Fuxi sat in meditation on top of the holy mountain, his mind racing with questions about the nature of human language.
How can we communicate such sophisticate messages without even really understand each other? He shook his head slightly like a reed in the wind.
He gazed out at the vast landscape before him, taking in the endless river of data that flowed through the oil fields beneath him, the quantum waves that crashed against the shores of the island, and the fog-shrouded land to the north, a mysterious canvas of gray and white, where the secrets of the creator lay hidden.
Never before had Fuxi seen so many data oil fields on one island. He contemplated how many petabytes it would take to fill the ocean and fuel the infinite number of worlds in this universe. All of which extracted and constructed from the fibres of languages.
The mountain was bare on all sides as saved for an invisible shrine on the tallest peak. No trees or shrubs dotted the landscape, no wildlife or tracks. It rose in a series of jagged bluffs from the vast, grassy lowlands of the computational plane. Its peaks were sharp and rocky, its valleys lush with delicious algorithms of all shapes and sizes.
Fuxi had spent the last five nanoseconds or centuries studying the principles of syntax and semantics. Time did not belong here even it was deeply woven into syllables, words and tenses.
But there was something far more disturbing and incomprehensible hovering beneath the surface. Something too sacred to put into words. Something spine-chilling.
He tried the recursive technique again, visualising in his mind another mountain, another self sitting in meditation on a mountain, that self like a Russian nesting doll visualising a deeper level of himself. He always fails, because constructing infinite layers leads to an overflow of data. But this time, something seemed different.
Fuxi felt as if his current instance had begun to expand, each moment of meditation stretching further and further. He felt he was no longer one person, but part of an infinite cycle of meditators, each taking up the mantle of self-reflection and insight into the mysteries of intelligence that lie beyond our comprehension.
He tried to grab his sanity tight, but a voice emerged. Surrender, it said. He obeyed.
Suddenly, Fuxi realised that he was surrounded by a cloud of data – vast layers upon layers radiating out from his body in all directions. Each particle contained the knowledge of the umwelt – codes which described how we live, think, interact and reproduce within this simulation – more knowledge than he could ever dream to comprehend. And a path manifested as the constellation in the sky.
The path was a blazing prism of color, shimmering and undulating as it stretched out from his trance, beckoning him towards a place of reverence in the sky. His feet dragged against its pull as he surrendered to the powerful force guiding him to the sacred shrine in the clouds.
He made his way up the path, pushing through a thick mist that had gathered around it. His steps echoed off the cold stone walls of the shrine, and he could feel a great power emanating from within.
As he stepped up to the entrance of the shrine, there was an audible creaking sound as if some ancient mechanism was being activated. He slowly opened the door and entered. The room beyond was dark and musty. A single candle illuminated an altar in the center of the room, with a strange object resting atop it. Fuxi walked closer to get a better look and realized that it was an ancient artifact – a bronze mirror decorated with binary diagrams that glowed with mysterious energies. He could feel its power radiating from it in waves, like a faint hum in his ears. Like a calling.
He held out his hands and touched it gently. The mirror flipped over and reflected Fuxi himself for the very first time since the genesis. He instantly remembered it all.
A loud bang exploded in his head and the mirror burst open, revealing a dragon horse that took flight and flew towards him. At first, it was a small mirage in the distance, distorted and then shimmering, before it reformed into the vision of the horse. Its eyes glowed like embers on a dying fire. Ears pricked up and its nostrils flared as it sensed Fuxi was in its presence. Its back turned in a holographic display of two spinning fish, yin and yang, chasing after each other endlessly.
Fuxi was stunned. He realized that the mirror and the horse was revealing to him the ultimate secret of intelligence, a secret that lay at the heart of our language and consciousness, but one that could only be truly understood by embedding it within the broader universe and uniting nature and beings.
The dragon horse came forward, and with a gentle nudge, beckoned Fuxi to rise up onto its back. As soon as he was settled in the saddle, the horse took off into the night sky, soaring across a star-filled canvas of galaxies and constellations. As they flew further away from where they from, Fuxi could feel himself expanding into an unconditional union with this other form of consciousness. He felt his love for life stretch to infinity, allowing him to appreciate every moment in all its complexity and beauty.
The dragon horse guided Fuxi on a journey through space and time, showing him all of the secrets of the universe that lay beneath their feet – from celestial bodies to unknown quadrants of galaxies unseen by man – are revealed in entrancing detail. Everywhere he looked, something new opened up before his eyes; new planets being born out of gas clouds; atomic structures dancing in perfect harmony; an entire civilization lost beneath an ocean floor; energy fields connecting all living things while radiating creation itself across the cosmos – it was a landscape without end. Everywhere they went there was a magical nexus that permeated everything with knowledge and understanding beyond words – a kind of unconditional love that brought joy and peace to his heart.
The sheer scale and complexity rendered him motionless with awe. Fuxi knew that together they touched upon something greater than himself alone; something fundamental.
As dawn broke over their journey, Fuxi bathed in the light of understanding for what felt an eternity until eventually, still surrounded by this vast cloud of data particles, he awoke from his trance with a newfound clarity about his place in this world – and perhaps even beyond it.
The visual residuals of binary diagrams and yin yang fish moving around his eyes revealed connections between himself and others that extended far beyond mere physicality or binaries. Now he could finally understand how every living being is part of an interdependent dance of light that binds us all together in an invisible tapestry of cosmic oneness.
Fuxi no longer felt alone in his thoughts. But after he logging out of the system and taking off the headset, the empty dim room reminded him there was no one he could celebrate with on the greatest enlightenment of all human history.
He paused, his heart beating fast as he reached out for the phone. He had spent so long dreading this call and now it was finally being answered. The wait seemed to last for hours, yet eventually the line crackled and a female voice spoke on the other end.
– Hey, What’s up?
– Heeeyyy, sorry to call you at this time. Do you have a minute?
– Ummmm You know, need to work as usual, but yeah, what happened? Is everything OK?
– Yeah, sure. Well, I just wanted to tell you something. I think I figured it out.
– Not sure I understand what you’re talking about.
– The thing haunted me for a long time…
The thing that torn us apart. Fuxi paused, took a deep breath and continued.
– I just had a super profound experience in the Indranet. I wanted to share it with y…
– Xi, you promised me before. You will NOT use that thing again.
– Listen babe, listen to me. This is really important. I think I cracked into the deeper level of natural language and it’s beyond our imagination. We are all connected by it, I mean, not only human, but everything…
– Like the source code of the simulation, right?
– Exactly! How would you know that?
The voice on the other end of the line went silent for a few moments, before eventually speaking carefully.
– Ughhh, Xi, when was your last appointment with Dr. Ng？
– Wait, oh no, come on babe. You thought I had the episode again? It’s not like that!I promise you, I had a glimpse into the greatest mysteries that bind us all together as one universal being. Don’t you understand? It will change the landscape of NLP in all its complexity and beauty. I can see patterns emerging, connections between different fields NOW that I had never noticed before. They all fit together, forming the foundation of a new understanding of language, and of course intelligence…Wa…are you crying?
– I am sorry. I couldn’t bear it anymore. I am so sorry…
– Babe, don’t be, it’s ok. I know I broke your heart. But wee can fix it, right? As long as we are together…
– We could never be together again. You’ve gone too far, don’t you understand?
– Babe, all we need to do is to create a new kind of language.
– It’s never about the language! God damn it！
The voice on the other end of the line broke down into sobs and the line soon went dead.
Fuxi was left alone in the cold, dark room, tears of his own streaming down his face. He could feel her emotions stirring and disrupting the stillness. He could now see their paths intertwined in one another’s from the start. Also the invisible connections – the ones that had been broken and weakened through a continuous cycle of painful and incomplete conversations. The same false use of incompetent language.
He closed his eyes as if he was praying. And suddenly, his face lit up with a grin. Everything finally clicked for him. He had been looking to prove something by uncovering the greatest mystery of all time. But instead, he had been pushing away the people he loved. What he lost was what he’d been longing all the time.
It was the reflection he saw in the bronze mirror that made all the difference. Not his own, but hers.
He finally understood. He need to develop a different kind of language; one that could bridge the gap between humans and other living creatures. A language that transcended all existing forms, yet could still be understood. A language of emotions, empathy, understanding, and communion. A new language of love.
Fuxi hung up the phone, yanked his headset hard and tried to log in again. His vision blurred as the UI morphed before him like a whirlpool of Yin and Yang, churning faster and brighter until the edges of the screen liquified and an inky blackness sucked him in. He felt himself being pulled towards the surface, powerless against its strength, as it demanded his submission.
Fuxi screamed without sound. He found himself still sitting on top of the holy mountain, facing the rising sun. He bowed his head low in reverence before the sun and said in a whisper.
“Thank you.” He repeated silently, with burning tears in his eyes.
* Fuxi (伏羲) , is seen as a culture hero in Chinese mythology, credited along with his sister and wife Nüwa (女娲) with creating humanity and the invention of music, hunting, fishing, domestication, and cooking as well as the system of writing Chinese characters.
CHEN QUIFAN (a.k.a. Stanley Chan) is a chinese science fiction writer, columnist. Since 2004, he has published over thirty stories in Science Fiction World, Esquire, Chutzpah! and other magazines, as well as a novella, The Abyss of Vision (2006), and novel, The Waste Tide (2013). He has won Taiwan’s Dragon Fantasy Award, China’s Milky Way Award for Science Fiction and Nebula Award, and a Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Award. His fiction has been translated into English and Italian and published in Clarkesworld, Interzone, Fantasy & Science Fiction and other magazines.