Mary of the Valley
It takes a cohort of fractional fathers to raise a child.
The tech world is Mary’s oyster. She discovers she doesn’t like oysters. She chooses to become a mother of 12 instead.
The calling takes her by surprise. I hear the story in part and whole from Mary herself; from several dozen people deeply acquainted with it; and from several others who relate fragments of it to me in person, or bring them to my attention in some digital way. Like gymnastics score at the Olympics, this story will collate the whole, eliminate the extremes, and take an average of the remainder.
As is the custom these days, you, dear reader, are the ultimate arbiter of my meaning and intent.
Mary builds her character, and scales her skillset around digital campfires.
Where she is born, raised, and to whom convey no useful information. Her tastes and ambitions are sculpted online, among pixel friends. She manifests herself IRL in San Francisco, at the tail end of the Digital Gold Rush. Her pick and shovel: a computer science degree, and a palpable network of nodes that establish her as an attractive hub. As with the inaugural San Francisco gold rush, two centuries earlier, there is a premium on women. Unlike the inaugural gold rush, women aren’t prized for their biological womanhood (which they are cordially and tacitly invited to suppress). They are valued for the contribution they make to the statisticultural milieu. It’s muddy, and completely transparent: a.k.a., a mindfuck. She works for two startups, and then one of the big ones. The nature of the first startup is so wild I consider omitting it - but I judge the experience so formative to Mary’s great ‘yes’ that it’s worth particularizing. The details can be verified easily if I give you the name, which I won’t. Concentrate. Don’t hop and browse.
Startup One is an app-based virtual assistant. In a world of janky chat-bots and nascent Natural Language Processing, its voice technology is astonishing because you can ask it to do anything and it will pull off the task in a timely fashion with astonishing accuracy, sass and panache. That’s because Mary, plus a huge team of developers, engineers, customer success partners, and similar human resources are listening, reading and responding 24/7, in real time. There is nothing artificial about this intelligence. Investors sacrifice great piles of venture capital and human potential on a great pyre of hubris in the giddy hope that the hands-on effort with early adopters will transubstantiate into hands-off AI/ML. It will not.
Mary gets a new offer from an old colleague and goes to work on a biohacking self-optimising, self-excoriating watch tattoo, or implant or something, then when she gets the chance to work for a tech giant, she does and it sucks. She is 27 years old and sad. She is home alone, enduring the the completion/commencement of another painful menstrual cycle when it strikes her. Or is revealed, depending on who you hear this story from, and their prejudices. So pick your path.
There is no God. She conjures it in her own brain out of thin air. Skip the next few paragraphs
God is real. And breaks into space and time on the daily via chosen human beings to push hacks that offer us new opportunities to unlock the full freedom of His OS. Read on.
Author’s note: BTW, I’m trying to report all this impartially or whatever, but I’m me, and I’ve got ears, so FWIW I’m not agnostic. I warm to the story of the interventionist God and the subsequent religious experience, but that might be because I also love karaoke and am willing the cutest story into being. And it’s the one Mary told me.
Mary is at home singing K-pop karaoke into her phone when an angel appears via a pop up ad she can’t click out of and serves her up the following singalong.
Ma to the Power of 12
Loosely translated from the original Korean voice of an Angel into English courtesy of Mary
I am spending my life
(as opposed to saving it)
In aggressive pursuit of that which does not flee
To do that which does not need to be done
For sexless, godless people staring at screens
Trying to save a planet for children I will never have
(another egg plops into
my moon cup I flush,
flush it down the loo)
Command, alt, delete
Mary. Go forth and multiply.
Make the children who will save the planet.
Incubate the 12 tribes.
Mary doesn’t have anything that could be described as a sense of religion (as distinct from ambition.) But she’s not opposed to being told what to do. Especially via a pop-song ear-worm. Have a bunch of kids. OK. How? She has no experience of interpersonal relationships. Or love. She doesn’t feel any inclinations or predilections in these matters. Nor does she feel opposed to, or repulsed by them. She just wonders what another person can offer her that she can’t acquire more cheaply via private group, monthly subscription or 2-day delivery? Females are all peers in her reckoning, and males are all boys. She has never - to this day - met a man, or even seen one depicted in popular culture. Every single one is either resigned to boyhood, distracted by play, or actively trying to perform something they have never fully experienced while acting under the influence of the sun and moon of contemporary culture: food and entertainment.
Her calling, or vision is to become a mother. Not simply the mother of one. The mother of a brood. She distills her options.
Meet a co-founder and have kids
Let it pass
Mary does her due diligence on each scenario. She finds none hold the potential to fulfil her vision.
Meet a co-founder and have kids. Red flag. Meeting ‘the one’ will take too darn long, she doesn’t know enough about peers or family life to trust her judgement in the matter, and besides, none of these lily-livered contemporary co-founders ever want more than ‘one or two’. That’s all that’s considered manageable in the current milieu. We each have our parallel ambitions after all, and we want each child to have its own room, tablet, therapist, and the resources to fund its particular pedagogical pathway. Mary knows she can’t rely on a single other person.
DIY. Red flag. Children raised by single parents have statistically appalling outcomes in every category related to the pursuit of happiness. Single parenthood is untenable.
Let it pass. Red flag. When you have a vocation, a calling, a vision, this simple solution is simply impossible.
Mary chooses to crowdsource fatherhood
She starts with a bit of keyword planning. She makes a landing page, performs some SEO, and quickly engages her target audience.
Mary’s venture is this. For a sign-up fee of $250K and lifetime MRR of $250, Mary offers a cohort of 12 men the opportunity to impregnate her. The deal is that you will never know whether the child is your own, but you are allowed, encouraged and helped to treat the child as if it were. If I spare you the details, you’ll probably think they’re more personal or disgusting that they actually are. She purchases a commercially-available home-fertility kit called Mosie Baby - actually a patented syringe - from CVS. Mary and the cohort turn up at a designated venue, at the appropriate time. The men are presented with a collection cup each, and provide a warm sample of baby batter in a timely fashion. The proceeds of all cups are stirred together and syringed in chaste privacy by Mary, who immediately becomes pregnant, and delivers Alpha, Beta, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota, Kappa, Lambda and Mu. Or rather, that’s the pitch.
Mary is soon oversubscribed for the Alpha cohort. Like all inspired solutions, absolutely no one saw it coming, and it seems completely obvious in the infinite resolution of hindsight.
The guaranteed support for a child, from 12 different father figures, for life, because each believes - indeed wills - that there is a non-zero chance the child is his own.
Put yourself in the shoes of the first cohorts of fathers. Your mind immediately turns to how this can all go wrong. Return to the present. Relax. Let’s decompress by parsing what could blow up and why it doesn’t.
Possessive father. Jealousy, kidnapping, clandestine DNA tests for verification. None. Never. Nope. Not for the first child, not for the next 12. You can overanalyze it, but what it comes down to is that everyone is clear and cool with the Ts&Cs, and is happy with the odds that the child is theirs. Access is shared appropriately, based on things that matter to the specific fatherly cohort. The grandparents never complain. Their sons, after all, spent their entire childhoods/lives in their room and they’d despaired of the hint of a grandchild.
Subscriber churn. Do you think a millionaire bachelor in Silicon Valley who can cough up a $250K non-refundable deposit is going to care about $250 a month (adjusted for inflation)? Never. Not once is an occasion neglected or an appointment missed. One of the most moving relationships is with a father from Eta cohort who passes away from a terminal illness, but only after scheduling a lifetime of messages to share with his beloved daughter.
Mary takes on 12 subscribers for each cohort. Mary has ten living children. Three die in the womb, one in early childhood, and another due to an appalling, sudden, and unfortunately unpreventable accident. Each deceased child is mourned by by 12 different men every single day - and specifically on anniversaries and occasions when such memories become particularly acute. The community between the fathers within cohorts is stunning to behold.
Mary lives on a ranch outside San Francisco, where founding fathers have open, standing invitations to book and spend time in onsite accommodation with their children and each other.
Mary dies and ascends into the eternal present.
This is my testimony, on behalf of my brothers and sisters, in accordance with our mother’s wishes. During the course of half a century, our family arrangements have remained strictly on the downlow. IMO, that’s a miracle. My mother understands that word will spread, and others may be inspired by her example to offer variations on the theme. Mary refuses to endorse, condemn, comment.
Her final words on the matter:
“being is an open-source project. My happiness arrived the day I closed my ears to the echo, and listened for the DM.”
That’s it. That’s all. I’m out.