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When Data Takes On A Mind of Its Own

5292_big-data

Green flash – nine dash – dark green in dark room, four flash – minus dash – three flash – six dash – eight then tight then eight. The operator shoves his chair back in fear, things happen too quickly to be surprised. Red left light followed by yellow left light glow beside the numbers, reflect the band of a wristwatch. Eight flash two race one plus one point – decimal moving across the board, hunting.

Fingers, hand, wristwatch reach for the never used phone.

Second and third red left lights glow off the face of the Operator as his lips open before the mouthpiece.

“Get the General and the Director down here fast.”

“But they’re both asleep.” A thin voice in his ear.

“No time – no time. Hurry.”

His hand replaces the phone, but his eyes never leave the wild numbers, doubling and now tripling. Four two flash seven one three dash six six six pause blank plus plus racing decimal three three three three. He takes a fast look around the dim room to see yellow and red lights glimmering from every corner, and the flashing green of disappearing numbers.

His eyes return to his own board. There is a constant series of tiny clicks as the green numbers race from right to left, bottom to top. He moves a sweaty palm across his leg and gapes. Minus minus minus eight zero four three eight zero four three pause eight pause plus pause zero four three three click click click click.

Quadrupling now, simultaneous right to left and bottom to top, green numbers racing click click click click.  The sound of the flicking numbers makes him think of chicken claws scratching in gravel. He notices his hands shaking.

He dimly remembers one lecture where the odds were given of such a thing happening, the smug humour of his instructor. Six six 44 flash two seven 55 click nine two 77 plus 333 point 2864 flash minus flash minus eight seven three three zero.

“My God, they’re in fives now.”

He swivels around with a start, and sees the Director peering over one shoulder, the General standing behind him.

“How long has this been happening?”

“I … I don’t know.” He is frightened and confused. “Five or six minutes – no more than ten. I called you as soon as – ”

“It’s happening with all of them,” said the General. “It’s not a mistake.” As he speaks he looks at the screen, fumbles to straighten his tie. Nine one four two four flash nine one four two 5 pause nine one four two 6 minus flash click click click.

They move like green waves across a dark sea, sextupleting in a rush from the base of the screen. Seven two 2941 flash four one 3384 pause nine zero 7766 click click minus three four 0827.

“More warning lights are on now, Sir.”

“It’s the same with every terminal,” said the Director as he looks over to the General.

“I presume you activated the breaking system.”

“Yes, Sir.” The operator does not look behind him as he answers. “When the triples started. All it did was blow out the switch lights.” His face – like the others – is bathed in a confused glow of green, yellow and red.

“The last warning lights just came on.”

“We can see that!” snapped the Director.

The room has never had so much light in it, yet the green numbers do not seem subdued. Four two 8601, nine five 7350, one one 4499 plus flash four eight 1632 click click.

Green flash, red light and yellow, number after number, 472210 flash 992136 pause 886221 race pause flash green 220011 flash click click click.

“Sounds like hens scratching,” says the General.

The Director took in his breath with a groan. “They’re turning octal,” he said.

The green numbers moved constantly now, covering the whole face of the screen. Click click flash plus 12345678 flash 87654321 pause 20199465 click minus flash 22446688 race click 11335577 green 88990011 click.

“They’re grouping,” said the Operator. “They’re forming patterns.” His voice was no longer scared, but resigned.

The red and yellow warning lights began to shatter, small pops of sound followed by falling glass. Green flickers raced 11223344 slight pause 55667788 flash green wave 99001122 minus flash 33445566 click click

“It’s turning cyclical,” said the Director.

click flash green rush 77889900 pause plus click 00000000 minus flash flash click 00000000 click click 00000000

“What a way to end,” mumbled the General.

(image)normalenew.sns.it/upload/2015/03/5292_big-data.jpg

 

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Is My Past Tying Up Loose Ends?

passing-time-2-51854c91a8333
I was in the City Market, looking at produce. From the corner of my eye, with my back turned, something familiar twigged about a person passing. It was a woman with long, shock-white hair.
In this day-and-age it is unwise to start trailing a woman shouting “Hey, you.” Plus, this lady did not look the type to appreciate any unusual approach. As she was moving at quite a clip, I also wondered how wise it might be to give any sort of obvious chase.
However, she popped into a craft shop. With this delay, I thought I could take at least a further look. As it was, I was staring through a window just as she was staring out. Her brow did indeed furrow, and her facial expression was more of annoyance than curiosity. But, then, her face did change, and I saw recognition at about the same time I confirmed to myself who it was.
I believe it has to be twenty years since I last saw her.  As we were saying the usual “I thought you looked familiar” type of thing, a young woman appeared at her side. I – who never remembers names – recognised her daughter, and even called her by her name.
They were in town for a family funeral. In fact, the interment had been that very morning. They were heading to the airport in an hour or so. The last she knew of my whereabouts was when I lived in a different city. We only had a few minutes of chat – nothing about writing, other than that she asked if I was still writing. I admitted I was now down to five days a week, and not daily. Then they were away.
It has been a strange year for the old times popping up.
One friend (whom I haven’t seen for six years) was in town for a family reunion. Another friend, (whom I hadn’t seen for three years) drove in for an afternoon.
I went to a Memorial for a colleague with whom I had no dealings for nearly thirty years. And I went to a cousin’s Funeral Parlour visitation (whom I had not seen for eighteen years).
However, from the Funeral Parlour experience, emerged a more-than-unusual episode for my latest novel, where I am following the exploits of Alison Alexandra.
It almost seems as if my past is tying up some loose ends.

Franz Kafka And His Kafkaesque Life

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka was born in 1883, so he would probably be dead had he lived.

I wonder what Kafka would think about the worldwide communication and information of today. He was a rigid fixture of the staid (he hated using the telephone). He also was a keen observer of the world around him (he wrote the first newspaper report about aeroplanes, and he invented the safety helmet). It was more this deep divide in his personality which caused him his problems, about which he so famously wrote.

He did not fit into his personal world, yet he fit into the real world perfectly. He was adored by his friends and by many ladies. He was respected at his work and rose to a position of power. His stories were published to acclaim in his lifetime.

Kafka lived a Kafkaesque life. He died a Kafkaesque death (he caught tuberculosis because he drank “pure” unpasteurised cow’s milk). He was rigid in his personal beliefs (until proved wrong), yet he was a beacon of compassion to others.

Kafka was always on a tightrope. He looked at things with such accuracy that his comments can seem bizarre. Supposedly his last words were:  “Kill me, or you are a murderer.” They were to  his doctor, as Kafka beseeches for an overdose of morphine.

I have written much about Kafka. This is a diary entry I had him write in my novel “Kafka In The Castle”:

03 July 1917

The anniversary of my birth. In honour of the day, I do not make it my last.

DE

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