You are in an art museum when a blind man deliberately starts a fire. He becomes separated from his guide dog, and they are both wandering among the flames lost and confused. You face this decision; save the dog, save the arsonist, or save the artwork.
Nick Harkaway then goes full Will Smith in Men in Black on it, before taking a decidedly Kafka turn:
This is completely fascinating.
I mean: in a national gallery or similar, the fire is going to trigger a bunch of security measures to protect the art.
It's not clear to me that a guide dog would just wander around confused.
So you have to ask yourself, if this situation actually occurs, what's really going on.
The art's still accessible? Assume you're not in Dodgy Dave's Framing and Collage Emporium on Flint Street by the River Tuxing.
So either the system has been circumvented or it hasn't tripped because the fire's not yet a threat.
In which case if you take the art, you're about to experience a rain of shit and spend a night in gaol.
So assume the system's been circumvented, which tallies with two other pieces of information you already have...
1. the guy you've identified as blind started the fire. Why? And 2. the dog hasn't got a clue what to do.
Seeing Eye dogs are absurdly smart and highly trained, and very loyal. If this dog is just wandering around, it's probably not one.
So now you've got a whole new scenario in which a robber pretending to be blind starts a fire in a gallery.
You may be the patsy! So ignore the art and the robber. Do you save the dog or flee?
Except that this scenario is confected. It requires a sequence of things to be true that are vanishingly unlikely...
And the experience of the world it describes is false. The clarity of it is a deception.
Objects in this scenario purport to possess definite natures, apprehensible identities.
In other words: if you're seeing all this actually happen, these events are likely being projected artificially into your mind.
So inherent in this situation is the fact that it is a test of your ethical and/or logical reasoning.
It's actually very sinister.
Someone is in a position of total power over you and they are experimenting on you. This kind of distressing dilemma is unethical.
As is performing experiments on unwitting and unconsenting subjects.
So now your problem is escape.
But in the meantime, you should obviously save yourself. None of it is real, but it's possible you may experience pain.
Also you need to evidence to your captor the kind of moral flexibility that means you're not a threat.
Which is why I thank my lucky stars, daily, that I pre-date online dating. I would be single FOR EVER.
Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.
Clearly, there are four lights.
Obviously I am the blind man. I don't know why I started the fire, but I must have had my reasons. I call to my guide dog so he can lead me to safety.
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No, we didn't light it, but we tried to fight it