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Beetle

SKITAFLIT, DAY 49

 

704 Dawn Breaks above the grey-dusted grey-fronted houses

903 Well the office is looking just lovely today…

916 Crazy Katy has stolen my pencils again

918 Actually she is denying all knowledge of my pencils

920 Still, who else would have stolen a perfectly good set of pencils? Who?

922 Crazy Katy writes, I know you’re writing about me. If I want to I’ll go and find it. I say, fine, go and find it, whatever

924 Crazy Katy says, I won’t bother, it’s too pathetic. But of course she’ll look anyway

 

 

1100 Mother Mary and the blessed saints, that was a long meeting…meeting…meeting…

1105 This morning I had three meeting meeting meeting and tomorrow I have seven meeting meeting meeting meeting meeting meeting meeting

1109 During the rest of my working life I will have 45,000 meeting meeting meeting meeting meeting meeting

1454 A pause during which I was seized by a mild bout of complete and utter futility but I think it’s passed at least for the time being…

1457 At least for now…

1516 If a ten tonne truck crashes into us

1517 To die by your side, the pleasure the privilege is mine

1519 I don’t mean by your side, Crazy Katy, not yours – if you’re looking, which I know you are

1523 There is a light that never goes out

1526 I don’t know, perhaps it could be an allegory for faith or hope or something but perhaps it could just mean:

1527 There is a light that never goes out…

1735 Thank Christ. I am going home.

 

 

CYN23, DAY 49

 

901 Oh do not ask me what I am

902 I know what I am

903 I am human I am dynamite

 

 

MANNATING, DAY 49

 

1335 Gorgons awake, I have lost my charger

1405 If it all goes black, it really all goes black

1430 So I have developed a new sense of the temporal continuum

1445 and instead of going forwards I am now going sideways

1446 Crabwise.

1501 So in fact these progressions by minute by minute by minute

1504 are not happening in a linear forwards motion but are going along to the side – edging –

1510 and instead of us proceeding onwards to some destination

1511 we are in fact edging out of the frame – the frame being I suppose mortal existence

1512 and the frame being in this spatio-philosophical paradigm a rectangular shape

1513 and us moving from one side to another…

1514 each one of us…

1518 are you following?

(view conversation)

1528 I didn’t ask you to agree, I just asked you to listen

1530 or not, depending on how you feel. No one should feel obliged, of course…

1533 Enough obligations on our time, I know, I know how you feel

(view conversation)

1535 Anyway, before I was rudely interrupted by some pile of work-related total garbage

1547 I was saying…I was saying…Oh and I was saying…

1549 Are you going left to right, across the frame?

1550 I mean, do some of us go left-right and some go right-left?

1551 or is it pusillanimous to assume the frame must go one way or the other?

1554 Left/right right/left – perhaps such concerns in this respect are fundamentally trivial?

1556 Perhaps the frame is spinning on a spot, ah then, ah then the frame must be 3D because we are within it?

1602 The frame must be a form of space, a spatial manifestation which is somehow flat and not flat at the same time?

1612 Perhaps I have lost myself…

1615 If the theorist cannot follow his own theory, then what can be done?

1617 Perhaps I’ll become world famous?

1619 The ellipses in my own theory, the moments at which it falls into complete and utter nonsense…

1623 …will make my name entirely?

1624 Saved! By my own incoherence and obscurity! Saved!

 

 

1845 I don’t think the world is quite ready for my theory

1854 Alright Robert, you’re not ready…

(view conversation)

1902 I understand you’re not ready, nor do you want to be ready

1903 nor do you regard a state of readiness for my theory as a desirable state to find yourself in at all.

1905 But you are just one person…

 

 

1930 Oh well, I’d better stay in tonight and work on my great Theory

1940 Cancel everything…cancel everyone…

1942 …That didn’t take long…

 

 

2010 I mustn’t get distracted…

2014 No one distract me!

2015 No one!

(view conversation)

2016 You mean it sounded like, No one, distract me…Like a request?

2018 No one, all you no ones, distract me! Please!

 

 

2225 So, I have crawled and crept again, across another section of my frame

2230 I’m sticking with this…

2245 No, no I’m not. I’m taking a break…

 

 

0245 Ok, that was a bad idea. Vicky was drunk already, and she’s never kind when she’s drunk

(view conversation)

0255 Really Vicky, you know you’re not.

0300 And the same to you, honey…

0310 In this section of the frame the sky is dark,

0312 the stars are out, a billion stars, but they are even they are in the frame

0314 the whole thing everything I see is in the frame

0315 beyond the frame lies – what the hell…? Who knows?

0316 That’s the stuff that gets you in the dead of the night

0319 but the frame within the frame itself – well that’s everything

0320 Everything I know and everything anyone knows

0322 and everything they pretend to know and everything I pretend to know

0325 That sort of everything –

0345 Well, it’s been a long day

0355 Frankly it’s not every day you develop a brand new theory of human life

0400 To whoever, goodnight…

 

 

I lack expertise in most things, and find many aspects of ordinary life virtually unintelligible. Yet I know a lot about the Twitter ‘tell’.

 

 

At Beetle we specialise in preemptive emotional analysis. You can derive a great deal from a simple tweet, if you read it carefully. The ‘tell’ is the significant anomaly, the crackle on the wire, the hint that something is not quite right. If something’s not quite right, then we want to help.

 

 

Reading the ‘tell’ is a delicate business. Tweets are an unmediated form; they come straight from the unconscious, fired from below. A tweet is not like a piece of journalism. Layers of arbitration lie between a news article and a reader. Yet a tweet is HERE, suddenly, where nothing was before –

No forethought, and very little conscious control –

Ideas flickering like flames –

Unscripted, inner lives –

Tweet by tweet –

 

 

My cases tweet as Skitaflit, Cyn23 and Mannating. Their real names are Saskia Flint, Cynthia Scott and Andy Mann.

 

 

We’re like Twitter Samaritans, only people don’t come to us. They don’t really know about us, it’s not that sort of thing. Instead, we watch them, to check they’re OK. If people are OK, society is OK.

 

 

Friendly bacteria, that’s what my bosses say. We purge and cleanse, we don’t infect.

 

 

The Beetle data machines are insanely fast, of course, and can process data more swiftly than you or I. No one, no human, can compete with them when it comes to filing words away, slotting preferences into manufactured taxonomies. However, the Beetle machines lack any real awareness of tone. They allocate, they reapportion, yet they cannot discern when someone is uneasy, off-colour, or well-nigh crazy. The machines approach us through our superficial qualities: which car we drive,where we go on Saturdays, how many pairs of shoes we buy each year. They are incapable of assessing delicate shifts in attitude, or feeling; they can only legislate for so many variables.



ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR


is the author of several works of fiction and non-fiction, including The Ice Museum, Inglorious, The Birth of Love, Come to the Edge, A Field Guide to Reality and Tomorrow. Her essays and short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, the London Review of Books, the Guardian, Prospect, the New Scientist and the New York Times, among other publications. In 2008 she won the Orange Prize for New Writing and in 2013 she was listed as one of Granta's Best of Young British Writers.