Monday, November 29, 2021


P.T. Phronk
A post by P.T. Phronk,
of Forest City Pulp fame
I swear I’m not on drugs right now, but have you ever thought about hands?

Our hands are what allow our brains to change the world. Aside from the occasional kick, shove, or kiss, everything we accomplish is accomplished with our hands. Way back, it started with tossing rocks to form sharper rocks. Smashing those rocks against trees gave us wood. With more tossing, smashing, and a few handshakes, we cooperated to build a house.

Iterate on those basic themes, add in some poking, pinching, flicking, grasping and gripping, and we end up with everything humans have ever built. Those wriggling flesh nubs in front of you have turned rocks and trees into everything from the Tesla factory (426,000 square meters) to the transistor gates on the computer chips that power those cars (14 nanometers).
We think of these things as being created with machines, but those machines were built by other machines, created by other machines, etc., until the only machine is, you guessed it, the ten bones wrapped in supple leather that are permanently attached to most of our upper limbs.

A hand.

These days, much of our communication happens with our hands, rather than our vocal cords. I’m wiggling my fingers in a fancy pattern here in Ontario, Canada, and you’re flicking at a slab of glass wherever you are, and somehow what’s in my brain is affecting what’s in your brain.
Whoa, where am I? Oh yeah, I forgot this is a writing blog, so let’s tie it back to writing. Arthur C. Clarke once wiggled his fingers to write that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. When the fingers of other writers engage in their own sort of telepathy with readers, perhaps it helps to keep in mind that no matter how strange the worlds they invent are, the real world is just as strange. A fantasy novel may have a complex magic system, but our own world has its own sort of magic. We can conjure factories and computer chips out of mere gestures.
Think about that next time you’re staring at your grabbers and daddles. 

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