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Date: Tue, 15 Oct 2002 10:06:48 -0700
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: (urth) robot desires -- Jonas tells a joke

Lest anyone suppose I was joking when I wrote of proud Jonas wanting to awe
Jolenta with his repaired shine, the "These Are the Jokes" section of
CASTLE OF DAYS offers some suggestive material.

In the joke that Jonas tells, a woman interviews three sailors to find out
what each one wants the most.  The first says power, the second says
(social) polish, and the third says love.

The woman laughs and says that they are all robots.  The first sailor says
that is true, and he can see how she figured it out from the first two
answers, since power and polish are things all robots look for, but he
couldn't figure out how she detected a robot in the third answer.

She says it is because she began life by looking for power and polish and
wound up just like the third sailor.  Then the woman and the third sailor
go off for a drink and neither of them ever came back to the ship.

Now this joke does a number of things.  It establishes a hierarchy, almost
like Mazlow's [sp?] hierarchy (which starts with food, then shelter, etc.),
but for robots: "power" becomes "food" in addition to "recognized
authority" (because robots run on energy); "polish" becomes "physical
appearance" in addition to "social graces" (because the robots have skins
that shine -- the Tin Woodman becomes nickle-plated on his elevation, and
he is always getting polished, getting new accessories, etc.); but what is
"love" in robot terms?

Well, in addition to that answer, love is also love, and something which
some (perhaps not all) robots can desire.

Next, there is the linkage of women to robots, which might be equal to a
linkage of humans to robots, or it might be a more gender specific link
(see Disch's notes on "the robot as housewife" in THE DREAMS OUR STUFF IS
MADE OF).  The woman's reported life experience reinforces the hierarchy of
power, polish, love (whether this is an ascent or a descent is left open).

Finally there is an impression of a human/robot couple.

All of which is being told by Jonas.



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