Sunday, April 30, 2006

Save as draft

Nina: Argo, you look depressed. Did Walmarto get to you?

Argo: You know, sometimes I think, the last great change to the human experience was the telephone. I mean, cars and planes let you get places faster, but it's just a quantitative thing. You get to a place sooner, but you could have walked there if you wanted.

Bellboy: What about computers? Or the internet? People love that stuff.

Nina: Not this again.

Argo: Yeah, but they didn't add anything new. People could already read and write. People already could do math and science. Now they can do it a lot faster, and without wasting paper. So what?

Bellboy: So what's so great about the telephone? People could already talk to eachother, right? What's so new about that?

Argo: Because now they could talk to eachother and not have to be in the same place. It was like, suddenly, you could be anywhere you wanted to be, or at least your intellect could be there, and you could interact with any other person in the world who also had a phone. That's not quantitative, it's qualitative. That's new.

Bellboy: No it's not, it's just like shouting across the yard. Have you heard of yodeling?

Argo: Right, I thought of that. So I decided I was wrong. It's not the telephone that was the last great thing people came up with.

Bellboy: So what is it then?

Argo: I thought, maybe it's reading and writing. That way, you could communicate with the dead if you wanted, or at least hear what they had to say; and it's kind of like the telephone, where you can talk to someone who's not there, and have them talk back. So really, the telephone is just a high speed postal service.

Bellboy: I have a feeling you didn't settle there either.

Argo: Right. Reading and writing is just like talking. Replacing a human being with a sheet of paper is neat, but it's just a bigger delay, a coagulation of soundwaves. A person speaks, and maybe he's heard a few milliseconds later. Or maybe no one's listening. A person writes, and maybe he's read a few years later. Or maybe no one's reading. Writing is to paper as speaking is to air. So I went back further, and thought, maybe it was like in 2001, where the monkey picks up the rock and hits the other monkey with it. Maybe it was the first time one guy realized he didn't need fists or fangs, he could just take a sharp rock and do his buddy in. That was a big advance, right?

Nina: That was a dumb movie.

Bellboy: But just a quantitative advance on fists and fangs, right. One weapon is as good as any other, just faster or sharper or heavier. So did you come to any conclusions?

Argo: I almost decided that there was nothing new, nothing that people had done in all their existence that made them different from all the other monkeys and the other rats. But, then I realized I had forgotten about global isochrony! Surely, that's something new! That's people doing something they've never done before!

Bellboy: But?

Argo: People had kept time since sundials, and before. Waking up and killing something and going to sleep is a sort of keeping time. What's so special about everyone keeping the same time? Why is that different from one person keeping his own time?

(Long silence)

(Ms Sandy enters)

Ms Sandy: Argo, kitchen. Now.

(Ms Sandy leaves)

Argo: Tonight, I am going to set this place on fire.

Bellboy: That will be something new.

Nina: I'll say.

(Argo leaves)


  1. I read this whole thing. Congrats.

  2. an ambiguous comment, to be sure.