Today’s brief post is a departure from the usual literary criticism/book review I’ve found myself writing this year. I realise I had stopped posting the occasional ‘random’ piece, to use a term favoured by my students, and which I’d usually gleaned from old notebooks.
I recently read on Jonathan Gibbs’s excellent Tiny Camels blog a post he called an ‘excavated fragment’. While searching for something among the files on his computer he came across a piece called ‘Sex and Death’, dated 2003. He had no idea what it was intended for. I liked his conclusion:
Memory is obsessive-selective self-narration. The rest is work for archaeologists.
In a similar spirit, then, here’s a piece – sort of a found poem, I suppose – that I came across in an old notebook that I keep by what I believe is called in the US my nightstand. It’s dated Feb. 2013.
I have no recollection of writing it, but quite like the notion of a dialogue with one’s computer. There’s the strangled syntax and dismaying jargon of the disembodied. It was written before I’d read reviews of a recent Spike Jonze film in which the protagonist falls in love with the Siri-type operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) of his computer. This excavated fragment of mine (maybe I should call it a ‘random gleaning’) appears to represent a more fractious relationship. Here it is.
An update is available to your software.
[What happens if I don’t?]
The update will resolve some contradictions
in the social system
and reduce battery usage.
Here are 2 pp of T&C.
Well done. Your social system will update
within 24 hours.
Your software is updating
and will take 3 minutes.
You will need to restart.
[What happens if I don’t? Had I stopped?]
You will be held responsible
for all the contradictions in your system.
Anything else today?