Sunday, 30 August 2009

Public vs Private

I'm going to go to Fenham library in a bit, where I'll probably queue for a while in order to use a scanner and printer. I'll be waiting for a thick and ugly boy on myspace, who squints up close at the screen to try and see as much flesh as possible on girls' profile pics.

I saw that advert for the £49.99 printer/scanner yesterday and had a think about getting it. It would make all this so much easier. I could scan when I like, without having to borrow,wait or limit how much I do. By leisurely re-doing and experimenting, I could become an 'expert' at using a small piece of domestic kit - an artisan of home-printing!

But I've always resisted getting my own private tools. I spend too much time alone already. And when you go to the library/wait for the bus/walk and walk to get what you want, then you do encounter other people in the real world. Including the ugly boy, and the library staff who totally fucked up the photocopier when it had an ink jam. At least the boy is doing his squinting in public. Being forced into the open reveals and reminds us what each other are like, ugly and all. I think that's a good thing.

Almost all of my zines have been done on public photocopiers. I've not even scanned any of them and I've never really got the 'hang' of any particular machine. This is why they're never neatly done, or of the same standard. The worst printed are the ones done cheapest, ones that I used to do on a duplicator in Gateshead, where I had to hide what it was I was printing from the other users of the building. I liked that experience of secrecy in public.

But the printing does suffer, and it takes so much time, and it used to add on about £5 to the printing just to get to Gateshead (metro and irn bru), and it often adds another day or two onto the making and finishing of things. It also makes you feel stupid and frustrated to spend your time going back and forth, not being able to do something then and there. There's an aspect of society pressure, too. Standing at a bus stop, I think of Maggie Thatcher's quote: 'if you see a man over the age of 30 at a bus stop, you know he's a loser'. Now I'm a little older, I tend to feel shitter about myself when I compare myself, (in these acts of doing pointless, unintelligent errands and repetitive, unnecessarily awkward tasks that end up coming out really bad) with some flash harry in his office and paid-up mac software doing it in a tenth of the time.

I don't even have microsoft office on this computer, and the laptop itself broke one week after its guarantee ran out. And things I do on it are incompatible with the systems at work.
Why do I make life so hard for myself?
The same reason I don't buy a car, and spend more money and more time gettting places on public transport?
I used to feel more confident in that decision, but lately I have just felt tired, and like I'm wasting effort. WHY have I never learnt how to use a software programme? WHY have I not, by this age, accumulated some useful tools?

I'm not gonna answer these old questions right now, but just pose this parallel:

Not having a car, I get a bus to get close to a place of beauty. I walk a few miles to get there, and it's raining. The route is not so beautiful, and there are cars passing me. By the time I get there, I am fed up and my feet hurt. A girl gets out of the back seat of her daddy's car and sucks on a can of pop. I hate her. But it's my own fault.

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