Tuesday 28 August 2007

When is enough information too much? How to balance the need for completeness with the rituals of conviviality? And what attitude do you need to ask a pretty girl for her phone number?

I'm feeling disgruntled and it's mainly due to info overload. So if I'm feeling like this, how do colloquiters view my ability to deliver sustained flashes of (what I view as) brilliance, given their daily existence may be equally full?

At work there's a sudden need to deliver a presentation to key stakeholders as well as populate a wiki with good data. No fat, just the facts, please (you can hear them sigh). For semester two assignments there are half-a-dozen stakeholders to be held together by self-interest and the glue of quality detail. Plus the Chinese women in my team, who lag when asked to provide good data and baulk at work needed to secure media coverage. Which is the point of the unit of study.

And then suddenly I meet up with a beautiful Italian woman who was in a class last semester and she asks me to drive her to the station. At what point (en route, standing at the kerb by the station, as she turns to shut the car door) do I ask for the existentially crucial but semantically loaded piece of data?

I guess it could be done. Tie these strands together into a coherent narrative that serves to say more than each story alone. But I'm too tired. On top of this I've been offered more money by the bank, which means inspecting properties and trying to sell the one I live in.

I don't have time!

Finally, there's my brilliant, considered opinion on almost any topic with even a peripheral relation to the 18th century. I never tire of talking about it. I go on and on in any vein you please just to be able to discuss a period I consider central to my very being. To the core I believe that this period (the historian's 'long 18th century') defines what it means to be modern.

And yet despite these verbal outbursts and clever conceits, getting a pretty girl's telephone number is beyond me. Does this mean I'm a failure or that I truly live the life of the mind? If only my body would let me think so.

So I feel like John Gay with his red-heeled shoes stepping gingerly across twisted cobbles splashed with mixed effluvia, past the shoe-shine boy with his two pots (one for black, one for oil) squatting near the oyster-seller's basket. Her cry mingles in my mind with immediate demands and stretches the golden heart of my best instincts. It remains my symbol of truth, my desire for a better future. My image of the world.


R.H. said...

Wooh! Who dat dame?

I'd want more than her phone number, I'd want the address!

Matthew da Silva said...

Actually, that's not her. That's a shot of a segment on a TV show. But it was a European story, and she, also, is beautiful. So I chose it.

R.H. said...

Yes, it's not her, I realised that, but had to say something.

I'm bowled over, every day: there's too much, too many, of these cutiepies -thousands of them, just around where I live. They're the start: the cause, of much mental illness.

Matthew da Silva said...

So true

R.H. said...

Yes, and so is this: "...where the latte set have successfully converted tiny, two-room workers’ cottages into million-dollar fashion statements."

I couldn't do better.

Matthew da Silva said...

These comments open me up to accusations of 'reactionary' but nothing could be further from the truth.

They are a response to homogenous and shallow thinking among members of the cultural elite.

Unfortunately, conservative columnists are correct to use this epithet so my using such loaded expressions immediately 'places' me in the dominant, but sterile an overly-earnest, left-right context.