I don't expect to feel any pleasure penning these words. In fact I'm not entirely sure why I feel the need to commit them to the ether. I guess it's just basic human emotion. Which of course always completely beyond explanation. Always illogical. Always human.
It's how we roll.
On Monday evening our grandson stayed over. Noah. He's just turned six months. It was a huge night for Noah. It was his very first night away from his home. Away from his Mum and Dad. For the record, he took the whole thing in his stride just like he seems to take pretty much everything in his stride. A pretty cool cat is our Noah.
When I got home from work, he was sitting on the floor surrounded by a collection of toys, all of which were being ignored. Instead all of his attention was focused on a huge teddy bear who goes by the name of Jeremiah.
Baby and teddy bear were face to face and a matter of inches apart. The bear towered over the baby, but not in any kind of threatening way. Noah was doing all the talking. His own version of talking which is a collection of sounds which as yet have no translation book to guide the listener. Jeremiah gave the impression of a bear who was taking on board every word.
The two of them were clearly putting the world to rights. The baby and the teddy bear were locked into one of the great philosophical conversations. Or so it seemed
All of which is utter nonsense of course. Sentimental tosh. Maybe some a similar sight once upon a time prompted A A Milne to pick up his pen and start out on penning the Winnie the Pooh books.
Maybe. Was this moment to be the moment to send me off on a similar quest? Would my 28th novel be a children's book charting the adventures of a bear called Jeremiah and a boy called Noah?
I wish it had. Instead a few hours later I opened up Chatgpt and provided a few basic facts. A six month old Scottish baby called Noah with Tin Tin hair. A giant brown teddy bear called Jeremiah. A long and deep conversation.
Please write me a poem Chatgpt. About the moment. About the baby and the teddy bear. About the utterly illogical sentiment. A fairy tale seen through the eyes of a grandfather.
And Chatgpt did indeed write me a poem. In less than a second. It isn't exactly WB Yeats. But somehow it managed tapped into the emotion I felt when I stepped into the house to find the baby and the teddy bear locked in their moment.
In less than a second. Not from a brain and the experiences of a life lived. Instead, though numbers and code and Christ knows what else. Awesome, right? And yet so utterly, utterly sad. After all these hundreds of thousands of years of humanity we have suddenly lost a certainty. We have always looked to art to mirror our own emotions and dreams and passions and beliefs and dreams. In books and poems and paintings and songs and films. From the Bible and the Koran to 'War and Peace' and 'Winnie the Pooh' and 'Macbeth'.
Not any more. From here on in we will never know. Is this a human or a non human? Is this genuine emotion or an an approximation?
It seems after all these years our manic greed has finally persuaded us to find a way to sub-contract our souls.
'Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon can no longer hear the falconer'
That is indeed WB Yeats by the way. Not Chatgpt.
Man not machine.
So here is the poem. It took a second to write. Less probably.
Maybe I will take the liberty of changing Yeats's next lines.
'Things fall apart
The centre cannot hold
A terrible sadness is loosed upon the world'
NOAH AND JEREMIAH