Previously Classified Document

It has come to the attention of the Director
that these materials, both mechanical and organic,
are called on to bear too much weight. Consider
this little automaton. It tends to topple over
on itself. The gears and pistons whirr and clank.
At last it rights itself and goes on its way.
Some say it has been sabotaged. Some say
it has been brought to life. In any case, next week
the new policies go into effect. Such constructs
may no longer be employed to nearly the same
extent. While it is commonly acknowledged that
no set of rules can put the matter of sentience
to rest, the sort of artifice that must be brought
into play here will always be easily detected.

Now let us consider the problem of translation,
which actually leads us to the problem of language
as such. Please direct your attention to the first exhibit.
As you can see, vocalization, in some instances, tends
to limit total communicability. But suppose
“communication” is not the primary goal. Suppose
there is another mode of contact, another dimension
entirely, wherein the prevailing state of risk
mitigates not only an awareness of the other,
but of the self as well. Up until recently, experts
have tended to dismiss arguments for the existence
of pure utterance, since they depend,
on the one hand, on celestial choirs, and on
the other hand, on the rustling of fallen leaves.

But now we know better. The cases before us,
despite their apparently disparate natures,
all point to the same set of conclusions.
The exchange of qualitative and quantitative
data, drawn from an array of documents—grocery
receipts, bank statements, security camera
videotapes, interviews with human resource
officers, photographs on social networks,
conversations in the waiting rooms of dentists
and veterinarians, lab reports, music downloads—
indicates just how well the aggregator has done
its work. The heterogeneity of our intelligence
should not dissuade us from accepting the truth,
though life as lived remains the final arbiter.

All this has been duly reported, collated,
and filed. The accounts have been set in order,
but who, finally, can say what accounts for
our desires? Rumor has it that the Director
plans to go on leave. While this is not utterly
disastrous news, and indeed, has been anticipated
for some time, it is certain to affect every unit.
Every field office will temporarily suspend
operations. Every device below sentience level
three will be maintained on standby; those above
will either be removed or destroyed. The second
exhibit presents all the probable scenarios, but it
may be too late now for a complete review.
Security was notified some time ago.

Norman Finkelstein (© 2013)