Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Mechanical Man of Meyer Library

Why are there surveillance cameras in the 24 hour Meyer study room? And why are there so many Asian people in the said Meyer room? Not American people of distant Asian ancestry, but people distinctly from the place. Numerous cultures of that continent are represented in this study room, in proportions not representative of the university's overall makeup. It's true, it is! If you find offense in this, you are clearly choosing the wrong things to be offended about.

It’s an absurd room--- the intentional grouping of wood slats on the walls, bleak rectangles of soulless balsa lines, look like the result of misread blueprints. The tables are a random, incohesive assortment of misused surplus, the hand-me-downs of better furnished buildings. And that damn red light tickertape display mounted high on the wall--- so high that it acquires a sort of divinity when you gaze upwards at it. WELCOME--- TO THE--- **24 HOUR**--- STUDY ROOM

I suppose it is to remind people who have passed out, and have reawakened in confused dazes, where they are and what they are meant to be doing.

It is here that I see the Mechanical Man. I know a man who is a robot. Secretly, a robot. Others have agreed with my assertion, perhaps only to placate me, but I am quite confident about it.

He moves like a robot--- it’s very hard to accurately describe. Not particularly like the robot dance, you see, which is based on an outdated robot model, but in a still preprogrammed, predictable way. He walks with an unfortunate bounce, hands in his pockets, face forward and stern. It’s the bounce that gives away his roboticism, the consistency of it. No mortal man is so amazingly unfailing in his placement of foot and rhythm of step. Only a purely mechanical man can do that, with his gears and motors and gyroscopes measuring and calculating the length of each gait.

He even stretches his arms like a robot. He sets down his mechanical pencil--- of all writing instruments! aha! he finds its mechanical nature soothing---- he sets down his pencil and fully extends his arms--- slowly, as the gears ratchet into place--- and in perfectly mirrored unison, reaches and pulls at invisible targets. I do not know if it is only to further embellish his image of humanity or if his synthetic mecha-tendons require stretching. Either way, he does not fool me.

He speaks like a robot. I used to work alongside the machine man, you see, and that is how I know these things. His voice is quite comparable to Stephen Hawking’s; I suspect it relies on the same, but more advanced, inner workings. The technology is impressive--- most people really don’t notice that they’re conversing with a robot, despites his un-emotive, halting way of speaking. I believe it’s a system based primarily on pronouncing syllables instead of whole words; he occasionally stresses the wrong ones, you see, but what he can do is still quite a feat of engineering.

I bare no ill will towards the mechanized man, but I am suspicious of his purpose and his origins. Where has he come from and why is he here? Perhaps he is from another planet. Robots are better suited for the dangerous, long space journeys; his super intelligent creators knew this and sent him to be an undergraduate, to study our technologies and social dances. They’ve tried before but underestimated the acuteness of our perceptive abilities. The prototypes have ridiculous silver skin and kazoo voice boxes, and can be seen atop milk crates along the waterfront of the city, dancing for nickels, and gorging themselves upon the precious metal coins at night.

I will continue to watch the mechanical man as best I can, waiting for the opportunity to expose his true nature. I think if he is forced to do something that requires thought beyond the logical realm, like writing a poem, his inner gyros and processors will overheat, resulting in a quiet end or a surprising bang, depending on the volatility of his mysterious power source. In due time.

1 comment:

Adam said...

I once had a prof who was a robot. He had a very mechanical fake laugh, very close to "aha ha ha."

...YOU HAVE REACHED

the end of something.