“Oh, God is dead,” he says, a playboy grin alighted on his well cared-for face. “But Neither Nietzsche nor Darwin killed him. The founder of this company did.”
He casts an arm casually around the room, highlighting the classic motifs from half a decade ago and the clean lines of the shining present. “Look,” He says. Everything from the floor up is clearly expensive, and according to the finest tastes. “We sit at the pinnacle of the world.” As the Chief Executive Officer, He sits in an artisan office chair that is as handsome as he is. His desk, a minimalistic pane of glass, is empty save for a blank tablet and an apple tree in the bonsai style, complete with a half dozen apple’s the size of a child’s fist. They look delicious.
“They’re delicious,” He says, and the tone in his voice makes it hard to tell if he knew what I was thinking. “Take one!” I do. It is.
It took forever to land this interview. After my piece a few years ago–a deeply personal discussion with the last living pioneer of the social networking age–I knew that my investigation was coming to a close. I phoned in every favor I had ever earned, and now I find myself in the Executive Suite, perched so high I can see the stars better than the earth.
I’m nervous. What’s the first question someone asks the CEO of Life? “Where did it all begin?” seems like as good a place as any.
“The 1720s. Not many people know this, but our organization started in France. It’s anyone’s guess what we were called then, but we were much closer to a conspiracy than a monopoly. The first head of our organization–he was the Rector at that time–was a student of business and a patron of the arts. The inexorable rise of industry fascinated him, but he didn’t want any part in shipping or manufacturing. Who can blame him?” With a cat’s calm precision, the CEO references both the state of the world and the draw for his product. He gives off a powerful aura of confidence and control.
“The Rector wanted to increase his wealth like any entrepreneur would, but he had admired enough paintings and enjoyed enough theatre to understand that people want three things: sex, violence, and the freedom to choose between the two. He saw this as a common thread between himself and the rest of humanity, and he wanted to make sure that he could ensure it for as many people as possible. Who can blame him?
“Admittedly, The Rector’s ideas were not ideal. He only really cared about ensuring pleasure for the rest of the aristocracy, and it took awhile for our organization to become more sympathetic. Trying to control the U.S. theatre circuit in the mid 1800s was our first public front–you were right about that in your last article–but we think we were working for the greater good a little before that.”
I wonder what keeps them from knowing all of their history. “We have complete records, but the early ones are indecipherable.” The CEO’s ability to guess my next question is astounding. “They wrote everything in Latin, and translating it only reveals a bunch of cryptic phrases. ‘All Hail the Palace’ and stuff like that. It’s really a little creepy.”
His ability to finesse even the shady things into what is turning into a very friendly chat is astounding. I don’t know what I was expecting, but meeting the man in charge is rife with this strange sense of finely-concealed excitement. Like big things are happening just around the corner, and all we have to do is wait for them to arrive.
“Since then, we’ve had a number of entertainment personas operate as our public face–The Chairman is a particularly good example–though nobody seemed to catch on that something was going on behind the scenes until recently. The conspiracy theorists think there’s a guy at the top of the pyramid, who has his fingers in all of it. Business. Politics. Religion. Well, they’re mostly right. I’m that guy, but I don’t go to church. I let you find me because I want to set the record straight.”