AMUSEMENTS FOR CHILDREN
It matters who your friends are. This is true for a wide variety of species, because we all think we’re having different lives, when really there’s only one life and we’re sharing it.
I first wrote “a number of species” but that didn’t convey the thought the way I was thinking it. “A wide variety of species” doesn’t cover it either, because what do I know of a wide variety of species?
I’ve heard that a lot of our thinking happens after our actions have already started, so that thinking is a kind of reflex or rationalization.
We’re sitting around talking on the porch in spring. Some coffee. The lawn needs to be mowed for the second time this week, we’ve had that much rain. And our kids are out here, too. Or coming in and out with the dog. And Eliot, who’s eight, is talking about us. “I looked at them and thought that they were thinking,” he says. And then he thinks that everybody’s thinking, saying that “there must be hundreds of people thinking.”
Because everything is in reaction to something. You carry this sadness about something in your life, something isn’t working out the way you wanted it to or the way you thought you were promised, so you start a collection of antique chickens. Next thing you know, the whole house is a yard sale. Your bed is three feet under other things. Here, there’s still some room between it and where the bureau was, a kind of depression you can lie on. You dream of children running in the yard, laughing. When they’re thirsty they come to your kitchen window and you hand them lemonade. You wake wondering where the antique chickens are. You bought them at a shop in Kansas City. You should go back there sometime.
It wasn’t long before I straightened my dress, buttoned my coat, & left for the city. Because everything is a reaction to something. Because an entire garden had been buried in gnome statues & wheelbarrows, those odd decorations that just seemed to multiply.
When I started the car, you were still at the yard sale. I drove for hours, but the landscape didn’t change at all. A barren cornfield, a felled tree, a marble statue covered in ice. My teeth ached from the cold, every window busted open after a week of ungodly snow. The freeway, too, felt as though it would never end.
In the dream: a clearing, a little table, a black rotary phone. I tried to call you, but my mouth was already frozen shut.
WHATEVER IS POSSIBLE IS MANDATORY
The newest thinking is that a person could live inside a machine by turning their brain into program code, once a computer capable of recreating some 100 trillion connections is built. On the television show Dr. Who, they are called Cybermen, and they have to have their emotions unplugged, because the horror of waking up in a machine would drive people insane.
We sit around for a while with that because it’s Friday, and on Fridays we usually meet up at The Pub for a couple drinks, and talk about whatever.
And somehow talking about the brain in a machine ends up becoming a conversation of Satan in Western literature, how Satan always starts out with a legitimate gripe, but then takes is too far, or simply attacks without actually trying to rectify the perceived slight, so that things get out of hand. Say you die and your consciousness gets put on the internet. So, how long until you try to kill everyone for being able to see the sunset and touch each other?
One of us laughs at that and says “I’m ready to start now!”
There are these fantasies we have where we revenge ourselves on billionaires who will never understand our desire for revenge.
John Gallaher & Kristina Marie Darling were born in Portland and Tulsa. Their collaborations appear in OmniVerse, Requited, diode, and elsewhere. They currently live and write in rural Missouri while also taking frequent trips on the bullet train from Paris to Agen.