<center><h3>Kotodama</h3><img src="KotodamaCover.jpg" width="220" height="165"> by Aidan Doyle *In Japan, there is a common myth of the spirit of language called kotodama (言霊); a belief that some divine power resides in the Japanese language.* - Oxford Words Blog [[Start->Skypoem Lobby]]</center>{ (set: $openedVault to false) (set: $babel to false) } The lobby of the Tokyo Skypoem is filled with panicked humans, their faces scarred by unbridled metaphor. Paramedics carry stretchers bearing limerick-riddled corpses and haiku-exposed skeletons. I push my way through the crowd, towards the two police officers guarding the stairs. I am shielded against poetry, but the officers have to cower in their yellow [Feynman suits]<cli|. (click: ?cli)[ *What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?* - Richard Feynman] "What seems to be the problem officers?" I ask. The older officer scowls at me. Even though I'm here to save lives, I can tell he doesn't like robots. "A beer company hired the Institute of Experimental Poetry to make a commerical that went viral. The commercial has gone *viral*," he says. "I'll see what I can do," I say. The Skypoem is 575 meters high, but the elevators have been disabled. I begin my march up the [[stairs->Stairs]].A sculpture representing the character for beauty stands in the center of the hall. [<center><h3>美</h3></center>]<cli| (click: ?cli)[**Beauty** (美) is a combination of the characters for **sheep** (羊)and **big** (大) because that is what ancient farmers wanted. <i>Do androids dream of big sheep?</i> ] The visitors and staff have been evacuated, so the hall is empty except for the exhibits. There are framed paintings on the wall showing views of Japan, smiling children and cherry blossoms. A computer terminal gives visitors the choice to [[vote on beauty->Computer Terminal]].The Bridge of Dreams is a glass walkway suspended 234 meters above the ground and connects the Hall of Beauty with the Institute for Experimental Poetry. The walkway gives a good view of the Tokyo megacity area, a thousand gleaming towers thrusting towards the open sky. Today, there is a distinct lack of giant lizards terrorizing the city. Instead I see a convoy of black vans circling the roads near the Skypoem. Right wing groups are protesting again. They believe that only Japanese-built robots should be awarded citizenship. I have never believed in *nihonjinron* - the discussion about why Japan and the Japanese are *more* unique than any other country. I certainly don't think it extends to Japanese-built robots. As I cross the bridge of dreams, my [[poetry warning sensors->Crossing the Bridge]] go off. { (set: $babel to hasBabel()) (if: (history:) contains "Institute for Experimental Poetry")[] (else:)[I march through the Institute's public gallery and offices until I reach the restricted laboratory zone. I override the primitive security measures and enter the main lab.(set: $dial to 0)] } The Institute's main lab is full of prose extractors, limerick boilers and an advanced automated anti-alliteration apparatus. { A desk holds some [research notes.]<researchNotes|(click: ?researchNotes)[<font size=4><ul><li>Love poetry is the ultimate form of advertising.</li><li>Every season we need to come up with a new product. There has to be a more efficient way to do this.</li><li>A <i>kireiji</i> is a cutting word used to distinguish different parts of a poem. I think I've discovered a new way to use this.</li><li>Advertising has often focused on converting children to customers to maximize the span of time that customers remain loyal. But humans have the problem of dying. If we can convert robots, we will have customers who buy our products for thousands of years.</li></ul></font>] } A door leads to the [[Poetry Dojo]]. The words (text-color: "red")[Beware the Jabberwock] are scrawled in blood on a reinforced [[Vault]] door.{ <script> function takeBabel() { babelTaken = true; $("#labText").html(getLabText() + "<br>The books by Douglas Adams and Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald have transformed into a Babel Key. I take the key because it could be useful in opening locks."); } $(function() { var dialLevel1 = "#66CC66"; var dialLevel2 = "#F5F500"; var dialLevel3 = "#CC0000"; $(".dial").knob( { 'fgColor' : dialLevel1, draw: function () { var dialColor; dialColor = dialLevel1; var val = parseInt($(this.i).val(),10); if (labDialMaxLevel < val) labDialMaxLevel = val; labDialCurLevel = val; if (val > 6) dialColor = dialLevel2; if (val > 8) dialColor = dialLevel3; this.o.fgColor = dialColor; this.$.css({'color':dialColor}); $("#labText").html(getLabText()); } }); }); </script> <div id="labText"></div><br> <input type="text" value="0" class="dial" data-fgColor="#66CC66" data-angleOffset=-125 data-angleArc=250 data-max="11"> <br><br> A door leads back to the [[Main Lab->Institute for Experimental Poetry]] }{ (if: $babel is false)[ The door's electronic lock is protected by strong encryption. I'll need to find another way to open it. ] (else:)[ (if: $openedVault is false)[I use the Babel Key to unlock the door.<br>] (set: $openedVault to true) The vault is designed to hold the institute's most precious items.<br> A display case contains the [Atomic Poem]<atomicPoem|. (click: ?atomicPoem)[An unknown poet was in the process of writing the poem when the bomb struck Hiroshima. The poet was killed, but radioactive fragments of the poem survived.] <br><br> A violently shaking (text-style: "shudder")[box] labeled <i>Jabberwock</i> sits on the bench.<br><br> [[Open the Box]] ] } Return to the [[Main Lab->Institute for Experimental Poetry]]The box contains an unstable word cloud and a vorpal sword. The word cloud is the source of the poetry outbreak and is made from Sei Shōnagon's <i>The Pillow Book</i> mixed with Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poems and the lyrics for an advertising jingle about a lovable beer-swilling pirate, <i>The Rap of the Ancient Mariner</i>. I've dealt with poetry outbreaks before, but this time they used a new programming shell script to bind the elements together. The <i>Basho</i> shell was created by an AI and designed to affect robots. I can feel the calamitous couplets, slimy stanzas and the slithy toves pressing on my zazenium brain. The [[outbreak->Outbreak]] is virulent enough that it will destroy even robots.I have to save as many robot lives as I can. Humans are short-lived fireflies compared to us. I remove the Atomic Poem from its display. I wrap the poem around a box to weight it down and carry it back to the Bridge of Dreams. I walk across the bridge and look down on the city. Most of Tokyo was destroyed in World War 2. They can rebuild again. [[I let the poem go->Robot Apocalypse]].I take my vorpal sword in hand and study the tangled mess of the word cloud. My Zazenium brain can process billions of instructions per second, but it feels as though it's taking me an eternity to work out where to cut. I can feel dread phrases seeping deep into my core, the words filled with Basho shell tainted energy. *Words, words, every where, And all the motherboards did shrink; Words, words, every where, Nor any time to think.* The swifter I am, the more robot deaths I can prevent. [[I raise the vorpal sword->Implosion]].As I ascend the stairs, I hear the older officer tell his colleague, "This kind of work should be left to real humans." The stairs go on and on. It feels as though I'm making slower progress than a snail climbing Mount Fuji. Robots don't get tired, but I have better things to use my battery on than climbing so many stairs. *Excelsior*. I finally reach the entrance to the level of the Skypoem containing the [[Hall of Beauty]].As usual most of the options are humancentric. { <div id="surveyChoices"> **What do you think is the most beautiful?**<br><br> <a href=javascript:vote(1)>A child's laugh.</a><br> <a href=javascript:vote(2)>A puppy eating ice-cream at a cherry blossom viewing party.</a><br> <a href=javascript:vote(3)>The northern lights.</a><br> <a href=javascript:vote(4)>Enjoying an ice cold Kaba Beer with your friends.</a><br> </div> <script>function vote(i) { $("#surveyChoices").text("Thank you for voting! We hope you enjoy the displays."); $("#sponsor").show(); } </script> <div id="sponsor" style="display:none;"> <font size=1>*This survey is sponsored by Kaba Beer.*</font> </div> } At the end of the hall is the [[Bridge of Dreams]].My brain is made of zazenium and contains 1000 origami unicorns. I am unswayed by puns, I fear not limericks, I am immune to haiku. But something about this outbreak feels different. I will need to be careful. Many humans like to imagine that robots spend their lives wanting to become human. *What is the meaning of this thing you call love?* Life is wasted on humans. They have such a short life span and so many of them waste it on trivial matters. I step inside the doors of the [[Institute for Experimental Poetry]].I have to stop the outbreak before it reaches other robots. Dropping the atomic poem on the city would create enough energy to destroy the outbreak. The robots in Tokyo would survive the blast, but it would kill most of the humans. Humans have such a short lifespan compared to robots. Would killing 40 million humans be worth it if I can save 100 robots? Humans like to think robots dream about being human, but I've never wanted to become a [Truman]<truMan|. (click: ?truMan)[President Harry S. Truman made the decision to drop the bomb. When asked if it was a difficult decision he snapped his fingers and replied "Hell no, I made it like that."] The alternative is to use the vorpal sword as a *kireiji*, a cutting word. But properly cutting the word cloud will not be easy. It's not just a single strike. I have to find the right parts of the cloud to cut or I could make things worse. In the time it takes me to deal with the cloud, I don't know how far the outbreak will spread. How many humans and robots will die? And I am unlikely to survive. [[Drop the Atomic Poem on the City->Drop the Atomic Poem]] [[Use the Vorpal Sword to Cut the Word Cloud->Cut the Poem]]When it reaches the ground, it explodes in a gigantic burst of overripe adjectives and sullied metaphors, a whirlwind of words ripping through the city, tearing apart the human brains too small to contain multitudes. The blast washes over me, but I am shielded against poetry. It was only the Basho script that was a threat to robots and that has now been destroyed. *Look upon my works, ye mighty and despair!* As silly as it was, the humans were right to fear the robot apocalypse. I have brought them their doom. No, they are the ones who made the word cloud. They are the ones to blame. Robots do not forget, but I am not willing to write off humanity yet. I will help them rebuild. *Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night; What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry?* (display: "sqDeparture")*Snicker-snack.* I cut the word cloud in eight places, dissipating its energy. *Callooh! Callay!* I have stopped the outbreak. But how many robots have been infected? Parts of my outer body are damaged but they can be replaced. It is my Zazenium brain that is irreplaceable. And that is imploding. I take the vorpal sword and walk through the lab. My systems are shutting down. I have saved millions of lives. *I am not the destroyer of worlds*. My vision starts to fail. I cross the bridge of dreams, walking towards the darkness. Perhaps it is the remnants of the poetry outbreak, but as I walk, it seems as though cherry blossoms are falling all around me. (display: "sqDeparture")<center><iframe src="/html/departureContent.html" style="width:150px;height:150px;padding:0;margin:0;display:block;border:none;overflow:hidden;"></iframe></center>