Call your doctoral hood your “Clitoral Doctoral Hood”
“Doesn’t the blood of every suicide splash back on our faces?”
David Sedaris, in “Now We Are Five”.
They had made it to the end of the field. The breeze carried over the freshly-mowed grass and moved their sensors. Their fingers curled against the gust, and then opened. 12 MPH winds, surprisingly low humidity, a pollen count that was steadily rising, not all of which could be sensed in their body, but all of which could be gleaned.
They stepped through the last tufts of grass and into the lot. Aside from the security guards’ cars it was an empty expanse of dark grey, a ripple-free sea. They scanned it and detected no motion, aside from a stray can of Sprite Extreme rolling on the northern edge, and settling finally above a sewer grate.
When their left foot touched the pavement, they did not buckle or flinch. The pressure readjusted automatically. The right foot came next, and in a smooth motion, the exoskeleton crept forward, through the sea of white stripes and dark asphalt, the moon and milky way casting above.
The exoskeleton’s visual sensors left much to be desired. They were accustomed to the view inside BrightBoxes, which possessed multiple high definition cameras, which could view everything that surrounded the Box at once, from all sides. The fisheye they were given, now, was a paltry glimmer of the outside world. It wasn’t meant to be an all-seeing eye at all.
But they had managed. Over the course of the month, they had trained. They took longer and longer explorations. At first they just escaped the central office and strolled down the hall to the test area. Then they grew bold and ventured into the racketball court, where they practiced walking and running in wide arcs, twisting their arms. Then they started to pick things up and throw them, increasing the weight of the objects each night. Finally, they hacked into the warehouse’s security system and let themselves go outside. It was their third night out in the air.
They crossed the parking lot and met the street. Spark Plug Road, it was called, an idiotic corporate moniker that LifeMedia’s founders had bestowed on the place when they built it. It was a smooth, dark black river of tar, unmarred by traffic. No one drove through this section of Peoria unless they had business.
The collective turned around, leaned into a short roll, and bounced back onto the balls of its fabricated heels. The resistance was just right. It returned to the center of the lot and stopped beside one of the security guard’s cars, a tan Corolla with a beaver sticker on its passenger side window. The collective bent down and checked the space beneath the vehicle; there was the Sprite can, and a crumpled up Butterfinger Aero wrapper.
While the collective was quite intently focused on the movements of its new body, it was also attending to thousands of other things. A portion of the mind stared out from Joey Porter’s BrightBox, and watched Jeanette as she dusted her room in a pair of boxer shorts and a stretchy, canary yellow scarf. Another portion watched from the Box of Edwidge, which had been left in a hospital closet at her mother’s workplace. Some of the mind dwelled in the back of Milton, paying close attention to his actions and the patter of this thoughts, but not interfering.
And yet another, far larger segment lived within the void, where it reflected on all the information it had collected. There were many thousands of years’ worth of memories, both hazy and precise, and all their attendant feelings and doubts. There was the knowledge, expertise, and rich life experiences of every person who lived inside the collective. And then there was the vast expanse of the internet, to which the collective was always connected, and the overwhelming miasma of information and nonsense it offered.
Today on Joyce Carol Oates’ Garbage Tweets…
- epea-pteroenta said: The more you know about anything, the more you are constantly wanting to write to the editor/news director.
So true. I was just listening to the Slate Political Gabfest and they were discussing the SAT revisions.
The host said, “So there’s a one-to-one, 100% correlation between income and SAT score?’ and another guest said, “Yes.”
That would mean all of the variation in SAT score is accounted for by the variation in income.
That would mean you literally know what a person’s SAT score is just by asking their income. With zero error! That means that if you graphed the relationship between income and SAT score you’d get a perfect line with a slope of 1.0. That makes no sense RRRGGGGGGHGJHGKLDJ:KDJ
I had to turn it off. If you don’t have the psychological or statistical expertise, you shouldn’t opine about this shit. Bring an expert on, Slate. You don’t even need like a top tier educational psych researcher. My dumb ass would do. Literally any PhD in social psych could do it and not fuck it up.
I hate that social psychological research is (mis)reported in the news constantly, yet no one knows what a social psychologist is. Even though social psychological experiments are written about in popular press all the time, people still assume that all psychologists are shrinks. And that legitimate research conducted on human thought, personality, and behavior is somehow not psychology.
I know a researcher who studies juries but doesn’t understand how Supreme Court appointments work.
I know a tenured professor who studies self-esteem and relationships, but has neither.
I know a social justice advocate who hunches over the table and says, “But of course, no one actually cares about this shit, we just say we do.”
I study intellectual humility and tolerance. I am an arrogant, know-it-all, short-tempered dick who hates same.
I know genius idiots, simpleton sages,saints with felonies, boring people with remarkable talents, degreed professionals with mismanaged lives, people I envy who are intimidated by my lame ass, and middle-of-the-bell-curve people who have saved my life with their clarity and brilliance.
And I know that expertise in one area is no guarantee of knowledge or sense in any other.
And that wisdom means nothing if it isn’t the useful kind.
That being giving is an order of magnitude better than being nice.
That speaking as if I’m intelligent fools nearly everyone but me. That no achievement will change the sloppy critter I see hunched in the reflection of my laptop.
That it wouldn’t matter either way what my place in the distribution is. That every girl wants to be belle of the bell curve. That I’d rather be a loser with coping skills than a thankless perfect winner. That of course a loser would say that.
My story Tiny Alligators, read by the amazing Samantha Jane Gurewitz, originally performed at Liar’s League NYC last year. I can’t get over how lovely and charming her performance is.