Monday, November 07, 2011

Something beautiful

Meanwhile Richard is demonstrating with his hands the goggles the police use to be able to see what the microdrone is seeing. Hugo puts his hands over his eyes too. Jen and Hugo, still with his hands over his eyes, start a conversation about democracy and internet porn. Mark feels queasy. He thinks about the couple of times he's brought himself off by watching the free porn on the net: two men on the steps of a blue swimming pool, three men dressed as soldiers in a toilet. Both times he had to go in search of something else on there afterwards to make himself feel less degraded. The second time he had simply typed the words something beautiful into the Google images box. Up came a picture of some leaves against the sun. A picture of a blonde photoshop-smooth woman and baby sleeping. A picture of a bird. A picture of Mother Teresa. A picture of a modernist building made of shiny metal. A picture of two people sticking knives into their own hands. Google is so strange. It promises everything, but everything isn't there. You type in the words for what you need, and what you need becomes superfluous in an instant, shadowed instantaneously by the things you really need, and none of them answerable by Google. He surveys the strewn table. Sure, there's a certain charm to being able to look up and watch Eartha Kitt singing Old Fashioned Millionaire in 1957 at three in the morning or Hayley Mills singing a song about femininity from an old Disney film. But the charm is a kind of deception about a whole new way of feeling lonely, a semblance of plenitude but really a new level of Dante's inferno, a zombie-filled cemetery of spurious clues, beauty, pathos, pain, the faces of puppies, women and men from all over the world tied up and wanked over in site after site, a great sea of hidden shadows. More and more, the pressing human dilemma: how to walk a clean path between obscenities.

--Ali Smith, There but for the