Thursday, October 12, 2006

Free Ph.D. and "BlindVision"

I feel terrible that I missed meeting my September deadline - I try to have a new blog each month - but this Ph.D. thing is crrraaazzzyyyy! It is now that I am starting to realize that I am training to be a philosopher and part of me is wondering about the value of that. I don't want to be in some ivory tower ruminating about the meaning of how trees are used as symbols in feminist literature. Blllleeaaahhhhh!!! Everyone who knows me knows I like to argue a point, but I think if we plan on doing that, we should have a purpose in mind, an action we plan to execute. It's not enough to say that we will "influence" our students in the classroom. Influence them to do what?? So, I thought, if I'm going to get my Ph.D. and have it eat up 2/3 of my scholarship money (oh, yes - I thought the money thing was gonna be fine, but they always getcha!), why not give what I'm learning away free to anyone who wants it? How's that sound? Here are some of the most interesting things I've learned:

1) The Texas Rangers! No, not the sports group, although the sports group does perpetuate the idea of the ranger as a brave character. The Texas Rangers hung out in Mexico/Texas around the turn of the last century and basically murdered, raped, lynched, and stole from brown people. They were vigilantes who our government kinda left alone. If you try to read about them on the internet, most of the stuff is positive, but they were murderers. And now we name our sports teams after them and our old movie heroes after them. I didn't know about this! So, that leads me to believe that at least one of you out there didn't know.

2) Textual Studies! It sounds boring but its pretty cool, if you are so inclined. There are nerds out there, like me, who will take three different copies of a book or a poem or anything literary that has been printed and study the differences between the copies. Why? Because there are almost always differences. Think about it; how many copies of your poems are exactly the same? Maybe you changed a line, maybe your friend printing it online screwed up a line, maybe the publisher got the line breaks wrong, maybe the editor thought this or that change might sell the book more. I did a textual study of "Puerto Rican Obituary" using three copies: the original poetry book with a collection of Pedro Pietri's poems; the anthology called Boricuas; and the anthology called The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. The first two copies are identical, except for the look of the poems (font, page color, etc.), but the Outlaw copy has missing lines, changed spellings/grammar, changed capitalization. However, the Outlaw copy, despite all its mistakes, captures the feel of Pietri's work more because of the spirited way the work is presented. The Boricua copy presents the poem as a new staple in the literary canon of Puerto Rican poetry, which is why it preserves the lines so perfectly. It is a matter of respect. On the other hand, the Outlaw copy captures Pietri's irreverent tendencies (he has a play where he tells the audience 100 things they could be doing other than listening to him). All the copies capture aspects of him and they tell us something about his audiences. I think all this is important because when we're dead and gone, the printed page is all the future has to go by.

Okay, that's it for today class. I'll leave you with a new poem story that I wrote. Let me know what you think about it by posting a comment.

BlindVision

They look like glasses
To block the sun
Except for the flicker of light
At the center of each lens
Like blue, green, red
A slowly dying signal
That somehow lingers

On a train it is peaceful
Rows of bodies
Along opposite walls
Seated, facing each other
But not seeing or interacting
All they see is the BlindVision
No bumping, no talking
A quiet ride

It appears more
Chaotic in the streets
Part of the BlindVision includes SoniCo
Sonic Coordinates
The trajectory is set in advance
The lenses and earphones are put on
During the length of a quick action
Or comedic programme
Their physicalities are placed on-course and driven
The technology originated in Japan
A forced inner-ear imbalance
Pushes their limbs toward, into, through their trajectories
SoniCo gave them dizzy spells at first
Simple music or other logic-centered sound
Reduces that feeling
BlindVision, the pleasant film, makes them unaware
Of any unusual movement
Motion Sensor Surround System
Insures agains collisions
In the streets
Hundreds of bodies jolt, jump, twist and turn
Speed past, run, skip and come just this close
Each movement made according to what the BlindVision demands
Reports show less than 0.01% collision
If the streets are especially crowded
The required movement might make them feel sore
But this is rare
Usually, they feel nothing at all

The film programme plays
The sound programme plays
And when it is over
They are at work or done with daily exercise or finished shopping
(The latest marketplaces have items with set coordinates
BlindVision paid for this service)
Many decide to have daily trajectories on file
For easy access
They can plan set activities
For months in advance
Some use BlindVision for recreation, too
After using BlindVision regularly
The moments without it seem...difficult
More expensive versions deliver NanoBeautie
Tiny molecules enter the surface of the eye
And regroup within the iris cells
To form spectacular colors
Lighted swirls of ultraviolet, copper and infrared
Or, with the NaNose Cup
The beauty minerals are breathed in
They connect to muscular and joint tissue
And influence the bodies toward machine-like movement
These BlindVision users glide in their trajectories
Earlier versions of NanoBeautie
Dried out, corroded the bodies
They had to drink oil, change diet
The newer versions are said to be better
But there is legal controversy

With or without NanoBeautie
BlindVision is popular
They cannot imagine getting through the day without it
Facing mindless tasks like taking the train
Are easier with BlindVision
This is what David uses his BlindVision for the most
He likes to believe he doesn't rely on it
Like all the others
Sure, he is in love with
The purple-eyed siren
Who is a BlindVision addict
She moves like a doll in a jewel box
But he isn't her
He still faces the people at the grocery store
Usually
One or two programme days doesn't count
Right?
Today he arrives at work especially sore
He asks himself if he set the BVSpeed
To "workout" or "stroll"
A view of the disc in his desk computer shows
"Workout"
Okay
But he doesn't remember that
He doesn't remember much
Mirrors show an unknown man
David questions time
He looks at the date and it says
"Monday"
He says to Fred, "I could've sworn it was Wednesday."
Fred mumbles, "Uhhhhmmm."

David looks at the entire office from above
His cubicle and sees the BlindVision light signals
Simple tasks at work can be programmed, too
David shakes Fred and says,
"Look at my programme."
"Why?"
David repeats, "I could've sworn it was Wednesday."
"Oh!"
Everyone knows the spiel
If BlindVision causes any disorientation of time, physicality or psychology, discontinue use and immediately contact the BlindVision Programming Headquarters for free product replacement and healthcare, if necessary.
Usually this just means there is a glitch
In the programme
It is easier to give it to Fred
A whiz with such things
Than to deal with the BlindVision people
David daydreams of creating a programme
To deal with the BlindVision Programming people
"I can't find anything wrong."
"No?"
"No."
"Then why am I so tired? Why do I think it's Wednesday? Am I gonna have to call BV?"
"Let me try something else."
Fred punches in a few keys.
"Well, I'm not sure about the Wednesday part but I think it's natural for you to feel tired if you've logged in 20 miles over the past two days."
"What?"
"It says here you've walked 20 miles over the past two days."
"What? That can't be right."
"I didn't notice it at first because the mileage is categorized under Shopping and Recreation."
"I didn't programme this weekend."
"The heavy programming explains why you're tired and it might explain your time disorientation."
"But I didn't programme this weekend."
Fred gives David his disc and goes back to work
David decides he'll deal with his programming
Flaw after work

David rings Lucent's bell
Lucent's bell sends a signal to her BlindVision
Her BlindVision calmly interrupts her
Recreational sexual violence film programme
With a female voice that says,
"You have a visitor. Blink for reality."
Lucent blinks, takes off her BlindVision and answers the door
"You look like hell."
"My programme is flawed. I had to walk here without a programme."
"Are all of them flawed?"
"I didn't want to risk it."
"So, how are the masses, then?" Lucent looks out the
Window and stares below at the swarm of people
Swerving out of each other's way
Without seeing each other
She reaches for her BlindVision
But then remembers David is there
"Scary," he answers. "Those beady BlindVision eyes creep me out.
Maybe I should just go natural."
"Ha!" She laughs as if a child were claiming it could resist candy
"Will you have someone check my programme?
It says I logged 20 miles this weekend.
I don't know where I've been!"
"No shit?"
"Do you understand now?"
"Okay, okay, don't worry."
She presses a green button on the Videogram
A bright white dot dissolves
Into the face of a man
"Helmut."
"Ah, lovely Lucent."
Behind Helmut, rows of bodies are reclined
They have BlindVision and smiles on their faces
"What is that? A Pleasure Party?"
"What else?"
"Send me the programme?"
"Of course. Is that all?"
"No. My friend..."
David waves.
"...has a corrupted programme."
"He should send it to BlindVision," Helmut says dryly.
"Heel-muuut...."
"What?"
"I am sending it," David interrupts, fully aware of Videospies,
"She just thought you might narrow the issue."
"I'll be there at ten."
The Videogram signs off
Lucent turns toward David
"Well, since we're both awake...."
She floats toward David, a Zamboni on ice
Her vinyl-like crown of black hair
Frames a smooth face
Smooth like moulded silver
And the silver frames her lit eyes
Purple fire that spins in halos around black holes
She drops her red Oriental robe
To reveal her hard silver-white body
Perfect like a bumper on a Ford line
And David holds it
Cradles it in his arms
The way a boy centuries ago
Cradled the only metal toy he owned

Helmut arrives at ten
He programmed it
David and Lucent forget
Because they took a nap when they were awake
Lucent puts on her robe, answers the door
Helmut smiles at both of them
Takes the BVDisc on the entry table
Heads to Lucent's computer
And begins to whistle
David puts his pants on
Takes a credit programme out of his pocket
And hands it to Helmut
"Thank you," he says, "for being discreet, too."
"Sure," David says to the back of Helmut's head
"Oh, no one will bother us," Lucent whines
She feels guilty about her naive Videogram talk
"We're just junkies," she continues
Laughing, then coughing
She hacks up NanoBeautie granules with blood
"Have you had oil today?" David asks
"I always forget."
David walks to the kitchen cabinet
He grabs a bottle of Voila
Opens it and repeats the commercial as he hands it to Lucent:
"Stay smooth."
"Aw, I get bored with the flavors."
"I have a programme for that!" Helmut yells
"Leave it; I'll owe you," David answers back
"No problem."
Lucent drinks from the bottle
Helmut motions to David to come closer
He whispers
"You have problems."

"I have problems?"
"Your programme has been intercepted."
"What does that mean?"
"Someone else has been programming you."
"Who?"
"I don't know."
"It doesn't say there?"
"They don't leave a signature!"
"What are they programming?"
"That was the hardest part,
To map your interception.
You have been walking five miles
Out of the city perimeter
Every weekend
For the past year."
"A year!"
"Yes."
"Why did I only notice it now?"
"You're old. You can't compensate this new programme at maximum capacity anymore."
"Where have I been going?"
"Here are the coordinates."
David looks at the printout
"I don't know this place. Who is doing this?"
"I don't know."
"I should report this, no?"
"David, listen. This is serious."
"No kidding! This is my life...."
"Listen. Someone...who knows how to do this...
Is not an amateur.
It is a miracle I was able to map this.
We could both be in trouble."
"But...am I the only person...
What if this is being done...done to..."
David points out the window
"It is. It has been. Are you shocked? Honestly?"
"But I don't even use BlindVision that much...."
Helmut smiles flat
"I'm leaving."
Helmut taps Lucent on the knee
She is already on BlindVision
"Tell her I've left.
These are for her and you.
No charge, okay?"
He leaves several BVDiscs on the entry table
"Thank you," David mutters
"Yes, you know my number."

David doesn't use a programme
In the morning
He doesn't go to work
His office computer calls
Him and BlindVision
To see if there is a flaw
In his programme
But David cannot be reached
He is walking five miles
Outside of the city perimeter

6 comments:

Grisel said...

BlindVision is inspired by various news articles on nanotechnology; the "remote controlled human" technology developed by Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corporation (see Yuri Kageyama's Associated Press article, "A remote control that controls humans," 10/25/05, on the subject); and the "SkyMall" catalog item that allows a person to view a film by wearing sunglass-like eyewear (simply called "Video Eyewear").

Anonymous said...

Hi Grisel,

Thanks for pointing me at your site. I really really
enjoyed the alien "takeover" poem. It's been a long
time since I had read an "epic poem" that addressed
the welcoming of being "taken over" compared to the
fear that is usually expressed at the prospect of such
an invasion.

Scott :-)
www.scottspeck.com

Grisel said...

The alien takeover poem Scott is referring to is "The Aliens" and it can be found in the archives (look under "aliens," of course).

pozos said...

hey grisel,

remember how i said i was fascinated by the metaphor of the butterfly on this technological age. here a story i wrote a while back. you read mine and i'll read yours. let me know what you think and i will do the same.

pozos said...

isn't it iteresting how we come to our writing in such different ways. I always end up taking the truth from my own experience and amping it up.

i usually avoid the third-person narrative. but you create and maintain a world that conveys emotion and conscience.

the hardest part of sci-fi for me is always the terminology. accpeting the new reality. i am not sure exactly how i would do that. you do a nice job a sustaining this world for the audience.

from the moment i posted "the butterfly invasion" i wanted to rewrite it. i wrote it so long ago; i think that i could do much better. i wonder...rewrite as a poem.

Anonymous said...

re: the butterfly thang - is it related to monarch programmimg?

Fantomas Ganga