Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Hard Drive of One's Own 


image via My Scandinavian Retreat
What of machines? Do they have a heaven? I hope so. I am, at this very minute, abolishing a hard drive in what was once a very tidy and reliable laptop, but it fell on hard times and became… neglected. It refused to open its eyes and speak to me. It no longer wanted to be a part of this world so I'm taking it apart from this world. I'm erasing it. Obliterating it. I'm wiping it down carefully with an electronic squeegee. There may be microscopic bits of its former self left, burned deep into the magnetic grooves like so much dirt under your fingernails, but I doubt anyone will notice. No one will see those pitted blemishes once I've polished out all the blots and stains. You see, I'm not just erasing but also re-formatting. I'm going to re-build anew atop the old. No one will ever remember what this little adding machine was like once I'm done. There'll be no vector programs, no raster manipulators, no crumpled up crushes of code, just pure, simple programs for the weekender or amateur (pronounced Ahm - ah - toer). This will be a quiet, clean and casual petit ami, for your music and movies but mostly for your words, in your widely available typefaces. Faces so familiar they'll feel like family.

Once this computer was a seedy petrol station selling fumes, lubricants, dusty candy bars, dented soda cans, cartoonish cardboard air fresheners and charcoal briquettes but that will be smashed and flattened and will go to seed. After the weeds have popped up and colourful wild flowers appear at the edges, you'll ask yourself, "What was there?" and a vague image of tarmac and dirty aluminum siding will nudge you to say, "A gas station, was it, or a convenience store?" You'll have forgotten the smell, the dark oil stained ground and long lollipop shaped shadow that cast itself out into the street as though it were trying to escape. All you'll know is the space it left behind.

When the frame of the new comes into view you'll begin to wonder all that there could be. Is it a bakery? No. Too big for that? Not a sandwich shop, or worse a burger joint? No. Where would you park? Could it… no, no. No one would make a home there? Would they? Oh, but they would. Not just a home. A weekend get-away, back to the simple life, view of the forest and a quaint chimney stack from which shall plume a wee puff of wood smoke. Wait. Not so traditional. There's an angle here that is far too modern to be "quaint". That colour. That's not quaint. Yet, it is unadorned and calming and feels just about the right size. Just the kind of place to relax and put your feet up. A place with a single comfortable chair and a table for a lamp and a glass. Empty enough to be clean. Bright enough to have cheer. Small enough to enclose. Like a Scandinavian cottage, designed by a Finish architect to sit close to the sea, on an outcrop of rock. Bare, minimal, simple not sparse. Just a touch of old framed by the lightness of the new.

That's what this laptop will be when I'm done.

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