The Reversal

After many years of focused self-loathing I have reversed the flow of hatred and entered into a lengthy phase of purifying misanthropy. I fear and hate other humans: their innate violence, apelike grins, and peculiar smells. I hate them in cars, in lines, and when they write things on the Internet. I am annoyed by assemblyline quirks, like knitting in public, or the wearing of certain hats.

When I ride my bike I barely see the gnarled toes and snail tongues of strangers, or their open-maw faces. There is no risk of conversation, although sometimes people yell things. (Two days ago some girl in a pack of girls yelled: "Fat nigga!"; I gave the group the finger and kept pedaling, which I guess is an improvement over 500,000 years ago when we would have thrown feces.) I am a point on a line in a grid and I assume correctly that every car, every body in motion, is put here to kill me. I haul myself over low-grade hills and map trajectories. I still look smiling on infants but in my heart there is vileness. And Brooklyn, with its glut of desperate wombs, has no shortage of upmarket strollers, the squeaks and caws of their passengers cautiously analyzed by their wrinkled mothers for signs of autism (bad) or genius (good). I am soon to get married, but given the general despair of the era and the fact that the oceans are now 58% molten lead I do not think of the joys of tiny fingers grasping my thumb but instead relentlessly catalog the disasters that could befall us, assuming of course that my ability to father a child has not been obliterated by all these years spent sucking down crooked molecules. If we have a child and the rats do not eat it first I will teach her (or him) to fear Sting.

"Be good," I will say, "or Sting will come with his lute."

"Where does Sting live?" the kid will ask.

"He dances alone in fields of gold. When he sings you fall asleep and die. But if you listen to good music he can never come close. For he is so afraid."

"Does he eat you?"

"No, because he is vegetarian. In Greece he is called Borefeus."

"I hate Sting!"

If there's life in other systems I'll hate that too, when it comes to claim our planet in the name of the NR!RRRG-7. You know how the Lisp geeks say, all code is data and all data is code? (I'm an XSLT programmer so I say the same thing, but it takes much longer.) I'm wrestling with the fact that not only are all of you apes, but I am as well, just as poisonous and treacherous with my plastic bags and air-conditioning. That is, I am code; you are data, and you are code as well, and the babies and cats are all genes crunching through a much, much larger machine that never, sadly, reboots. I hope we don't taste good to our conquerors.




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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