the sack in which I am enclosed

Some time late in the century, people stopped being born with skin.

The first couple of times it happened, they thought it was a freak of nature, some sort of a massive genetic foul-up. The next couple of times, the doctors started asking questions. Did these people have anything in common? Where did they live? Was there some sort of environmental toxin or whosawhatsis that would have caused this? Lead or whatnot? None of those babies survived. Their parents mourned, and were horrified, and there was trauma, and there were questions, and that was that.

And then it happened again, and again. And eventually they realized that something very serious was happening. And in time, none of the babies – none of them, anywhere – were born with skin at all.

They got to work and after much trial and error they were able to keep some of the babies alive, and then more of them, while the synthetic bodysac industry got itself off the ground and got itself funded and went into high R&D gear. And this is how the sack industry as we know it was born. In a remarkably short period of time, they developed the basic elements of the original range that we still use – in a modified and more technologically advanced form – today.

Of course, there has been some discontent over the current situation. Some have complained, for example, about the profound disparity in access to bodysac technology that correlates with socioeconomic status: simply put, the wealthy can feel more than the poor can. Just as those who could afford it used to buy sheets with a higher thread count, those who can afford to do so can purchase a bodysac for their children – or for themselves, in a messy upgrading procedure that’s remarkably not uncommon – that has a higher nerve count and other assorted characteristics that elevate and refine the user’s level of sensation. We know now that the skin – for our ancestors who were born with it – was profoundly linked with and determinative of consciousness in ways that they didn’t understand. (Their skin was part of their mind, though they didn’t realize it until they began to lose it.) Since we’ve been able to replicate that relationship in the production of bodysacs, this has of course produced another widening disparity: the rich can literally afford higher-functioning mind technology, resulting in what analysts have termed the “Sentiment Gap.” (Some analogize this to the differential access to emotional balance created by the disparity in access to psychopharmaceuticals early in their history.)

The sack in which I am enclosed, for example, is a mid-range model that has all the basics – heat, tickling, baseline capacity for mental balance, etc. – but every time I go shopping with my well-off college girlfriends I’m reminded how much I’m not feeling in comparison with their experiences, how relatively numb the sensual life of the middle class has become. Sure, there’s enough variety on the bodysac market that even basic models can be personalized – and it still drives me nuts when parents activate the earpiercing option for the bodysac of a child who isn’t old enough to make that decision for themselves, but that’s another conversation. Still, a cute rose tattoo or permanecklace or leglong lavender filigree won’t placate everyone.

All the same, I’m optimistic. Maybe it’s just my sack talking, but I feel like things are going to get better.


[Return to “Reading Notes: The Intertwining – The Chiasm”]