THE WEIRD-ASS TAQUERIA OF THE MIND

August 26, 2016

 

 

Directed by Jon Wai-keung Lowe

Featuring Heren Patel & 

 

EXPERIMENTER - A man in his 20s or 30s.

SUBJECT - A man in his 20s or 30s. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

So your bedroom's in there. It's the small one, but you get the good closet.

 

SUBJECT

Cool, cool.

 

EXPERIMENTER

This is the living room. I mean, obviously. Make yourself at home in here. I'm not proprietary, what's mine is yours--you know, no feet on the couch or anything, but make yourself completely at home.

 

SUBJECT

Sure, cool. 

 

EXPERIMENTER 

Here's the bathroom. Just one, but we're both dudes, so...

 

SUBJECT

Right, yeah.

 

EXPERIMENTER

No creams everywhere! Just... shaving, and shaving stuff. Not much of anything is what I mean.  

 

SUBJECT

Pretty much. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

The bottom shelf in the medicine cabinet is for you.

 

SUBJECT

Okay. 

 

EXPERIMENTER 

The kitchen's through here. Spices are in here. Here's where I keep the dry goods. Anything you want to use of mine is fine, anything you want to eat, help yourself--unless it has a little piece of red tape on it. Like this sea salt? I got this in Morocco, so, it's sort of special, so just, you know, if you want to use something with red tape on it just ask first.  

 

SUBJECT

You could've just put the red tape on stuff I *could* eat instead of the stuff I couldn't. It would've been a lot less tape.

 

EXPERIMENTER

I want this to be a communal--or, let's say, community--living experience. 

 

SUBJECT

It's cool if we're in community and I don't eat your food. 

 

EXPERIMENTER 

Sure, great, I'm glad you're so understanding. I'm sure we're going to get along really well. (Pause.) I'm going to just keep doing the tape because I've already got all this stuff with tape on it.

 

SUBJECT

So what part of this is the study you're doing? Is it the tape thing?

 

EXPERIMENTER

Oh, no, that's just what I've always done with roommates. 

 

SUBJECT

So what's the study? 

 

EXPERIMENTER

It's a cohabitation study.

 

SUBJECT

That just means living in the same apartment, right?

 

EXPERIMENTER

(Pause.) Oh! Yes, right, it doesn't imply any--

 

SUBJECT

Okay good. Because with the whole no-rent-for-a-month thing I was kinda wondering what the catch was.

 

EXPERIMENTER

No catch! I'll just ask you to fill out a questionnaire every night. Not just you--I'm doing one too! I'm taking my own medicine.

 

SUBJECT

What kind of questions? 

 

EXPERIMENTER

I don't want to spoil the surprise. No, seriously, they're really boring. They're about your mental well being, how you feel about yourself, about me, about the world--

 

SUBJECT

That doesn't sound very scientific. 

 

EXPERIMENTER 

Well, I can assure you Psychology is a science.

 

SUBJECT

Yeah I didn't say it wasn't. But I guess you don't really tell me what the real part of the experiment is, right? So you might say it's about the form, but really it's about something completely different. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

I don't want to go into the nuts and bolts of the methodology because I don't want to influence the outcome.

 

SUBJECT

That's a big fuckin' mirror. (Indicates the fourth wall of the stage.)

 

EXPERIMENTER

It's a one-way mirror. There's an observation room on the other side.

 

SUBJECT

(Laughs as if it's a joke, then wonders. Pause.) Okay. Well, you can just leave the form or whatever on my bed because I'm going to be out pretty late tonight. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

Oh, well, actually--the study has started already, so...

 

SUBJECT

So?

 

EXPERIMENTER

So you can't actually leave.

 

SUBJECT

Can't leave what?

 

EXPERIMENTER

The apartment.

 

SUBJECT

In what sense?

 

EXPERIMENTER

Like, physically?

 

SUBJECT

I can't physically leave the apartment?

 

EXPERIMENTER 

That was what you agreed to. 

 

SUBJECT 

Agreed when?

 

EXPERIMENTER

You checked the checkbox on the application. I assume that means you read the terms and conditions?

 

SUBJECT

No one reads those.

 

EXPERIMENTER

That would explain why we got more applicants than I was expecting.

 

SUBJECT

Well, I'm un-checking the checkbox. I mean, I can hang out with you tomorrow if that's the deal, but I am going out tonight, so, have a nice study and I'll fill out your forms in the morning.

 

SUBJECT goes to the door. It is locked.

 

EXPERIMENTER

We actually can't leave. Either of us. 

 

SUBJECT

Then I quit. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

You literally can't. Sorry--I thought you understood. 

 

SUBJECT

Yeah I'm having a little trouble getting my head around it. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

I'm having doubts myself, believe me! But that's the, uh... That's how the experiment is structured. 

 

SUBJECT

Structure this. (Makes an obscene gesture.) I'm out. 

 

SUBJECT goes to exit. The door is locked. He struggles with the door and attempts to open it by force. He does not succeed.

 

EXPERIMENTER

It's a pretty good door. Sorry.

 

SUBJECT returns.

 

SUBJECT

You realize this is the kind of thing that might lead a person to behave in an unpredictable way, right? 

 

EXPERIMENTER

Isn't science exciting? 

 

SUBJECT

So what's your contingency plan? I mean, all you know about me is that I can type or I know somebody who can type, and I got through your form and clicked the "submit" button. There are a lot of different ways this could go. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

Well, we are, uh, being observed. I mean, there won't always be a researcher in the observation room--but I think if you were to become violent they might, um, call the police and take you to jail. I will admit that's not how I anticipated the study playing out.

 

SUBJECT bangs on the one-way mirror. He addresses the researcher who may or may not be on the other side.

 

SUBJECT

Hey! If you're in there, I've got something to say. You listening? Your consent process is bullshit.

 

EXPERIMENTER

I hope it won't be too much of an inconvenience for you. But it was my understanding that you are a... freelancer? You work remotely? And we do have WiFi here, so--

 

SUBJECT

I'm not a freelancer that's just what you put on a housing thing so it doesn't sound like you don't have a job. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

If you'd permit me to suggest a reframing, then--

 

SUBJECT

I do not permit that. 

 

EXPERIMENTER 

We could really do some good here.

 

SUBJECT

What good exactly?

 

EXPERIMENTER

Science is rarely an exact good.

 

SUBJECT

That is a bullshit answer.

 

EXPERIMENTER

If you think of the human story as one of accumulating knowledge, wisdom, and understanding over time--not individually, but as a species--

 

SUBJECT

No one thinks of it that way.

 

EXPERIMENTER

We've got the opportunity to make a contribution to an exquisite tower of intricate knowledge that goes back to before our species even started to write things down. If we can add just one tiny, delicate, snowflake of knowledge, then we're a part of something bigger and more important than ourselves. 

 

SUBJECT

I seriously don't care about that at all.

 

EXPERIMENTER

Then why are you here? 

 

SUBJECT collects himself in preparation of reminding EXPERIMENTER why he is locked in that apartment.

 

EXPERIMENTER (continued)

Sorry. I didn't mean why are you locked in this apartment. I mean, why are you alive? Why are any of us? (Pause.) If you can't answer that then being locked in this room is the least of your problems.

 

SUBJECT

I don't like people who think they've got a "purpose." They're the assholes knocking on doors and passing out fliers and starting wars. My "purpose" in life is to fuck around on the internet. People like me don't lock other people up for science.

 

EXPERIMENTER

And they never cure cancer.

 

SUBJECT

And neither did anybody ever! That was a bad example. You're terrible at everything about this.

 

EXPERIMENTER

This is uncharted territory. We're going to take a few wrong turns. 

 

SUBJECT

In my head right now, I'm sorting through so many ways to express how I feel that I need to go into my room for a little while or I'm afraid I might just pick one at random. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

We haven't talked about chores.

 

SUBJECT

No, we haven't. 

 

SUBJECT goes to his room and closes the door. EXPERIMENTER approaches the one-way mirror. He speaks to the researcher who may or may not be on the other side.

 

EXPERIMENTER

Professor. I don't know if you're in there or not, or if you saw how that went. That was, uh, a significantly more adversarial start to the experiment then I was expecting. It makes me question some of the items I chose to include on the questionnaire, but I don't feel like it would be appropriate to modify any of my prepared materials. If I start changing the rules, where does that end? Right? In any case, it's good to know you're watching. Or, I guess, it's good to think you might be, even if I can't ever know for sure. (Pause.) I'm going to go take some tape off a few things in the kitchen. I think I might've gone a little overboard.

 

EXPERIMENTER goes to the kitchen to take some tape off a few things. SUBJECT comes out of his room.

 

 SUBJECT

What's the WiFi password, you fucker?

 

EXPERIMENTER

"welcome to the jungle", no spaces, all lower case. 

 

SUBJECT

Asshole.

 

SUBJECT enters the password on his phone to connect to the network. While he waits for it to connect, he approaches the mirror. He raps on it with his knuckles, trying to hear if it's hollow or not. He examines the edges.

 

SUBJECT

Hey. (Knocks again.) Hey. Listen. I'm going to be honest with you: I have no idea how I'm going to react to this. I just flow downhill, generally speaking. Water doesn't have to understand gravity--it just does what's in its nature. 

 

The truth is I don't have anyplace to be tomorrow. I'm between between-points at this moment in my life. That gives me a certain perspective--so if you're wondering why I haven't set the couch on fire or done any of the obvious stuff that a person in my position would do, that's why.  

 

I don't know what your man thinks he's up to except that I'm pretty sure he's going about it the wrong way, whatever it is. I'll have a talk with him tomorrow. In my personal life I'm like a vortex where other people's hopes and dreams go to be consumed. I'll let the abyss stare back at him for a bit and he's going to open that door all on his own. 

 

SUBJECT goes back to his bedroom.

 

There is an indication of time passing.

Scene 2. 

 

The next morning. EXPERIMENTER is sitting at the table; breakfast is laid out but he is not eating. SUBJECT comes out of his room.

 

EXPERIMENTER

Would you care for some breakfast? I made toast.

 

SUBJECT

You pushed that little lever down for me a whole extra time? That excuses everything. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

Were your accommodations acceptable?

 

SUBJECT

So I'm thinking you're going to let me out of here today. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

I told you that's not possible. 

 

SUBJECT

I know that's what you said. But you haven't experienced what it's like to be in a small space with me for a long period of time. I have seen people get off busses where I'm pretty sure it wasn't their stop because I was saying the things that were going through my head. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

Luckily for both of us I think I'm pretty resilient.

 

SUBJECT

Is that lucky for me?

 

EXPERIMENTER

I believe in us. Humans, generally. More specifically, you and me. I believe that in our natural state--if we're provided for, if we're not fighting over resources or social hierarchy or mating rights--I believe that we naturally extend each other, that we reflect and refract each other. 

 

SUBJECT

I believe we naturally murder each other for food. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

We have enough food in that closet to last us both for the duration. I took a great deal of care with the logistics.

 

SUBJECT

Anyway, who's to say we get smarter about each other the more we know? We are born with a desire to piss away our time. That is not an accident. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

I don't accept that.

 

SUBJECT

Are we listing things we accept and don't accept? 

 

EXPERIMENTER

This is not easy for me either. 

 

SUBJECT

I know. You're really bad at it. To the point where I don't even know how you could be legitimately in school for this. Seriously, the most likely scenario I've got right now is that you're planning to saw me up in my sleep. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

I know I'm bad at it. I'm bad at understanding people. I'm worse at guessing what they're going to do. I'm awkward at parties.

 

SUBJECT

"Surprise everybody! You're locked in!"

 

EXPERIMENTER

I'm one of those people who are drawn to their greatest challenges in life. But I believe that understanding can be taught. I believe our brains are wired to seek out knowledge with the desperate courage of a man facing a bear in a cave by torchlight. 

 

SUBJECT

That bear just ate you and took a nap, man.

 

EXPERIMENTER

We didn't make our way among the snakes and diseases and freezing cold because we're the biggest or the strongest or the fastest--we did it because our minds strive for knowledge the same way our lungs seek air.

 

SUBJECT

What did you think you were going to learn from me?

 

EXPERIMENTER

I don't know what I don't know. 

 

SUBJECT

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you got the wrong rat in your maze. This one's not even looking for the food lever.

 

EXPERIMENTER

I work harder than my peers. It all comes so easily to them. They look down on me. But I've read their papers and they're so humiliatingly small--awkwardly meticulous, reductive, obsessed with minutiae. I believe we're capable of more. I believe I'm capable of more. Bold experiments. Bigger leaps. Higher stakes. Skin in the game. I'm a subject, too. 

 

SUBJECT

I like it. That was a good speech.

 

EXPERIMENTER

Thank you.

 

SUBJECT

I'm all, "Freedom!" like Mel Gibson in that one movie.

 

EXPERIMENTER

I'm going to walk out of this apartment with a visceral understanding of the fundamentals of human interaction--or I'm going to be carried out. 

 

SUBJECT

When you're done here, they're going to give you your own show. It'll be like "Antiques Roadshow" only it'll be you locked in a room with some guy with a bunch of problems. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

(Pause.) I don't expect you to understand.

 

SUBJECT

I understand completely. And I get that you think I was being sarcastic just now but I wasn't. Antiques Roadshow used to be my jam. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

I see no evidence of you understanding anything. 

 

SUBJECT

You're a sad little open book, man. I can tell you, for instance, that your relationships with women--it's women, right? Your relationships with women have not been successful. How many girls have you even dated? Two?

 

EXPERIMENTER

Three.

 

SUBJECT

Are you counting your first one that you probably didn't even kiss with your mouth open?

 

EXPERIMENTER

(Pause.) Okay, two. 

 

SUBJECT

See, I told you. Kick back. The Doctor is in. What was her name?

 

EXPERIMENTER

Whose name?

 

SUBJECT

Whichever one was the worst. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

Brenda.

 

SUBJECT

Okay, Brenda. You moved in with her, didn't you?

 

EXPERIMENTER

For about three weeks. 

 

SUBJECT

Right, because you are really annoying to live with. Just, in the spirit of helping you out, I want to let you know that every single thing you say where you're trying to be nice has the opposite effect because it implies this neurotic perspective that no one but you would even think of. You trying to be all generous, but the person you're talking to is thinking "the world of your mind terrifies and saddens me."

 

EXPERIMENTER

Yeah, well, she said something like that, so thanks for helping me relive that moment.

 

SUBJECT

You've got this thing where you're like a prototype of a robot person that they're just learning from so they can make the good one later. And that's not an insult--it makes you stand out. There are some dudes who are just dicks, or whatever, at least you have a special thing about you. But I don't think it's medically possible for you to change who you are. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

If you're saying I'm unlovable or undeserving of love I reject that.

 

SUBJECT

No, man, that was you who said that, just now. That was you. What I'm saying is that you should just be your weird little self and don't try locking people into rooms with you because it won't help. Someday you might meet a girl who's messed up enough to be into you, and on the other hand if you keep locking people in rooms sooner or later you're going to get murdered.  

 

EXPERIMENTER

I reject everything you're saying.

 

SUBJECT

You might want to take a finer-grained approach than that. I mean, I'll be the first to admit that I am probably full of shit on some points. The last person I loved told me I'm a vortex where other people's hopes and dreams go to be consumed, but I feel like I'm kind-of hitting my stride here. I feel like I've got some wisdom I could share with you, and that's not a feeling I get real often. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

That's right, because I'm so profoundly hopeless that even you feel qualified to give me advice in life.

 

SUBJECT

What, because listening to me is beneath you or something? Dude, no wonder you don't have any friends. 

 

EXPERIMENTER goes to speak through the mirror to the observation room.

 

EXPERIMENTER

This is all going exactly as I planned. He thinks he's telling me things that I don't know. He's telling me what's wrong with me--but that's not a secret. Any idiot can see my inadequacies. 

 

No. That's not what's going to happen. You can write this down--I'm done listening. I know it's comfortable. It's like an old song on the radio; it's easy because you know the words, not because they're true. But this is our experiment, and I am going to mine him. I have no interest in myself--I understand myself perfectly. I'm going to open up his brain and run my fingers through his neurons and lay them all out in front of me like a map of universe. 

 

EXPERIMENTER returns to the kitchen. SUBJECT is reading one of EXPERIMENTER's lists of questions, like the one he discarded the night before.

 

SUBJECT

So I've been looking at your questionnaire here. "Do you think a human's natural state is solitude or community?" I was expecting something a little trickier--like a story of finding a sandwich in a bush and whether you eat it or not says something about how prepared you are for life. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

Thank you for the pleasant chat this morning. I will now be resuming control of this experiment. 

 

SUBJECT

Could I get another piece of toast? 

 

EXPERIMENTER

Why don't you have a job, I wonder?

 

SUBJECT

Well right now it's because I'm locked in an apartment and I can't get out. Also I just moved to town. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

No girlfriend?

 

SUBJECT

Are we on some kind of secret schedule where you have to ask me this stuff? Because I have not had coffee. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

What matters to you?

 

SUBJECT

You mean right now, or more generally? 

 

EXPERIMENTER

This is the day. Are you ready? There is knowledge and there is ignorance and I have chosen a side for us, and I don't care what it costs. I know it's dangerous here. But that's the price of truth.  

 

SUBJECT

I thought I had made clear to you that I am severely allergic to messianic bullshit.

 

EXPERIMENTER

I have a crystalline vision of the human mind, and I believe in it so deeply that I'll wade up to my neck in your vulgar particulars. 

 

SUBJECT

You got two options. You can sit down and I can continue to give you life advice until I'm done with breakfast, or you can shut up and let me eat. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

I reject that.

 

SUBJECT

Fuckin' A, who told you to say that? You sound like a freak every time you say that.

 

EXPERIMENTER

Stand up.

 

SUBJECT

Sit down.

 

EXPERIMENTER

You can't resist me, because everything you do is data. Every lie, every look. You can't hide from me because you are what you do, and I see everything. 

 

SUBJECT

I see... (Flips the kitchen table, sending food and condiments crashing to the floor.) A mess. Hey, is this that special salt? 

 

SUBJECT picks up the special sea salt with the red tape..

 

EXPERIMENTER

Put that down. 

 

SUBJECT

Sure thing, boss.

 

SUBJECT opens the salt and dumps it, then exits to his room. 

 

There is an indication of time passing. 

Scene 3.

 

SUBJECT crouches behind a makeshift barricade next to the mirror/fourth wall. He speaks to the possible unseen observer:

 

SUBJECT

If you're in there, and if this really is a research project, I gotta ask--how's he doing? Because from where I'm sitting I'm thinking crash-and-burn, expelled then arrested territory. But maybe you guys have different standards.

 

EXPERIMENTER is crouched behind an overturned table blocking the door to the kitchen. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

(Shouting:) I am the emperor of the mind!

 

SUBJECT

I mean, you could say I accepted this whole gig on bad faith in that I never had an intention of giving a shit about the experiment part of it and was purely interested in a place to sleep. But the thing is I feel that the forces of entropy and indifference in this world should get the benefit of the doubt, when compared with opinions and doing stuff. It's like if you can't prove that what you're doing is an improvement over doing nothing, then maybe you should just go back to hunting and gathering for a little while and bring home some blackberries, or something that you're pretty sure is okay with everybody. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

You have no secrets from me!

 

SUBJECT

(Shouting back:) Give me the Ramen or I'm flushing your iPhone.

 

EXPERIMENTER

You lost your Ramen privileges.

 

SUBJECT

Then I hope you got another one of these, 'cause this one's gonna sleep with the fishes. (To the mirror:) I guess I am learning about myself. I am about to destroy a seven hundred dollar phone, and I am not going to feel the least bit bad about it. But maybe that's something I was better off not knowing?

 

SUBJECT crosses quickly to the bathroom. EXPERIMENTER throws a kitchen implement at him. From the bathroom, a flush.

 

EXPERIMENTER

(To himself:) Knowledge has no price. (To Subject:) Knowledge has no price!

 

SUBJECT

You know it didn't actually go down, it's just stuck down at the bottom. Let me try again.

 

Another flush. EXPERIMENTER lunges up from behind the table and charges. SUBJECT closes the bathroom door. EXPERIMENTER throws himself against it. 

 

There is an indication of time passing. SUBJECT is once again crouched by the mirror. EXPERIMENTER paces the kitchen, his shirt off and tied around his head. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

A social animal is born knowing the rules of the herd.  A wildebeest doesn't learn, it paints by the numbers--the lines are there from birth. We're no different. 

 

SUBJECT

How'd you jump to wildebeest, man? That's pretentious. Why not just say "dog"? 

 

EXPERIMENTER

But how to keep that social programming from forming a behavioral death spiral? A generation of followers following a generation of followers until the ability to reach for new knowledge is lost forever. The herd swallows its own tail like a serpent and everything folds in on itself.

 

SUBJECT

You should not have poured out all the applesauce. I could really eat the hell out of some of that right about now. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

I think better when I'm hungry. So listen--the herd only survives if there's a bug in the code. Some poor son of a bitch who doesn't get the rules and cracks the whole system wide open. The herd needs him to survive--but they don't know it, they only see a threat to the order of things and they trample him underfoot.

 

SUBJECT

I don't think there's anybody on the other side of this mirror.

 

EXPERIMENTER

There might be. There might not be. That's the genius of it.

 

SUBJECT

I'm pretty sure if there was somebody back there then something would've happened, because I feel pretty confident that any rules or regulations about experiments with human subjects have a clause in them about how if they get all Lord of the Flies then somebody needs to send a ship before they eat the fat kid. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

We're being watched right now. I can feel it. Or maybe not. Somehow not knowing makes me feel more watched than if I could tell for sure. 

 

SUBJECT

You know, I haven't told anybody I was in here. I could've, I've got my phone, but this whole thing is kind-of embarrassing, and anyway, I've got friends and stuff, but nobody I wouldn't feel bad about bugging to come down here and bust me out of this place. So I've been holding off.

 

EXPERIMENTER

They won't understand what we're trying to accomplish. 

 

SUBJECT

I feel like emailing somebody about this would be kind of intrusive, you know? "Yo Dennis I'm locked in this apartment could you call the cops or bring a drill or something?" I mean, what if he's asleep?

 

EXPERIMENTER

I care about you more than any human being alive on this planet right now.

 

SUBJECT

That might be, in a literal sense, true. Which is depressing, yes. But it's kind of interesting, it's like, locked in here with all your crazy I'm just all, "I get you." And I do. Like I couldn't guess what you were going to do, but once you do it, everything makes perfect sense?

 

EXPERIMENTER

They call that "hindsight bias"--it's a documented cognitive pattern in humans.

 

SUBJECT

Anyway, I feel like you could learn from me, and that's a new thing for me. So I guess I'll just do one of those cryptic Facebook updates, and see if anybody writes me back. "Stuck in apartment with no food. He has all the ramen and a knife." Post. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

The ramen is part of the experiment. I'm in charge of the experiment.

 

There is an indication of time passing. EXPERIMENTER sits against the table in the doorway of the kitchen; SUBJECT sits against the same table, but on the living room side. Both are eating crushed dry ramen noodles out of packets. 

 

SUBJECT

The internet can make you feel almost human no matter what's happening to you. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

I want to hear more about Beyoncé

 

SUBJECT

We just did like three articles about her. I'm going to read about GTA mods.

 

EXPERIMENTER

Beyoncé!

 

SUBJECT

It's my phone man. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

Give me my noodles back.

 

SUBJECT

Sit down. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

I'm tired.

 

SUBJECT

That's what happens when you don't sleep or eat.

 

EXPERIMENTER

My head is numb. I think it's from learning so much.

 

SUBJECT

Could be that. Sure.

 

EXPERIMENTER

If we met in a store would we be friends?

 

SUBJECT

Friends in what sense?

 

EXPERIMENTER

In this moment, I don't feel alone. Do you?

 

SUBJECT

Nope.

 

EXPERIMENTER

Calmness isn't surrender if you've succeeded, right?

 

SUBJECT

Definitely not.

 

EXPERIMENTER

I don't trust it. I think we need to do something.

 

SUBJECT

Your judgment is seriously impaired right now.

 

EXPERIMENTER

The internet is a wall of information masquerading as knowledge. It cuts us off from the pursuit of truth.

 

SUBJECT

It has been like one minute since you were asking me for more Beyoncé.

 

EXPERIMENTER

That's what I mean. The integrity of the experiment must be preserved at all costs.

 

EXPERIMENTER goes to get the router. He returns with it. SUBJECT gets up to see what he's doing.

 

SUBJECT

Is that the router?

 

EXPERIMENTER

The experiment is bigger than both of us.

 

EXPERIMENTER smashes the router.

 

SUBJECT

No!

 

They struggle briefly over the smashed remains of the router. It is too late.

 

There is an indication of time passing.

 

EXPERIMENTER is lying on the couch. SUBJECT is at the table arranging fragments of ramen noodles into tiny piles. 

 

SUBJECT

I never paid attention to these noodles before. They're miraculous. I will say that for your experiment. It gives me time to think about the little things. There's a certain clarity.

 

EXPERIMENTER

I don't feel any clarity at all.

 

SUBJECT

It's okay, man, it was a stupid idea. If you got it out of your system, that's a win. It's like how you have to try the shitty taqueria next door to make sure it's shitty. Only this is a weird-ass taqueria of the mind. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

I have to push through.

 

SUBJECT

You got a nasty knock on your head. You might just want to sit still. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

I don't remember any of my ideas. I read the questions I wrote and I don't remember typing the words. What if it wasn't me? 

 

SUBJECT

It's not like you accomplished nothing. You reduced us to our natural state, and we learned that means wanting to kill each other over food and electronics, and also that I am secretly wise.

 

EXPERIMENTER

You're not wise.

 

SUBJECT

I don't know, I feel pretty wise. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

I was looking for the truth beyond all the things you understand.

 

SUBJECT

There are some questions that just shouldn't be asked. Probably most of the weird ones.

 

EXPERIMENTER sits up and turns toward the mirror.

 

EXPERIMENTER

Was my methodology flawed? Was it? Or was it just too ambitious? (Pause. To Subject:) They don't feel they can reply. They're methodological purists. (To the mirror:) It's okay, it's all gone sideways. My notes are incomplete and soaking wet. I think it might be urine.

 

SUBJECT

It's urine.

 

EXPERIMENTER

So you can tell me. Where did I go wrong? Did you ever think I could succeed? Or am I the experiment? Were you documenting my failures so you could write a paper of your own? Tell me! I've seen your looks. I know what's said. It's because you're so small! That's why you can't see what I'm accomplishing here! 

 

SUBJECT

I don't think there's anybody in there, man. I don't think there ever was.

 

EXPERIMENTER

Then why do I feel this way?

 

SUBJECT

You're just a special snowflake.

 

EXPERIMENTER

What I have learned is so vast it can't be catalogued. It can't be comprehended. That's the problem. 

 

SUBJECT

That is one of the least wrong ways of looking at life that has come out of your mouth. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

I just need a little help putting the pieces together, one after the other.

 

SUBJECT

Come over here. Pretend this little pile of ramen is you, and this one is me. I can explain this whole thing for you. Come here. 

 

EXPERIMENTER

You're the subject. It's so simple. I don't need your help. I don't need anyone's; I just need some time to think. I need space. I need a wall of one-way glass between us so I can watch your every move and never be disturbed. (Pause.) I'm on the wrong side of the glass.

 

EXPERIMENTER throws his shoulder against the mirror. It does not break.

 

SUBJECT

I already tried that, man. There's not actually a room back there. 

 

EXPERIMENTER hits the mirror with his shoulder again.

 

EXPERIMENTER

I know where I belong now. 

 

SUBJECT

You're gonna hurt yourself. 

 

EXPERIMENTER backs up to the opposite side of the room, gets a running start, and runs headfirst into the mirror. He bounces off, falls, and does not move. SUBJECT scoops up a handful of broken ramen and walks over to him. He sits down on the couch. 

 

SUBJECT

It's alright, man. I get it now. I get all of it. If you wake up later, I'll tell you all about it. 

 

There is the sound of a door unlocking and opening. SUBJECT puts his feet up on the couch and eats broken ramen noodles. 

 

END OF PLAY

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