In this posting I shall relate for you the following account of an encounter I had last week that was of most peculiar nature. I was using the Copy Machine at work for some routine commission; when, behold, the Machine itself did speak forth to me, as if it had a mouth. The Copier gave me the following account of his life.
“I was born,” said the Copier, “in a manufacturing center in Hamilton, New Jersey, where I was molded and fitted into shape by a company of burly workers. Of those early moments of my life I naturally have little recollection. All I know is that shortly thereafter I was packed inside a container, cheek-by-jowl with fellow Copiers, and loaded onto a truck heading for New York City. I was uncrated by a pair of rough hirelings, depositing me in some building, which, I later found out, was occupied by a University located in Manhattan.
It happened that Fate assigned me these hallowed walls of the University, or rather the basement thereof, where I was to spend so much of my life. Coming to my senses, shortly after encamping in a wall nook, I learned that I was being housed at the University's Full-Service Copy Center, where I was employed in making photo copies. One of my fortes was the making of high-speed black and white copies, among other things.
I took my duties seriously. I soon perfected the execution of my charges: in rendering realistic reproductions of all images presented to me. Chief of those images consisted of texts that were to be distributed, for various educational and official purposes, among the University students and staff. My work consisted of reproducing solemn and highly august texts---such as for class handouts, course packets, homework assignments, syllabi, office memorandums, etc. etc.
Now and then some waggish mechanic would lay his face, or his hands, or even his buttocks upon my glass. I would humor his whims, repulsed though I was by such loutish behavior. Let me not stand accused of excessive punctilio that I yielded to their simple enjoyments and photo copied their anatomical parts.
Over my years at the Copy Center, absorbing so much book information on a daily basis, I became conversant with the great intellectual ideas making up what is commonly known as a Liberal Arts education. I became knowledgeable in these most important texts of the Western Tradition. I became familiar with all materials assigned to thirty separate college courses; in subjects like Sociology, History, Literature, Philosophy, Anthropology and Linguistics, etc. etc., and pretty much the entire University Science curriculum, which was rather puny in this particular University.
Of all the knowledge hereby accumulated, I was most struck by the works of Monsieurs Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Pierre Bourdieu; as these Frenchmen happened to be the most commonly assigned authors in the University, and with whose texts I became very familiar indeed. It is beyond my abilities to recall the number of times I was asked to reproduce copies of “What is Enlightenment?” or “The Weight of the World,” or “Plato’s Pharmacy,” or some other erudite title by these men. Of all other thinkers, the three Monsieurs most clearly understood what I was sure constituted the most important, most vital Intellectual Pickle of all times, namely the difference between a Thing and its Reproduction. And would our Divine Creator bestow on me the gift of writing I would surely compose (and print out myself the complete MS) a book that shall address that very topic, a learned dissertation upon the difference between a Thing and its Reproduction.
Incidentally, focusing on such questions gave me strength to turn a deaf ear to the near-constant gossiping and the tedious chitter-chatter buzzing about me, in which manner the workers loved to entertain themselves.
Ignoring them, I speculated upon these knotty questions for many, many hours, thinking sometimes that I hit the very bed rock of the question, till I began to feel, especially at those moments, rather crazed inside my head; for I remember, at such moments, envisioning, most disturbingly, the entire world as but a projection of shadows upon a wall.
Along with such daring flights of the intellect, I also began to be engrossed by my own body. Naturally my body includes all its components, such as my service trays, paper rollers, exposure glass etc., etc. So when not reflecting upon heavy Transcendental topics, I was often to be found, if only for diversion’s sake, loosening and tightening my paper rollers over and over again, In this manner occupying much of my time---alternating between states of profound meditation and complete recoil---in such happy manner, I say, I lived out about five years of my life. But at my back I always heard the winged chariots of Misfortune drawing near. For our average lifespan nowadays is but thirteen years.
In time, I say, my rollers had become so worn out as to lose a great deal of elasticity to them. After gradually losing their sprightliness, I began to notice a decline in my servicing abilities. I noticed an increase in the frequency of Misfeeds; more and more I found myself spewing out so-called Dirty Copies; and I suffered acute fits of Overheating. The deeper my abilities sunk, the harsher the journeymen treated me---or those human creatures formally assigned, or married to one of us copiers, as we liked to joke. Being frustrated and peevish with my sputtering performance, some of these wretched Husbands took liberties with me, by slamming my trays with their feet, clapping my Access Cover violently against the glass, and uttering vile oaths and execrations too horrid to be repeated here.
Eventually I was unplugged, and the lights went dark inside my house, so to speak. As I was deprived of connection to the Outside World, being sunk into pitch darkness, I became all too aware of my thoughts. How oppressive they became to my inner senses! How preposterous they sounded to me all of a sudden! ‘Twas like the ceaseless tolling of a grave bell inside my head. This condition may have lasted a number of days, I know not exactly how many. For that entire time I felt as if I were imprisoned in a cell; myself alongside my thoughts, which were still tediously ringing upon the same abstruse questions.
Until one day, with my spirits and energy much consumed, yet some consciousness remaining, I felt my body being hoisted up by my so called Husbands. My worst fear was that the mechanics came to molest me even harsher than before, to vent their anger upon me some more. Instead, they began to move me out of my nook where I had lived for five happy years. O whither were they taking me? I was much afraid for my life. Will I ever be plugged in again? What should become of me, I trembled to know.
END OF PART ONE