I envy you the ordered flesh from which they unfold

"Gaudi began the park in 1900," Virek said "Paco wears the period costume. Come here, child. Show us your marvel." "Señor," Paco lisped, bowing, and stepped forward to exhibit the thing he held.
Marly stared. Box of plain wood, glass-fronted. Objects. "Cornell," she said, her tears forgotten. "Cornell?" She turned to Virek.
"Of course not. The object set into that length of bone is a Braun biomonitor. This is the work of a living artist."
"There are more? More boxes?"
"I have found seven. Over a period of three years. The 
Virek Collection, you see, is a sort of black hole. The unnatural density of my wealth drags irresistibly at the rarest works of the human spirit. An autonomous process, and one I ordinarily take little interest in."
But Marly was lost in the box, in its evocation of impossible distances, of loss and yearning. It was somber, gentle, and somehow childlike. It contained seven objects.
The slender fluted bone, surely formed for flight, surely from the wing of some large bird. Three archaic circuit boards, faced with mazes of gold A smooth white sphere of baked clay. An age-blackened fragment of lace. A finger-length segment of what she assumed was bone from a human wrist, grayish white, inset smoothly with the silicon shaft of a small instrument that must once have ridden flush with the surface of the skin but the thing's face was seared and blackened. 

The box was a universe, a poem, frozen on the boundaries of human experience.
"Gracias, Paco." Box and boy were gone.
She gaped.
"Ah. Forgive me, I have forgotten that these transitions are 
too abrupt for you. Now, however, we must discuss your assignment."
"Herr Virek," she said, "what is Paco?" 
"A subprogram."
"I see.''
"I have hired you to find the maker of the box."

Joseph Cornell, Boxesvarious dates.

She took a deep breath. "Herr Virek, what if I fail? How long do I have to locate this artist?"
"The rest of your life," he said.
Forgive me," she found herself saying, to her horror, "but I understood you to say that you live in a vat?" 

"Yes, Marly. And from that rather terminal perspective, I should advise you to strive to live hourly in your own flesh. Not in the past, if you understand me. I speak as one who can no longer tolerate that simple state, the cells of my body having opted for the quixotic pursuit of individual careers. I imagine that a more fortunate man, or a poorer one, would have been allowed to die at last, or be coded at the core of some bit of hardware. But I seem constrained, by a byzantine net of circumstance that requires, I understand, something like a tenth of my annual income. Making me, I suppose, the world's most expensive invalid. I was touched, Marly, at your affairs of the heart. I envy you the ordered flesh from which they unfold."

William Gibson, Count Zero, 1986

Paul Thek, from the series Technological Reliquaries, 1964-67

Paul Thek, from the series Technological Reliquaries, 1964-67