Tag Archives: lost

Lost & Found Art Cannot Be Put Into Context

lost-and-found
Lost And Found Art
samplex

Allow me to explain my predicament. Up until March 29, 2003, I had carefully maintained, organized & archived my entire email history from 1993 when I first joined Prodigy, Compuserve, and AOL all within a few weeks of each other, having been instantly smitten with this new world of messaging and self-publication. I hail from a damned near illiterate background—from an alcohol-hardened household, from a band of brothers who somehow esteem reading and writing of little use above that required by law.

This is not an indictment of them, but a tiny spotlight onto the struggles for my own sense of clarity, given my own poetic nature, and desire for pursuing and comprehending the incomprehensible. I had been fortunate that during my ten years of archiving, I had never lost anything I had ever emailed, or had received from someone. Except for obvious and useless SPAM, and lower tier business correspondence, I cherished and kept every bit of communication I had ever mustered.

And I'd been fortunate to have met and sustained along the way a steady string of aspiring authors, so our email wasn't of the dull flat liner variety that would soon cloak the long silences of previous generations who had transitioned from sincere letter writing to the less literary and more immediate telephone call and special event card. Now we had access to a marvelous combination of the two, letter writing nearly extinct, and the telephone call, often as mundane and flawed for its archival challenges as the polaroid in the digital camera age.

But then came the shock and awe of that March 29 data loss. Ten years of treasured exchanges gone in a keystroke! Ordinarily I kept a rather recent back-up of my work, but for reasons of brevity, let's just say I had little to rely upon that day, so in one terrible keystroke I lost my entire hard drive of personal information while visiting the terminal for my first and only peek at the guts of the operating system. After the week long stress, sweat and toil of data recovery magic, I found that I had recovered maybe two-thirds of my email data. I lost so much more other work, but it was my treasured email that mattered most to me at that point, and the process was too inadequate to worry about the rest of the loss. Now, of course, my email did not recover its former glory. So, instead of each individual mail stored away in personal boxes and folders, where I had immediate access to them in plain text, I now had over 22,000 individual files each named, starting at number 1, increasing in value one file at a time, like this:

Email file (generic) 16784

And since it seems as apropos as a summer shower on a blue heat afternoon, given a rather new MySpace friend’s recent smackdown of a type of Internet personality she called the Intellectual Predator, it’s a keeper; here’s yet another redux, circa 1993-4 from my AOL years (when I signed on there I was among a mere 250,000 subscribers. When I left, over 25 million. But I’ll leave that story to later.) Can’t wait to get more of these posted somewhere new. All I can do is work the process with ev’ry muscle I’ve still got in the game…
And to make matters worse, each recovered file, no, did not include just a single piece of mail, but sometimes two, five, or three, point three emails. And these texts were not alone in their new miserable state. Now each file included huge chunks of header and other inexplicable strands of ASCII gibberish, cast off, decidedly boorish digital DNA that I would have to clear away like so many acres of undergrowth in order to isolate a long lost masterpiece from my friend Steve, or a stroll through Landryville with the wit and sarcasm of her spicy Cajun' upbringing, or merely a well-written communication from back in the day, those early days when so many people inside and outside the industry mocked the functionality, or inspirational value of email, while here we were composing masterpieces, detailing small everyday events of those days of our lives, marching to our exciting times with an eye on posterity.

Yes all this, BEFORE THE DELUGE OF SPAM. Before Internet porn. And for several years, before the WWW itself. Ah, yes, we were there, and we were writers, and yes, we could be bombastic or plain spoken. We could lie with dogs, or we could ride elephant ears. Those were the days where great plans ruled the great plains.

Nostalgic, but that's merely the background noise of my original purpose in posting today. Now here's one of those recovered files I just opened this morning, randomly. I did not write this, it seems to be unsigned, but I did save it. And since it seems as apropos as a summer shower on a blue heat afternoon, given a rather new MySpace friend's recent smackdown of a type of Internet personality she called the Intellectual Predator, it's a keeper; here's yet another redux, circa 1993-4 from my AOL years (when I signed on there I was among a mere 250,000 subscribers. When I left, over 25 million. But I'll leave that story to later.) Can't wait to get more of these posted somewhere new. All I can do is work the process with ev'ry muscle I've still got in the game...