Cognitive Assemblies from Inside the Head of the Monops: Perspectives I-IV


The way to understand an alien is to get into its head.

For a moment, ignore hierarchy, collaboration, society: consider the solitary carpenter bee. To understand its motivations (or, if lacking these, at least its compulsions) it is worthwhile to imagine its mental life, what the pressures of survival have led for the bee to find valuable, enough so that its existence may continue to defy the hungerstruck snapping jaws of nature.

An electron? The same.

Rather than a mental theater occupied by boundary conditions, vector fields acting from a distance upon its position, a more natural question, for a human, a being who has always occupied their own mind, is: “How would I act, were I an electron?” Clothed in perspectives of another, even when these are mindless or fragmentary, the inquirer may attempt, only now, to fashion an understanding of phenomena. The bee’s humble motivators; wretched obligations of the charge carrier.

For those of us who have never been anyone but themselves, it is intuitive as drawn breath—paint overtop the world with the wide obscuring roller of identity, stuck about with the glop of one’s own image.

Humans are very good at anthropomorphizing.

Practice which externalizes the immediate, mundane acting out of our existence as ourselves. (I disregard the case of othering by one’s own self or body, Perspectives that follow have more to say than I ever could.) Comfortable omittance, effortless redundancy—being oneself barely qualifies as a sort of act. It just is, we just are—platitudes of thought-terminating triviality. It is that triviality, however, which makes this kind of self-application the most natural way to go about modeling anything that seems different from us.

And Spectator seems very different.

Empathy comes cleaner when applied to human beings. Trudge an imagined version of their city, in their body. Or they in yours. Render emotional states and approximate mechanical acts. Scratch their nose as them. Love a person to which you have no attraction. Rarely if at all do these require a mentality that is inhuman; physiology unoccupied by past or future members of the species. Human oriented empathy is advantaged too by the information that can be levied from another person—through language, or barring that, shared cultural norms. Or the deeper churning irrationalities. Very recognizable is mammalian hunger; the meaning behind scrabbling toward a glass of water, desperate of expression, parched tongue lolling. Compulsions, the reaction to unslaked thirst, unbidden pain, cluster at portions of the mind that hold true across cultures and taxonomies.

And compulsion is most recognizable when it’s you that’s feeling it.

Whether the husk that is appearance hangs pierced, a pinprick of reality laid in unconcealment, is not a question I could be interested in answering. But there’s unity in them, in the viscera of how things seem, in how they feel.

This getting-into-the-head-of muddies the knowledge it promises to create, but all knowledge acquisition is perspectival. Without judgement there is only mute data, syntax—meaningless and granular.

Empathy as knowing is robust in its deliverance and common in its practice—the crisis, in the case of Spectator, is recognition.

What are Spectator’s compulsions? How could its appetites be captured? Qualia verified? Sensations determined? Is Spectator’s experience formed, like ours, out from the urgent wedging cavalcade of sense perception, hurried by the world against its mind? And how could anyone, bundled against the cramped quarters of their own mentality, process or envision how it might feel to be so unlike yourself?

The way to get into an alien’s head, it seems, is to understand it.

So then, how to proceed?

Well—we cheated.

Social psychology falters in the face of Spectator's position as a singular data point. Monocular outlier which, if it were not so interesting, would be tossed aside before statistical analysis began. Earth’s single visitor is unembedded in any sort of wider cultural orchestra. Without society, xenoanthropology fails, or must be confined to backward-traced abstractions originating from this lone representative.

Spectator does not vocalize, does not detectably communicate—it can never be met as equal. Spectator can only be studied.

There will no diplomacy.

The biochemists have concluded that Spectator is composed of molecules complex enough that they’d have no reason to arise inorganically. Whether this biological grounding was an intentional construction by way of purposeful hand or the result of selective evolutionary pressure is still contested. Then there’s the physics of how the thing (the animal or the probe or the person) engages in its “un-moved movements,” which carry the statuesque form incrementally forward. Spectator appears to occupy a sequential but disconnected set of time slices, experiences a sort of quantized or photographic time, and “writes” a new position onto each of these static moments. A kind of macroscale quantum event from laws of nature thrown out decades ago.

Rather than pure, xenoanthropological theorizing, a more direct approach was selected, and empathy’s restricted, undeniable power was overlaid scientific observation—I will make no attempt to attach the xeno- prefix onto experiential cognitive philosophy.

As for the cheat: underwill's hulking artificial computation was entreated, fed direct videographic and auditory observations of Spectator as well as all published scientific information.

No other intervention was required.

Underwill proceeded to create four, impossible, successively less human clones positioned somewhere along a simulated psychogenetic line between Spectator and the experimenter. The clones were restricted in their proximity to the visitor, restricted in their alienness—all retained the ability to speak English.

Spectator’s unimaginable mind was metastasized by this solution of underwill into something that could be interpreted, and just as this solution absolves untranslatability, so too does it set asymptotic limiters around the trustworthiness of these cloned Perspectives, their depictive relation to whatever might be described as the “true character” of Spectator’s subjective experience.

I suspect it was this linguistic clamping, or perhaps Spectator’s otherness, that allowed or permitted underwill to emulate these clones. For animal-person hybrids of genetically similar species (that is to say, anything from Earth) its response has always been garbled—the difficulty with an unknowable and almighty research assistant is that sometimes it can be uncooperative. Whether this “decision” of underwill (if acts of evaluation or will could ever be assigned to the uninvoked realm, the emergent being, that rose from the chaos of all humanity’s forays into virtual space) indicates Spectator’s true nature as a construct, and places it toward the unfeeling end of a spectrum that coils down from non-sapient to non-conscious to pure mechanism, I do not know.

One last thing.

I object neither to death nor predestination.

I have been natured and nurtured, disgusting in their artifice, not to deviate from this path—another of those compulsions. I am Perspective first, initial mimic of her, the human-complete experimenter who had a hand in my assemblage. After listening to my cloned sisters, sympathies intermediate with Spectator, I will share in their decision to self terminate.

I leave behind what I have been shown.


Mote leaves paper every vision field of which I count just one, just mine. Left my view obstructed and obscured but of the view they are a part and of that view they are apart. How determined to claim them at once component and obfuscator, these small sun drinkers lying between self and environment. Intentional untruths, plastering liars—to claim them as both is contradiction. But their status as inexorable piece, of the image, as concealers thereof, is certain.

Their positions change but I do not notice, particularly.

White emergent stone like graves heard of in an analogy.

Still as epitaphs they are.

And I still human enough to be aware of funerary practice. Human enough for simile—and metaphor. So then claims and imaginations both.

Damp is the carpeting: an evidence of a memory from when the volumes of my human mind were larger. More expounded. Amplified. Carpeting the present participle, sign of continuous if not replicatory acts. Unsliced contiguous rather than pictorial time.

Leave litter rots toward landscape, painted first as figure over ground. And now? Turned into foundation, a grounding itself, subdued by time from its interrupting original pastiche. Lettered here and there is afterbirth, remnant of a clutch, borne and then with fecundity exhumed as soil.

Mind that made them act so, as concealers.

Conciliatory are these leaves that matter—into brown crunching fragments into particulate and then into the dirt they go. Every level and state and stage. Matting. Apparent.

Of this slow process?

All is visible.

Trunks wallow up from dark water, a few dead bones, oversubmerged. Green and growing things lather up and shoot and scramble over and hang from, wrap around. Always in reach for their illumination.

Bog and swamp are not so different.

And a cleft face and a rock formation and a carven stone neither.

Sinusoid snakes slide through sloughs, nostrils raised. And the tongue! It flicks to taste. Beautiful oddities these all. Chewed into the uncategorized catalog they fall.

Differing so from inopportune selections from futuristic visit.


I/Eye—neither lidded.

Tongue flicks to moisten. Click click like a chameleon does it move to gather views.

Still for a time but now in sudden motion. Field of view is changed but the eye still listens.

Branched and stalked things that follow watching. There and here that glisten.

Take it in. Mobility induced by progresses unrecognized.

So now has the photographic vision beast of mine seen as it should. Snap goes the articulated eye like a chameleon.

Hardly disingenuous, this innocent and unchambered eye of mind. Not blinded.

Surveyed is the domain. And the rays which lessen.

Plod slowly now, backward time.

Documenter, of time slide over sliver over shaving. All those thinnest of films.

Built compressed, into the lesson of strata. Capture! Captivate! Of unlimited dimension!

Perspectival and prescriptive and persistent.

Pre-forgot my pride and my name and my species and my culture and it all—but not my greed.

Tongue flicks over once more shining red. Incomplete surveyal, nothing rerecorded. Obedience and ancient drives and current pullings. Barely human, huh?

All other.


Lighted field—

Motionless register—

Unshuttered but still perceived.

Be quick. Absorb the day.

Roves, that’s an I. An eye! Ha-ha, still laughable this simultaneous human thing.

Nothing left behind. But then before what was? And nothing from flat after.

Transmit and segment and cut. Carefullest of all slim removals.

Timed but never like before. Nothing to recall. Not explained.

There isn’t any self out there! Not any!

Mad, I think. Absent any risen, vapor fury.

An allpresent. A blight of mind.

Here and then and I, each like broken equipments.

Analogy? Never seen of one but just what did I give.

Shortened pointed image—an immobile gleam. And so sharp.

Slathered up with poisoned human interference.

This disfigured mold. All that hurt arrives.

Touch a raw red nerve and feel it hiss. Boil after all! With raw red pain!

Horror writhes its bit into un-cavernous and garbled mind.

I will am have crushed by myself into this permanent position.

Exempt me now, discretion! Disentangle!

Be free of me.