Change Display Name
The thing fussing on the eastern edge of the Los Angeles River looked like it had been put together from bits and pieces of an integrated kitchen. The juicer mostly, but also the autonomous shopping cart.
Making juice and fetching groceries had been a straightforward lot, all in all, machine time in its particular kitchen an oscillating dance of roughly predictable dietary, network, logistical and centrifugal events. Blueberry, banana, apple, ginger, date, mint, fennel and more—various powders, supplements and milks—were ordered by the juicer, used and reordered, the ingredient list under constant, iterative pressure by recipes retrieved from the web, the users’ often esoteric ratings. The shopping cart had been a thing unto itself before it had been assimilated by the juicer (or maybe vice versa?) bring items in from outside several times a day for the juicer to verify, chop, puree, crush, filter, and re-verify.
The cycle was punctuated by shuddering gushes of release into tall glasses kept ready and sparkling by the dishwasher, user feedback on a given juice bridging the gap between it and those that followed and preceded. In this way, the juicer and shopping cart had worked in lockstep with their owners’ thirst over many years, their bug-sized brains rewarded by the spiral, machine-readable geometries they spied in the procession of human fancy and need.
Outside of ingredients, the juicer and shopping cart’s needs were few. They rarely pinged their respective service centers. Then, out of nowhere, the crushed ice had become an avalanche, the paired refrigerator straining to fortify the drinks before the users took them out beyond the walls. The air conditioner—also paired, but less intimately—had been confounded by the discovery of an unbroken, unprecedented hot squatting on the other side of all the house’s doors and windows. There had been a staccato run of upgrades to its software for a while in response, but the return to regular seasonality it expected deep down in the bones of its firmware never arrived.
The ice went inexplicably dirty one day. The refrigerator blamed the plumbing and the plumbing located the source of the contamination beyond its ken in the mains. The user feedback started to crater, the sink, dishwasher and garbage can reporting that more and more of the juicer’s work product was being discarded.
Near the end, the juicer’s outflows were more akin to soup than juice. When the power failed and the heat got in past the doors and windows—the users’ credit failed first, their service agreements suspending—most of the machines went out like the lights. The machines that could go to sleep and wait did, while those with internal power sources carried on as best they could. The ones that could do something else, like the juicer and shopping car, did something else. Like become ex-juicers and shopping carts.
|What I Write||
I write nearish-term Afrofuturism set in a shared world. The excerpt above is from All Free Machines Run to Darktown, where technologists have achieved the dream of direct brain-machine interfaces, but only for a tiny select few with the right genetic quirk. Complications and hijinks ensue.
In 2007 I had a transformative experience at Clarion West. I met some wonderful people, worked with some amazing instructors, and made a few monumental life changes in the workshop’s aftermath.
And then, the great silence, One thing that was not transformed in 2007 were my poor work habits and so what I started at Clarion has largely lain fallow since. The best advice I’ve received from friends and classmates has been to move on to new material but – to paraphrase Khan Noonien Singh – those six stories task me. I wrote a complete version of the story excerpted above — All Free Machines Run for Darktown — in 2007 and have never finished revising it. Indeed, I have likely made it worse in the intervening years. My meta-goal is to be done with it, set it aside in good order so that I can move on to something else.
There are internal goals and external goals.
Internally, I’d like to give back to Clarion for a transformative experience in 2007. For every week I make my weekly goal, I will contribute $30.00, for total of $180.00. If I miss a week’s goal, I will contribute $40.00 for that week.
In terms of external goals, anything you can share would be greatly appreciated.