Tuesday, September 18, 2007

carp libraries

she said 'you look different'
i said 'well, i guess'
- bob dylan

1. carp
I WAS AT university. i walked to the library. the floor just outside the library was some kind of shiny linoleum. it reflected the fluorescent lights above it, turning them into hazy white carp somewhere far underfoot.

university libraries like this one are information ecologies. there are supplies of information of different kinds and different species which have learned to feed on them.

2. sorry, did you say 'information ecologies'?

YEAH.. SOME FOLKS use the term 'information ecology' as a nicer, more touchy-feely term than 'information economy'. they forget that in ecologies things actually eat each other quite a lot of the time.* an ecology, while it may be prettier than an economy, is no friendlier a place to be. there are far fewer ways to interact in an ecology without eating other occupants or being eaten by them than there are in an economy. in an ecology you either ignore other occupants, eat them, or try and stop them eating you. in an economy it's possible to sit down over coffee.

ok: it's time to go back to the library, if that's quite fucking alright with you.

what most folks are looking for here are not specific pieces of information but rather flows of information they can direct at will. this means not books but internet connections. the library is a bitch like this, a bitch with many teats. there are always more puppies here than teats though, puppies wandering around looking for somewhere to latch on to the flow, the milk of late modernity.

if you can find one of these you can direct it to supply you with whatever you want, pretty much. it's like a genie or a very capable butler:

'i wish to look upon angelina jolie! this instant, i say!'

'very good, sir.'

(enter ANGELINA JOLIE. she has enormous lips.)

..if you can find a terminal, that is. it's hard. but if you have a laptop you can just feed on the wireless signal suffusing the air: it's the tesla-esque alternative to the supply of information along wires.


3. love, maybe
I SAW A young woman. she was sitting in a quiet corner, feeding on the wireless signal. she was sitting on the floor and leaning against the wall, talking and laughing quietly in what sounded like french. her laptop sat on the floor in front of her. from it came a voice and maybe pictures too, i couldn't see: the voice of some kind of love who was not nearby, maybe.

maybe love and the marks we know it by - words and smiles and tones of voice - were being translated into more mobile kinds of information and sent great distances and then turned back into the marks of love.

she looked a little wistful but more than this she was smiling. there was a gold ring or a red flower sitting on the mousepad too and i can't remember which. i've tried the memory both ways and each way makes sense and outside the hazy white carp still swam slow and ghostly: untouchable behind the floor's shiny interface.


* fools!


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