Saturday, March 24, 2007

Dance, Monkeys, Dance

From the Arts&LEISURE Section:*

*One in an occasional series of posts with little or no relation to the financial markets, the world economy, or the spending habits of Blackstone partners and their spouses

Like many of you, Dear Readers, I have a number of e-mail accounts for both work and home, in addition to the ultrasecret one connected with these pages. I have noticed that for some reason, the spam filters connected with one or more of these accounts seem to lose their efficacy over the weekend, and my inboxes become clogged with more junk e-mails than normal during the working week. I do not mind, however, because this phenomenon allows me to better enjoy what I have come to appreciate as the sheer beauty and poetry of the internet.

Take, for example, the subject and sender fields from two e-mails which graced my inbox this morning:
"Or primordial so leggy," from Kwept Debug; and

"That my everything," from Ifwainscot Mockingbird.

Admittedly, these were the only two among many unblinkered by mundane concern for the terms of my mortgage or the state of what I shall translate euphemistically as my love life. (At least I have no reason to think otherwise: like you, Dear Reader, I practice safe internetry by not opening e-mails from unknown senders, no matter how alluring.) Upon seeing them, my pulse quickened and my mind raced.

To whom, or what, could Mr. Debug be referring? Could it be some prehistoric Giselle Bundchen, or perhaps the first spider-like creature to crawl from the ocean onto the rocky shore? In contrast, my mind could not even begin to divine the meaning behind Mr. Mockingbird's missive, but could only marvel at its apparent genius: "That my everything." How true that is.

And the senders' names. I want to meet these people. Just think what glorious conversation we three could have over absinthe and croques monsieur at Les Deux Magots, what humbling epiphanies and playful badinage we could share. It would be another Algonquin Round Table, another Plato's Academy.

Such is the beauty of the culture garden known prosaically as the internet, where serendipity and random word generators combine daily—even hourly—to add shining jewels to our civilization's canon. Cogito, ergo spam.

However, when my attention turns to that festering plot of weeds known as the blogosphere, my brow clouds and my eyes darken. My mind cries out, "My kingdom for an editor!" The dreck, bombast, and self-indulgent twaddle fomented by legions of knuckleheaded morons—Yours Truly, and the authors on my blog roll, of course, fully excepted—is truly overwhelming. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in a sea of half-baked ideas, ludicrous opinions, and poorly written position statements.

And don't get me started on personal "blogs." My throat begins to choke with bile whenever I stumble across blogs about babies, family vacations, kitty cats—"My kitty Milo has his own blog!"—or the author's thoughts on viewing the umpteenth rerun of the UNC basketball game. The colors! The pathetic graphic design! The clotted prose! The horror!!

But, upon calmer reflection, I realize that blogs are the exact analogue of spam. Just as those rare and precious jewels by authors such as Messrs. Debug and Mockingbird float in a veritable sea of tacky and useless e-mails selling Viagra and teaser rates, so too do a few beacons of intelligent, reasoned thought and lucid prose stand out from the millions of blogs in futile search of a reason to exist.

I guess it should not surprise me that this is so. After all, after careful research I have come to the conclusion that the entire internet is a very clever social experiment jointly initiated and funded by the Department of Psychology and the Department of Literary Theory at Harvard University to test, once and for all, the validity of the Infinite Monkey Theorem. You know: the theory that postulates that if you put enough monkeys and enough typewriters in a room—and you give them enough time—eventually they will produce the entire corpus of William Shakespeare. The way we are going, and the speed at which new blogs sprout into existence every day, leads me to believe we are not far from having a definitive answer.

In my darkest moments, however, I begin to wonder whether spouting any opinion on the internet—no matter how well-reasoned or -written—is a fool's exercise in futility. Then again, I guess you could classify much of intellectual history in the same bucket.

Some of the monkeys think
that they have it all worked out.
Some of the monkeys read Nietzsche
The monkeys argue about Nietzsche
without giving any consideration to the fact
that Nietzsche
was just another fucking monkey.1


1 Ernest Cline, "Dance, Monkeys, Dance." Text here. Spoken word by Mr. Cline, with animation added by Paulo Ang here. You might want to close your office door, if you have one, before you listen to this.

© 2007 The Epicurean Dealmaker. All rights reserved.