[short story] Introduction

2022. 09. 21. 10:28 | \English \novella \random

Throughout my years as a writer, I found myself unable to write on command. Every time I am faced with restrictions, deadlines or the possibility of working with unlike-minded individuals, whether it is a short story, a song or as simple as a letter, my mind seems to freeze and to actively deter inspiration, preventing ideas to form and prosper in what otherwise would be the perfect habitat for them. By the very nature of thoughts, I cannot consciously describe these phenomena; all I can do is to paint pictures using nought more than letters and the reader's subconscious to make them come up with the very idea I am unfit to properly convey. According to people cleverer-than-us, "Languages cannot reliably transfer ideas, yet they are the best tool for doing so that we currently possess."

About a decade ago, I was forced to face reality and abandoned my ambitions thusly before I sold my soul to become a mindless drone they call a scribe. I was tasked with transcribing business meetings in real time, providing both written records and subtitles -- using a special monitor fixed at the desk in case of a face-to-face meeting -- for the other party as part of the company's accessibility policy to help people with hearing loss. "Why me?", you ask, "why not use software to transcribe live speech?" Those are valid questions indeed.
You see, knowing English is one thing, but understanding it is another that no machine is able yet to fully replicate. To use a metaphor, think of an old mechanical calculator such as the Pascaline or the Stepped Reckoner; both are able to add two numbers together, up to 8 digits each (maximum number of digits may vary depending on exact machine), which is truly great and surpasses most humans' abilities. Alas, there are people who are, in fact, able to add and subtract numbers of this magnitude faster, proving once and for all that human potential is greater than that of a mechanical reckoner. Naturally, as history shows, the machines have evolved and are now way past of what humans are capable of in certain areas. This is the point when we finally return to our topic at hand, for language is not one of those areas (yet).
The company needed someone who can do what binary logic cannot, namely to correct people's speech in real time. For example, if someone says "with all intensive purposes," a machine would not be able to correct it to "with all intents and purposes" without relying on a massive database of misheard and misquoted phrases. Even though that approach would work 99% of the time, the company would not dare to rely on hoping for never encountering that 1%. This brings us to the next question, "if your job was so important, than how come you're writing about it in the past tense?"

I am, regardless of what I do, a human being, thus I have a hard time assessing myself to perform monotone and mundane tasks eight hours of each of five working days of the week. To put it nicely, I had been deleted from the employee database for unremarkable conduct. To put it more colloquially, I had been fired for being bad at my job. What would a lonely creative do when faced with the same tedious chore every day, but to transcribe using Shakespearean English and come up with pseudo-archaic words for modern inventions? Which one of these is more compelling to read, "would you kindly stop smashing the keyboard?" or "with kindly heart, wouldst thou cease harassing the buttoned scripter?" Needless to say, Human Resources did not appreciate my efforts to make the workplace at least remotely bearable.

Having lost my livelihood, I did what any rational auteur would do and focused my efforts on writing my hoped-to-be magnum opus titled "Hence the stone was dreadfully cast". You may not recognize the title, as every single publisher I approached turned it down until I aptly changed the title to "Casting of the Rock" under the pseudonym Jonathan MacDwayne. Arriving here you probably recognize my chosen identity as that of the best-seller author's, even though you bought this book to escape the names of famed writers or to discover new talents whose work might worth following. Please, forgive me for tricking you into believing it was such a collection of printed scribbles, but you have to understand, names have powers and powers come with responsibilities that I am sad to admit to be afraid of taking on willingly. Even writing this particular piece that you are currently reading took more effort than writing "Dream-girl of my mind" for reasons unbeknownst to me; I theorize it is because this is not only a recounting of my personal experiences, but also my motivations and ambitions that are hidden underneath the comfortable membrane separating my conscience from the incomprehensible swirl of concepts secretly guiding our respective thought processes. There is a time for everything as we all know. There are times when it may be valuable to overwrite our instincts, although this is not one of them, so I will take a break and return later to the journey of recreating what has already been in the past, what is already being in our past-of-the-future and what shall be in tomorrows of upcoming days.

Regardless of all my previous achievements, I fail to look at myself and see anything other than a disappointment-of-a-scribe putting a writer's regrets into words for prosperity, for regrets are all I have got: I regret not following dreams, I regret not flying away to my Hare O'Sweet, I regret not practicing more, and I regret ever wanting and never learning to appreciate. Among all of these regrets however, the silver lining is the fact that I have managed to publish some of my works. For better or worse, I found my texts are rather divisive; there are people who eat up every single word, while others may overcome by a terrible frenzy, endangering their own bodily structures as well as my feeble mental health. Being a self-proclaimed author is a double edged sword: it can as easily cut down your enemies as your very self. Alas, above all elements of physical danger that such a magnificent blade may held, there is the single fact that it is rad as fuck.

Many of my colleagues would like to not only hide but straight up deny that writers are people just like you. The sole difference is that we often practice reckless wordsmithing, exchanging readability for an illusion of style. This might be surprising to you, beloved reader, but during the boring chore of existing as a living biological being, neither me nor the thousands of other writers act any differently than any ordinary human being. Take note of my willful avoidance of the word "normal" as no such thing exists, did exist, have existed or will exist: "normal" is nothing more than a product of statistical means that has been proven time and time again not to exist. Humans are incredible and distinguished from our animal brethren by the ability to come up with concepts that we are able to accept as granted that, forgive me for the repetition, never existed. This, I believe, is the single most ridiculous item on a long list of factoids that disproves intelligent design; if the glorified simulation that we (for some reason) chose to call Earth (which is a stupid name) were part of a human-created software simulation and it had a logical anomaly like this, its developer would have been fired or its writer would have been written off for producing "unbelievable and idiotic concepts that the characters would surely be able to see through". What I just described along with those "one in a million" or "once in a lifetime" events that you can find many videotaped examples of on the internet can be explained by chance and randomness, moreover, it can also be used to visualize yet another anomaly within our brain.
Have you ever looked at pictures depicting dots side by side? More precisely, depicting the pattern of raindrops and pseudo- and/or quasi-random distributions on a 2-dimensional plane. I find it truly fascinating that without proper previous knowledge many if not most people would not be able to identify the "random" distribution (in this case, the raindrop pattern). I too had this experience when I was in school, we were shown a pair of pictures such I described above and I too chose the non-random options, because it was more equally distributed by area; this is wrong. True randomness almost always have some level of "grouping", there are clusters and noticeable blank spots, yet our brain thinks that it shows intention as opposed to its random nature. Oh, and let us not forget the punch line of all of these: it can theoretically be either one, because true randomness may result, well, anything. That's the whole point.

You may, nay, most certainly wonder, "how on Earth (which is still a stupid name) relate this to anything?" To which the answer is, as always, both unsatisfying and obvious after its grand reveal: it does not. True, our brains evolved to recognize patterns, a brilliant ability that made us what we are today. However, it can and most definitely will go into overdrive and create patterns where there are none. And, I believe, this is how one can engage audiences and captivate their interest, taking wild swings in different directions away from the main plot, while also advancing it, albeit in a rather indirect way, supported by way too many commas. If one would try to restrict one's ability to explore the whole scale of possibilities, then one would most likely find one to be unable to perform at one's peak performance. One's mileage may vary and some of the limitations might even be pointless, given the random nature of randomness, but statistically it can be proven that the average output will be of lesser quality than the unrestricted output's average.
If I was to go a step further and take five-to-ten additional steps, I would simply write: "Sorry for not thinking through where I was going to go with this whole thing."

According to the title, these ramblings of mine are nothing but an introduction. The more acute amongst you may be pondering to what may this be an introduction?
That is a good and valid question indeed.

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The name's [ʔn̩]. [ˈzo̞.ʔn̩]

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How do I pronounce Zotn, why does it matter and where does it come from anyway?

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