by Angelika Friedrich or Henry Whittlesey
Introduction – more or less
The core of this story is set in the year zero. Other parts of it unfold before and after. The parenthetical numbers in the chapter titles indicate the time of the events relative to the base year zero. This base year is minimally relevant, but can be conceived of as some time in the early teens of the third millennium. The story is mostly set in a major Western metropolis, Gotham, and a small rural town with a diverse cast of characters: Allen is preparing to move back to Gotham; Cesca has just left it; Gabriela is unhappy in it; Yuri has embarked on a path of destruction directed at the corporatocracy; Preyanka is surviving and enjoying it sometimes; Marina is trying to succeed; Locine is getting a graduate degree and climbing the ranks, but will eventually leave. In the rural town or woods, Cesca is becoming familiar with an unknown side of life; her neighbor, Noah, and Locine’s father, Ethan, are producing houses and wood. Cesca eventually departs for the coastal suburbs, while Locine returns to the mountains.
Since the novel traces them over a number of years, events prior to this base year take place in minus (-) years, while future ones are indicated by a plus (+). This is primarily guided by the belief that what comes “later” is not necessarily “better.” One of the central tenets of transposition/transadaptation is that values and norms from the past can be superior to contemporary ones in some contexts, especially with regard to the metaphysical, production or living and the process of being. In this multivalent novel, the described objective is achieved by the non-linear temporal structure.
This book is a work of multivalence. This means in particular that the wide range of perspectives and the relevance of the very 3rd millennial characters documented in the text is not to be relegated to the genre of fiction, with its relevance sequestered there. It may be and certainly is intended to be a documentation of contemporary society, and a literary one at that, but the genre of multivalence aims to shift or redirect perception to improve being without requiring any change beyond a reorientation within our immediate surroundings, whatever they may be.
Furthermore, such an approach entails that it cannot and should not be read in the tradition of literary fiction, commercial fiction, autobiography, semi-autobiography, roman à clef, or, obviously, any form of nonfiction. The scenes, characters, plot, story, etc. should be viewed pars pro toto. In this genre, gone are the days of literature where we spend myriad hours reading about one individual’s unique experience without any relevance beyond that person. Likewise, cast in the trashcan of literary fiction is any narrative told for the sake of telling. Language, unique facets of language, satirizing, puns and the like assume an indisputable place in the production of multivalent fiction, but art for art’s sake cannot be the end to which we allocate so much time when reading fiction. Mutatis mutandis, we should all be able to recognize the types of characters, scenes and drama in multiple characters appearing in multivalent literature. This or that character will be more familiar to us; some settings will be different from our own. Yet by transposing them to our own people, our own surroundings, we should be able to largely recognize the characters we are spending so much time with.
This is critical not just as a justification for reading the work. Since the aim of multivalent fiction is to shift our perception, readers everywhere must be able to identify with the characters and situations in order to apply, by analogy, by transposition, by transadaptation, by making the necessary changes (mutatis mutandis), the relevance of the story to their own lives. Only in this way does the text go beyond a documentation of the present conditio humano and allow the reader to grapple with what is necessary to perceive their own lives in a different, more complex and diverse way than they are encouraged to do through other sources of media, art, information, etc.
As in other parts of the perypatetik project, such narratives aim to provide knowledge about current circumstances. This knowledge should be viewed in contrast to the horrendous representation of life propagated by commercial and popular media such as newspapers, television, movies, podcast and other corporate–backed sources of information throughout the world (in both allegedly democratic and autocratic countries). The former role of literary fiction – entertainment – has been usurped by motion picture. The new role of such fiction constitutes knowledge based on experience, conditional truths and fair understanding – to name but a few characteristics.
Finally, the novel depicts throughout and closes in particular with plausible, already existing (but hidden) approaches to life as a result of identifying with this new perception. Book Four basically traverses a variety of solutions for the lead protagonists who emerge from the crises they have had in the novel by embracing at least some of the values and norms of discriminated romantics and their subculture.
The state and number next to each name (e.g., neutral (0)) indicate the state the given character experiences as their underlying predisposition on the spectrum of states. That means, it is what they think they favor for themselves. It does not mean they spend most of their life in that state. They are simply inclined to be in it or pursue it.
Preyanka – neutral (0)
Cashier, laundromat attendant
A romantic who remains true to romanticism throughout.
She immigrates from the East to Gotham in the West, but does not embrace Western culture. She becomes friends with (converted) pragmatist Locine and eventually helps her by guiding her back to romanticism.
In Preyanka’s position as an unapologetic romantic, she has access to wisdom and is in touch with the metaphysical.
Allen – neutral (0)
Corporate manager, artist, “social worker”
A romantic who becomes a pragmatist for pragmatic reasons (pun intended), but returns to romanticism as soon as possible.
Brought up on the liminal boundary between microcultural romanticism and macrocultural pragmatism in Gotham, Allen becomes a top manager at a building conglomerate. This demands full-fledged pragmatism, which he becomes immersed. Dissatisfied, however, he tries to understand what is lacking in his successful life and happy marriage. The discovery prompts him to return to his roots of romanticism.
Locine – Sublime (+4)
The daughter of Ethan, she is raised in a romantic family. At university, she starts becoming a pragmatist, and embraces it in full when she moves to Gotham after school.
She gets a job as a PR assistant, buys a starter apartment, goes to graduate school, and then is promoted to PR manager. Despite having three kids, two twins and one by accident, she continues to work until she loses it.
She returns to the mountains where she also reacquaints herself with the romantic roots she had lost touch with in Gotham.
Irena – sadness (-1)
Born into a romantic family, but from junior high school on, she rejects her immigrant family’s heritage and embraces the country’s leitculture of pragmatism.
She is an immensely successful lawyer, marries the ideal man and thinks she is raising her children perfectly, in complete concert with the latest practices advocated by experts, just as she would have desired for herself.
Gradually, it all collapses, but she does not understand why until she meets Allen.
Francesca (Cesca) – joy (+1)
Editor, guidance counsellor, community outreach worker
A pragmatist who attempts to adopt romanticism, but finds it too foreign. Her reversion to pragmatism leads to a breakdown.
After university, she moves to Gotham and becomes an editor there. She also organizes a progressive club to contribute to engineering social change. During her late twenties she completes a degree in social work.
At the age of 30, one year before the base year of the story, she recognizes the futility of her small independent press and moves to the mountain forest to work as a guidance counsellor. After four years, she determines that it will not be possible for her to become a romantic, so she moves to coast.
She has a breakdown and is set on a better track by Locine.
Gabriela – frustration (-3)
PR assistant, real estate broker, pueblo housekeeper
A romantic who becomes a pragmatist and ultimately returns to romanticism
Born abroad into a romantic family, she lands in Gotham as a child and largely acquiesces to the leitculture of pragmatism.
She is a very successful real estate broker, but has an unhappy private life and seeks an alternative. The memes of romanticism leave her unconsciously open to a different path. When pragmatism becomes unbearable and she glimpses a possibility, she does not hesitate to change, returning to romanticism and a metaphysical life.
Ethan – nirvana (+5)
Carpenter and logger
A romantic through and through for his entire life.
He accepts whatever comes his way without thinking about it. His openness leads him to experience a wild range of intense experiences, something only open to a pure romantic who judges nothing and nobody.
Marina – love (+3)
As a child of moderate romantic immigrants, she grows up in the pragmatic leitculture of Gotham and assumes that its values and norms are consistent with her own.
She has a successful career as a dentist, but her private life is unfulfilling or a flop. She also feels increasingly irritated by her professional and private life, without understanding the reason. Distractions help, but it is only when she balances out her extreme pragmatism with romanticism that she is able to find a path with potential to satisfy her.
Noah – neutral (0)
A romantic who remains true to romanticism throughout.
Born and raised in the mountains, uneducated, untrained, Noah has never considered and never considers any alternative to romanticism. He lives in harmony with production and life.
The balance of his mindset lays the groundwork for him to achieve extreme states.
Max – depression (-4)
A pragmatist who remains a pragmatist.
Max arrives in Gotham from another largely pragmatic country, but embraces the more extreme version he finds in his adopted country. It fails him. Blind to alternatives, he is doomed.
He is married to Irena.
Charles – sadness (-1)
Investment banker, professor
A pragmatist who remains a pragmatist.
Although born effectively into a romantic family in a pragmatic leitculture, Charles always identifies with pragmatism, especially the values of materialism, self-determination and success.
He succeeds and ultimately tries to teach the lessons he’s learned so future generations will preserve the pragmatic leitculture that has created what he calls the “greatest civilization in the history of the world.”
His wife is Jane from Edge.
Yuri – anger (-2)
Born a romantic in the East, he immigrates to the West as a university student and remains a romantic there.
His radical ambitions of social upheaval to end the materialist pragmatic state do not amount to more than a few symbolic acts.
He works mostly as a coder trying to alter the perception of the masses through digital media.
Joe – happy (+2)
Loan officer, marketing guru
A pragmatist who remains a pragmatist.
Joe started as a loan officer and then becomes a marketing manager. His career is quite successful. His social life is desirable. Despite all sorts of eccentric views and a desire to play devil’s advocate, he is unwavering in his implicit, unconscious support of pragmatism.
Ultimately, his blindness to the threat of pragmatism as you get older and his disregard for alternatives doom him.
Jasem – Sublime (+4)
He is born and raised in a pragmatic family in a pragmatic microculture, but a romantic leitculture (school). He remains a pragmatic throughout his life, but compensates his own hyperpragamtism by surrounding himself with romantics. They keep him grounded and give him access to the metaphysical through creation and air.
He is the teacher’s child in Edge.
He is Jasem’s double and his fate if romantics had not saved him.
Almost the entire story takes place in Gotham on the one hand and the mountains/forest/woods on the other.
The country’s leitculture is pragmatism.
Gotham’s leitculture is pragmatism.
Gotham’s subcultures are romantic.
The leitculture of the mountain/forest/woods is romantic.
The immigrants (except for Max) come from romantic leitcultures.
The natives are mixed.
Base year 0
Age in parenthesis after name in base year
Locine (17): solicits donations for a “walk” and gets caught in a local cleansing program.
Allen (47): reflecting on his life as a successful manager living in a suburb of the city.
Preyanka (13): suspended from school for a fight; sees commercial for immigration lottery.
Cesca (31): in woods for about one year, talks with Locine about relationships, observes Noah.
Irena (32): lawyer.
Ethan (45): doing carpentry and logging.
Noah (32): meets Cesca on his morning walks; explains to Ethan how he got into carpentry.
Gabriela (39): real estate broker.
Marina (26): doing residency after dental school.
Yuri (35): continues to plot social destabilization.
Joe (38): working in marketing.
Max (35): editor-in-chief at publishing house.
Charles (57): retired banker, now teaching students about economic system.
Jasem (31): too dumb to know what he is doing.
Hobo (31): is Jasem’s double, talks with him about innovation, reflects on his failure, explains corporate fraud.
Year +/- (number) is relative to base year. For example: Year +7 is seven years after the base year or roughly 2016. Year -7 indicates seven years before the base year or roughly 2002).
Year -50, 49, 48…
Year -45, 44, 43…
Allan (infant): travels through time to visit many other characters in the story during their childhood.
Ethan (child): learns not to think.
Gabriela (young girl): catches butterfly with cousin in (international) “South,” then visits Lilliputians during church service.
Ethan (carpenter): recalls experiences from his past.
Irena: childhood, high school.
Gabriela (PR associate) and Allen (manager): meet with Charles.
Charles (investment banker): meets with Gabriela and Allen.
Gabriela (now real estate broker): meets with Charles who asks her to handle house matter in forest.
Charles (investment banker): asks Gabriela to handle the renovation of second home in forest.
Gabriela (real estate broker): calls Ethan and Noah about house renovation in forest.
Ethan (carpenter and logger): explains to Gabriela what is necessary.
Noah (all-rounder): fakes that he knows what he’s talking about for the renovation project.
Ethan and Noah: complete the project together.
Yuri: at university
Year -11 onwards
Max (editor): describes differences between young adult life in his adopted country and homeland.
Cesca (recent college graduate): arrives in metropolis, meets Irena, Yuri, Joe, Jasem. They become her circle of friends.
Cesca, Irena (recent college graduate) and Joe (loan officer): discuss in bar.
Cesca and Yuri (IT specialist): move toward becoming a couple.
Marina: outsider in high school and afterwards.
Cesca (editor) and Yuri (IT specialist): fight over food.
Year -6 to -2
Cesca (editor): leaves publishing house, gets social work degree, founds independent press.
Yuri (IT specialist): has house burned down by hobo for insurance money.
Yuri and Cesca (editor): fight over terrorism for social change.
Yuri: explains perspective of spiritual East on materialist West.
Irena (student in law school): brings Gabriela (real estate broker) into Cesca’s group (implied; rough dating).
Locine (pupil): experiences with father Ethan (carpenter and logger) and with classmates.
Locine (pupil): gets caught driving at 13.
Cesca (editor): her revolutionary agenda for publishing house fails.
Cesca (editor and social work student): meets with Charles (investment banker) to discuss investment in publishing house.
Charles (investment banker): tries to seduce Cesca.
Cesca: establishes independent publishing house.
Irena (lawyer) and Max (editor in chief): form the perfect couple.
Irena: recalls bringing Gabriela into Cesca’s circle.
Gabriela (real estate broker): takes Irena on showing of open houses in skyscraper.
Gabriela: complains about the life part of professional life.
Gabriela: tells Irena story about Allen (manager) at her previous job.
Gabriela: gets into argument with journalist.
Gabriela: meets Marina (student dentist) at dental clinic.
Marina (student dentist): goes on trip with Gabriela to the gold mountains.
Gabriela: invites Marina to join Cesca’s junta.
Marina: meets Jasem (intellectual) at junta.
Marina: seduces Jasem, although relationship does not last long
Hobo: explains societal co-responsibility for his plight.
Marina (student dentist): meets her future husband shortly before junta disbands upon Cesca’s departure.
Cesca (unemployed): reason for moving to woods.
Cesca: moves to woods at end of year.
Cesca (guidance counsellor): adopts aspects of romantic mindset.
Cesca: considers knowledge in light of neighbor Noah (all-rounder); they talk.
Cesca (guidance counsellor) and Noah (all-rounder): talk a little more.
Ethan (carpenter and logger) and Cesca: begin to hook up for a few months in the spring.
Ethan: explains his philosophy of life – romanticism abridged.
Locine (college student): throws a party at her mother’s place in the late summer.
Cesca (guidance counsellor): runs into both Ethan and Noah there.
Cesca and Noah: go to brunch.
Preyanka (school girl): has scary encounter with gang of boys on the bus.
Marina (dentist): learns investment philosophy of Charles (investment banker) ad hoc in dentist’s office.
Cesca (guidance counsellor) and Noah (all-rounder): go to brunch again; run into Ethan there.
Cesca: moves to coastal city.
Year + 5
Locine (college graduate): moves to metropolis; stays with Irena (lawyer) and Max (editor in chief) in their penthouse.
Locine and Joe (marketer): meet at bar near Locine’s work.
Locine: gradually gets to know Allen after she ends up moving to his neighborhood.
Allen (artist): advises Locine.
Charles (investment banker) and Jane (singer and job coach): begin to stay at their forest house more often, answers economic questions of Ethan (carpenter/logger).
Cesca (community outreach worker): comes to visit Irena (lawyer) and Max (editor in chief) on occasion of their second baby.
Cesca, Locine (PR assistant), Gabriela (real estate broker), Marina (dentist), Allen (artist), Joe (marketer), Jasem (intellectual) go out to bar.
Locine and Joe: have sex on a double-decker tourist bus.
Hobo: flies over the ocean to the street of the sun.
Ethan (carpenter/logger): visits Locine (PR assistant) in the city, goes dancing with construction workers, Locine and Marina (dentist).
Gabriela (real estate broker): has breakdown.
Allen (installer): runs into Marina and Locine on waterfront.
Marina (dentist): is startled to enjoy random meeting on waterfront.
Locine (now PR manager): especially relishes random meeting with old friend Allen.
Preyanka (immigrant): arrives in new country, gets job a supermarket.
Preyanka (cashier): gives birth to first child.
Jasem (intellectual): becomes acquainted with Preyanka.
Ethan (carpenter/logger): recalls economic development throughout his life.
Preyanka (cashier): gives birth to second child.
Preyanka: does laundry at local lavanderiá; mood shifts from annoyance to harmony; meets with mother in the metaphysical; decides to get second job at laundromat.
Preyanka (cashier and, after birth, also attendant at laundromat) and Locine: start becoming friends.
Allen (artist and “social worker”): considers getting part-time job to exhibit solidarity with his friends from the street.
Ethan (carpenter and logger): asks Charles (ex-banker, now professor) about economic developments he has witnessed in community.
Charles (ex-banker, now professor): explains problems with leverage and valuation.
Marina (dentist) and Yuri (IT specialist): flirt with each other at dentist’s appointment and begin to hang out.
Yuri: partly based on west coast, but regularly returns to headquarters in city.
Ethan (carpenter and logger): faces obstacles in his plan to establish a sawmill.
Charles (professor): analyzes the benefits of educating your people to be dumb.
Preyanka (cashier and attendant) and Locine (PR manager and now mother of three): go to city beach with their children on the weekend. Preyanka advises Locine.
Allen (artist and “social worker”): comforts and encourages depressed Locine
Locine: calls her dad Ethan (carpenter and logger) to announce she is returning to the mountains; later in year she also returns with three children (without partner); begins to consider dating again; meets Noah (all-rounder).
Irena (lawyer): discusses her disappointment with Gabriela (real estate broker).
Marina (dentist): joins them after beginning affair with Yuri (IT specialist); they take helitour of city.
Gabriela (real estate broker): quits her job and heads to the South (abroad) to visit her cousin.
Joe (marketer): fails to climb up to the next rung of the ladder and realizes his life is empty and over. The rest will be misery.
Irena (ex-lawyer): talks with her two children, recalls upbringing.
Cesca (community outreach worker): breaks down and consults Locine (administrator and mother).
Jasem (intellectual): consults Marina (dentist) on tooth problem.
Locine (ex-PR manager) and Cesca (social worker): talk about relationships again.
Noah (all-rounder): considers Locine (administrator and mother) and her family.
Locine and Noah: become friends.
Irena (lawyer): retires.
Marina (ex-dentist): retires and goes on world tour to visit old friends: Gabriela (pueblo housekeeper), her lover Yuri (IT specialist) in Innovation Valley, Cesca (community outreach worker). Then she takes a trip back to the gold mountains with the alkonost; develops plan to use dentistry skills for urban poor.
Allen (artist): still running his improvised car repair and light installation “business” on the curb.
Irena (retired lawyer): is suffering from general frustration and disappointment.
Locine (administrator and mother): returns from mountains/woods to city to see her former neighborhood.
Allen and Locine: talk in coffee shop.
Irena: begins to talk with Allen more.
Allen: invites Irena on trip to see a world different from her own misery; they go visit Yuri in Innovation Valley and meet Joe there as well.
Irena: learns that Allen was formerly a manager at a corporation.
Allen (artist): has organized the informal car repair/installation operation and teaches production to Jasem (intellectual) who becomes stronger as a result.
Allen (social worker): is more effective.
Locine (administrator and mother): embraces harmony with life, the absence of goals, success, self-determination and self-actualization.
Irena (retired lawyer): says goodbye to her drug addict son, acknowledges that her adoption pragmatic values and norms was a mistake, that they doom you to failure.
Cesca (community outreach worker): fights to balance out pragmatism with romanticism.