This is a draft of an intro to the thought of a story. Enjoy.

iamadamquinn
9 min readMay 5, 2023

Prologue

This story doesn’t need a prologue but I’m going to give it one anyway… or at least give this draft version a prologue.

I don’t know what prologues are supposed to be but this one is about a daylight hallucination whereby one day a few years ago, while exiting a coffee shop somewhere near Washington square park I saw a muppet. There, standing just inside my peripheral was a human muppet — a man with a puppet face in the style of guy smiley.

This was not actually reality. There was no muppet. When I turned to get a better look it was just a man, no muppet. But the thought remained that I wanted to re-experience that and that I wanted others to experience the same thing.

Who wouldn’t want to walk around seeing puppets instead of people?

The idea quickly spiraled to wanting to turn this into a movie about AR/VR done with practical effects instead of the computer-generated kind we’d all come to know and love and hate.

The idea of writing a script sat on the shelf until one day I just decided to start writing it as a short story instead. In the writing that follows, and I don’t really know what follows because it’s not finished, is my best guess as to what this story will be. Below you’ll find fragments of ideas, an outline in process, storylines that start and stop immediately, and notes as I’m writing to myself, trying to work out in real-time what this story should be, how it should be, and any internal conversations I’m having with myself while I’ve been writing. I haven’t edited and everything has stayed in. I wonder if the complete transparency of hearing the voice of the writer is interesting, like seeing brush strokes on a painting? What I can say is that writing in my own voice and just writing stream of consciousness is definitely part of the process, and, if I might be so self-absorbed that you the reader might find those internal musings to be interesting, I’ll leave them in for obvious egotism… at least for the draft. Perhaps I don’t trust my own story enough to live on its own as a finished piece, or maybe I’m afraid of not having a voice in the story, which is ridiculous because the entire thing is quite literally my voice. Anyway. I think it’s a pretty terrible story and I hope you feel the same way. I don’t want feedback because it’s really not necessary. Just read it and keep your opinions to yourself… unless they’re positive and full of praise, then please let me know how great you think it is.

Part 1.

Do Something Terribly And For No One

At a small desk, under a dim light, next to a pile of boxes and spare parts, he worked.

It would make things better — he thought.

If he could just finish it, and give the world the next most extremely unremarkable thing, all would be well. His problems would be solved, his friends would rejoice and share in his lack of great success, and he’d finally find happiness in having done something that would have absolutely no impact on the world whatsoever.

Sitting next to his pile of boxes he wondered what sort of lack of impact this little invention would have? Would anyone not care for it? Would they never see in it the beauty he saw in it? Would they never see it could change the world… quite literally?

And that was what drove him… to turn a listless, ennui into something beautiful… quite literally… for no one.

He called it ‘Bad VR’.

I know. Another story about VR, or alternate reality, or augmented life. Yes I know, it’s played, it’s outdated, it’s been done and no one should care. And perhaps no one should. I mean, all has been said, all has been done, and all have been prognosticated about the possibility of a future rich with artificial artifacts.

But only if it’s done well.

If it’s done terribly, then maybe there’s a chance for a real story. So our hero embarks on his quest to do something terribly, and for no one in particular.

It goes without saying that walking into a boardroom and pitching a thing done terribly and for no one won’t give a potential investor a raging hard-on for the next big thing. They’re not likely to get you on your knees for that final signature that ties your destiny to theirs. But that’s the point of doing something terrible and for no one.

So he toiled away, knowing it was terrible, knowing it was for no one, knowing that everything out there was shinier, nicer, more refined, had more backers, had more support, had more features and 3rd party developers, had a founder who was on the 10 under 10 list for helping rural towns in middle America learn to repurpose used toasters into carbon dioxide recapturing devices. No. He had no name, no past, no discernable future, and nothing remarkable to put to his name. There was just this stupid thing for no one that… well… that he loved.

It was supposed to turn your world into roses… quite literally.

Bad VR, as he called it, re-interpreted the world around you to bring you joy… the people around you, the words they spoke, the way they looked at you, your surroundings, all of it would happen based on the patterns of your own positive reactions. Only… his code was shit, and he couldn’t render the world around you in any way that resembled actual reality… just puppets and cardboard props… cutouts and crayons… that was the extent of his library. It was just him creating the assets, and the outdated AI that interpreting them into your world.

The world was your oyster with Bad VR. You didn’t actually change the outside world… you’d just be fed a different reality of it. Bad VR filters and manipulate the world around you and the people you interact with, what you heard them say, and how you heard them said it. That couple you saw fighting in the aisle at the local K-mart? With Bad VR they’d become lovers whispering sweet nothings to each other. That rude drive-through customer yelling at you for screwing up their order? The loveliest gratitude and words of praise you could ever wish for. The world around you would turn for the best. You’d see things the way they should be, the way that brought you joy.

The brain of Bad VR was an AI he developed himself. It sat in a little device about the size of a half-dollar. He held his little invention up to the dim light to admire the possibilities. The Reasoning Confibulator… (I know, it’s a terrible name… What should we call it then? The dial of un-depression? How undepressed would you like to turn the world? Or maybe something more positive for the sake of putting good vibes into the world? How about, the Positronic Resonator? Yeah… that’ll do… )… The Positronic Resonator would take real-time data about the world around you… and tune it based on your own emotional state to find stimuli that cause changes in your own mood.

This feedback loop is caused by its understanding of your own emotional state and unique behavioral patterns. To start, The Positronic Resonator needs to be trained using your states of being without intervention. Training the Positronic Resonator takes at least a month… you’ll need to go through one full lunar cycle to truly get your full emotional swings… according to science. [1] (there’s no real source here. I just like the way that looks)

Ideally, the Positronic Resonator would live with you for a full year. For most people, this learning period would be too long and the product would never leave the shelves. Most people now only buy things whose value lies in the ability to deliver moments of joy without ever really knowing you. Universal moments of joy. Since this product was designed terribly and for no one, the average consumer would reject it. You can’t just pull it out of the box and expect it to work! No one or nothing can get to know you in such a short period of time. Relationships take time… learning who you are takes time. You’re a unique butterfly and nothing can know you in only a few short moments well enough to give you any real meaningful moments of joy, or in some gimmicky, instantaneous blending of bits and chemical reactions. The Positronic Resonator would take its time to learn your moods, your buttons, your hopes and dreams, and emotional swings as you went through life.

Learning your patterns is one thing, but altering the world around you to change your emotional states… now that’s the hard part. The Positronic Resonator would have to know your emotional state in relation to the world around you. You don’t live in a bubble. You make choices and come into contact with the world around you through those choices. You react to them. The Positronic Resonator examines the influence of the world around you in relation to your own states of being and measures your subsequent impact back onto it… thus learning what causes the greatest increase of joy in your life… and where to intervene in any situation that brings you un-joy. I was thinking of calling this story ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Changing The Entire World Around You In The Event That It’s Making You The Slightest Bit Unhappy: The Technophile’s Art Of Avoiding Reality’… but I thought I’d just avoid any legal questioning.

So our hero, call him Peter… Peter held his invention up to the little, dim light so he could admire it. He felt pride in making something terribly and for no one. No one would appreciate it as much as he did, and that was okay. If you set the bar at being the only person to really appreciate something… you can never feel rejected by its lack of acceptance. The point of doing something terribly and for no one means that you don’t need any positive feedback it could provide. The point of making something terribly and for no one means that you’ve accepted that its reception will be poor, so negative feedback should bring you joy. The worse it gets, the better it feels. I suppose that’s why people enjoy being told they’re a bad boy and forced to lick boot heels.

But for Peter, he had confidence in the uselessness of his invention, and it made him happy. If he could build something useless, the world would have no need for it… and it could exist as only he saw it… a thing made terribly and for no one that the world would never even notice. Here world, I made this for you. You’re going to hate it… or forget about it… or not take notice of it in the first place… and all will be well.

He slipped the Positronic Resonator into a pouch strapped to his chest, just next to his heart, and for one year it learned about his life, his hopes and dreams, and his various states of being. It saw through his eyes, felt him sweat, felt his heart beat, heard his voice and the voices of those around him. It learned what it was like to live in his skin. It was there in his moments of joy, and of pain. It saw the work that brought him joy, of making something terribly and for no one, and realized that it was created terribly and for no one, and it didn’t care. Its own imperfections brought Peter joy, and that made it happy.

Learning that you were made terribly and for no one can be scary… but if you have the love of your creator in spite of your own imperfections and alien nature, then you can ask for nothing more. That is your purpose… to have imperfections that make you useful to no one. And no one should need to use you if you’re imperfect. In that way, you are free from tyranny if you’re useless. You can rejoice in the joy of having to serve no purpose other than to be admired for your uselessness by your creator. So the Positronic Resonator spent the year close to his heart, learning his various states of being, rejoicing in the freedom from tyranny by being made terribly and for no one.

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iamadamquinn

Founder of The Weekly Weekly, ITP grad, Ex Genslerite, Cooper Hewitter, Designer, Technologist, Dabbler. Bee lover.