Life in Hypertext
middleman to his new best buddy, P.D.
mean I have to type the actual date?"
could always configure a macro--if you took the time to learn the built-in
programming language--or spend seven hundred more bucks for the slicker
machine." New best buddy had a pretty slick hairdo himself, black
Well, on the other hand, this default paragraph format ain't too bad...now
if I can just get these fingers and brain to work, I'll have out a Bovary
or Copperfield in no time."
but you need to get your learning curve around the function keys, the
body posture, the demands of your stomach and wife...then we can talk
about how to pay attention to the clicking of the clock; the heartbeat;
the silent breath. So for now, how bout just practice: it's like learning
a new instrument, y'know, a second language. When you're ready you'll
do it, I'm sure. What? No, it's not a matter of exile. It's more like:
not taking too much forethought. Just a moment's notice into what is
becoming: the bird in the now-dawn: the faint light in the south. Have
you heard this mystery?"
not as such. Hold on a sec, will ya? I've got somebody else on the other
line. Okay, now run that by me again?"
a slower, simpler agenda: one word, even just one letter at a time.
To think in such microscopic terms is called poetry,
by your superiors, and so you'll need to encrypt
all your files..."
way of preface, for in truth there is nothing else but preface, introduction,
beginning. Tomorrow's task is far away in this day, and I am now to
fish in this gray dawn for an understanding of suburban childhoods and their dramatic crises--for
starters, anyway. In the public square meanwhile the rhetoric takes
over (wherever, that is, free speech
is permitted to penetrate the musak) while in the shops and cars all
along the boulevard, the mainstream news channel obliterates the airwaves,
where there might have been more pungent energy to enjoy, finer rhythms
on which to dance.
As it is,
I come to disparage this past, those histories public and private that
adorn our otherwise dawns as dreams only. Looking forward then neither
too far nor back down the road we crawled
or skidded along to get here, you reach to me through only a thin
veil of pixels, aknowledging the light of the golden-wooded breakfast
table I tap on, the tiny
screen and keyboard registering the
operating room like so much input data, monitoring progress in neural
associations to certain repeated keys, bringing into focus the icon
called "Data" at a touch but having trouble with the location
of that gosh-darned hyphen and that elusive period...at least I can
see my way clear to the contrast button when necessary and begin again
to get to the root of the middle ground, the well of tears or the grand
canyon, the time of what it is, now, to come out of that suburban hell--or
whatever other ring of paradise you want to call up from the collective
imagination called history. Where you came from: a far cry from that
jungle whose Tarzan called across your screen, or the arctic
adventure series you lived through in your second adolescence; while
not so far at all from a later experience in chicken-farming,
you return to your roots in the handheld
is sleeping while we commune, or say rather that she and you and I are
sleeping together, birds of a feather bed, whose downy dawn is marked
by ticking song, whose father's name goes by Thomas, or Bill Sr., or
simply "Daddy," while
in this cold nation's Constitution the Bill before the House now
calls God by his alias of yuppie fantasy, "Intellectual Freedom."
Did we all come home to the drunk scenes at the table, the mother screaming?
every day, but I won't stay in the public square denouncing, nor defending
anymore, because it is rather this closer-in agenda I want to report,
not the wars out there between past and future.
alone is peace, where considerations of cause and effect, linear progression
and abstract judgment are laid to rest, where the still-life and the
raging river are as lamb and lion in garden primeval, where you are
my Eve and I your snake-man, obliterator of dreams, caller to the beauty
of what is.
blue world of dreams we borrow to enjoy one by one, are reminders, cue
cards, cheat sheets and help screens,
keystrokes and shortcuts: hyphens under O's, apostrophes over periods,
commas over help and under questions. Did you get that, brain, and thereby
understand and communicate that it's not about remembering, but doing,
know, this is getting rather onto the subject of Performance:
the daily soap opera for men.
Is it all
too much, as with daylight everything changes? Does all become public
and political, so that the keyboard clatters like a stock ticker
and the steady clock is overwhelmed like a worm at first spring by flocks
of returning birds, or at best a jungle of weeds?
something to be said, the stockboy remarked in the hallway after coffee,
for paper and pencil: the colon coming into play as the easy arbiter
of false ends, the indexing of one comma after another, the period to
the bird-finger, the hyphen a function of the circle, another day at
the races, the vodka bottle, the girlie mag...
I wanted to know, what he taught
you when you came home from school, and that "corporate middleman"
was the title of choice?
replied. And one more thing. He told me if I had such a big mouth I
ought to run for the Senate when I grew up, if I ever did.
Dialogue between Son and Father:
My cat will yowl cantankerously, your dog will bark into the next night
and the next, and we'll part ways with an incomplete resolution of our
fully grown now, yet insists on a certain dimness of color, a vague
chill. Is this syndrome compatible with an empty wishlist, an infinite
desire to travel, a yen for yet another batch of chicks to be housed
and guarded in yet another series of temporary
coops and runs, so eventually as to imagine their tender flesh simmering
in a stewing sauce in the oven pot all the more clearly? Isn't this
what elected Roosevelt, who in the end would slide to hell, or so the
grandparents said, on the butter he rationed away from them and to their
sons he was sending to virtual or bloody death? Oh, the
simplicities of history, the simple pleasures of the idle rich,
the luxury of these uncharged moments, these conundrums of time and
space known as the waking household, the alarm set for school, the mom
going to work and this dad on the sax, how could it all cohere, except
by universal necessity, the arbitrary willingness
to say so, the thread
of rhythm weaving around the steady central pulse, the tick and
tock and creak of waking bed, the chime of bird and salute of young
hemlock crooked to the brightening sky, the interplay of every moment
each to the next, mirrored in these instruments, historic clock, letter-making
machine, stylus on clay, whisper in ear, what is private and what public,
when "it's all political,"
and at the same time not at all--but rather central at every point,
where every hyperlink eventually leads to
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