D’you ever wade in to the mire? You ever feel like your life is a fucking swamp, and you’re waist deep…? and maybe you’re sinking. You’re not sure… is it quicksand, or just plain too bloody deep? Shit, don’t…! Oh fuck, I can see it in your eyes, you’re going to go on. Soon it will be up to your neck. You know: you’ve got to go on. Wade in deeper. And you will not beg, or pray, dammit, you’ll wade in and go down or go on, as fate will have it. Gut it out. Stubborn. Curiosity got the cat they say, but what gets the human? Mulishness.
At least here I have a view. Dirt. Piles of dirt, piles of gravel, more piles of dirt. Logs, lampposts and power lines. And buildings, half finished, surrounded by trucks and bulldozers. It’s better than nothing. Better than nothing better than nothing better than nothing better than nothing. My mantra for the day. The expensive machinery clatters and kerchunks impressively in the next room, doing my work for me. God, it’s all so exciting. The dirt outside is wet. It’s raining. The machinery calls me. After a time I can no longer ignore it’s insistent quavering beeps. Even machines need help sometimes. I watch the rain some more. Clatter. Kerchunk. The phone doesn’t ring. A truck comes and dumps a pile of dirt next to the others. More excitement. Better than nothing, I remind myself. Better than nothing better than nothing better than nothing. I take the sandwich out and eat it.
Did you ever, just for the hell of it, give people what they want? Did you, just to see what happens, say, yes! let’s do that! Yes, fuck me, though it’s crazy! for example? Go ahead, strip and jump in to the river in the middle of the night, why not? Yes, touch that wire in order to find out if the voltage is high enough to kill you, haha! Here, have another drink! Are you giving, or are you daring them to take what they want?
Who takes a dare sucks eggs, we used to say. Well, I suck eggs every damned Easter, so…?
Oh, oh, oh. They’ll get you, those second thoughts. The second thoughts are right bastards, but, in fact, it’s the third thoughts that will bring you down. Second thoughts, well, you can toss them off with a round turn, if you have the knack, but then… on come the third thoughts. Those are the ones that fuck your brain. Wheels within wheels within wheels.
I love technology, and I hate it. I’ll be damned if I can understand it even when I do. It’s a fucking labyrinth sometimes, and I wonder at it, because technology should be usable like bloody a damned car. And this is coming from someone who loves computers and has been using them for over a quarter century, for Christ’s sake. I grew up with technology, but that doesn’t mean I accept it without question.
Today, when people think of technology, they think of computers, but in fact technology is much, much more than that. It’s all around us. It’s in the little chips in our cars. Where are they? Tried to repair a car yourself lately? Twenty-five years ago you still could, with a basic understanding of how motors work and a manual. Try that now.
I can still repair my bicycle without the assistance of a computer, thank God. The Germans have a euphemism for bicycles: wire-donkey. Yeah, I like that. I bet, even a hundred years from now, that I can still repair a wire-donkey, assuming I’m alive, which I won’t be, thank God. Well, thank alcohol, perhaps, or just plain entropy.
But don’t forget, even bicycles are a form of technology. And they are fairly complex, actually. It’s just that they’ve been around for so long that the knowledge of how to deal with them has become common knowledge. If you gave a bicycle to a caveman he wouldn’t know what to do with it, much less how to repair it. But you wouldn’t know how to deal with the technology that was commonplace for him either. Could you repair his spear if it was broken? You probably couldn’t even throw it properly. But you could learn to do so, because the technological principles inherent in these things can be understood by any human of average intelligence. And if you showed him how to ride the bike he’d be off chasing dear on it in no time flat.
What bothers me about modern technology is that it is so complex, so riddled with hidden functions, that no one but a specialist can even attempt to understand it. Often enough even the specialists are stumped.
I’ve had to work with computers and highly technical machines for most of my professional life. How often have I turned to technical support because of rebellious machines only to find they can’t help me? Too often, that much is sure. My approach in such cases, when all else failed, was a sort of intuitive trial and error process. I solved the problem myself then, as often as not, but it wasn’t as if I’d really known what I was doing or had understood why exactly it worked. To my mind, that is not how technology should be.
You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.
– Albert Einstein
I’m in the waiting room, and I have to laugh, because there’s this little old lady there, she’s wearing a shawl that reminds me of the sort of grandmother I’ve never had, you know, and she’s muttering to herself, getting herself in to a rage. She’s angry, because people who came after her are getting in first. She looks at me and mutters… I feel like she’s demanding an explanation from me: why does she have to wait so long? I grin at her, and say: Harter Tag, was? She’s old school, so she gives me a venomous look, but actually she’s softening, I can tell. What am I saying, she’s softening, I think, pfff, she can tell a victim when she sees one, she was in the damned war. Ration cards and breaking the queue to get a shred of meat. She knows time goes forwards. She knows… whatever, in any case she’s been through more than I have and should be respected for that although I couldn’t care less. She could probably beat me up. Humans are such animals.
I’m in the waiting room
please don’t leave me to remain
I’m in the waiting room
sitting in the waiting room, sitting in the waiting room, sitting in the waiting room, sitting in the… Waiting Room, from Fugazi.