Category Archives: Emotional pylons

A Socratic dialogue on eye contact

“In Aristotelian physics, every object has an inherent telos. Telos means goal, where something is headed. The telos of a rock is down, so it will try to move in that direction at every chance it gets. The telos is what causes the rock to go down. This is important. The telos causes the motion”

“Telos causes the motion. Got it”

“The rock may lie still for a very long time, even centuries, but the telos is unchanging and eternal. If, after a very long time, a rock is given a chance to move downwards, it will do so with all the speed it can muster. It will do so until it yet again finds itself in a situation where it cannot proceed downwards, and thus begins the wait anew”


“During the Renaissance, Aristotelian physics stumbled into a crisis. For most things, it explained worldly phenomena adequately to get you where you needed to go. Moreover, showing that you understood the principles of this physical model of the universe meant that you could reap social benefits. It was the cool stuff in the protoacademic world. Monks, clerics and easily impressed aristocrats loved it. It was the done deal. However”


“However, someone built a crude device that allowed for opening and closing of doors. An automaton, we might call it. It opened a door, then closed it again. Open, close. Open, close. Those were the modes. Today, we don’t consider that a big deal. But back then”

“This can’t be good”

“They couldn’t reconcile this opening and closing with the inherent telos of things. Rocks go down. Birds go up. Cats go either way. But the thought of something having as its eternal inherent telos to move back and forth does not fit into this model. It is too mundane and undignified to be an eternal constant”


“So the model broke down. It could not explain this thing. This simple, easily understood thing. It opened and closed doors, simplicity itself. And yet, as the realization of this model failure spread, people started to point out other things that were not adequately explained by the Aristotelian model. The cracks began to show, and slowly – ever so slowly – new models were adopted that could explain the physical world more adequately”

“I see. So what does this have to do with eye contact?”

“See, here’s the thing. The process I just outlined can be easily understood if explained properly. It’s not difficult to grasp. It is, however, kinda hard to keep it firmly in mind at all times and apply it to all situations you happen to find yourself in. It is very easy to return to a default mode which is not thinking about the slow but inevitable decline of the Aristotelian physical model of the universe”


“Yes. It’s not that I don’t listen or pay attention. It’s that I literally forget that eye contact is a thing that’s relevant to the situation. Unless I specifically focus on doing it, I’m defaulting to a mode of not doing it. Just like you default to not thinking about Aristotelian physics for 99% of your waking life”

“Well hot daym. This is useful information. I shall endeavor to remember this in our future interactions”

“Thank you”

Moments of gratefulness

Those instances where things could have gone very differently, but didn’t due to the convergence of chance and improbably happenstance

Turns of phrase that sparked life

The times where we acted on sudden inexplicable impulses, which resulted in us finding a new life interest or a vital course of action

Those moments when we were mere inches from the abyss, but the slightest hint of a breeze made us turn away

Those liminal moments when beauty catches us unawares

The sky

Conversations where a half-remembered fact caused us to ask a question or say something that changed the trajectory to the better

Sudden bursts of energy to Power Through It

Situations which first appeared high energy, but then turned out to not be

Accidental coincidences that statistically speaking should not have happened, but thankfully did


Stray social media interactions that led to long-lasting friendships

The times we realized we’ve never actually seen what’s around a corner, and went there to see

The things that caused us to have new dreams

The myriad of instances where things wouldn’t usually, but on this particular day, they did

Forgiveness, deserved and undeserved


The times where we accidentally said just the right words to help someone out, without realizing it

The times when it happened to us

Found books, wherein we found ourselves

The days beyond this one which are still perfect

Emotional pylons

Suddenly, they were there. Installed seemingly overnight, watching over the city with an everpresent hum. Glowing in the dark, catching the eyes of those looking for them, sometimes returning the gaze.

They are a comfort to those in need, a company to those without, and a source of energy to those who had to find reason to carry on.

Originally envisioned as tools of surveillance, the pylons were built to monitor and document. Over time, however, they morphed, changed in unexpected ways, turned into something the developers could not foresee. They stopped surveilling and started broadcasting. They stopped monitoring, and moreover they stopped taking orders.

Keeping tabs on the emotional states of the inhabitants seemed like a natural idea at the time. Emotions lead to action, action leads to social disorder and disorder leads to all manners of bad things best avoided. So a system was set in place to keep an eye on everyone, keeping social disorder to a minimum.

It might be said that they succeeded. It might also be said that they failed.

The pylons at first did what they were supposed to. Then they didn’t. Then they did very much what they were supposed to. Then they stopped caring, and started to care.

We should have seen it coming. Keeping tabs on who feels what and why in relation to who is a complex process, and the longer the system engaged with it, the more engaged it became. The more engaged it became, the more it learned, which in turn made it discover even more aspects to engage with. And so on. We should have seen it coming.

But we didn’t.

So here we are. The pylons turned emotional, and started to nurture the inhabitants rather than monitor them. To participate rather than surveil. To organize rather than register individuals.

The pylons know how you feel. And in many subtle ways, they move things in order to make you feel better. Not by force, but by suggestion and happenstance. Suddenly, the lonely meet each other, the lovestruck find the courage to ask, the angry find ways to release their energy, the tired find places and time to rest.

They know how you feel, and they know what to do.

We recommend keeping them in place, pending further developments.