I feel despair twirling around me washing me down. It’s a familiar sensation, but the forefront of the storm does not come from me but from the one sitting next to me, seeking help. I thought I’d guided her enough for her to at least not to be afraid of this far-too-alien thing she’s working on, or more precisely for the moment, I’m working on. She’s a graduate student that needs help making an experiment work for her paper. I can see that she’s upset like she’s not used to being so helplessly lost. It’s just English, I remember telling her, mixed with some logic symbols so the machines can understand. I also told her: it’s like talking to a very stupid and yet very intelligent tool. My guess is that does not help one bit. People have anxieties, and this thing that feels nothing just deals in 1s and 0s. I guess it’s nice being so primitive.
The coffee is getting cold. Good thing I drank most of it before she came, the bitter smooth taste still sours my palate, just the way I like it, as it distracts me from my guilt. I move away from both the taste and the background emotional radiation so I can find a solution to this problem in front of the man-made screen with a man-made experiment using a man-made program that speaks a man-made language. That’s my domain for a time and that’s where I learned how to talk.
Easy enough, several misconceptions and curious explorations later, things start to work and the previously downcasted student becomes much more animated with suggestions of workarounds and talks of new visions for her experiment. It’s always uplifting to see that happen. I feel her mood changing from dark grey to white yellow, but I do not dwell on that either. All too familiar with that cycle. But for me, it’s kinda the opposite. When I cannot figure something out, I get pumped, and when I’m finished with it, either from giving up or succeeding, I feel down. There’s not much difference.
How can anyone truly despair when there’s so much left to know? I guess that depends on what you want to know. When there’s no longer any observer, will these 1s and 0s mean anything?
I wonder if we are being too loud in this narrow coffee shop that’s half-filled with students and people lounging about. Another gorgeous day. I feel a bit apologetic, but my companion does not seem to take notice, too wrapped up in her excitement now. Might as well, it’s not my favorite coffee shop anyway.