Sunday, October 26, 2008

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Hard Drive.

Twice last week, my e-mail account at work reached its capacity limit and froze, forcing me to go through hundreds of messages, picking what to archive or delete.

At the same time, my phone began bleating, "SIM Card Full!" The unanticipated chore of clearing items from my address book actually turned out to be a mini-catharsis (in the modern age, you can delete not just words, but also people!). But today, while clearing out text messages from said phone to keep it from seizing up again, I thought: Damn, if I have to spend this much time cleaning up all the b.s. I spew into the textosphere, maybe it's time to consider reducing my output?

(Yes, I recognize the paradox in airing this question on my blog.)

My verbal pollution extends beyond the Interwebs. I have a huge box containing every letter ever received, birthday cards, diaries, notebooks with "ideas." I preserve old computers and floppy disks (I just said floppy disks) full of fossilized musings, accessible in theory but extinct in reality. All of this resides at my parents' house, because, you know, I don't like clutter. It's all there, one big life archive that, like so many online .zips, offers more peace of mind than real utility. Random access, memory.

Not long after I moved into my current place, which I furnished with an ivory rug, a cream couch, impossibly white new bedsheets and no paint on the landlord-blanc walls, I read this by Stephen King: "We call it white because we need a word, but its true name is nothing. Black is the absence of light, but white is the absence of memory, the color of can't remember."

What if you could choose not only what to delete from your brain -- or your life -- but also what you could retain? What would you delete, if anything?

I would be glad if I could erase my knowledge of the tune "We Built This City" and restore some random lost childhood memory. I would hit "Del" on everything I've ever watched on Bravo and retrieve the dreams last saved to my unconscious. I would move a few past dating experiences to the recycle bin and then download some classic novels.

I would change the screensaver in my brain from this to this.


  1. I tend to save a great deal, too, and I always wish I had saved more--more letters, more diaries, more random written stuff that for a brief moment may remind me of a time and a place and a person I forgot.

    The toasters! How I had forgotten that...

  2. Anonymous1:03 AM

    That was my favorite line in that King book -- "...the color of can't remember."

    A pill of "can't remember" may not be so far off:


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