Dreaming Methods’ “Floppy” is in many ways the familiar illustration of depersonalization in the modern lot of physical compartmentalization.  The narrator seems to live alone in an apartment building inside which the highest form of social interaction appears to be the violent tapping on the wall of the abuse victim next door.  He (and I think we can safely assume it is a “he” from his explanation of the time he was raped by a boy that hinges on a difference in size–he was small, the offender was large, he says) makes the strange complaint that he doesn’t really care much about the undoubtedly horrifying scenes taking place on the other side of a thin partition that offers little more than visual privacy.  The piece’s final lines’ (should one read the ‘files’ in the order in which they would be advertised in a real Windows folder) only recognizable words are “deserialize Packet” and “deserialize node”–an obvious imitation of the disappearance, or at least the diminishing of personal identity.  This should stand out rather clearly at the end of a “story” about a woman who, despite his reported ambivalence, wins the sympathy of the reader for being repeatedly violated by an oppressive male character, told by a disengaged neighbor who cannot find it in himself to even tap back on the wall through which he hears the violence.  He cites as an excuse his own horrible history, indeed he invokes the fact of everyone’s horrible history, accepting such trauma as an inevitable part of life and experience.

Interestingly the piece itself is called “Floppy” and the homescreen of the piece is the familiar window we would open to view the contents of a thumb drive cd or, obviously, a floppy disc.  The background is the windows desktop, the story is presented in file icons–most text, some photos–with obscure names that might quickly be given to the sort of rambling a person does on a computer without thought of publication or reading.  Behind the window named “3 1/2 Floppy A:” is someone else’s desktop, populated by icons in the way every “personalized” desktop is.

This makes our reading of the piece feel highly voyeuristic and inappropriate–as though we are reading someone’s files without his permission.  The anxiety is augmented by the lack of organization of the files, the absence of real coherent names, and the fragmentary state of the imaginary disk’s contents.  In this way the reader is snooping through a record of a person’s eavesdropping on someone else’s private pain and violence.  Every level of the telling of the story is a violation of someone’s “privacy,” and at the center of the story is the violation of someone’s very person.

This easily reminds one of The People of Paper and its characters’ anxiety about their lives being narrated and the narration being read–both are texts that seem to pass judgment on the act of their reading.  They don’t just look back, the look bitterly back.


~ by dukerogersnelson on April 11, 2010.

One Response to “FLOPPY PRIVACY”

  1. The reader’s anxiety is perhaps even more heightened by the details of the neighbor’s abuse and that nothing is done about it–as further discussed in Benjy’s post. The ‘author’ of the files reasons that he should not get involved by going beyond the walls of his room, and paired with the ‘found’ concept of “Floppy,” making us feel even more invasive because we know the ‘author’s’ feelings about privacy and involvement.

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