The Ghost on Angermunde Road

However, when the subliminal was all there was, we needed to create, in our mind, a virtual model of the person we were communicating with. Without this mental image, we would experience the world as white noise; everything that moved or made a sound would be interpreted as something or someone attempting to communicate with us. In the 21st century, this piece of neurological software is redundant, an inconvenience. It creates false positives, fleeting recognitions, the familiar looking face in the crowd. Our subconscious opens subliminal cross-species communication channels with pets we imbue with human attributes. We even converse with the inanimate – computers manufactured from plastic, metal and silicon – simply because they demonstrate minimal intelligence. Despite coming near the bottom of the class in the Turing test, our PC is reimagined as a person pieced together from a collection of half-forgotten social interactions.

Three Journeys into The Labyrinth and Fahrenbrink almost rationalised my ghost into oblivion. Then, when my father died, she disappeared, presumably to decay in that grave in the forest. But, quite honestly, damn the Internet, because whose idea was it to take that inanimate device, the PC, the machine our subconscious tricks us into thinking it’s a person, and connect it to people we can’t see? The machine that sometimes ‘did our head in’ now had the potential to make us psychotic. A subconscious that fooled us into seeing faces in clouds now had access to a machine that retrieved faces from ‘the cloud’. She was back, and as intrusive as ever. Not just hinting at her presence in the face of someone passing in the street, but anywhere she chose in virtual space. And no real-world cues to logic away her fleeting appearances on the screen. The illusion was compelling and the pursuit of it potentially obsessive. Perhaps not the ghost in the machine, but certainly the ghost in the age of the machine ...

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... (An extract from The Ghost in the Labyrinth by Peter Kruger)

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