A few months ago, I saw a Chinese film that started off
with a journey by boat. To keep themselves entertained,
some of the passengers were text messaging with their
cell-phones, and others read to each other the palms
of their hands. Two systems of communication coincided
in this journey, telephony via satellite and chiromancy.
The artifices of technology mixed with far-off behaviors.
what extent does the atavistic coexist with the new?
Certain misunderstandings shed light on reality, and
one of them allowed me to approach the Internet in a
surprising manner. I was introduced to a black writer
that spoke French and had wandered through several countries
in search of refuge. Since my French is deficient, the
conversation took place without fully understanding each
other. I think he told me he was a “chat author”.
I thought that it was very interesting that the new technologies
determined the way he wrote. He spoke about oralism and
the tribal sense of narrative, of the polyphony of voices
blending in the web page. Indeed, I thought that the
web users represent a community that demands multiple
testimonies. The web is a virtual campfire where the pilgrims
tell their stories.
writer spoke of polyphony and the traditions of his country,
which privilege the collective narrative. Since the Internet
is a place with no location that gathers disperse people,
I asked him if he registered non- African French-speaking
testimonies. He looked at me as if I were a Martian and
explained everything all over: He wasn’t
a “chat author”, but an author from Chad! The
Oralism he was referring to was not the result of a new
technology, but of an ancient tradition.
my gross misinterpretation, I wasn’t that
mistaken about the profound meaning of the web. The virtual
community allows a return to ancestral forms of collective
those of us that grew up in the era of electric house
appliances, we take the features of the new for granted,
with no further desire of understanding them. It is possible
that the babies of the digital era grow up with no knowledge
of how an iPod works. But this small artifact won’t
strike them as strange. In contrast, someone that thinks
of him or her self as modern for using a six-velocity
blender sees things that go beyond electricity controlled
with knobs with astonishment.
Century of Enlightenment prospered without lightbulbs.
What would be Diderot ‘s feelings towards the possibility
of turning reality “on” with the flip of a
switch? Could he tolerate the existence of all these devices
not contemplated in his encyclopedia?
of us that belong to the first generation that used personal
computers feel sometimes as time travelers. Our environment
coincides with science-fiction contraptions, or at least
with devices that defy understanding. People trained
in slow-motion traditions (there was a time when you
had to wait a whole year to get a phone line) now have
the bewildering possibility of making instantaneous contacts.
to... © Pedro
way of appropriating unfamiliar inventions is to attribute
them a life of their own. I thought of this during a writer
convention, in which there was a novelist that was never
away from his laptop. I supposed that he was afraid of
losing some valuable information, but it was something
else. When his turn to speak came, he read directly from
the screen. He apologized for this, because it could
come across as cold for some, but for him it was the
got separated from my wife a year ago” -he said,
in stammering voice- “now
the computer is my partner”. This confession was
received with the kind of respect caused by those intimate
details that we don’t want
to hear. I was moved by the loneliness of my colleague,
and the way in which this IT prosthesis had become his
companion. What could we do for him? I wouldhave loved
to be able to introduce him to a friend. Since I couldn’t,
was tempted to offer my computer to him, so at least he
could have an affair with it.
this happened, I felt I was a witness of an alien story.
This colleague was over humanizing his computer. I continued
to travel with my G4, until a week ago, when I had an accident.
I dropped it to the floor, and when I tried to turn it
back on, I just saw a design of transparent ultramodern
buildings. I thought it was some kind of commercial.
This idea (or should we say nonsense) reveals an irrational
relationship with technology. Those were not buildings
at all. They were simple color bars that appeared caused
by the impact. In addition, there was no way they could
have appeared without being online. I was in denial of
what was evident: My computer was kaput. A black diagonal
line went across the monitor: plasma screen blood. I
know this is probably an incorrect expression, but it
is the only one I can think of to describe what happened.
had used the keyboard for so long, that the letters were
gone. If someone asked where the “e” was,
I could not tell (this one was the first to go), nonetheless,
my fingers found it on their own when I wrote.
understood my colleague’s loneliness, which a
few years ago seemed to be excessive and fetishist. I looked
at the screen as a broken mirror: Would this mean seven
years of bad luck?
ten years, my most used object had become increasingly
indefinite. I didn’t know where the letters were
anymore, but I could find them in an intuitive way, just
like a fortuneteller reads a hand palm.
only thing I really understand about a computer is its
absence. Now that it is gone, I dedicate these words
to it, written on a borrowed computer, in which I make
one mistake after the other.
Radical novelties take us back to the origin. Every new
computer is an
Villoro was born in Mexico City on September
24, 1956. He has a sociology degree by Universidad
Autónoma Metropolitana. he was the host
of the Radio Educación program "El
Lado Oscuro de la Luna". He was the Cultural
Attache of the Mexican Embassy in the People's
Republic of Germany. He was the director of the
supplement "La Jornada Semanal", He
imparted several workshops and courses in creativity
in Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes and Universidad
Nacional Autónoma de México.
has collaborated in several magazines and news
papers supplements. He was a grant holder of INBA
in he Narrative Area and of the Mexican System
of Artistic Creators and was awarded the Cuauhtémoc
Prize for translation and the Xavier Villaurrutia
Award in 1999.