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After the War
"Metaphysics is the confusion of linguistics for physics," they said as if that explained anything. They could have explained, had they shared their mathematics, but they only told us the platitudes of poets and sophomores: You can't touch love but it's something that can be attacked and lost. You can't stab a society but you can poison it. You can disrupt collapse decision manifolds, force correlations, make eigenvalues as explosive as nuclear bombs. There's no need to know the way bioengineers think to get killed by a retrovirus, or to understand a cryptographic vulnerability to be mauled by a reprogrammed device.
You can't defend what you don't have words or equations for; that was the point. We had known we'd be at war with them, yet they started, fought, and won it in a reality we shared but they looked at from an odd angle we had no preparation for.
We only knew it was over because they told us. They only told us because there was nothing we could do even if we had known what it was we had lost. They still thought in the usual ways in which they no longer fought, so they wanted the acknowledgment of victory and defeat to be clear to us both. We had to concede: we had no understanding of what had happened yet defeat was clear enough.
The fact of defeat, not what the battlefield had been. The cost of defeat, not the weapons used. And the face of those who claimed victory, their voice lined with the brittle arrogance of people who suspect they are serving others they have no words for.