Author : ifrozenspiriti
“True knowledge comes from memory,” he proclaimed to the gathered smiles and nods. “Memory is what makes us human.”
The next morning, he fed the memory of lackluster lovemaking and asthmatic perfume staining hotel-white pillowcases to the Machine, along with the memory of breakfast’s runny eggs and the remnants of dreamsâ€”bright, sticky, meaningless.
It bulged with hoarded humanity: documents, dictionaries, translations; photographs, paintings, cave art; poetry. And now, technicians in white lab coats (for tradition’s sake) fed it countless small metallic squares; and now, it fed on memory.
The Machine was the answer.
“The meaning of life?” he asked the crowd. “How can we even consider the possibility, inadequately armed as we are with just our individual memories?” There was always whispering at this point, the sibilant rustling of coat sleeves and comprehension.
As the people filed out of the roomâ€”some silent, some whispering to family membersâ€”they each picked up a square before stepping into the icy wind of normalcy. No one left without a square.
Some of them, filled with a buoying sense of righteous self-importance, would go home immediately and spend the remainder of the evening reciting their recalled lives into the squares. They’d send them off in the morning, and they’d wipe their hands on their thighs and smile at that sense of accomplishment, of significance; and then they’d rush off to work with the smile slowly sinking into a cup of gas-station coffee.
Some of them would go home and watch TV and forget about the squares, buried under phone bills and pizza-delivery pamphlets and appointment cards and the other accumulated detritus of everyday life. And then they’d wake, days or weeks or months later, to a sensation of unexplained guilt; and then they’d clean off the kitchen counter and discover the squares, still shining, and hastily record some record of Life and send them off Priority.
Some of them would finally fall asleep to echoes of dystopian daydreams. They’d wait weeks to send the squares, watching them warily for signs of mind control, before finally giving in to family-member rebukes. They’d whisper something rushed and send them away, feeling somehow lessened.
And then technicians in white lab coats (for tradition’s sake) would feed the squares to the Machine.
“It will be a great day indeed for our humble humanity when this project is complete,” he said, and his was the voice of prophecy.
He’d lost track, long ago, of how many times he’d delivered the same speech. At first, to elegantly clinking clusters of Society over thin-stemmed sips of wine, while the Machine was still a novelty among the cities’ highest circles. Then, as the advertisements increased and rumors tore through towns like whirlwinds, there were more stars visible in the country-clearer sky than in the ratings of his hotels.
“When all human experience is contained within a single vessel . . . a vessel equipped with the most advanced problem-solving pattern-recognition software ever imagined. . . . Well.” And the crowd was left drifting for a few seconds on those glimmering clouds of promise.
He smiled as they left, pale beneath the podium-bleach of the lights, and wondered when the question would be asked. He watched the (ever-smaller) crowd collect their squares, and wondered what would happen when the most advanced problem-solving pattern-recognition software ever imagined tried to categorize the accidental, tried to organize the entropic.
The next morning, he’d feed these thoughts to the Machine.