Computerized Wolf

The year was, hazily recalled at best--at worst, off by perhaps an epoch or two--somewhere in the vicinity of 1991. I remember stepping up to the window, which had it's own 6 inch raised wooden landing before it, as if the original architect knew that this particular window might serve as an altar of reflection. What did the window look out over? Let's not get ahead of ourselves... I knew I had to change my ways...

The human brain is divided into two halves. We'll call it the right brain and the left brain. As you know, the left brain is known for being a meticulous logic-bomb which would never get creative with tax filing. The right brain is heralded as being an excellent cellist who needs a fistful of medication just to keep it in its pants. Science has hence told us that this is not a literal truth of the physiology; some of the brain's components which control logic happen to be located more prominently within the left hemisphere etc and verse visa, but it sadly isn't the West Side Story Mason-Dixon line that the cliches will have you believin'.

Some people compare it to men and women, and by some people i mean I hope others than just me 24/7. But the truth of the matter is that mens and womens brains are complex beyond these partial factors. The real thing of it is animal vs machine. That is humanity. The rational behavoir that we see when we look at the faces of modern life: going to work, paying bills eating in front of the TV, getting drunk on the weekends, dancing at parties, crossing our fingers at the antique roadshow--these are the results of a combination of opposing forces. One one side of the ring you have HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey (or, a far less interesting version of HAL). And on the other side, we have a wolf who wants to feed its face and get it's hump on. The end result? David Morse.

I'm not sure what it was about this window that when I peered into its 75% view of the outside world/25% reflection of my own head (did I just answer my own question in mid sentence?), it made me think about this particular duality of man's brain. But stepping upon that wooden plank up to the gazing glass like some sort of cosmic, psychological kissing booth got me wondering many things like, who was gonna win out that day: the wolf or the computer...

A large part of it had to do with what time of day it is. I think this holds true for many people. If you're up at 8:30 am, no matter what day it is... it's probably not because your tribal instincts are awakening you to that ancient feeling. It's probably because you are carrying out an executable function. Death row prison-guards often have to be up at that hour.

Similarly, if you are up at 3:45 am, it's probably not because you're carrying out a standard system task. It's more likely you are at a warehouse in Philly breathing in hot carbon and wondering how you're going to find without a facefull of booze whatever it is that the 700 people around you are hearing in the house music that makes them express the noble absurdity of life though quick-paced physical movement. Yup, I was walking in the deep dark woods some weekends, wondering if the moon would emerge and cast sweet lycanthropic rays down upon my booze-less soul...

My phone rang, or I should say, vibrated upon the particularly wide windowsill that I more often than not used as a shelf (keep in mind, cell phones weren't really around back then, I am talking about a cordless phone which was busted in a particularly odd fasion that it developed the as of yet unexplored module of violent shaking upon beckon). I didn't answer it. I didn't answer it because I knew who it was and I knew what he was going to tell me. He was going to remind me that the reason I was stranded in that warehouse without the wolf being awaken in the absence of booze is because for the sober man, true awe-inspiring, dance-inducing yelling and screaming goosebumps actually require expressions of the highest quality. Example: in order to have as much fun at a mediocre jazz band's show, you'd have to modulate the inside of your face with whatever combination of substances and/or sexual gratification happens to do it for you, where as the best jazz ban can offer peak animalism without aid. This message would have been meant as cheer-you-up to the non-drinker, pointing out the higher quality of life, art and company I would have to be insisting on in order to derive as much enjoyment. Unfortunately it wasn't going to do much for me because I really wasn't concerned with the actual quality of the world around me, so much as the perceived quality, especially where the arts, partying, and all matters non-detrimental to the computer side of the world are concerned.

The half ring half incessant trembling of the phone seemed to indulge for longer than I was hoping for, and I decided to take the edge off for the remains of this temporary disruption to my fruitless reverie by partaking in a particularly enthusiastis round of ball-scratching. At this point, it's sort of like saying my favorite band is the Beatles because so many guys seem to be in agreement on the issue, but my favorite method of ball-scratching is, needless to say, the pinch-and-roll. It's sort of like the Chicken Carbonara at Quizno's: I always go in meaning to try something different, but as soon as I see it on the menu, I become compelled with chains and masking tape to order the same Chicken Carbonara that I nearly exploded over last week. Thus explains the pinch-and-roll's nearly undefeated record of probably 900 consecutive utilizations as first-chair scratch method.

The phone continued ringing for about 5 minutes, which was fine with me for obvious reasons. And then when it stopped, I got another minute and a half of pinch-and-rolling in for the road. And then I turned back to the object of my despair staring me straight in the face from outside this god-damned huge window. Why did it really have to be that big...? Now that I think about it, there really wasn't all that much to see out there..? I wish I had been a smoker... I wish my health would allow it. That fleeting feeling of excellence that I just know a smoker feels when he lights up a cigarette would probably have been just what the doctor ordered when that phone stopped ringing to carry on the positive momentum established by the pinch and roll for the next few minutes.

One of the reasons I was no longer drinking at this time was because of this very wave-riding of positive momentum that I just described. Not that I had become addicted to alcohol, but surfing this wave of heightened synapses from one excellent moment in life to another became a tad bit cluttered, more staccato than smooth especially because the post college years found me with a less naturally occurring constant wave of firing neurons. Thus, those occasions where five or six beers were called in to make brushing my teeth and dropping off the laundry a tad more phenomenal were increasing, causing unpredictabilities in my budget. Combining that with a more stable relationship life, and growing health concerns including blood pressure and weight, it seemed a good idea to phase alcohol out, and what better way to accustom myself to a less booze-filled world than to up and spend a year in the wild, so to speak, wondering though parties without my wild turkey sherpa. A drink and a cigarette were only a few of the things I could have really gone for as my brow furled in synchronicity with the paper bag swirling in the wind, undoubtedly a used condom for some lucky gentleman's 40 ounce bottle of malt liquor.

See, here's the thing. The reason the pinch-and-roll so outperforms the nearest competitor exponentially is because the pinch is a perfect high-impact scratch sensation, but the rolling of this pinch creates a self-sustaining tickle which causes longing for more pinching--which naturally is obliged--and thus the self-exciting dynamo flares up like a nuclear reactor, a finely calibrated centrifuge. The finer physics of this particular method of ball-scratching aside, it's slightly comical that this basic manifestation of animalistic glee serves as a good example which all other celebrations of the spirit ought aspire to...

Okay, I think I might be done talking about the pinch-and-roll... Wait... No, yea I'm done. Back to the issue at hand. What was that foul beast I had been staring out prominently through the glass window? Well, it was a wolf which was constructed half of circuitry and gears. The other half was organic wolf parts which, at this late age in the un-naturally adapted cyber-wolf's life, were indeed showing signs of being very elderly. The wolf's brain was comprised of half original brain--prominently the right half--the left half was a PLC. For those of you who don't work with factory automation, a PLC is a certain type of computer called a Programmable Logic Controller, which operates by getting input from various sensors and sending output to various motors. In a given pepsi plant, a sensor might detect that a bottle is in front of it's optic, and send a 'yes' signal to the PLC. The PLC will sense the 'yes' signal and tell the motor to stop the conveyor belt and tell the servo-drive to shoot the pre-programmed amount of soda into the bottle. This is how factories work. Our brain is our PLC, and we are human factories, manufacturing experience. But the wolf part of our brain tells us to do things that feel amazing.

Tnd this is one of those times where the English language really doesn't do enough for us along the lines of disambiguation. Thinking vs. feeling... They're very similar but sometimes they're too similar. If you asked a co-worker, "how do you feel about purchasing stock material from an original equipment manufacturer as opposed to a distributor?"... what you really mean is "what do you THINK about purchasing shitty pannels from a value-added yadda yadda yadda"... there's really no feelings involved in this purely logical evaluation. Same as if a doctor during an examination pressed down on your side and says, "can you feel that?", what he really means is "can you SENSE that?" as this is another purely logical "yes or no" question. It's a feeling but it's purely information.

On the other hand, if your buddy said, "what do you think about leaving the office early to drive down to the shore and dive into the ocean on this fine, crisp January afternoon?" then what he really means is "do you FEEL like expressing our ancient drive for absurdity today?", and there's really not a tad bit of logic involved, except for "who's car has the easy-pass?"

I have to admit that I shed a tear for the poor plight of the Computerized Wolf, balancing two impulsive barking brains which told him to do things that were sometimes, but not often enough, the same thing.

There's an anomaly, though, which defies both of these impulses and raises us up from cyber-wolf factories to a near-godlike level. I call it near-godlike because it is a major behavioral factor in those who are pretty universally agreed to be the greatest people ever. I also call it near-godlike because it mimics the behavior of gods. And frankly, with the possible exception of perhaps satisfying the inner deity within all of us, I can't pin down a single explanation for this behavior. I speak of course about selfless dedication to the happiness of others. It

blatantly defies both our animal instincts as well as our inner accountants. You could argue this statement at a couple of levels I suppose, but you know that at some point there are people who just want others to be happy even though they will gross not dollar 1 because of it. It is for these people that god invented the shot of whiskey.

I stepped off my mini-in-house-porch and went outside to confront the wolf. It's eyes were disturbingly animal, and I wondered about the complexity of converting his optical signal to zeros and ones. It opened it's mouth either to call out scare-tactical vengeance or offer peace, but I knew not which, for I was immediately upon the beast of artifice with strangling hands and eyes like his. I fought through the distracting pain of a couple of fang-bytes to securely wrestle its air-supply closed, banging its skull against the pavement for either a faster slaughter or more likely a morbid cheer leading toward my own morale. The computerized wolf faught against failing systems and it's animal and computer sides expressed panic and confusion respectively. I want to make it clear that the only reason I was able to kill a cyborg wolf with my bare hands is because his organic parts were terribly week by this late point in his elderly. The natural breakdown, especially when the organic and the digital are communicating with this early technology (remember how flimsy the 1991 models were after only like 4 years?!), made a cyber-wolf especially vulnerable to human-attacks back then.

Why did I destroy the partly living wolf you ask? Especially after I had been reflecting on the awesome godlikeness of total generosity?! Well, a number of reasons. For one, I wasn't terribly convinced that the wolf had 'life' as we know it in a complete manner that needed to be honored. And even if it did, I'm no deity, what do I care if a wolf doesn't want to die... Nobody does and we're not going to be able to remember afterwards whether or not we had a good run, so that wolf can stop whining and be thankful that I put him out of his shoddy misery (my favorite philosophy professor would later explain to me over a Magic Hat that it's not cruel to euthanize and animal because since they are not humans and thus not a relationship that relates itself to itself, any time that they're in pain, they are so without a story, without any explanation or rationality or prognosis... just pain). Secondarily, I needed to kill the wolf because staring out that window was really starting to grate on me, and I can only derive elation from the pinch-and-roll for so long before it starts to lose its potency just like everything else.

I killed it sacrificially, like Abraham willing to send Isaac back to God, because I fancy myself a shaman; a child-like priest calling communion to all things--and that's the kind of mood I get in when I go too long without getting a drink.

2 comments:

Sassafras H. Wilmington said...

can someone edit this for me and shoot me back a tighter version of this for final posting?

j. leo said...

Here's my summary of to shorten this post down considerably:

I, Dr. Carey, am really, really, really looking forward to drinking again. Ball scratching can only distract me for so long...