for Amina Cain and Adam Novy
The manager at Data Harbor quit her job to become a conceptual artist.
She used to oversee the harboring of the data, and now she works in a laboratory, injecting poetry into blood cells and bacterium, analyzing the data to understand the new poems that will form in the ooze of her petri dish.
In basements and cubicles we harbor the data and we are worried about formaldehyde and asbestos.
We harbor the data and we harbor the carcasses and we try to keep the two sets of information separate.
But sometimes the data and the carcasses merge into carcass-data and we are forced to ask questions about tissues and livers and kidneys that are beyond the scope of our limited expertise.
The history of man is the history of pain though perhaps it is also the history of man’s perception of pain and perhaps it is also the history of man’s quantification of pain and perhaps it is also the history of the absence—words and the hole words that constitute man’s inability to give voice to his pain.
We wear masks to protect us from the data that has been ruined by nature’s intrusion into architecture.
We cover our bodies in liquids and lotions to prevent the accumulation in our orifices of abscesses, boils and furuncles.
We are afraid the boils will join with other boils and our orifices will fill with crust and oozing pus.
We touch the data then wash our hands. We do not touch each other while touching the data. None of us have any desire to touch each other even after we have touched the data. The data and the carcasses have eliminated the urge for sexual activity among all the data-entry specialists. We barely speak to each other when we are in the act of harboring the data.
As I travel back and forth between carcass-set and data-set, I daydream that the owner of Data Harbor, a Dutch man who has harbored data throughout the United States and the European Union, offers me $5,000 to set all of the data and all of the carcasses on fire. Sometimes I accept the money and set the harbor ablaze, while other times I set myself on fire on the walkway that runs along the harbor. I do this to protest the accumulation of data in my bloodstream. I do this so others will not have to fend off the data.
No one in my data-dreams speaks on cellular phones.
Instead, they leak emails out of their tongues and eye balls.
They defecate emails and faxes and I can see that their bodies are filled with buttons to activate the dispersion of documents and data.
At a staff meeting, the owner of Data Harbor, so as to inspire us to work more efficiently, poses the question of exactly what is at stake for the bodies who harbor the data.
He chants: everything is at stake. If everything is not at stake when you are harboring the data, then why harbor the data in the first place?
There is a plate of untouched pastries in the conference room.
Nothing is appetizing when your body is covered in data and the ooze of carcasses.
But this is not acknowledged by the managers at Data Harbor.
They always give us croissants.
She sends my body through the fax machine because I contain vital information that might make or break the bureaucrats on the other end, but when I arrive through the wires I am stored in a box and put in a basement and a few months later the basement floods and I am stuck forever amid boxes of flooded data.
The scenario plays out in a variety of ways.
Sometimes I am myself and sometimes I am my carcass.
Sometimes I send myself through the fax machine and sometimes my mother sends me through the fax machine.
The conceptual artist wears high-quality corporate blouses and as she tests the petri dish for poetry she pretends she is once more being paid to oversee the harboring of the data.
She is on the cutting edge of data-entry technology.
She is pushing at the edges of the frame and in the process she creates space for those of us in the middle to experiment with innovative approaches.
The history of modern data-entry is the history of transgressions of previous practices of modern-data entry.
The Dutch man does not know how to play softball yet he swings the bat for the good of the team.
I play third base on the Data Harbor softball squad. I am a reliable infielder. I can hit from both sides of the plate. I am at my best when I imagine the ball is my carcass and I need to destroy myself to help us win the championship.
There are people who sit in cafés, eating data, or trying to quantify what they might do with their bodies if their data were to suddenly disappear.
I am having lunch in the cafeteria when a voice says: “Daniel, I love it when you enter your data with your eyes closed. I love it when you touch the carcasses with your eyes closed. I love it when you enter your data on your hands and knees. I love it when you pray to the broken carcasses.”
On hands and knees over burning charcoal the quantifiers crawl to the altar of data that may or may not be resurrected.
Song for the burning carcasses (a snappy tune):
The Pope is Frozen and it’s time to go! The Vatican’s burning and it’s time to go! The Pope is Frozen and it’s time go! Let’s burn our bodies in the ground below!
According to the data, dead children have always caused a problem for religion.
There is a guy at the café who thinks we all want to listen to his conference call.
He does not understand that we are trying to enter our data and that we do not need to know the pornography of his data.
According to the data, there will be no end to the rotten carcass economy.
According to the data, there will be an uptick in interest in the fashion chic of the dead, the dying and the disappeared.
We are sitting in a fancy restaurant in Dublin when we overhear the words: “Dexter, congratulations, by the way, on your Pulitzer.”
Later we hear: “I’m sorry but I just love my Kindle and I’m scared of formaldehyde and I don’t know how to spell Qaddafi’s name in French.”
During a staff meeting, we are shown a video of a hunger artist on the banks of the Chicago river.
We examine the data in his dying eyeballs and hair follicles and in his distended belly and in the children who come to watch him grow smaller.
We examine the data in the spectacle of decomposition and we hypothesize as to what we will find in the carcass.
Sometimes, it’s true, the data is so beautiful there is nothing to say about it.
Sometimes I put the data in my mouth for I have the feeling it will help me understand things that I know but which I do not know that I know.
Sometimes I try to connect with another human being only to discover that the data in the space between us is frozen.
The woman next to me at the café is writing a letter that begins: “Dear Search Committee.”
She does not realize that she is allowing me to access her data-body.
I enter her name on Google. I now know where she lives.
She has an email from the Mayor-elect in her inbox.
I feel things growing in the orifices of my data.
I do not have a lover but if I had one I would tell him that I would like to bury my head in the data inside his body.
It is impossible to give voice to my data.
My data is an endless word that will never be spoken.
My data is an endless word that contaminates every inch of every data-body and carcass on the harbor.
Carcass, my love, your data is a kind of solution.
Daniel Borzutzky is a writer and translator who lives in Chicago. His last book is The Book of Interfering Bodies (Nightboat, 2011).