Thursday, 11 March 2010

A flock of birds, startled above the rising noise of traffic. Doors rattling from the onrushing and offrushing of goods vehicles. Shouting across the courtyard, the low rumble of fluorescent bins being dragged to the street. And, of course, the need to sit at the notepad, at the keyboard, at the window, before the day has begun and commit something, commit to something. The process of composition, akin to writing before waking. Would it be done if possible, writing before waking?

Some sort of information silo, emptied in the precious seconds before retinas flood with light and the brain snaps awake. A sharp intake of air, hand reaching for the book, the phone, the glass of water, the last object touched before unconsciousness. To find it is not there. To sit up now, urging resisting limbs, a slow intake of air this time. Still not there - what was it anyway?

Up now and to the door, across cold floorboards, hard with winter, leaving behind the magnetometer, a millimeter-wide silicon cylinder, filled with a gas of about 100 billion rubidium atoms, sealed by glass at both ends. To the terminal, pressing I/O, a small array of green light emitting diodes flares, flickers, settles to a dim glow. Enter password, birthday soon, to the server, waiting for a distant start-up.

Instantaneously, for the newly awake at least, the right hand portion of the screen is alive with text, a collage of broken sentences, isolated words, unfinished clauses, all perfectly spelt. Draw the cursor to the button, GUI much improved, and summon it once. A millisecond click, now text begins to appear in the left half of the screen, correlating directly to the disappearance of text in the right, a virtual osmosis across a permeable membrane, the thin shaded border that divides the two windows.

Now on the left, something readable. The process begins with words patterned in much the same way as they appeared in the right, but in the left words begin to move as other words are added. A secondary process is taking place, a calculation of function more than form, ordering words according to their role within the sentences, pulling out the -ings and conjugating them according to pronoun, punctuating with occasionally awkward commas, attempting to eradicate non sequiturs, layering sentences into a clumsily threaded narrative. Certainly not perfect, but formative, enough to begin the day on.

The text itself: something about doorways, figures lurking, acts of subterfuge. The sense of being followed, a dull sadness. Noises from next door, the tragically addicted, the afflicted wealthy, those caught between languages, sirens rising and falling, a flock of birds, startled above the rising noise of traffic, the onrush of sleep.

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