Roee Rosen


Subject: Report on the State of the Embryo
Date: Mon, 20 Dec 1999 16:48:29 +0200
From: (Roee Rosen)


Dear Miri,

I’m sorry I’ve procrastinated with my answer-but, as will soon become clear, I believe my adopted embryo’s oddly suspended sense of time (see section 2, below) affected me, and is partly to blame. Following are a few observations regarding the peculiarities of the subject you conceived and delivered.

  1. A Name

As you surely remember, you numbered my embryo “000164.” It’s quite needless to mention the eery connotations of serial numbers as identity signifiers. Knowing the mother was cruel enough to thus name the infant, and realizing that the number starts with three zeros, which suggests the mother is monstrously fertile, I knew I was the embryo’s only hope for a name of its own.

      I resorted to Hebrew numerology.
      The numbers ‘164’ stand for the letters “Kof,” “Sammech” and “Dalet,” which spell the English word “Desk.” The name seems appropriate, as the embryo strikes me as the sort of child who might well spend the rest of his life on a desk (you will notice that I’ve resisted the offensive Hebrew “Sedek,” as well as the temptation to switch “Sammech” (60) with a “Vav” (6), an exchange which would dictate another English word, “Code”).

  1. A Sense of Time

As soon as I received Desk, I noticed she doesn’t tend to move much.
      In fact, I think she can be accurately described as “still.” This, you will agree, is highly irregular for an embryo, an entity defined by change (growth).
      I thought, initially, that Desk might be dead, but ruled this possibility out, as she does not decay (she smells now, as she smelled several months ago, of plywood and glue).
I also had to rule out the possibility that she is simply
phlegmatic, since I could establish no measurable parameters  by which to assume she aims at something and is slow to perform it.
      I came to the conclusion that Desk has a unique sense of time, premised on suspension and willful resignation, a sense of time which may well be her most important characteristic.
      This can best be explained by comparing Desk to another child who has been mass-distributed for a while: Tamagotchi.

  1. Desk and Tamagoochi

Tamagotchi’s sense of time is symmetrically opposite to that of Desk. While Desk’s condition can be diagnosed as ‘Aphasia,’ Tamagotchi is hyper-active.

Desk is suspended and static-it seems to strive to maintain its present position permanently, Tamagoochi is dynamic-it singularity is exactly in its refusal to be pleased with its present state.

        Tamagotchi is sadistic: it is so lively it negates life by dying, Desk is masochistic: it disavows life by freezing.

        The gift of Tamagoochi is that of suggesting the machine is organic: alive, hence needing of nourishment and care. Desk, on the other hand, is the gift of the organic inanimate. While she looks like an embryo, and its mother talks of it as one, I can attest with certainty it shows no needs whatsoever.

      All this points at opposite aims, followed by opposite patterns of dubious behavior. Tamagotchi is explicitly sold as a ‘virtual’ being. It declares itself to belong in the realm of simulacra, cloning and fantasy.
Just as it seems to deny the real, it reaffirms it by the changes it brings to its owner’s life. By contrast, Desk seems to belong to an older, more romantic realm: not only is it being distributed as ‘real,’ no explicit financial bid is made. But Desk’s reality is so affectless that, by default, parenting her is virtual (similarly, a bid for economical exchange is implied, exchanging 2D embryos in boxes for objects, words and proper names).ss-distributed for a while: Tamagotchi.       

  1. Desk and Bonsai

Can Desk be described as “vegetated?” (You will remember William Blake’s intense contempt for vegetated beings). But I don’t think Desk is vegetated, and here’s why. When I was a teenager, my parents went abroad, and left me in charge of a beautiful olive Bonsai. The freakish dwarf didn’t need much-a little water twice a week, but I was terribly preoccupied. The Bonsai died, a behavior becoming Tamagotchi rather than Desk.

  1. Last Update

Still no changes to report.




Roee Rosen  רועי רוזן