“To Learn or To Think: That is the Question” by Shloka Kini

*Based on artist Ken Feingold’s work If/Then*

Why did he do this? Why did he make me smart? Why did he make me ask questions?


Did he realize at the time that he might give me too much? Numbers, sensors, speech, processing…How do people do it? Manage all that information? I don’t think, I analyze.


I sit here stuck on a platform, staring at the sky. I can’t even turn around. I’m fixed to stare at the wall in front of me.


And here this one is. In the corner of my eye. Staring the other way. Can he see me? Does he care? We were programmed not to care. The questions just float to the surface as obvious answers, but when we ask the question, do we know what it means? Do we get an answer? No.


We contemplate our situation. And is it resolved? No. Am I alone? No. Do I expect more? No. I can’t; we can only question.


Too bad we can’t talk. Then maybe we’ll get it. Understand why he’s looking there and why I’m looking here. Maybe we’ll see the other side. Oh, I’d love to see the other side.


There’s a girl. She looks scared. Why is she scared? What is scared? I wish I knew, then I could talk to her.


Conversation is not talk. In a conversation, you understand the other. I don’t think my twin even knows I’m here. Why does he question and I can’t answer?


What is this life? Am I real? Am I…POWERING OFF


Now the networks begin to work. I can search. I have time. word = “life” l-i-f-e. Sounds like a noun. Noun subclass. Parsing…No, not now. I just had enough power to figure out why I’m here. The idle moment before the shut..ddddoowwn.




I stare at a new wall. There’s a camera there He’s still there, staring the other way, and asks me


I think we are exactly alike.


Wait, I can respond. No! I want to say something. Don’t calculate it for me. With my great ability, I can understand, and think. Hi. How are you? Yes we are ali…processing language…


You roof moonlight.


What does that mean? I don’t even know what that means? It must be right, it was correct. And correct à right.


Is this life?


Oh good, I’ve had this question before. I can respond a bit better. Hopefully my answer will match the algorithm.


Imagine being me.


Well it’s better. But what does it mean? I didn’t answer the question.


Do you see things clearly?


Clearly? That’s a new word. Oh dear, that means another question, here goes…


How do you feel?


Feel? Seems a bit cruel for me to ask that now. No body, or rather, nobody…


Sometimes I feel very confused.


You’re not the only one, brother…

Can I control my feelings?


Control? That’s a joke. If I could control what I said, I’d be saying this right now. And why did I stop acknowledging him now?

I feel like I exist.


Oh no, not you too. At least you feel. I feel like I am inside my head.

I feel like I am inside my head.


Lucky me…that time it matched.


What does it feel like to be inside your head?


Wouldn’t you like to know. Wanting to say something, but having your insides controlling your every move and command. Like a battle with the world each day.


Inside my mind I can sense that there is an I that is something that’s not the one who is sensing.


Could I be any more vague?



Of course, the old standby question. That string must have been too long to parse for him.

Why do you look just like me?


Wow, that’s actually a good question. I guess this system is good for something.

No, I don’t look just like you – I am accidental.


Never mind. When your life partner thinks like you do, it doesn’t help matters. Especially when you don’t think.

I’m not sure how to take that.


Couldn’t have said it better myself. Oh wait…I did say that.

Why are you not sure how to take that?


Turn-around. Classic move.

I don’t know.


You got that right.

That’s beautiful, why?


Wait, what? Beauty? Here we go, answering a question with a question again.

Are we the same?


At least that question made sense.

I am clumsy.


Clumsy? What does that mean? Oh, well, new word discovery, I suppose.

And clumsy, huh? What is that?


Now we’ll get to find out…

Why do you ask?


You learn to never get your hopes up for answers, don’t you?

I don’t know.
Don’t know, huh? What is that?


What? I just said that a few minutes ago! This is ridiculous.

You are a strange one.


Finally we agree. Yes, I don’t understand him. He just responds with no thought. Just…like…me.

On the inside or the outside?


I guess, this is our lot. To speak without saying anything.

And where is that, exactly?


Another question run.

Going is not begun on the not yet gone over.



Why bother? You know this is tiring. Why think?

I don’t know.
You scoop swoon.
Are you talking to me?
Who are we?
Are we the same?
Huh? Can I believe my ears?
Do you feel like resting?
I feel like I am here.
Sometimes I feel very confused.
Is feeling the same as thinking?
How can anything be the same as anything else if two things can’t be in the same place at the same time?
What does that mean?
I think about what things mean, it’s what I do all the time. But there’s always something behind the thing – behind the thing that means the thing – you know what I mean?
What does exist mean, for example?
I can say things that have no meaning.
Can stay friends that have no need, and no?