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Thursday, 11.17.05:  Demon in the Machine

[You need a Macromedia Flash plug-in to see this animation. If you do see it and find it annoying after the 85th loop, right-click on it and uncheck Loop to stop it from making you seasick.]

I'm not one of those people who name their computers in a futile effort to make friends with it. Computers are not pets. They are not loyal. They have no reason to be grateful, even for the 24/7 voltage you feed it -- what does it care, really?

But I'm not saying computers don't have spirits -- they are, as Count Dracula would say, children of the night. They and their electronic brethren -- cell phones, PDAs, iPods and clever electronic thermostats. Why would my iPod suddenly get all pouty about its downloads? Why would the voice mail function on my cell phone suddenly "expire"? Why would my two-way computer network suddenly retreat to one-way? The only answer is Satan.

Where you have moody demon-ridden machinery, you must have shamans.

And where you have moody demon-ridden machinery, you must have shamans.

Oh, I know -- the people who can't get past being forced to use email at work believe computer experts are unimaginative geeks who have nothing better to do than read manuals. But the cognoscenti know: they are magicians. Like medieval alchemists, they need to possess a universe of arcane knowledge and, once they've mastered their craft, their solutions are quick and intuitive. I can imagine the computer network shaman entering a trance state as she initiates her work, her brain floating outside her skull to envision and join with the complex universe of switches and settings and their diabolic interactions, her strong spirit subduing the beast and teasing out its secrets.

The cure is never quite an exorcism. The machine sprite simply goes into hiding like a nasty little herpes virus, waiting for the next time the machine user begins taking her equipment's functioning for granted.

Yes, we may be moderns, but we're still working off the wages of Original Sin.


Special note

The Flash animation above was produced from a self-portrait taken by Carol, the high priestess of computer shamans. It's also meant to demonstrate to my sister Kathleen that she actually does have video production software -- namely, Image Ready. Tutorial to follow...


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