Where’s the Robot Self When You Need It?


The robot self was letting me down. I pushed it and pushed it. I tried to make it function, but it just wasn’t happening. The robot self was letting me down. Work you bastard, I swore, out of the savage pseudo-strength of my desperation, but it was no good. It was to no avail. There was nothing doing. Not a flicker. Well, there’s no joy from the robot self today, I thought to myself, with bleak humour. Where’s the robot self when you need it? This made me laugh, though I must admit there was no real joy in the laughter. It wasn’t exactly a belly laugh. Neither was it the sort of joke that you could share with your mates in the pub – it wasn’t exactly that sort of humour…


This made me laugh too, but my humor was starting to become opaque – impenetrable even to me. Impenetrable to which self, I hear you ask – the robot self or the other self, the self which isn’t a robot? Well, as we all know, the robot self doesn’t have much of a sense of humour. Robots don’t, as a rule. So we won’t even bother about what the robot self finds funny or not. The jolly old robot self was pretty much defunct anyway, as I have already strongly intimated. It was on its last legs. It could barely be relied upon to function at all. But it all gets so confusing, doesn’t it? If the robot self was letting me down, then who exactly is this ‘me’ that it is letting down? If I was pushing the robot self as hard as I could, then who was pushing it? Who was swearing at it, and cursing it for being so useless, so hideously unreliable? Who was giving it such a hard time?


Well, you might say, that must be your real self, the self which isn’t just a pre-programmed robot. I wish it were as simple as that but it just plain isn’t. I see no sign, not even the remotest trace, of any other self, some so-called ‘real’ self which is not a robot.


You see, for years and years and years (for the whole of my life, you might say) I thought that the robot self was me. Or rather, I thought that I was the robot self. Whichever way around it is. The robot self was the only self I ever knew, and I didn’t know that it was a robot because was working so well. It functioned like a well-oiled machine (ironic simile I know) and I never doubted it for a second. When it doesn’t fail you you don’t doubt it. That’s the golden rule for the robot self. But then it did start to fail me – just the odd time to begin with, which was embarrassing but not too bad, then more and more frequently until just a short while ago, when it failed me completely. Like a car with a dead battery, although something tells me there’s something more serious than a dead battery afoot here. Somehow I know that this is IT – my robot self is a gonner. It’s kaput. It is terminally defunct…


Of course even though I pretty well knew that the robot self was well and truly kaput this time I carried on swearing and cursing at it. I didn’t know what else to do, to be honest! I was also very angry with it. The bastard thing had no right to do this to me. It had no right to let me down like this. But this brings me back to the point that I was trying to make just a minute ago – because the only self I ever knew was this crappy robot self, even when it gave way on me and left me in the lurch in the way that it did, the only way that I knew how to be a self was in that same way. It was as if I was an echo of that old robot self.


So here I am, floating around on the outside of the kaput robot self, but I’m only an echo of it. I’m just a kind of an ‘empty reverberation’, I guess you could say. Waiting to die down. Hanging around because I’ve nothing else to do. Nowhere else to go…


As I say, I’m out here but I don’t see any sign of any ‘true’ self. It’s all very empty and echoey here. It’s like some kind of vast deserted warehouse that has long been denuded of any contents that it might once have had. The slightest disturbance here sets up reverberations that seem to echo around the place forever. And I myself, I suspect, am just one such reverberation…


Kicking around the place, kicking around the place, kicking around the place, for want of anything better to do…





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