Monday, July 15, 2013

the busy signal: devoted or impish?

Philip Roth, The Ghost Writer, 1979, Chapter 1. Maestro

"Only when a little of the coveted bounty was finally his for the asking - only when it became altogether clear just how stupefyingly unsuited he was to have and to hold anything other than his art - was he inspired to write that brilliant cycle of comic parables (the stories "Revenge," "Lice," "Indiana," "Eppes Essen," and "Adman") in which the tantalized hero does not move to act at all—the tiniest impulse toward amplitude or self-surrender, let alone intrigue or adventure, peremptorily extinguished by the ruling triumvirate of Sanity, Responsibility, and Self-Respect, assisted handily by their devoted underlings: the timetable, the rainstorm, the headache, the busy signal, the traffic jam, and, most loyal of all, the last-minute doubt."

James Gleick, The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, 2011, Prologue

"As the role of information grows beyond anyone's reckoning, it grows to be too much.  "TMI," people now say.  We have information fatigue, anxiety, and glut.  We have met the Devil of Information Overload and his impish underlings, the computer virus, the busy signal, the dead link, and the PowerPoint presentation.  All this, too, is due in its roundabout way to Shannon.  Everything changed so quickly."

The Underling: A Parallel? A Homage? A Meme?

Whatever it is, I like it.