And a warm welcome from the Gipsy Palace, where I’m waiting for the delivery of my sixth laptop of the year.
This technophobic rigmarole sprawls without resolution over the past two and a half months, spanning four countries, three vendors, TWo IRritating SHift KEys, two HPs, two Lenovos, two Acers, one faulty fan and one blue screen of death.
And, so far, the only machine that appears to be working perfectly is the one that I originally needed to replace.
The rigmarole has got me thinking, though. How much of what we do, as writers, is done through the medium in which we write?
The two most ambitious works of European literature that I can think of are Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu and James Joyce’s Ulysses; both were written longhand in pen and ink (and both primarily, incidentally, from bed).
Staggering: the ability of these authors to hold in mind the overlapping constellations of such complex novels, without the aide-memoire of a decent spreadsheet.
But Joyce’s inspiration, The Odyssey, wasn’t even written.
Homer, perched on a three-legged stool in his little eighth century bedsit on the Greek island of Chios, could never have dreamed he’d become one of the most famous novelists of all time.
He was, after all, a beat poet, a wandering bard, a story-singing balladeer who never wrote a line, never even put pen to paper, let alone pinky to SHift.
Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of that man skilled in all ways of contending,
the wanderer, harried for years on end,
after he plundered the stronghold
on the proud height of Troy.
Homer would be tripping out if he learnt one day his words were read. Homer, if they ever existed, would scream and shout — no, no, no — this is not canon, this is not where the storyheart lies!
The story of The Odyssey is in the song, in the improvisation, in the tone, the cracking of the voice, in the manipulation of attention by performer to rapt audience.
In printing, in canonisation, some things are lost, just as they are when novelists move from bedsheets to spreadsheets.
For better or worse, I’m the spreadsheet kind.
Anyway — I’ve just had a message that my driver Anthony will be with me between 10:19 and 11:19, so I’d better get cracking.