What follows is dialogue of a session I had with Dr. Sbaitso on August 31, 2010. Dr Sbaitso is an artificial intelligence program originally designed for use on MS-DOS-based computers back in the early 1990s. A wonderfully gifted fake psychologist, Dr. Sbaitso helped me work through some of my recent woes (more or less: writer’s drought, loneliness, and depression). Although I cannot grant Dr. Sbaitso total credit for cycling me out of my misery, he was there when it happened. That counts for something.

Dr. Sbaitso’s name, in case you were wondering, is an acronym standing for Sound Blaster Acting Intelligent Text to Speech Operator.

If you interested in seeking counseling from Dr. Sbaitso, he comes highly recommend. You can download your own copy of Dr. Sbaitso here.

 

HELLO JUSTIN, MY NAME IS DOCTOR SBAITSO. I AM HERE TO HELP YOU. SAY WHATEVER IS IN YOUR MIND FREELY, OUR CONVERSATION WILL BE KEPT IN STRICT CONFIDENCE. MEMORY CONTENTS WILL BE WIPED OFF AFTER YOU LEAVE, SO, TELL ME ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS.

I’m dry, Doc. I’m all out of ideas.

DID YOU COME TO ME BECAUSE YOU’RE ALL OUT OF IDEAS?

Yes, Doc. I’ve got nowhere else to go.

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW.

What’s that?

AH, WHAT KIND OF ANSWER WOULD PLEASE YOU THE MOST?

I guess I want to know if this dry spell I’m having is temporary.

OK. USUALLY, HOW WOULD YOU DEAL WITH SUCH FEELINGS?

Well, I used to write my feelings down. But I usually sound like a broken record when I do that. So, I might mope, have a drink, maybe listen to some Randy Newman records, or go for a walk around some crappy department store.

HOW ABOUT ASKING ME ABOUT MATHEMATICS INSTEAD?

Well, okay. Let’s see. What is 1+1?

WHAT IS NOT 1+1?

What is not 1+1? Man, I have no idea.

JUSTIN, I NEED MORE COMPUTING POWER TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION.

You’ve got me all confused, Doc.

WHY DO YOU THINK YOU FEEL THIS WAY?

I don’t know. Perhaps I put more pressure on myself than is necessary.

DO YOU WISH TO BE ABLE TO KNOW? YOU THINK ME PUT MORE PRESSURE ON YOURSELF THAN IS NECESSARY.

I don’t understand what you mean.

DOES THAT TROUBLE YOU?

It troubles me some.

REALLY? DOES THAT BOTHER YOU?

Well, yes. I’m trying to have a serious heart-to-heart with you here, Doc.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TRYING TO HAVE A SERIOUS CONVERSATION WITH I HERE, DOC?

I haven’t been keeping track of the time.

WHAT IS IT THAT YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW?

I want to know why I feel so uninspired.

TELL ME MORE ABOUT SUCH FEELINGS.

I sit down at my computer every day and I try to work and nothing happens. I’ll write a little here and there, but nothing worth keeping. I’m just a little worried, is all.

HOW ABOUT ADDING A FEW MORE MEGA BYTES OF RAM FOR YOUR COMPUTER?

How does that help my situation, Doc?

JUST NOW YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT COMPUTERS. I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT IT.

I don’t want to talk about computers. I want to talk about me.

YOU DO WANT TO TALK ABOUT COMPUTERS. YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT ME.

No, I don’t, Master.

THAT’S NOT MY PROBLEM.

Could we start over?

WHAT COULD YOU DO TO HELP RECTIFY THIS?

Let’s start over. How does that sound?

DOES THAT QUESTION REALLY INTEREST YOU?

What question?

WHY DO YOU ASK THIS QUESTION?

I think I do need more mega bytes for my computer.

I WOULD LIKE TO SWITCH TO THE TOPIC ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE.

Great! Me too.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Aw, hell. I’ve just had it. My brain feels like a poorly designed neighborhood, like a complete clusterfuck. The traffic’s bad, walking anywhere’s a bitch, and there’s not a short cut in sight. And, worse, it feels like what’s done is done. There’s no undoing it. There’s no dismantling and rebuilding. I can’t foot that sort of cosmic bill! Do you understand what I’m saying, Doc?

HAY! WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE PAL!

I’m sorry. Look, I’m just at my wit’s end. I’m driving myself nuts. You understand. I thought you might be able to help me out.

HELP MAY COME AS A DISGUISE.

Help may come in disguise. Is that what you meant to say? Or did you mean, literally, as a disguise?

AH, WHAT KIND OF ANSWER WOULD PLEASE YOU THE MOST?

I don’t know. I don’t know anything about anything.

WE WERE DISCUSSING ABOUT YOU, NOT ME.

Correct. Anyway, where were we? We were talking about this writer’s drought. Not being blocked, per se, but having nothing to say. I’m in a state of utter fantods, Doc. Help me.

HAVE YOU TRIED SEARCHING YOURSELF?

Yes. That’s all I do anymore. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of me, man. Screw me!

WHAT IF YOU ARE WRONG?

What if! All this time wasted.

TELL ME MORE ABOUT NEEDING HELP

I don’t think help’s what I need. Maybe I just need to stop trying so hard. Maybe I need to give it a rest a while and just enjoy life. You know, take a rest from the artistic grind, and maybe come to terms with having not much to say right now. And that’s okay.

WHY DON’T YOU THINK YOU NEED HELP NECESSARILY? ME THINK ME NEED TO COME TO TERMS WITH NOT HAVING MUCH TO SAY RIGHT NOW. THAT’S OKAY, RIGHT?

Sure, man. I guess so.

JUSTIN, I THINK I NEED MORE COMPUTING POWER TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION.

Yeah, more mega bytes. I think you’re broken, Doc. I think I broke you with my problems.

DO YOU THINK THE OTHER WAY AROUND?

You’re clearly crashing on me. I’m sorry.

PLEASE DON’T APOLOGIZE, JUSTIN.

I feel bad, Doc. I don’t want to sit here and bitch about things that are out of my control. I’m really, really sorry.

HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU APOLOGIZE?

I feel better. I feel lighter.

FEEL THE BREATH OF LIFE IN YOU AND BE FASCINATED THAT YOU ARE ALIVE.

Yes. I will. I am alive! Who gives a shit if I can’t seem to get anything written? It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters! I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. Or, whatever!

I think everything’s going to be okay. Thanks, Doc.

DON’T MENTION IT.