PYLYSHYN: What is Cognitive Science?

Heliocentric
“Of course this all sounds strange and unnatural. But think of how unnatural the idea of heliocentric planetary system with planets kept in place by invisible forces acting at a distance must have sounded to the Aristotelian scholars of the 17th century. And how unnatural is the scientific answer to the question “What is in this table?” (i.e., almost entirely empty space with a variety of unobservable forces acting on unobservable particles and electromagnetic wave patterns). That’s the way it is in science: Things are rarely what they seem. But over time we all learn to live with the strangeness and it then usually becomes the mundane orthodoxy of the next generation.”

SIBLING SOLICITATION

          Lily enters stage right to find her brother, Matt, engaged in a video game.

LILY
You know
Plays can teach us how to become better humans.
Matt remains glue to a video game.

MATT
I don’t wanna learn.

LILY
It’s a classic.

MATT
No!
I’m sorry – but
I just don’t care to -

LILY
But it’ll be fun!

MATT
Fun for you! Boring for me.

LILY
But what’s so great about this production is that
the chorus is playing all the scenery, the furniture,
they hoist Juliet ten feet in the air to simulate
the balcony where she meets Romeo. But even cooler!
They anthropomorphize Fate, acting as unseen agents
of ultimate DOOM! C’mon – what’s better than that?

(Still no response.)
     There’s gonna be some raunchy make-out scenes…!

MATT
(Fed up. Deflecting)
     Oh yeah. Like I wanna go to some Shakespearean peep
show with my sister– sounds greeeat.

LILY
MATT! YOU PROMISED-TWO WEEKS AGO!
          (Accommodating his reluctance)
     Have you ever seen it?
C’mon

MATT
You never told me!

LILY
Bah- Yes I did!
We were in these exact same positions,
You playing that game and I was–

MATT
AH, you mean one of those many instances when you’ve barged into my room.
(Crassly)
Well, let me tell you: I was more preoccupied with this
(signals controller in hand) than whatever the heck you were talking about!

LILY
Jesus Christ.
(Matt looks up from the game.)

MATT
(Unapologetically)
     I’m so serious.

LILY
Well I already bought the tickets.
Will I have to go alone?
(Matt continues playing.
Silent, thinking.)

On a Friday night!?

MATT
(Reacting to Game)
     OHHHHHHHHHH, Yeah! Finally!!! WOO!

LILY
You’re unbelievable.
(Lily gets up to leave.)

MATT
(Turning from the game)
     Why don’t you ask one of your friends to go with you?
Why’d’ja have to ask me?

               Lily exits.

blankets

tired of being alone,
my mother said,
“aren’t you getting tired of being alone?”
warm bodies can warm a bed better than hot bricks -
conserve your coal, she said.

tonight i bring a blanket of my own,
not to add a semblance of my self to your private dwelling
but because these sheets release our heat with abandon
without calculating maximum surface area we
____press up against each other
hands grasping backs and shoulders,
thighs clipping thighs into agreeable submission
toes tucked beneath knees
(i’m still kinda chilly.)

but I like being held and spoken to, softly.
pillowtalk, increasingly intimate
paints soft pictures of the things your soul screams for, silently.
help me to forget i’m somehow still freezing.
so generous with your own heat
it’s not hard to believe friends have furnished your home with kindness,
although we sleep on an old lover’s old blankets –
these fallen leaves: fertile grounds for new love.