For some reason, it all reminded me of a Donald Barthelme short story called "The Explanation." (It's in Forty Stories, for those who wish to check it out). It's not an easy story to excerpt, but I hope some of its cool, uneasy brilliance comes through in the selections below. (By the way, the story features a recurring 'picture' of a machine, which the questioner alludes to throughout. The picture is of a square, about three inches by three inches, which is totally and completely black.)
Q: Do you believe that this machine could be helpful in changing the government?
A: Changing the government...
Q: Making it more responsive to the needs of the people?
A: I don't know what it is. What does it do?
Q: Well, look at it.
A: It offers no clues.
Q: It has a certain...reticence.
A: I don't know what it does.
Q: A lack of confidence in the machine.
* * *
Q: You don't trust the machine?
A: Why should I trust it?
Q: (States his own lack of interest in machines)
* * *
Q: Do you want to have your picture taken with me?
A: I don't like to have my picture taken.
Q: Do you believe that, at some point in the future, one will be able to achieve sexual satisfaction, "complete" sexual satisfaction, for instance by taking a pill?
A: I doubt that it's impossible.
Q: You don't like the idea.
A: No. I think that under these conditions, we would know less than we do now.
Q: Know less about each other.
A: Of course.
* * *
Q: I have a number of error messages I'd like to introduce here and I'd like you to study them carefully...they're numbered. I'll go over them with you: undefined variable...improper sequence of operators...improper use of hierarchy...missing operator...mix mode, that one's particularly grave...argument of a function is fixed-point...improper character in constant...improper floating-point constant...invalid character transmitted in sub-program statement, that's a bitch...no END statement.
A: I like them very much.
Q: There are hundreds of others, hundreds and hundreds.
A: You seem emotionless.
Q: That's not true.
A: To what do your emotions...adhere, if I can put it that way?
* * *
Q: There's no point in arguing that the machine is wholly successful, but it has its qualities. I don't like to use anthropomorphic language in talking about these machines, but there is one quality...
A: What is it?
Q: It's brave.
A: Machines are braver than art.
Q: Since the death of the bicycle.