Friday, February 22, 2013

Who Needs Infinite Monkeys?

"An infinite number of monkeys sitting at an infinite number of keyboards for an infinite amount of time could eventually produce the works of Shakespeare." - popular theorem

"We tried it with six Macaques for a month.  They urinated on the keyboards." - University of Plymouth researchers

"Any reader who has nothing to do can amuse himself by calculating how long it would take for the probability to be worth betting on.  But the interest of the suggestion lies in the revelation of the mental state of a person who can identify the 'works' of Shakespeare with the series of letters printed on the pages of a book." - R. G. Collingwood


Believe it or not, we have our own monkeys over there in Facebook.  Yes, I'm aware that most of Facebook-land is actually taken up by cats, but I wasn't referring literally to simians.  I'm actually talking about a bunch of humans--both "writers" and "non-writers"--who've accepted a challenge to blog every day for 365 days.  The group name is V7N Blogging Tips and Challenges.

No, human bloggers aren't monkeys; I'm just playing with a metaphor.  You'll notice I put quotes around the labels writer and non-writer, though.  There were several people in the group who said they weren't writers when we were starting this, and my quotes are an homage to them and their incorrectness. They write.  They write fairly well, in fact.  Thus, they be writers. 

No, the number of us still participating doesn't come anywhere close to infinite.  It's quite a bit closer to a dozen, in fact, and though a dozen doughnuts equates to infinite happiness, a dozen bloggers is not equivalent to infinite writers.

No, 365 days doesn't count as an infinite amount of time.  It sure seems infinite when you're only 52 days into the challenge, of course, but it is not.

And yet I see Shakespearean-level work shaping up.

I know, several thousand late English literature professors just rolled over in their graves, but I'm serious.  What was Shakespeare famous for, after all?  Mere pretty words on a page?  A Youtube video with a funky dance that made us laugh?  No, the master bard became famous for capturing the human condition one act at a time.  His plays are works of art, weaving wit and humor--sometimes subtly, sometimes not so much so--throughout situations and characters that we can identify with, that we can yell at, that we can love. 

That's what a writer does: illuminate the human condition.  Shakespeare was a master at it.

So I clicked over into the group this morning, since I actually had a few extra minutes, to read some of the other posts.  There's one about construction and trades in Ecuador.  There's one about a skunk.  There's one about--yes, a cat (hey, they rule the Intertubes, right?).  There are several about quilting, and about beautiful scenery, and about faith, and about a great many other topics.

Each of these, taken alone, is a nice blog post. Taken together?  The human condition, illuminated on a single screen.

Who needs monkeys, then?  We already have Shakespeare-esque work, right there on Facebook. 


1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Stephen. I agree, most posts are from the daily trivia of our lives, rarefied and distilled in print.