The Crumbling Monument
One of the most exciting moments for Holman was the moment he found a shelf in the library that was loaded with reams of blank paper. He made a fine brush from squirrel hair and began to cook pine sap, water and black stove ash to make a serviceable ink. Soon he began to record his thoughts in a barely legible calligraphy that was gradually becoming more transparent. The most calli calligraphy is invisible, the ink delivering the mind directly to the pine or portrait of a child standing at a balcony on a world.
So he began to record whatever came to mind, sometimes a cloud of conflicting ideas that could not finally agree on a joint statement but were willing to let various voices have their say. Every word had to make its way thru a bath of acidic attention. He found he could simply ignore the critical watcher by paying attention to the motion of the sun so that he could paddle his humble raft of art through the waves of pessimism and despair in a more or less constant direction.
Conflicting ideas can tear the mind in contrary directions. But the strongest ideas are those which value survival more than supremacy and they will find a way to collaborate with opponents who place the same value on survival.
Boredom is of course another possible resolution. Opposing ideas so stalemated that nothing happens. But stalemate only paralyzes the mind for so long. Gradually it loses its fascination with the whole business and leaves the opponents locked in stasis like a crumbling monument to a vanished state of mind. In other words that moment in the library was the moment he began to forget to be bored.
Li Yin brought the broken robot back on the blue toboggan and he could see that she had been weeping. Now she had not only lost an older, feminine companion or a reasonable facsimile of same but she had also lost her music teacher. Whether Mirayeva II was human or not was irrelevant now. She had value to her and Li Yan wanted her back.
The robot had not been that important to Holman but he liked having her extensive library of music which the robot could reproduce verbatim on a real violin, something which no ordinary digital or analog record player could do. He had to admit it was the stuff of science fiction, a genre he had never been fond of since it mostly seemed to be an escape from reality, sometimes disguised as a commentary on said reality.
The robot could also spell him off on the task of reading books to Li Yan. She was reading at a juvenile level now and the books they had been able to find so far did not interest him that much. This was another reason for him to take up writing. He thought he could probably write stories that she would like and which would also advance her vocabulary. But he couldn’t just sit around and write all the time: he had a job to do.
He had worked as a maintenance tech in a robot repair depot so he would have a look at the control panel in Mirayeva’s chest. It was just a matter of cutting a razor thin line along the breast bone then pushing up on a button underneath it. Then a portion of the rib cage sprang open and he considered the battery of lights and switches inside.