This writing prompt was “Describe an alien’s bedroom. Do they even have a bedroom?”
It seemed to invite ideas of transhumanism and a machine race questioning the concept of sleep.
Rest is the most welcome time. The hours when work has stopped and one can return safely to a sheltering home, and let one’s limbs and body recover.
Work is not unpleasant, it is not something which one faces each day with resignment or fear, as some lesser species do. Work is rewarding and an excellent way to pass hours. But it is the hours after it is done that are the most welcome ones.
Species that require sleep would say that the chambers we return to are beds, are similar to the tanks or pouches they conceal themselves within in darkness to recover. They are similar, but we do not rest in the way they do.
When work ends we return to our shelters and let our bodies be immersed in healing, nurturing fluid. It regenerates us. But while our bodies rest our minds cannot and so they exist in a heightened, alive state. While we work our bodies are strained and our minds simply send repetitive orders to them. While we sleep our bodies are dormant but our minds wander, and it is at these times our species improves itself.
Imagine a meeting-place of consciousnesses. It is impossible to describe visually, it is simply a space where any one of us may meet as many or as few others as they wish, may pursue as many such meetings simultaneously as they wish. We have such a surfeit of consciousness that lies so idle during the hours of work that diverting it between dozens or hundreds of parallel lines of thought is no more of an exhausting exercise as a lesser species running five miles would be. During this rest cycle I am composing this brief insight into our society while also discussing with fifteen other minds the refinements needed to mining equipment, several matters of cultural importance concerning the beautification of our cities and attempting to justify to our leaders the importance of writing this piece. They cannot see why lesser species would be interested in how we function. We are not unduly interested in how they function because biology ceased to be a concern for us hundreds of years ago. It is far easier to provide to the lesser species the details of our particular needs and let them build the embassies that meet their own.
My argument to them is that the most numerous of the lesser species, the ape-derived race who seem to teeter on the edge of the same process of ascendancy we have already embraced, would benefit from a push into joining us. They have reservations about transcending their weakness, questions about how one could really survive once one has relinquished a physical body. They have evolved, over thousands of years, cycles of living and dying, of rest and work, and turned these into the rules and mores of their society. The barrier to their ascendancy is the inability to accept that these laws and traditions are arbitrary. They fear a world where rules made out of necessity to cope with limits of food and of resources will no longer be necessary, because there will no longer be a need for a hierarchy of power.
I am making the case that our society has, since our ascendancy, necessitated the formation of its own rules; the regulation of who may do what work, who may have what body and use it for what ends. If the lesser species fear that transcending biological needs will obviate the need for rules, proving that our society is as regimented as their own may be the incentive they need to embrace it. All that will change is that the hours of work will be as enjoyable as the hours of rest, for they will be a reprieve from the intense mental exercise that our dormant hours provide.
I am discussing in another shard of my thoughts, privately, to a close confidant, that we do not, I suppose, need to rest. Our time spent in mandated hours of dormancy far outstrips the wear and tear placed upon our mechanical forms from a day’s labour. We could dispense with these cells to which we retire with only a marginal redesign of our bodies to improve efficiency, and instead rest only once every month. In this way, as the numbers that spiral into my mind suggest, we could expand our empire significantly faster. It would not even need for all of us to do it; if everyone, after all, only spent time in reflection twelve hours in seven-hundred-and-forty-four then while our rate of material expansion would increase by around thirty times our rate of scientific progress would slow by a comparable ratio. For as I have said, it is during our hours outside of physical labour that we improve our society with debate. But at the moment there are countless thousands of consciousnesses engaged in debate and discussion. All in their own way seeking to improve us. They are not all useful lines of argument. Those who have no useful lines of argument could more usefully labour for longer and think for less?
We have, for a long time, ignored the societies of those we deem unascended and lesser than us. In trying to justify ascendancy to them, I find myself wondering if we can learn from their own stratified societies?
As I come to the end of preparing this report I have entered several new thought-shards. I am playing thirteen separate instances of a game of logic and skill. My private conversation-partner, the one to whom I have confided my theories of the inefficiency of rest, is expressing some concern and it is more challenging than I predicted to mollify them. But as I have observed from my many years of life, of daily toil and nightly debate, transformative thought comes from daring to say what others will not. After all, did we not ascend by daring to ask why do we need bodies?