I was making the robot do things, making it go here and go there. I was driving it ahead of me, forcing it to obey my will, keeping it going, keeping it animated. The robot is only a robot, after all – it can’t do anything by itself. It’s not really alive. I have to drive that robot from place to place, motivating it, making it move its face into actual expressions, making it say things, making it utter words, making it perform its socialised tasks…
Perform your socialised tasks, robot self, I tell the robot humourlessly, but it was like driving a reluctant mule ahead of me. It was like rolling a boulder up a hill. Perform your damn tasks you lazy bastard, I said to it scathingly. Do the bloody things that you’re supposed to be doing.
Life becomes all but meaningless at times, I find. Do you ever find that? Is that part of your experience too? Do you ever feel that everything is an effort and that there isn’t any damn point to it anyway? ‘Do your duty, you good-for-nothing lazy bastard’ says the imposing gowned figure of my internalised authority figure. He looks like my old headmaster. ‘Don’t be so pathetic, don’t be so weak!’ he shouts, ‘don’t let the school down…’ It’s like having a vision of Jehovah in my head, I’m looking up into the sky and all I can see it his vast bearded face. ‘You will worship and serve the Lord your God’ the father figure in the sky roars. ‘Non serviam!’ I scream back, and then I realise that I am Lucifer. I’m Satan. I’ve been cast out, exiled. God has rejected me.
My whole body is shaking with fear. I’ve been running all night but I can’t run any more. I can’t run from the pitiless judge that sits within me, I can’t escape from his pitiless gaze. I can’t run from my own chronic low self-esteem, I realise. I can’t get to my feet anymore, I’m down and out. I’m down and I’m staying down. I refuse to go any further. I refuse to obey the cruelly mocking voice in my head – it insults me and reviles me but I can’t move. I defy it, more out of exhaustion than anything else. ‘Get up you worm,’ the voice roars in my skull. I realise that I am the robot. I realise that the robot is me – I am persecuting myself.
The robot has packed up entirely on me now – I can’t get it to budge. It’s reached the end of the road. It has collapsed and turned into an useless inert mass lying there on the rocks. I know it can hear me though and I continue to abuse it, telling it that it has failed me, telling it that it is a heap of worthless junk, a waste of space. No matter how much I roar however I know that it’s never going to stir again. It has let me down – it will not perform its allotted functions. It will not enact the tasks that I give it to do, and all I can do now is to continue to abuse it, which I do.
Finally, after a great length of time, a great army of insects appears over the sand dunes; so numerous are they that they appear to fill the whole desert. The sands are alive with their undulating motion. Each one is like glittering jewel with six legs, the sun turning its carapace into the purest most glorious iridescence. They are the sacred beetles, I realise numbly, as I watch on. Swarming all over the inert figure of the robot they start to disassemble it, lovingly taking it to pieces. Then they carry it away over the sand dunes back to whence they came, leaving me all on my own…