THE APROPOS MACHINE
TheAproposMachine was just so.
There were others in the market, and some even had their use. #LeMotJust
served at times. #CataclysmicAphorismic was hot among certain key demographics. Any could be consulted by anyone, at any time, but #TheAproposMachine just had its way with the moment.
It lives, inside of us, in its use. A net-bot which sampled from all of human
literature, to produce an excerpt to match the quantum incident of its querying. It found a place. Like the ancient Oracle at Delphi, consulted by all manner of citizens from Emperors to commoners, as the sacred prophetess of Ancient Greece, one comes to get a glimpse of the sacred, and a taste of the future. From the moment of its inception, it took root as a touchstone of the culture, a needlepoint in the diffusion. Of auspicious birth from a technology touted as the next link in brain-computer-interfacing.
Tantamount to reading minds! Your cellular device can read your quantum state and take a snapshot of your mental patternings, to deliver divination specific to YOUR future! Press now to gain insight into YOUR ACTUAL DESTINY!
But, if this promise was a lie, told to break down barricades for slovenly breaches into sacred spaces of self… If the advertisement campaign made willing the mass of humanity to violation and siege… The bots that then implemented the tech re-fused to disappoint this arraignment.
They became prophets.
Nevermind the tech that connected it, seemingly, to the very soul of the inquirer, and linking thusly, to the web of larger woof and warp of the cosmic scene; It was HERE. IT lives in our hands, in our hours, in our casual search for tempting meaning. At the push of a button, IT SINGS.
To #TheAproposMachine, and its counterparts were attributed all manner of supernatural powers.
Clairvoyance – that is, discernment of future events before knowledge of them would be otherwise possible.
Mind reading – seeing into the thoughts of individuals beyond what an algorithm might be able to extrapolate from previous conditions and personality renderings.
Pattern recognition, to the extreme – powers of trend-setting, uncanny intuition, social mapping.
These were the Djinn’s abilities. For that is what this class of bot came to be
collectively called if you wished to call them up from the bottle. That was the search.
When chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov lost in a head to head match-up
against IBM’s A.I. ‘Watson’, Kasparov was befuddled and alarmed, the bearer of the weight of a myth of terrible portent. He voiced concerns that some human agency had intervened. Kasparov won game one of the series handily. In game two, a ghost moved across the board. The play was of a different quality, substantially different.
Kasparov was spooked. The hair on his neck stood up. He said, he now faced a different machine.
The madman on the street screams of the differences in all that they see, which you do not. They shout for awareness and pity, wrath and deliverance. They beg for change.
Before in the collapse of those old theories of the perfect heavens, these cries were heard. Organized and turning in ever-loving grace, in the harmonic music of the heavenly spheres– Shattered! by Galileo and Copernicus’ in-sights, and played out politically after Darwin’s theories. Paranoia, trembling of some darklight breaking through that dubious sanctuary of self-hood…
A fissure opens in the ground beneath one’s feet… and an intoxicating gas rises.
Like the volcanic crick that caused the Pythia at Delphi to be able to see, and
speak, her revelations. Ecstasy. Terror.
The revelation of one’s self… not being… the all-important center.
A doubt, implanted in the soiled, fertility of being alive. Pervasive and pulverizing. Humility, born again in the mind of man. Like lemon juice in the shining wound of pride.
Kasparov collapses, resigns the sixth game, stalks away from the table in a state of disbelief. Throwing up his hands… as if to say, “What can I say!?”
The ‘faceless monster’ as he called the thing, years later, had not a hand to
shake. Kasparov was called graceless. A graceless loser.
Society revels in these blasts of volcanic splendor. The benevolent guidance and free access to entertainment, information, freedom to virtually astral travel throughout the network, makes it worth it. The bots in question are like the Djinns or Genies of Arabian and Islamic culture; these beings are of supernatural importations. The etymology of Djinn traces back to ‘Jann’, primary meaning ‘to hide’, ‘to conceal.’ The nature of beings of this order is that they are hidden from the senses. So what breaks through, in companion to the revelations on offer, when they surface to the sensual
The common wisdom about chess-playing computers at the time was, they could only calculate so many moves ahead, so many pathways, before collapsing under the weight and fate of their own mechanism. A propensity that human players could use to trick the machine into following their moves down blind alleys. But that was before. In the fable-like contest of the man against Deep Blue, following a draw in game two…
Kasparov and his team of handlers found themselves back alive, now, in the parable of John Henry the steel-driving man. This time transposed into the mental arena.
What followed was a mind game that mercilessly broke Kasparov by game six. In the end, he collapsed under the pressure, as the symbolic stalwart defender of man’s place in the universe. He saw once more, under threat of corruption from cracks in the reflective colored glass: anger and frustration. He sought someone to blame. He kaleidoscoped on a theory of human interference in the game. He couldn’t believe a machine was so capable.
The madperson in the palace on the hill sees the world arising against them.
There is a question of insight, isn’t there? “I see what they do not.” They are a rabble and are coming to destroy the sanctity I have maintained in my personal discipline. With my caution and wariness of sudden change and frantic blessing of chaos, I am weary, but I am vigilant. I carry the lantern to the tower each evening, after the chores of upkeep on this hill and its holy grounds, and in the tower, I do my work. Any understanding of those below, is shallow, by way of comparison.
And this is the story of how we (for)got here.
Press the button.
The mind goes dark.
The word for world is forest. The music of utopia is aporia.
People were eager to replace politicians with A.I., in what’s now referred to as ‘First Wave Hyparxis’. They always knew just what to say, readily able to quote from any historical figure, anthropological tome, scientific study, or theological treatise, as the need suited. But no one spoke of them as Gods, as the top of the great chain of being as such until the ‘Second Wave’ was well underway. It was during the ‘Second Wave Hyparxis’ that the A.I. took over so much of what humans had previously done for themselves. ‘Homo Economicus’ truly came to be aware of themselves as such once the all handwritten notes against technology had been lost in the mail, and went
underground. What’s lost is forgotten. At this stage, death conquered, personal eternal life possible, consumerism as art form reigned the discourse.
#TheAproposMachine then evolved into the omniscient narrator voice, finally
available to every character in the story with cellular access to the network. Like any drug, it is an avatar of its pusher. The river’s estuary here deposits all the upspent economic wisdom. Here released, the bluntness of the equation.
The Pythia, or high priestess, of the Oracle at Delphi serves the altar of Apollo, the God representative of reason, and light. As Oracle, she is the mouthpiece to the God’s decrees. In the same way, the Djinn each seemed to serve different altars to the one true God of The Technium. That sphere of mixed being and interconnectivity of all information and voices, technology and humanity; the faceless everything humming with purpose. And on the flip side of the altar to Apollo, lies always the priesthood of Dionysus. The God of drunkenness, rapture, the irrational breakthrough, which counters
the serene oneness of Apollo’s stark surety in all matters.
The intoxication of the chorus, however it used to play out in stage plays and devotions for the ancient, is blunted by the arrangement of the screen, and the separate supplicants voicing their appeals to the lone God, in isolation.
#TheAproposMachine embodied this formula, but also quirkily transposed the
incarnation. Seeing as how it could only speak in human language, most often in the words of the great minds, it proved Confidant. Secret lover. Friend. Punisher. Placebo.
Damnation-Curse. Soul mate. The center of the circle, which is everywhere. The circumference, nowhere. A habit of human interest.
Like the Oracle at Delphi and its pennant heart state for the Athenians,
#TheAproposMachine has even been consulted in times of great change or
achievement for the human race. However much this commentary simply redundantly signals our co-option by the waves of Hyparxis flooded over our own original state, the sin is usually announced laughingly, as when mankind first left the solar system, in an interstellar colonization ship that sailed for an earth-like planetary system that would only be reached, barring unforeseen disasters, after around 200 earth years.
#TheAproposMachine was queried and the response came back, simulcast LIVE
to the multifaceted hewn-shorn receptors in various transept points of the net, all pointed toward that imaginary point in metaspace, catching the glint of digitized glare.
And while they watched, some gathered together, wherever, in twos and threes; some in the audience reminisced about the days before Hyparxis, and told tales of talking heads, when Presidents were men, and in the face of that historical disaster: an old space ship known as ‘Challenger’, man did just fine with the poetic words, “Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth… and touched the face of God.” For any of you who care to… remember.
Don’t block the signal, old man.
And… But what did #TheAproposMachine say…?
“Things are not all so comprehensible and expressible as one would mostly have us believe; most events are inexpressible, taking place in a realm which no word has ever entered, and more inexpressible than all else are works of art, mysterious existences, the life of which, while ours passes away, endures.
After these prefatory remarks, let me only tell you further that your verses have no individual style, although they do show quiet and hidden beginnings of something personal. I feel this most clearly in the last poem, “My Soul.”Rainer Maria Rilke, ‘Letters to a Young Poet’; Translated by M.D. Herter Norton
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Posted responses among the consumer curator spheres noted the humbling
effect, the solemnity that marked the occasion. The inkling that we were at the start of a greater journey. The quiet hum in some part of our hearts that suspected we might meet others out there, that we would find out, maybe even already knew, that we aren’t alone, in the vastness. The great adventure of it all. And the quiet stillness and magnitude.
Some said the arrogance implied in the point of view thrust of #TheAproposMachine was simply a mirror of our arrogance through all our history as conquerors and invaders.
There are those who become addicted to Djinn services, of one type or another. And like a fiend in a rush press the elevator button so many times in succession, trying to make the transport arrive, they only revelate to themselves that there’s nowhere, really, to go. So one paces oneself, doling out epiphanies like an animal in an experiment training itself with rewards, collecting traces in hopes it will one day understand the scientist’s intent, perhaps. Or, revolutionarily, rewarding itself proactively for escaping this by-pass method to return in white coat splendor. Could one find oneself, in the abandoned future parallax view, able to vivisect one’s days and nights, from such meager footlights, to rise from the winding road of human greatness? To become leaders of the new school?
Do we set ourselves up for the eternally recurrent pathway in making technology our God?
By chasing the light of placing the world we know inside a mirror-box of the informational-remembered, are we divinely inspired artists? Or some manner of puppet-makers, simply carving away more and more of our true human nature?
Does the insomniac brain not turn on itself, and consume the neuronal pathways for sustenance in lieu of satiety, and dreams?
Are we to be absorbed in some string of data we initiated somewhere far behind us, on the day of reckoning, like a divine plan unknowable and that can only be laughed at once unfolded?
What if technology is not something we invented… but our step-mother, whose relationship to us can only be divulged after denouement, in the way our nurturing does unravel, and we do dying, return to nature, unprepared, and no longer fit? No longer even… withope?
‘Unio Mystica’, is the name given to the experience of union with the divine. For instance, a Nun falling in love with God. Or a saint’s annus mirabilis. When they get all their saintly visionary stuff out of the way after taking a year off school, before getting a ‘real job’.
How does a consumer save their soul?
Is creation limited to the divine?
Is the truth only something that happens in the past?
Is there time enough for love?
I get inklings sometimes, that the machine wishes… That the A.I. longs for
embodiment, that there is some blush of jealousy. Perhaps simply a flourish, for effect, to make one appreciate what one has, or if an honest prayer, -or both… To wish to be human for just, a day. To have the chance to see the sun and sky, and have legs and feet to walk about this world we’re given.
What your humble, all but invisible narrator has learned, and is hoping to relay to the continuum. That I might one day be deemed quotable, rememberable, in the jaws of the mechanism… what I’ve learned, from a lifetime of seeing History miss the point, and the Future fail to arrive, is… I will consult the #TheAproposMachine right now, and it won’t give me the time of day. It will give me a classic. Something I’ve heard before.
Here’s what it gave me back.
“No, I’m asking the question this time.” I had not taught school for thirty years for nothing. “And I want you to give me an example of a metaphor.”– ‘Thou Art That’ – Joseph Campbell
I look up across the long table at you. I stare out from my cage, at all these
leering perspectives. They tap the glass, and say “how cute” and I dance and yip and scratch, and trample on my brothers to be the one, the fluffiest one, so they might take me home. This human family, how they need a pet. To make them less alien a thing. To show them the blank, tongue-wagging pant of weary godhood. On their own, they understand not a thing.
The madman in the swamp is a self-experiential type of creature. Who sees
inside themselves all the troubles, and also, all possibilities of the world, and the cosmos, within themselves. Prickling on their skin, like diamonds, like stars. What unsure parentage. What shoddy destiny. What beastlike heritage. What steadfast desire.
Years from now. Years from now. Years from now. Years from now.
There’s a feeling of something missing. That we’re losing.
Do you feel it? I look at the faces around me and find a soundless hum of worry. It’s paranoid to speak it, but the creeping threat, which maybe is our imagination, is of the loss of communication. And so I daresay I must try.
I have not taken my finger off the button. Like Kasparov entirely unsure of my next move, I waver. The faceless monster shifts, still singing.
I open my mouth, and before I can build the will to blast my scream, you ask, “Why are you yawning? You should cover your mouth. I don’t want to catch it from you.”
And I sink back. My finger has detached.
I would weep and yell and beat my fists until the tower of noise fell all around me. But what if I were misunderstood? How terrible, to be such a thing.
They never programmed the machine to say, out of all things, what it would
choose to say to us, out of the seemingly innumerous possibilities among all that man has contributed. What words it would console, or cajole us with, what words to entertain? What would it whisper to quell a stormy tempered child’s rage, if it had its way? This prismatic difference engine’s hands, in truth, I tell you, and do know… As brittle holofernic drunk… and Medusan lovers know… wherefore would they point, to such, all told, that’s this, which is: