'our creation is that guru; the duration of our lives is that guru; our trials, illnesses and calamaties is that guru. There is a guru that is nearby and a guru that is beyond the beyond. I humbly make my offering to the guru, the beautiful remover of ignorance, the enlightenment principle that is within me and surrounds me at all times.'
Guru Stotram

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

I google therefore I am. And I think I may be having a coronary. Google didn't tell me that. I managed to work it out for myself. That's quite something these days you know, when even a common or garden round-about has fifteen sets of traffic lights because we humans can't be trusted to look to our right and figure out for ourselves whether moving forward in our motor vehicles would be a suitable course of action or not.

I want to write my diary in the lounge on this once jolly, now filthy, Saturday morning. I unplug the laptop from where it lives in the other room (I can't bear to use the word office). The second I unplug the power the screen goes dark. I can just about make out words behind the grey if I put my nose an inch from the screen and squint. A portable computer whose battery lasts hours on end, power cunningly conserved by directing almost no energy towards allowing the user to see what they're doing. Great, marvellous, how clever. Bill Gates isn't a gazillionaire for nothing. So I spend forty minutes googling through the fog and the fury, trying to find out how, quite, I might adjust the brightness on this stylish little contraption.

Why I can not, like any 'normal' person, simply bring the power-pack through to the lounge as well, I don't know. This would be the sensible course of action. Instead I fling myself around the living room, burn the toast, mutter unspeakable threats to the creators of the sony vaio, almost succeed in removing a generous chunk of my own hair - all in an increasingly irrational frenzy that the computer function in the way I would like it too. And now I can hear mother's words rising out of the sludge: "darling, I don't think anybody would call you normal; highly eccentric maybe, but not normal."

Really, I alarm myself sometimes.

And I had been feeling so mild mannered this morning. But now I'm in a tremendous strop, brought on, I fear, by far too close a proximity to modern technology. It's not right actually. It's not right at all. I should be living in a shed on the side of a mountain in China, like the monks I so envied at the Buddhist film festival. It's cracked up to be pretty tough going, all that ascetic facing up to your inner demons stuff. I don't know though, sometimes I wonder whether it isn't harder to get on with the trials of facing up to your neighbours and this confusing, all consuming, bizarre world we've created for ourselves.

Until last week I didn't have a computer at home. No computer, no telly, no broadband, no toaster even. The only things with a plug were the kettle and the radio, oh and the mobile re-charger. Now, only a week into my newfound techno wizardry and I find myself screaming at the dratted machine at nine thirty on a Saturday morning. I had intended to go to yoga this morning until I decided it'd be better to write. Bad choice, clearly.

I'm just not sure I get it. I'm not quite sure I get anything actually. But this whole techno thing is definitely becoming more and more of a mystery. What's going on? It's a bottomless pit. Disconcertingly so. Not in a bah-humbug on the future, "I remember when a packet of polos was 7 pence" sort of a way, but in a 'who am I? who am I?' overtones of Nineteen Eighty-Four, Oryx and Crake, Possibility of an Island, techno navel-gazing sort of a way.

I've noticed it's creeping into contemporary art too. What I'm not sure of is whether these art works are 'about it' or are they simply 'it'? Are they 'it' or are they an image of it? Do they stand at a remove and observe or are they identified with it? And anyway, what is it? I don't know. That's exactly what I don't know.

Some fabulously odd thing at Seventeen. Something described as a 'proprietary compression algorithm, single channel video with sound'. This piece of work, entitled 'Codec', seemed to be the artist, Paul B Davis, explaining to us how to create your own proprietary video compression/decompression algorithm - whatever that might be. We don't see the artist. In fact we don't see a great deal. It's just a projection of a computer screen, screen grab or whatever you call it, with Paul's mouse moving around clicking things here and there and his US accent muttering some (to me) totally meaningless instructions on how to do this and that.

It's not that I didn't like it, I just didn't know what it was. What was I supposed to do with it or glean from it? I had no even vague sense as to what it might be pointing towards. Probably this is simply indicative of my own ignorance. Well undoubtedly so. I did, however, like Seventeen - a lot. I shall be going back there. It's like when you meet someone and they say something and you think, I have absolutely no idea what you just said, but I definitely like you.

This 'single channel video with sound' whatnot was showing in the basement. Two chairs were provided for sitting on. There was a very curious and not entirely pleasant smell that seemed to suggest chronic damp. There were no lights. I had a vague sense of rodents, or at least the need for pest control in one form or another. The whole thing rather reminded me of my student accommodation circa 1993. My Dad insisting on sending in industrial cleaners at his own expense before we moved in, and point blank refusing to sit on the sofa or accept a cup of tea. In retrospect I can see where he was coming from. I must be getting old.

The title of the show is also rather good: Kanye West Fucked Up My Show. You can tell a lot about a show from the quality of its title. The same way you can tell almost everything you need to know about a person from a brief survey of their footwear. It's about integrity.

And now of course the battery has almost run out, so I shall have to go and get the power-pack after all. Oh God. The tragic futility of it all.

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