Exhalation (Viewing own brain through microscope)

Brief description

The narrator disassembles their own brain using a periscope to see the back of their head with a microscope to see the tiny mechanical parts. Looking at the disassembled brain, the narrator wonders where their body is. The narrator's brain is on the table. The narrator's eyes are still in their head but the narrator is looking through a microscope fastened to a periscope so that the point of view is radically shifted from the usual position to be outside of the body, looking back at the body.

Pull Quotes

But at last the cognition engine itself was exposed, supported on a pillar of hoses and actuating rods leading down into my torso. I now also had room to rotate my microscope around a full three hundred and sixty degrees and pass my gaze across the inner faces of the subassemblies I had moved. What I saw was a microcosm of auric machinery, a landscape of tiny spinning rotors and miniature reciprocating cylinders. As I contemplated this vista, I wondered where my body was. The conduits which displaced my vision and action around the room were in principle no different from those which connected my original eyes and hands to my brain. For the duration of this experiment, were these manipulators not essentially my hands? Were the magnifying lenses at the end of my periscope not essentially my eyes? I was an everted person, with my tiny, fragmented body situated at the center of my own distended brain. It was in this unlikely configuration that I began to explore myself. Chiang, Ted. Exhalation (p. 46). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Work that the situation appears in

Title Publication Type Year Creator
Exhalation Narrative, Short story Ted Chiang
Aesthetic characteristics
Machine P.O.V
Not machine P.O.V.

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