This is That

There’s a great Canadian radio show on CBC called “This is That”, you know, the kind of show that if you land on it by accident, you get caught up listening, and then you go, “no, they can’t be serious!” because it sounds like it might be serious but then you realize that it’s not :slight_smile: I was looking for a thread to talk about inconsequential consequences and consequential inconsequences, and then thought, well, maybe Inifinite Commons needs a humor thread, so I decided to create one. But really it’s an excuse to say “Happy New Year” to everyone at Infinite Commons.

It is true, however, and perhaps interesting to this community, that a colleague and I are working on a book project which we’ve tentatively titled “All That Isn’t…(Elephant!)”. The title is based on one of the elephant jokes I grew up with as a child. These were very popular for a while. The joke goes, “how to make a sculpture of an elephant?”, and the answer is “you take a very large block of stone and you cut away all that isn’t elephant”. So our book is an attempt to grapple with the issue of what is singular about identity, and the way we are tackling this issue is by trying to describe all the characteristics that aren’t singular, since talking about the singular per se is rather difficult. So that’s an example of in/consequential discussion. Let’s see what else comes up here!


Happy New Year, Geoffrey! I have no idea how to respond to this prompt in any kind of inconsequential manner, so let’s just start there. Isn’t your (Elephant!) joke kind of like Michelangelo’s theory of sculpture? Or is it like that Tootsie Roll commercial from our childhood? (Who remembers?) How many licks does it take to get that elephant, anyway?! :lollipop:

Love the Tootsie Roll clip, @madrush - a perfect segway!

Here’s an attempt at humor. Any resemblance to persons living (@madrush, @achronon, @Douggins, @johnnydavis54, @hfester, @patanswer) or not (PofD) is purely incidental.

An endless stream of characters passes through a WAITING ROOM situated in LIMBO. It is the Mega Waiting Room of all Waiting Rooms - the Place Between, Entry to the Gates of Heaven and Hell, The Doctor’s Office, the Notary’s office, the Police Station, the Orbiting Space Colony, blank, blank, blank (you fill them in!)
FICTIONAL JOHNNY is half asleep in a chair, FICTIONAL DOUG is perusing the dispensing machines, while FICTIONAL HEATHER is quietly drinking from a cup in the corner. FICTIONAL ED is sitting slouched on the floor, trying to read a book, but clearly having trouble doing so. FICTIONAL TJ is pacing.
FICTIONAL GEOFFREY makes an Entrance, as he is prone to do, flapping his wings and adjusting his mild-mannered glasses, his hair mussed up an an Einsteinian pose.
A Television attached to the ceiling is noisily providing a low level running commentary in the background. FICTIONAL MARCO is the Commentator.

We interrupt this waiting period to announce the arrival of the Prince of Darkness, a guest speaker in our series of video conversations. Come join us at 3 p.m. mountain time, I’ll post the link. He’ll be taking about comparative religions, the view from the bottom.

Hey, these vending machines are cool. This one has something labelled Tyrone Rex genome, I guess the actor…

Or his ancestor…

The Prince of … How does Fictional Marco do it? He is always surprising me…

It’s the follow up from our conversation last week, I think. You might not have been there, FG. We were talking about light and shadow, and his name came up. It might have been me who said it.

The PofD may be his third cousin. He mentioned him to me once. I think that’s right…

Should be interesting… I’ll have to think about some questions.

He is one of the masters of rhetoric. Lies are a form of rhetoric…

I won’t be able to attend this time. I’m disappointed.

I’m pretty sure it will be recorded. I’ve always been skeptical of the Pee of Dee, as you called him, Heather. I’ll be interested to hear what he has to say.

Maybe he’ll have something useful to say about history, although I am doubtful. It’s hard to separate the truth from the false.

It’s sure to be useful, though. Reminds me of a story…

(They all look at each other with a half smile.)



GEOFFREY-BOT rummages through the refuse of a dark wasteland. A sheet of paper, wind blown and torn, forms a pulped impression upon his face. G-BOT carefully pries the paper face mask off and proceeds to read the document.
It reads thus:

“Doug, the real, reads SCENE ONE of a fictional account posted thus on This Is That, the last thoughts before retiring into the void for the evening. The words were read while checking his phone and brushing teeth, providing a foamy smile reflection as he glanced in the mirror. The words were read after having read segment 9 of the prologue of the first part of Thus Spoke Zarathustra : “An insight has come to me: companions I need, living ones—not dead companions and corpses whom I carry with myself wherever I want to. Living companions I need, who follow me because they want to follow themselves—wherever I want.” The words were posted here as thus on This Is That, even after Doug, the real, realized Geoffrey, the real, had given Zarathustra only 3 stars on Goodreads…will the real Geoffrey approve of such references?”

G-BOT proceeds the scan the document into the hive-storage device, and proceeds to rummage through the wasteland.


I’m still smiling and thank you, Geoffrey! Very cute.


(Ooh! I love this game even though I suck at it!)

"I’m not saying it’s a replacement for good coffee, " Fictional Doug said, “But you have to admit the algorithm follows the recipe pretty well.”
Fictional John took a sip and in that instant knew without exactly knowing how he knew that this was not the brew from his favorite place in the city, an elixir truly worth six dollars. Still… “It’s not bad,” he admitted. “What’s wrong, TJ?”
Fictional TJ looked dejectedly at the folded slip of paper he had pulled from his wallet. The one with the neatly written letters I O U on it with a smilie face in the O. The one left by the Mrs. or one of the boys which told him without opening it why he did not have six dollars on him now.
“I hope this thing takes debit cards,” he muttered.
“No, no,” Fictional Marco said, “You’re going about it the wrong way. We’re beyond capitalism here.”
Fictional John smiled. “This isn’t just rational, remember? Don’t forget the magic!” With that, he held out a hand. A steaming, delicious-smelling cup of coffee appeared in it. “Here you go.” He glanced at Fictional Doug. “It’s not exactly…”
“I never said it was,” Fictional Doug stated firmly. They both laughed.
Fictional Marco added to the scent of coffee with his own suddenly materializing mug. He was about to add a piece of cherry pie when he saw a woman make a bee-line toward him with a bottle of Perrier in her hand. He grimaced slightly.
“Can I have a Sauvignon Blanc here instead?” she asked hopefully, holding her bottle up.
Fictional Marco resisted the powerful urge to roll his eyes. He managed a patient, polite smile. “Wrong guy,” he said.
“Oh, sorry,” the woman said softly, backing up and heading for the elevator doors across the room, on the same wall as the large window looking out on the spectacular vista of Galaxy M31.
The doors opened as she reached them. Two old gentlemen emerged from the elevator, one in a brown sports jacket holding a copy of Bubbles followed by another with long hair, a mustache, and a copy of The Reflexive Universe.
“No, I get it, Pete,” the man in the sports jacket said, “As long as these spheres refer to the temporal, ephemeral conditions of human existence, the metaphor partly works. But a torus is better than an orb to describe the self-sustaining nature of the cosmos. You said so yourself: if it’s everything, then it’s really nothing.”
“But I wasn’t talking about the universe as a whole, Arthur. At least not directly.”
Fictional Geoffrey chuckled. You just never knew who would show up in this Waiting Room.
An infectious, grandfatherly grin - an expression totally unbecoming a curmudgeon - broke over the face of Fictional Ed at the prospect of watching Mr. Young take Mr. Sloterdijk apart.
“This isn’t limbo,” he announced, rubbing his hands together, “this is heaven…”


I"d say you just perfected the art for a few brief moments there, TJ! and, yes, I feel rude if I do not give out a round of applause to our Geoffrey…looks like the “orb” is at your feet, Ed…don’t let us down!


A careful reading will show that the narrator never said it was coffee in the cup… Delightful responses! I was hoping to create a narrative space that straddles the creative and the discursive… seems to be working!


Very funny, TJ, I feel my vagus nerve is vibrating, my social engagement system is waking up!


… “And is there anything else about that heaven, Ed?” Fictional John queried.

Fictional Ed grimaced ever so slightly and replied, “I’m going to have to draw a picture, aren’t I?”

Fictional Marco chimed in that he had created a multi-dimensional visual poem, “But I don’t think it’s just a picture, even though I’m not sure what it is.” Something like relief flashed over Fictional Ed’s countenance.

“It’s probably different from anything we know,” Fictional Geoffrey added excitedly, “After all, it takes some effort to really grasp 3+ dimensions. I’m not sure that either of those two gentlemen over there has a firm grasp on it either.”

“Historically,” Fictional TJ put in, “multidimensionality is a late player in the game. Kasparov was definitely exhibiting it in his match with Deep Blue, but it is notoriously hard to identify in everyday settings.”

“You don’t happen to have a rocking chair up that magical sleeve of yours?” Fictional Doug asked, “We could use some more seats in here.”

Marco dutifully looked down his cuff and slowly shook his head. “Why not ask John, if he’s not too busy trying to get Ed to draw.”

“It’s not all that important,” Fictional Doug responded, “I think there are some other vending machines over on the other side of the room. Who knows what they’ve programmed to come out of these things!”

"Oh, he probably wants to eavesdrop on Peter’s and Arthur’s conversation. I don’t blame him, it’s most likely very entertaining as well as informative. You don’t get people together like that every day. “And so, Ed, whereabouts is heaven?”

“Yes, yes, yes,” Fictional Geoffrey mused, “any attempt at getting art and science really talking to one another is something you need to approach strategically. I once actually had a 20-year plan to do just that.”

“And not to change the subject, folks,” Fictional Ed blurted out, “but I think the ol’ Pee O’ Dee is about to get started …”


I’m cracking up here. Egg on all your faces! This is a good day… :blush:


Fictional Caroline (@care_save) comes in, a sheaf of papers in her hands. “Before you all get started with the Pee of Dee, I’ve got a few additional procedures I want you all to look at…”

“Too late, FC!” Fictional TJ exclaims, sounding relieved.

The Pee of Dee enters the room. He is wearing flamboyant colors and a long cape, and slides acoss the floor without seeming to propel himself. Like a cross between Liberace and Michael Jackson.

“I both am and am not the Pee of Dee,” he says.

“Is that an example of rhetoric?” Fictional Geoffrey asks brightly.

“Yes, although it’s also an example of negation of the second sort,” he replies.

“I’m still trying to get my head around the first sort,” Fictional Doug replies, while Doug the Real scratches his head, puts the sheet of paper he has been reading down, and goes back to Nietzche.

Fictional Johnny offers the Pee of Dee his cup. “Would you like some coffee?”

Fictional Ed : “Well, it’s not actually coffee, although it tastes the same.”

“Negation of the third type,” says Fictional Heather.

“Fourth, I would have said,” FG says, scratching his head in a way that mirrors Doug the Real. “when the real and the virtual merge. Or do I mean the arts and the sciences? Do you have a twenty year plan too?” he adds, addressing Pee O’ Dee.

“My time scale is a bit longer,” he replies.


Ah, did I mention that I LOVE this game?

:laughing: Great stuff here, everyone!