Tuesday, March 31, 2009

blogging in English

A lot of people say technology is to blame for the English language becoming base, boring, monotonous and just plain old blah when compared to other languages.

I know you don't care and it's a miracle you're even seeing this but I say, "I emphatically disagree."

Technology isn't the problem. Excuse me, but technology makes it
easier to write, share, publish, expose the masses to the word. Word is bond and technology is word so technology is bond. In this case I am on the side of technology. The reason people have stopped appreciating our very own tongue is "Scriptus Interruptus". Yeah I made that up. So what?

Scriptus Interruptus is a disease of excuses and what it amounts to is this -- as of late, people are terribly uninspired. They're uninspired because they can't read and they can't read because they are too busy typing with their opposable thumbs. Wow. What made us special has led to a real problem. Am I making any sense to you?

This is English:

OF Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat, [ 5 ]
Sing Heav'nly Muse,that on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen Seed,
In the Beginning
how the Heav'ns and Earth
Rose out of Chaos: Or if Sion Hill [ 10 ]
Delight thee more, and Siloa's Brook that flow'd
Fast by the Oracle of God; I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventrous Song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th' Aonian Mount, while it pursues [ 15 ]
Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhime.
And chiefly Thou O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all Temples th' upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for Thou know'st; Thou from the first
Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread [ 20 ]
Dove-like
satst brooding on the vast Abyss
And mad'st it pregnant: What in me is dark
Illumin, what is low raise and support;
That to the highth of this great Argument
I may assert Eternal Providence, [ 25 ]
And justifie the wayes of God to men.

It's by Milton. It's the first bit of Paradise Lost.

This is English:

This week the insomnia is back. Insomnia, and now the whole world figures to stop by and take a dump on my grave.

My boss is wearing his gray tie so today must be a Tuesday.

My boss brings a sheet of paper to my desk and asks if I’m looking for something. This paper was left in the copy machine, he says, and begins to read:

“The first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club.”

His eyes go side to side across the paper, and he giggles.

“The second rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club.”

I hear Tyler’s words come out of my boss, Mister Boss with his midlife spread and family photo on his desk and his dreams about early retirement and winters spent at a trailer park hookup in some Arizona desert. My boss, with his extra-starched shirts and standing appointment for a haircut every Tuesday after lunch, he looks at me, and he says:

“I hope this isn’t yours.”

I am Joe’s Blood-Boiling Rage.

Tyler asked me to type up the fight club rules and make him ten copies. Not nine, not eleven. Tyler says, ten. Still I have the insomnia, and can’t remember sleeping since three nights ago. This must be the original I typed. I made ten copies, and forgot the original. The paparazzi flash of the copy machine in my face. The insomnia distance of everything, a copy of a copy of a copy. You can’t touch anything, and nothing can touch you.

My boss reads:

“The third rule of fight club is two men per fight.”

Neither of us blinks.

My boss reads:

“One fight at a time.”

I haven’t slept in three days unless I’m sleeping now. My boss shakes the paper under my nose. What about it, he says. Is this some little game I’m playing on company time? I’m paid for my full attention, not to waste time with little war games. And I’m not paid to abuse the copy machines.

What about it? He shakes the paper under my nose. What do I think, he asks, what should he do with an employee who spends company time in some little fantasy world. If I was in his shoes, what would I do?

What would I do?

The hole in my cheek, the blue-black swelling around my eyes, and the swollen red scar of Tyler's kiss on the back of my hand, a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy.

Speculation.

Why does Tyler want ten copies of the fight club rules?

Hindu cow.

What I would do, I say, is I’d be very careful who I talked to about this paper.

I say, it sounds like some dangerous psycho killer wrote this, and this buttoned-down schizophrenic could probably go over the edge at any moment in the working day and stalk from office to office with an Armalite AR-180 carbine gas-operated semiautomatic.

My boss just looks at me.

The guy, I say, is probably at home every night with a little rattail file, filing a cross into the tip of every one of his rounds. This way, when he shows up to work one morning and pumps a round into his nagging, ineffectual, petty, whining, butt-sucking, candy-ass boss, that one round will split along the filed grooves and spread open the way a dumdum bullet flowers inside you to blow a bushel load of your stinking guts out through your spine. Picture your guy chakra opening in a slow-motion explosion of sausage-casing small intestine.

My boss takes the paper out from under my nose.

Go ahead, I say, read some more.

No really, I say, it sounds fascinating. The work of a totally diseased mind.

And I smile. The little butthole-looking edges of the hole in my check are the same blue-black of a dog’s gums. The skin stretched tight across the swelling around my eyes feels varnished.

My boss just looks at me.

Let me help you, I say.

I say, the fourth rule of fight club is one fight at a time.

My boss looks at the rules and then looks at me.

I say, the fifth rule is no shoes, no shirts in the fight.

My boss looks at the rules and looks at me.

Maybe, I say, this totally diseased fuck would use an Eagle Apache carbine because an Apache takes a thirty-shot mag and only weighs nine pounds. The Armalite only takes a five-round magazine. With thirty shots, our totally fucked hero could go the length of mahogany row and take out every vice-president with a cartridge left over for each director.

Tyler’s words coming out of my mouth. I used to be such a nice person.

I just look at my boss. My boss has blue, blue, pale cornflower blue eyes.

The J and R 68 semiautomatic carbine also takes a thirty-shot mag, and it only weighs seven pounds.

My boss just looks at me.

It’s scary, I say. This is probably somebody he’s known for years. Probably this guy knows all about him, where he lives, and where his wife works and his kids go to school.

This is exhausting, and all of a sudden very, very boring.

And why does Tyler need ten copies of the fight club rules?

What I don’t have to say is I know about the leather interiors that cause birth defects. I know about the counterfeit brake linings that looked good enough to pass the purchasing agent, but fail after two thousand miles.

I know about the air-conditioning rheostat that gets so hot it sets fire to the maps in your glove compartment. I know how many people burn alive because of fuel-injector flashback. I’ve seen people’s legs cut off at the knee when turbochargers star exploding and send their vanes through the firewall and into the passenger compartment. I’ve been out in the field and seen the burned-up cars and seen the reports where CAUSE OF FAILURE is recorded as “unknown.”

No, I say, the paper’s not mine. I take the paper between two fingers and jerk it out of his hand. The edge must slice his thumb because his hand flies to his mouth, and he’s sucking hard, eyes wide open. I crumble the paper into a ball and toss it into the trash can next to my desk.

Maybe, I say, you shouldn’t be bringing me every little piece of trash you pick up.

That's from Fight Club.

Both Milton and Palahniuk wrote brilliant pieces. Both pieces are inspired. Both are a bit overwhelming. Both are inspiring despite the fact that they are overwhelming.

The problem is not technology. Palahniuk is gen X (pretty much) so he's "grown up" around the same technology the rest of us have and it hasn't had a negative effect on his writing. In fact, he's embraced all the aspects of technology in such a manner that it adds a wonderful flavour to his writing.

The real problem is multitasking. That's where the opposable thumbs come in. Due to multitasking we don't READ in the same way we used to. We don't JUST read. Who just reads anymore? If I need to be tweeting and blogging and updating my profile and texting and surfing and reading all at the same time......(gasp) how can I really take in the literature portion of my multitasking effort? How do I absorb the overwhelming Palahniuk and Milton? Neither are scanable reading. Neither are the type of reading you want to do when you're on the treadmill. Or watching LOST. I can blog and watch LOST but I'm not going to read and watch LOST. Not even pulp fiction. Not really. So what do I do? Fall behind on all the other stuff that takes up so much of my free time? Or read. How do you stay connected and read enough to learn from it?

Not sure. But maybe you're supposed to do different types of reading now that there are so many different types of things to read. Maybe you can use SCRIBE on your iPhone while you jog but make time for books on paper. They smell so good and it feels amazing to crack the spine of a new book. You can't get that anywhere.

Note to self : develop spine crack app for iPhone.

What was I saying?

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