Phantom Computers

“Computers are disappearing as distinct units.”
– Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis

I was thinking about this quote last night because I realised that more or less everything electronic I own is designed to work in tandem with other computers. My phone, for example, is the regular iPhone 4, but even though I don’t much like the Apple stock iOS i have to admit that its capabilities are impressive. I don’t think I ever dreamed that one day I would ever own a device that could;
a) access all the files on a cloud server
b) modify those files
c) directly access my computer via a proxy server
What i mean is, computers as a thing are, like the quote says, disappearing. I’m (at least notionally) writing a book, but that book doesn’t exist on my computer and it doesn’t exist on my phone. I can write it from anywhere in the world because it’s in the cloud (I am writing this from my phone, via the WordPress app, in the kitchen). Apart from my music, which is backed up, nothing personal exists on my laptop. It’s all in the big web server in the sky.
This is great because it means I’m not attached to my laptop – don’t really like it, to be honest. If it fails nothing is lost. Ditto for my phone.
We live in a shifting age where elementary components are being phased out – or rather phased into the nexus of the internet. They say that even human memory is modifying to accommodate the internet. We no longer collect facts in our head as singular memories – instead we accumulate what’s called “paging memory”, where we remember how to get the information we need, rather than having the information on an individual basis.
That’s pretty special, and a bit eerie. Computers have been replaced by a phantom, a theoretical computer.
Speaking of Cosmopolis, I recommend the book, and the film. Surprisingly, Robert Pattinson is good in it. Ditto Samantha Morton, as the creepily brilliant Head of Theory. Nobody else in my family liked it, unsurprisingly. They liked The Piano, which bored me silly.


My writing has stagnated. I think I’ve burnt myself out. But I’ll leave an extract anyway. This is the wife of the main character, a burnt-out, narcissistic Valley Girl (who might be a vampire) speaking:

“Charlie asks me if I’m seeing anyone and I give her this coy kinda smile because you can’t tell Charlie anything without it appearing in an east coast newspaper two days later.

Charlie says this town is full of vampires and I agree with her. Charlie says that she heard about a homeless guy found on the road going out of town with his throat ripped out, both eyes missing, no tongue. I know where she means.

Charlie says she saw another bum on Main Street who had a sign that read “THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH”. Charlie says she read somewhere that the world actually ended years ago but nobody noticed. “

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