THE ROBOT WITHIN (After Colin Wilson)

Anything that I can’t
be bothered
taking conscious control of,
the robot within
is more than happy
to autopilot.

The inner monologue,
the opinion forming,
the self-reflection;
they’ve all become
the robot’s dominion.

Kind of a “shock to the system”
to realise that,
without me even
being aware of it,
I have actually identified
as the robot quite a bit.

Although, I am
starting to recognise
a few of the clues;
like whenever the world
appears as nothing more
than a mechanism to be
and maintained;
that’s a dead giveaway
that the robot
is owning a controlling share
of my perception.

Here’s why a breakdown
isn’t really the worst thing;
it provides an opportunity
to wake up to such indicators.

Problem is,
you know that robot
ain’t gonna surrender control
of the faculty
quite as effortlessly
as he assumed it,
and you definitely don’t want to
switch him off
because you need him
for all of those complex
little biological processes,
so many of which are going on
from moment to moment,
that it really is the true
definition of awesome,

and makes you glad
he’s not your enemy.



For the sake
of their important
thought experiments,
philosophers like to sometimes
contemplate a realm,
parallel to ours,
which contains
all of the same stuff,
but in which the people
have no self-consciousness

They refer to it
as “The Zombie Realm”,
where “zombie”,
in this sense,
means a human being
without the capacity
to become conscious
of its thoughts,
feelings or actions.

Everything there
is programmed,
reflexive and automatic.

Even scepticism exists
in the Zombie Realm,
because they have adopted it
as just another dogma
among many.

There are also artists,
musicians and poets.

In fact,
come to think of it,
there must be a dude
who looks just like I do,
sitting at his desk,
waxing lyrical about the beauty
of such a fine autumn afternoon,
and who will, likewise,
on a rainy day,
predictably write
of sadness and solitude.

Having learnt the rules
of aesthetics and proper technique,
his paintings will no doubt,
receive mostly positive responses
from the zombie audiences
and fair reviews
from most of the zombie critics,
except for those
whose dogma it is
to set themselves
apart from the rest,
and knock the work
just due to its having been
largely well received
(unsurprising really,
since they have learnt
to do so by rote.)

It’s at this point
in the thought experiment
where I realise
the appropriateness
of the term “Zombie Realm”,
since its frightening similarity
makes me start to wonder
which realm,
human or zombie,
that I actually exist in.

Loath to unravel
this ball of string,
I leave it alone,
take a deep breath,
shrug, smile,
and write that lament
for the departing sun




Through the plate glass window
of the warm cafe,
the dry leaves
might just as well
be hopping and skating around
of their own volition.

The index finger of my right hand,
swirling and tapping the iPod,
seems to mirror their dance,
often partial
to two to three minute intervals
of brooding or vulnerability.