I was born with a seemingly infinite number of machine parts in my head – springs and sprockets and gears and levers and wires and nuts and bolts. They were mostly unassembled at birth – just random parts jangling around as I rolled and crawled and stumbled through life. But along the way, the parts assembled themselves – without the help of a craftsman as far as I can tell – into an adult human mind. I have no idea how this happened. Somehow, each new experience, observation, mistake, disappointment, triumph – caused a new piece to integrate itself into the whole, or an old piece to reconfigure, or fall off. So that now, this machine is the sum total of my genetic endowment, experiences, values, hopes and dreams – everything I am. As I write this, pieces are still moving. It continues to evolve.
And now, inexplicably, I find myself in a large room with almost everyone I love, and I look around and see that we all have constructed our own unique machines – or they were constructed in us, I don’t really know – but we each have one. In the center of the room is a set of metaphysical propositions, and we find that we enjoy processing these propositions with our machines. We each insert the propositions, one by one into the front of our machine, and after some chugging and whirring – we’re not sure what, exactly, is going on in there – a judgment pops out the back. As it turns out, almost everyone’s judgments (in this particular room) are the same – “True”, or at the very least, “Plausible”. Everyone seems quite pleased at this result. A party ensues, with root beer and sliced Costco muffins and children singing. “True” is best, of course, but “Plausible” will still get you some refreshments and a seat at the table.
But as the party kicks up, I find myself standing alone – reprocessing. You see, my judgments didn’t say “True”, or even “Plausible”. They said “Implausible”, or “False”, and sometimes “WTF?” But not “True”. I’m embarrassed. Am I the only one? I’m sure they said “True” before, didn’t they? What’s wrong with my machine? Is it broken? How do I fix it? – If only I knew how this thing worked.
Eventually a few family members wander over. They want me to join the party. I show them my judgments, and they look distressed. “Run them through again” they say. “You’re doing it wrong”. I do it, with the same result. “Again – try harder! What’s wrong with you? Don’t you want muffins?”
I desperately want muffins – they’re cake actually, and delicious. But I don’t know how to try harder. I’m just feeding the propositions into the slot – I concentrate. Stupid machine – just let me have the @#$&%#* muffins! Ding – “Implausible”, again. The crowd around me grows louder.
It dawns on me that somehow during all of this, *I* have metamorphosed from a person into a proposition. People begin putting *me* through their judgment machines. “Wrong” their judgments say. “Disappointing”. “Bad”. “Threatening”. Everyone edges away, slowly, with smiling lips and crying eyes. I don’t like fake smiles. Or being judged. I edge away too. The space between us grows until individuals become a crowd. Is that a party over there or mob? Is there a difference? Where is my party? I scan the room for an exit.