Egos and Algorithms
It was after Jasinski's Blue up the Rocket was published, his fourth in a branded series of unrelated and disconnected novels, that the chatter started snapping on the message boards. Alert, alert! Sam Jasinski was not, it was said, a man but an algorithm written by the top ranks of corporate literature. A University research project if they only could pinpoint the school. Someone got tenured over this. All of Jasinski's works were thrown into scrutiny: The Pablo Fox of Invisible Ink, for instance, could not, it was said, have been created by hand, and what's more, there was no Sam Jasinski. Now, about his entire literary history there were allegations about algorithms. The modest sequel could have been written by a squirrel. And Jasinski, for all his clandestine creativity, his withdrawal from public life, infamous reclusion, and refusal to be interviewed by the even the best and brightest journalists, now found the question of his very existence twisting focus blurry under the microscope.
Surely all he would need to do to rectify the rumours and pause the parade is leave the apartment and show himself to the world in person. A doctor could inspect him and certify the flesh. A public staging could be arranged. But none of this would happen without Frank. Where the hell is frank? Sam picked up his phone again to check, but it was a cellphone and so it had no dial tone and the act was totally pointless.
In February, Bolt Twins in the Hatchet was published to mixed reviews. Some thought the lead was too strong, others didn't want read about so many babies. They didn't have jobs and they all liked the same music so readers weren't interested. But it was the reverse mirror of the narrative image that really got their buns in a bowl. The crossed stories between Lucy Beaumont and Uncle Drambuie--their unsanctioned love, their silent eyes-- followed too closely (or perhaps too subtly), it was said, the character tension between Dr. Jim Ornish and sick old Auntie Pass as told in The Terrible Case You and I.So? So what? And why was everyone paying such close attention to the pipes and wires inside of the architecture? Enjoy the walls, look up at the beams. Just read the book and get on with it. But no, the ranks of readership would not let this sail, it was out of the hands of a human animal. A machine, somemachine--it had to be, well, it was alleged--the true creator. This was either the single biggest commercial publishing scam in the history of literature, or a great feat in the ceaseless pursuit of elevation of the creative process. And what about all the royalties and film rights? Should they not now be donated to charity? Who was collecting on these robot works? And how duped are we to have been moved so deeply by computer generated prose? Should they not be donated to robots? As man was moved by machine, what does this say about me and man? Does it change the vibe when we're all waiting in line at the coffeeshop counting quarters or pretending to be doing something productive on our phones? If truth and beauty can be programmed, if there is indeed a code, should I keep attending my evening still-life drawing classes? Could I ever dance to a Hank Honda record again? Is my firstborn daughter really who she says she is? These and many questions swirled through public consciousnesses, a brewing storm in the mountains.