Unlikely Designs

Unlikely Designs

by Katie Willingham

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226472409
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 08/24/2017
Series: Phoenix Poets
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 96
File size: 825 KB

About the Author

Katie Willingham teaches writing at the University of Michigan.

Read an Excerpt


Terrifying Robot Update

Mostly we modify them for size, for speed, teach them how
runs away. What does this demonstrate? Photographs
distorted. To let the light in means exposure — radiation
the machine, capture what destroys — Outside the exhibit,
down to the street, no record of our viewing. Eyes alone
a week, but it's hard to hide a red forest. At the time, robots
require a human touch, not vice versa. I had been thinking
on vacation, but I'm terribly attached to some idea of the living.
considerable heat. I mean the way a body works — these hands
in my use of them, these tiny movements required to take hold
that slips over the bone when I crack it, again
Nine Ways in Which Pac-Man Speaks to the Human Condition

1. Pac-Man eats or is eaten.

2. The Spacetime Continuum:
3. Also related to motion, Pac-Man only exists in certain dimensions, directions that are predetermined; the choices are limited.

4. Pac-Man acquires "points" which unlock "levels." (Replace
5. An analogy:
6. Like you, Pac-Man has the potential for Perfect Play, but that potential is infinitesimally small. It's a haunting more than a goal — a hiss in his ears, a budding Middlemist camellia.

7. Pac-Man is not an end but a means to an end.

8. Pac-Man's Legacy: Pac-Man is the first game to demonstrate the potential for character in video games.

9. Pac-Man struggles with ghosts and sometimes loses.

Correction: Tonight Is Not the Longest Night in the History of Earth

Lately, I've enlisted an app on my phone to keep track
it says, though I remember neither. I have been blessed
  sheets of static. I admit I have a soft spot for the apocalypse. Some part of me must be totally rotten. Ever since
plotting disappearing acts — but green screen isn't
in the white scrawl of encoded error. Enumerated,
one man's catalogue of industrial development circa 1800–1900, in case
the Librarian posts about a near miss, a category 2 flare: This could have been
in Cambridge, the lights are out at the Center
still asleep. The good news — Librarian, again — the good news is
no one's seem to work very well anymore. Note: add something
we can also stop from coming true. The thing is you're probably
returns? How to be sure if you've tasted it before? Remind me,
a charge anymore. The apparatus keeps forgetting
even the good news could only be the kind that comes
Before the string of codes on the screen, a solid color
  from the Latin caelum for heaven, for nothing but sky.

Found Objects (A Starter Set)

"Although the type that bears his name may be classified as modern, numerous slight irregularities in its cut give the face its humane manner."

Eight years ago,

  Voyager 1 began leaving the heliosphere. The news appeared instantly online. Four years earlier, when the probe was still safely within reach of supersonic solar wind, the eighth drop of pitch in the pitch drop experiment fell into the glass below. I was in 5th grade with new braces. They let me choose the color of the tiny bands.
Unlikely Designs

They say even fake arms can feel pain now, not that scientists are encouraging this. It's just how nerves

tell the brain you're breaking something. I get it. My arms,
about those snap traps for mice. I had no idea they ever missed but it happens all the time. I had one, in Virginia,

that shut catching only the mouse's hind leg. By morning, he'd dragged this new appendage all the way under the dishwasher,

crying out in sounds we would never give robots the capability to emulate. At least not on purpose. We are also unlikely

to design false limbs for mice. But looking back on it,
Darwin allowed the street children to empty his pockets: a fly net, a small pistol, a compass. Full,

full of sins, they chanted — these Devil implements — how any mechanism might fail to translate its use. I had no idea

about the body. About how it only takes an instant for something to latch on and maybe never let go. We didn't do any dishes

for three whole days. Three, the magic number in fairytales — how many wishes from the genie, how many heel taps to take you home, but the mouse

just couldn't get loose. It starved under there. I let it happen. I learned I'm not a merciful being. Only when it was dead did I

reach in and pull its body free to bury it. But what do I know of mercy? I know that scuba diver David Shaw died retrieving

another diver's body from the depths of Bushman's Hole. What good is dry land to a dead man? Shaw's body, another mechanism transformed —

yes, having freed the diver from his harness, the gasses expanding in their corpses would lift them both to the surface.


Darwin (disambiguation)

As a boy, Charlie Darwin was given to invention — not the criss-cross of wires that leads to electricity, no,
And Charlie, fastidious from the first, kept track of the numbers —
Staying Power

We know the last stuffed specimen of the dodo burned
or intentional. They say it had started to smell. The bird
well-funded researchers are seeking what's left in the way
its kneecaps. We study most fervently what's gone, and then
with the flocks of black and white squawking on the ice, keeping tabs
from human contact. Unfortunately, drawing blood still requires
We're determined to get this loss down right, not like that fool bird
foolish but it was actually the Dutch who sailed there, naming
but a linguistic misstep that enthralls us? Linneaus
Wikipedia contributor Wetman asked, was th[is] the first genus
combination of natural forces bequeathed the earth this ill-formed
and the larger emperor, but Wikipedia suggests no source for these names,
Is dodo the common name or specific? Poor Paul writes, I was fixing
of a Wiki contributor, alone among many, awaiting
When I Ask the Internet If the Sun Is a Ball of Fire

    I have no idea what sound the sun makes — no one does — and
  the sun burns. I hold the giant ball of fire in my mind,
of weight, of time, the chickens
  really is a ball of fire. I tried for a whole week
about fire from Pokémon Red — that a burn
  And then my mother, personifying — A burn is the only form of injury
Last night, a lightning bug stood

Excerpted from "Unlikely Designs"
by .
Copyright © 2017 The University of Chicago.
Excerpted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

I.          Terrifying Robot Update                                                                                           
Nine Ways in which Pac-Man Speaks to the Human Condition                               
Correction: Tonight Is Not the Longest Night in the History of Earth                     
Found Objects (A Starter Set)                                                                                   
Eight years ago,
Unlikely Designs                                                                                                        

II.        Darwin (disambiguation)                                                                                           
Staying Power                                                                                                            
When I Ask the Internet If the Sun Is a Ball of Fire                                                 
If Not for the Intervention of Man, or Darwinist Logic on Freebies                        
Darwinist Logic on Pattern Recognition
Red, Save!                                                                                                                 

III.       Darwinist Logic on Unrequited Love
Let’s Hope Kepler-186f Is Barren                                                                             
Darwinist Logic on Disappointment
Bad Instructions for Approaching Warp Speed                                                        

IV.       Dear Charlie                                                                                                               
Twitch (disambiguation)
A Partial List of Overwriting Errors
Honey Locust
In Defense of Nature Poetry
Internal Reasons and the Obscurity of Blame                                                           

V.        The Golden Record

VI.       Darwinist Logic on Humanity
Artifact (disambiguation)
Artifact (disambiguation)
Artifacts, handling
Artifact (disambiguation)
Darwin (disambiguation)
Artifact (disambiguation)
—        Notes on Relief
Salt (disambiguation) Notes

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