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SilasCrane t1_j9v04kq wrote

"You are close to sentience," said the alien, and then it slowly shook its large, gray head. "But it seems you are not there yet."

Taylor blinked. "But we're talking to you. I mean, I guess you're using some kind of telepathy or advanced technology to make it possible, but..." she trailed off, confused, and looked at Doug.

Doug frowned. He wasn't sure why she was looking at him. Of the two of them, he was the senior clerk at the 7-11 from which they'd been abducted, but only by a few weeks. That hardly made him more qualified for intergalactic diplomacy.

He looked back down at the alien, who was standing on the metallic deck of its spacecraft, looking up at Doug and Taylor where they floated in mid-air, suspended helplessly inside some kind of anti-gravity field.

"Uh, yeah," Doug said. "'Sentience' is kind of a big idea, right? Doesn't the fact that we know what that is and have a word for it sort of prove that we have it?"

"The ability to comprehend abstract concepts is only part of what makes a species sentient. As I said, you are close, but not quite there." the alien said.

"Look, shouldn't you be taking to like anyone else?" Taylor asked, sounding exasperated. "Scientists, world leaders -- somebody? I just work here, dude! Er, at the place you abducted us from, I mean.

"Positions of leadership and scholarship tend to be populated with outliers."

"Okay, but like...why does that matter?" Doug asked. "Don't you want to talk to our best people?"

The alien shook its head. "No. We wished to evaluate a representative sample of humanity. A few outliers at the upper limits of your species' capabilities will doubtless achieve keeneetaa long before the species as a whole attains to it."

"There's that word again." Taylor grumbled.

"Yeah," Doug agreed. "Why is that the one word you don't translate, or beam into our brains, or whatever?"

"We are communicating it to you as best we can. The fact that you do not understand it proves that you do not possess it." the alien explained.

"But what is keeneetaa?" Taylor pressed. "Explain it to us!"

The alien raised a slender hand. "Keeneetaa that is explained in terms of other things is not truly keeneetaa, for keeneetaa is both itself, and the description of itself. Even the sound of keeneetaa is not truly 'keeneetaa', it is rather the sound produced by an object colliding with nothing."

"Whoa." Taylor said, eyes widening. "That's...that's deep."

Doug nodded slowly. "Yeah...yeah I think I get it."

"And yet, all evidence suggests that you do not." the alien said, with a disappointed sigh. "We will return you to your pl--"

"No, really." Doug interrupted. "I actually get it, now. Keeneetaa is bullshit."

"Doug!" Taylor exclaimed. "They're like all-powerful aliens! Maybe don't piss them off by disrespecting their culture!"

Doug was undaunted. "We do have a term for keeneetaa in our language, but it's a not a word. It's a story."

"Doug! Shhh!" Taylor hissed, looked fearfully between him and the alien.

The alien held up a hand. "No. Tell me this story."

Doug shrugged. "Sure, it's pretty short. Once upon a time, there was an emperor who loved fine clothing. His tailors made him the best clothing imaginable, but eventually they couldn't make him anything more regal than what he already had."

"Go on..." the alien said, narrowing its large, dark eyes.

"Except, one clever tailor had an idea. He told the emperor and the entire court that he'd found the most beautiful cloth in the world, something truly fit for the emperor. He said it had one flaw though: it could only be seen and felt by smart people. If you were an idiot, then the cloth was invisible and intangible to you."

"We're going to get probed so hard..." Taylor groaned, hanging her head.

"So, he took the emperor's measurements, and then just pretended to be sewing and cutting cloth. No one could see the cloth -- because there was no cloth -- but since not being able to see it meant you were stupid, no one, not even the emperor, would admit they couldn't."

"And what transpired afterward?" the alien asked.

"Well, the emperor walked out naked in front of the entire court, thinking he was wearing this magic robe. Everyone applauded, and said it was beautiful, because they wanted people to think they were smart, and didn't realize that no one could see the robe. The tailor got a huge reward, lived happily ever after." Doug explained. "And it seems to me that's what your keeneetaa is: a bunch of fancy doublespeak hiding the fact that you're just walking around with your junk hanging out, like everyone else."

The alien nodded slowly. Then it made a gesture, and Taylor vanished in a flash of light.

"Shit!" Doug exclaimed. "But, you said you'd --"

"Send you back to your planet, yes. She is safe, back at the location where we initially retrieved you. Do not worry, I will return you there, as well...later."

Doug swallowed hard. "Okay, but...what are you going to do with me in the meantime?"

The alien blinked. "I will take you to a conclave of our leaders and scientists, of course. They will want to meet the first recorded human to achieve keeneetaa."


Classified0 t1_j9vx2nb wrote

I thought the plot twist was going to be that the aliens themselves didn't know what keeneetaa was and just went along with it


ryry1237 t1_j9vbpty wrote

That's a pretty clever interpretation of the word.


Onlysoinvested t1_j9w9gub wrote

I thought a child pointed out the emperor was naked?

Oooohhh! Doug is the child!!!


scurvofpcp t1_j9w698t wrote

So basically it is anti gaslight and anti conformity resistance. Someone get Solomon Asch on the line.


Suddenlyfoxes t1_j9xgim7 wrote

> The alien raised a slender hand. "Keeneetaa that is explained in terms of other things is not truly keeneetaa, for keeneetaa is both itself, and the description of itself. Even the sound of keeneetaa is not truly 'keeneetaa', it is rather the sound produced by an object colliding with nothing."

We do have similar concepts, incidentally.

"The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name..."


The-Name-is-my-Name t1_ja28n2d wrote

A patasphere without the Scarlet King cannot be one that has the Scarlet King, but pataphysics is all-encompassing, and thus the Scarlet King must exist in every patasphere.

Except he doesn’t.

Thus, the Scarlet King does not exist in the True patasphere. He’s just exists in something that is labeled the patasphere, but isn’t really the patasphere, because there exists canons where the Scarlet King does not exist, and those pataspheres are uniquely distinct from pataspheres where Scarlet King does exist.

Basically, whatever is labeled the patasphere isn’t the patasphere, because it doesn’t contain infinite realities, because it either doesn’t contain the Scarlet King, it doesn’t not contain the Scarlet King, or there are infinite of Scarlet Kings. That last one would violate the Scarlet King’s existence, and that conflict is already makes the True patasphere a fake one.

The Scarlet King cannot exist. The Scarlet King must exist.


MadisonDissariya t1_j9w5dtw wrote

Taylor being vaporized then revealed to be fine fucking got me so bad


MechisX t1_j9z3vpo wrote

This kind of broke my head but I love it. :)