24 years ago today, my favorite member (sorry, Paul) of my favorite band was shot and killed by a lunatic. But thanks to the advent of artificial intelligence and natural language processing, you can still talk to John Lennon. It’s not the most intelligent bot I’ve ever seen, but it is attempting to be John Lennon, so I took the time to play with it for awhile.
To enter the conversation, the site recreates Yoko Ono’s YES Painting, which John Lennon saw the day he met Yoko, so the story goes. I saw that piece when it was at The List Visual Arts Center at MIT. They no longer let you climb up the ladder, but I stepped on the first two rungs anyhow, just to be able to say that I climbed the same ladder John Lennon climbed. And then the curator told me to stop. I did a similar thing at the John Lennon exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland a few years ago. One of Lennon’s pianos was there behind a rope and I reached over and touched the low A. I briefly thought about playing it (the note, not the piano as a whole), but decided that I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.
“People say I’m crazy, doing what I’m doing…”


3 responses

  1. I think its wonderfully romantic. In younger days you couldnt STOP me from doing such things…whether my heart was behind it or not (call it beautiful rebellion). Now -in my mother’s voice, heard in the back of my head- all I think is “what if everyone who wanted to do that, did”…and I dont feel I deserve to do so any more than the masses. So cheers to you for not being a repressed old person!

  2. Growing up one learned how the world was split into two… You were either a Beatles fan or a Stones. You either liked John or Paul : Keith or Mick. Sure, there were other band members and you could like them some. But you had to take a stand on the BIG 2 questions.
    Then there was Yoko and complexity came into the world. Suddenly things weren’t either or. I guess I still hate the bitch for that, even more than for the caterwauling she calls music.
    On the other hand, without her I suppose we don’t have Merv and John/Yoko for a week of afternoon television. We don’t get Imagine and Working Class Hero and we don’t get Ebony and Ivory and Say, Say Say… But that’s the point about complexity I suppose. Some of it’s incredible and some of it sucks and you can’t look at your heroes and villains the same way ever again.

  3. Almost forgot…
    Lily, what if everyone played the piano? Or climbed the ladder? It’s true that eventually the piano would wear down and the ladder would fall, but in the meantime, the piano would be making music and the ladder would help people reach above themselves. And isn’t that what those things are supposed to do? Is it really better that now they are silenced, torn from their natures?