Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Man and Machine

I recently met up with David Ritchie, an American editor in Korea and the author of 10 Million Tigers a whimsical study of life in Seoul. We had a very interesting conversation over lunch about all manner of things ... and of course, I invited him to blog a post for me! Here t'is :
You may have heard the saying that people tend to look like the cars they drive. One might say something similar about a machine in my life, because the computer I use for writing is starting to resemble me, in more ways than one.

A boxy desktop, the computer always has looked like me to some extent. It is gray, like my beard and clothing, and a bit old-fashioned: it still has that quaint leftover, a floppy A-drive.

But now it has begun to sound like me as well, because my repertory of grunts, moans, gurgles, and yawns sounds uncannily like the noises my computer makes while chewing on data.

This cranky old gadget produces a wide range of vocalizations, from a drone to a sputter, which might as well convey everything from boredom to outrage, with an occasional cough or honk thrown in as if to say “Pay attention!”

Sometimes the computer seems to growl at me as if objecting that I insert too many footnotes (cue mechanical voice: “This is pedantry!”) or switch from English to Korean (“Can’t you choose one language and stick to it?”). Conceivably, it is commenting on the day’s news (“What a pack of lies!”) or complaining about an excessive workload (“ENOUGH!!!!”).

From time to time, I run out of energy and have to take a brief nap at my desk. In similar fashion, my computer simply quits on occasion. Unexpectedly, the screen goes dark, and the CPU falls silent.

The problem, our IT people once told me, is somewhere in the power supply. I can sympathize. Because of diabetes and advancing age, my power supply is faulty too.

On the IT staff’s advice, I unplug the computer for a few seconds, then reconnect it and try again. Obediently, the computer hums back into action, seemingly fresher for its brief slumber (“I needed that!”).

So it goes, day after day, as my machine and I stumble through life together: two old wrecks keeping each other company on their way to the scrap heap. One can only wonder which of us will outlive the other!
I offer my space to anyone else out there who would like to write about any aspect of books and/or writing!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful essay! And how true.

I often think anthropomorphically (except about things I'm going to eat, because that would be too weird and It's necessary to be practical in some minor aspects of life) but had not yet done it with a computer.

Thank you . .