A functioning auto-translator would be a weapon. It would resemble the most powerful weapon exhibited in The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The POV gun.

You shoot it at somebody, and they immediately understand your POV.

Communication Today

The way communication works for humans, is that we place our thoughts on the padio, as we communicate, and then we evaluate whether we want to let them into our home or not.

This is how the PassagesOfPerspective works.

An autotranslator is an altogether different device. It would work something like so:


[en] You’re at your home, sitting on your Southern style patio. A stranger comes up to the patio, and says, “Howdy!”

“Howdy,” your reply back, in turn; “I see you’ve got yourself there an idear.

“Why yes, yes I do,” the stranger says. He pulls the idea out of his pocket, and says, “This here idea,” he says, “it’s special- you will understand this idea.”

At this point, you’re getting a little worried. You look up at the low setting sun, feel the warmth of the day, and a small drop of sweat forms on your forehead. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. Let me show you.”

The stranger pulls out his idea, which is small and metallic, and pushes a button on it.

Suddenly, …

…the idea starts unfolding. It unfolds out, and out, and out. It started a tight little metallic origami, unfolding out in tiny silver solar panels, but then after a few milliseconds, it had started with the heavy duty work. By T plus 1 second, it had the appearance of a miniature skyscraper in construction, sprawling out over your patio, ironwork webs covering the floorboards, and building up a chassis that was reaching up to the balcony. Optic cabling and plastic fluid pipes extended out like ivy, around the gridwork, and concrete started pouring down, from some unknown, plausibly pandimensional source.

By the second second, you have had time to screech, and the idea is rapidly converting everything in your home into the borg. The wiring and cables had been completely rerouted, the windows blown out, replaced with armored arrow loops, and your computers reprogrammed. What was once a padio became a portcullises.

Finally, at second three, the device has reached your brain. Electrodes, biological tendrals, and new grey matter are forcing themselves into your head. You are being made to understand.

You black out.

When you come to, the stranger is gone. You’re not constricted to your chair any longer. You are different, and your “house” is completely different too; Now that it’s a 27 story tall techno-egyptian pyramid.

You hear a little beeping from your pocket. You reach down, open it up, and find that now, you too, have the idea.

[de] Du bist daheim und sitzt auf auf deiner südländisch anmutenden Veranda. Ein Fremder tritt an die Veranda heran und sagt “’n Abend”.

“’n Abend” gibst du zurück und fügst an: “Ich sehe, dass sie da eine Idee bei sich tragen.”

“Warum? Ja. Stimmt.”, sagt der Fremde. Er zieht die Idee aus der Tasche und sagt: “Diese hier, diese Idee,” sagt er “die ist eine ganz besondere Idee. Sie werden sie verstehen. Ja, das werden sie.”

In diesem Moment wunderst du dich ein wenig. Du blinzelst in die tiefstehende Abendsonne, fühlst die Wärme des ausgehenden Tages, und aus deiner Stirn tritt ein winziger Schweisstropfen ans Licht. “Ach, meinen sie wirklich?”

“Im Ernst. Lassen sie michs ihnen zeigen.”

Der Fremde fingert die Idee hervor, sie ist klein und metallisch, und er drückt auf einen Knopf daran.

Mit einem Mal …

… beginnt die Idee, sich zu entfalten. Sie entfaltet sich und entfaltet sich und entfaltet sich. Sie begann als ein gedrungenes Origami, um sich weiter in winzigen, silbrigen Sonnensegeln auszuklappen, doch dann - bereits nach wenigen Bruchteilen einer Sekunde - geht sie in den Hochleistungsbetrieb über. Zum Zeitpunkt T + 1 Sekunde hatte sie noch die Erscheinung eines Miniatur-Wolkenkratzers in der Bauphase. Sie wucherte an deiner Veranda empor, Netze aus Moniereisen überziehen die Verandadielen und erstellen ein Grundgerüst, das bald bis zum Balkon hinaufreicht. Lichtleitende Verkabelung und Rohrysteme für artifizielle Flüssigkeiten breiten sich aus wie Efeu über dem Gitterwerk. Irgendwoher von oben wird Beton herabgepumpt, einleuchtenderweise aus einer höheren, einer pandimensionalen Quelle.

Zu Beginn der zweiten Sekunde - es war dir gerade gelungen aufzukreischen - verwandelt die Idee rasend und buchstäblich alles in deinem Haus in das entstehende Monstrum. Die Verkabelung und Stromversorgung ist umgeleitet, die Fenster sind herausgeschlagen, ersetzt durch bewehrte Pfeilschleifen, deine Computer sind umprogramiert. Was einst deine Veranda war, ist zu einem Fallgatter geworden.

Schließlich, zur dritten Sekunde, hat das Teil dein Hirn erreicht. Elektroden, biochemische Ranken und neue graue Nervensubstanz erzwingen sich den Weg in deinen Kopf. Du wirst dazu gebracht, zu verstehen.

Dir schwinden die Sinne.

Als du wieder zu dir kommst, ist der Fremde verschwunden. Du bist nicht mehr darauf beschränkt, in deinem Stuhl zu sitzen. Du bist anders, und dein Haus ist vollkommen anders. Es ist jetzt eine 27-stöckige ägyptische Techno-Pyramide.

Aus deiner Tasche vernimmts du einen Piepton. Du langst herunter, öffnest sie, und dir wird klar, dass nun auch du die Idee hast.

Fiction Ends

The word “communication” means to “make common.”

But we should remember that it requires that there are individuals to begin with, who are doing the communication.

In reality, when we are communicating, we are only making some things common.

It’s the decision about what to make common, and what to separate out, that is interesting.

Requiring some time to understand ideas is a necessary tradeoff, if we’d like to retain some sense of autonomy, and maintain free flow of the PassagesOfPerspective.

See Also


I’ve always wanted to do something fictional on CommunityWiki; I’m not sure if this will work or not.

Imaginitive pieces can easily hold greater impact than straight-out flat direct tellings. Perhaps this is because they extend out beyond the padio?

I don’t know; I hope this works out.

It’s not clear how the fiction can be reworked. I can imagine people making the story “better,” more sensuous, improve the writing (in ways were we go: “Hot damn, it’s better, now!”)

And perhaps it would be rewritten, to communicate different ideas. Or perhaps it would be better responded to, with a different fiction, expressing a different idea, rather than replaced.

Not really sure.

One of the things that strikes me about mandallas, is how they unpack, how they unfold. It’s extreme information density, because it just gives you a few key words, a few key ideas, and the intention is that you contemplate on them, apply them to the various spaces in your life as you walk around and such, and figure out how they mean to you.

It is something like a pill, then, rather than a surgery, (as we saw in the story here.)


I guess you can tell, Lion, that by translating the story I express the max of my I like it. I actually wish I had written it. I did such many years ago and translating it I rediscovered a bit of this longgone feel. It was a real pleasure. Maybe the title AutomaticTranslationFiction even was a hint to translate it ;) - no, honestly I do not understand the page-title. Either [[fiction?]] (one thing) or automatic translation (another). The latter about how we can use it - for pretranslation that is inserted in the edit mode and only gets saved if itself edited by someone, I guess - the first as a page that lists up fictional texts on this wiki, like your story (which needs a title, but I have difficulties to propose one) and mind the gap. I’d hope some fictional texts came to my mind again.

This worked, yes Lion.

Thanks. :) To be clearer: I think we do want automated translation; We just need to know that it won’t be perfect, and that some things just have to be explained out. :)

(And, that’s a good thing.)

neat story/way of explaining the limits of automated translation! thanks

Define external redirect: fiction CoryDoctorow