Monday, July 4, 2005

Code, not text

Text has lost its magic to me.

I probably finally realized this when I began reading a blog started recently by a dear friend of mine. Although he is a magical photographer, it turns out he is also a really good wordsmith, something which he almost stereotypically has consistently denied, often vehemently. As I read his beautiful and captivating prose, I realized that it did not—and could not—move me in the magical sense that his photographs can, and do. And what is more, no other text can, anymore. Over the years, I have become somewhat numb to the medium. Like a professional musician loses the awe he has for music, and moves into it. Or a seaman stops seeing the wonder in the ocean, leaving him with nothing but a workplace. Or perhaps the best analogy, though crass and even sensationalist, is the prostitute who has been stripped of any shred of mystique when it comes to the act of making love.

I am a text whore.

My work calls for my constant manipulation of words into text. Text for a specific purpose. In several different languages, of which English is neither my first nor second (as if that were not obvious). I need to achieve a particular level of precision in my work, but I am also more often than not forced to also put a slant on what I write. To nudge the content. To represent a view. To advocate. To paint in colors that I did not pick, but which have been handed to me. So you can see how while I am still able to respect fancy footwork of the pen, when I see it, I have also lost the ability to lose myself in it. 'Cool trick' is as far as I can be moved these days.

What still has not lost its sparkle to me though, is another kind of word use: Code. That relentless, unassuming, unbiased, clean, ugly, beautiful, virgin expression of pure logic in words. It beckons me, not only on an intellectual level, as a source of demanding puzzles or elaborate mathematical constructs, but on a much more fundamental level of innocence. Where there can be no agenda, except to convey a train of thought which can be carried and executed not only by the corrupt and conniving minds of our degenerate mortal selves, but also by the brutally ratiocinative processor of the modern-day computer.

So while I should be slaving away at my day-job manipulations, I instead spend my nights admiring things like these.

Oh, if I were but an unsullied geek.