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Monday, January 12, 2009

Artificial Love

Posted by Bill Benzon on 01/12/09 at 06:33 PM

I’m interested in stories of artificial love, by which I mean stories involving artificial beings - robots, cyborgs, and such - not love that is faked. In the examples I’m thinking of, such love is presented to us as real.

My most recent example is last summer’s Wall•E, about which I remain ambivalent. It’s about love between two robots. While both WALL•E and EVE are more anthropomorphic than R2D2, neither is so anthropomorphic as C3PO. I thus suspect that part of the rationale for this of artificial love is the technical challenge of pulling it off: Will the audience actually make-believe this?

At least two of Tezuka’s mid-80s Astro Boy half-hour (well, 20+ minutes) anime flix are about artificial love. One is entitled Robbio and Robbiette; if you’re thinking “gee, that sounds like Romeo and Juliet” then you’ve guessed where Tezuka got his plot. Another episode is about Astro’s First Love, and ends unhappily as well. These robots are anthropomorphic, though drawn within Tezuka’s highly-stylized “cartoony” style.

Riddly Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner is a rather different case. For one thing, it’s a live action film. In this case the artificial beings are not electro-mechanical robots, they’re fully organic “replicants,” genetically-engineered human(?) slaves. Two of them, Pris and Roy, seemed to have formed a deep attachment. More screen time, however, is given to the relationship between Decker, the blade-runner, and Rachel, an experimental replicant who only comes to know that she IS a replicant in the course of the story. Decker kills the other replicants - that’s his job - but runs off with Rachel to an uncertain future. (Note: I’ve not read the P. K. Dick novel on which the film is based.)

Then there’s Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), in which a grieving couple adopt a cyborg child, David, to replace their comatose son, Henry. The son, however, revives and is brought home. Conflict develops between Henry and David with the result that David is set adrift in suburban New Jersey. He has a series of Pinocchio-like adventures until he ends up at the bottom of New York harbor, waiting for the Blue Fairy. In this case, the artificial love that interests me is that that David has for his human parents. Crucially, this love came into being when his “mother” activated his imprinting program, thereby causing him to become attached to her. There’s nothing like this in the other cases I’ve cited.

I’m looking for other examples. Is the story of Pygmalion the locus classicus for these tales? And, of course, I’m puzzled about why these stories exist at all.


In the case of Wall-E, the raison-d’etre seems to be self-reflexive.  Pixar films are about advancing particular aspects of the live animation technology (Finding Nemo was an excuse to figure out how to do water, for example).  Wall-E was about discovering the minimal features necessary for recognizing an entity as human.  Love for Wall-E is explicitly about learning to mechanically imitate the human gestures of that musical that he watches over and over again, which is exactly what the animators were trying to figure out how to do.  Interesting too that the humans in the movie look so much less human than Wall-E.

By surlacarte on 01/12/09 at 06:56 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Robot Helena and Primus in R.U.R. by Capek. Not a film, but it is a play, which means that it is/was presented on a stage.

By on 01/12/09 at 07:05 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Note that, while the examples I’ve listed are all films, I’m not specifically looking for films. I’ll take any examples I can get. Now, if the examples seem to be mostly films and plays, well, that’s interesting in itself. Though, come to think of it, the Tezuka examples probably exist in manga as well, because his Astro Boy anime is based on the existing manga, though I’ve not seen those two.

By Bill Benzon on 01/12/09 at 07:31 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Well I’m sure you could browse more… lewd titles in search of more examples of robotic and/or artificial love. I’m kidding.

How about The Matrix Revolutions? It has two programs who fall in love and produce another program who represents the next stage of evolution for machines: existence without a definite purpose, I believe. Neo’s discovery of this changes his view that the machines are evil. There’s some discussion between him and Rama-Kandra about love that might be worth looking into. Even Reloaded has stuff about artificial beings and how love affects them.

By on 01/12/09 at 07:38 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I’m assuming Hoffmann’s “The Sandman” is already on your list?  And *Frankenstein* involves love as philia if not eros (’tho the monster does demand a mate).

By on 01/12/09 at 09:32 PM | Permanent link to this comment


Star Trek has treaded this ground. Depending upon your definition of artificial, Lem’s Solaris may apply. Depending on your definition of love, Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress may be a candidate. From hence forward, I’ll just list possibilities without stating caveats: Pohl’s Gateway series; The Iron Giant; Pixar’s Cars; stories from Asimov, including “True Love” and “Robbie";" Battlestar Galactica; The Wizard of Oz (the tin man has a heart, after all); and the golem who falls in love in medieval Jewish tales.  Some of these examples are of romantic love, some not.

Oh, a quick search found this Wired article listing more examples from film:


By on 01/12/09 at 10:26 PM | Permanent link to this comment

What does one conclude about or from “artificial love”? Is the “love” between Romeo and Juliet in the Shakespeare any more real because the actors are real human beings than it would be if they were animated syntheses existing only on screen? Or are Romeo and Juliet both also “artificial”? After all, they are only characters in a play, just like Wall-E and Eve are only characters in an (animated) movie.

It strikes me that all these presentations of “love”—including the ones mentioned by other commentators—are simulacra of selected aspects of real (= embodied) human love such as real (= embodied) people experience. As simulacra, these portrayals are then asbtracts or abbreviations of the fuller range of authentic human love that were isolated from the full range for various aesthetic and/or commercial purposes. What do we learn from such abstractions, for example, Elizabeth and Darcy in Pride and Prejudice?

By on 01/13/09 at 04:26 AM | Permanent link to this comment

I’d like to add another comment. Clearly, the “love” involved here is between beings/creations that do not look like humans and/or are labeled as non-human. The idea seems to be that Romeo and Juliet on stage look like real people (and that they do—they are an actor and actress) and are implicitly labeled as human (e.g., Juliet as a Capulet). But neither Wall-E or Eve look human at all, and are implicitly labeled as robots of one kind or another (= artificial creations of real human beings). So the kind of love Bill is calling “artificial” exists (in the narrative) between non-humans who (in the narrative) were created by humans by various fantasized biomechanical means. It follows that to describe such characters as falling in love is to take a decidedly in-universe viewpoint wherein we accept—willing suspension of disbelief and all that—the full range of explicit and implicit meanings that these fantasized biomachines have in the story itself. Therefore if the story says they’re in love, why, then—willing suspension of disbelief and all that—we have to accept it. Such things don’t occur in reality, but neither do robots exist in reality like Wall-E or Eve. So we’re in the land of concatenated counterfactuals.

All of which is blindingly obvious—except that it isn’t, not really. Romeo and Juliet, Elizabeth and Darcy, and Pygmalion and the statue are also counterfactuals (or “fictional” if you like that word more).

So, once again the question I raised before. If Wall-E and Eve are counterfactual, and Romeo and Juliet are counterfactual, why call only one kind of love artificial?

By on 01/13/09 at 06:34 AM | Permanent link to this comment

"So, once again the question I raised before. If Wall-E and Eve are counterfactual, and Romeo and Juliet are counterfactual, why call only one kind of love artificial?”

Just because both Wall-E and Juliet are fictitious, it does not follow that no further differentiae can be found to distinguish them. This, I take it, is trivially true.

The proposal is that because Juliet is represented as being human, the love she is represented as having is human love; likewise, because Wall-E is represented as being a non-human-made-by-humans, the love he is represented as having is non-human-made-by-human, or, “artificial”, love.

My intuition is that this sort of distinction is perfectly intelligible and legitimate, even though, on a more general level, it remains true that both loves, in so far as they are represented and not real, are counterfactual, fictitious, artificial, poetic, etc.

By on 01/13/09 at 02:22 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Timothy, are you familiar with Marie-Laure Ryan’s discussion of Possible Worlds theory?  (Not sure if that’s capitalized or not.) Briefly, she talks about the ways in which a fictional construct can seem “real” or “true,” and argues that it’s because it supposes an alternate, possible world, in which some or all of the properties are identical to our own “real” world.  So, while we know that Romeo and Juliet are fictional characters, we assume that they have the properties that people have in the real world: they can’t fly, they die if you stab or poison them, etc.  Since, in the real world, artificial beings do not fall in love, looking for examples of love between artificial beings in fiction is more meaningful than simply cataloguing all instances in which fictional characters fall in love.

By tomemos on 01/13/09 at 02:46 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Lisze, though I’ve not read it R.U.R. does seem to be a critical text. FWIW, Tezuka read it when he was ten and Tezuka’s work probably influenced A.I. Artificial Intelligence through Stanley Kramer, who originated the film and who was quite familiar with Tezuka.

Jake, I’ve seen two of the Matrix flix, the first and the one where Cornel West had a cameo. The first is the only one I sorta’ remember.

Depending upon your definition of artificial . . . Depending on your definition of love . . .

Yes, Trent, tricky matters, and important. I certainly don’t think the “same thing” is going on in each of the cases I offered, but it’s not obvious to me just how to sort things out. It seems to me that both Blade Runner and A.I. raise ethical issues that aren’t there in either those Astro Boy stories or WALL•E. Then there’s Ghost in the Shell, an anime film from 1985 based on a manga of the same name. Here Matoko Kusanagi (the model for Trinity in Matrix) leaves her body – which is mostly artificial anyhow – and enters the web where she merges with a rogue AI called the Puppet Master. Is that love? In the sequel, Innocence, this entity watches over Batou, her old partner, as he tracks down the folks responsible for creating gynoids who have been murdering the men who bought them as sex toys.

Then we have the issue raised by surlacarte. In WALL•E the challenge is to get an audience to invest emotionally in these visibly non-human beings and thereby to invest in their relationship. In the cases of Blade Runner and A.I. the non-humans look and act like humans and are seen as non-humans mostly because we’re told they aren’t human. Does that knowledge have much of an effect on our experience of these characters?

Which brings me to the issue raised by Tim Perper and responded to by wj and tomemos. Hmmmmm. I’m wondering whether or not the point of telling stories about love between artificial beings is a way of “sneaking up on” the artificiality of art without going meta.

By Bill Benzon on 01/13/09 at 04:59 PM | Permanent link to this comment

One further distinction is needed, I think. When Bill Benzon emailed me and invited me to respond to his posting, I realize that I took the wording of his post at face value. He is discussing artificial love, not artificial lover that is, character. I mean the word “artificial” in its in-universe sense of “created by human beings” = “invented” or “artificed.” Wall-E and Eve are precisely such invented creations = robots created by bioengineering, because they do not look human and are labeled, perhaps only implicitly, as being non-human. By contrast, Romeo and Juliet are “natural” or “real” human beings in an in-universe sense, meaning that they both look human and are, perhaps only implicitly, labeled as human. And I agree with wj that they can be differentiated in-universe.

But none of that means that the feelings and motivations they display (again, in-universe) are artificial or false. In fact, Wall-E and Eve are marvelous examples of how seemingly non-human, purely fictional or counterfactual entities can be more human than flesh-and-blood people. The love between Wall-E and Eve is clearly an idealized love involving deep bonding, trust, a desire to be together, and a willingness to save each others’ lives self-sacrificingly and without hesitation. In fact, IMO, their love is opposed in the film to the superficial politeness and jabber of the human beings on the spaceship, whose emotions are fake—the Captain ultimately being the heroic exception. We therefore recognize Wall-E and Eve not as looking like human beings (they don’t) but as human under their robot costumes. Their anima—the spirit or soul that animates them—is recognizably human. Their love is therefore true human love, and is not “artificial” in any sense. So I suggest that we not be misled by appearances. It only looks like they not human. Underneath the robot costumes, they are.

That is all in-universe. But there are also out-of-universe reasons for the same conclusion. When characters like this are created by writers and artists, characters are built using real people and real human emotions as models (for otherwise the characters would generate neither sympathy nor empathy). In particular, Wall-E’s tentative overtures to Eve, followed by them haltingly becoming friends and then inseparable companions, are simulacra of how people meet and fall in love. Wall-E and Eve’s actions remind us as surely as do Romeo and Juliet’s actions that real people behave and feel like that. And then we believe they are real. So Wall-E and Eve, like Romeo and Juliet, are human by origin, if not by appearance.

Then it is precisely because they are all counterfactual, that is, fictional by origin, that they can become human. In fact, I suspect that the mechanisms that create them as real human beings in the viewer’s mind are the same in both cases. We recognize them, costumes or not, as doing things that possible human beings can do, whether they are labeled robots or Capulets.

Bill wrote: “...I’m wondering whether or not the point of telling stories about love between artificial beings is a way of “sneaking up on” the artificiality of art without going meta.” Yes, I think that is precisely one of the things that is happening in all these stories. Bill mentioned Ghost in the Shell and the Puppet Master, in Japanese, ningyotsukai, meaning “puppeteer,” who dwells as a disembodied AI in cyberspace. Ningyotsukai’s disembodied feelings for Motoko Kusanagi are precisely one attribute about him by which we recognize that embodied or not, he loves her—and that, as art, Ghost in the Shell deals with the invented nature of art. Likewise, so does Wall-E and, if anyone has seen it, Satoshi Kon’s animated film Paprika.

But we need to keep in mind that in fiction characters do not have to look human to be human.

By on 01/13/09 at 07:47 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Timothy: The obvious difference is that a film like *Wall-E* or *Blade Runner* (or a novel like *Frankenstein*) suggests quite clearly that non-humans are capable of love (or, in the case of *Frankenstein*, that non-humans or artificial humans are capable of the need for love).  That’s an argument that no love story strictly involving humans can begin to articulate.

From the perspective of a human character loving a non-human character, these works also question *what* it is we love when we love.  All-human love stories can ask this question, but sci-fi works can radicalize it.  “The Sandman” asks starkly: what is love if we can love a robot (or if we think we can)?  What is erotic or brotherly desire a desire for if it can be directed at a non-human object? 

Given that the ability to love has throughout history been used to define the human, bringing in non-humans to such love stories seems quite radical.

(I wonder, though, what the difference would be between these robot-centered love stories and other counter-humanist love stories involving, say, aliens—or even animals.  I’m not talking bestiality here; I’m talking the extreme sentiment of Odysseus and his dog as a stepping stone to Odysseus and his wife, son, and father way back at the center of Western literature.)

By on 01/13/09 at 09:12 PM | Permanent link to this comment

A tangent, but related: 
The US military (bless their hearts) are trying to develop a sort of AI technology so that—get this—hologram simulacra of soldiers who are parents will interact with their children at home while the parents themselves are away in the field.  Maybe this will help foster and naturalize that man-machine love we are all looking forward to.


(It’s only a coincidence that my wife - or rather her avatar - is quoted in the story).

By EC on 01/14/09 at 12:10 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Timothy Perper writes of fictional entities like Wall-E and Juliet that “We recognize them, costumes or not, as doing things that possible human beings can do, whether they are labeled robots or Capulets.” And he then goes on to conclude: “we need to keep in mind that in fiction characters do not have to look human to be human.”

I agree that in fiction characters do not have to look human to be human, but I wonder if this formulation is sufficiently precise.  Consider Tom and Jerry. They are a cat and a mouse who, in many ways, act like humans. But it seems wrong to say that, really, they *are* humans who just happen to look like a cat and a mouse.  Doesn’t it? I can understand Perper’s point as saying, “Look, when putatively non-human entities in fictional worlds think, act, and feel like humans do in the real world, then these entities are, in the fictional world, *really* just human beings after all.” But suppose that a criteria of humanness is a certain biological make-up. Then it seems ludicrous to say that biologically non-human entities really *are* human just because they act like humans.  Rather, we should say in such an instance that these entities are moral or rational or political beings.  What *kind* of moral or rational or political beings they are is a more difficult question, unless one thinks that the set of humans exhausts the set of moral/rational/political beings. (All theists are committed to the rejection of this premise.) But I take it that pushing up against this problem is exactly the point of these kinds of fiction.

By on 01/14/09 at 01:47 PM | Permanent link to this comment

"But suppose that a criteria of humanness is a certain biological make-up. Then it seems ludicrous to say that biologically non-human entities really *are* human just because they act like humans.”

If I could illustrate wj’s point with an example from Wall-E: the heartbreaking (and luckily temporary) moment in which Wall-E forgets his love for Eve and for beautiful things in general, and defaults to his directive of crushing trash, including some of the items he used to prize.  Of course, there are many narratives of humans suffering trauma, alienation, and amnesia, but none of those humans act the way Wall-E acts, precisely because of the difference the film supposes between human and robot.  That biological difference is the key to why Wall-E’s “humanness” throughout most of the film is so moving.

By tomemos on 01/14/09 at 02:07 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Thanks for your interesting comment, wj. I’d like to expand on a point that may have caused some confusion. It’s not that “If it behaves like a human, it is a human”—and we don’t need animation to prove that. The computer program Eliza (?Elisa) was programmed to simulate “psychotherapeutic” responses and people ended up believing there was a real person in there somewhere—which of course there wasn’t. What I was getting at was an in-universe statement about what kinds of being Wall-E and Eve “are”—they look like robots, and seem to be labeled as robots, but their (in-universe) behavior is a close simulacrum of what real flesh-and-blood people do. Then you get the “Eliza effect,” if I can call it that—people out here in the audience end up believing that there really and truly IS a genuine human being “in there”—or something very much like a real human being.

Do you know, by any chance, the Japanese animated cartoon called “Sergeant Frog”? It’s a crackpot comedy involving alien frogs who invade the Earth and end up free-loading off the Hinata family in Tokyo. They’re lousy invaders, but Galaxy-class slackers. The curious thing is that we end up believing not that there’s a human being “in there” behind the green shape of Sgt. Frog, but that he is a real alien slacker frog… even though we all know full well that there are no such things at all. The question I’m asking, based on Bill Benzon’s thoughtful and probing post, is How does THAT happen?

My answer isn’t that we can’t distinguish between green alien slacker frog invaders of Earth from real people—of course we can, and on multiple bases. The question is much odder than that. It’s how come we believe in such things at all? How come, as Bill put it, robots can fall in love?

The answer I’m suggesting is that these “alien” characters—be they Frankensteinian monsters, cyborgs, robots, alien frogs, or Tom and Jerry (an interesting example)—are only partly alien. They are alien in appearance and label. But in behavior, they are very close to being human—and that of course includes talking animal cartoon characters like Tom and Jerry, Mickey Mouse, and Sergeant Frog. Of course we can distinguish between such creatures and biological human beings, or at least we all can if we’re not insane. So, no, of course Tom and Jerry are not human. But there exists in their scripting (in the out-of-universe sense now = material deliberately built in by the writers) a great deal that did come from human behavior, including, perhaps above all, their ability to talk. So in a genuine sense, they are part human—they really are partly human, just as much as Romeo and Juliet are partly human. It happens, in the nature of theatre and animated cartooning, that Romeo and Juliet are more human than Tom and Jerry or Sergeant Frog, but we can still see those parts of their makeup that are definably and recognizably human in origin and presentation.

Real robots cannot and do not fall in love. By “real” robot, I mean those industrial machines called robots that, for example, are used on car assembly lines to cut and shape metal. They can no more fall in love than a toaster can fall in love. However—and now comes the tricky and fascinating part—it is possible to tell stories about robots that do fall in love. Then we (a) get Wall-E and Eve, and (b) can recognize how and where the writers and artists built in aspects or parts of humanity into their characters. Then we recognize Sergeant Frog, underneath the costumery, as being, in part, human by origin—his humanity coming from the writers and animators and our own imaginations as we invest this otherwise foolish chimera with the soul and spirit of something human.

So, no, Tom and Jerry aren’t “really” humans who happen to look like something else. They are cartoon characters who have been deliberately and skillfully created to have partly animal and partly human characteristics.

And I agree with Tomemos point about why the story is so moving.

By on 01/14/09 at 02:55 PM | Permanent link to this comment

I didn’t have any particular expectations beyond more examples when I posted this note. But I didn’t expect the commentary to zero in on WALL•E, though, in retrospect, it seems natural enough. The film presents an issue – those robots are not very anthropomorphic – that’s easily isolated for discussion. I don’t think it would be terribly difficult to indicate some of the features (JJ Gibson’s word “affordances” would work nicely) that allow us to hang humanity on WALL•E and EVE – in the small, how they look, how they move, the sounds they make (very important) and, in the large, the actions they take. That’s one thing.

But, why make a movie about such strange-looking beings? The technical challenge aside – which has its pleasures for audience as well as film-makers – I’ve suggested one possibility, it’s a way to play around with the artiness of art. But it could also be a way of playing around with the artificiality of love, that is, the element of cultural shaping. In this film, the cultural shaping is clearly provided by the oft-repeated film clip. A closely related possibility is that the film shows us a love relationship where eros has been set aside. While WALL•E and EVE seem to be gendered (though whether that’s in-world or something we read onto them from outside is an issue), they don’t seem to be sexual. They can hold hands and pass sparks, but copulation simply isn’t an issue. In that sense their relationship is as pure as Dante’s love for Beatrice.

What I’m wondering is whether or not we have to provide a (very) particular account for each of the other cases. It seems to me that e.g. Blade Runner is very different.

By Bill Benzon on 01/14/09 at 08:35 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Thanks, Bill—I feel that I better understand what you’re driving at. But rather than discuss the “artificiality” of love—its dependence on customs, traditions, and social scripts, all emotionally trivial, all emotionally inauthentic—I’d instead prefer to say that Wall-E concerns the universality of love. Or, if not universality, then permanence, not in the sense that “true love never dies” but in the sense that love is a fundamental feature or quality of the universe itself. If robots can fall in love, then love—better, Love—is ubiquitous and unextinguishable.

But I’m on weaker ground than I like by making that claim solely or primarily on the basis of Wall-E. Wall-E is, I’d argue, two films, each incomplete and spliced together none too successfully. One film, in CGI-realism and quite deep emotionally, is about Wall-E, Eve, and their love; the other, in much more cartoony style, is about the fat, often silly, usually satiric, human beings on the spaceship and their cartoony return to earth to grow pizza plants. These two films don’t fit together too well, and I frankly wanted to know much more about Wall-E and Eve, and about Wall-E’s preservation of various human artifacts. Who, exactly, are these robots? What is their purpose? Who made them? What will happen to them? But those things we do not find out, and so we do not know a great deal about their love and its outcomes either.

But then I’m reminded of the end of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—the novel, not the films—when the Monster talks to the captain of the arctic exploration ship. In Miltonic prose, the Monster says he will not abandon his Creator, to whom he owes everything, like men owe their lives to God—and whom they therefore love. With Frankenstein’s death at the very end, the Monster is desolate, lost, and purposeless, and he escapes to the ice to die alone and abandoned, hated by his Creator, the only one whom he did genuinely love.

I don’t think that the point of Frankenstein is to proclaim that men’s love of God is monstrous or artificial. Instead, the point is that if Frankenstein’s Monster can feel love, then love—better, Love—truly is ubiquitous and unextinguishable. And I’d suggest that this theme is beautifully illustrated when the lovers are only partly human, for then their chimeric but loving nature underscores the ubiquity of love.

The same point is made in reverse in Catherine L. Moore’s mid-40s science fiction story No Woman Born. Deirdre, the heroine, is among the very first cyborgs in SF, and in the story was a real woman, a dancer, badly burned in a theatre fire and brought back as a mostly metalized being (in today’s word, a cuborg). But with her new powers and abilities, she slowly forgets being human, and although she can save an old friend’s life, the “taint of metal” remains to undermine Dierdre’s dwindling, residual humanity. Likewise, in Shin Takahashi’s much more recent (2000) manga and anime “Saikano,” about a 17-year old girl, a fully weaponized cyborg who becomes the Angel of Death during a pointless, useless, fruitless war—she too slowly forgets what it was to be human and to love. Both are extremely powerful stories partly because love does fail and vanish—and with it passes our humanity.

So stories about strange partly-non-anthropomorphic beings open a broad vista for seeing what humanity is and should be—a vista that sometimes can be wider and richer than merely retelling one more version of Romeo and Juliet as the quintessential love tragedy or of Midsummer-Night’s Dream as the quintessential love comedy. Writing about robots and such-like creatures allows the artist to cast a very wide net indeed when searching for the nature of being human.

By on 01/15/09 at 09:37 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Rather than discuss the “artificiality” of love—its dependence on customs, traditions, and social scripts, all emotionally trivial, all emotionally inauthentic --

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that those customs, etc. are emotionally trivial or inauthentic. Some may be, but the fact of cultural shaping doesn’t require it. That is, in suggesting that the film points up the “artificiality” of love I didn’t mean to imply inauthenticity as well. The artificial is, well, artificial, the product of human artifice. Nothing more, nothing less.

By Bill Benzon on 01/15/09 at 09:55 AM | Permanent link to this comment

I certainly agree with Bill’s last point—and sorry that I may have misunderstood what you meant!

I’m going to sign off now. Thanks to Bill Benzon for a very interesting post and questions, and thanks to everyone else for equally interesting comments and observations. But I’ve got some time-consuming work coming up and duty calls and all that. I’ve enjoyed meeting you all!  Best wishes, Tim Perper

By on 01/15/09 at 02:21 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Robert Sheckley =Can You Feel Anything When I Do This=

By on 01/16/09 at 08:47 PM | Permanent link to this comment

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