Delgation Delegation

Episode One Hundred Eighteen: Delegation Delegation.
In which we sicken the dreamer.

1 comment:

  1. Mine is a Protestant background, and I refused to go to church at the age of four. I was the youngest, and that was it for my family; from that point on, we worshiped the god of social isolation in modern suburbia.

    I was probably in my forties when I came to appreciate the Catholic sensibility: the collectables, the cathedral gift shops, the feelies – the carried-around constant reminders of the possibility of redemption.

    At a visit to St. Anne's Shrine in Isle La Motte, Vermont, I was intrigued to be given the opportunity to choose a talisman of the Saint of my choice, deciding on St. Jude, Patron of the Hopeless.

    Of course, his thing is sick children, and every time I touch that tiny keychain charm I picture him looking up from a dying child in annoyance and disgust at the temerity of this white American male having the gall to describe himself as hopeless.

    So, recently I found myself feeling inspired when pulling together a database project. And, thinking of the library scene from Wings of Desire (1987), all the angels touching inspiration into seekers of knowledge, I realized there might be a more appropriate Saint for me to lean on.

    And to my surprise, there *was* a patron saint of Computers, Saint Isidore of Seville, 560-636 AD. Isidore spent his life writing a comprehensive 20-volume encyclopedia of all there was to know. In 1997 he was appointed the job of Patron Saint of the Internet. It is entirely appropriate that I can't clarify whether he's Saint of the Internet, or Saint of Computers, or Saint of Databases. It seems to be all three, and this is a typical 'whatever, it's all computers' attitude of upper management. The idea, I think, was that the Internet was seen as a modern iteration of Isidore's quest to compile all knowledge.

    Of course, someone spending his life in the year 600 creating a comprehensive index, no doubt working through the unfathomable problems of classification and hierarchy that he must have encountered in that task, would be astonished, to say the least, at what we have at our fingertips today. Our Internet, with it's infamous racism and misogyny, and the unfettered egotism and exploitation for which this machine of machines is daily put to use, would render anyone from that time flatly dumbstruck.

    I looked up a prayer to him, and, at catholic dot org, I found one. It specifically invoked him to guide our eyes and hands while we ventured out into the cesspool. That was basically it. "Please help my not masturbate while I try to pay my electric bill. Thank you."

    I had been angling for that serotonin-release feeling when making connections in multi-layered problem solving. Sorting data in complex ways. That was inspiration I was hoping to pray for, and I imagined this was the inspiration Isidore spent his days seeking: how do you find knowledge, record knowledge, organize knowledge in ways that make it most effective? Catholic dot org was far more pragmatic and public-health minded: get this Saint to work keeping my grandchild from looking at those naked pictures.

    I imagined that he would find this a disappointing turn of events. Not to mention that this is, as usual for that institution, the wrong thing to be focusing on.

    At St. Anne's Shrine I also learned that Saints seem to double or triple up on duties, and this satisfyingly speaks to me of the wonders of bureaucracy. As if God's sitting at a big conference table with all the Saints, and He's delegating the work.

    "Coffee mugs. Who's got coffee mugs?"
    Awkward silence.
    "Frank. What was your specialty again?"
    "Double-entry bookkeeping My Lord."
    "Coffee mugs are a lot of like bookkeeping, don't you think?"
    "My Lord?"
    "Good. So you'll get coffee mugs as well."
    "I...ah...Thank You, My Lord."

    All these tasks, doubled up, seemingly randomly. Honestly makes me wonder how that all went down.



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