Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Book

I know you don’t want me to start here, you want me to go back, right back to when the world was a little simpler, and a little bit kinder. I got to be real honest and say that I don’t know how we got from there to here – but we sure did. Somehow. 

We used to spend Christmas day, sitting by a big log fire up in the Catskills and looking at my daddy’s photo albums. All the way from when my parents met as kids, up until now. I mean everything was on these photos.

Sometimes back in those days, we’d sit and listen to some music on the radio, and hell we’d all sing along and my grandma would start to laugh so hard that the tears would roll down her face, like a big river.
We talked then. Talking was easy, talking was good. People had time for one another, people listened.

Then the radio became a television, and we talked a little less, perhaps just to pass some chocolate while we watched the little box in the corner.

We still bought books, we still read them, and we still talked about the stories in those books. I mean, we weren’t heathen’s on nothing.

Then the computers came and we never looked back. The books, and my daddy’s photos, even the movies - everything was digitized and easy to find and read. Easy to throw away when they weren’t needed anymore.
Heck, I ain’t saying it was wrong or anything, I’m just saying we kind of rolled down a hill and couldn’t get off. Letters, paintings, paper records were all kept on computers here, there, and in the sky.

You wanted to see a Monet painting right on your wall, well you only had to ask the computer in the sky and it projected it for you.

The wars they talked about never came about – wars only happened when folks, greedy folks, gained out of it. When there was money to be made. It was easier to play wars on computers since that was where the real money was to be made.

The real books, paper book, books you could smell were all recycled and made into things to hang on walls, or cover tables, or clean your ass.

But I kept a book, and I ain’t telling you what it is, ‘cause I want you to imagine your own book – that is, if you could keep just one.  I hid my book in the shed, in the yard, in case folks thought I was crazy. No one sane read books on paper.

Then the storm came. Not the kind that brings rain, or wind, or hurricanes – not that kind of storm. No this one happened over 90 million miles away on the sun. Our greatest, nearest star.

The biggest solar storm on record, they said. We’ll never see the likes in the next 1000 years. Oh they were right. It was big, it knocked out the satellites, and the power stations, and the communications networks. Fried them all as if they were bacon and eggs.

I can hear you asking about the computers – well they all went too. All wiped. All data lost – money stuff, folks’ personal data, hospital records – and here’s the kicker – all my daddy’s photos, all our memories, everyone’s memories. All gone. No books, no movies, no stories.

Except my book, my one saved paper book. I take it to the town hall on a Saturday evening and I read it to all the town’s folks. Sure they’ll be new stories written one day, but they’ll take a while.  Shame about trusting our past to the machines. Shame about the Sun doing what it did. Shame, really.

bobby stevenson 2015

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