It was a sudden death, no prolonged sickness, no signs or warning that it was the end. This week, from one minute to the next, my Apple Macbook Pro notebook computer expired. It felt like a betrayal. How could this object fail me without warning? Immediately, I rushed the computer to Mike’s Tech Shop on 20th Street in Chelsea. They diligently ran a diagnostic test and solemnly informed me that it would have to be kept for two weeks to perform further testing and ultimately, if lucky, they’d be able to retrieve data. After much prodding and paying a rush fee, they pushed the examination of my beloved computer to the front of the line. In a few hours, I received the awful news. The data was not retrievable as the computer was not able to identify any hard drive at all. This was serious and fatal. The computer’s brain had ultimately failed and with it my personal records, work documents, school papers and photographs of family and friends were gone. Counter to sage advice, I had entrusted this machine so much that I had not considered its mortality and did not back up this information on an external hard drive.
Into our inanimate electronic objects, especially, we confer not a mere expectation of rote functionality, they become extensions of ourselves. We project onto them our desire to remember more, think faster and access all information accurately and at a moment’s notice. My Apple notebook was ultimately an embodiment of my brain but the awareness of it as such was not noticed until it stopped fulfilling its responsibilities, its loss was grieved and any fleeting sense of enacting revenge upon the object seemed futile. Mostly, there is a sense of wonderment knowing that there will be a brain computer waiting to amplify my organic brain but without the weight of past data. It is a chance to recreate myself again through this little machine.