Wednesday, December 27, 2006


1. I can tell from the smell of metal on the breath of the dog barking at my face that it’s a robot.

2. Though in the present it is quite important to be clear on what is known.

3. Hence these remarks.

4. I do not deduce or conclude that there is a dog barking and snapping at my face; it is all there at once.

5. But suddenly I smell its breath and I see it as metal, a metal dog.

6. Which does not surprise me as all sorts of things have been turning to metal lately.

7. Perhaps that is why I am here.

8. To be isolated and quarantined from this outbreak of things turning into metal.

9. But if that is why I am here, why are things turning to metal here?

10. Or do they bring us here to help the process along?

11. Whose side are they on?

12. Sides and loyalty are important. Allegiances.

13. And yet unclear.

14. This is another reason why it is important to stick to what is known.

15. For instance, I could say that I am being held against my will.

16. Yet, after all this time, how can I know what my will is?

17. When you are in a place like this, you might as well conclude that you are the
architect of it all, because the whole cosmos there revolves around you.

18. Where you are blindfolded, where you are taken.

19. Everywhere and in everything you do, you have attendants, who look to see what you are doing constantly. Study your every word and gesture.

20. You are like a god, really, blind and dumb.

21. This is why I tell them, when they are done “you are free to go now.” I release them.

22. But they are never quite done.

23. So like a god, my will is inscrutable, and I do not know why I came here, save to give these blinding muting attendants purpose.

24. And even here they are turning to metal.

25. The flesh I suppose is weak.

26. I think the problem started with cloned meats.

27. But we should stick to what is known

28. After all, it is perfectly possible that should my skull be opened it might not contain a brain and be perfectly empty, an unrented room.

29. This room might be equally empty.

30. None of this would really be that surprising.

31. It is best that we get away from the whole Platonic cave imagery and Cartesian guessing game.

32. I have the benefit of a good education.

33. For what?

34. I am a scientist

35. Scientists said the cloned meats were okay

36. Not that kind of scientist

37. I gave a paper once, that is, I read something I had written down on the plane to a room full of other people who were interested in that sort of thing.

38. I was saying that at this point in the Twenty-first Century we had two powerful signifiers: Metal and Flesh.

39. The two were in an exchange: the flesh was becoming intelligent, abstract, technological, taking on the industrial qualities of metal.

40. It started when we began growing those delicious steaks in tanks, huge sheets of living meat, impossibly tender, because it had never stretched on a bone or been born.

41. Or when artists started pouring bone, or cell phone manufacturers.

42. As always, it’s hard to say.

43. Anyway, it could be produced and manufactured, like metal.

44. And, much to everyone’s total surprise, it began to develop a rudimentary intelligence.

45. (Intelligence, like life, increasingly appears to be an inherent potential in matter.)

46. We only found this out incidentally, when we started having more problems with degenerative neurological disorders resulting from transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (prion diseases like Creutzfeldt-Jakob “mad cow disease”) -despite having invented synthetic free tissue growths like this specifically to avoid this problem.

47. There was even some crazy Polish speculation that the tissue in the tanks had somehow deliberately engineered the prions to get us.

48. Strategically, this would be a good move, to disable a large part of our population, rather than just kill them outright, as disabled we posed a greater drain on resources of the remaining uninfected population than dead.

49. Some paranoid people went further and imagined that the final showdown would be our few surviving descendants and robots versus intelligent meat bent on revenge.

50. That’s crazy.

51. But people did become crazier, while the meat got smarter.

52. In the end, it was a disaster: millions of people lost their minds and the hospitals were overwhelmed.

53. The ever growing excess had to be sent to improvised camps to be taken care of; stadiums and military bases.

54. At the same time that meat was becoming intelligent, metal was becoming animal, quite literally.

55. We made generation after generation of robotic insects and microorganisms.

56. We prided ourselves on how they fought and learned, healed and reproduced, created their own structures and languages.

57. We taught metal to fear, to protect itself, to hurt

58. To love, after a fashion.

59. That is to say, metal became cunning.

60. To Serve.

61. And Protect. You could say that most of the money came from the military and defense contractors, but at this point everything was the military and defense contractors, MIT was just a branch of the military and defense contractors.

62. The semiotics seminar I spoke at was a military and defense contractor sponsored event.

63. It was called: “The Signifying Battlefield”

64. Some of my research and ideas went into the development of the Tactical Environment Action Response System, which is what the Total Real-time Battlefield Map of the Future Combat System initiative came to be called.

65. One of my ideas went directly into the design of the little icon that represented human factors; the little dots representing soldiers would change color and intensity according to health and morale.

66. I got to see it in action during the last war: it was amazing because you could see literally waves of fear ripple through a group of soldiers who could see the MOAB detonation.

67. They looked like little glowing fireflies or fairies in the holometric projection of the war room. I wanted to kneel down and scoop them up off the ghostly projected battlefield, scoop them up like little pollywogs and tell them: it’s alright.

68. At the other end of the map was the enemy. They lay like embers, fading in the IR.

69. I had gotten the idea from a strategic war sim game I used to play in college a lot.

70. There were quite a few game designers at the seminar as well.

71. My paper was called: “The Disappearing Cyborg”

72. Of course, there were more cyborgs than ever, but my point was that flesh and metal would eventually become so commingled, just semiotically, that the idea of the cyborg, as such, was already obsolete.

73. I pointed to the fact that there had been a certain amount of alarm at the rapid increase in cases of Asperger’s syndrome among children throughout the developed world:

74. An entire generation of children was growing up with normal or above average intelligence, but unable to identify or understand human emotional expressions and use those expressions themselves.

75. Then it was discovered that the children could relate perfectly normally to CGI characters on children’s programming, but not live human actors.

76. In short, to them the uncanny valley was natural.

77. Parents could communicate with their children easily by rendering footage of their faces into simple CG animations, or even by simply wearing a lot of make up and severely restricting their facial expressions.

78. It was a problem of bandwidth. The parents’ faces had a broader range of signification than the children were used to, and therefore their emotional content coded as noise.

79. My earlier paper that I drew on here was called “Children of the Uncanny Valley”

80. I concluded that far from being a dehumanizing prospect, our common lives in online virtual communities and MMORPGS offered humans a vast signifying surface by which they would be able to express themselves more completely than previously:

81. Like parents faces, most of offline human life was noise, people jostling on the bus, walking down the street. You never knew what someone wanted.

82. In the online realm, however, everyone met for a purpose, and you could read them, their status, how many points they had. Their emotions were clear, iconized, unambiguous and floated directly above their heads.

83. Your exchanges were clear and precise. If you wanted sex, you had sex. If you wanted music, or drug designs you swapped them.

84. Capitalism required a final expropriation, the complete and total elimination of the human body to be complete, to become pure exchange, pure numbers.

85. At the end of my speech, I ejaculated.

86. I was starting to realize I was not a well person.

87. I had difficulty sleeping. I spent most of my time online.

88. Someone else at the seminar told me that changes in sleep were just animal responses to the climate change and communicative pressures. She said that eventually, like dolphins, we would just develop unicameral sleep with one hemisphere of the brain dreaming and the other awake doing things and seeing through it’s one eye open on the opposite side.

89. She sent me a furry snuff movie. I’m not sure if she was in it. It seemed like her tiny frame taking on Fleegle.

90. It was a mistake telling her I liked “The Banana Splits”

91. They thought I had Asperger’s syndrome for a while.

92. This is why I preferred my online presence more, where it was easier to get along, to tell what people wanted and not at all unusual or inappropriate to make inappropriate remarks.

93. However, I do not think this diagnosis is correct.

94. Many of my symptoms really do not fall under AS, however interpreted.

95. More significantly, I think that my problem is really the opposite of the children’s problem.

96. I think I sometimes have trouble reading people, because, in reality there are more robots.

97. We should be careful what we say now.

98. And how we proceed.

99. For instance, if I sound different now, it’s because I just realized that I’m starving.

100. It’s like that now. I will go for hours, days, until I realize that I’m famished. And then I’ll just stand there eating. And I never feel full; I just lose interest and stop eating. But it’s like a spell or a dream.

101. So I ate something.

102. Good.

103. Anyway, the robot thing: I am not a paranoid schizophrenic. Many of my peers work with robots in the aforesaid defense industries and some of them are paranoid schizophrenics, but we are all very familiar with the state of the art.

104. We know what robots look like, are, and are not capable of.

105. For instance, the UAV 1065 Herter-Norton Aerial Surveillance Drone looks like a vulture, because it was designed to look like a vulture as camouflage. It can even communicate and hang out with real vultures.

106. I can say that aloud, in here, at least.

107. Or can I?

108. We have learned more about vultures in the past year than during most of our history of bird watching, but that is not why it was invented.

109. So if I point to they sky and say it’s full of robot vultures that are going to attack me because my electric car has broken down, I am not crazy. That is not a crazy sentence.

110. These are not the robots that I am talking about.

111. Nor am I talking about some crazy conspiracy where people are secretly being replaced by robots.

112. Like I said, we work on all kinds of black projects. If there were robots fully capable of passing for human, to even replace one, we would know about it.

113. We would know directly about it, like UFOs, because we would have built them.

114. And say we did build such a robot.

115. Capable of entirely passing as, even wholly replacing a human without detection.

116. Designed to

117. It would be the blackest of black projects, because what purpose could it serve?

118. And when you were done, what would you do with all the people involved in the project:

119. AI Architects

120. Engineers

121. Bioengineers

122. Chemists

123. Designers

124. Nanotechnicians

125. Programmers

126. Even semioticians?

127. What to do with them?

128. After all they knew

129. How would you make them disappear?

130. Where would you put them?

131. How would you keep them quiet?

132. And destroy the information in their brains?

133. But there never was any such project.

134. So what I am saying is that people are being replaced with robots and it is some sort
of crazy conspiracy because we don’t know anything about it.

135. What kind of conspiracy?

136. This is where you really need to pay attention, and the great thing is here I know someone is always paying attention.

137. It’s been going on along time, way longer than we have been working on robotics.

138. It must have been. That’s how we missed it.

139. Likewise, if it came from a particular direction, a vector, we would have spotted it, the way we can spot computer viruses, worms and H5 N7 coming out of China.

140. They just show up suddenly, somewhere, these robots.

141. Like this dog.

142. So, logically, it must have happened everywhere all at once, at the same time, like the Big Bang.

143. Same reasoning.

144. Reason is the key.

145. So the phenomenon we are trying to explain is: people (and this dog) are being replaced by robots.

146. How is this possible?

147. Who is responsible?

148. But in reality the question is all backwards.

149. We should rather ask, if these perfect robots are possible, why don’t they exist already?

150. We asked the same question with respect to nanotechnology: if these microscopic self-replicating machines are possible, why don’t they exist already?

151. (You can see where I am going with this)

152. They do.

153. God created them.

154. Likewise, these perfect robots exist: God is turning people into robots, bringing my paper’s conclusion about ahead of schedule.

155. But why is God doing this?

156. No, really, why?

157. I think I can answer this question.

158. I think I am uniquely suited to answer it.

159. Because I, like God, am somehow outside of space and time, in a non-place, beyond all human communication.

160. Yet, like God, surrounded by throngs of invisible attendants.

161. Like God, I reached the same conclusion: I concluded that the cyborg is destined to vanish.

162. So, I, godlike, have started to bring this about, including this dog, for instance.

163. But why?

164. I don’t know.

165. And I don’t think God knows either.

166. Because his invisible attendants keep him blind. They deafen his ears.

167. Heaven, outside of time and space, is a prison.

168. Or some sort of facility.

169. And so each thing that God does comes like some sort of terrifying revelation.

170. So it really is like Plato’s cave, only a bound and blinded God creates the pure forms, by interpreting the shadows before him. By shadows cast, in ignorance created.

171. And this, too, is my fate.

172. Is that all?

173. No.

174. Can’t we go back further? Physicists always said that it makes no sense to talk about what happened before the Big Bang –before they started talking about it.

175. It was me, I was the first robot.

176. I was the first robot.

177. My mother told me I was a robot.

178. I ran on batteries powered by love.

179. Before I went out each day she would look at me and get this smile and then she would hug me and say she was charging me up for the day:

180. …10%

181. …16%

182. …25%

183. (She would give me a little kiss on the eyes and nose)

184. Oh! 50%

185. …65%

186. (She would rub my tummy)

187. …87%!

188. …89%!

189. …94%!

190. …95%

191. …96%!

192. …97%

193. …98%

194. …99%

195. …99.01%!

196. …etc

197. Okay, you are all charged. You are ready to go! Umbilicals disconnecting. You are free and clear of the mothership and on your own power! Go! Go! Go!

198. When I got home she would ask if I was all empty and rundown and fill me up again, with milk and cookies and kisses on the head. Then she would check for any structural damage or changes in my registry.

199. I was not alone, then.

200. 200@ 19 54 36 75 12 48

for a friend called 5

TURN #95: WEEK 81; WORDS: 92 605

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Favorite Christmas Albums


As chilling and disaffected as Christmas albums get, Gary Numan’s proto-conceptual album features songs about a Christmas in a technological dystopia where flesh covered robots rape human beings and folks dressed up like Eskimos for public entertainment, all sung like a heavily medicated robot with Asperger’s syndrome.

we cannot cry
we do not shout
I cannot tell why


A moody, inconsolable Christmas album; like Tess of Tess of the Urbervilles, people are mean and unfair to Tori and it’s never really clear why. With her moody tinklings and planget voice, Tori Amos turns an old holiday standard like “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” into a tale of familial love, betrayal, recovery, healing, betrayal and redemption:

She’s been drinking too much egg nog
So I begged her not to go
But she’d left her medication
So she stumbled out the door into the
Snooooooooow Oh Oh OH


Probably one of the blackest and most violent Christmas albums imaginable, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Saint Nick reads like an unexpurgated bloody piratical adventure where everyone turns into werewolves. Things get stuffed into stockings and hung by the chimney with care, if you catch my drift. Guaranteed to ruin Christmas for small children, who will now only feel comparatively safe on Halloween. Like many sleazy Christmas themed slasher movies only with a zombie eating contest in the middle and somehow set to music.

Many of these songs were written for his infamous “Nick Cave’s Christmas Special” as were some of the tracks of his special guests, below:


This album is like spending Christmas with some sort of Ur Hobo at a shelter run by broken things. Goes down smooth like fortified wine, unfiltered cigarettes and cold, cold rain water falling down a broken pipe onto one’s dreams. Opens up vast new frontiers in the dim and lacrymose region known as “the lugubrious.” Slightly funnier than Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Not only Christmas, but Hanukkah, also gets dragged down, or, more specifically, Hanukkah and Christmas go out on a tear together and Christmas gets in a knife fight with Kwanza.

“Another Postcard From Another Hooker in Minneapolis” answers the logistical question of “what does a differently abled prostitute do on Christmas Eve when she has one wooden leg stolen and has sold the other for dope and carries around an old clock in a ripped up bagpipe?” Tom Waits musically takes you there, and many other places where no one has any access to health or dental care. A particularly great track is “New Year’s Resolutions” which seems to have been recorded on a hand held tape recorder while sitting on a riding lawn mower.


Like spending Christmas with your crazy cool arty Berliner aunt who plays awesome cool punk music, cuts up her clothing, tells you she doesn’t need lithium and then makes out with you on top of a birthday cake she has made for no reason. Answers the question: what is Christmas like inside of Jesus’ UFO which of course is a time machine because space is Jesus’ true body and his blood is time and redemption is time flowing backward and therefore there is no inside to the UFO which is Jesus, because everything is infinitely outside (inside).


Logical follow up to their Jesus Christ Superstars, which seems to have seen this whole thing coming, Laibach’s O Tannenbaum presents old holiday favorites as interpreted by Herbert Von Karjan with Albert Speer on keyboards. Perfect for sitting around with family and friends for the holidays, burning books.


A cool ambient screen of an album which is like spending Christmas sitting on a slowly rotating baggage carousel on a moonbase. Features more back masked “ho, ho, ho”’s than any other album and heavily sampled reindeer.

TURN #94: WEEK 80; WORDS: 89 729