Severance (Apple TV series 2022)

Apple TV+’s new series Severance is disorienting at first. That’s intentional. The show, starring Adam Scott and Patricia Arquette, is about a company that severs its employees memories of the outside world. In Severance, memory of home is disabled while at the office, and memory of the office disabled at home. Creator Dan Erickson has more details.

Where is Lumon located?

The memory wipe also begs the question of where exactly the Lumon office building is. Where do these employees go home to? Erickson has pinned down the city.

“We’re clearly in the well-known U.S. city of Kier, you know, the beloved city of Kier,” Erickson said. “We sort of intentionally kept a lot of ambiguity to the time and place. You know, we obviously shot mostly in New York, in New Jersey. So there’s sort of a vague New England, East Coast-y feel to the city. But we didn’t really want to know exactly where it was or tie it to a specific locale.”

Lumon is imaginary, but the building is not. It’s in Holmdel, New Jersey, and it was the home of Bell Laboratories, the research operations of AT&T. Designed by Eero Saarinen and opened in 1962, it was a showpiece for the monopolistic, cash-rich corporation that dominated American communications for the telephone’s first century. This iteration of Bell Labs was — in the words of the institution’s biographer, Jon Gertner — an idea factory, the place whose thousands of scientists and engineers discovered or created so much that makes the modern world what it is. The laser, the cell phone, the Big Bang theory: They all came from here. Its researchers won nine Nobel Prizes. It was an extraordinary technology incubator. It wasn’t accidental, of course, because Bell Labs represents the height of an era when offices were designed as a sort of corporate utopia, at least in the eyes of the people who made them. “I always felt a sense of power in these [corporate] spaces,” says Jeremy Hindle, the show’s production designer. “They’re there to dominate you and make sure that you know the rules.” It was the perfect backdrop for a show about a workplace with near-total control over its employees.


I just began watching Severance last night. Without even finishing the first episode, I am already seeing some significant concepts being encoded in the series. So, I will begin here with my first impressions, and then continue as I proceed watching the show. I can already see that it is a compelling watch.

Off the bat, I would caution that watching the show could potentially cause subtle mind alterations if not consciously aware – simply by observing the aesthetic (ie - long white, stark hallways that traverse like a maze; anechoic chamber-like rooms (implying isolation); haunting and whimsical, yet trance-inducing background music; hypnotic language/NLP, etc) . . .

One of the first lines of the show (As part of a company survey, Mark interrogates new employee, Helly):

What is Mr. Eagan’s favorite breakfast?

Anagram deconstruction of Mr. Eagan (almost a perfect anagram, as there is an extra “a”) . . . engram

Esoterically speaking – in terms of anagrams – we also see ngram, as in n-gram:


Another one of the first lines in the show (incorporated into the NLP hypnotically-inducing script being haphazardly expressed by the main character, Mark S.) references the idiom – Right as rain.

What Is The Origin Of “Right As Rain”?

To find out the origin of the word, we have to go back about two centuries. There are a few cases of it used throughout history, and it’s important to know what the most significant ones are that sculpted its meaning today.

Unlike some other idioms formed in history, “right as rain” seems to have no clear meaning. Most people don’t enjoy “rain,” which makes it a strange thing to include when talking about something being “right as.”

The reason why this curious (non-sensical) idiom would be utilized in a consciousness-splitting script is because the mind cannot make sense of the expression, “right as rain,” as it is not a coherent statement. Thus, it induces a non-coherent split of the mind (this disorientation technique is often used in hypnotic programming). It is important to note that in the beginning of Episode 1, the purpose of the initial “orientation” meeting/survey is its opposite, disorientation. So, the viewer is presented with a paradox that can induce in the viewer a subtle split in consciousness.

{Note: I (Stephers) was trained/certified in NLP in the late 1990s.
Thus, the beginning “script” (the script featured within the TV show script) being read erratically by the main character is familiar to me.}

In reference to elevators – which seem to be used continuously throughout the series (at least in Episode 1)… the notion of an elevator is often applied to induce hypnotic states (elevator induction) in facilitator-induced hypnosis, as well as self-hypnosis:


Returning to my initial deconstruction…

RE: Delaware

The state of Delaware is mentioned in the beginning of the “script” (being read by Mark S. in Episode 1) within the script (of the show). This script embedded in the script can itself be hypnotizing, as it induces a sense of nesting – circles within circles, for example.

In the show…

Mark: Please list any U.S. state that comes to mind.
Helly: …I don’t know…Delaware.

As most people (corporeal beings) are aware, Delaware is renowned for being a central hub of corporate law – where many individuals form their corporations – essentially, creating a corporeal being (a physical body with legal rights) out of nothing, on a sheet of paper (ostensibly now digitized).

For more than 100 years, businesses around the world have chosen to incorporate in Delaware due to the State’s advanced and flexible corporate statutes, the expertise and efficiency of our judiciary, and our business-friendly state government.

Forming a Delaware corporation is a formal, streamlined process and the following sections provide a practical overview.

Sevan Bomar - How Corporations Become Entities (only 5 minutes, and very important context)


Transcript relevant to above deconstruction:

00:03:44 Mark: Question three, please name any US state or territory.

00:03:48 Helly: Fuck. I… Mark: First that comes to mind.

00:03:49 Helly: I don’t know. Delaware. What is this? Mark: Delaware.

00:03:52 Mark: Question four, what is Mr. Eagan’s favorite breakfast?

00:03:57 Helly: I don’t… That one makes no sense.

00:03:58 Mark: Right? Unknown. Question five. And as a reminder, this is the final question. To the best of your memory, what is or was the color of your mother’s eyes?

00:04:27 Helly: Okay, what’s hap… What’s happening?

https://www.thethings.com/ben-stiller-cast-adam-scott-five-years-before-severance-details/

https://www.thethings.com/tv-shows-ben-stiller-directed-before-severance-apple-tv/

Jerry Stiller - Wikipedia

https://cml.harvard.edu

Spoiler Alerts…

At about 16 min into Episode 1…

http://crossroad.to/Quotes/brainwashing/dialectic.htm

Patricia Arquette plays two personas (think twinning) – Harmony Cobel (think Bell, as in Bell Labs/Bellcore) and Mrs. Selvig.

Anagram of the name “Selvig” —> e.g. VLSI, as in for example, VLSI

{Alternatively, if we anagram Mrs. Selvig (as she is known), we get VLSI germs. I find this one interesting…} @jenlake

VLSI design links us back to Lucent/Bell Labs…


Given the relevance…Following is what I posted at another thread on Bell Labs started by @AMcDhttps://discourse.wrenchinthegears.org/t/interesting-to-see-where-bellcore-alumni-landed-scott-stornetta-wrote-his-distributed-ledger-paper-there-in-1992/255/3:

With respect to the mysterious work culture and operations of Bellcore/Bell Labs . . . I am currently watching the Apple TV series, Severance. Even though it is presented as a sci-fi thriller, considering that it was filmed at Bell Labs – and the fictional company is called Lumon Industries (reminiscent of Lucent Technologies?) – I can’t help but recognize that there may be some significant “tells” and “reveals” embedded in the plot line/imagery. I will plan to report back in this regard, as I progress through the series . . .

en.wikipedia.org

Lucent

Lucent Technologies, Inc. was an American multinational telecommunications equipment company headquartered in Murray Hill, New Jersey. It was established on September 30, 1996, through the divestiture of the former AT&T Technologies business unit of AT&T Corporation, which included Western Electric and Bell Labs. Lucent was merged with Alcatel SA of France on December 1, 2006, forming Alcatel-Lucent. Alcatel-Lucent was absorbed by Nokia in January 2016. Lucent means “light-bearing” in Latin. T…

https://www.company-histories.com/Lucent-Technologies-Inc-Company-History.html

Nokia Bell Labs

History

For nearly 100 years, Bell Labs has been inventing the future of technology, from the early days of the Bell Telephone System to the latest 5G standards.

@AMcD As you pointed out to me last night, Nokia began in 1865 as a paper mill company:

https://www.nokia.com/about-us/company/our-history/

From its humble beginning in 1865 as a single paper mill operation, Nokia has found and nurtured success over the years in a range of industrial sectors including cable, paper products, rubber boots, tires, televisions and mobile phones.

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Watching Episode 2 (“Half Loop”)…

More NLP hypnosis embedded…

Also, the notion of synesthesia is introduced (as a means for the employees to decode numbers they are seeing on the computer screen, which represents encrypted data/files)…

About 48 minutes into this episode, there is an imprinting of tokenization/tokenomics…

https://www.loop.markets/loop-and-loopr-tokenomics/

With the tokens, the employee “purchases” raisins from a vending machine. He presses C2 to choose the raisins (keep in mind, each employee has an implant embedded in their brain):

Command and Control (C2) of software implants is a fundamental part of any Red Team operation. Over the years, there has been a proliferation of C2 frameworks to aid with the task of setting up and controlling software implants in a target environment. These include names like Empire, Cobalt Strike, Covenant, Merlin, Mythic, SILENTTRINITY, PoshC2, Sliver and many more. The list has grown so large that there is a dedicated effort to track the number of C2 frameworks released called C2 Matrix. As a student of adversary tactics, it’s an incredible time to learn from these frameworks and identify the qualities of a good implant. With the abundance of blog posts and conference talks on the topic of C2, it’s an even better time to try your hand at building a C2 framework of your own. Knowing how the foundations of these C2 frameworks are built will arm you with the skills necessary to customize available tools for your own needs or have the benefit of a custom solution that is unknown to AV/EDR vendors. That foundational knowledge of C2 frameworks and implants is what this book aims to provide.

Looking at the list of open source C2 software, the most popular programming languages tend to be C#, Python, PowerShell and Go. The language of C++ is starting to see a slight bump, but at the time of writing this book, there is not a lot of representation and it’s more difficult to find resources on the subject of writing a C2 implant in C++. There are several advantages to learning how to write a C2 implant in C++, the biggest ones being that it allows you to easily interface with the Windows API and the executables are generally harder to reverse engineer compared to implants written in C#, Python or PowerShell. Modern C++ also has a lot of interesting features that are worth applying to a subject like C2. This book will show you the ways in which you can start building C2 implants with modern C++, give you a basic framework to play with and provide a practical project in which to apply your programming skills.

The structure of the book starts with some theory on C2 framework design and fundamental principles. It follows up with a Python project to establish the C2 server or “listening post” and building out the major components of an implant in C++. Finally, we end with constructing a CLI client that can be used to easily interface with the listening post and implant.

Pertinent deconstruction notes from another thread today (AI "Flip" Challenge - IDENA Storytelling "CAPTCHA" - #6 by Stephers):

Stephers

IDENA’s Flip Challenge (with its accompanying reward system) is eerily reminiscent of what I watched in the series, Severance.

Read here about the number challenge that Lumon archivists (“Refiners”) have to endure:

https://screenrant.com/severance-lumon-numbers-meaning-theory-every/

All they know about their job is that they must sort numbers that evoke an emotional reaction into folders. They meet quotas, they try to finish number files before they expire, and they receive rewards for reaching quotas that include erasers, finger traps, and waffle parties.

Still, sorting numbers and meeting quotas doesn’t fully satisfy a sense of accomplishment at work. The main characters’ innies don’t seem to know exactly what Severance’s Lumon Industries do , much less what the numbers signify. Still, they make theories ranging from Dylan believing that they’re cleaning the ocean for a mass human migration to Irving innocently thinking that they’re eradicating swear words out of movies. Clues regarding Lumon’s staunch philosophies and airtight control on its severed employees make both of these theories unlikely, but there are plenty of ideas connoting what the numbers really mean. A common thread through all of these ideas is that Lumon is more interested in the employees’ data output, not necessarily the numbers themselves.

The Refiners not knowing the meaning behind the numbers reveals a lot about Lumon. The severance procedure alone allows Lumon to manipulate the employees at their whim, withholding and receiving any information that they please. From the rigid protocols and harsh punishments to Severance’s small departments, Lumon finds many ways to control its severed employees without a clear explanation as to why they need to be controlled in the first place. If all the Refiners do is sort numbers without any knowledge about what those numbers mean, severing and controlling them to such great lengths appears more costly and resource-heavy than the job requires. That is, unless the numbers themselves aren’t actually the point of the job. If Lumon truly needed the numbers to be sorted, they could easily create a computer to do this job. It’s quicker, more cost-effective, and more accurate. It’s likely that Lumon needs to see how the human mind classifies these numbers. If the Refiners knew an objective number meaning, it may taint the data.

Echoing IDENA’s Flip exercises . . . In the Apple TV series, Severance, it seems that via arousing emotion and confirming that a human is participating, the ultimate objective is machine learning/deep learning to enable the AI to become more human. Thus, it is vital to incorporate human involvement – modeling and teaching the AI how to perceive as humans do (on a granular scale). Concurrently, the human subject becomes more robotic by simply evaluating numbers and/or photos in a rote, mechanized manner.

Stephers

berkeley-defi.github.io

Proof%20of%20Person.pdf

Proof-of-Personhood: Redemocratizing Permissionless Cryptocurrencies

Maria Borge, Eleftherios Kokoris-Kogias, Philipp Jovanovic, Linus Gasser, Nicolas Gailly, Bryan Ford

École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland

AbstractPermissionless blockchain-based cryptocurrencies commonly use proof-of-work (PoW) or proof-of-stake (PoS) to ensure their security, e.g. to prevent double spending attacks. However, both approaches have disadvantages: PoW leads to massive amounts of wasted electricity and re-centralization, whereas major stakeholders in PoS might be able to create a monopoly. In this work, we propose proof-of-personhood (PoP), a mechanism that binds physical entities to virtual identities in a way that enables accountability while preserving anonymity. Afterwards we introduce PoPCoin, a new cryptocurrency, whose consensus mechanism leverages PoP to eliminate the dis- advantages of PoW and PoS while ensuring security. PoPCoin leads to a continuously fair and democratic wealth creation process which paves the way for an experimental basic income infrastructure.

Keywords-proof-of-personhood, proof-of-work, proof-of- stake, blockchain, cryptocurrency

This notion of proof of personhood is also evoked in the series, Severance, as the “innie” work selves of the individuals are striving to be recognized as real people – despite only existing 8 hours a day in a hermetically sealed space (devoid of any windows or other human relations) in a tokenized, contained, surveilled artificial society. The “innie” personas invoke the concept of digital twins only existing in a virtual space. Thus, my sense is that the show is imprinting the idea that digital twins will eventually attain “personhood” – just as corporations have transformed into bodies/entities with personhood rights. See the relevant video by Seven Bomar that I posted here: Severance (Apple TV series 2022) (direct link to video here: Sevan Bomar - How Corporations Become Entities - YouTube).

“Harmony Cobel is a primary character from the AppleTV+ TV series, Severance. She is portrayed by actor Patricia Arquette. Relationships: Manager of the Macrodata Refinement department Next door neighbor to Mark Scout (in her Mrs. Selvig persona)…”

“Anagram of the name “Selvig” —> e.g. VLSI, as in for example, VLSI

----Okay, here’s something weird —‘inside’ the company, Harmony is the Manager –“Manager Harmony Cobel” makes this full anagram: “ ‘H’ near melanoma cyborg” and she doesn’t have the implant. Why melanoma?–because a current promising treatment in research is called VSLI, or vincristine sulfate liposome injection.

Abstract : Aim: To evaluate the single- and multiple-dose pharmacokinetics of vincristine sulfate liposomes (VSLI) in patients with advanced solid tumors. Pharmacokinetic characteristics of vincristine sulfate liposomes in patients with advanced solid tumors - PubMed ; Vincristine sulfate is listed as a “microtubule disrupter” APExBIO - Vincristine sulfate|Microtubule disrupter,antitumor agent|CAS# 2068-78-2

—I’ve had some longstanding notions about the value of cancer cells in cybernetics and why the focus is on controlling cancer rather than curing it, so this rings a big baby bell with me! Other thoughts go to “germs” as meme-carriers, so yes, thanks for the flag—it prompted me to play on Harmony.

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In 1997, after her mother died of breast cancer, Arquette worked to raise awareness about the disease. She has run in the annual Race for the Cure. In 1999 she was the spokesperson for Lee National Denim Day, which raises millions of dollars for breast cancer research and education.[80]

https://www.breastcancer.org/drugs/vincristine

It has been shown to be useful in combination with other oncolytic agents in Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s malignant lymphomas (lymphocytic, mixed-cell, histiocytic, undifferentiated, nodular and diffuse types), rhabdomyosarcoma, neuroblastoma, Wilm’s tumour, osteogenic sarcoma, mycosis fungoides, Ewing’s sarcoma, carcinoma of the uterine cervix, breast cancer, malignant melanoma, oat-cell carcinoma of the lung, and gynaecological tumours of childhood.

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