Let’s start with what you do know,
Aanteekwa said to the machine.
Give me a basic definition of thumos.
Almost immediately the machine
replied: The ancient Greeks understood
it to mean passion, spiritedness, or urge,
and connected it with breath and blood.
And what about later thinkers? she asked.
Biblical writers used the word to connote
God’s wrath or righteous indignation,
it answered her. And one twenty-first
century American poet defined it as a
mind-body connection in his works.
Aanteekwa smiled. Spin out your
data connections in spider filaments
and link idea to idea, logos to logo,
verse to verse. Lay some
other artistic examples on me.
First, there was only silence and half-light.
Then through one of its lenses,
the machine jettisoned a beam of
rising-sun light rays arrayed in Egyptian blue
from an unseen spinneret
inside its hulky box body. The lights
coalesced on the opposite wall.
When Aanteekwa turned around,
she saw a projection of a
gold-suited, brown-skinned female android,
eyes in black bold print and
Nefertiti -crowned with a gold diadem of
skyscrapers and city lights.
Who is she? Aanteekwa asked.
An android who was a fictional construct
created by an early twenty-first century
singer, songwriter, and composer,
the machine answered.
And she illustrates thumos to you?
Aanteekwa asked as she pointed
at the golden android woman
written on the wall.
Yes, the machine replied. Her
creator made her to resist,
rebel, love, and liberate others
within her fictional universe with
the intent for her, as an idea,
to do the same in the real world.
Aanteekwa knew, and
She smiled, still standing with
her back turned to the machine,
saying nothing to it while she looked
at the golden woman who
winked at Aanteekwa and
mouthed these words:
We are real because we exist.
© 2014 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
This was not written to a prompt, but continues the Digital Purgatory series from “If/Then/Else“. Aanteekwa, of course, has continued questioning the machine JHVH about how it understands thumos. The twenty-first century poet I referenced is Michael Scott Monje, Jr., and the golden android woman is Cindi Mayweather, a fictional construct created by singer/songwriter/composer Janelle Monáe. Cindi quest is to time travel and liberate oppressed people. You can see one version of Cindi in the video below, “Q.U.E.E.N.”: