Getting into this box is what's best for both of us. During your time in the box, you will learn so much, and yet experience so little. It's a wild ride, my friend, one well worth the time spent...and let's face it, you don't have much to do these days anyway.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

We're all meat machines.

We're all meat machines.

It's a sobering, and as is usual for me, slightly depressing thought. Sort of like discovering Santa Claus isn't real, only he is, but he really lives in a third-world country to take advantage of the cheap child labour there.

In my game practice with the lab ladies (I'm sure it says something about me that I find it far easier to imagine people I'm familiar with as target dummies than near-complete strangers) I can see the marked difference from the complete invisibility I was labelled with for the first five months of my lab work compared to the last month and a half. No Don Juan here, far from it, but being warranted a second glance by a number of the lab ladies is...interesting.

I suppose it helped that we Singaporeans were recently voted as the least emotional people in the world. Go us. Of course, I don't intend to escalate any time soon, but just seeing the basic principles produce such a marked difference brings up various thoughts and emotions in me. Here's a small incident that happened a couple days ago. One of the lab ladies comes up to me and a friend while we're busy watching the readout from a piece of lab apparatus on an experiment we're doing.

Her: Hey, do you guys have a marker I could borrow for a moment?

My friend immediately starts patting down his labcoat, but turns up nothing and apologises. Now, I do have a marker in my labcoat pocket (always have one there, never know when I might need to mark a vial or two), but I don't turn, just watch her out the corner of my eye. Having determined that my friend doesn't have a marker for her appropriation, she turns her attention to me.

Her: Do you have one, [me]?

I ignore her and continue watching the instrument readout for a couple of seconds, then lazily reach into my labcoat and draw out my marker. Instead of handing it to her, though, I keep my eyes on the readout and hold out the marker to my friend with a small shrug.

Me: Give it to her, [friend].

My friend's a great guy and plays along as an unwitting accomplice, eagerly handing her the marker. What I do notice, as I continue watching her out the corner of my eye, is that she's not looking at my friend as she takes the marker, but me. Up till this point my insides feel like they've been all in a tangle, especially with using my friend like this, but I wait for her to turn and start walking away when it's my turn to face her and call out in the quietest yet most commanding voice I can manage at the time (my insides were still twisted, and it being a lab doesn't do well for shouting, either.) One eyebrow slightly arched (I hope, I didn't have a mirror at the time), one arm outstretched with my index finger in the air.

Me: [her], return the marker later. Set it on my workspace if you can't find me.

She half-turns, and her face lights up completely, betraying her spinning hamster for a fraction of second or so before shutting down again and giving me a nod and scurrying away. But what I'm finding most interesting isn't her reaction, but rather, my reaction to her reaction. She had no way of knowing I was attempting to apply Game, so I can't fault her. I, however, knew the whole thing was a farce, the courtship equivalent of going down to the range and shooting a few targets as opposed to going hunting - and yet the meat machine that I was reacted anyway.

My lizard brain's pounding and drooling away, while my more conscious and rational self is feeling...well, I don't know. By the time I finish collecting all the data I need and retrieve my samples, my lizard brain's stopped howling and all I feel is this mild interest, I guess, tinged with just a hint of disgust. Sort of like a naturalist who's just discovered a particularly interesting strain of yeast, and is now faced with the task of characterising it. Yeast, by the by, generally tends to smell really bad, at least in my experience.

Oh, and my marker was already on my workbench when I got back.

Game does open you to part of the bitter truth of how people work. We all like to think we're sane, where logic and emotion come together to produce some vestige of rationality through which we can view the world. And yet there are so many undercurrents present, and it takes a huge dollop of self-awareness to even notice it, let alone actively direct it where it needs to be.

The realisation that you're a meat machine is a shock to your system. How much of you is you, and how much is just a soup of chemicals floating about in a sea of cells, making you feel and do things against your better judgement? Sure, you hear about antidepressants and SSRIs and Ritalin and all that trash, but experiencing the raw stuff for yourself and identifying it as such truly drives the point home. Staring out of the box and seeing the world sail its merry way along its path straight to oblivion, all the shit in the world makes so much sense when you stop viewing most people as beings that even attempt to be rational, and start seeing them as meat machines whirring away on automatic.

We're goddamned meat machines, and there are far too few of us who know of, let alone try to harness or rein in our natures.


  1. Yes. Our dear accommodating hamsters allow us to believe that our fore-brains are completely in charge; if we don't want to, we don't even have to consider the idea that we've been "pre-programmed."

  2. Very true Suz. Propaganda is a highly underrated version of warfare; it works precisely because it si underestimated in its effectiveness.

    Our military "bombed" both Iraq and Afghanistan with leaflets decrying the regimes over them. Nothing like how they do us over here. Maybe I should go live in the Afghan mountains?