The Literal Life

Michael says the latest Sherlock "felt like the internet seeping into our telly screens," because it tried to satisfy the desires of obsessive fans. That sort of fan who catalogues the progression of Star Fleet uniforms. Nothing sounds more tedious than to "track Clarissa’s steps through Westminster and Mayfair" (Mrs. Dalloway). But I am by no means immune to this impulse; isn't tedium just what one is after? The production of this kind of certainty is accomplished through a string of certainties. One is absolved from doubt. Points on a map are not the kind of idealization subject to disappointment.

I have a habit, much like twitching a leg, of googling trivia from novels. As if reading the wikipedia page on places and historical events will enrich the story. I don't know what I'm after. Banal factoids to relate at lapses in conversation?

Probably the stupidest was when, reading The Flamethrowers, I decided to google the Italian lake district. Because apparently, seeing panoramas of a place that was just described in prose is interesting. I rarely remember much from these forays into what could be considered knowledge. Despite being inspired by a phrase in a book, they aren't connected to anything, so why would I remember them? This kind of nonresearch is like building a house out of closets without doors. These are not investigations. Details about cheese maggots, extinct flightless birds, and heraldry will not coalesce on a cork board into the identity of the murderer.

If interest is about connectivity, wikipediaing shit is-- counterintuitively--radically uninteresting. Information that has already been integrated into a system of knowledge, lines of inquiry that are not excitingly poised, but rather cul-de-sacs. The air conditioner kicks on, and there I am in bed, awash in white noise and cross-sectional diagrams of a sperm whale's spermaceti.

16 January 2014