Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Kindness of PCs

Blanche DuBois, the white lady of the woods and also Streetcar, was wont to be thankful for the kindness of strangers, a kindness on which she appeared to get by. I hold a brief for most strangers, thinking of them abstractly as potential friends. These past days, I have been getting by on the kindness of friends and their computers--no strangers have yet stepped forth yet.

When you takes a beloved animal friend to the vet or loved one or self to any specialist above the rank of local shaman, you're naturally apprehensive when said specialist above the rank of local shaman says, Looks like we'd better run some tests. The apprehension increases until beloved animal friend is back chasing cars or cats or, in the case of my animal friend, dragons. Where persons are involved, we want to see them back at the top of their form. Nothing less will do.

When your computer is kept over night for tests, your entire sense of self may feel the invasion. You are brought to hard realities of how significantly you are connected to persons, places, and things, all thanks to the Internet. You submit and receive manuscripts, you Google various nouns, you look up things using Wikipedia and other reference sources, you check blogs, news, music sources, and of course email. Even though you still prise out a first draft with a fountain pen, enjoying the connection with hand, instrument, and paper, you recognize how significant your relationship is with your MacBook. While it is off at Mac Mechanic, you are vaguely out of sorts, forced back on the whims and mercies of PCs, figuring ways to get your email through your university account of something run by your ISP. None of it seems quite real because it is not your instrument, adjusted to your touch and preferences.

Looks like the hard drive is shot, Mach Mechanic says and even though it is covered by warranty, even though the people at Mac Mechanic say they've already ordered a new one, you recognize the thin line between this sophisticated hunk of electronics and something that chases cars or cats or dragons.

You have not sworn at a computer since acquiring your Mac, although there were a few moments when you swore at the Fates while getting used to the Mac and thinking some valued chunk of material might have gone poof into the cyber beyond.

This was supposed to be an essay into the democratization of the dramatic narrative by the removal of gods and goddesses, a process that led in the breach to the introduction of supernatural beings and powers back into dramatic narrative in the genre of fantasy. But that has been placed on temporary hold until I am not depending on the kindness of PCs and strange computers. This entire concatenation of events has opened the door to the perception that any essay of dramatic relevance is bathed in risk. I am still trying to decipher paragraphs of a short story written in ink on a legal pad that accidentally met a puddle of water from a spilled bottle of Avian.

The Mac has a separate external hard drive which mercifully was employed scant hours before the misadventure with the hard drive. The legal pad had no such thing. Heraclitus argued against us being able to bathe in the same river twice, an argument I have upgraded to include showers. I also extrapolate that no writer can write the same story twice when that effect is desired. Perhaps the ultimate irony is when the writer writes the same story twice unintentionally.

It is in fact a jungle out there.


Lori Witzel said...

Thanks for reminding me I was due to drag-n-drop some files into Fred's friendly maw.

Backup, backup, backup!

Here's hoping your pixel-sparking enabler is feeling less mercurial and mo' bettah soon.

Only 50 minutes to go for backup...

Anonymous said...

Data loss is part of the reason five of my novels died in their infant stages. Back in the days of 3.5" floppies, I can not count the number of times 5 or 6 chapters were easily lost to a corrupted disk. I've tried re-writing, and am never satisfied that it came out anywhere near the way the original voice of the story was supposed to.