* 200 articles. Two years. Whelk. The best of Upsideclown. Might be reprinted.


26 June 2003
Created by Dan, 250603, modified by Matt

10:45, West London, the window is open and the high-pitched screams of children can be heard outside. Hopefully I'm near a school, although I didn't notice one on the way here. Otherwise a hideous slaughter is occurring outside, having been picked up from yesterday's bloodbath, and no doubt scheduled to continue tomorrow.

I swear that the same child is screaming rhythmically ever forty seconds or so. I don't think I want to know why.

The modern photograph is increasingly devoid of the obfuscation that characterises the truly great pictorial record. Let me explain.

Let us assume for a moment that you, the gentle reader, possess a digital camera. Let us assume further that you also have a computer, running Windows XP. Let us strain credulity still further (and I can see you sneering, you iMac smugwart. I don't care how good OSX is, it hasn't made anyone like you, has it?) by positing that, when plugging the one (camera) into the other (computer), probably using a cable or similar contrivance, your instinct is to open the Scanner and Camera Wizard (look, just shut the fuck up. Seriously. I don't care. Nobody cares. You will die alone and silent, and the subscription copies of "Mac User" shall gather unheeded on your doormat. I hate you. I hate you more than I hate crimson used to communicate boldness as a border design. I hate you more than I hate the use of violence to silence debate. I hate you more even than your parents do, and that's going some).

So, Camera wizard. Which will ask you to give the folder into which your photos are being downloaded a name. For want of any better options, it will give you today's date. There will follow an interval as the pictures are downloaded, sequentially, from your camera (or uploaded, if you'd rather. It makes comparatively little difference, and any difference it will make is conditional upon the same approach being taken to heroin abuse or sex).

So, before we even go on, we have an approximate date upon which the photographs where taken, and the order in which the photographs were taken. Where's the ambiguity in that, eh? Where the romance?

Since this is digital photography we are talking about, the romance may in fact be in the fact that you have restricted yourself largely to taking naked photographs of your partner. This is admirable, of course, and yet more admirable if you asked him or her first. Nonetheless. You now know approximately when your partner was captured in his or her altogether, and in what order. That isn't romance, it's striptease.

9:55 "Big Trouble in Little China" has just finished. A young Kim Cattral is a very weird thing indeed.

You probably have little sympathy for my position. Even if you right-click on each photograph in turn and uncover secret after secret. Its creator. The camera it was taken with. When it was last modified. Whether the person in the photograph still thinks about you. That last is only, in fact, available in Jaguar - a special function that, after a certain period of time has elapsed, throws a companionable arm around your shoulders and tells you not to worry about it, that she never really understood you, and that maybe it's time to move those pictures to the recycle bin, from which they can of course be easily retrieved four years later on a totally different machine because it's a fucking Mac. The same functionality then searches online dating sites for your perfect partner while displaying tasteful, non-exploitative pornography and playing whalesong to accompany your quest for self-satisfaction using a sockful of liver.

But stop. Think for a minute. Those jumbled, chaotic memories of your childhood, early adolescence and, depending on how old you were when the silicon wave hit, university years - would you enjoy them half as much if you could actually assemble a coherent, temporally-structured narrative out of the out-of-focus shots of bleary-eyed evenings, unidentifiable body parts and famous landmarks at dawn? You may think so, but you are wrong. It's only the basic incoherence of memory that makes it worth having, and certainly nothing else makes it any fun whatsoever. Once you have the accompanying information, you start to realise just how much of your life has been spent doing tedious, soul-deadening or just plain pathetic things. Did you feel the need to take a photograph of that time you cried off a party on the grounds that you were awfully tired, then stayed up until 4am watching Babylon 5? God, I hope not. How many times in the last month have you thought 'hey! That's the place where I work. I'd better take a picture."

Possibly you work at the Guggenheim Bilbao. Your mileage may vary.

Think further. Think of the arsenically browning Polaroid's of your infancy, the sepia immobility of your ancestors - if you're lucky, there will be a note or two of explanation written on the back of the card. With Mavis, Herne Bay, '32. Who is Mavis? Which one is Mavis? What were she and her unknown companion, who may or may not be your grandmother, doing in Herne Bay? And why do they look so bloody miserable?

That's your folklore, mush. The aetiology of your life. And, because you never call, you never visit, and God forbid that your parents should see any of these grandchildren that they so fervently hoped for as proof that the more baroque rumours going around the WI were at least in part unfounded, they will be inscribed ever fainter on the ever more slowly rotating drives of memory, until eventually Mavis will not recognise even herself. And why? Because you have been spoiled by a decadence of USB cables and digital zooms.

Well, no more. As you read this, a virus is being downloaded into your system. It will randomly retitle and refile every image in your photos folder, and burn the correct identifying information into the minds of any passing septuagenarians within a half-mile radius. If you want to keep track of what you and Jessamy did at the Living Marxism shindig (each other, and disappointingly so after four months of lack-witted flirting), you are going to have to pay for it in tea, biscuits, and cataracted murmurings. This has the subsidiary advantage that many of our senior citizens are about to be introduced to a new and exciting world of unconscionably hardcore porn.

Of course, this may not be of any concern to you. You may favour a medium-focus camera, unhappy with the poor image clarity even of the more expensive digital cameras. You may develop your own photographs, and then tabulate them carefully, slipping a piece of paper with date, time and dramatis personae into the plastic wallet holding each one in strict order.

If so, you may hear a knocking at your window. That's me. I'm about to beat you witless with the jawbone of a Mac owner.

10:15 Back home, thinking of sleep. God, I'm tired. But at least I've still got a jawbone.


This is the fucking archive

Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
30 October 2003. Dan writes: My only goal
9 October 2003. Dan writes: The Knot
18 September 2003. Dan writes: The Engelbart Elephant
28 August 2003. Dan writes: The Amity Index
7 August 2003. Dan writes: This Sporting Life
17 July 2003. Dan writes: Touch
26 June 2003. Dan writes: Metadata
5 June 2003. Dan writes: Street Mate
15 May 2003. Dan writes: Usher's Well
24 April 2003. Dan writes: Medicamenta
3 April 2003. Dan writes: Weapons of Mass Construction
13 March 2003. Dan writes: David Sneddon, Bukake Secret Agent
20 February 2003. Dan writes: Mary Sue
30 January 2003. Dan writes: Bait and Switch
9 January 2003. Dan writes: What Never Happened
19 December 2002. Dan writes: Sermon on the Mount the Face
28 November 2002. Dan writes: Ballroom Blitz
7 November 2002. Dan writes: The Photographer
17 October 2002. Dan writes: Diaphragmatic
26 September 2002. Dan writes: A life in the day
5 September 2002. Dan writes: Different Class
15 August 2002. Dan writes: Story and sequel
25 July 2002. Dan writes: Fellatious
4 July 2002. Dan writes: Skin Mag
10 June 2002. Dan writes: The Ibizan book of the Dead
16 May 2002. Dan writes: The Sissons Situation
22 April 2002. Dan writes: UpsideClown and Out in Hollywood
28 March 2002. Dan writes: Nereus' Daughters
4 March 2002. Dan writes: Diomedes
7 February 2002. Dan writes: Text Only
14 January 2002. Dan writes: Civil Engineering
20 December 2001. Dan writes: Nativity
26 November 2001. Dan writes: The Wedding Band
1 November 2001. Dan writes: what dreans mecum?
8 October 2001. Dan writes: Stop me if you've heard this one before
13 September 2001. Dan writes: Mother of the Muses
20 August 2001. Dan writes: I say I say I say
26 July 2001. Dan writes: Bigger, Better, Brother
2 July 2001. Dan writes: Hecatomb
7 June 2001. Dan writes: Dispassionate Leave
14 May 2001. Dan writes: Small Town Boy
19 April 2001. Dan writes: Maintaining the Driving Line
26 March 2001. Dan writes: Cut and Paste
1 March 2001. Dan writes: Redemption
5 February 2001. Dan writes: Blyton the Face of the Earth
8 January 2001. Dan writes: Smoke Signals
18 December 2000. Dan writes: The Loa Depths
23 November 2000. Dan writes: The Limits of Melissa Joan Hart
30 October 2000. Dan writes: Shiftwork
5 October 2000. Dan writes: Dawson
11 September 2000. Dan writes: Testing Times
17 August 2000. Dan writes: Onanova
3 July 2000. Dan writes: Roboto il Diavolo

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