Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sunset electronica, entry 3

He stepped away from the glowing screen, picked up his pen and his journal, and sat down to write.

The whirr of the computer taunted him - "Here I am, I have the world here waiting for you, come over and sit down with me" - and the device next to his chair joined the chorus - "Here I am, everything you need in the palm of your hand."

But that morning, he heard the rest of it: the woman he loved playing with the dogs in the other room, the songbirds calling their music, the passing traffic from the road above.

It was on that day that somehow he sensed the computer's whirring would be silenced one day. He foresaw the cataclysm that ended with rationing of electronics, and he knew that in the end he would have to depend not on electricity but on the power of his fingers' ability to scratch thoughts and concepts across a piece of paper.

"Preserve the code, preserve the written language," a warning sounded in his mind. "The words will have no meaning to those who cannot read. The storage is useless to those with no key to the storeroom."

Armed with that knowledge, he understood that all you need in order to read the book is the book. The book is the ultimate device.

He feared the fire that could consume paper and snatch centuries of words away, but he feared more the silence of the machines - devices meant to pull the world together reduced to useless bits of plastic and silicon that no longer held what they were designed to hold.

He picked up the obsolete device and found nothing.

The seemingly magical device that once glowed and cooed and gave him books and sounds and games and pictures was silent now, replaced by the songbirds and the sunrise and the rustling of leaves in trees. There was no charge, and the words and pictures were trapped inside the device.

Good thing someone preserved the words on paper and parchment. He pulled a book off his shelf and found a voice from 500 years ago. 

"Have faith. Here they are, the words," the book whispered to him. "Here is your wisdom. Here is your past, delivered by a time machine of bound paper."

The man still could not bear to set aside his device, but he slipped it into his pocket, opened the book, and began to read.

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