So there’s this guy…
Terry Davis, a schizophrenic programmer, has spent 10 years building an operating system to talk to God. He’s done this work because God told him to. According to the TempleOS charter, it is “God’s official temple. Just like Solomon’s temple, this is a community focal point where offerings are made and God’s oracle is consulted.” [The TempleOS V2.17 welcome screen] greets the user with a riot of 16-color, scrolling, blinking text; depending on your frame of reference, it might recall DESQview, the Commodore 64, or a host of early DOS-based graphical user interfaces. In style if not in specifics, it evokes a particular era, a time when the then-new concept of “personal computing” necessarily meant programming and tinkering and breaking things.
Turns out he’s a prolific slashdot commenter too. Fantastic stuff, a lot like watching one of those music visualizations in Windows Media Player.
I’ve noticed a pattern in his comments that’s similar to some of the delusional old folks I work with. They’ll be doing fine- downright normal even- when something sets them “off” and they spiral into la-la land. With one lady, it was any mention of a man who kept coming into her room and watching her. She’d start asking for police, and then explain the messages the intruder was leaving for her in the newspaper and on TV- pretty quotidian schizo stuff.
There’s the boring kind of people with memory loss who just fixate on one or two things (“I need to go to the airport. How do I get from here to the airport?”), and then there are the more imaginative ones who can flawlessly incorporate anything that happens into their dream state, like when you hear your alarm going off and shows up in your dream as a school bell or something. There are definitely themes – for the Temple OS dude above, it’s niggers and atheists and Bible quotation. This tends to run alongside heavy anxiety, but there are some really pleasant people who do the same thing.
One guy I work with, who used to do electronics for the spooks (CIA, I think), is constantly involving me in his current “Op” (I must have that kinda face, eh?). He used to be a genius, and his smarter son was one of the original Jeopardy mega-winners (back before Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter took over), but nowadays his mind is pretty much shot. Still shows flashes of brilliance every now and then, like recalling a months-old conversation word-for-word. All you have to do is say the word “Op” and he will invent one from thin air that he’s currently working on, and point to some places where he imagines he’s planted some of his devices.
Usually it’s the people with extreme anxiety plus psychosis who do the glossolalia thing that Temple OS does, especially when it’s just the same couple of words over and over. But at the same time…the man channeled the anxiety to build an entire OS by himself. For starters, that’s not easy. And it’s the sort of artistic masterwork that only a serious whackjob could have conceived- can you imagine the average CS graduate constructing the operating system equivalent of a cathedral?
There, but for the grace of God, goes Texas Arcane. Same basic impulse and crazy high IQ, plus a little bit of extra not-IQ crazy, and Vault-OS becomes Temple OS.
Godspeed, my fellow internutso.