Bernard Lowe: I guess people like to read about the things that they want the most and experience the least.
Robert Ford: You want to know the saddest thing I ever saw? When I was a boy, my brother and I wanted a dog, so our father took in an old greyhound. You've never seen a greyhound, have you, Bill?
Bill: Seen a few showdowns in my day.
Robert Ford: A greyhound is a racing dog. Spends its life running in circles, chasing a bit of felt made up like a rabbit. One day, we took it to the park. Our dad had warned us how fast that dog was, but we couldn't resist. So, my brother took off the leash, and in that instant, the dog spotted a cat. I imagine it must have looked just like that piece of felt. He ran. Never saw a thing as beautiful as that old dog running. Until, at last, he finally caught it. And to the horror of everyone, he killed that little cat. Tore it to pieces. Then he just sat there, confused. That dog had spent its whole life trying to catch that... thing. Now it had no idea what to do.
Robert Ford: I wonder, what do you really feel? After all, in this moment, you are in a unique position. A programmer who knows intimately how the machines work and a machine who knows its own true nature.
Bernard Lowe: I understand what I'm made of, how I'm coded, but I do not understand the things that I feel. Are they real, the things I experienced? My wife? The loss of my son?
Robert Ford: Every host needs a backstory, Bernard. You know that. The self is a kind of fiction, for hosts and humans alike. It's a story we tell ourselves. And every story needs a beginning. Your imagined suffering makes you lifelike.
Bernard Lowe: Lifelike, but not alive? Pain only exists in the mind. It's always imagined. So what's the difference between my pain and yours? Between you and me?
Robert Ford: This was the very question that consumed Arnold, filled him with guilt, eventually drove him mad. The answer always seemed obvious to me. There is no threshold that makes us greater than the sum of our parts, no inflection point at which we become fully alive. We can't define consciousness because consciousness does not exist. Humans fancy that there's something special about the way we perceive the world, and yet we live in loops as tight and as closed as the hosts do, seldom questioning our choices, content, for the most part, to be told what to do next. No, my friend, you're not missing anything at all.