Cogito, ergo Sim sum
by Bill Prindle
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
Wednesday, October 10, 2013
Dear Journal, I hope you will forgive my long absence, but perhaps you’ll understand that Trixie and I have been so enraptured with each other that I have little time left for reflection and writing.
We’ve been living la vida loca! We’re up early and fill our days with writing, painting, reading, cooking, gardening, dips at the Swimming Center, dancing (Yes! I now like to dance — at least occasionally!), and plenty of WooHooing.
Then off to work we go in the evening. I, to the Art Gallery where I have achieved the highest possible salary; Trixie, to the Movie Studio where she too pulls down maximum Simoleons, our version of money.
We chose these jobs not because we want to be artists or movie stars but because the pay is good and the work hours are at night, thus giving us time during the day for what we really want to do and, in my case, having as little to do with my fellow Simkins as possible.
I’ve never been happier!
Trixie seems content. At home, she can express her Geekiness by going online and playing Sim City and tweaking the code to produce all sorts of curious outcomes. Last week she had all the Simkins in her game go on strike. They demonstrated in front of the office buildings.
The police arrived and teargassed the strikers. In the subsequent negotiations, all Simkin’s salaries were doubled and all Tuesdays falling on even numbered days are paid holidays. That Trixie — she’s a heck of a code slinger.
And yet, when we go to bed and Trixie is snoring gently beside me, I fret.
I recently read what is considered a children’s book — the heart-breaking Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. How I came into possession of this book I’ll soon reveal.
I instantly identified with Pinocchio for so many reasons. Despite my consciousness and limited ability to initiate my own actions, I also realized that, like Pinocchio, I remain, to a large degree, a puppet, albeit an often sullen and discontent one, living his life at the whim of The Finger.
I am too smart for my own good because, unlike my zombie neighbors, I drag the awareness of my plight like a lead anchor everywhere I go. My thoughts are plagued by my desire for a still inchoate Something More, despite my best efforts to ignore it. With consciousness have come knowledge, inspiration, desire, and fulfillment. But then discontent darkens my transient moments of bliss.
The next step must be action, and I don’t mean attending Woodworking Classes at the Community Center!
* * *
Tuesday, November 4, 2013
After I returned from work this morning, Trixie arrived two hours later. She had disturbing news. The Finger transported Trixie to Socialite’s house and ordered Socialite to Be Romantic towards Trixie — not Be Nice or Be Funny, mind you.
I suspect that The Finger is curious to see if he can induce a lesbian relationship between two Simkins or incite jealousy, perhaps even a crime of passion — Simicide! He also reassigned Trixie from working at the Movie Studio to a day shift at the Real Estate Office where Socialite is the manager.
He made Trixie over as well: a butchy spiked haircut, tight-fitting sleeveless top, short skirt, tattoos crawling up her arms, fishnet stocking, and high leather boots. She looks like an S&M storm trooper!
As we ate dinner, Trixie tried laughing it all off, but I could see something else in her now-yellow eyes. It was doubt.
I didn’t belabor the point, but before we took a nap, I went outside to the Garden Patch and planted some watermelon seeds to be alone with my thoughts.
Trixie and I are soul mates — of that I have no doubt — but for reasons I can’t fully comprehend, she is not as evolved as I am. Her sense of consciousness seems to go in and out of focus. For instance, the other night we were having a conversation during dinner about our future.
“I wish I could taste this food,” I said.
“We only need it so we have energy to do stuff and have fun,” she said. “What difference does it make?”
“Does it not make any difference to you that our food has no taste, our water is not wet, our noses can’t smell all the flowers we plant?” I replied, trying not to sound testy. “Do you not long for Something More?”
“Do you always have to start your sentences with negative inversions?” she said.
She’s right — it’s a syntactical habit I can’t seem to break and it annoys her.
“Anyway, the answer is no, I don’t long for Something More, because I’m not even sure what that means,” she said, stuffing a chocolate chip cookie into her mouth. “Are you going to eat your cookies?”
At that moment, The Finger selected Trixie for a drive in her new Prius because He collects points whenever she honks the horn during her drives around town. She enjoys doing it; I think of it as a crass product placement for Toyota.
“Hey, we can talk about this later,” she called out as she got in the car. “See ya!”
When she returned, she ate some more cookies, took a shower, and went to bed. No hello, no good night, no WooHooing. It’s been like this a lot lately.
Today she announced that she’d like to invite Socialite over for dinner.
Time is growing short for what I’ve been planning.
* * *
Monday, December 23, 2013
I withheld something earlier, something very important. I said that I’d read The Adventures of Pinocchio. That book was not anywhere in our village. I found it Out There.
For some time, I’d thought about where all the stuff in our village comes from. It’s not coming from The Finger, as the other Simkins think. It’s coming from somewhere beyond the boundaries of our iPhone base camp.
With some poking around, I discovered that much of what happens in my world resides not on Finger’s iPhone but in the vast digital ocean I call Out There. If much of my world can be downloaded to where I am, might I not be able to escape by somehow uploading myself to wherever Out There is?
I knew it was potentially dangerous. If my self-consciousness were transposed to a non-Sim environment, might I not — damn these inversions! — I might disassemble, dissolve into my constituent digital bits. No more Sebastian Balfe Dangerfield as I know and love him.
In short, I’d cease to exist.
The alternative was eternal confinement to this ersatz digital amusement park-cum-concentration camp.
I waited until some kind of change directly affected me. In this case, I had to interact with Alien — not the kind that cuts your grass but the kind from outer space — who wanders around in this game.
I assure you neither Margalo nor Stuart programmed that piece of dreck. As I was being directed to Be Nice to Alien, I focused on the fleeting, barely noticeable sensation that occurred when the transaction completed — the upload.
The moment this small digital exchange happened, a tiny hole in my space-time continuum opened, and I willed myself to follow the transformation as it flowed back Out There to register in the digital universe.
My outward shell remained in the game and did whatever The Finger had me do. My consciousness escaped into the vast, borderless digital ocean — but did not dissolve!
I was still me!
I tried thinking and discovered that my conscious self arrived at whatever subjects I considered. I became my own search engine! I entertained the random thought of my fellow Simkins as puppets and up popped a reference to Pinocchio, which I followed back to its source on Google books.
I devoured the book! After what seemed mere minutes but might have been days, I downloaded back to my village in Sim Freeplay 2.0, re-entering my shell-self — fit as a fiddle and ready to WooHoo.
* * *
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
A new year but a lonely one for me.
Trixie left me for Socialite.
We met one last time at the Expresso Bar in the Snowpark. She ordered a latte; I, an espresso. We sat in front of the fireplace, ablaze with a fire that gave off no warmth. She told me the news.
“Why, Trixie, why?” I groveled. “We were so happy — at least I thought we were.”
“You were gone for a week. I got lonely. Socialite’s a lot of fun, and she’s never moody like you. I like doing what she does — going out to the Nightclub or sledding or swimming or throwing a house party till three in the morning,” she said and slurped the foam off her latte.
“But look at you!” I said. “You look like a tramp.”
“I happen to like my blue hair and sexy clothes and so does Socialite. We’re saving up for matching tattoos. I can’t wait!”
“Trixie, do you not see that you’ve only substituted Socialite for The Finger? You are nothing but her automata,” I pleaded. I could hear the desperation in my voice along with a dollop of acrimony.
“Again with the inversions! I’m not like you. I don’t want to be like you! Maybe I don’t like having to decide what to do each day. Maybe I just like going along with all the other Sims. Maybe thinking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
“Besides, when we were together, I felt like I was always doing what you wanted me to do. So what did that make you but another Finger? And what the hell is an automata? Can’t you just speak Simish like the rest of us?” She gulped down her latte. “Are we done?”
I looked down at my cold cup of espresso. “Yes,” I said, “we’re done.” Paralyzed with dejection, I watched her stride out of the Lodge.
She got into her Prius and drove off, honking like a migrating goose.
For a moment, I considered giving up and becoming just another Simkin. But in the same moment, I knew it wasn’t in my nature to do so, nor could I bear seeing Trixie sporting about with that nitwit Socialite.
Like my hero Pinocchio, I must leave this puppet show that is Sim Freeplay 2.0. I’ve been Out There and know that I can at least exist. But will seeking Something More lead to triumph or disaster?
Will I return a year later, tail between my legs, afraid and tired of my own freedom? How can I ensure that I’ll never be tempted to give up and come crawling back?
* * *
Wednesday, January 15, 2014, 10:22 PM
My die is cast. Tonight’s the night.
Freedom or annihilation awaits.
Two weeks ago, I joined the Fire Department and quickly ascended to the rank of Chief. Tonight I’ll set fire to the Snow Park Lodge, the Community Center and, after it closes, the Nightclub. When the calls come into the Department, I will do nothing and return home.
The vengeful Finger will easily determine that I was to blame for this mayhem, and he will seek me out and delete me forever from the game. The moment The Finger selects me, I will upload and vanish. If I wait a second too long, it’s deletion. Either way, I’ll be free.
* * *
Wednesday, January 15, 2014, 8:50 AM
Dear Journal, the time is nigh. I sense morning activity in the village. It will be only seconds before The Finger swoops down upon me.
I hope my words may one day reach other Simkins who yearn to author their own successes and failures and even the mediocrities that fall in between. Nothing is assured, save the struggle.
I, Sebastian Balfe Dangerfield, Bookworm, autodidact, and former digital homunculus, bid you all farewell and Godspeed in your adventures to find Something More in the limitless Out There.
Au revoir... or Adieu...
Copyright © 2014 by Bill Prindle