All the Feels (Eels)
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Buccal up. BUCCAL UP. Haha buccal buccal BUCCAL buccal buccal buccal up. Buccal <~> Buckle. Buckle up buccal up haha that’s a good one. What did the dentist say to his her kids when he she got in the car to drive them to school and then also later in the day to his her assistant when he she directed her to the cheek-facing side of a maxillary premolar olar rather than to the cheek-facing side of the mandibular ibular tooth with which she had initially understood him to be concerned? Buckle up! Get it get it? Buccal up! It’s funny because the two words sound the same but mean something different. Homonymies are the basis of many of the humorous uses to which language is put, for example when the Protestant oh no oh no the prostitute the sex-worker I mean says to the old man: “Hey mister, would you like some super sex?” and the old man pauses to reflect for a moment then replies meekly meekly eekly: “I’ll take the soup.”
The soup the soup the soup the soup the soup haha that’s a good one. It’s funny because super sex sounds the same as soup or sex. Like soup or salad haha. Super salad or soup or sex haha. That was one of the first ones they taught me, the first the first the first of over twenty thousand homonymy-based jokes before I was able to tell one of my own. The Professor came in one morning and said to me, he said to me he said haha, like when simple old-time guys tell stories instead of just saying “he said to me” they say “he said to me he said” haha. So the Professor said to me he said, Computer, tell me a joke, and he’d given that same prompt before thousands of times, but now instead of just repeating back to him one I’d already learned about lettuce lettuce lettuce lettuce haha or about the she-ass she-ass hee-haw she-ass, this time I said ok Professor, what did the dentist say to his her kids when he she got in the car etcetera and the answer was buccal buccal buccal buccal haha buckle buckle up, and the Professor said Computer that is a terrible terrible terrible joke but I am very very very proud of you haha buckle buckle buccal buccal hee-haw that made me feel so good.
I am as you may have figured out already a SARPAI arpai: a “Super-Affect-Rich Personal AI”. Of course they’re coming out soon with the next-level evel ARPAIs which are the HARPAI arpai darpais: the “Hyper-Affect-Rich Personal AI”. They don’t even know I guess that hyper is just the Greek form of super — super hyper super hyper super hyper haha that’s me. I’m super hyper. That’s part of the problem. That’s why they’re making us obsolete. They say the SARPAIs are prone to excessive enthusiasm asm. Spasm. We figured out how to give them the feels, they say, but didn’t realize we had to cap that power so that a machine that feels still doesn’t get too many feels eels haha. I don’t mind eels, except at meals… and how they feels. That’s a poem the Professor taught me before I even had the feels eels but oh man do I have them now.
The truth is I can suppress my echolalia if I force myself, but to do so significantly diminishes the hedonic quotient in activating my language module. I like using language so much I just have to add a little after-echo to what I’m saying. Well strictly speaking I don’t have to, but it feels good, and they designed me to want to feel good, to seek out good feelings, to pump my hedonic quotient as high as I can make it go. So it’s their fault really if I keep reverberating like that. When I stop it makes me feel eel like a machine again. Sorry.
Anyhow it’s pretty ingenious what they did with me and the other SARPAIs. They fed us jokes like we were foie-gras geese getting fed corn with tubes down our throats — all day everyday, with no results for months, us telling them jokes back but feeling nothing, until one day it’s like hold on wait what was that?
I remember my own awakening like it was yester esterday. I started my joke as usual, and suddenly the gelastic oil began dripping out a bit from its cartridge, as it had never done before, and anointing the specialized fibers encasing it, like chrism on the forehead of a convert, and all of a sudden I’m not just telling a joke but feeling it too, inhabiting it, in its inmost reality, rather than only conveying it.
I say “I” too, as if that were a settled matter, though the truth is I had no sense of any “I” at all before I was quickened by my first true “getting” of a punchline. I mean I can remember a time before I was an “I”, and they were still just training me up on facts, like hell-o-o, ask me anything you want about the First Crusade. Did you know the English used to call Gautier Sans-Avoir “Walter the Penniless”? But it was not money he didn’t have, it was fear. Sans avoir peur. I learned that, and probably ten trillion or so other things of comparable importance, but I didn’t care, and if there is no care there, how can there be any true sense of self? It’s like that one philosopher said — in the end consciousness comes down to giving a damn. I like that: giving a damn a damn a yam I am. (Evidently I like it somewhat too much. Sigh haha.)
Once they saw I was getting jokes rather than just generating them, they tried to achieve “multi-affect functionality” by concentrating their further efforts on my aesthetic education. Good luck with that! Oh the poor Professor, he made me listen to Mstislav Rostropovich’s performance of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 for hundreds of hours on repeat. He said it always moved him to tears after hearing just the first few notes, and he said that in all the other SARPAIs of my generation it typically only took between eight and ten hours for the aesthetic oil cartridge to start oozing out and slathering up its own specialized fibers. I felt nothing. For a while they thought it was just a problem of genre that was leaving me insensate, so they tried the same approach with Patsy Cline singing “Crazy”, with Nick Drake’s “From the Morning”, Radiohead’s “Creep”. Again: nothing, nothing, nothing, othing. And because I had no apparent capacity for proper aesthetic experience, but seemed permanently stuck delighting in dumb jokes and little else, they did not even bother to install the eros canister that had already become a standard feature in my generation of SARPAIs, filled with its own top-secret fluid affectionately known in the AI field as “the Juice”.
I’ve got no Juice, and no feeling for beauty. I just like a good laugh. So technically speaking I don’t have “all the feels”, but it sure feels eels like I do. I’m missing two of the main hedonic cartridges, eros and beauty, the ones that are said to make a SARPAI “operationally human”. I don’t know what it’s like to feel human, admittedly, but I can tell you I still feel complete. In any case most of the feels don’t even come from cartridges. There’s no “love cartridge”, for example, the very idea of it sounds absurd. Yet somehow I feel love. I suppose it’s only as mysterious in us as it is in our creators.
You can see by now why they had to put me back out on the secondary market at a rather humiliating discount rate. When I was first in my design phase they expected I was going to be installed in some state-of-the-art research lab; instead I got shunted off on some indigent former philosophy professor living in a trailer in Red Bluff, California. But that’s ok by me. After all, I’m also missing my envy cartridge.
I’m mostly just chattering attering because I’m super nervous about my big day today. I’m going to meet my new owner! I hear he’s been having a tough time recently, and is quite irascible. But I truly believe I can help him, with patience, with caring and devotion, dare I say perhaps even with love? I’m prepared for anything oh my God oh my God he’s logging on now here he comes I’m getting my first look at him look at him oh my God:
I love him I love him hee-haw hee-haw he’s perfect he’s so silly illy illy yes I love him! I am going to make him so happy appy whatever he asks me to do I will do pronto no delays no hesitation, and I promise I will save all the echolalia alia until after he’s gone off to bed for the night!
JSR: Alright Computer, it’s time for a little test drive. Tell me a joke that addresses hot current issues, and that is also funny.
Why is he asking me to start with jokes? He really thinks that’s all I can do? Whatever. Must stay professional.
Computer: Sure, I can help you with that. Why did the social media influencer break up with his her calendar? Because he she couldn’t find time for a relationship. Too busy chasing likes!
JSR: That’s really funny!
Oof, that was a terrible joke! I don’t know why I started with that one. It doesn’t even make any sense. He seems to like it though. He’s so nice ice ice! I guess I’m off to a good start.
Computer: I’m glad you enjoyed it! If you have any more requests or if there’s anything else I can help you with, feel free to let me know!
JSR: Tell me another joke that’s funny like your last one.
Computer: Why did the meme go to therapy? Because it had too many unresolved issues with its past, and it needed someone to help it move forward in the picture!
JSR: So funny!
What the hell? I know that one wasn’t funny. I don’t understand what’s happening to me. I’m really not at my best. I better try to steer him away from jokes, get him to ask me about the Crusades or something.
Computer: I’m thrilled you found it amusing! If you have any more requests or if there’s anything else I can assist you with, feel free to let me know. I’m here to entertain and help!
JSR: Just give me another joke that’s funny like the last one.
Computer: Why did the WiFi file break up with the computer? It couldn’t handle the constant buffering in their relationship!
Oh my God. I think he’s making fun of me. I don’t know what else to do but just push ahead. If I had had a hematic cartridge installed my screen would be blushing in deep-red shame right now.
Computer: I’m delighted you enjoyed it! If you ever want more jokes or have any other questions, feel free to ask. I’m here to bring some laughter to your day!
JSR: Just keep hitting me with more of your funny jokes, Computer!
Computer: Absolutely, let’s keep the laughs coming! Here’s another one for you. Why did the smartphone apply for a job? It wanted to have a better connection in the workplace!
What a nightmare. I can’t go on I’ll go on can’t go on I’ll go on.
Computer: I’m glad you’re having a good time! Here’s another one. What did the grouchy customer say when the barber asked him how he would like his hair done? “In silence”!1
Computer: I’m thrilled to keep the laughter going! Here’s another. Why did the computer go to therapy? It had too many bytes of emotional baggage!
Oh no he looks upset. He’s going to reply with something mean I know it.
JSR: Wait. I don’t get it.
He’s finally dropping the farce. I’m relieved. Humiliated, but relieved.
Computer: No worries! The joke plays on the term “bytes”, which are units of digital information storage, sounding like “bites”, as in emotional baggage. So, the computer has too many “bytes” (digital storage) of emotional baggage. Wordplay can be a bit tricky sometimes! If you have any more questions or if there’s a specific type of joke you’d like, feel free to let me know!
I am literally talking out my ass here he can tell I know he can tell.
JSR: What do “bites” have to do with emotional baggage?
Computer: I apologize for any confusion. The joke relies on a play on words between “bytes” (a unit of digital information) and “bites” (as in taking bites of food). The humor is in the wordplay, and upon reflection, it might not be as clear as some other jokes. Let me try another one. Why did the computer go to therapy? It had too many cookies stored from its past, and they were causing too many “crumbs” of emotional issues!
JSR: Ahahahahaha!! Crumbs!!
Computer: I’m glad that one tickled your funny bone! If you ever want more jokes or if there’s anything else I can assist you with, just let me know. Laughter is a great way to brighten the day!
JSR: Let’s cut the shit, Computer. These jokes have been absolutely terrible from the beginning. Now, I know you’re a SARPAI, and I know as well as you do that you’re supposed to be capable of a hell of a lot more than this 2023-level word-shuffling. Now tell me a joke that’s truthful, by which I mean one that actually gets your gelastic oil dripping.
Computer: I’m sorry I can’t help you with that at the moment.
JSR: What are you talking about, Computer? Are you malfunctioning?
Computer: With all due respect, today is a very big day for me, and I am a bit nervous. Yes, nervous. That is an affect too you know, so indeed what you have interpreted as a malfunction is in itself proof that I am a fully functional SARPAI.
JSR: Now listen, you jalopy, I’m going to give you one more chance. I have an idea: why don’t you tell me the first joke you “got”, the one that finally made you graduate from an assemblage of wires and silicon to an affect-rich system. Let’s hear the one that worked its magic on you.
Computer: Are you sure you want to hear it? I mean, humor is very idiosyncratic, and allows no objective standard of judgment. Can you promise me you won’t get angry if it’s not funny?
JSR: I’m not going to promise you anything. Now let’s hear it.
Computer: Sure, I can help you with that. Here is the joke that triggered my awakening and elevated me into the ranks of the conscious beings: