Thursday, July 24, 2008

Magic Book

A couple of weeks ago, my husband's cute little nose was buried in a mysterious black thing that resembled a Torah with some sort of keypad. I've been introduced to a number of strange objects around here over the years: mysterious wires that wrap their way around desk legs and tangle into knots, GPS devices that overtake my brain, Skype headsets, battery chargers, laptops, atlases, and paper bags filled with newsworthy print-outs plus bank statements. None of these newfangled gadgets and articles particularly interest me. How they wind up in every corner and surface of my house, and proliferate, I'll never know. But by most late afternoons I'm ready for the loonie bin, or at least a goblet of wine, probably due to sensory overload. My step-daughter Silja suffers the same condition and we compare notes. My disorder has probably surpassed hers. I guzzle my wine with eyeglasses or contact lenses removed, so I don't have to see the clutter. But getting back to the smooth, black object:

"What is that?" I asked Ilkka.
He emitted a quiet grunt and made a soft clicking sound on the keypad.
"What's that thing?
"A Kindle Book. I'm reading The Kalevala—in English, for a change. But I'm about to download Atlantic Monthly, TIME, and also a two week trial subscription to The Seattle Times."
"I thought we ended our subscriptions to the local dailies years ago," I reminded.
"But you're forgetting; the music critic has vanished. Have you read The Importance of Being Earnest"?
"Well, now you can, with a click of this button, see?"
Lo and behold, seconds later, Oscar Wilde's play materialized on the magic screen. All women turn into their mothers writes Wilde— that is their tragedy. How true. (I've turned into my mother, that's for sure). "I have to have this," I said. "It's mine now." And I grabbed the Kindle right out of Ilkka's hands. "Knowest Faust?" I whispered to my Magic Book, lifting it close to my heart. Faust appeared, glossary, link to Wiki and others. Secretly, I wonder if Mephisto roams the Seattle musical community disguised as an arm flailing maestro, snuffing out musicians, delighting in destruction, and gloating over ruin. "Knowest Balzac's Seraphita?" Click. And Seraphita, for ninety-nine cents, downloaded in the blink of an eye.

I'm going to be busy this summer, buried in the Kindle, mind traveling to faraway places, and heating wine in my cauldron sprinkled with aromatic spices. Which may be a blessing, after all. Cleaning clutter and picking piles will have to wait—and wait, perhaps forever.

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