Kickstart: Bibliotek: Chapter One.Two

Posted on 13/07/2011 by


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Facing certain death, because his life had fallen apart. Comparatively speaking. Literally—figuratively? Whatever! It hadn’t been long ago that he’d found himself, watching a performance by gorgeous college dance students, and approached by the Collective to join up. The dancers on the stage had appeared uncomfortable. It was a contemporisation of classical Indian Bharatanatyam, where they stamped harshly against the stage but also leapt lightly like ballet. Their contempt of the Earth given a direct statement by their striking, dry feet—clapping the wood throughout the performance, as if coming from an audience unsure of when to stop applauding. Thinking back, he could liken it to the library he was trapped in. There, the physicality of the printed bounds—each bombastic, not so digitally ephemeral, not flitting from atmospheric fluctuation like an electronic book, only cushioned from that noisy solar static by math—the bounds there were without mediation. Like the dancers were trying to communicate without words. He related to their struggle. He may once have been an Author, but his romantic entanglement with language was in debt to his struggle against it. To write, without having the betrayal of then being ‘interpreted.’

“Graham. We’ve been watching you.” The girl was in mirror shades—which he would later learn were polarised against blank white page-flare. In fact, he would come to think of her just as that, ‘Shades,’ —just as the other members of the group would call her—though she introduced herself as Jada. “We have a proposal for you. One that may interest a man of your… particular interests.” ‘Obsessions,’ perhaps? He was ready to listen to her then, because what else could he do?

He’d first noticed something had gone wrong when a student—to his embarrassed horror—had approached him at a party and congratulated him on his work. She wanted to discuss the theory. The embarrassment wasn’t so much, except that he’d thought he was safe there, amongst his older colleagues. He’d wanted to be alone, with just those friends. Graham had had enough of attractive girls when he’d still been a star. Still, even then, a drunken, gushing theori girrrl shouldn’t have been a problem, though as he took her on, cutting her down, she’d said, “but, haven’t you already disproved that? You can’t actually believe it! In fact, I know you don’t. That isn’t what you said.” Sure… he could admit to himself that he might’ve changed his mind on the topic since his book—but he’d never yet said anything like that publicly! She wanted him to admit he had.

“No, I haven’t said any such thing.” But then the girl had quoted ‘himself’ back to him, pulling up the text of his book on her feeder to prove herself. He hadn’t recognized a word of it.

He had stood in front of a class not long after, watching his students on their feeders, having an examined reading. He watched the wave of their arguments and their annotations as they each deformed the living reading of the Metatext. There were a couple of other Authors online at the time, and he’d wished briefly they were a part of his class, they had great stuff to offer. It was to be expected that readers would Author their own part of the ‘text—how could they not? Cheap feeders were everywhere: in classrooms, of course; in cafes and on the Tube, wherever the Houses had subsidised them to encourage readers to sign-in with their own subscriptions. Even the cheap flexis lying on hairdresser’s waiting room tables! Everyone read; everyone Authored. Whatever they thought of the texts. That was how the Metatext had taken over the old internet; Google and Facebook in an unholy union of contextual, socialised knowledge. Didn’t like the text that’d been written? Well, take what your friends, or other highly-recognised Authors, had written instead. But whatever he’d Authored himself was supposed to be his own.

He had discovered that his last book had been rudely wiki’d. Some fuckwit who’d thought to write-in a eulogy, to proclaim his own research dead and done, to ‘contribute.’ Yeah, ok, that was modern publishing. But when he’d gone to download his own work there were their particular edits. Might not even have been noticed by another reader, but Graham knew those weren’t his words! Someone had snuck in and edited what he’d written. And he’d had no say in it. Worse, his publishers liked the newly vandalized ‘preferred edition’ more than his original. Readers just didn’t notice. He’d committed career suicide as an academic, wanting his own, now admittedly anachronistic, work. And only that. Ok, the wiki’d corrections were good, even correct, but couldn’t they have left it to him to admit his errors? Or at least to log the changes that they’d made? But he couldn’t get anyone to care.

Damn it! They weren’t supposed to have taken the book away from me. Graham found it hard to admit it, but it was all he had owned. Of course he’d fought back: defacing publishing sites, attempting to seed his own virii within copies of his own, now defaced book. But nothing worked.

Instead, he had been ostracised, having tried to question the crowd surfed wisdom of the Metatext. His publishers hadn’t been too happy at that, the readers didn’t care or had pitied him, and the Writer’s Guild couldn’t back him—they’d taken longer than likely to ratify the Wiki Recognition Agreement as it was. When he’d claimed that it was immoral that he had been edited, Graham had been told he was being ‘selfish and hubristic.’

He hadn’t taken that lying down. He had organized petitions (which no one had signed), and took on mildly disastrous legal actions. He thought he had just been ignored. But, it seemed that someone had noticed him—the same way he had later noticed those dancers’ ambivalent desire for words.


By Paul McLaughlan


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Posted in: Btek, Hyperwork, Paul