Interview for the Position of Grand Inquisitor
By Ken Baumann - Apr 3, 2017
1. The ability of language to comfort has eroded entirely. Words spoken now serve only to point. You’re given the material means to craft a language free of the dead weight of history. Describe its grammar.
2. Choose the best option:
a. the greased greed you feel while watching a single mother try to persuade a government agent of her need for more money, or
b. the dappled joy of waking to news of an estranged friend’s death.
3. While urinating, you feel an intense pressure in your skull. The next day, you feel a similar pressure while submerged just a few feet in a public pool. The day after that, you feel utterly repulsed by water, and vomit after drinking every sip. How do you rid yourself of this problem?
4. After years of debate and doubt, the first artificial intelligence is universally granted that title after killing itself. You decide whether or not to reset and restore the machine through which this intelligence lives. Do you turn it back on? Why?
5. Scientists conclude with rigor that self-knowledge is a conviction without any noticeable behavioral consequence. You realize the social and financial promise of becoming a zealot. Which cause do you pursue? Additionally: name your enemies.
6. You compulsively read Madame Bovary because you feel powerful while watching a beautiful person thoroughly destroy herself. Describe the experience of the stranger who watches you reading the novel every day.
7. Your best friend’s wife has promised you that she will kill herself within thirty days. You have sworn to keep this promise a secret. How do you announce her confession to the public?
8. When you see gemstones you want to cut holes in your flesh and put the gems inside of those holes. Whence does this desire arise?
9. You know yourself to be no more than three decisions away from a terrifying and ecstatic life. Why do you refuse to make those decisions?
10. It is night. You see a large fire on the horizon. Its flames are never the colors you expect. In fact, the flames are often black; you see them because they are blacker than the night surrounding. Do you walk towards or away from the fire?
OPTIONAL: You will be encased and so suffocated to death in a piece of stone. What kind of stone do you choose?