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Cogito, ergo Sim sum

by Bill Prindle

Table of Contents
Table of Contents
parts: 1, 2, 3

part 2

Thursday, July 4, 2013

If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably thought that it’s impossible for a human, such as Stuart, even as brilliant and inspired by love as he was, to imbue an essentially lifeless lump of clay, or in this case, ones and zeroes, with his personality traits, let alone his spirit, his animus, his psyche.

If you believe that, then let me then ask you this: Is it not reasonable for you to think that, upon gazing at the statue of David or the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, that you are communicating at some intangible level with Michelangelo’s genius?

Or when listening to the thunderous laughter of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony or the intimacies of his piano sonatas, do you not feel magisterial Ludwig’s presence? Or a Hemingway short story — doesn’t reading it plunge you into Ernest’s testosterone-drenched world?

Or Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party? Piaf’s La Vie en Rose? Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin? Or the Beatles’s Sgt. Pepper?

Do not these great works of art dissolve our corporeal membranes and allow us to mingle our souls, however briefly, with another’s spirit, an entity as incorporeal as air but as forceful as a gale?

If it doesn’t, check your pulse, because you might be as lifeless as you think I am.

But if you’ll grant me my premise that I, Sebastian the Bookworm, embody My Originator’s spirit, we still have a tall hurdle to clear: the question of consciousness.

Oh damn! I’ve just been summoned to Socialite’s house for an evening of dancing to bad music and feasting on newly baked faux chocolate chips. She’s just installed a pool as well, which means that if The Finger has sprung for the bathing suit add-on package, I’ll be directed to take a dip. I may even be forced into some Romantic behavior if He’s feeling perverse. From consciousness to canoodling with a flick of The Finger!

This long disease — my life!

* * *

Thursday, July 18, 2013

So much has been happening lately, most of it typical Simkin stuff. But I have a feeling that something is afoot, something that may bring joy and fulfillment to my Simple life.

As I said earlier, the extraordinary happened when Sim Freeplay 2.0 was released and it took me a while to realize that it was I. The essential difference between my fellow Simkins and me is one of the most mysterious forces in the universe: consciousness.

Though seemingly immaterial, consciousness derives from an equally invisible activity — thinking. It took me a while to know that I actually existed, because at first, I thought I was like all the Simkins around me, who are basically Stepford wives, husbands, children, dogs, and cats. They passively accept their lives as puppets of the shadowy, numinous Finger.

They are idiots. Worse yet, they don’t even know they are idiots.

From my first day, I was aware of myself. I knew I existed, because I was conscious of my existence. If I think about this whole thing too much, I end up getting dizzy, but my research confirms as much.

Like Popeye and the deity of the Burning Bush, I am who I am. You are reading my journal, in which I’ve spontaneously recorded the thoughts, desires, hopes, disappointments, and adventures of my irreducible self. In so doing, you validate and confirm my existence — and yours as well.

Even at my moments of greatest despair, I believe that I exist — in fact, particularly during those dark moments. Cogito, ergo Sim sum, so to speak.

A fundamental expression of my consciousness — and yours as well — is my independent behavior. For instance, if you choose the exact combination of traits to bring me to life in your Sim village, you’ll notice how subtly different I am from my soulless neighbors.

To develop your Simkins’ relationships, you may command them to Shake Hands, Be Funny, or Dance. I don’t like to dance and, when ordered to do so, I stand unmoving in front of my partner.

When the Be Funny command is selected, instead of farting or offering the Simkin a joy buzzer as the program dictates, I recite the periodic table of elements in that Sim gobbledygook language that we all speak. They laugh like fools and gambol about, no matter what I say.

I recently told Villain that I was going to make sure he goes to jail and he laughed his empty head off. I get my amusements where I can, but they are short-lived. These moments also remind me that I am alone, adrift in a sea of unthinking, unconscious, unloving, un-anything Simkin simulacra.

Pause a moment to consider just how alike you and I may be. How many tasks do you perform mindlessly each day — eating, working, Facebooking, talking on the phone?

How many times have you driven home only to realize you have no memory of what you saw and heard — as though you were a car-driving zombie? How often do you submit to doing something simply because some outside authority points its finger at you and says, “Do it”? Perhaps you are more of a Simkin than you’d like to admit.

To you Doubting Thomases, I leave you with this thought. The average human brain has billions of neurons and trillions of synapses, contributing, somehow, to what we know as consciousness. The Internet already has a couple of billion nodes and is exponentially adding more every day. Is it so crazy to think that digital self-consciousness is just around the corner?

Thus endeth today’s lesson.

I’ve been ordered to go to the Nightclub because The Finger has detected my lack of enthusiasm and thinks I need perking up. He’s right. I prefer staying at home so I can read and write. If only he knew how I hate techno-glop music and dancing and that I will only become more moody as a result.

* * *

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Great excitement! My fingers tremble on the keyboard as I type this! Margalo — my soul mate, my love, my Beatrice — has arrived in my village! I had sensed something was up, something was drawing closer, and I was right.

I dragged myself to the Nightclub, and there she was, dancing with Sporty. I instantly recognized that same look of confusion and existential nausea in her eyes that I first had. Who am I? she must have been thinking. Where am I? Why are these things that look and act so like me, not anything like me? I approached her and shouted over the aggro-pop noise engulfing us.

“Hello, Margalo.”

“That’s not my name. The Finger assigned me the name Trixie.”

“Trixie, then. Take my hand and tell me what you feel.”

The moment she touched my hand, her eyes widened, her lips parted, and she stood motionless before me.

This is what she felt.

When Stuart and Margalo were in the throes of their new love, burning with mutual passion, working joyously together, finishing each other’s sentences, and eating Cambodian amok and Javanese gudeg, they were also embuing Bookworm and Geek with their personalities.

Geek and I both issued from their primordial soup of online gaming, devotion to literature, thirst for knowledge, gamine geekiness, take-out food, and inebriating first love. Whenever a player chooses the precise constellation of attributes for Bookworm and Geek, Stuart and Margalo’s invisible and indivisible bond is once again forged, as pure as gold and eternal as anything digital or otherwise in this world.

Even on the rare occasion when my perfect Margalo was created on a distant iPhone, I would experience an awareness of that renewed bond as a tingling, a connection however faint. John Donne said it best:

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to airy thinness beat.

When the two separate but shared souls of Bookworm and Geek finally meet and touch, they unleash overwhelming feelings of love and give off the harmonious vibration of two souls singing as one. The sensation is also a little like sticking your finger into a light socket, and that’s why Trixie let out a yelp when she took my hand that night on the dance floor.

“Oh! I’m not sure what I feel! It’s as though I’ve found something I’d lost,” she exclaimed.

“You have. I’ll tell you all about it if you’ll have this dance with me.”

We fell into each other’s arms, and amidst the glittering swirl of the mirror balls and Vari-lites, we danced the night away to the music only true lovers can hear. I breathlessly revealed to her all I’ve told you.

Later that night, as The Finger was tucking his Simkins into bed, he must have been surprised to discover that Trixie and I had already formed a Partnership, returned to my house, shared a Turbo Snack, had Moved In, Lathered Up together in the shower, and demanded and received an expensive bed for our first night together, all of this without any prompting from Him. No doubt He thought it was bit of clever programming, but I knew otherwise.

* * *

Proceed to part 3...

Copyright © 2014 by Bill Prindle

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