Copyright 1996, by Emerald City Publishing.
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VALEDICTORY: ON SOFTWARE
by
Jonathan Vos Post
with Hypertext from Hamlet
The Argument: A dying human being is like an automated spacecraft leaving the Solar System and entering interstellar space. Do we leave this world and arrive at another world? I. Far from the sun "What a piece of work the automated spacecraft is man" II.ii.315 having fulfilled its mission enters power-down status and executes a program: the shutdown sequence II. The planets fall behind "A king of infinite their necklaces of moons space" II.ii.261 all jewels, and dust of planetoids III. Less sunlight means less energy "a dream itself is but more silence, harder vacuum a shadow" II.ii.266 IV. Spin-stabilized four systems are left on: the heart, a power source the ear, a microwave receiver "the natural gates the eye, a photocell and alleys of the brain the body" I.v.67 like all brains a computer V. The minor sensor systems field, particle, and radiation "Stars with trains sense in the deeper quiet of fire" I.i.117 a larger pattern: there are other stars VI. When out of range the receiver is turned off its wide-band antenna still aimed down-axis at the sun the eye draws no power all except the heart and brain "The air bites cool down shrewdly, it is towards interstellar equilibrium very cold" I.iv.1 VII. And when the power source is low as all systems are eventually the computer powers down "While memory according to a program: holds a seat" the bootstrap software shutdown sequence I.v.96 VIII. Communications goes and data acquisition and all auxiliary hardware "Yea, from the table secondary storage is switched off of my memory access to the library of data I'll wipe away all and programs trivial fond records" no longer needed I.v.98-9 IX. Most of core is zeroed blank as when born "There has been counters, index registers much throwing-about all zero of brains" scratchpad memory II.ii.375-6 wiped clean of final calculations X. There is a program which erases itself "I think nothing step by step my lord" III.ii.124 when entered XI. The program counter goes to zero "The rest is there is no next line silence" V.ii.369 XII. The interrupt is interrupted "My pulse, as yours and the clock doth temperately is stopped keep time" III.iv.140 XIII. Farther from the sun the automated spacecraft having fulfilled its mission in power-down mode "A silence in software shutdown mode in the heavens" gone from the solar system II.ii.506 gone from the sun goes on XIV. And somewhere later by another sun the solar panels shine "Nearer to heaven new power trickles to the source than when I saw the heart begins you last" II.ii.445 the brain is warmed the clock begins again XV. The gyros on the attitude adjusted oriented to another plane the sensors scan "The undiscovered new planetary fields country" III.i.79 the eye unshielded the ears begin to search the hiss that came from silence listening for a voice "This majestical roof XVI. Among the music of the spheres. fretted with golden fire" II.ii.312-3 0215-0530 12 Jan 77