For Patrick, my roommate, digital technology was, essentially, magic. Jiggle the wire and it’ll come to life again – that and a thousand other rituals to please the tiny gods in their plastic temples. The router stationed in the living room housed the most temperamental of the deities. Sometimes the god was awake and provided the household with a good, strong signal. Other times he slept. And try as he might, no ritual on Patrick’s behalf could wake him.
Ritual gave way to prayer, prayer to lamentations;
“Is it working for you?” he would ask me.
“It’s not working for anybody.” I assured him (the tiny gods chose not favorites).
“It was working well yesterday but today…” he would begin. As if the god’s displeasure, once discovered, might be put right. The more obstinate he proved, the further back Patrick would look in search of an answer. Two days. A week. I loathe to think of this procedure after a year.
Lamentations gave way to lamentations;
Patrick would turn to me, as if I knew something he did not – I did and there was no mystery in it; years of dutiful service had worn our little deity out. His ability to broadcast had been diminished; he might have been, in the beginning, quite powerful; capable of uninterrupted service but those days were long behind him.
Magic has its limits.
Patrick was less reasonable in such matters; he took the tiny god for an indolent, and one of a be vindictive, malicious, and selfish nature. Patrick’s faith had been less than absolute and so the god responded in kind.
“Why won’t it work?” he would ask of me; again and again I failed to convince him. My words, ever so careful in their selection, would not reach him. Patrick was resolute.
Reverence begot resentment, resentment hatred.
Patrick would shake loose the wires and curse at it, certain the deity, comfortable in his tiny home could hear him . With every outburst the god in the machine grew dimmer. Soon, very soon, he would leave us through one of the wires or by radiating into the ether.
And when that time comes – I dread the thought – the task of justifying this phenomena falls to me. That I must explain, to my faithful friend in no uncertain terms, the tiny gods sometimes die.