Thursday, March 20, 2008

(Virtual) Magpie Spaniard

A few months ago, I was talking to a friend about some article I had read somewhere (I couldn’t remember where) by someone (I wasn’t sure who) about something or the other.

“I feel like my mother,” I said bitterly to this friend, convinced, as all women are, that this metamorphosis from individual into clone of parent was inevitable. “I can’t remember anything about what I’ve read, much less where I read it.”

“That’s scary,” said friend and ordered another vodka.

I blame Bloglines.

I can’t remember (see?) who introduced me to the thing but now I hate to travel because I dread returning to find thousands of unread posts from over 80 feeds. These thousand odd posts, you must remember (since I can’t), do not include those posts that I save to read later. As of this morning the posts I have already read but have saved for reasons I can no longer remember, now number 1035.*

How did this happen? How did I allow myself to turn into this collector of bright shiny but ultimately useless virtual objects? Every few days I get anxiety attacks. Will I ever return to those posts and see why I needed to save them? I scan each feed and delete articles. When I get the numbers down to below a thousand I feel a sense of great achievement, but this is increasingly becoming harder to do because apparently there are so many brilliant people out there whose words I cannot bear to have vanish into the ether.

What I do now is delete entire feeds. This is a good thing because though it may not make a difference to the number of posts I already have saved, what it means is that I get rid of potentially saveable posts from even appearing on my horizon. I’m really not sure why I need so many of these things – poems I want to keep; photographs; some phrases I have to come back to…

Talking of which, I really am that Thieving Magpie: a compulsive stealer of phrases. I read something I like and I have to have it for later use. What’s that? Why don’t I just write it down, instead of saving a whole post in which one phrase will be buried? What? Now I have to keep pen and paper on a desk that’s already cluttered with CDs and staplers and assorted drawings and string and paper weights?

This is not to say that I don’t carry around a diary for just such things as found phrases and the products of my own fevered imagination. I have a diary in every bag I carry ( I don’t always have a pen, but that’s another story) . And one in the bathroom and one by the bed. Yes. Some of my best thoughts come to me just as I've either soaped myself or when I’m about to drop off to sleep, so there’s a torch and a diary and a pen (but no water-proof pages). It’s an entirely different matter that what was so brilliant in the middle of the night is all dross in the morning. We do not deal in such clichés. Let’s just say that the morning brings hard work and the night brings much too much illumination for proper sleep.

So this morning, I was making coffee and supervising the milk and packing lunch at a quarter past five when I had the most amazing insight into human nature. It was stunning in its clarity and originality. I was certain that this thing was too large to disappear; I could hold on to this thought while wondering at the same time whether I had already put salt in the pulao or not.

This is the trouble with having nothing in the kitchen to write on except the calendar. I forgot what I totally, totally understood about people before sunrise this morning.

So much for what all this sustained waking up at dawn is supposed to do for your memory. There's a connection between this and why I have so many posts saved on Bloglines. I just know it.

*I thought of writing this post when the number was a beautiful one, like 1111 but I …


Banno said...

I've got bloglines on my browser. But have still to figure out how to work it. Which is a good thing, I guess, given your state.

As for forgetting, have been a congenital one, ever since I can remember, which is not too long ago. I like to think it frees me to make up my own stories about things.

dipali said...

Such fun. You are now sounding like my mother, who will forget an entire movie the day after she's watched it.
(And these are lovely old movies, not forgettable ones).
Incidentally, I'm not much better. I keep planning to at least write down the names of the books I've been reading, but never do.

Sharanya said...

Exactly why I don't do Bloglines or such feeds. As it is, I already have 400-something unread messages in my Gmail, and thousands in another mail account I rarely used to open but have had to start using again.

Remember (erm.. probably not) the time when subscribing to a list or whatnot meant actually reading, and not to mention, participating?

Internet detox should be self-imposed and compulsory every two months, as folks like us no doubt know! But like you say -- what about the thousands of messages that will greet us upon returning to civilization. And *gasp* the truly awful pix on FB from last week's drunk shenanigans which we weren't around to untag?

swar said...

time you had a lady-in-waiting...

won't it be fun? attending to your feeds, reading all aloud while you sauté the onions or take a quick shower. or even telepathise all posts while you travel.


Space Bar said...

Banno: Stay far away from it! :D

Dipali: Oh god! You mean all daughters not only grow up to be like their own mothers but also all mothers?!

And don't make lists. You'll just forget where you out them!

Sharanya: Don't even talk to me about those old lists. I still get digests from them though I stopped participating. But I can't stop evesdropping.

swar: A secy to read out unread posts from a feedreader? Aaargh! The end is here!

SUR NOTES said...

hey little magpie, now this is a post i would want to steal.

km said...

Lovely post.

So you are also a keeper of notebooks in every room? Gawwd. I think we are all *slightly* sick in our heads.

??! said...

guess who's on net-detox? or was, right uptil then. damn!

....i might as well go blog now.

Space Bar said...

sur: send me photos instead of letting me save your posts on bloglines, okay?

km: you too, hanh? i have a thing about diaries. that will be another post.

??!: i noticed. :D and...welcome back!

blackmamba said...

A lovely rant(?).

Though the trouble with notes scattered in different place is, of course, you forget where you wrote that great thought down. Just as entropic as the brain.

That said, the image of you near your sink, soap on your face, squinting and jotting things down in earnest is über cool.

Space Bar said...

BM: sigh, yes. that happens too. then i sit at the window like a bag lady and with old bills surrounding me like pigeons i wonder what i was looking for in the first place,.

there's no way to win this thing, is there?