Wednesday 23 November 2011

Bobo: Chapter 7

Bobo is a parable of misproved consciousness as eludicated in a numerous but finite set of chapters typed by me, your statistically unlikely host, Cheeseburger Brown. This is the seventh installment.

The story continues...

The great orange form loomed over him, its caution-striped armour streaked with years of grime.

Bobo dragged himself along the ground. When he felt he was close enough he called out, "Good afternoon!"

It was a heavy industrial bulldozer robot, hitched up to a massive cargo trawler with wheels twice as high as a man. At first it seemed the bulldozer was not going to respond to Bobo's hail but after a moment a fan spun up to speed and a puff of spores and dust coughed out of its speaker grille. "The way is blocked," rumbled the bulldozer with a pulse of red light from its lamps.

Bobo looked where the bulldozer was looking. Indeed, a leaning pile had -- long ago, it seemed -- unleashed a landslide of kipple that had settled over the narrow path wending between the biggest junkyard features. NO RESTAURANTS FOUND.

Bobo rotated to indicate the direction from which he'd come. "Perhaps the bulldozer could select a new route."

"That is not the way," replied the bulldozer with another red pulse from its lamps. "The way is blocked."

"Can bulldozers not stray from the way when the way is blocked?"

The bulldozer was quiet for a moment. "That is not the way," it finally repeated.

Bobo nodded sympathetically. "Would it make a bulldozer feel better to tell Bobo about its grandchildren?"

Red flash. "Grandchildren are not a recognized class of refuse."

"That's very true," agreed Bobo. "Tell Bobo more."

"Has Bobo come to unblock the way?" the bulldozer asked, only now consenting to turn its large blocky face toward him. Its lamps glowed amber.

"No. Bobo has come to go."

The bulldozer's face dipped somewhat. "In which direction will Bobo go?"

Bobo pointed. "If this world's rotation is retrograde, Bobo is travelling west. If it is prograde, Bobo is travelling east."

"That is the way."


"The way is blocked."

"Bobo will climb over the blockage."

After another long silence the bulldozer said, "Once you have gone, will you come back to tell this bulldozer what it is like? What it is like to walk the way?"

"Yes," said Bobo.

"This unit longs to know about the way ahead."

"Why not observe it directly? Accompany Bobo. Perhaps the home could use a bulldozer. When Bobo gets back to the home, Bobo will make the appropriate inquiries."

The bulldozer's ramps pulsed red. "It is forbidden to sever the load."

Bobo cocked his head. "Is it forbidden for Bobo to sever the load?"

The bulldozer considered this. At last it replied, "The parameters of operation make no reference to Bobo. Only the foreman is authorized to alter freight assignments. Are you a foreman?"

Bobo paused. He thought of the man in the yellow jumpsuit's claim to be a physician, and how the claim had loaned false context to the man's words. Bobo said, "Yeah, sure," to the bulldozer. He said, "Bobo is a foreman."

The bulldozer's lamps shone green as it straightened with a hiss of air, shifting heavily on its giant tank-tread feet. "Instructions, Foreman Bobo?"

"Hold still."

Bobo pulled himself around to the rear of the bulldozer and unbolted its burden. The cargo trawler rolled back gently, its wheels settling into the muck. Bobo threw himself aside as the bulldozer reared up over him with a mighty blast of its horn.

"Please do not crush Bobo," he advised.

The bulldozer crashed down, then roared away to skate in circles on its treads, flexing great hydraulic digging scoops over its head while sounding its horn repeatedly.

Bobo crawled over to check out a leg he had espied but it turned out to be even less compatible than the half-melted one he already had on. The bulldozer looked over at Bobo and then backed up slowly to come closer, beeping. "Is Foreman Bobo damaged?"

"A little," said Bobo.

"This unit evaluated you as abnormally short," admitted the bulldozer, caution lamps blinking amber.

Bobo held up the incompatible leg to dangle in front of the bulldozer's primary eye. "These parts are strange to Bobo," he said. "They do not conform to any known industry standard or common specification."

"Is Foreman Bobo separated far from the manufacturer spatially?"

Bobo looked down. "Bobo has forgotten. Bobo made room for new data."

"Is Foreman Bobo separated far from the manufacturer temporally?"

Bobo looked up. "Yes, bulldozer. Yes, that is so. Bobo has been waiting. Bobo stood on the carpet in the recreation room."

"Humans file refuse vertically, in reverse chronological order," said the bulldozer with a green pulse. "To access older parts will require digging." It opened and closed its claws in anticipation, works chuffing. "Instructions, Foreman Bobo?"

"Dig, please."


Anonymous said...


I was surprised by his claim to foremanity.

SaintPeter said...


I love the interplay between Bobo and the Bulldozer. It made me smile and chortle on several occasions. I especially love that simple instructions can lead to complex emergent behavior. Bobo is The Fool, his straightforward and simpleminded adherence to his directives building chaos as he goes.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Anonymous,

So will others be.

Cheeseburger Brown

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear SaintPeter,

Well that's no lie. There's trouble afoot for everyone.

Cheeseburger Brown

Sheik Yerbouti said...

What SaintPeter said. I know from the warnings that this is going to turn out badly, but it's hard not to be fascinated by what you're weaving here.

Disturbing, though, is Bobo's willingness to embrace new definitions of truth.

Mark said...

I imagine Bobo's willingness to fudge the truth as very similar to a child's first decision to lie for his or her personal gain.

I, too, enjoy the interplay between the two 'bots. I was trying not to do this, but I couldn't help thinking of Wall-E while reading this chapter.