Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Things You People Wouldn't Believe

Most of this last month, I've stayed away from blogging.  Not because I don't enjoy it, or because it's not a vital part of a writer's discipline.

But because, again this year, I'd committed to National Novel Writing Month.  I keep a stack of stories that are pressing me to be told, and now, I've got one less.  Sunday, late in the evening, the next manuscript sat finished, at sixty-two thousand words and change.  A perfectly novelly-length novel, albeit in raw and unedited form.  

From the Water, I'm calling it for now, a tale of the rise of artificial intelligence from the chaos of organic life.  It evokes and sounds off of a range of themes from faith and culture, intentionally evoking the Exodus story, and reflecting on the miracle of organized sentience in the chaos of being.

That, and at a certain point, it became a good rip-snortin' yarn, one I was eager to read even as I wrote it.

It's fun, getting it done.   But getting it done meant not doing other things.  If you're going to write a novel in a month, you've got to prioritize and make it your specific goal.  That means other stuff gets set aside.

Blogging was one of those necessary things to set aside, but man, was it hard not to write sometimes this month.  If you process information by writing it out, there was plenty to process this month.  Lord have mercy, has it been a mess out there.

What's peculiar, though, is the degree to which my noveling has played off of the realities I've been studiously not writing about.

Like, say, the novel's exploration of the nature of memory and subjectivity.

One of the distinctives of a machine intelligence would be the capacity to share.  Not just "describe."  Not just "tell about," using the symbols and forms of language.  But to completely share a state of mind.  "Here," it could say.  "Here is exactly how I perceived and processed that particular moment in time.  Here is why I responded as I did.  Here I am, in my completeness."

Human beings don't do this very well.

We try, we do.  And sometimes, by the grace of God, we succeed.

But more often than not, we fail.  We are so set in ourselves and in our ideological frameworks that we willfully blind ourselves to the other.  We do not see them in their complexity.  We refuse to do so.  Instead, we do the easier thing.  We choose to fashion a crude caricature of their motivations, one that exists to serve our interests.  We selectively view their actions, picking and choosing those that serve our desire for demonization or hagiography.  We project into that clumsy simulation our needs, our angers, our fears, our pre-judgement.

That gives us control, or at least the illusion thereof.

But it also divorces us from reality and the deep compassion of the Creator.  It enslaves us to our own self-perpetuating brokenness.