siri says

because my dog is half deaf, and was never really a huge lit. fan even in his younger days, i decided to start reading classic literary passages to my iPhone.  here’s what siri had to say about them:


Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.

i can’t help you with that, jason.


Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

would you like to create a reminder for tuesday november 7 , 2017 for “the distant afternoon when father is to discover ice”?


Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

i’m sorry.


I rather you have a good mind than a cute behind.

why, thank you!


I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man.

i don’t know what that means.


I was very glad that the Austrians seemed to want to come back to the town some time, if the war should end, because they did not bombard it to destroy it but only a little in a military way.

i’m sorry… i can’t take in that many words at once.


In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street.

you have no new messages


You better not never tell nobody but God.

i do, eh?


If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me, thought Moses Herzog.

checking my sources…


Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I’ve come to learn, is women.

here’s what i found on the web:
men confess the 10 annoying things women do – iVillage


My mother is a fish.

what is your mother’s name?


Cash tried but she fell off and Darl jumped going under he went under and Cash hollering to catch her and I hollering running and hollering and Dewey Dell hollering at me Vardaman you vardaman you vardaman and Vernon passed me because he was seeing her come up and she jumped into the water again and Darl hadn’t caught her yet

i found five ATMs in the netherlands.



quotes are from, respectively: vladimir nabokov, lolita; gabriel garcía márquez, one hundred years of solitude; leo tolstoy, anna karenina; maya angelou, i know why the caged bird sings; fyodor dostoyevsky, notes from underground; ernest hemingway, a farewell to arms; david markson, wittgenstein’s mistress; alice walker, the color purple; saul bellow, herzog; charles johnson, middle passage; william faulkner, as i lay dying (twice).



  • Amaris Amaris says:

    This is very amusing. Does it say something about me or humans that I am most amused by the ones where she offered to make an action (schedule an event for father to find ice, look up ATMs, refer you to inane lists)? It goes beyond the Eliza-style making conversation.

    • Jason Sommer jason says:

      yeah – i was most intrigued when siri was actually attempting to figure something out (as opposed to just making some smart-ass comment). i did leave out the handful of examples where it recognized what i was saying & directed me to a webpage about the book, though. i’d be interested to learn how siri decides whether to be flippant, or do a web search, or take an action, or continue the dialogue.

      as an aside: i’m also kinda astonished by the extraordinary adaptability of the human mind here. 10 years ago, computers were enormous, heavy things with equally enormous, heavy monitors – and they were basically really powerful calculators. now i’ve got this thing in my pocket, which i can (rightfully) expect to respond to me in a facsimile of human interaction – like it’s cool, but no big deal. i think speculative fiction writers today have to work soooo much harder than they used to.

  • This is super fun. Also, I’m wondering if there were Canadians on the programming team of Siri. (based on Siri’s comment “i do, eh?”)

  • Karen Maner says:

    What a great idea. Some of this seemed surprisingly profound. I say run with it and turn it into a full on lyric essay.

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