Technology Terror

A few months ago I found my self screaming and cursing like the kid in “The Exorcist.” If  my sister had not calmed me, I suspect I would have gone on to levitate, projectile vomit green slime, and spin my head around. – Why? – The computer!

I had done a portrait of this lady’s dog to help raise money for an animal welfare group and was trying e-mail her a picture of it for approval before I sent her the real painting. I tried repeatedly to do the Attachment and failed. I called my sister who tried to instruct me and that failed. It was harder doing this e-mail than doing the portrait itself. I broke.

I am an artist. Ever since people saw the film, “Lust For Life“, in which great Impressionist artist, Vincent Van Gough, cuts off his ear in a moment of pain and madness, I’m afraid that all artists are suspect of such aberrant behavior. After my screaming episode, I wonder if my sister enters my home with trepidation, cautiously watching where she steps.

I know of artists who have adapted to technology and have used it mightily. But I suspect this is rare in persons of that more emotional, reflective, and introspective bent, such as myself. In school, I was good in art, literature, philosophy, etc. I was relatively poor in higher mathematics and science. Is this somehow connected to the technological difficulties I have? I know others who have noticed a similar relationship in themselves, so it’s possible.

I am obsessed with redeeming the time to the best advantage. I get up early and (after breakfast) I get all the housework, grooming, hygiene, exercise, etc. out of the way as fast as I can so I can get into the studio to do my art work or to the computer to write my novels and blogs. If I have some computer glitch, I actually feel threatened as though some evil force is trying whittle me down to a quivering mass of nerves and break my spirit. – WELL I WON’T PERMIT IT !

About 20 years ago, I paid somebody to re-type all my novels (a massive undertaking) into my first computer (an XT) so I could edit them on myown (rather than ever again paying a typist). I consider myself a good writer and a lousy typist so this made sense. I figured that it was worth this one last expense like that “war to end all wars”.

I finished the exhaustive editorial work with a sigh of relief and was ready to submit my materpieces to agents and publishers. – Then the catastrophe happened! – I was not able to access a single one of them for print out.

It appears that I had made the files of each of them too large for the meager memory of the (now ancient) XT. I paid already agreed to pay $300 to an (ostensible ) expert to  remedy this, not realizing that he would fail also. Now my money was gone so I could not yet afford a new computer. – Fortunately, I had save the novels on floppies, so all was not lost.

When I finally did get a computer with more memory, I copied the novels into it from the floppies. Still, it had been a while since I edited them, so I decided to give them one last polish. However, now the files were so tiny that each novel required up to 20 or more files.

It was confusing, tedious, and a tad frightening connecting them all in the correct sequence so that I could more easily access them for edit and print-out.  But was I connecting them correctly? If not, I’d have a worse problem.

My mind began getting fatigued and my concentration blurry. Running out of the 26 letter alphabet for my long list of files for each novel, I had gone to numbers following the abbreviations for each file title. For example, there was “Biological Time Clock” (BTC) plus the letter or number.

But did “BTC d” come before “BTC 4” or (the other way around)? About half-way through, I forgot where I was in the lists (like a kind of black-out).  Under the prolonged tension, I could hardly recall my own stories, so reading the end of one file and the start of the next did not always help.

In such a state, it is easy to press the wrong key and delete something. That had happened before on several occasions while I was editing them, erasing entire chapters I had labored over. That fear gripped me. Finally it was done with each novel completed in one file. Still, I kept the original files just to be sure. I think I still have them somewhere.

By the time we learn all there is to know about the current technology (if ever) there will, of course, be newer technologies to learn. Remember all those large Floppies that became smaller Floppies, then CD’s, then Flash Drives, etc. ? Will that mean it is all for nothing? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

Hard as all this is for some of us, it probably is giving our brains a good workout. In years to come, we may come to realize that such adaptations are helping to hold-off Alzheimer’s and other dementia the way aerobics do cardiovascular problems.

I recall my Dad telling me about difficulties people encountered with the radio chrystal sets of the early 1920’s when he was a kid. But they didn’t give up and look where that led.

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