Metal Lunch

Don P. Mitchell (1985, Whole Earth Review)

[Robots work at an assembly line viewed through transparent gears and works.
Toaster ovens roll by on the belt.  One robot sparks and stops working, but
the others do not notice.  Robot heads are blank metal ellipsoids.]

Narrator: (speaking rather tonelessly)

	How do you measure value?  By the price tag?  By the need?
	By the blood and sweat that goes into making something?  Robots
	do not produce labor value, though.  They are not part of the
	social contract.  There is no mechanical Karl Marx to save them.

[Robot leans against a lamp post smoking a cigarette.  Another robot
walks by and stops.  They walk off together into the black background.]

Narrator:

	Robots don't reproduce sexually.  They can't even come.  Even so,
	many of them engage in copulation.  No one knows why, but everyone
	agrees it is very unwholesome.  Perhaps it is done as satire.

[Robot sitting in an alley against a brick wall.  It pushes a metal probe
into an open access panel in its arm.  Camera switches to shot looking down
from directly overhead.]

Narrator:

	Robots have primitive concepts of reward and punishment to allow
	easy programming.  Some robots become junkies by searching for wires
	leading to their pleasure center and applying high voltage to
	them.  This is called "back planing" and eventually destroys the
	robot's electronic control system.

[Robot rivoted to a cross made of steel "I" beams.  Above it is a Latin
enscription: "Sic Biscuitus Disintegratum".  Camera is in front and above
the robot as in Dali's painting of the Crucifixion.]

Narrator:

	Robots have a cold, metallic religion that offers no sympathy.  They
	worship primitive mechanical Archetypes: The Screw, The Lever,
	The Incline Plane.

[Back to original scene of robots at assembly line.  One suddenly shoots
itself in the head.  Immediately, its head is replaced with a new one and
the robot goes back to work.]

Narrator:

	Occasionally, a robot is overcome by hopelessness and
	existential ennui, but there is no escape.
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