MIND AS LABORATORY / Patrick Huyghe YOU ARE AN ALIEN. You have detected some motion at one spot on the planet Earth (it's the New York metropolitan area). The motions at first appear to be chaotic. At the highest resolution, you detect entities that are rectangular in shape (automobUes). You begin analyzing the vectors and velocities of the entities. There is a terrific data rate. What does your analysis reveal? First you notice a perfect diurnal rhythm--motion in during the morning, motion out at night. A broader scale analysis also reveals alternating five and two day cycles. You notice mating behaviors (car wrecks), and unexplained extreme events (traffic jams). When you focus in on individual entities, you find almost without exception that each entity performs some forward motion, then stops, does a little twiddle, and eventually goes off in another direction. These behaviors appear to be independent of temperature and all other environmental factors. The individual actions are unpredictable. These entities, you conclude, are alive. The experiment is complete. You have just designated automobiles living things, though you are well aware that they are not. The contradiction is significant. If you are Mick Pleass, a senior researcher in
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Oct 5, 1988
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