24 January 2007

The ESP watch

"Gunther had shown up with a tall blonde beauty named Gretchen, who spoke no English or Spanish and only a few words in her native German, such as 'cocktail' and 'zigarette.'" ---Against the Day, p640

how long will it be
before they can make a wristwatch
that reads your brainwaves
and displays each word
you think or read or hear or say?

with a wireless link
back to a printer
that feeds out
a continuous paper tape

one inch every ten seconds
printing every word
in your stream of consciousness

thoughts in purple
speech in blue
heard words in green
reading in red

so one of Leopold Bloom's
hourlong internal monologs
would occupy thirty feet of tape

his full day and night
720 feet

consider all six billion earthlings
each generating 720 feet of tape per day

illiterates lacking any red printing
(reading-addicts heavily red)
recluses lacking green and blue
(garrulous people heavily blue)
and pynchon's gretchen mostly lacking purple
(shakespeare's cassius dangerously otherwise)

now flatten earth's surface

keeping it full-scale for once
and flip it sideways
so all 6,000,000,000 tapes
stream towards the left
all at the same six inches per minute
50 miles per year
1000 miles per generation
4000 miles per lifespan (earth's radius)

and if we could reconstruct the tapes
of generations past
inching all the way to the moon
5000 years ago
when written language (red) began

and ten times farther than the moon
for our genetic eve and adam
(the likely startingpoint
of complex bluegreen spoken language)

ten times more
(as close as venus comes)
for our divergence from neanderthals

and less than four times that
to the sun
and the likely conquest of fire
1.8 million years back
93 million miles of 'tape'