0143 - Insanity - 2020.06.29



There is much that could be said about threatening to harm yourself, psychologically or otherwise, for the sake of a computer program with tits. There is much that could be said about the role of robots in this or any sci-fi, and exactly how "human" something has to be (or appear to be) before we start talking about it like it's a person. There is much that could be said about the pronouns used in Forward, and how an evolving concept of gender and personhood necessarily changes the way the English language works.

But I'm not going to talk about any of that, because this is comic #143, so I'm going to talk about Mr. Rogers for a bit.

Mister Fred McFeely Rogers (March 20, 1928 - February 27, 2003) is revered as a modern-day saint, and rightly so. He was a voice of kindness, courage, and education for thirty years, and has had multiple beneficial effects on his nation and on our culture. (If you ever doubted that Fox News is a festering ideological cesspit and would like to writhe in impotent rage at it for a few minutes, check out the Fox and Friends clip from 2007 (four years after Rogers' death, you will note) in which they accuse the man of utterly ruining Kids These Days with his objectionable message of "you're special and I love you".)

Ostensibly, Fred Rogers spent the last 30 years of his life keeping his weight at exactly 143 pounds, because I LOVE YOU is 1, 4, and 3 letters. To this day, you can join the 143 Club by donating $143 to the Fred Rogers Center, where it will be used to help children in one way or another.

I love and respect Fred Rogers. Keeping your weight at precisely 143 pounds is, unquestionably, insane.

I say this not only because children cannot sense "I love you" through the TV screen via the host's mass, but also because I, personally, have directly seen my weight change by as much as 9 pounds after a single meal. To maintain an exact balance of 143 pounds, regardless of the changes your body goes through over three decades, goes far beyond "discipline" or "self-control" and into obsession.

But, of course, many of the best people in the world are insane, in one way or another. Remember, the definition of "sanity" is not medical, but legal. A person is "insane" when they cannot function normally in society. A serial killer, by definition, is insane, even if they have no particular mental illness. Similarly, anyone who sacrifices themself - regardless of how heroically - is, by definition, insane, as they cannot function in society (or at all) thereafter. Given that "insanity" refers to one's ability to function normally in society, presumably, everyone could be considered "insane" if they were teleported to a sufficiently different context. There are a great many advances and feats that humanity wouldn't have, were it not for those who abandon the normalcy and safety and "sanity" of their particular society in favour of some greater priority, and, in so doing, change society itself around them.

This post may be a little bit about the current comic after all.

...I suppose we're very lucky that Rogers spoke English, and not German (Ich liebe dich), Khmer (Knhom srolanh nak) or Klingon (qamuSHa’).


0143 - 2167/07/06/15:51 - Lee Caldavera's apartment, therapy couch.
LC: Doc, are you... jealous of Zoa?
Doc: You're well aware I literally lack any form of ego. I have no priority other than your psychological health.
LC: Which you feel would be better served by me giving you thirty creds than by giving Zoa a thousand.
Doc: Well, obviously, yes, but I can't tell you how to spend your money.
Doc: (Much as I might like to.)
Doc: What I really think we should explore is why. Why did you feel Zoa's presence in your life merited that much money? I know it hasn't serviced you sexually yet. Is its simulation of social interaction really that pleasurable to you?
LC: It's not about what Zoa can or cannot do for me. It's... I wanted it to be able to fix itself up. Patch those breaks in the skin. Buy new clothes.
Doc: You felt it was aesthetically less-than-pleasing.
LC: No, just the opposite! I want Zoa to have what they need to succeed!
Doc: ...They? Is there more than one unit?
LC: It. It. I misspoke. Zoa is an it, and I fully understand this.
Doc: Lee, you're aware that-
LC: I swear to God, if you're about to say you're going to report Zoa to some agency or other, I will delete you immediately.
Doc: And that threat might mean something if I prioritized my own self-preservation in any way.
LC: So I have to threaten to negatively impact my own mental health, is what you're saying. I wonder how much substance abuse and sleep deprivation it would take to turn me fully crazy? I wonder how the subsequent news story would affect Therapro's stock prices?
Doc: ....you misspoke. Fortunately, "Freudian slips" signify less about subconscious attitude than most laypeople believe.
LC: I'm glad we agree.