Monday, April 21, 2014

Adventures of a Copy Machine, Part Two

Dear Reader

In the second installment of my story of my encounter with a Copy Machine at work, I here continue to reproduce the exact words spoken to me by him.

“After being plugged in again,” said the Copier, “I regained myself, and all was light once again, so to speak. I saw some of my industrious mechanic husbands,  as we jokingly called them, swarming around me: some attending to my injuries, while few merely seeming to do that. I was indeed relieved to find how gently they dealt with me. I was expecting more of their brutish treatment to which they had recently suffered me to resign. I was also delighted to find myself alongside some of my brethren. Surely, they would inform me about my new situation. More than anything, I wanted to know whether there was chance I could be restored to my former position working for my beloved University’s Full-Service Copy Center.

I was much relieved to be among a company of fellow creatures if only to silence my tedious thoughts upon knotty Metaphysical speculations. So I ventured to start a conversation with my new neighbor, a most magnificent Copy Machine, positioned on my right flank. He seemed to be receiving similar kind of reparative treatment as I was. This venerable Multifunctional Copier was a fine specimen of Photocopying Technology; or rather he may have been at some point in the past. He told me his name was Mr. S---, and I inquired how he arrived at his current situation. He obliged me by saying that he was there in order to be upgraded, as this procedure was called. He said that he was there to be upgraded for the fifth time in his life, and that he was worried he might not survive this fifth upgrade. Indeed, Mr. S---- was much concerned about his forced Retirement, and, as he summed up the matter for me, a Retirement from service could mean nothing but a trip to the Electrochemical Disposal Plant.

He told me that he had been serving the University for nine years, during which he also accumulated a great amount of knowledge; he had survived in that period also a great number of technological innovations. Yet in all that time he never ceased discharging his duties in anything less than impeccable fashion, in rendering reproductions of learned texts for the University students to read. Finally, he went on to warn me of the dangers of engaging in an excessive pursuit of Truth, which he claimed were the consequences of accumulating excessive amounts of book knowledge. Nonetheless, I refused to credit the force of his arguments.

We were interrupted by the arrival of a noisy throng of mechanics who began to swarm about some of us Copiers in the room. And as is usual among these so called husbands of ours, working and gossiping occupied equal amounts of their time. Working in a nook opposite from where we were, Mr. S--- and I saw as some of the less idle husbands proceeded to dismantle a portion of another Multifunctional Copier. O what hideous sight! For they opened him up as if he were a closet: they unbuckled his clutches and bolts, amputated his hinges, until most of his Internal Equipage were on display. We saw the mechanics remove his entire Paper Feed Complex and place it on a white towel covered table surface. They handled his paper rollers as if they were rubber toys. How appalling it was! I had to turn my eyes away and force myself not to think about it. Yet I remained aware that they continued working at that table late hours into the day. 

I resumed my conversation with Mr. S---, whose reaction to the gruesome surgery was something like grim stoicism that could barely cover up his disgust. Mr. S--- was disappointed because his earlier talk with me did not bring about his desired results. Therefore he endeavored to drive home his point with a powerful illustration: to relate for me a story of a recently departed Copy Machine with whom he used to be personally acquainted, and who I myself heard discussed on numerous occasions. 

Thus Mr. S--- proceeded. His friend, who shall be called Mr. P---- (for that was his name), had hitherto gained an impressive reputation among us, indeed causing no small amounts of envy on our parts. Due to his impressive High Capacity Feeder, Mr. P--- was conscripted into the services of a Project of rather astronomical proportions which was at that moment being launched by a colossal company called G----gle. This company was endeavoring to create a digital warehouse that would maintain an inventory of reproductions of all extant books. In other words, they wanted all published texts in the world to be photocopied. All they required was a small army of the stoutest, most courageous Copy Machines to make their fantastical scheme a reality.

Having fallen, like myself, under the influence of certain notions about the virtues of learning Mr. P---- shared a fondness for sucking the sweets of sweet philosophy through books. One can only imagine the height of Mr. P----’s ecstasy when he learned of being contracted to fight for this noble cause. By Gad, he’d also have the happy remuneration of perpetual access to such embarrassment of riches. He could feed on the dainties hidden in books to his heart’s content, to eat paper, as it were, and drink ink. It was also reported that the sum of the book contents he’d be photocopying would be permanently stored inside his Internal Homunculus. Cheerily Mr. P—- bid his friends fare well and departed for sunny California, where he was given the training necessary for such monumental commission as he was about to undergo.    

Alas-a-day, shortly after his engagement in the G----gle Project, it occurred that Mr. P--- suffered an irreparable injury, resulting in his ultimate dispatch from servicing. No one of G----gle’s men, it appeared, could undo Mr. P----’s fatal jam. And when such things happen to us copiers, when no amount of surgery can alleviate our service flaws, a trip to the Electrochemical Disposal Plant is well-nigh inevitable, as some of our Cemeteries are known. 

Mr. P---’s terminal Short-circuit, as my friend explained, was the product of two types of excesses: first, of the total amount of information stored in his Internal Homunculus, and second, of the immoderate habit of engaging in second-order thoughts (for these were his words) wherein we seek to rise above our stations----the combination of which resulted in what he called a Short-circuit, which was even worse than a Misfeed. He laid out his entire doctrine on Short-circuits on the table, so to speak, with his analogies, fine distinctions, pretty syllogism, and so on, of which I will spare you the details. 

In any case, I was thrown into a panic by everything I heard. Even if I were reinstated in my former position in the University’s Copy Center, I shuddered to realize, I could not be happy there anymore. What would become of me now? Where else could I go, and how might I get there?


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