3/15/2007

Thought of the day

The written word isn't being devalued. It's being revalued. It's changed from being like a diamond (in the Age of Gutenburg), to being like water. Incredibly high total utility, incredibly tiny marginal utility. Being a writer or editor will soon be like running a freshwater filtration plant - not glamourous at all but incredibly necessary. When pipes are everywhere, how interesting can running water be? And literature is like bottled water: refreshing for its utter luxury.

Everyone that is written (online) has universal currency, but no permanence. Stickiness is highly sought after. The scramble for fresh metaphors is more intense than ever. The alphabet is the most pervasive set of metaphors we have, but they are exhausted, mostly taken for granted.

...I have no idea what running a water filtration plant is like. Can someone write me a description? :-)

4 comments:

Char said...

Jeremy woke with a start to the truck-backing-up sound of his alarm, jumping across the room to press snooze and then dragging his feet back across the floor and flopping back into bed. Twenty minutes later he was standing in his boxers and housecoat at the kitchen counter pouring boiling water over instant coffee in a salt-and-pepper mug with a chip across from the handle. He stood there with his eyes closed, still half asleep, holding the mug up to his chest, enjoying the warmth of the steam rising to his nostrils and the rich smell of the dark roast. He put down the mug and let himself fall into a chair at the small kitchen table. Slowly waking up, sipping on his coffee every couple of minutes, he thought about the day ahead of him.
How when he finished his coffee he would rush about his apartment trying to find the right shirt for his meeting, realising it was in the laundry and have to pick the next best one, ultimately feeling less confident not only because he wasn’t looking put together, but because the search caused him to be late even though he had given himself an extra fifteen minutes.
How when he finally grabbed his car keys from the bowl on the table in the hallway he would race downstairs, feeling that dreadful feeling of “I-know-I-forgot-something-but-what-IS-it?” but already being late not being able to do the slightest thing about it. Slowly freaking out in his head at how slow the traffic is, it must be slower than usual today, what is there an accident or something, it would be today, maybe it’s on the radio, god I hate talk radio, yes! Boston! Nothing gives you more confidence than grooving to Boston as you pull into the parking garage.
How he would walk into the plant, walk past Lyndsay’s office (“Hey Jer! Nice suit!”) and run a little to get to the other end of the building to meet with Mr. Peterson. Of course Mr. Peterson is always running late so even being 7 minutes late, Jeremy will still be 8 minutes early and have to sit in the reception area outside his office, with Gertrude humming nothing in particular while she files whatever files she files.
How he would sit and fumble through the monthly status report for Mr. Peterson and how Mr. Peterson would likely look about as half awake as Jer looks before his coffee and Jer making the mental note to bring coffee to the next meeting and Mr. Peterson clearly not caring at all about coagulation and flocculation and pH levels and how much lime was used this month as long as the job is getting done, Thank you Mr. Powell, I’ll see you next month, and how Jer cursed himself for being nervous every time he had to do this, like his job was a stake, like he hadn’t done this for the past year and 7 months.
How he would make his way back down the hall and stop for a cup of coffee in the break room and talk to Lyndsay about last night’s hockey game which she would know more about than he would but these conversations made him feel a bit more of a man and Lyndsay was a nice enough girl, but really could have been doing something more with her time than general reception for the plant.
How he would take off his jacket and hang it in his locker, replacing it with his yellowing lab coat and unhook his clipboard from its place up on the wall beside the door to the plant proper. How he would walk through the deafening plant, with its steam and its ducts and valves and how it was all so big that it would make him feel small and it was all so loud that it seemed like complete silence and how it was all very Zen. This was what he liked about his job: the solitude, the recording of data, the graphing of various chemicals and products and temperatures like some mad scientist plotting to destroy the world or, when he was in a better mood, a brilliant chemist saving the world. And sometimes he honestly believed it.
How he would get home and pry off his shoes and toss his jacket and tie over the chair in the hall. Twist the cap off a bottle of beer, with the satisfying hiss and the cool drink that made him feel more and less cool at the same time. He would turn on the TV and watch the news and decide whether to make dinner or order in Chinese. How he would pick up the phone and dial a number from the black book full of post-its and scrap pieces of paper and business cards and wait for someone to pick up. “Lyndsay?” he would ask. “Hold on just a minute.” a nasal voice replies. Silence. “Hello?” “Hey, you want to meet at the Brunny for a drink and a bite to eat? I thought we could watch the Leafs game.” Silence again. Some rustling, conferring with the roommate, then: “Meet you there in 45 minutes.”
Taking a last sip of coffee, realising his mug is empty, Jeremy is finally awake and has to get ready for work.

Cupcake Man said...

Je suis blown away.

Thank you

Penny said...

Perfect.

The Mighty Kat said...

"revalued, not devalued" - yes!