Sunday, November 2, 2008

Laptop/Sand Mandala

The Buddhists have it right. Nothing serves as a better reminder of the fleeting nature of life than creating an intricate piece of art and destroying it.

To be safe, I made two backup copies before I wiped my laptop. They both failed. My own mini-burning of the Library of Alexandria. All of my files have been cremated and spread on the wind. Is that what the Buddhists do? Very unlike the Christian maintenance of coffined bones and tombstones.

Thanks to Google, anything I sent to a friend remains. But all of my works-in-progress have vanished. Novels, plays, sketches, stand-up, slam poetry, stencils, pixels, ideas, ideas, ideas. It's an experience of death on a removed intellectual level. Physically, I'm happy to have my health. Emotionally, it has put me in a happy, goofy mood. I've been challenged to ponder nonexistence in a way I would wish on everyone. After all, these files are not lost in the bottoms of a closet they are on a formatted hard drive. Utterly destroyed. They are not buried like our recent ancestors. They have vanished like our ancient ancestors.

I've caught myself sulking to my friends but my heart isn't in it. It's funny to catch myself in patterned behavior. I know I have "the right" to sulk but it feels insincere. I prefer to step back and feel what I really feel instead of play the part of what I "should" feel.

There's always something refreshing about destruction.


lfar said...

Oh Peter if you're not going to sulk, I'll sulk for you. I deal with loss poorly sometimes. Usually. Could nothing be reformatted? I once accidentally formatted a drive that had all my photos on it, and I was able to get almost all of them back. You're so crazy. I would be crying for probably weeks. I can't relate to you right now. How about the backup copies. What's their problem. Can I help? Peter peter peter my feelings are broken for you.

Eric Lyman said...

How did your two backups both get destroyed? In any case- at the risk of sounding like I work for the company, there's a great service you can use to back up all of your material online called Mozy. Run a google for it... Basically you pay a monthly fee of $5 ($4.16 if you pay for two years in advance) and you can backup an unlimited amount of data to their servers, all encrypted. This is what I started doing when we had our first baby and realized that we now had something that is truly un-replaceable... baby photos! On top of this I also use an external hard drive to backup the photos, and I leave this drive at my workplace 6 days out of the week. The idea here is to not just have redundant copies of your data, but to also have them in different physical locations in the event of a home robbery or fire.

I find the subject extremely interesting. In an age that is becoming increasingly digital, there are going to be more and more services and products coming out for backing things up.

Nemo Dally said...


I'm not sure what happened with the backup. All of my files are in a single massive folder (to make it easy for backing up -see how wise I am?). I copied that file to USB and to a desktop. That night, as my laptop was being formatted, I discovered that although the folder structure was there, some key folders were empty. Clearly, I should have done a quick size check after the transfers.

It's funny to think that online backups are more reliable than keeping my own backup copy. But, it's true. Here I am.

Imagine you're baby turns out to be one of those Buddhist kids and deletes your Mozy account to teach you the law of impermanence.

I wonder how monks feel about YouTube videos of their sand mandalas.

Plorry Stabworth said...

You might still be able to recover some of the knowledge from your Library of Alexandria if you still have your Hypatia. Your Hypatia should have stored at least some of the critical files necessary to put together the collection. If your Hypatia has been slain and drawn naked through the city, dragged by chariot, then it might be too late for you and your civilization.