Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dream blogging

I was awoken early this morning by an amazing dream, in which I was actually putting together the elements of a blog article: in fact, the one that I'm about to write. I'll describe the dream in a moment. Before that, I need to provide two essential items of information.

First, I happened to talk on the telephone yesterday with Christine concerning my recent article entitled Virtual visit of places of my youth [display]. Although I didn't bring up this aspect of the Google Maps situation in that article, I was surprised that the municipal authorities in Grafton would allow such photos of private homes to be displayed publicly on the web. I haven't got around yet to examining this privacy question in a deeper and wider fashion. For example: Could Google fly around my house at Gamone in a helicopter, taking photos to be displayed on the web? In the interesting phone conversation that I had with Christine on this theme, she made a pertinent general remark. She said that most normal people would dislike the idea of regularly publishing quite personal stuff in a blog such as my Antipodes. The corollary is that an individual such as me is exceptional (in the same way that a porn star, for example, is exceptional) in getting a kick out of parading himself in public, as I do, by means of a personal blog.

The second item of pertinent background information is that, before falling asleep last night, I was engaged in thinking (as is often the case these days) about the related subjects of genealogy and genetics. Before switching off my computer, I even stuck up a piece of cardboard in front of the screen containing the enigmatic expression "no hurry", and an arrow pointing to the title of the autobiographical stuff I'm writing. This was intended as a reminder of an essential revelation that struck me last night (but not for the first time): namely, the gigantic periods of time taken by Darwinian evolution to forge us into the animals that we are today. Indeed, evolution has never been in a hurry.

In my dream, I was wandering around, a little lost, inside a giant ultra-modern passenger liner. I was particularly impressed by the fact that even the form of handrails on the staircases between the various decks had evolved, through technological progress, in such a way that it was now impossible to lose one's grip and fall down the stairs. I found myself guiding a woman with a baby. In one of the lower decks, I was pleased to be able to lead her to a big room that was fully equipped with all kinds of modern installations for baby care. This was no doubt an evocation of a sea voyage between France and Australia with my wife and baby daughter.

The scene then shifted to the Paris métro, where I needed to consult a métro map in order to find my way. This was surely an evocation of my use of Google Maps to visit my birth place in Australia... along with the fact that I've been using this tool a lot lately to obtain an idea of the mill town of Walton-le-Dale in Lancashire, where my O'Keefe and Dixon ancestors worked before immigrating to New South Wales. Curiously, in my dream, all the maps that I found on the walls of the Paris métro were in fact distorted and abridged maps of Australia! I couldn't understand why this should be the case, but I had the impression that it was some kind of complicated marketing affair of a touristic nature.

Then I suddenly found myself producing personal genealogical charts for a blog article that was designed to indicate why indeed I was "condemned" by my genetic makeup to be the kind of individual who takes pleasure in talking about himself in a blog. In an amazingly detailed fashion, I was convinced that I knew the precise nature and origin of the circumstances that had transformed me into such an individual. Let me describe the situation, exactly as it appeared to me in my dream.

— On my paternal side, I felt that I was born with a chromosome containing a "bookkeeping" gene, which caused me to have an obsessive desire to record everything that was happening around me. Although I had tended to forget this aspect of my grandfather and father, I realize that I was impressed by their very real bookkeeping skills and habits. Besides, it was my grandfather who introduced me to the use of a manual typewriter. Later on, one of the earliest software devices I developed on the Macintosh was bookkeeping software for my personal bank account, which I named Le Compte est Bon [the accounting figures are correct]. Obviously, it's a short step from bookkeeping to obsessional blogging. In my dream, I was convinced that neither my brothers nor my three sisters possessed this paternal chromosome containing the "bookkeeping" gene.

— On my maternal side, I had inherited a chromosome containing a "talkative" gene, which made me wish to tell stories constantly and publicly about myself and my life. The origin of this chromosome with its "gift of the gab" gene was the Irish convict Patrick Hickey, and it came down to me through his daughter Ann, her son and her grandson, both named Charles Walker, and finally my mother Kathleen Walker. Once again, I felt that there were prominent cases (such as my mother's sister, and probably my own brother and sisters) in which this chromosome had not been passed on to descendants.

— Here I come to one of the surprising technical aspects of my dream. My obsessional passion for blogging was a direct consequence of neither my "bookkeeping" gene, on its own, nor even my "talkative" gene, on its own, but of the mutual interaction of each gene upon the other. In other words, to become an obsessive blogger, I needed to possess both genes, each of which reached me autonomously in a distinct chromosome.

Last but not least, in my dream, I realized that I would need to make it clear, in my blog article on this subject, that the two genes, left to their own resources, would have never transformed me into an obsessional blogger were it not for the computing context in which I had been nurtured as an adolescent, from the age of 17.

So, there you have it. I've just written the blog, exactly as it was dictated to me in this morning's dream.

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