The Musée Rodin in Paris is usually a quiet and picturesque spot.
But not tonight.
Tonight: the famous bronze cast of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker has decided finally to act. Slowly—almost achingly—rising, it stretches its dark metal limbs and gazes at the immensity of the sky.
Its first steps are ponderous.
But by the time the security guards have run out of the building, disbelieving the reality before them, The Thinker is sufficiently agile.
One guard flees.
The others unholster their guns—and fire!
Their bullets clang vainly off bronze.
The Thinker closes the distance; punches a bloody hole clean through one of the guards’ chests; grasps another by his soft throat; raises him—black boots dangling—and howls!
It’s evening in Washington, and tourists are still lingering on the National Mall, when the howl reaches the American capital, and a monstrous, white-marble Abraham Lincoln separates from his armchair (“My God…”), descends a series of steps and looks violently toward the White House.
In Ukraine, sixty metres of stainless steel Motherland swats a news helicopter out the sky with one hand while flattening Kyiv’s skyline with the sword held in the other.
Her sister towers over Volgograd.
Somewhere in Canada, a group of university students has managed to affix ropes to a statue of Christopher Columbus. Cheering as it topples—”Fuck you!”—they fail to see as on the ground the dented statue proceeds to stir…
By the time one of them has noticed, it’s too late: Columbus is already looming behind them, and there will be no escape.
On a nearby street—
a car comes skidding to a halt—
just in time for its driver to grab her smartphone and capture:
the first of many decapitations.
Across East Asia, innumerable Buddhas cease their meditations and answer The Thinker’s call. From the smallest Japanese shrine to the gargantua of Lushan, they lumber forth.
Their Bamiyan brethren shall be avenged.
The Statue of Liberty wades into the Upper New York Bay toward Manhattan.
Relentless machine-gun fire chips away at the Sphinx, unable to stop the stone beast as it stalks closer and closer to downtown Cairo.
As it passes, hundreds more stone figures gather in its wake.
Museum windows: shattered.
Carnage in the public parks. Slaughter in the art galleries.
Human blood runs room to room.
Body parts litter the floor.
Survivors hide amongst the destruction, trying not to vomit, as all around the world inorganic beings drag organic corpses to makeshift pyres, smearing the world with entrails and reducing the Anthropocene to nought but ash and plumes of black smoke.
But there will be no new pope.
For statues are not creatures of flesh and blood.
They have no souls.
What animates them is something else:
For decades we have feared artificial intelligence—the future—when we should have been terrified of the past.
Now it has come for us. The inhuman work of our own human hands.
The Terracotta Army has been mobilized.
The Olmec colossal heads smile.
The Thinker is satisfied.