short time under the pretext of simply meeting again.
Arriving on the scene Barnaby was immediately informed and he had to recognize that the reality of the girl was worse than he had feared in his darkest imaginings. Helpless and full of self-loathing, he left his former friends and returned to the zone, where he wandered aimlessly. Each step burned in his soul, but each step also matured a plan. He contacted his former friends to meet them one more time. He implored them to take a focused action in which they would simultaneously cripple the girl's surveillance through a cyber attack and override the border controls at the exit of the zone. Prior to this, it was necessary to contact the TV girl to inform her of the possibility of leaving the zone incognito. The "Outer-Zones" initially refused, saying the risk was too high, but Barnaby did not let up, appealed to them several times, calling them arrogant and conceited because they always looked at everything from a distance and like a game. Finally they agreed.
The girl struggled more and more with her situation and found herself wishing she were back all alone in the former living quarters. More and more, she had the feeling that she did not belong to this species and finally decided not to bother with the people any further.
A few weeks later, with the help of Barnaby's friends, she successfully left the Civil Zone unhindered and unidentified. Shortly afterwards she found herself in an untouched, wild nature. Fearful and uncertain at first, but then gripped and infinitely calm - for something previously unknown took possession of her soul - she put one foot in front of the other to turn her back on the zone forever.
Barnaby heard about the TV girl's "disappearance" from the official news and something inside him broke and gave birth to something he hadn't felt for a long time: hope and inner drive. He picked up a pen and began to write....