Tote, explain your crest.

tote Well, the clearest explanation of my crest is a book falling through some water. The book is represented by a shape that looks like a book, and the water is indicated by a horizontal serrated line. The book is trailing bubbles because some air got trapped between its pages when someone dropped it in the water.

interviewer That's more of a description than an explanation. I'm okay with that if you are. But, you know, it might sound a little stupid on your part, leaving it at that.

tote Leaving what at what?

interviewer Leaving your description as an explanation.

tote Well, the clearest description of my crest is a book falling through some water, maybe an ocean, maybe not. The book is a shape that looks like a book that's not the right way up. There are some bubbles made out of circles, and the surface of the water is a thing that looks the top of a stage curtain.

interviewer Yes, I meant could you give an explanation instead of a description?

tote You mean like the meaning behind the imagery?

interviewer Precisely.

tote Ugh.

interviewer What's wrong?

tote When I go to an art museum, I don't read the big signs. I read the little ones by the individual pieces, if they're descriptions or have historical information, but I don't read the explanations that are commonly at the beginning of the exhibitions, painted right onto the wall.

interviewer Was that supposed to be an answer to my question?

tote Yes, I guess. At least it was an answer to one of your questions, or something. Was it? I don't know.

interviewer No.

tote Aren't interviews supposed to be less about the questions and more about the conversation?

interrogator Maybe, but this isn't an interview. This is an interrogation.

tote Oh, I wasn't aware.

interrogator You're not aware of a lot of things.

tote Well, now you're just being a jerk. I'm a human. Of course I'm not aware of a lot of things. I have limited senses and limited intellect. But, you're probably implying that there's more to this whole crest interrogation thing than I seem to think. That's fine with me. I'm not invested in whatever idiotic intrigue you might be up to. And I want to revise something I just said, or at least question it: I have limited senses, but maybe there's no meaning in things beyond my senses, so to say, "I'm not aware of a lot" is to either say, "I'm not conscious of some significant portion of my experiences" or, "What I experience is somehow a smaller quantity than what other people experience." So, I'm not entirely sure what you mean.

interrogator Tote, explain your crest.

tote I think people should have symbols and uniforms. Some day when everyone wears uniforms with velcro patches displaying their axioms and preferences, I'll wear this crest on a long gray coat with a red lining.

interrogator And what will it mean?

tote It will mean, "I am the individual who is Tote Hughes—"

interrogator But why the imagery?

tote I'm not finished. It will mean, "I am the individual who is Tote Hughes, but a member of a collective that doesn't have a name because it doesn't need a name because we've reached a point at which no one needs a name and people are longer individuals, but collectives." It will be like what happens when you repeat your name to yourself out loud, over and over, until you give up and decide to do something else.

interrogator But why the imagery?

tote Do you want a stupid answer?

interrogator If it's the real answer.

tote Tote is basically an arbitrary name, so my symbol, as a way of spelling my name, is basically arbitrary.

interrogator What do you mean by "basically arbitrary?" What part's arbitrary and what part's not?

tote What's your name?

carl Carl.

tote Carl what?

carl Carl's enough. What's your point?

tote What does the "C" in "Carl" represent?

carl You were right about giving a stupid answer. We're done for the day.

tote Can I have a snack?

carl Like a bag of chips?

tote Yeah, that'd be great. And a cup of water?

carl Bottled water?

tote Tap water's fine.