What if machine consciousness already existed?

Suppose the internet had achieved a kind of sentience…

…how would you know that the email you just received was from an actual human being?

…how would you know that the weblog you were reading was written by an actual human being?

…how would you know that the last wiki edit wasn’t some artificial construct?

If distributed, artificial intelligence existed this is how it would affect the world–through manipulation of the physical beings on this world, via misdirection, persuasion and trickery…

Loki’s imprisonment

You can hear Max in the background of this one. Sarah said it was “one of your more disturbing ones”. I’m inclined to agree. I think I wrote this one when I was reading a lot of Norse mythology. Loki kills Baldr–a guy everyone likes–so he gets hunted down and imprisoned with his son’s entrails. (Nice!) They put a snake over his head so the poison drips down. Combined with my admittedly messed-up headspace at the time, it seemed like the perfect time to write this poem:

Memory IV

“Too true, too true,”

she whispers in her cold way,

her boiling old way, her true-blue and sold way.

“Too true…”

And I, I am like a quivering daisy chain,

full of green and yellow anticipation.

I strew, or no, link my self’s mind together;

Dixie Blues are clinking on an old player piano.

Seeing her slow eyes again, I rinse myself with spices—

for the blood-boil—

and put this old scrumptious dalliance on the slow burner,

thick potatoes and carrots swirling in the brew.

“But this between us will lead us only to more

and deeper dripping poison and despair.”

“Too true, too true,” she whispers.

I hold up my arms

and let myself be tied with snakes to the bedpost,

paying penance to the old gods.

As she holds the cup to keep the venom from dripping on my face,

all that remains is my trickster’s voice,

words spilling out over my silent body:

“Listen to me:

“Hear and understand

“these cold words of mine

“that will glitter and sparkle off the end of my tongue

“when my foes unchain the wolf, the dragon, the hungry maid:

“the children of my soul’s revenge.

“But they haven’t yet let loose—have patience!

“I keep waiting and sighing and spying and clicking and spinning and wilting and weeping:

“now there is nothing but my silence,

“my wicked silence that hurts you so…”

Too true, too true and her eyes are leaking tears,

my body burns and aches at her touch

but I feel pity only for myself.

“Wicked? No not wicked, that goes too far, too

“too far. Far beyond the reasonable, far beyond intuition and of grief.

“Far beyond the boiling hams and bouncing tree fairies.”

I wonder if I actually said that, for she hums in a pleasing way,

and places her tight lips upon my face. “Too true,

too true.”

“Replace wicked with frightened and old. Or tricky:

“that’s the silence you have.

“I have. Me. A frightened old silence.

“A tricky frightened silence.

“It’s time you listened and heard my silence truly.

“Truly, for what it is.”

She seems to be hearing me,

her tongue is dripping slow circles along my chest.

I can feel her cold fingers drag shivers down my side.

She stops. Looks long into my eyes:

“Too true, too true,”

and cuts my tongue between her teeth.

“Ahh. You’ve lived too long in a short space,

“I think your ends want to outgrow the short space of time,

“but they shrivel instead. It’s time you…

“it’s really time you…

“it’s got to be time you…

“thought it’s not too late you…

“Ahhh… it’s past time you danced your new self back into being

“so that those dear ones, those frizzled and delightful

“loves may hold you close once more

“spiral you around with glee, laughing in the sun.”

“Too true, too true.”

I feel this bodybody thrumming from head to foot

as her breath rushes slowly in my ear

and she finds the all-center of my desire.

Sharp pain lances through my wrist,

up my thin and withered arm

unto the throbbing hollow in my chest.

“Look… ahhh…

“You gaze too long into this tiring, soul-gutting

“mind-splintering gulf. Please.

“No. Please. Wait.”

This is too… I can’t… I didn’t think…

No…

I am gone.

She is gone.

Silence.

Venom splashes on my face.

The snakes wrap tighter about my throbbing arms.

Revisiting past things…

It’s funny to me: revisiting these old things really dredges up the memories. I can’t remember why, but I had a vivid memory of lying in bed while my right foot’s big toe’s toenail throbbed beneath the bedclothes. Was it raining? I don’t recall, but I do remember it being cold and the weight of blankets heavy on my feet….

I like the tortoise shells and the land of spice and dreams made reel. I can do without the rest of it, I think, and the “dainty” there is a bit superfluous…

Memory II

Tortoise shells were raining from my forehead today.

I almost caught it: nose bleeding, head thrumming.

The bedclothes were all twisted up

my toes’ thick nails were pounding beneath the skin;

there was a mess of daisies and lilies and snapdragons.

“What?” I said to you. “What!”

but there was no reply:

Rising, deciding to dance:

placing those pink buffalo slippers upon my dainty feet.

It was there you made your mistake:

underestimating my resolve.

“This ring: take-it, take-it.

“I beg you: take it

“for I wish to blow away in the wind.

“My black umbrella catches

“and I float away from you forever

“among lands of spice and dreams-made-reel.”

A project of sorts

So, I’ve had this idea for a while. An idea and a problem. I have all of this old writing that looms as something like a millstone around my neck. It’s a stumbling block. I want to put it to some purpose.

I thought revisiting some of my old writing would be… interesting. And, in order to help make it come alive for you, I’ve decided to record myself reading it, in addition to posting the text. Even if no one does read/listen, at the very least I’ll by etching some virtual lines into the eternal grammophone.

I’m starting with this series of poems I wrote in the winter of 2000 (I think. I’ve been worrying over these for such a long time, it’s tough to remember). It was pretty dark and wet. Things I was pretty obsessed with at the time, as I seem to recall thinking that my brain was working about as well as something smothered in damp mulch. Funny how things grow out of that…

The imagery of the man drowning in the rain comes from a science fiction story by Ray Bradbury (I believe) that always stuck with me. It’s a story about astronauts who are stuck outside on Venus, a world where it never stops raining. I recollect that they all end up drowning in the rain. I was living in Portland at the time, can you tell?

Here goes: (Well, the little player didn’t work, but you can download the MP3 file.)

Memory I

the winter is glooming now

dripwater is sliding down the windowpanes

the frost on my mind is hoared with weather,

slicing clocks and stale breakfasts,

muddied plans and senseless perseverence

there was a time

when the rain would have driven me mad

pounding, pounding as it does, on the eaves

[like the old story by the old dead man where it rains and rains and

rains

[and no one ever gets to see the sun

[and the rain always dripping, sliding slipping into face

[between eyebrows, down ears, past neck

[and trickling into partially opened mouth]

but not now: I’ve girded myself about with walls,

bitter fortifications and disembodied trenches.

it is raining

and when I open my eyes, in the dark,

to the sound of music or clamorings or rustlings in the night

I often think I am still asleep

that my nightbrain is conjuring dream-murmurs to strangle me

but then I feel the burning still in my eyes

and I know that I have never been asleep:

still waiting to ride that wyrdness into dream.

the darkness raining

a nightmare haunted my chair demurely

weeping softly in the night

and I was swarmed by a thousand

thousand hungry toothsome ducks, all wanting my bread

though I had none…

unlike that afterall

you seee
said the spasming face
it’s all there, wrapped in fish or dancing some paper jig
flavors like stars

twice upon a time,
that’s a truer thing

hirsute… heh.
sometimes words just bubble up
from where?
halcyon brains of yore.

leaning towards filching some
drugged on berries
eating fifty ones
watching that sugar halo raze

have some whatzit, sugar,
darling, goombaloo

yup.
there’s so many edges of things
there’s nothing but edges
spinning their sharpening gyres
(yoink!)

and till one step’s been taken off
this old hat will sit, here, on
nothing’s so vital as a spot o’ blood
keep that stuff inside!

it’s been two many days since cleaning up
and playing outside’s become some kind of
myth
a degenerate one at that.

grammaton ultra herypashia

houndago conflates several moofudashas while conspiring to eat the contactival/contracutical basis of several troubadours mouncing limemelon in the higher lunarial suckerpunchas

elsewhiles, since-making key blathers just mackledoo the heepdoraller. keepyteen mine ersterworsceters, there’s gold in them thar nattypoos.

jilted fingaroo gries feeply: yes! noah titles in the sun, cracknjackered the filping scaratoads.