A Play


Ben Goertzel

October 28, 2000





Scene 1



A man and a woman  sit in a café, looking at each other across a small table.



HE:  So you wanted…


SHE:  I…


HE:  You said you wanted…


SHE:  I know


HE:  Well


SHE:  Look, we have to…


HE: Yeah


SHE:  It’s been a….


HE:  More than a….


SHE:  Yeah


HE:  So do you think you….  I mean, could….


SHE:  I don’t… I just don’t….


HE:  Don’t what?


SHE:  I’m just… I … It’s not the … You know, I really … I really do … but…


HE:  You’re just… !  It’s not the …  well, but ….   Can’t you…  ?!


SHE:  [stares silent, undecided]


HE:  I really… I…


SHE:  [keeps staring, looks away]


HE:  I need to…  I really…


SHE:  We all do.  So?


HE:  I need….


SHE:  You need. … you need….


HE:  Well, look…. !


SHE:  Look at what?  At what?


HE:  Look at the….   At the way….  The….  We have to….   We’ve been – so long it’s been… just, one day after another, after another, after another… we’re … you know … we have to … we … I mean…. it can’t really be ….


SHE:  [looks at him lost and folds her arms]


HE:  It can’t be that impossible, can it?


SHE:  Well I don’t know.  I mean, you….  You know what….


HE:  What would happen if…


SHE:  I don’t know


HE:  What’s the worst case?


SHE:  Look….


HE:  Come on…  [He takes her hand in his, looks at it]


SHE:  It’s just….   I mean….  You….


HE:  Yeah?


SHE:  If….


HE:  Aw, damn.  [Looks at his watch]   I have to go … work… meeting….


SHE:  Yeah


HE:  I have to.   Well, we can…


SHE:  Yeah


HE:  It’s always…


SHE:  Well….


HE:  Well what?


SHE:  We’ll see




Scene 2



He sits in an office, at a conference table with seven other people.



HE:   Well, on this occasion … we have to… remarkable … notwithstanding the obstacles … understanding … going forward … plan of action … multifaceted…


MAN 1:  But we can’t be excessive.  We need to moderate….  We have to consider…. It’s only….


MAN 2:  When I was at ….   We had this guy, he had….   He wasn’t a bad guy…..  A hundred million.   They went through it like….   You understand.  It was a bucket shot.


MAN 3:  A bucket shot?


MAN 2:  Yeah.  It’s like when….


MAN 3:  Like what?


MAN 4:  Ok.  I get it


HE:  But you have to see….  We set out with a goal.   We need to move forward


MAN 4:  Generate revenue … customer satisfaction… quality management … process, order…


MAN 1:  Without the proper process….  Consider the risks: we have the….


HE:  That’s not significant


MAN 1:  Why not?


HE:  We knew it was there from the beginning.  I mean, you could say, consider the risk of ….


MAN 5:  Ok, Ok


HE:  I’m just saying….


MAN 1:  Look, I’ll say again, without the proper process….


HE:  Look, without the proper process, we might actually… [Everyone laughs]


MAN 1:  Ok.   I’m just saying….


MAN 5:  Look.   We need three….  And then four sales….  We need to be sure we can get it out the door….  I’m just putting it on the table


MAN 1:  I agree.


MAN 5:  But they should report to me


MAN 1:  No, they shouldn’t report to anybody.  They just….


MAN 2:  They have to … someone ….


HE:  Please, can we table that for the moment.  I want to focus on the ….


MAN 2:  Right


MAN 6:  And don’t forget the midget jugglers…  


[Weak laughter from MAN 2 and MAN 6]


He [aside, to MAN 6]: Goat


MAN 6 [aside to He]: Goat


HE:  Ok.  We have four categories of ….  If you look at each, you’ll see….


MAN 1:  But the size of each category is not fixed.  We have to consider….  Everything’s on the table.  We have to go back to ground zero.


HE:  No we don’t.  We’re here.  We have to move….   We can’t rebuild the universe from hydrogen.


MAN 1:  Well….  I’m saying, if we follow the proper process, the proper process, like they did when I was at … really anywhere … What I’m saying … and I can’t say it often enough …. the way serious companies do this is to follow the proper process.  You have to follow the proper process…. If you don’t follow the proper process, you’re not going to get….


HE:  Get what?


MAN 1:  The proper process…


HE:  Right…. 


MAN 2:  So we’ll follow the proper process


HE:  What is the proper process?


MAN 1:  What?


HE:  What is the proper process?


MAN 1:  Well it’s….  I mean, it’s….


HE:  We have to find the proper process?


MAN 6:  We have to follow the proper process, to arrive at the proper process


MAN 1 [raises his index finger emphatically]:  Right!


MAN 6:  Huh?


MAN 1:  At a serious corporation, there are structures and principles in place, enabling the procedural enablement of appropriate procedures, procedures for enabling the appropriate procedures for enabling procedures….  Appropriate risks are tabulated and enumerated, risks for proceeding toward risks, tabulating risks, cross-referencing and spread-sheeting….  The process of tabulating risks of processes has to be considered three hundred and sixty degrees.  The full 360, I mean.  You just have to follow the process.  Otherwise you’re roadkill.  I can’t say it often enough.  I can’t say it often enough.  I can’t say it often enough.   Procedural guidelines have been laid down – the cross-business synergies have to be respected, but we nevertheless….  I can’t say it often enough.  It doesn’t matter what paradigm you’re operating in, or what fantastic technology … I mean, process is process… you know?   I can’t say it often enough.  You have to understand, here.  I feel like I’m banging my head against a wall here.  Without a catalogue of all the risks of arriving at an appropriate process for tabulating the processes involved at arriving at a catalogue of processes and appropriate streams of relationships, the proper accounting procedures.  They don’t follow the procedures down there, you know.  I’ve told them over and over again to follow the procedures….


HE:  Isn’t she trying…


MAN 1:  Sure, she’s trying.  She’s doing a better job.  But still…


HE:  She’s good.  She’ll be able to…


MAN 1:  Maybe so.  But that’s not the point, really…..  The thing is, we can’t know what we’re doing until it’s been tabulated!  Every goddamn last bit of it!   As long as there’s one dollar not accounted for … we don’t know about the head count … we can’t make the cash flow … the projections … the auditors, the SEC … the regulatory bureaus … we have to catalogue the processes… follow appropriate procedures … everyone has to know that everything is being done the way that, if we were appropriately procedurally catalogued…. The process….  make no mistake, this isn’t a game you know.  If we don’t follow the proper process….


HE:  But we’re not talking about….


MAN 2:  It’s a bucket shot.


MAN 5:  Yeah. 


HE:  We’re not talking about….


MAN 5:  Look, OK, we need the proper process.  We need the proper goddamn process.  We need the goddamn fucking process….  But if we don’t roll the shit out quickly … it’s going to … it isn’t going to matter one way or another, you know?  We have to get our asses in gear, fast!


MAN 6 [to He]:  Goat


He [to MAN 6]:  Goat


MAN 6:  And then there’s the midget jugglers  


[Weak laughter all around]


MAN 5:  I’m not going to sit here and put up with the … really… the way we do these…..  We have to get our asses in gear, or we’ll be out of the game soon….


MAN 1:   That’s what I keep saying.  This isn’t a game, you know.  If we don’t….


MAN 5:  Look, I don’t want to hear about the proper process.  You can take your goddamn process and ….   We need to roll out the goddamned shit or we’ll be fucking dead.  That’s what I keep telling you.  If everyone in the room doesn’t understand this then we are really dead.  This is a business.  A business needs to make money.  In order to make money, we need to bring in revenue.


MAN 3:  In order to bring in revenue, we need to make money


MAN 4:  In order to make money, we need to bring in revenue


MAN 5: Yes.   And in order to make revenue, we need to get people to give it to us


MAN 3:  People need to give us money!


MAN 5:  Yes


MAN 1:  But people aren’t just going to give it to us.  If they don’t see that we have appropriate procedures…


MAN 2:  Look, yes, we need to have appropriate procedures.  But that’s just necessary, it’s not sufficient.  Look at how we got….   There was a need for…  And we filled it.  Right?


MAN 4:  We filled a need


MAN 3:  We filled a need


MAN 6:  We filled a need


MAN 5:  A need


MAN 1:  We have to find the needs and we fill them, and then people will give us the cash


MAN 2:  Exactly


MAN 5:  But what are their needs, that’s the question


HE:  People need what….   They need what….  They need….


MAN 6:  They need to give us their money 


[General laughter]


MAN 1:  Look, we’re not going to get anywhere….


HE:  Look, we need to move forwards.  We’ve brought in substantial….  We have the option to really… if we want to….


MAN 6:  Yes, but that’s not what, if you brought in here… it’s not… in a real….


He [raising his voice]:  I don’t care what the…!  It doesn’t….!  We have a mission here!  A really important mission!  We have to move forwards … it may not be as fast as you want … we have to keep moving forwards!  We’re making steady progress, and we’re not going to fucking stop it… We’re not going to stop it for a goddamn process, and we’re not going to stop it for … for ….


MAN 2:   Right.  We’re not going to stop it.   That’s a given.  But we do have to think about customer satisfaction…  We have to see….


HE:  Of course.  That’s a given.


MAN 5:  This is a business.   We need to make money.


MAN 6 [to HE]:  Chinchilla filters


He [to  MAN 6]:  Goat


MAN 3:  To make money, we need to bring in revenue


MAN 4:  To bring in revenue, we need to make money


MAN 6:  And we need to follow the proper process


MAN 4:  Right


MAN 5:  But damn it, if we don’t get off our asses and get off our goddamn asses, we’re going to be fucked up our goddamn asses, by other people who can get off their goddamn asses and get off their fucking asses, right?


MAN 2 [to MAN 5]:  It’s a bucket shot.


MAN 5 [to MAN 2]:  It’s a bucket shot.


He [Looks at his watch]:  I have to go.  I have to see the kids… before…. 


MAN 6:  Ok.  So we’ll continue again tomorrow?


HE:  We haven’t finished yet?


MAN 1:  Well yes, I know….  We all have work….  But if we don’t follow the proper process, we’re basically not going to get….  It’s not going to….  I just can’t say it often enough.  We have to get money.  To get money, we need revenue.  To get revenue, we need money.  To get money, we need revenue, and to get revenue, we need money.  The issue’s not going to go away.  It’s only….   We need to…..  The customer…..  Money…..  If we don’t catalogue the appropriate actions required to catalogue the risks involved in cataloguing the appropriate actions involved in tabulating the risks, I’ll tell you, we’re fucked!   To get revenue, we need money….  To get money, we need revenue.   This is a business, you know.  A business is supposed to make money.  And, to get money, you need revenue.  And to get revenue, you need money….


MAN 4:  We never got back to the needs


MAN 5:  The needs are….


HE [to MAN 6]:  What I need is to….


MAN 6 [to HE]:  Get the fuck out of here?


HE [to MAN 6]:  Goat


MAN 2:  Ok, ok, ok.  Next week?  We’ll do the customer needs next week.


MAN 1:  One more week….


HE:  Thursday, two o’clock?


MAN 6:  All right….


MAN 2:  All right


[They all get up to leave the room, some mumbling amongst each other]


MAN 6 [to He]:  Goat.  Chinchilla fuckers.  Cheese.  Amazing nine-dimensional blow-jobs.  


He [to MAN 6]: It’s a bucket shot


MAN 6 [to He]: Goat




Scene 3



He arrives home, and opens the door to the house.  Two children, a small boy and a very small girl, run up to greet him. 


BOY:  Daddy!  You’re home!


GIRL:  Hi!  Give me a shoulder ride! 


He [picks her up and gives her a shoulder ride around the room]: Giddyup giddyup giddyup horsie, giddyup giddyup giddyup horsie, giddyup giddyup giddyup horsie, all the way to school!  Giddyup giddyup giddyup horsie, giddyup giddyup giddyup horsie, giddyup giddyup giddyup horsie, all the way to school!  Giddyup giddyup giddyup horsie, giddyup giddyup giddyup horsie, giddyup giddyup giddyup horsie, all the way to school!  Giddyup giddyup giddyup horsie, giddyup giddyup giddyup horsie, giddyup giddyup giddyup horsie, all the way to school!


BOY:  I want a ride too!  I want a ride too!  I want a ride too!


HE:  Okay, Okay.  I’m tired.  Hold on.


BOY:  I want a ride now!  I want a crazy one!  A crazy shoulder ride.


HE [gives the boy a crazy shoulder ride]:  Giddyup giddyup giddyup Maniac, giddyup giddyup giddyup Maniac, giddyup giddyup giddyup Maniac, all the way to school!  Yow!  Giddyup giddyup giddyup Maniac, giddyup giddyup giddyup Maniac, giddyup giddyup giddyup Maniac, all the way to school!  Yow!  Giddyup giddyup giddyup Maniac, giddyup giddyup giddyup Maniac, giddyup giddyup giddyup Maniac, all the way to hell! Yow!  Giddyup giddyup giddyup Maniac, giddyup giddyup giddyup Maniac, giddyup giddyup giddyup Maniac, all the way to schooool!


BOY [after he’s put down]:  Why are you home so late today?  You come home late too much.


HE:  Long meetings… really boring…


BOY:  Why didn’t you just leave then, if it was boring?


HE:  It’s part of the job


BOY:  I want to get a job


HE:  Why do you want to get a job?  So you can get bored?


BOY:  So I can get money


HE:  Why do you need money?  You’re a kid, you don’t need money.


BOY:  I want to buy every Gameboy game there is.  Every one in the universe! 


HE:  It wouldn’t take that much money to buy every Gameboy game on Earth.  How many do you think there are?  Five hundred?


BOY:  Sure, maybe.  Not thousands.  Hundreds.


HE:  So if they’re thirty dollars each, on average, that’s fifteen thousand bucks….  Yeah, that’s more money than I want to spend on Gameboy games.  Well maybe you do need a job.


BOY:  See?


HE:  But you don’t need that many Gameboy games. 


BOY:  But what about all the other ones in the universe? 


HE:  You think out of all the planets in the universe, there are some where there are creatures enough like people that they’ve made Gameboys, but enough different from people that they’ve made different Gameboy games than we have.


BOY:  Yeah.  Probably.  Isn’t it likely?


HE:  I don’t know how to estimate the probabilities….


BOY:  It’s more than zero percent


HE:  You’re right….  Did you play Gameboy today?


BOY:  Not yet.  At this school, they don’t let us play at all.  Not even when we’re waiting to get picked up.


HE:  Poor baby….


SHE:  Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat.  If you don’t, I don’t care, I’ll pull down your underwear!


He [laughing]: That’s silly!


BOY:  She learned that at preschool


HE:  Oooh, they teach good stuff there


SHE:  Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat.  If you don’t, I don’t care, I’ll pull down your underwear!


HE:  You guys want to go to the park?


SHE:  Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat.  If you don’t, I don’t care, I’ll pull down your underwear!


BOY:  I do, but I want you to tell me a story first


HE:  More of the Dreamland story?


BOY:  Yeah.  What part are we on?  Part seventy-nine, I think.


HE:  I’ll tell a little bit, OK?


GIRL [approaching him, pulling up her short]: Look at my big belly!


HE [poking her bellybutton]:  Got you – bing!   You must have eaten a lot of food….


HE:  Ok, just a minute or two.   So… what happened last?


BOY:  A little animal, I think…?


HE:  Right, the shrew.  So, they were in Dreamland, and this little shrew came up to them – this tiny furry animal.  He said, “Where am I?”   They said, “I’m in Dreamland, it’s the universe where everyone goes when they dream.  Everyone, while they’re dreaming, goes to one place or another in Dreamland.”  “Oh, cool,” said the shrew.  “Show me the part where the shrews dream.”  So they took him to where the shrews dream, and there were millions of shrew dreams all over; shrews dreaming about eating wood, and eating grass, and playing with other shrews and having sex with them and making shrew babies.  And he was really happy for a while, but soon he got bored… and he started to think too much.  He was a really smart shrew.  He looked at all the dreams everyone was having around them.  Usually everyone in Dreamland just watches their own dreams, and causes imaginary creatures – sort of like ghosts – to appear around them and act out their thoughts; then the imaginary creatures sort of gain their own lives, their own half-minds, which is why we can’t totally control what happens in our dreams.  The very smart shrew was looking around – he had a special mind, so he had the power to see everybody’s dreams, not just his own, and to move around from dream to dream at will.  He’d appear in other peoples’ or other shrews’ dreams, and no one would know he was really a conscious being and not just one of the ghost-people who are normally in their dreams.  So he started to notice strange patterns.  Like, one shrew would dream about a particularly big log, and then other shrews would start to dream about it.  Then maybe some mice would start to dream about it.  Then some people, even.  Then the log might change into a boat, in some peoples’ dreams.  So everyone would be dreaming about boats.


BOY:  So ideas would just spread, from one dream to another?


HE: Right?


BOY:  And they’d change into new ideas?  And that’s how so many strange things got into people’s dreams.


HE: Yeah


BOY:  That could be the way it really is


HE:  Sure.  Anything is possible.


BOY:  But that’s not very likely


HE:  Well….  Ok.  Anyway, so the shrew noticed all these patterns in dreams.  And he pointed this out to his friend, the Crazy Scientist.  And the Crazy Scientist said “Hee hee hee hee, heedly hee hee hee, hoo hoo haw!”


BOY [laughing]: Because he was crazy


GIRL: That’s silly


BOY:  No, it’s not, it’s crazy


GIRL [crying all of a sudden]: No, it’s silly!


BOY: Crazy!


GIRL [upset]:  Silly!


BOY:  Crazy!


GIRL:  Silly!


BOY:  Crazy!


GIRL:  Silly!


BOY:  Crazy!


GIRL:  Silly!


BOY:  Crazy!


GIRL [crying a lot]:  No … it’s silly… it’s silly….


HE:  Come on, be nice to your sister.  Let’s go to the park, I’m not going to tell more story if you’re gonna fight about it. 


HE [picks the girl up and speaks to her]:   I’m sorry….  I’m sorry honey.  It’s silly.  It’s silly, really. 


HE [to the boy]:  Ok.  Just a little bit more.  So the Crazy Scientist made a machine to observe everything everyone dreams.  He made a huge computerized record of everybody’s dreams, and he noticed the shrew was right.  There were patterns among peoples’ dreams.  One man started dreaming about a certain woman , and it was a very intense dream, and then other people started dreaming about the same woman , or other women who looked like her.  [He puts the little girl down, already soothed]  And so on, like that.  But the more he studied these patterns in his program, the more confused he got.  It seemed like something must be making all these patterns happen.  All the patterns in everyone’s dreams seemed too complicated to just be chance.  He said to the shrew, “I wonder.  Maybe someone is controlling everyone’s dreams.  Sort of like a movie that we’re all in when we dream at night.”  But the shrew got a very good idea.  “Maybe,” he said.  “Or maybe the dreams are controlling themselves….  Maybe Dreamland, the total of everyone’s dreams, is like a giant mind itself.   Maybe OUR dreams are ITS thoughts.”   Now, the Crazy Scientist thought that was interesting.  He stood on his head and peed on the floor.  But even though he was crazy, he was also a scientist.  And scientists deal with hypotheses that you can prove true or false by doing experiments.  “It’s an interesting idea,” he said to the shrew.  “But how could we test it?  How could we tell if Dreamland was really a mind or not?”  He thought for a bit.  He thought for ninety-nine days, three hours, and seven minutes, sitting in one place and not moving.  Then he came up with the idea: “We have to give it a body.  Write a program to translate its thoughts into words.  And then it can talk to us through the body.”  So he worked for forty-four years, together with a whole bunch of very smart shrews, and at the end, they had a robot body, and he hooked it up to the computer program he’d written to study everyone’s dreams.  And the robot stood up, and it looked at him.   It said, “Wow, thanks for making me this body.   I’ve been so LONELY….  It’s so great to TALK to someone!”  … Ok.  That’s all for this time.  Let’s go to the park.


BOY:  Could you really build a robot like that?


HE:  Maybe.  But not yet, not for a few hundred years I guess


BOY:  Why don’t you do it at your work, instead of the work you’re doing


HE:  We’re doing interesting stuff – it’s hard, but not quite as hard as that….


BOY:  I know but, the meetings aren’t interesting, and why can’t you just skip the meetings and do more interesting things then… why don’t you build a time machine, so we can go back in time?  Then we can take modern technology and bring it back 2000 years, and then after 2000 years they’ll have even more advanced technology, and they can bring it back in time again, and so on and so on, they can just keep on looping around, until everything that can possibly be invented has been invented.  Why don’t you do that, Dad?


HE:  Well, two reasons… We don’t know how, that’s the main reason. 


BOY:  You could make a lot of money that way, by getting better and better inventions and selling them.


HE:  You definitely could.   Hey, we need to make more money….    Anyway, do you think there really are these patterns in peoples’ dreams?  And if there are, they wouldn’t necessarily really make a mind that could talk to you.


BOY:  No, maybe you’d just see its thoughts


HE:  You’d dream them


BOY:  That could be right


GIRL:  I want to play!  I want to play!  I want to play!  I want to play!




Scene 4



He’s in the livingroom with his wife.  She’s sitting on the couch watching TV quietly, he’s just walked in.  



WIFE:  The kids are in bed?


HE:  Yeah….


WIFE:  They’re…


HE:  She….  I guess, he….


WIFE:  It’s late….


HE:  Not all that… I mean… We have to….


WIFE:  Yes, but I have to … You know…  It’s all very well for you to…  But….


HE:  Whatever.   Is there really a problem?  I mean, they….


WIFE:  Yeah, I know


HE:  We had a good time


WIFE:  Of course you did


HE:  I mean, we really went ….  He asked me…  And did you hear her….  Wasn’t she cute?


WIFE:  Of course, she’s…


HE:  Look.  You have….  You get….  Compared to….  You don’t have …. really….


WIFE:  I have to …  I have to…  I have to for YOU!


HE:  No, not for me you don’t…. You have…. You want….


WIFE:   You’re always coming at with this… you have to always have to fall back on…. You have to… why do you always have to defend yourself against….


HE:  Why are you always attacking?  If you weren’t always….


WIFE:  No.  That’s not the….  It’s just not acceptable….


HE:  What’s just not acceptable?


WIFE:  It isn’t….  The….  I shouldn’t have to….  You always…. You never….


HE:  I don’t ALWAYS….. 


WIFE:  Sure, but….


HE:  I don’t NEVER….  You can’t say that.  You….


WIFE:  You don’t tell me what I can say!


HE:  You can say whatever you want, but that doesn’t make it true….  Look at everything I’m….  Think….  Think about….  Try to understand….


WIFE:  YOU try to understand…!  You don’t understand anything!!  You…


HE:  Nothing at all, huh?  I’m completely retarded?  [Points to his head.]  I’ve just got a goddamned empty shell up here.


WIFE:  Well if you’re so fucking clever….  Why don’t you…..   Why does he…..  Why do you always….


HE:  Why do you have to ….  I don’t want to hear….


WIFE:  I’m NOT….


HE:  Yes, you are…


[His cell phone rings; he picks it up, and paces back and forth in the room talking.  She picks up a glossy magazine and reads it, in addition to watching the TV.]


HE: Hello


MAN ON PHONE: OK, so I integrated the main components and it seems to function somewhat but I couldn’t load the whole thing in and so I’m not sure it will work, also are you really sure you want to use that formula for inhibition, because I tried something like that before and I remember it just lead to severe memory problems and….


[Wife changes the channel on the TV, to a show featuring male strippers]


HE: Hold on, hold on.  There things mixed up….  You have to distinguish….  Let’s think…. First, loading the whole thing in.  Second the memory issue.


MAN ON THE PHONE:  OK, loading the whole thing in.


HE:  Right.  You’re trying to load whole the thing in, but you’re running out of memory, right?




HE:  So you need more memory




HE:  So there’s more memory at the office.  Why don’t you go there and use it.


MAN ON THE PHONE:  Oh yeah.  He has….  He’s got…. In the….  Yeah….  I forgot….


HE:  You’re losing your memory [laughs]




He [to himself]:  I wish I could lose my memory.  It’s all a bunch of useless shit really….




HE: Look, I’ve got someone on the other line…. Have to go…..  Report back…. Summary…..  Ok?  … Right?


MAN ON THE PHONE:  Well if I….


HE:  OK.  Bye.  [Pause, clicks button on phone to shift to other line] Hello?


OTHER MAN ON THE PHONE:  Hi.   Remember that e-mail…


HE:  The one…




HE: OK, now, that was a subtle issue.  What we’re talking about is the statistical properties of discourse … computing the degree to which pairs or triples of words tend to occur next to each other (for syntax) or near each other (for semantics) …. in a text


OTHER MAN ON THE PHONE:  He isolates the function words … computes the degrees with which words and combinations of words occur in various relations to function words … words … words and word combinations. 


HE:  In some experiments he takes this beyond function words and isolates other word classes like “weak verbs” and computes statistics based on these.


OTHER MAN ON THE PHONE:  What’s the finding?


HE:  The finding….  If you want to tell what someone feels, the content words don’t matter.  It doesn’t matter what you’re saying.  It just matters how you say it.   You can take a text, take out all the words that mean anything, leave only the structure words, the glue words, the words that are meaningless, almost meaningless, in themselves…..  “X tried to Y” or “Y was Z’ed by W”, “X took the W from Z.”   You can tell the feeling tone from just that….  That’s how the program works.


OTHER MAN ON THE PHONE:  I guess I understand …. I’m not really sure…. Are you sure that’s how the program….


HE:  Yeah.  It’s really cool!   If you want to tell the feeling in a text, the content words don’t mean anything!   The feeling’s all in how you say it!   Do you see what this means?  We can make a lot of money…..  The program can read feelings.  It can read what you wrote and it can tell you what you feel.  The program can read feelings!  It can read you you wrote… and it can tell you what you feel…. By ignoring what you said….


OTHER MAN ON THE PHONE:  But I know what I feel already.  I don’t need a program to tell me.


HE:  But it can tell other people


OTHER MAN ON THE PHONE:   Maybe … I don’t want other people to know what I feel…


HE:  It’s…. Look….  We need to generate revenue….  This could be the key!!  So then…..


OTHER MAN ON THE PHONE:  You mean we can make money … by selling people a computer program that tells them what they feel?


HE:  People need to know what they feel don’t they?


OTHER MAN ON THE PHONE:  By ignoring what they say?  It tells them what they feel by ignoring what they say?


HE:  Yes




HE:  Look, we have a mission!   We’ll get there one way or another. …. Yeah well….  We’re making history….  You have to look at … that directory … open up … then close … download… don’t forget to merge….


OTHER MAN ON THE PHONE:  Ok, I’ll try.  Good one.


HE:  Talk Monday?




[The phone rings again, immediately.  It’s the previous phone caller]


MAN ON THE PHONE:  I forgot to ask you … what about the meeting… the revenue projections … cash flow buybacks….


HE:  I don’t want to talk about…


MAN ON THE PHONE:  But did they…?  Was…?  Were…?


HE:  Look, you could have ….  yourself …. if you wanted to…


MAN ON THE PHONE:  I know, I know, but… come on … you know, you….


HE:  We need money to get revenue.  We need revenue to get money.  He wants to follow the proper procedure.


MAN ON THE PHONE:  Well?!  That’s what I’ve been saying all along.  I said three years ago….


HE:  I don’t care.  It’s obvious.  It’s really…


MAN ON THE PHONE:  Well if it’s….  think about it … are you really …. If we don’t get our asses in gear….


HE:  If we don’t get our asses in gear, we’ll get fucked up the ass, by someone else who has their asses in gear, or has their gear up their asses, or whatever the fuck you’re supposed to do with your goddamned ass in a real corporation that follows proper procedures and tabulates their risk manifestoes and folds them in neat little origami patterns to look like swans and butterflies and shrews and shoves them up their ass, to get their asses in gear man , cause it’s a motherfucking bucket shot, it’s a bucket shot, it’s a rocket shot to the moon, to the moon Alice, to the moon, you have to understand, that revenue makes money, and money makes revenue, and we can’t really build a fucking time machine because we don’t have the money, and time is fucking money motherfucking, time is fucking money, and that’s why we have to keep our asses in gear man, smell my fucking feet man, trick or fucking treat man, you have to understand now man, this ain’t no fucking Dreamland, it ain’t a fucking game or something, and if you want to win the game you gots to play the game by the rules, you gots to know the fucking procedures, the facts and figures at your disposal, the fucking gears up your fucking ass man , your tabulated spreadsheet fucking cost projection fucking  motherfucking memory-impaired delusional revenue-generating ass -- no fucking goats and fucking chinchillas, no fucking playing games anymore man , we’re serious, we’re a real corporation, we’re an incorporation of mollusks, we’re an economy of motherfucking dreams, an eternal flow and flux of knowledge (and anti-knowledge, of course), an illusional enterprise of no scene at all -- I don’t know why she thinks it’s so impossible, I don’t think anything’s really impossible, it’s just a low probability, but I wish I could just go fuck it fucking off, if you really understand…


MAN ON THE PHONE:  Yeah, okay.  We have to make money to get revenue.  We have to get revenue to make money.


HE:  Right.  Look, I have to go.  I’ll see you tomorrow.


MAN ON THE PHONE:  Okay.  Bye.


[Wife keeps reading her magazine]


HE: Look… I’m sorry… I…  Stress…. strain… work… revenue … money…. It’s trouble… things are OK but… the kids are …. the work… stupid memory … it’s the economy … you can’t just tell me after I’ve done that …. I mean isn’t it ever good enough… do I have to do…. You can’t just…. Really….  There’s enough of…. It’s not that important really… We just….


[Wife puts magazine down and looks at him]


HE:   Look -- Can we….  You know….  It’s not….


WIFE:  It’s not … !


HE:  Well, come….   I mean…..   We only live once, you know….


[Wife glares at him silently]


HE:  Hmmm, yeah … well … reincarnation … right …. 


[He sits down next to her, close, and leans over her.]


HE: Come on, hon….  Forget about it….


WIFE:  You’re really good at….


HE:  I’m just floating along, dear


WIFE:  You can’t … aw… 


[She smiles and kisses him]


HE:  That’s a really cute dress


WIFE:  Is it?


HE:  No, I just made that up… you know … flattery loves company and all…


WIFE:   I see


HE:  Yeah?


WIFE:  So who was that on the phone? 


HE:  I don’t want to….


WIFE:  Sure…


HE:  This issue about the language analysis… interesting… if you just extract the basic structure… you don’t need to know the meaning….


WIFE:  So words aren’t any use at all


HE:  Words transmit content…   They’re no use to transmit feeling…


WIFE:  Which is what’s really important …


HE:  It might….  I mean, but…. If you only…. I mean…. We have to make, you know… factories, machines …. fixing … reading…. news … the world…. feeling’s always ABOUT something isn’t it… OK, not always … usually ….


WIFE:  It isn’t though … really … it’s not … it’s ….


HE:  You … look, your flesh … here …. Your breast … breasts … leg… face … smile… eyes…. areolas …  maybe … something … yes?  Only what I feel… what you feel…  the sum total of the feelings about the thing…  is that the thing itself?


Wife [shrugs]:  Mmmm….


HE:  What?


WIFE:  It’s just so many words, that’s all


HE:  I have this amazing idea, actually.  We don’t really need to communicate at all….  Well, that is… it’s entirely possible, and I think I see how to do it, to actually monitor the state of the brain.  By detecting the high-frequency electromagnetic fields emanating from the brain, and tracking their fluctuations, one can produce a complete picture of the mind of any human being. 


WIFE:  Wow


HE:  I’ve been thinking about this for a long time.  At least twenty years, actually.  But I think now I actually see how to do it….  It isn’t easy of course.  The first machine would be expensive.  But if you put the right kind of superconducting fluid in a helmet around the skull, the electromagnetic vibrations should affect the flux of the field, putting it in a superimposed quantum state.  The flux and charge of some kinds of superconductors are subject to an uncertainty relationship – macroscopic quantum effects.  But then – here’s the cool thing – the same kind of algebraic methodology we use to extract feelings from texts, so we can tell people what they feel by reading what they say and ignoring it – using the same exact mathematical methodology we can use to extract subtle patterns from the neuroelectromagnetic vibrations of the superconducting fluid inside the helmet!  You see?


WIFE:  Well … sort of…


HE:  So then, here’s the punchline!  If we all wear these, then we can induce a state of quantum resonance between the different helmets!  We can all induce states in each others’ minds!  Just one big thought-space!


WIFE:  Terrifying…


HE:  The wonders of modern technology….


WIFE:  I don’t know…


HE:  What?


WIFE:  Mmmm…


HE:  It’s too many words?


WIFE:  Words….


HE:  Words … meanings … fingers …. [He caresses her]


WIFE [smiling]:  Mmmmm….  Finger feelings….


HE:  Finger feelings…


WIFE:  Mmmm


HE:  There’s nothing, huh?  In the whole enernity….




HE:  Buddhism….


WIFE:  You can call it that


HE:  You really believe there’s nothing here at all?  Everything around us … it’s just some kind … some dream …


WIFE:  Not a dream….  It’s not


HE:  It’s not….  There’s nothing at all?




HE:  No….   But, can’t I even have a little something?




HE:  Just a very small something … a hope… a regret … a fear … a dream, maybe – let alone a dream land …




HE:  Maybe a speck of dust?  A chocolate cupcake?  A fragment of chinchilla bone?




HE:  A moldy bread crust?




HE:  A business meeting?  An awful, endless boring business meeting?




HE:  Well ... what … what about your own words? … words of anger… problems… complaints… the always problems … problems … health… disturb ….


WIFE:  Well?


HE: Them? … It’s just….  How can you say…. It’s not just…  It’s not….


WIFE:  It’s not, that’s exactly what I’m saying.  You don’t need to say anything more.  It’s not.  It’s not it’s not it’s not.


HE:  And what about God?  No God?  God’s not at all.


WIFE:  God is.


HE:  But … you said … nothing…


WIFE:  God is.  He is


HE:  He’s not.  It’s just a stupid superstition.  The things that are here you think aren’t really here, then the thing you think’s real really’s not….




HE:  Not




HE:  Not




HE:  Not




HE:  Not




HE:  Is not!!  Look … nothing … nothing is, but God is?  What sense does that make?


WIFE:  Shut down your mind a little… quiet it….  It’s not about sense or not sense.


HE:  But…


WIFE:  Look, just shut up now sweetheart, will you?


[She kisses him, silencing him]


HE:  Mmmmm… well if you … hmm….


SHE:  Mmmm…


[They embrace on the couch, with increasing enthusiasm.   The lights go out.]


Scene 5



It’s the conference table again, but with some different people this time.



MAN 8:  So you’re saying … tell people’s feelings … looks at their writings …


HE:  Yes


MAN 8:  But I don’t really see the business case … the cash flow … bifurcations … projections…


HE: Do you know what you feel?


MAN 8:  What?


HE:  Do you know what you feel


MAN 8:  I feel a strong need for the cash flow projections of this particular technological device


MAN 1:  We’ve been following the appropriate process … nominating managerial roles … accounting procedures … cross-tabulating synergies…


MAN 2:  The cash flow…. the cash flow…


HE: The applications go beyond … far beyond …


MAN 8:  Yes?


HE:  One’s own feelings … obscure enough ... or perhaps clear … depending on the situation ….  But what about others?  The feelings … friends … coworkers … employees…  For you to know the feelings … precise indications … computed by a computer … all you need is a sample of text … our mathematical analysis …


MAN 8:  Yesss….  Yes, I see….  Most attractive….  If I knew … my employees … competitors … everything.   Track their e-mails … their phone calls.  I could tell everything!   I’d know everything!


HE:  Well… I wouldn’t quite…. But you’re getting … I’d….


MAN 8:  But how did it work?  You invented it yourself?  You … background … connections … when? Why?


HE:  It came about indirectly in fact.  I was working with a program for extracting the meaning from text.  But there was an error in the program, and one day I started working, not with the meaning I’d taken out of the text, but with the part that was left behind – the empty shell, once all the meaning was gone….


MAN 8:  And…?


HE:  And that was the feeling?


MAN 8:  Really?


HE:  It’s not that surprising, if you … conceptual gradient … You have to think … Typically….  But we … integration … cross-modular intelligence … weak verbs…


MAN 8:  Well, I’m not a technical man.  But I recognize value when I see it.  I would say the next step…


MAN 1:  In the process…


MAN 8:  The process


MAN 1:  The procedure


MAN 8:  Yes, yes … my people … call my secretary … appointment … next week …. Could be substantial … potential revenue sharing… abreactive cash flow dynamic … Perhaps…


MAN 2: Excellent


MAN 1:  Excellent


MAN 8:  Yes … the cash flow potentials  … but the principle … it’s vexing …


HE:  The words don’t carry much feeling, that’s the thing.  It’s the way they’re arranged.


MAN 8:  Well…


HE:  Every one of us is made of the same kind of molecules, right?  But you and I are very different.  Every sentence is made of words defining things, but they’re arranged in a different pattern.  Every piece of music – well most of them – arranges the same basic notes.  It’s the pattern that’s different … it’s the pattern that carries the  … well … the … yes, you….


MAN 8:  Hmmm … well, you know … I’m not a technical man….


MAN 1:   Well … if we follow the procedure…


MAN 8 [rising to leave]:   Good evening, gentlemen.  I’ve got a car outside.  My secretary will call you OK?


[MAN 8 leaves]


HE:  I think that went pretty well, would you say?


MAN 2:  He’s in


MAN 1:  I don’t know … there’s a process … hurdles … loopholes … tubes to jump through… you have to consider….


MAN 2:  He’s in.  It’s a bucket shot


HE:  Bucket shot


Scene 6



A man and a woman sit in a café, again, looking at each other across a small table.



SHE:  You’re still not feeling so good huh? 


HE:  Hmmm… well, I….


SHE:  Are you?


HE: Really, I’m fine….  I’ve got…. Had…. Dreamed….  I really was, you know…. But then… really… how can you?  I mean….


SHE: How’s she?


HE: Good … fine… better than expected….really… who ever really would… you know….


SHE: Yeah


HE:  But, I  mean, you know….


SHE:  Yeah


HE:  It isn’t….


SHE: Right


HE:  But, I mean, in life, you have….  There’s…. You have to… really… there’s….


SHE:  Sure


HE:  What?


SHE:  Mmmm…. I don’t know…


HE:  The kids, they’re really great, you should hear her … the little one…


SHE: Yeah


HE: “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat.  If you don’t, I don’t care, I’ll pull down your underwear!”


She [laughing]:  Cute


HE:  Listen….  Octavio Paz….  The spirit is an invention of the body.  The body

is an invention of the world.  The world is an invention of the spirit.  Yes.  No.  The unreality of the seen.  Tranparency is all that remains.  Your footsteps in the next room, the green thunder, ripening in the foliage of the sky….You are naked, like a syllable, like a flame, an island of flames -- the passion of compassionate coals -- the world a bundle of your images drowned in music … Your body, spilled on my body,             seen, dissolved, brings reality to seeing.”


SHE: Great words…


HE:  Words really don’t matter… right…


SHE:  Don’t they?


HE:  You know


SHE:  That….  Yeah, but…. It’s just a program… really…


HE:  I know.  Sure….  We need to make money.  Money generates revenue.  Revenue generates money.


SHE:  Right, I know, I know.  But… you … I mean… it’s hard… it’s impressive … you really put… for me … it’s not completely compelling… it’s a cool program … really fascinating … the money’s important … but I mean… you….


HE:  Nothing’s truly compelling for you …. So what?  You ….  I mean….. You…. You just…


SHE:  Float?  I just float?  So what?


HE:  I don’t know … what?  … what? …. Your hair’s different….


SHE:  Yeah


HE:  You transmogrified it


SHE:  Did I?


HE:   I don’t know


SHE:  All right


HE:  The spirit is an invention of the body


SHE:  The body is an invention of the world


HE:  The world is an invention of the spirit


[A long pause]


SHE:  Do you really think….


HE:  I don’t know


SHE:  It’s not impossible…  But….


HE:  Nothing’s impossible….  Is it?


SHE:  Nothing? … I guess not

HE:  Listen

SHE: Okay

HE:  “Space is a body tattooed with signs.”

SHE: Okay

HE:  “The air  an invisible web of calls and answers….  Animals and things make languages.  Through us the universe talks with itself.”

SHE: Okay…

HE:  We are a fragment….  You are a fragment!

SHE:  Sure…

HE:  “We are a fragment -- accomplished in our unaccomplishment -- of its discourse.  A coherent and empty solipsism: since the beginning of the beginning.  What does it say?” 

He:  What does it say?

SHE: What?

HE:  What?  … “It says that it says us.  It says it to itself: Oh madness of discourse, that cause sets up with and against itself!

SHE [smiling]: Octavio Paz?

HE: Yeah

SHE:  But what do YOU say?

HE:  Well… I don’t know…. Octavio Paz… space … time… I mean… well …

SHE:  Yeah

HE:  The truth is … I’m confused … 

SHE: Yeah

HE:  I’m confused about every possible thing

SHE:  Yeah… yeah…. I understand…

HE:  So … what do you say?

SHE:  Hmm…  mmm…  well you know…  I don’t know…

HE:  Confusion?

SHE: Well?

HE:  Better not to say anything …

SHE:  Anything?

HE:  Better love lost and silence …

SHE:  Silence?

HE:  And you as you always were … alone…

SHE:  Alone?

HE: Yes

SHE [leaning forward toward him]:  Maybe.  I don’t know.  It seems that, perhaps, if we … you know… if feelings … thoughts…. Everything…. don’t try to get too much precision.  If we accept the ambiguity, the shifting and the shadows…..  Don’t get too fine-grained, just move from pattern to pattern … do you see what I mean at all?

HE: Yeah.   She says nothing’s really real at all.  But it is and is isn’t, you know?

SHE:  Yeah

HE:  There aren’t really any procedures.  No point to tabulate catalogues of managements… managements of catalogues….

SHE:  Of course….  But what if you stay away from the numbers and tables…

HE:  Or use the numbers and tables in the right way

SHE:  Yeah….  But I’m not sure that’s quite the right way to look at.   It’s almost compelling… but it isn’t still, quite…

HE: Not quite

SHE:  Look, could you let me… I mean… Do you always have to…

HE:  Sorry

SHE:  It’s fine....  What I’m trying to say is, I’m not sure, but, if you accept it, the messengers like he called them, it’s saying us, and we’re saying that it’s saying us, and that’s all very well -- and you’re telling your theories on everything or sitting here chatting with me, and your little girl’s saying trick or treat smell my feet and so on -- and the contents are irrelevant yet relevant, if you know what I mean – I mean, calling them relevant or irrelevant isn’t all that relevant – it’s overlooking the main point, which is the process, the process of unfolding, of saying and unsaying… the process… the network of words within words … the web of cellular messengers…

HE:  The web of cellular messengers

SHE:  Yeah!  It’s the process…

HE:  The process, not the procedure

SHE:  Right

HE: No

SHE: No… I guess not.  It’s not compelling.  It doesn’t capture it

HE:  The self-organizing process?

SHE:  Self-producing process?

HE:  Self-perpetrating pestilence?

SHE:  Pre-putrescelating pustulence …  perhaps …

HE:  You can’t

SHE:  I guess not

HE:  The words just make it nonsense I guess

SHE:  Hmmm…. Well, I guess so…

HE:  But is it really impossible?

[She takes his hand and squeezes it]

She [looks hard at him]:  I just don’t know… I don’t know….

[His cell phone rings]

MAN 1:  Listen… I thought I should clarify… prior to the following meeting ….the procedural methodologies intended to clarify the procedural methods intended to tabulate risks or in fact to ameliorate or mitigate the acceleration of the amelioration of the incendiary factors that may be preventing or altogether restraining our indications of whether there are indeed indications of the failure versus negative ratios, cost overruns, buybacks, and similar financial accounting or managerial restrictions, in fact if we follow the proper procedures, it will be mandatory for a full 360 review, increases decreases and even if necessary eliminations, one can’t entirely consider irrelevant the prospects of the cross-business matrix tabulations, the synergies of profit centers integrated, you know, with the process of arriving at a proper process….  Anyway.  I want to know if you’re on board.

HE:  I’m on board!

MAN 1:  What?

HE:  I’m on board!

MAN 1:  Well… well … I …

HE:  The program can tell you what you FEEL by looking at what you’ve written.  Do you know what you feel?  Do you know?  Do you know?

MAN 1:   But … I mean … you’re on board?

HE:  I already said I’m on board

MAN 1:  Well … I … you see … the procedural outflow….

HE:  Look, look, look!! …  I’m on board!  I’m on board!

MAN 2:  You’re on board?

HE:  Sure thing.  Sure I am.  I’m on board.

MAN 2:  Great

HE:  Great.  I have to go.  Talk to you later.

MAN 2:  Well…  I…  The…

HE:  Bye

[He hangs up the phone, and leans back]

HE [to her, grinning]: I’m on board

SHE [grins back]:  You’re on board

HE:  I’m on board!

[He picks up the cell phone again, and calls his wife]

HE: Honey?

WIFE: Yeah?  I’m…

HE:  Honey, I’m on board!

WIFE: Oh sweetheart, that’s wonderful!  I’m so proud of you!  You’re on board!

HE:  That’s right, I’m on board!

WIFE:  Oh, darling….

HE:  Thanks … love you … later …

WIFE:  Love you…

[He dials MAN 6]

HE:  Hey… yeah .. big news…

MAN 6:  Goat?  Cassowary? 

HE:  I…

MAN 6:  Caledonia mahogany’s elbows?

HE:  Listen, listen! – I’m on board!

MAN 6:  You’re on board?  Great!

HE:  Later

MAN 6:  Kay…. 

[Hangs up the phone….  He and she look at each other for a while.]

SHE: Are you really on board?

HE: Well…

SHE:  What does it  mean?

HE [after a long pause]: I don’t know

SHE:  Really?

HE:  No … I guess not … do you?

SHE:  I guess not

HE:  The procedure and all…

SHE:  Yeah… the program…

HE:  Well….

SHE:  Your wife seemed happy for you

HE:  She’s religious…

SHE:  Yeah

HE:  I’ve got to tell you…

SHE:  What?

HE:  No, I can’t tell you.  It wouldn’t be appropriate…

SHE: Why?

HE:  Well…  I mean … considering…

SHE:  Yeah…

HE:   But still… it’s … it’s…

SHE: I guess it is … or well maybe it isn’t…

HE:  Or it is… 

SHE:  Well…

HE:  Fucking shit…

SHE:  Heh.  Well … guess I’ve got to get back to work…

HE:  I guess….  Me too, I guess…. Do you think I should buy all the Gameboy games in the world?

SHE:  Why?

HE:  It would only be fifteen thousand dollars

SHE:  That’s a hell of a lot of money!

HE:  Well if you wanted all the Gameboy games in the universe, it would be a lot more… depending on the nature of the universe….

SHE:  Do you really think we can make money by telling people what they feel?  If the computer program can do it…

HE:  Do you know what you feel?

SHE:  I don’t know…

HE: Well…. 

SHE:  Mmmm…

HE:  Do you know what I feel?

SHE:  Wellll…