Or: ‘ A (seemingly) non-terminable task*
“The materials we have aren’t exactly made for the task either. All the rocks are so irregular, and this seems to be the cause of many mistakes and delays. The workers try to fit them as much as they can, but it doesn’t always work.”Zif’s Destiny. (Fuzzy on the Dark Side)
This post is an excerpt from ‘Zif’s Destiny’ – an allegorical story that runs throughout ‘Fuzzy on the Dark Side‘, contemplating the dark effects of approximate thinking on a group of heroes, similar to famous historical and mythological figures…
Grumis saw the man who was completely focused on what seemed to be an endless task.
He was going up and down the scaffolds of the incomplete structure, carrying random rocks to the higher levels. There were others doing similar tasks. The job was futile, however, because the workers constantly dropped rocks as they worked. It didn’t seem that they were building something consistent, so parts of the structure kept crumbling occasionally.
The man didn’t seem to have time to stop and assess what was happening, as he toiled loyally and religiously. Grumis was here to learn, and his process detectors indicated that this was a high-priority learning opportunity.
The green robotic bird approached the man.
“Good day! I am Grumis-33, and I’m in the third learning phase. Do you mind if I observe and ask a few questions?”
The man looked at the small creature, and answered in a friendly manner without ceasing his activity: “Sure! I don’t mind some company. Other than the workers who help me, I haven’t talked to anyone in ages. Call me Zif. What do you want to learn?”
“What are you building?”
“A tower. The mountain tower.”
“When did you start?”
Grumis asked as he registered the new information and searched the databases he could access.
“I’m not sure anymore. I’ve been working on this for as long as I can remember,” Zif explained without stopping his rock-moving task. “For some reason, it doesn’t seem to be progressing as it should be.”
“I’m not really sure. I don’t have time to figure that out exactly. There are too many people working with me, many tasks to complete, and just too many ideas. Sometimes you can’t understand a thing these workers are saying – and I think that many don’t understand each other too…It seems to me this gets worse as our work progresses. Maybe if you fly high enough you can see better and tell me if you can spot any problem I can fix?”
“I did on my way here. I couldn’t tell exactly what was happening, or if there was something wrong.”
“Yes. Me too. Just need to continue building this tower. The materials we have aren’t exactly made for the task either. All the rocks are so irregular, and this seems to be the cause of many mistakes and delays. The workers try to fit them as much as they can, but it doesn’t always work.”.
He docked a couple of falling objects, and continued his infinite task of hauling rocks up the incomplete structure.
The workers – and Zif – were doing a relatively good job of coordinating their work, given that they didn’t seem to talk the same language. They were surprisingly creative in getting the irregular stones to fit into the structure…although it was clear to Grumis that they wouldn’t easily get the task completed.
“Do you mind if I stay here? I’d like to learn more about this tower of yours.”
“Not at all.”
This discussion is an (edited) excerpt from the “Prologue” chapter in “Fuzzy on the Dark Side: Approximate Thinking, and how the mists of creativity can become a prison of illusion”.