Another peculiar — I prefer *idiosyncratic* — post this evening. Humor me? Yesterday I related an anecdotal jumble about gathering with friends, artificial intelligence, Essex, Westport, and a poem composed by ChatGPT. No clear takeaways. No conclusions. Just a voyeuristic glimpse into the overlap of buddies jawboning IRL and an AI chatbot weaving words into a midwinter mirage.
Here’s where I left off.
Perhaps like me, you’re a little wary of AI dabbling in the cultural and aesthetic arenas. An idea is percolating underneath my tangled mop, but I’m going to sleep on it. Morning might mature my perspective a few shades. And, so, without further ado, I’ll wrap up for the evening, inviting you to contemplate AI chat bots as fellow sojourners. Artificial intelligence offering us an ode to Essex. Thank you, ChatGPT. Thank you, Mark! (Source: A Place Where Stories are Told)
Roughly 24-hours later, I’m ready to revisit the percolating idea (not unlike inspecting the grape must or checking the airlock on a carboy of homemade wine.)
Today was an air travel day. Snowstorms, airports, airplanes,… So connectivity was limited. But, eager to engage ChatGPT a little further, and I managed to volley a few questions and answers between departure and arrival. I’m going to share our exchange verbatim.
Me: Can you imagine writing a “Dear John” letter to a house?
ChatGPT: Yes, it’s possible to imagine writing a “Dear John” letter to a house, although it may not have a real impact as a house is inanimate and lacks the ability to understand or feel emotions.
Me: Perhaps it might have a real impact on the letter writer?
ChatGPT: Yes, writing a “Dear John” letter to a house could have a real emotional impact on the letter writer as a form of self-expression and catharsis, even though the house itself would not be affected by it.
Me: I’m not 100% certain about the house categorically being unaffected, but maybe that assessment should be postponed for now. However the possibility of a “Dear John” letter proving cathartic, possibly even catalytic, for the letter writer… now THAT is compelling, don’t you think?
The tidy text thread stalled, and then I received an error message: “Load failed”. Then another pause, and then a partial response.
ChatGPT: …could potentially be a therapeutic exercise for the writer. However, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone experiences and processes emotions differently, and what may be cathartic for one person may not be for another. 1/1
It surprised me how much I yearned to know what was in the lost portion of the message. And then I realized that I could refresh the bot’s response. I hoped that it would regenerate the missing phrase(s). I’ll indicate when I’ve refreshed with a numbering sequence (see 1/1 above) following the comment.
ChatGPT: Yes, the act of writing a “Dear John” letter can be a form of self-expression and catharsis for the writer, helping them process their emotions and potentially leading to personal growth and change. Whether writing to a house specifically is the most effective way to achieve this catharsis is subjective and can vary from person to person. 2/2
Intrigued by the discovery that I can refresh and get another answer, I decide to try again. It’s not that I’m dissatisfied with the response, but curiosity gets the best of me!
ChatGPT: Yes, it is possible for a “Dear John” letter to have a cathartic or even catalytic effect on the letter writer, serving as a form of self-expression and allowing them to process and release emotions related to their experience with the house. Writing can be a powerful therapeutic tool for individuals, helping them to process and make sense of their thoughts and feelings. 3/3
And yet, I can’t help but feel simultaneously pleased and self conscious about this response. It’s as if I’ve manipulated and cherry-picked. I have. And it seems unhealthy somehow. I need to resist the temptation to manipulate the responses. I will accept the composite response, not picking and choosing. For an instant I imagine a conversation with Susan in which I discretely tap a refresh button and she overwrites her previous response. Slippery slope. Problematic. I’ll try to restrain myself.
Me: Identifying and seeking to understand emotions related to the house would be useful. Processing them, making sense of them, and then possibly letting go of them, at least some of them, might indeed prove to be a powerful therapeutic process.
ChatGPT: Yes, identifying and understanding emotions related to the house, and then processing and making sense of them through writing can be a therapeutic process that can help the letter writer gain insight and possibly let go of some of their emotions. Engaging in self-reflection and creative expression can be beneficial in promoting emotional healing and personal growth. 1/1
Hhhmmm… I feel only partly sated. Let’s try again.
ChatGPT: Exactly, exploring and understanding emotions related to the house through writing a “Dear John” letter could be a therapeutic process for the letter writer. It provides a creative outlet for the writer to process their emotions and gain insight into their experiences and feelings. This can lead to a sense of closure and even personal growth for the writer, as they work through and let go of any lingering emotions related to the house. 2/2
Me: Right. That would be super helpful. (Hypothetically, of course!) And, the insights gained, the personal growth you refer to, actually *might* bring the letter writer to a different conclusion. For example, writing the letter could show the “Dear John” letter writer that he or she isn’t actually ready to breakup with the house. Hypothetically, at least…
ChatGPT: Yes, that is possible. Writing a “Dear John” letter to a house can also serve as a way for the letter writer to gain clarity on their feelings and relationship with the house. It may help them realize that they are not ready to let go, and instead, they may want to explore ways to improve their relationship with the house. By examining their emotions and experiences through writing, the letter writer may gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with the house, which could potentially lead to a different outcome than they initially anticipated. 1/1
ChatGPT: Yes, that is possible. Writing a “Dear John” letter to a house can serve as a form of self-reflection and introspection for the letter writer. By exploring and processing their emotions related to the house, the writer may gain new insights and perspectives, and even come to a different conclusion about their relationship with the house. The process of writing the letter could reveal that they are not ready to let go of the house after all, and that they have a deeper emotional connection to it than they initially realized. 2/2
ChatGPT: Yes, that’s a possibility. Writing the “Dear John” letter could serve as a means of self-reflection and bring the writer to a new understanding or realization about their relationship with the house. It could even lead them to conclude that they are not ready to let go of the house and may want to continue the relationship in a positive way. The process of writing the letter and exploring one’s emotions can bring new insights and a deeper understanding of oneself and one’s experiences, potentially leading to a shift in perspective. 3/3
Not ready to let go. A shift in perspective. Differing conclusions. I’m trying not to lose sight of the fact that this is an algorithm barebacking a mountain of data. But this exchange is engaging and intriguing.
Recent days at Rosslyn have stirred up all sorts of questions. I’m brimming with wonder, both the wayward wandering variety and the introspective variety. And still-fresh conversations with friends have helped crystallize considerations that I’m tempted to share with ChatGPT. Matters that Susan and I navigate pragmatically whenever we’re away from Rosslyn become considerably less clear, for me at least, when I’m home in Essex. Three pairs of friends, three variations of the question: are you seriously considering selling Rosslyn? Years ago we conjured a metric for evaluating when we might be ready to offer our home to a new homeowner. Time to revisit. Perhaps with the assistance of artificial intelligence.
What do you think?