There’s a machine as smooth and as monumental as cut marble, its face offering no buttons, dials, levers, or sliding knobs, no means at all to control its actions. The machine is one monolithic thing, and, though many picture its face covering gold and jeweled innards moving with balletic precision, the best listener will hear and see no evidence, not a click, sigh, or squeak, no whirring or grinding or trembling. If you could pick it up and shake it—you can’t, it’s too big—you wouldn’t find a speck of dust rattling inside. The internal atmosphere sealed in the machine could be just as solid as whatever workings it conceals. In every way, it’s perfect.
Its purpose is also hidden. Some people say they know what it does, and others believe them. They claim to see its products everywhere, though no exit port or other means to emit or broadcast appears on any of its surfaces. To all but a select and suspect few, its effects are invisible—no odor, no palpable movement, no echo or taste on the wind. And, because no one entirely knows what he or she has felt (or trusts another to say what he or she has felt), people sometimes speculate the machine has no purpose we can understand, perhaps no purpose at all. They say expecting a function is underestimating the machine’s power. Doing is not the only reason for being, they state, and besides, “Must a machine have utility?”
The question often sets off shouting over definitions. If we call the machine a machine, we have to expect something to come of it and, if nothing comes of it, we cannot call it a machine. Heady reasoning spins in a perpetual whirl. Some try to end the cyclone by renaming the machine, but we’ve called it what we have for so long, just about everyone rejects semantics. Sometimes they turn on those who dare to name it. Presumption like that is hubris, they scream.
Though many try, no one has made another machine.
Where is the maker? Who remembers back that far? A few meek voices try to assert it’s been around as long as we have because its workings are our workings, its face our face reflected back by its impenetrable and shiny surface, but the idea we invented the machine seems to pierce a pipe under pressure—the emotion jets. You can’t hear anyone over the din of its spray.
Maybe the machine is broken, as some say. Maybe we stopped it with our stares. Or maybe it’s time to store our perceptions of the machine in our imaginations—inexplicable factories themselves—and move on, living our lives with all the love we can muster.