Tuesday, April 21, 2009

This Was No Accident. He Was Forwarded to Death.

Cover of "Tron (20<span class=

I recall the old Disney film "Tron," in which the hero is sucked into a video game, the special effects so crude by modern standards but so smashingly Freudian: Dream Works? Yah, your dreams work .

Of course, there was many a novel before and many a novel and film since in which someone is sucked from this world into some smaller simulacrum and some metaphorical statement about the nature of reality is worked out. (Being drawn into an actual dream world -- Render, the Shaper! -- reduces the distance between thing and thing represented to minimal distance, I'd say. But it's all the same message, the same terror, the same comfort.)

Anyway here I sit advising students, and any free moment between advice I've been using to kill emails. So I imagine a novel and/or movie in which the hero is drawn into Microsoft Outlook, which is at first a benign world but where soon the emails breed like rabbits or rats and gradually crush him to death.

That's the image I like. He turns away. He looks again: More. More. Always more. They are like crack babies, the crack babies of the digital world. Attention must be paid.

Does this cut against my recent argument in favor of accepting in good spirit irrelevant emails from friends? Of course not. It's the legitimate stuff that's overwhelming. I need to starting getting up at 5 a.m. and getting my hands bloody.

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