You have to understand that I am quite an ordinary talking pig. I have no special knowledge and I have never studied at Hogwart’s Academy. My idea is to trot down to the office in the morning and, disguised as a mild-mannered accountant, to write mad poems of love and space.
However, from time to time, one must enter the Sacred Precincts – when the insoluble, the impossible, is necessary to make life worth living again. Wouldn’t you agree?
That’s how I feel today. I’ve decided to start a photoblog. Or at least to fiddle around with one to see how I like it. Not that I take pictures, you understand. I don’t know an aperture from an f-stop. But I have access to file drawers full of wonderful negatives taken by my beautiful Patrushka from 1970 on. And I think you might enjoy seeing her world as it was in another time and place. Like this one.
But it’s not like I can go down in my basement, get out the old tool chest and start building a photoblog. It’s not intuitive. For me to create one from scratch would be rather like me performing heart surgery on an innocent kitten. It would be good-hearted but a terrible mistake in judgment.
So, I thought, on my lunch break I’ll just amble down to the Ziggurat to see if the priest-magicians will solve all my problems and make life sweet again.
I wrote to Mark Wickens up in Toronto. I admire his photoblog much, although he doesn’t post often. Classically elegant photography in a classically elegant setting. Cool and sleek – all the things I’m not. And I asked him, “Mark, how do you make such a beautiful photoblog? And may I have all your design ideas and use them for my own purpose without any fees, please?”
He wrote back the next day and said, “Yes, yes, of course, old pig. Here is the stylesheet. Now go away. I am having trouble with the Wicked Witch of the West and need to throw an incantation before she destroys the universe again.” (Actually he was wonderfully civil and offered to help any way he could. But that sort of blows the story.)
Have you ever seen a stylesheet? It’s like a perfectly clear, step by step set of instructions for making a beautiful, in this case, photoblog. Except the instructions are to the computer, not to you. Like a great recipe for making an apple pie, except it’s in Nepalese.
Mark assumed I also was an initiate. Who else would have such temerity? Perhaps the old pig was having trouble with the Tepid Witch of the South.
But I am more like an old farmer in ancient Sumeria, say. I’m no fool, and I can keep the hawks away from my lambs. I know how to do that. But when you get into hexes and wicked witches and lambs falling sick for no reason and photoblogs, well, I’ve got to hie down to the Ziggurat and grovel up the stairs and ask for an audience with the Great Priest Magicians.
So I asked my son-in-law, Marc, who is an adept in the dark arts old farmers don’t study. He read the stylesheet and wisely stroked his chin. “Hmmm, nothing to it, really. Here, let me show you…”
Marc tapped a few keys and suddenly the stylesheet began to glow. Comets spun into the void as a tiny little new universe revealed itself, complete with earthworms in the loam.
Now I think I can possibly build my own photoblog, since a young and very competent priest-king is married to my daughter. But what of the rest of us old grovelers? Must we be stuck with Blogger and it’s canned, Henry Ford approach to web design?
The world we’ve come to live in is rather like the ancient world – Sumeria or Mesopotamia. There’s all of us farmers going about our agricultural lives entirely dependent on the great priest-magicians up in the ziggurat tending to the needs of the computer gods, offering up to them new stylesheets in arcane languages. Without the priest-magicians with their robes and armed guards and coffers of gold and midnight rites, our water will go salty and the wolves will come to eat our lambs.
I wouldn’t ‘t be able to post my new photoblog. I would have to go nap under the apple tree. You would never see this photo of an old man crossing Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco in 1972, and your life might be a little less interesting.
What shall we do? We can’t revolt. Perhaps I will ask the Eloi people. They might know.