I savour my screensaver. But it is telling not only of my computer's inactiveness, but also my own procrastination. The screensaver ‘Word a Day’ available on my Mac floats random words mesmerisingly across a rippling blue background then reveals their definition. It repeats four new words daily, the meaning of which is usually unknown to me. Sometimes the four words it settles on evoke strange associations for me.
It comes up one day with the word 'Sere', which means dry or withered, conjuring up an image of an arid landscape, devoid of vegetation. But the next word to float across the screen is 'Patisserie'. In my mind’s eye the arid landscape has transformed into a counter of pastries, horribly dried up, sprinkled not in sugar but caked in salt. The word ‘Patisserie’ glides gently away to the left. The pace of the screen saver is quite slow, so you really have time to ingest these images, so take your time. Have a cup of tea if you feel like it, and put your feet up. Where was I? Oh yes. So the word ‘Patisserie’ floats slowly and gently away, you have the taste of a salty old dried up croissant on the tip of your tongue, nice that, and ‘Patisserie’ is replaced by the word 'Dystopia'. Now I begin to wonder what my computer is up to, and I give it quizzical side-long glances, but it invariably remains poker faced.
Ok, so have it your way, I think. ‘Sere’ + ‘Patisserie’ +‘Dystopia’ = There is no more water on Earth and only one building left standing, a fully functioning Patisserie. As you enter the Patisserie, you see a delicious looking plump croissant and your heart rejoices. Behind the counter a pastry chef in a clean white apron welcomes you. But the pastry handed to you disintegrates into dust as you try and put it to your mouth. Whatever robbed the Earth of its water sadly hasn’t spared this croissant. As you demolish half the shop in a craze lunging at madeleines, profiteroles and petit fours you are blind to the fact that it is all in vain. All your efforts turn to dust. Meanwhile the pastry chef is ringing up a hefty bill. You are starting to feel that things are looking just a bit doom and gloomy right now and as you turn out your pockets you have to admit you are completely broke. The Earth isn’t the only thing that has been robbed, that pastry chef has totally fleeced you.
Then relief fills your heart as you notice the word ‘dystopia’ gliding gently away on your computer, exiting screen left as if butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth. You try and think of more positive words like ‘sunrise’, ‘dawn’ but to no avail. Just as you think it couldn’t get any worse, the word ‘dystopia’ which is still gliding gently away to the left as I write, dissapears from view only to be replaced by the word ‘inhuman’, which is actually really kind of upping the ante.
The world has already reached such a state of degredation that you can’t get a half decent croissant anywhere. Isn’t that enough? I begin to think my computer is a bit of a drama queen, it absolutely has a consciousness and it is trying to psych me out.
In the patisserie I realise there is one last chance, a cabinet full of the most delicious looking pralines I have ever set my eyes upon. But guarding my way is the pastry chef, who now looks cruel and barbaric, despite the formerly deceptively pleasing appearance in the white apron. But what I mistook as a friendly smile on closer inspection turns out to be a cruel sneer. My blood runs cold and I realise that no human being could make such an array of fancy pralines single-handedly. This person is inhuman, an automaton at best. I have been tricked. I turn to make a hasty exit but the door has vanished. I’m done for. Not only has the Earth been robbed of its water and you can't get a decent pastry anywhere, I have been robbed of my money, and now my life……
Thankfully I have to finally get down to some work, as the situation is getting pretty critical. I give my computer another side-long quizzicle glance. It, doing its part, gives it the poker face again. My fate hangs in the balance for quite a bit longer as the word ‘inhuman’ drifts balefully across the screen. If I wait a few more seconds then the whole sequence will start over again. I ponder how long the sequence will take? Maybe I should pop out for a croissant before getting down to work? Yes, I savour my screensaver. But it is telling not only of my screens inactiveness, but also my own procrastination.