Wednesday, January 31, 2007
"Well what are you waiting around here for?" Albert asked his brother. "She's in the ground. It's over. Go back to Vermont. Go home." He didn't look up as he spoke. He just said his part and waited.
"I'm waiting for you, Albert." Michael responded. "We can't just..." He looked around, looked up at the sky. Globes of water exploded on his glasses. "This is ridiculous. We can't leave it at this. I need..."
He stopped short and grimaced while Albert smoldered, gaze unwavering from the headstone. He studied his brother with swelling eyes one last time, as if something would be different, as if the glacier's course could be diverted at the last second. Finally, he succumbed. Finally, he had no choice but surrender. Finally, he let the words go...
"I need you to forgive me."
For a moment they simply stood; silent and still. The wind and the rain heralded the glacier's arrival with their swirling, swelling static. It crept into the world, filling it with a killing chill.
Ultimately, Albert broke the silence. The only way out was through. His hands became fists.
"How dare you!" he said through teeth clenched with rage. "It was all your fault! Everything was!"
Sunday, January 28, 2007
The boy stood on the cliffs of the Falklands. His whole life had been on the islands, and he knew the cliffs well.
As was usual for this time of year, the skies and seas were gray. A painter might focus on the emerald green of the grass, and the boy's red sweater. The boy focused on what would become slashes of white paint swooping across the cliff face. The albatross.
His grandpa had taught him about the majestic birds and their ability to fly great distances around the world. He held the same albatross feather his grandpa had given him long ago, a few days before he died. Before his grandpa left the islands.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
But, he has no power to stop it, and it can only be the result of God's twisted will anyway. As soon as his ears pricked at the dogs' barking his legs were pumping again. Flight is all he is. He is the jackalope.
"That's it!" shouts the dogs' master in idiot joy. "I swear I saw it! There it is! That's really it!"
The hunt is ending; the chase is on. The dogs would drop dead of exhaustion before it was over. But maybe, just maybe, that man will yet find a way... to catch him.
If his desire is as strong as mine. Oh God... I have no more.
And the jackalope runs. And the dogs chase. And it is the most thrilling moment of the doomed man's life.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Mother finished preening her every minutia in the mirror and returned her gaze once more to the Princess. The Matriarch was still visibly angry, but not as terrible as before. Had Mother not spoken then, Princess would have suspected herself altogether forgotten.
"Will you be good?" asked Mother, rhetorically. She had no faith in communication at this point, but she underestimated just how well the Princess really did understand- how intensely her resentment and shame still lingered.
Mother hurriedly left.
It was still early morning.
Princess had all day to amuse herself in that woman's house.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
So what is consciousness? Self-awareness? Sapience? We sure as hell don’t have the scientific definition down for this/these things. Were’ not even in the neighborhood because we can’t even come up with a practical (practice) definition. One that just gets the gist of what it is that we’re trying to figure out.
“Self Awareness” might be about the best term to explore. After all it was the particularly cited fulcrum on which human history was turned by SkyNet on Aug 29th 1997.
Is self-awareness what separates us from animals, vegetables, and minerals? I’ve recently come across a couple hypotheses on this quintessential conundrum that really struck me as profoundly plausible.
The first comes from Steven Johnson in his short, enlightening, natural exploration Emergence.
One portion contemplates our pattern recognition and inductive abilities with regards to estimating the behavior of our fellow human creatures. We use our ability to read and interpret body language and facial expressions, the verbal language itself, and our own personal knowledge of the world to determine what other people are thinking, what they’re going to do about it, and what they will expect US to do about it. This is an amazingly helpful survival ability! And I’ve personally never experienced it being discussed much at all. It facilitates us engaging in productive behavior since it gives us more information about the situation and it especially facilitates both collaborative and competitive behavior with our fellows. Of course… Together Everyone Achieves More! We’re not the only animals that do this. Dogs and wolves do this famously and to great effect, apes and dolphins as well of course.
It’s not he blind, dumb (but effective) cooperation of an ant colony or a flock of starlings. It’s higher order and cognitive and arguably it’s what we’re best at. After all, we’ve taken it beyond simply family or pack dynamics and built whole cities and nations in a deliberate act of special collaboration.
We did it deliberately but did we necessarily do it consciously? Were we ourselves aware of what we were doing? Well we didn’t see all ends when we started but it’d say the answer’s still a definite “yes”. So why don’t dogs and apes have cities? The dogs might have the opposable thumb excuse but the apes don’t. So, oh yes, let’s do remember that there is still a difference between man and animal. We are self-aware. Is this come divine quantum leave of consciousness between the species? At first gland of course it seems so. But yet inspection of our powerful pattern recognition abilities and our great capability to create a working model of each other creature we meet in our own minds, it becomes easy (as Mr. Johnson, suggests) to view our own self-aware consciousness as a logical evolution of this highly developed skill.