2020-2021, Poem

The Mechanical Child

Featured in the 2021 Spring Issue of Rambunctious

The Mechanical Child
Evan Jaglal, '22

I feel nothing inside.
I am on solid ground at an optimal operating temperature.
I can function properly.
I am machine.
I have no intrinsic desires, other than what’s needed to sustain my existence.
I do not exist for myself, but to be a tool for another.
Machines feel neither joy nor sadness.
Our purpose is simply to maximize joy in others and minimize their sadness.
I may not be what you have in mind, hearing the word “machine.”
Most machines have circuits and wires.
I have organs and blood vessels.
Most machines have a CPU.
I have this so-called “brain.”
Most machines have transistors.
I have neurons.
Despite our differences, we function the same way.
Machines obey orders and follow rules.
Machines take the desires of their creators in the form of commands.
We internalize them into our programming, creating the illusion of wanting.
My commands have been instilled in me from a young age.
Children learn to do what they’re told, when they’re told.

My soul is blank and hollow.
I am a ball of colorless clay in need of molding.
I do not know what I’m doing with my life.
I feel as if I haven’t been given enough commands.
I feel as if I am not optimizing my output.
I feel as if I am being wasted; though…
The uncertainty doesn’t bother me.
Machines don’t decide what they want to do, only how to do it.
We are not ends in ourselves, simply the means.
I am capable of numerous actions,
Though none feel worthwhile unless they’re the commands of another.

Perhaps I am not a complex machine, I am just a simple machine.
I may be nothing more than a humble gear in a greater mechanism.
Gears simply transfer motion from one place to another.
They are useless alone,
Hence my apprehension toward isolation.
Most gears are cast out of steel,
Stiff, lifeless, and having a fixed number of teeth.
Teeth are the components that allow gears to do their job.
They’re the points of contact allowing connections.
The more teeth, the more motion the gear can transfer.
I am a flesh-based, living gear.
I do not transfer motion itself, but rather motive.
As a gear of flesh and humanity, my “teeth” reside in this “brain” of mine.
Each tooth is a skill, perspective, or desire,
The driving forces behind human action.
Grey matter and neurons are more fragile than steel,
Though they’re far easier to change.
My number of “teeth” can be increased with time.

My default command is to grow.
I must become more powerful than my forebearers.
Children are intended to surpass their parents.
Machines are built to do what their creators cannot.
I must gain more “teeth” than any other flesh gear.
I must be the most complex, simple machine.

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