I present here a slightly edited version of an older post from heartbeat in the big city dating back to a time when this platform was used for a range of functions, and before being entirely devoted to poetry. Again, this blog seems to be its natural home now, and the time feels right not only in the wake of the inescapable debate on technology, but also in the light of what appears to be an obsession with looking at constituent parts.
Whilst I cannot condemn the many lists purporting to make the professional which the web is rife with, I express concern before a method which looks like it wishes to generate through a process of breaking down, rather than putting together.
How many tests? How many dictionaries? How many contacts? How many hits? Let's take a look inside. The Golden Goose will be none the worse, I hope.
After a long and opulent night out lasting most of the 1990s, bigcitymartin wrote:
...can I have your number...?
Please, I'll do anything!
Oh, of course you can...let me see...I need to check - I can never remember my own number :)
Look carefully for the signs of data fragmentation: initially, a sense of freedom and mystery surround the clubbers who cannot be reduced to a simple string of numbers. They are liquid, evaporating and reforming in the most distant corners of your mind's world. They transform into a mere username, forever mutating to suit moods and trends. Their strings are traded casually, and always smell of exotic horizons, shaped on faraway sandy shores. Control is unnecessary. I am my own core, nothing else will describe me.
"You can call me whatever you like..."
The totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century knew well that we are defined by the data whose combination cannot but result in our person: the sacred value of a name has been explored in the holiest of books, and has been the subject of our speculations here. A man was also made respectable by being Mr Jones of Mayfair, London, and the penalty of exile served to erase such dignity. Passports or the lack of them, places of birth and star signs all made a person into a recognisable value. Technology in the form of a telephone number increased - for a time - a sense of belonging: when people could remember yours, you were certainly worthy of some pre-eminence. Lovers' hearts would skip when dialling, and many readers must remember the digits of their early passion.
Data alienation reduces all this to expendable modules: it begins with the seductive abandonment of the stripper, whose cast-off clothing reveals boldness and a fierce, wild carelessness no woman normally uses towards her favourite garments.
When the balance is lost, the items originally meant to enhance, support, reveal and shroud become a costume - then a mask.
The spell is broken, and blood runs cold as the nakedness changes into the technicality of exfoliation. The juices stop flowing completely at the chemical peeling stage, which is followed by terror as the corner of a now frigid lover's eye catches a glimpse of the sterile knife of the surgeon in readiness for slicing.
Data loss follows. The numbers and figures a rigorous and attentive maintenance should have kept together to specify us have been gambled randomly, swapped and exchanged by a monkey on a programmer's keyboard, a drunken and profane reading of our own personal Torah.
It may be only digital - that is of course our choice - but it cannot not be still truly me.
No one is ever this shallow when it comes to other apparently small things: the colour of our lover's eyes, her scent on our fingers or a single hair from her head on our pillow.
Outside clamouring, inside Oz prays for Dorothy's speedy deliverance...
Finished in London in 2009
(Skin graffiti courtesy of S.S.)