Noise and Signals
Normblog's humorous take on the uncontrollable, unquantifiable proliferation of opinion in our fantastic cyberage reminded me of a very short story by Rony Lakish, an Israeli author with a unique imagination. I'll quote just the second half of the story, which is somewhat pertinent.
The narrator is at home, preparing his supper, when there is a knock on the door and his solitude and peace of mind are rudely invaded by a stubborn creature who wants to sell him something:
"But it was not a dear sir at all. It was a lady.
“If you could only give me a minute of your precious time, dear sir,” she said glibly, “ I will tell you how you can take part in…”
“But I don’t need any encyclopaedia” I demurred, feebly, “ And how long is a minute?”
“A minute is a minute”, With this decisive assertion, she extended her right, or left, foot to step into my parlour.
Ah, well. We sat down. She settled into an armchair and placed in front of her a splendid-looking attaché case, stuffed with whatever. Truth be told, she looked quite stylish.
She launched into her monologue, “I am the representative for the Bli-Bla-Blo Company. We buy and we sell, address and redress; we also negotiate and we arbitrate for the mega-rational, trans-global workers’ union’s township committee. We have in our possession a few surveys and thousands of questions, for any buyer and any seller. If you were but inclined to be so kind, then of course, it could be operational without being confrontational. When you order a pizza, do you prefer it hot or cold, or with extra toppings?”
When she spoke, her lips moved. Her mouth seemed a little parched. I fetched her a glass of water. She took a long gulp and asked, “Well, Mr…?”
“Look here, Miss, I don’t need any questionnaires, “ I reiterated, “And furthermore…”
“And answers?” She hastily interrupted. “What will you do if you were asked questions? Today”, she declared categorically “everyone needs answers.”
I did not fully agree with her, but she directed a long, unwavering look at me. “Hmm, yes, o.k., yes, “ I concurred. “How much will all this cost me, anyway?”
“Three and four…five and six… just a minute, please”. She snapped open her case with a click and brought out something. It was an online, laser-synchronized computer with an alternative reality selection, and peripherals for navigational capabilities in underwater databases, and some optional extras. “ I’ll just log on here, “ she said, and did, “there, from the info in our possession…”
She then lounged across the armchair, her thighs resting on the armrest. “So, what do you say?”
I was hungry. She had invaded just as I was preparing the evening meal. The evening meal is the most important meal of the evening. So, there was nothing to it but offer her a meal, as well.
Afterwards, she joined me for a stroll in the garden. My dog has his needs, and her dog was nowhere to be seen. She had left the printer on my desk. Out in the fresh open air, everything is different. She had curves, and I noticed her hair was pulled up in a ponytail. When we returned from our walk, it was getting cool and late, and there was some agreement between us. Can’t remember what it was about."