Boku No Vita Communis
What follows are the unabridged transcripts of the interview with Quicksort.
[REPORTER]: Quicksort-san, thank you for meeting me. Your recent rise to fame must make for an incredibly challenging schedule?
[QUICKSORT]: Thank you for interviewing me, indeed it does but I think journalism is important.
[REPORTER]: We sit here, beneath the gleaming glass of the UA main campus building, its blocky frame imposing on the horizon. In this light it looks almost like a literal ivory tower. I’m sure the metaphor isn’t lost on you. So I’d like to begin this interview by asking: Like most teenageers, did you dream of the academy, and grow somewhat resentful after being denied entry?
[QUICKSORT]: Well, I lived, and in fact still live, a fairly common life; as you said at the beginning, i’ve had a recent and steep rise to fame, but that hasn’t (yet) gone to my head, actually it’s the exposure to the political world stage that I feel incredibly humbled by, but I suspect i’m skipping ahead in your list of questions by saying that. So right now, my answer to your two, fairly leading questions, would be yes and then no. Though that hasn’t always been the case.
[REPORTER]: Let’s take it step by step then; you’ve mentioned it was a common early life, but I am interested in hearing what your childhood was like, as our readers are I’m sure.
[QUICKSORT]: Ha! Okay, though I’m not sure you would, it’s fairly painful for me to talk about, not because it was a painful childhood as such, just that I’m embarrassed of my past self.
[REPORTER]: Why so?
[QUICKSORT]: Okay well, you’ll know my mother and father, Pin-point and Four-fold? A pair of minor level local ‘people’s champions’ as opposed to fully fledged UA graduate heroes.
[REPORTER]: I do, but please, describe them from your perspective.
[QUICKSORT]: With a focus on their quirks no doubt?
[QUICKSORT]: Inhales deeply My mother’s a patient woman. Her quirk allows her to locate anything she’s seen before (either in reality or photos). Which, yes, sounds amazing in principle, and should open up endless job opportunities: from missing persons cases to the sourcing of raw materials. However, ‘the quirks giveth and the quirks taketh away’. Like most quirks there are significant limitations. Its range is short and gets less accurate as it reaches out. Its accuracy scales with her familiarity of what she’s seeking. She can find her car keys no problem, finding your missing daughter based on a picture of a mass produced t-shirt? Not so easy. Finally, it highlights every object fitting the description, regardless of owner, so often she finds so much it's irrelevant. She isn’t bitter though, as I said, she’s very patient and caring, and uses her quirk for good at every opportunity.
My dad quirk is much simpler and though its heroic applications are zero, it’s the most productive of their quirks. Basically, he can re-create any object or scene, real or imagined, in origami form. He makes some money through art sales and has a decent fan following. To supplement my father’s income, my mother is a self-employed consultant for people who need to locate resources, mainly oil companies, and helps the police with insurance fraud cases.
[REPORTER]: I see, thank you. It’s no surprise, given your work, that you’re happy to share the details of your parent’s quirks, but what about your up-bringing?
[QUICKSORT]: Ah, digging for the good stuff. No problem, I can respect that. Well, to a 16 year old in semi-rural Nihon, contentment was oppressive, stifling even. It was made worse by loving, supportive and realistic parents who tried to steer me away from fanciful aspirations of heroism. I began ‘rebelling’ once my request to apply for UA was brushed aside, though to be honest, I was a bit of a uzai yarō even before then.
This is the embarrassment I referred to earlier, thinking back it’s hard to respect that person. I wish I could give you a dark and painful past that created a powerful villain snatched back to the good side before it was too late, but all I can offer is a portrait of pastoral passivity coupled with what seemed to be a mediocre quirk.
[REPORTER]: As the old phrase goes, familiarity breeds contempt, there’s no need for embarrassment.
[QUICKSORT]: I thank you.
[REPORTER]: If we might talk specifically about your quirk then, you said it ‘seemed to be a mediocre quirk’, why so?
[QUICKSORT]: My quirk developed later than most, though not so late that my parents were worried (at least so they have told me), and like most children of parents with quirks, I exhibited a combination of theirs synthesised into my own. Interviewing me here today, you know how powerful my quirk can be in the right circumstances, but before I’d honed it or come up with useful applications for it, it was a party trick at best, illegal at worse.
The clue’s in the name: Quicksort. I can sort things quickly. If there’s a stack of papers, books, cards or anything like that, I can instantly re-organise it so whatever I need, or want, appears wherever I want it to. Pin-point plus Four-fold equals Quicksort.
[REPORTER]: I’m sure you can appreciate that hearing you have the ability to locate information like that sounds incredibly powerful, even at a young, untrained age. I still haven’t evidence of it being mediocre.
[QUICKSORT]: Oh absolutely, but that’s where the quirk stops. The location of information, not absorption, not manipulation, just finding it. Because of it I was a very efficient student, obviously, achieving consistent Cs and Bs; and this seemed enough. I felt smart for not working too hard, felt smart for not working at all really, and still getting a passing grade that put me above average, but not quite an Otaku. I still held out for a position at UA because school gave me a feeling of grandeur, I was owed a clear path to a fruitful future of fame and fortune.
Rather than argue with my parents, I went straight to the local Quirk Consultancies after graduation. It was a bitter drink of reality as they told me my ‘power’ was ‘too cerebral to fight against the tide of evil’, even as a minor hero. In my shame, I tried to make a counter argument, referencing UA’s Principal Nezu and his ‘high specs’ quirk as a highly cerebral yet hero worthy power. I was laughed out of the office, and frankly even then with my inflated ego I had to admit we were, and still are, not in the same league.
[REPORTER]: Obviously, this was before the unification of independent quirk consultancies underneath the government’s QUAD (Quirk Understanding And Development) arm?
[QUICKSORT]: Indeed, it was the week before that unification in fact.
[REPORTER]: Okay so to recap: enthusiasm dashed, hopes spurned, what was next for Quicksort?
[QUICKSORT]: Lots of prayer, healthy eating and a can do attitude. I jumped into gear and here I am, the man you see before you.
[REPORTER]: Ahha, if only it was so simple; I wouldn’t be a good reporter if i didn’t already have a rough idea of your answers to my questions.
[QUICKSORT]: Ha indeed. Well after that I felt discouraged, yes as you say; i went to work in the local library, a good job in itself but paltry compared to my lofty hero expectations. It was a peaceful job with kind people who respected me and my quirk. I helped write essays and expedite their research. The days went from peaceful to boring, from boring to restless and from restless to agitated. Frustrated i began looking for answers, though i wasn’t sure of the question. My quirk facilitated the quick delivery of plenty of articles about quirk bias and hero worship in our society and the imbalance it’s caused. Our whole economy and social structure pivots on quirks, it’s the quirk that defines the person, rather than the person defining the quirk.
[REPORTER]: We’re starting here to see the seeds of your current self, would you agree that this is where your work really began?
[QUICKSORT] No, I wouldn’t agree. At that moment I was at risk of becoming very disillusioned with the world, well in fact I was, and whilst it made me who i am today, to say it was a seed implies it was what i grew from, but in fact it’s the culling of that weed that helped create me today.
[REPORTER]: Forgive me sir, please, what happened after the library then? We can’t be far away from your current self in terms of age, you’re still quite young?
[QUICKSORT]: No offence given. Indeed, it wasn’t long ago at all, but strangely feels like a lifetime. After the library I moved into Tokyo. All in one weekend, I'd gone from being a bland member of our tranquil town, to a disillusioned angry teenager in a downtown flat share. From here the story is almost too cliche for you to print; no money turned into the wrong crowd and dodgy dealings. Before long I was hustling for money through cheap card tricks, but street ‘magic’ doesn’t draw much of a crowd anymore since quirks have practically created real wizards. Of course, this served to fuel my hatred for heroes and the quick based society i was forced to be a servant in..
I found work as a croupier in the casinos, upper-management promptly fired me after my quirk was discovered by some sore losing patrons. As luck would have it, or at least it seemed like luck at the time, a local ninkyō dantai boss said he could make use of my talents in his own high-stakes games. Though again, this job ended as quickly as it began as other players became very suspicious as the boss’ winning streak, despite my urge for subtlety.
[REPORTER]: The prevalence of ever more specific quirks has effectively forced gambling underground, it’s a nasty business that can be read about in our June edition. Quicksort-san, let’s jump to the present for a moment; can you describe your position as you see it today?
[QUICKSORT]: I’d be delighted, though remind me to return to the story’s climax before we sign off.
[QUICKSORT]: What I've not mentioned is that my quirk extends beyond the material realm of information, and into the digital one. A revelation I myself only discovered very recently when searching for information on the hero-in-training, Red Riot; the story for which will serve as cherry for this interview sundae.
[REPORTER]: If i could just interrupt briefly, so you’re saying that you’re able to retrieve any information not just on paper but also stored in computers; so the internet?
[QUICKSORT]: Exactly right. Think of it like a google search, only rather than being presented with all the options to read, I receive the exact piece of text, number, picture or anything really that represents the thing I need at that moment.
[REPORTER]: Providing that you’ve seen it before?
[QUICKSORT]: Nope, that’s the beauty of my particular quirk blend. Pin Point’s gives me the ability to reach out and seek information, Four Fold allows me to imagine what it is. It works like a call and response, I shout out a question into the void of information, and the facts can’t help but jump back in response.
[QUICKSORT]: Thank you. So to answer your question, what is my role? Well I suppose it does go back to that ‘seed’ as you said. Sat looking for answers, my upturned mind found what I thought I needed. Looking back now I see it was heavily warped and biased, not entirely untrue, but certainly not the full picture. My life now is dedicated to fact checking. Heros and politicians live side by side, in a strange but functioning symbiosis; both need to be accountable for what they say, and that’s my job. I’m invited along to press conferences and board meetings, to act as a fact checker, to keep those that are influential accountable, and help the public, impressionable or sceptical when listening to these figures of authority, think critically. My consultancy is built on the idea that transparency of fact is imperative to democracy; and invite any client willing to stand by their honor, to invite me and my team along to any of their next events.
[REPORTER]: Your service to our nation is overwhelming and the effects can already be seen in Endeavour’s recent statement retraction that you personally fact checked; without getting too into the social politics of it, I do wonder why you haven’t taken this into courts of law though, wouldn’t that be more effective?
[QUICKSORT]: Thank you, and a valid question. Whilst courts of law are there to filter out rights and wrongs based on the written letter; it’s not for one person to make a judgement, hence the jury. Facts and figures aren’t the full picture even in a courtroom, context and interpretation matter too, and that’s something I can't give, so wouldn’t want to be relied upon to aid the process.
[REPORTER]: Does context and interpretation not matter when reading statements from Heroes or politicians?
[QUICKSORT]: Of course; but where courts and broadcasted statements differ, is that the former have a due process intended to reach a fair result, and the latter go unchecked, which is where I come in.
[REPORTER]: A well thought out answer; before we finish, please tell us about Red Riot.
[QUICKSORT]: Thanks, it’s a question that i’m asked frequently. Yes! Of course, Red Riot! Well, he is a hero in training, who’s career I'm looking forward to seeing develop. It’s because of him, that i’m here, that I set up my consultancy, and really that I have a more balanced view of heroes.
[REPORTER]: High praise, what happened?
[QUICKSORT]: I was hustling card games in the back streets after I'd been fired from the private poker games. Suddenly, noise of a fight erupts, and a skinny blue haired man rushes around the corner pursued by a bare chester hero with red hair, though it looked more like stone.
[REPORTER]: You’re referring, of course, to the incident involving the quirk acceleration drug during Red Riot’s training with FatGum?
[QUICKSORT]: The very same. I was there; initially I did what any criminal would do, I pulled down my purple cap and began to turn away. I was about to pop up my collar to keep me even more hidden, when an incredible screech of metal erupted from the now cornered villain. Flashes of blades spewed forth from every part of his body, smashing and slicing into brick and glass like paper. Stunned, with a morbid curiosity, I couldn't look away. Red Riot stood there, tensing his rocklike body to absorb the explosion of steel. I expected to see him die and the adrenaline makes the details a blur. But he faced the villain down, overwhelming him with a solid constitution. It was phenomenal. A small group of us rushed to thank Red Riot, who despite the incredible feat of heroism, was very gracious.
His resolve, passion and selflessness crashed against a wall of bitterness, anger and frustration in my mind, eroding it like the sea against a cliff face. It left a blank slate on which I needed to build a better mental picture of the world. He defended people he didn’t know, he faced down death for back alley gamblers, and was even embarrassed to even hear thanks.
The very next day I walked into the Center for Business and Trade main building and registered my new company and name: Quicksort Consultancy. Aiming to help heroes, politicians and citizens alike have a clearer more fact based view of the world. To stop people being manipulated by the overwhelming amount of information, and the biases present when consuming it. To stop people becoming like me.
[REPORTER]: Quicksort, thank you for your time today, your story is an inspirational one and has only just begun, we look forward to covering you again in the future. If i could just leave with one final question?
[QUICKSORT]: No, the honor is mine, thank you. Sure, please do.
[REPORTER]: Why should we trust you?
[QUICKSORT]: That is the best question you’ve asked so far. My answer is, you shouldn’t. In fact, I encourage people with any similar quirk that can undertake this ‘task of truth’ as i call it, in fact, we have a programme at the consultancy to try and find more people with suitable quirks. Meanwhile, my team of researchers fact check my fact checking, and are prepared to issue recalls of my statements should I be found incorrect, or if a situation changes. They’re slower as they’re without relevant quirks, but we need a system of double checking. Of course, I can only deliver what’s available, I can’t give ‘objective truth’ if there is such a thing, only answers that are already available, so actually anything I find is publicly available for you and the public to find too; I'm just faster at it. I look forward to seeing many more fact-checkers in the world, and hope I can enable that in the future.
[REPORTER]: Thank you.
End of transcript.