The Way to Elsewhere Has Been Removed, But the Door Remains

The Mindful Bard:
You Are Here

Wanda Waterman
The Voice Magazine, Volume 22 Issue 19 2014-05-09

Film: You Are Here

Director: Daniel Cockburn

“Our tools are extensions of our purposes, and so we find it natural to make metaphorical attributions of intentionality to them; but I take it no philosophical ice is cut by such examples.”
– John Searle

In a scene inspired by philosopher John Searle’s Chinese Room experiment, a slovenly prisoner in a blue jumpsuit is sitting on the floor of a brightly lit room when a piece of paper bearing Chinese writing slides under the door. He picks it up and takes it to the desk, where sits a solitary red volume bearing the title What to Do if They Shove Chinese Writing Under the Door.

He opens the book and follows the instructions he finds in it, instructions that sound a lot like those found in bureaucratic forms, i.e. endless lists of contingencies (e.g. “if this character doesn’t look like this, go to number 1590”). A shelf on the wall holds an encyclopedic row of these red volumes. (Read the rest here.)

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