Thursday, June 24, 2004

Readers tend to identify an author’s position with his hero’s attitudes. “All the author’s sympathies lie on the side of…”, write the critics, disclosing their unique discovery. But, dear readers, what does sympathy or antipathy have to do with my story? Not a damn thing! This author is conducting an objective literary study of a specific situation. That, and nothing more. Frankly, if anything, he’s far from enthusiastic about Kaimenov’s and Malyshev’s venture. The idea of simulating an individual on a computer recalls an incident that occurred long ago, when this writer was a student. During an exam on accident prevention the instructor had asked a student to draw a schematic of a human being. The co-ed burst into tears: the idea of substituting a schematic for a person—a human being!—was monstrous to her. Naturally she was kicked right out of the exam room because such a schematic actually exists in safety engineering. It is a complex of inductances and resistances which determines how much current passes through a person plugged into a 380-volt, 50-hertz industrial frequency. But from a human standpoint, you can understand the girl’s reaction.
Vladimir Savchenko, “Success Algorithm”

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Pa was inside it and ma crying in the parlour and uncle Barney telling the men how to get it round the bend. A big coffin it was, and high and heavylooking. How was that? The last night pa was boosed he was standing on the landing there bawling out for his boots to go out to Tunney’s for to boose more and he looked butty and short in his shirt. Never see him again. Death, that is. Pa is dead. My father is dead. He told me to be a good son to ma. I couldn’t hear the other things he said but I saw his tongue and his teeth trying to say it better. Poor pa. That was Mr Dignam, my father. I hope he’s in purgatory now because he went to confession to Father Conroy on Saturday night.
James Joyce, Ulysses