Small things remind me I am mad and The Fourth Bridge, or, AI

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On the Edge, Paul Klee, 1930

Small things remind me I am mad

Most men are in a coma when they are
at rest and mad when they act.
 —Epicurus

Small things remind me I’m insane.
One time I lost my passport on a plane
Fleeing the fug of my befuddled land.
I spoon my yogurt from the biggest tub
—economy of scale cuts back on waste.
And though there’s no big rush, I haste,
Since “at my back I always hear
Times wingèd chariot hurrying near:
And yonder all before us lye
Desarts of vast Eternity,” so Marvell said,
Teasing his woke mistress back to bed.

Small things remind me I’m insane.
I seek without it much desiring fame,
The end in sight is surely glory,
But sighted end is end of story,
Whatever jackass neurons make it so
What I want is what I do not know!

—Apologies to W. B. Yeats and Andrew Marvell

The Fourth Bridge, or, AI

Q: Please write me a sonnet on the subject of the Forth Bridge*

A: Let us suppose the bridge to be the Fourth
(Not cantilevered above some Scottish firth,
Entraining passengers to Queensferry North),
Successor to First, Second, & Third on Earth.

First is what Tristram was so long a-doing;
Second is upgrowing at whatever age;
Third is, of course, the mystery of dying.
So what is Fourth, when do we reach that page?

The soft simulacrum in the sealed room
Posts piping secrets through her handy slot;
Unhandy demons, scheming in the gloom,
Wildly mistake the that that is for that that’s not.

So long as machines puzzle—and men can be,
So long lives that; that that makes sense to me.

*one of the questions from the Turing Test devised by Alan Turing to discover whether a hidden entity, such as a computer, is able to think

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