It’s nearly thirty years since Douglas Adams wrote Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and introduced the Electric Monk to the world:
The Electric Monk was a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder. Dishwashers washed tedious dishes for you, thus saving you the bother of washing them yourself, video recorders watched tedious television for you, thus saving you the bother of looking at it yourself; Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe.
I said yesterday, not for the first time, that I’m not writing as much as I used to. I still jot down notes on scraps of paper or in notebooks, but I don’t seem to sit over them and nag at them like I did.
I used to find train and bus journeys a perfect opportunity to stare out of the window for inspiration, to worry at words, sketching out alternatives, scratching out false starts, mentally running through phonemes trying to find a rhyme or a word or phrase with just the right shape and sound. Continue reading “too much information”
As a woman whose business falls broadly within the technology sector, I’ve been involved in a number of conversations recently that talk about “women in tech” as if there were a clear dichotomy between arts and science.
Actually, not fear of losing it so much as fear of losing them. Some ten years of digital photos (plus assorted translations, stories, poems, and other memories) stored on an external hard drive which is currently refusing to boot.
There comes a point, of course, where you have to admit that the past does disappear and this is just something you have to deal with.
I am currently taking comfort in the idea that “Nothing is lost for ever […] except for the Cathedral of Chalesm”, coupled with the fact that the little blue light still comes on when I connect the disk, so perhaps it is not altogether dead.
Some more recent photos, including this one, have not been lost:
Apropos not a lot, I’ve been pondering the influence of computers on poets and their writing.
When I started to read poetry – from Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, Belloc’s Cautionary Tales and Palgrave’s Golden Treasury – most of the poems started each line with a capital letter; when I started to write poetry, I did the same.
Later, as I read more modern poets, I learned that this was not compulsory: poems can be punctuated like prose, with capital letters only appearing at the start of a new sentence. I’ve been writing uncapitalised poems for most of my adult life. Which means that I’m always slightly surprised when I see a modern poet capitalise each line. Continue reading “upgrades and improvements”
I’m not at all sure that I like targeted ads and automatic sign-ups to mailing lists when you buy from a website; I may have nothing to hide, but I don’t like the idea of my emails being read and of organisations – public or private – keeping tabs on me.
Sometimes the ads and mail outs are so wildly off-course that they are funny, but on occasions it’s uncanny how well they seem to know you. An email in my inbox this morning makes me suspect that Big Brother is watching me personally:
It’s absolutely true: I have “shown an interest in books.”
I don’t think that can possibly be true of a few million other people whose email addresses are on record with Amazon, can it?
This morning, I wanted to make a pun on the idea of a poet as a “maker” and a poem as “a made thing”; before I did so, though, I went to Google to check that I had the etymology right. What I found reminded me of those IQ test questions where you fill in the next word in a set or in a sequence.
Here the sequence starts “poet, poem, poetry,” but the final word is not the one I would have expected: