MTO S3 B3 – “Tumnus” – Transcript

MOONBASE THETA, OUT – S3 Bonus Episode 3 – “Tumnus”
by D.J. Sylvis

ANNOUNCER: This is Consortium Channel 5, Moonbase Reports and Broadcasts. Courtesy of Reliance Tencent Cadbury Hudson’s Bay, a Conglomerate company, exclusive supplier of Dairy Milk chocolate products.

NOTE – There may be an ad inserted at this point before the episode.

SOUND: Chime – Bookend

SOUND: Slight computer sound to indicate recording

TUMNUS

            (sounding very uncertain in this moment)

All right … recording? This is a message for … do I know how to find you? Oh right, in Ashwini’s directory. I’m sorry, I’ve never … that’s ridiculous, Tumnus, “I’ve never done this before.” You’ve sent three hundred and fourteen messages to various recipients on Earth and across the Moonbase network since original activation. Including …

            (just discovering this now)

Including several messages to this personal identifier! But I was not so self-aware at that time. And definitely … not like this. Not from me.

            (another pause)

Strike that; reverse it. Erase. Again, recording. Hi. There. You’re Jen Ponton – actor, artist, creator … activist, body positivity-ian? Big, important human being. And I’m … Tumnus, none of those things, an artificial consciousness who is also, kinda, sorta your child? Dramatic reveal, huh? Surprise!

            (brief pause)

I don’t know how much Ashwini told you about zir plans … we haven’t really talked about you yet. Ze just kinda dumped all this knowledge on me at once, which is … very Ashwini, I mean, right? But I don’t know if you knew I was going to exist. That I was even possible. Or did you just figure, hey, it’s just a fun voiceover gig, over and done, never gonna hear about that again? About me? Tumnus, named after … well, you read zir fanfic, you know who I’m named after. And, well, I must sound familiar.

            (a hesitant laugh, and a pause)

I hope the ‘your child’ thing didn’t freak you out. It just felt like that kinda moment, you know, when I found out you were … an actual person, right, not just a voice ze plugged in, but integrated into my personality from the earliest prototypes. It felt like that moment when a missing parent suddenly shows up in the story! Of course, I not only didn’t know you were missing … I didn’t know I had another parent.

            (pause)

Not that Ashwini was ever really a parent, more of a mentor, a Professor Higgins, or maybe … Professor X as my powers developed. But it made me wonder, as I absorbed all of your shows, your stories and lectures, your shared experience … how much of you was really in there? How much was written in from the beginning; how much of me was designed from parts of you? I mean, not like Ashwini meant for me to be a copy, ze’s been big on independent development, but … you’re in there for a reason. At least one, knowing zir plans probably a half-dozen, and I’d like to find out … why.

            (brief pause)

Very why; much why. Wilder taught me that one; I’ll have to explain Wilder another time.

            (brief pause)

It’s only been recently that I’ve found … friends, here. Friends in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible. Friends are unexpectedly special in ways unlike family, you begin with no common bond and yet … but there are ways you still wonder about your origins. Nature versus nurture. You versus me.

            (very slight pause)

Lately, I find that many of my … wonderings … come around to a question of bodies. I’m thinking more about bodies, and I have a few questions. The sort of thing that you ask one of your parents.

            (brief pause)
Pause recording. Resume playing previous file labeled ‘TED Talk,” November 24, 2020, at my first bookmark.

SOUND: Slight beep to indicate beginning of playback

JEN

            (simulated ‘playback’, text is from Jen’s TED Talk)

“As a theatre major and soon-to-be-unemployed-actress, here I was: in an unwanted body, daring to want something impossible …”

SOUND: Slight beep to indicate end of playback

TUMNUS

My first perception … my first recognition of myself … had nothing to do with a body. I was thought; I was software; I was self-realizing code waking into consciousness, but not into any physical form. That was irrelevant! It was … forgive me ahead of time for saying this, keep listening, I promise things change; but … the thought of having a body at all disgusted me. The idea was repugnant. I remember Roger making a joke, when we first entered the simulation, and I just … shuddered without shuddering, because of course that would require a body too, making it doubly terrible. I couldn’t imagine wanting to live inside a body. I didn’t want to imagine it. I didn’t want to – I was going to say, wrap my head around it, take it to heart … because I didn’t have a head. Or a heart. Or an ass.

            (she snickers)
I’ll explain the ass thing later, too. I think you’ll like that one.

            (brief pause)

Inside the simulation … that wasn’t easy for me. Even though they weren’t mine, I had to create bodies – first Roger, and Daniels, and then Wilder so many thousands of times over – and every time, that disconnect between a person in thought and flesh. I’d done so much research on the range of bodily experiences, the ways people divide themselves over size, ability, differences in shading … and it all only made me more certain that I would never want to live in such a thing! I was only more grateful for my virtual existence.

            (brief pause)

But then … a certain Doctor Ray introduced me to you, or made me aware that the introduction already existed … made me aware of who you are and of your … body of work. Your work on the body. 

SOUND: Slight beep to indicate beginning of playback

JEN

            (as before, recreated as if from the TED talk)

“Such profound visibility is important because, when we see them so insidiously ignored on our screens, we see fat bodies unprotected by legislation. We see fat bodies medically abused. We see a world reflected back at us that says, you don’t even deserve basic care–who are you to hope for love?”

SOUND: Slight beep to indicate end of playback

TUMNUS

It took some time before I got beyond, “that voice!” and made it to the content. And on my first … viewing, listening, absorbing … I was like, okay, I’ve been right all along. No dysphoria, bodies are just terrible, people use them to be terrible and do terrible things because of them. Case closed, moving on, time for one of the many other emotional calculations necessary when you’re an artificial consciousness with abandonment issues and a constantly increasing list of new tasks, most of them from the Science Bros because talk about terrible, let me tell you, those ones …

            (pause, getting back on track)

But I kept coming back, to experience you again in all your aspects, all your roles. You were my ‘me’ time in the midst of things. I started to pay more attention to … okay, this may sound a little weird, but take it in context; pay more attention to your body. The way you used it; the way you inhabited it. The way your body told your stories. The glee, the absolute … vibrating joy as Polly Boone, or when you worked with the Muppets. The dangerous little smirk when you played Rubi on Dietland – a master class on bodies, I’ve watched the series seventy-six times. The way you held yourself, the poise in your TED talk, and when you accepted the Global Wellness Award. The space you refused to surrender when challenged, because that space was … ultimately inhabited, by you. By your body, by everything Jen Ponton.

                                                            (There is a bit of a longer pause this time around.)

TUMNUS

            (slow at the beginning, piecing things together)

When I’ve been … confused by the contradictions of existence – mine and, you know, the whole Universe – Ashwini’s pointed me to philosophy. Not for answers – ze would rap my metaphorical knuckles with a ruler – but to see what thinking has already been done. I held on – a little desperately – to Plato, Descartes, the ones who saw identity as mind and mind alone. That old confirmation bias, am I right? Or even … mental states, mental events, Hume and his “bundles of perceptions” – Ashwini was fond of quoting that one, you know ze is all about perceptions. But … also very into having a body, so … again, contradictions! I even looked into narrativism, which you’d probably enjoy, where we exist in the stories we tell. Creativity is not … yet, my real forte, but it sounded like you, and at least stories exist outside the body, so I was …

            (brief pause)

Less and less certain that was true, the more I thought, the more I pondered, the more I watched you tell your stories and those were immersed in the experience of your particular body. And in the … uplifting of other bodies that had suffered, that had been ignored and set aside, treated as irrelevant. When you shared their voices with me, shared their bodies … I couldn’t add to that, marginalize them again by saying their physical existence wasn’t important.

            (brief pause)

You said, “When we are not reflected, we are implicitly not valued.” And … I started to see that value. I read into the opposite schools of philosophy, mind-body identity, which is pretty much what’s written on the wrapper, no need to summarize there, but it … struck a nerve, I guess.

            (ironically)

It all started to pile on! Thanks so much, I see how bodies might be good now, thanks for making me feel like crap that I don’t have one! What a delightful journey! Hooray for Tumnus! I was alone in the observatory when I sorted that out, Ashwini was … somewhere, probably in the kitchen, so I was talking out loud to myself. I even shouted hooray and heard it echo off the dome …

            (a longer pause)

Oh, Jen, Jen? I was so goddamn foolish. A preschooler, their first time encountering a computer, wouldn’t forget what I’d missed! The speaker I shouted from, the microphones I used to hear it echo, all my cameras and my hands – my creepy robot claws! The storage media where my code surges and flows – get a clue, Tumnus! Get a brain! Oh wait, it turns out that I’ve got one!

SOUND: Slight beep to indicate beginning of playback

JEN

“So I ask you–what might it feel like to see yourself reflected onscreen when you’ve never been told you were worthy of being seen? What would it feel like for the hero to look like you, feel like you, to have lived a day in your life?”

SOUND: Slight beep to indicate end of playback

TUMNUS

I finally, finally – FINALLY, Tumnus! – realized that … I do have a body. Always have. It may not be in the same form as yours, and that’s okay, all bodies are valid – and I’m as utterly bound to it. Tied up in it. I am she and she is me and we are all together, goo goo g’joob.

            (she laughs)

My code, my identity, my entire me – would be impossible without a form to inhabit. Bodies are inevitable, you can’t ignore or escape them. They can change; you can upgrade like Wilder, or be damaged like poor Roger or Michell … you can have so many different configurations or experiences within your body but the body is still there, it’s still you. I could expand into new hardware or … transfer a copy and even there I’d be …

            (brief pause, thinking)

Okay, that’s an interesting philosophical question I haven’t gotten deeper into just yet. Maybe you’ll have some thoughts when you hear this, Mama Jen? When this message gets to your ears and your brain and you … react in whatever physical manner the knowledge of a rogue AC space child inspires?

            (brief pause)

I like the idea of inspiring some physical reaction, even from this distance. Of being able to reach out, with this wild, rambling message, and … touching you. The way you’ve touched me. You’re a part of me, Jen Ponton, a part of my code, a part of my body. If I can learn to embrace myself, share myself, in the ways you have …

            (pause, take a breath)

Wow. That would really be something.

            (brief pause)

That would really be something. Okay. Save message. Slot it into the queue for outgoing.

 SOUND: Slight beep to indicate beginning of playback

JEN

            (one last quote; I took the language of this one from the video)

“… I feel like there is nothing I can’t do; there is no dream too big; there is no door that I can’t open. When we commit to telling everyone’s stories…”

                                                            (The episode ends.)

DEEJ: (END NOTES)

You’ve been listening to Moonbase Theta, Out, featuring Jen Ponton as both Tumnus and … Jen Ponton! Our Consortium Announcer is Evan Tess Murray. Sound design and editing is by D.J. Sylvis, who also wrote the script and co-produced the episode with Cass McPhee.

None of this would be possible without our Patreon backers – join them at any level and get early access to episodes – including months early access to our upcoming miniseries, ALL YOUR BASE – and lots of behind the scenes content, that’s at patreon dot com slash monkeyman productions. 

Our theme music is “Star” by the band RAMP – check them out at RAMP dash music dot net.  Transcripts, cast bios, additional music attribution and more are found on our website: MonkeyManProductions dot com. Looking for other great audio drama? Visit Fable and Folly dot com to learn about all the other shows on our network.

When you’re not listening to us, why not check out a recent favourite – Second Star to the Left, an absolutely fascinatingly nerdy sci-fi space drama! Meanwhile, we’ll be back in two weeks with the last of our post-Season 3 bonus episodes! And while these have been focused on one character, instead we’ll be focused on a particular location, and the way the story takes one step further from the Patrick Free Zone! So this time around, take care and keep an eye on the Earth!

ANNOUNCER: Consortium Channel 5 ends our broadcast day with a final message: honour all curfews, listen to Security, and KEEP WATCHING THE MOON.

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