Can you see me??!?!??!

Friday, 25 March 2005

Sheer volume.

Happy Good Friday! I've been enjoying a day off reading my now-beloved Harpers magazine in the sun, accompanied by lots of coffee. Must be time for the ritual ablution.

Yesterday at work, the team was on its way to sushi when we all witnessed a brawl in the street between a dude who had apparently refused to pay his lunch bill and an aproned man who was apparently due some money. There were swinging fists and puffed-up chests, loud voices and a large crowd looking on. Many of my companions whipped out their various digicams and recorded the event.

I wondered to myself if we would take the same approach if witnessing a more heinous crime, like a rape. When do we decide to record, and what precipitates the decision to interact? I mentioned this to Cal, who claimed that interaction would begin if he knew clearly who was in the wrong. Maybe, I thought, I hoped.

One of the articles in Harpers this month is an entertaining snip labelled An exclusive report on a strange writing factory by Charles Portis, published in the Winter Issue of the Oxford American. It tells the tale of a writer investigating a "pecking factory", where monkeys toil in the hope of squeezing out the complete works of Shakespeare. A monkey interviewee asks:
"Look here, I know i'm wasting my breath, but let me try and explain something. Are you familiar with the law of large numbers?"
"That law, no, it doesn't ring a bell."
"Well, the idea that a great many uncertainties - a long series of coin-flippings, say - will miraculously add up to one big certainty. You will get half heads and half tails."
"How does that apply?"
"Order from disorder, you see. The moving finger of grace, unseen."
"Then you are in the disorder business here."
"We are in the volume business, sir. Moving product. And allow me to tell you this, that a certain brute quantity can attain a special quality all its own. We are not in the least bit interested in your old elitist notion of writing as some sort of algebra."
"But Red, listen to yourself. Here you are speaking to me in that algebra."
"Not for long. Vamoose."

The interviewer goes on to join the pecking production line, and looses himself in the liberty of "the joy of writing in torrents".

When I was about thirteen, I had one of my favourite days. It was the first day of rain for the winter. I went across the road to the park without any wet-weather gear and frolicked, stomping quickly-formed puddles, closing my eyes and opening my mouth to drink the pouring rain.

I guess we could all just stay inside.
Posted at 9:46 pm
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