Thinking through Google

tue20oct2009—43w293d80%— 04h03m00s—0utc

We were chatting. I was grasping for a great, recent quote that congealed my thoughts well but I couldn’t find it in my quote collection nor recall anything but the vaguest of phrasings.

What I remembered was that it was written by that famous author who committed suicide, I googled that but that’s sadly too broad a description. So I kept thinking and I also remembered that he was famously very much a fan of that famous swiss tennis player, whose name of course also evaded me. But googling was successful this time, retrieving not Martina Higgins, but ah, yes, Roger Federer. So now I google “federer author suicide” and that finally got me David Foster Wallace. With the name it was a snap to find the quote in my collection, and all of it happened real-timely enough to keep the flow of the IM conversation.

This sort of thing has happened often to me and I’m sure it has to you: googling for vague recall, for completing your thoughts. Instead of closing your eyes and willing an unconscious mind racking you outsorce to Google the unconvering of the tip of your tongue. What stroke me this time was the chaining and the speed (just-in-time-thinking). What got me to write this down was that in a few years such a thing will be so unremarkable I’m sure we’ll wonder how it felt before, if those in transition ever noticed how their mind was being steadily extruded.

The quote?

TV is not vulgar and prurient and dumb because the people who compose the audience are vulgar and dumb. Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests.

David Foster Wallace
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