Feb 23 2005

Fictionlet

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Greg came wandering into the room and hovered over Brigid, who was lounging on the couch with a cup of coffee and a sitcom. He was scribbling furiously in a small notebook. Brigid looked up at him, or more accurately at the back of the notebook, for several long, silent seconds.

Scribble, scribble, scribble, scribble.

Brigid looked around the room, then back up at the notebook. Finally, still scribbling, Greg asked, “Do you suppose that spiders think?”

“What?” said Brigid.

“Spiders,” Greg said. “What do you know about them?”

“Well,” Brigid said, “the basics. Eight legs. Eight eyes. Eat bugs. Always find the corner that’s hardest to clean cobwebs out of.”

“Cobwebs!” said Greg, writing it down. “Great word!”

“Glad you like it.”

“So what’s your opinion? Do spiders think? Do they sit around forming opinions on things, or is it all stimulus-response, stimulus-response with them? Is it possible for spiders to have a personality? Or are they like little robots, that run the ‘build web’ program when they find a dark corner, and the ‘eat bug’ program when something gets stuck in the web?”

Brigid blinked. “Good lord, I don’t know, how should I know? Geeze, I hope they can’t think. It’s hard enough spotting one of them on the ceiling when I’m in the shower, without having to wonder what it’s got on its mind. Guh!” She shuddered.

“Spider tells all!” Greg said, scribbling with almost manic intensity. “Naked woman in shower traumatized!”

“Oh, thanks.”

“Hmm,” Greg continued. “Cobweb. Cobweb.”

“You’re not even listening to me any more, are you?”

“Cobweb. Cob. Web. Corn on the cobweb!”

Brigid squeezed her eyes shut. “Okay, that is officially the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard.”

Scribble! Scribble! “The world wide cobweb! WWW-dot-help-I’m-being-eaten-by-a-spider-dot-bug!”

“Right,” she said, turning off the TV and hastily getting to her feet. “I’m outa here. You and the spiders, have fun.”

After a moment, he noticed the silence and looked around at the empty room. “Huh!” he said to the empty air. “I wonder what’s the matter with her?” He flopped down into her space on the couch, and went back to his scribbling.

-The Gneech

EDIT: Revised, per frostdemn’s suggestion. Thanks, dude!

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Feb 18 2005

Fictionlet

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“Wokachika, wokachika, wokachika!” Greg was yammering in the kitchen as he spread peanut butter on his english muffin. “Who’s the black private dick who’s a sex machine to all the chicks? Shaft! You daaaamn right!”

“Oh please,” said Brigid. “Lord, spare us all.”

“Oh now what?” said Greg.

“Listen to you! Seriously, how many women have you ever met who had the least bit of interest in a sex machine?”

“Counting you?” Greg asked. He looked at the ceiling, apparently doing mental figuring. “Lessee … erm … none, actually.”

“Exactly! Women don’t want a sex machine, that’s just stupid.”

“It’s a funk tune from the ’70s,” Greg said. “You’re taking it very personally.”

“It’s irritating!” she protested. “No woman would ever be impressed by the assertion that he’s a sex machine. That’s just men beating their chests at each other. Don’t be a sex machine.”

“Okay, I won’t,” said Greg, returning to his english muffin. “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not a black private dick, either.”

Brigid took one of the muffin slices. “Well, that’s another strike against you. But we won’t get into that right now.”

He blinked at her retreating form, trying to decide if she was really insane or just pretending she was to annoy him.

-The Gneech

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Feb 04 2005

Fictionlet

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“I have this theory about God,” Greg announced over his donut. “I think I may have it figured out.”

“Oh yes?” Brigid said, eyebrows raised. “This oughta be good.”

“It is, it is! Now what causes all the controversy about God, really? What’s the core problem?”

“Um, lack of proof?”

“Well, sort of. More like, I suppose you’d say, lack of concrete evidence. God doesn’t leave DNA samples lying around for the FBI to collect, see what I mean? Some people encounter God, and others don’t. Some people have visions and others don’t. And of course, some people interpret every little random event as being God’s work, while others interpret it as simply the normal mechanistic functions of an uncaring universe. Everybody’s experience is different, and they’re all arguing about what really happened.”

“Okay.”

“Well, the core problem with that, you see, is everybody is assuming that truth is universal, do you see? What if God isn’t as all-loving as people want to think? What if God is arbitrary?”

“I don’t get what you mean.”

“Well, do you remember that computer game where you had a little virtual world and you could select a person and tell them do this and another person and tell them do that, etc.?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, when you were messing with persons X and Y, the rest of the virtual world just went on its merry way, completely oblivious to the fact that a cosmic super-being was mucking about with the course of its existence. Persons A, B, and C are just following their programmed routine, you see? Now imagine that simulated person X goes to simulated person A and says, ‘Holy crap some super-powerful being just appeared to me and told me do go dancing!’ Simulated person A, never having been the active character, replies, ‘You’re batty. Where’s your proof?’ And they get into a big arguement about it, and sooner or later somebody gets hoisted on a virtual cross.”

Brigid raised her eyebrows dubiously.

“See how much that explains?” Greg said, apparently quite excited by his idea now. “Maybe the reason there’s so many different religions, and the whole exists/doesn’t exist arguement, and — here’s the big one — the whole personal/impersonal God dichotomy, is because God’s out there, set up a self-sustaining universe with natural selection and all that, and then just sticks His nose in when it pleases or amuses Him to do so.”

“It makes as much sense as anything,” she admitted.

“Assuming that the Big G exists, we know that God is whimsical — or at least a little bizarre. Look at the lemming, for crying out loud. Or worse, the cuttlefish. God can be just plain weird sometimes. People always claim that God is ‘omnibenevolent,’ but one look at the real world will tell you that is patently false. Some people are happy, others are miserable. The sweetest, most pure-hearted person ever may develop an agonizing and terminal condition without notice. There are some people who, for whatever reason, God clearly has His hate on for. The Old Testament types would say it has to do with wickedness … I doubt it. God doesn’t look at good and evil the way we do; God is a weird, alien mind to our puny little brains! So what if, as I say, He lets the world go as it will most of the time, and just occasionally, arbitrarily, perhaps even randomly sticks in his Holy Oar, stirs stuff around until He’s satisfied, then wanders off again?”

“That’s a very scary God you’ve worked out, there,” she replied. “At least a God that’s obsessed with smiting wickedness, you can placate by not being wicked. A God that’s incomprehensible, you can only be afraid of and hope your number doesn’t come up.”

“Well, yeah,” said Greg. “But that’s the world that atheists have to live in, too.”

“Eh,” said Brigid. “I’ll keep my omnibenevolent God, thank you very much. I need all the comforting I can get.”

“I don’t blame you,” said Greg. “I couldn’t do it, myself. But I don’t blame you for wanting to.”

-The Gneech

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