You, Your Robot, and Your Publicist

You know the saying, “I’m in the clover,” as in “If I sign this book contract with Amazon I’ll be in the clover for the rest of my life?” Well, what does that look like, really? Here in a rare clover native to the northern Intermountain Grasslands I found out yesterday. No, this is not a writer in its native habitat, nibbling on the proceeds of its ebook contract …


… but it is a rare grassland grasshopper in a rare plant it evolved along with, along the principle that you are where you live and you are what you eat…



Young Short-winged Toothpick Grasshopper

Clover and grasshopper are one.

Here’s what the clover looks like, translated into grasshopper …

critter5... and here’s what “writer” looks like, translated into the robotic language of Amazon …




Default Grasshopper

The Robots of Amazon like grasshoppers to look like this.

Before you make that statistical environment your clover, read the fine print:

In the mid twentieth century the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously asserted that games are indefinable; there are no common threads that link them all. “Nonsense,” says the sensible Bernard Suits: “playing a game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.” The short book Suits wrote demonstrating precisely that is as playful as it is insightful, as stimulating as it is delightful. Suits not only argues that games can be meaningfully defined; he also suggests that playing games is a central part of the ideal of human existence, so games belong at the heart of any vision of Utopia. Originally published in 1978, The Grasshopper is now re-issued with a new introduction by Thomas Hurka and with additional material (much of it previously unpublished) by the author, in which he expands on the ideas put forward in The Grasshopper and answers some questions that have been raised by critics.

Do you see that? The misplaced ‘that’, the wonky semi-colon, the ‘so’ out of left field, and the faux logic of the ‘utopia’ from nowhere? Such transformation of the grammar of the English language and the biological humans it evolved along with into an awkward stew is one of the costs of fitting humans into unnatural environments, whether those be books or Amazonian robotic identities or concepts of writing as social acts in which the social gesture matters but the words and the individual identities do not. As the toothpick grasshopper illustrates, the space you live in will define you. Before you commit yourself to living in grammatically-wonky robotic social space, consider what the perfect human image looks like when retrofitted for that space …


Socially-Stylized Humans from The Land of Google

Notice the completely generic backgrounds. Do you see how human difference has been refitted for a generic human gaze, built up from the simplest, least individual human biology? This is one of the stress markers of trying to make robotic space human.

Here’s one other kind of human, should you fancy yourself one of them …


More Socially-Stylized Humans from The Land of Google

Notice the two women on the right.

If you’re  happy to be robotized like this using what appear to be 19th Century concepts of human biology, go forth and be what your publicist and robots imagine you to be. If, however, you don’t see yourself in those images, remember that you don’t have to sign that contract. There are other species of clover.


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