Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Fried Cat  §

© 2002 Aron Hsiao

It is something of a truism that all of the best blog posts are lost before they can be posted.

For the first time in a very long time I had written a post that felt right, that felt honest, that recalled the me that used to write.

And of course as I went to save it on my Dana, a system error occurred requiring a reset, and all was lost.

— § —

Serves me right for relying on any device manufactured years ago in today’s technological reality.

Serves me right for relying on anything based on PalmOS in 2012.

Serves me right for failing to save more often.

— § —

And yet, despite all of this, I can’t help but continue to feel attached to these “older” devices. The sheer simplicity and directness with which they operate is something that has been lost to us.

I have the old Newton 2100 out on the desk again over the last few days. Nothing like it will likely come again—and it’s our loss. I’ve even toyed with the idea of trying to assemble a stash of them again (once upon a time, anticipating using one of these for as long as I possibly could, I owned three of them; later, in a fit of pragmatism, I sold two, keeping just one as a keepsake).

These days I do most of my writing of any kind on a Dana, despite the limitations and instability. And there are times—more than one of them—at which I’ve felt the urge to return to an old Nokia candy bar for phone service.

— § —

This is too speculative to go onto that “other” site, but I often feel as though there is a distinct way in which technology was more “intimate” earlier on in the life of the network society, as though we’re sliding backward—we had the game licked once, we were teetering on the brink of cyborgism, and instead we took a hard left and ended up back in the land of the consumer media device. The iPad is the new DVD player. The Newton and my first Linux machines were parts of my soul, the Palm Treo less so, and the iPhone and iPad now, despite their gloss, almost not at all.

The Unix filesystem, the Newon soups, and the sparse grey screens with only letters to adorn them—these were abstract and open spaces, unencumbered by metaphor and conventional, consumer-product objectivations. They were like the interior of the mind, like its process and potential. There was a deep synergy there.

Devices now are overloaded with metaphor—with windows and buttons and movies an notepads and so on, all of them rendered photorealistically.

It is plausible to incorporate a calm, abstract space of potential and reason into one’s consciousness; less so a highly elaborated jungle of consumer products and behaviors.

The barriers to entry of the former were much higher, but the self-articulating power of the latter much lower.

— § —

Perhaps this does belong on the other blog. Hard to say.

I remain unclear, as someone that has routinely been accused of “non-academic writing” over the years, about what makes a chunk of writing specifically and particularly “academic,” beyond the notion that it ought to be shot through with regular citations to others that have said what you are just now trying to say—first.

Fine, if they did, in fact, say it first.

But I often think that as a result we end up losing sight of the reason for citations in the first place and enmeshing ourselves instead in a game in which it is illegal to say that which has not already been explicitly said.

And we are the poorer for it.

— § —

This entry will have to be cut short. It’s not nearly as reflective or maudlin as the other one was, but that’s okay. I have to go now because our daughter has been awakened, deep in the bowels of the night, by our infernal cat, second only to our infernal dog in its ability to create frustration and difficulty in life.

The dog, however, is at least cute.

There is the slightest chance we’ll be having fried cat for breakfast tomorrow.

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