Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Aimless Reading: The W's, Part 28 (Shanxing Wang)

Mad Science in Imperial City
Wang, Shanxing
Mad Science in Imperial City

Given to me by the publisher. This obviously go mis-shelved and should have been in WA and not WI. Alas.

Still thinking about Ecuador. After my month alone, the other volunteers started to arrive. I think there were ten or so, all American. They came from New York, Wisconsin, Massachusetts. Most had had Catholic educations, but it wasn't a particularly religious bunch. In fact, I can't think of more than one person in the group that went there for religious reasons.

For the most part everyone came from middle and upper middle class backgrounds and were looking to spend a year abroad or to do so good in the world or to learn spanish or to find themselves or some combination thereof. I just now was trying to count on my fingers how many of us there were and I realized I could barely remember some of them. I can picture all of their faces, but I can't quite put a name to each one.

I have kept in touch with exactly one over the years. The one who became my roommate ended our friendship rather abruptly just after I moved to Buffalo and we haven't spoken since. There was a strange incident though, where he tried to renew our friendship.

A few years ago, at the suggestion of a friend, I posted a Wikipedia entry of myself. It was a very brief bio that was purely meant to link out from a couple of other entries I was named in: Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Ammiel Alcalay, etc. so that people who asked, Who is that? could find out. I never thought about it again and assumed it would be taken down.

One night, a friend, P, called and asked if I had a Wikipedia entry. Sheepishly, I said yes and provided the above explanation. It's just a quick bio, I told him. He then said that someone had written a longer one that included references to a college play I had written, my Irish Catholic upbringing, etc. I read it and was convinced the P had re-written the entry as a joke. He swore up and down that it wasn't him.

I made a list of about ten people who could possibly have access to the content of the entry. I narrowed it to about five who seemed likely and contacted each one. All of them swore they had no idea what I was talking about. In the meantime, I deleted the added text and returned the entry to its original short form.

Now, however, I started checking back daily to see if it had been altered. Sure enough, I went in to the back end of the entry to look at the discussions and discovered a whole diatribe by the writer accusing me of both self-promotion and censorship.

Now I was on a mission. The editor's screen name was Nepal Tree. I looked at his other edits to see if I could figure out his interests and make a guess based on the content. No luck.

My old roommate's name was on the list of ten possible perpetrators, but I had crossed him off the list, assuming based on our last conversation that he wanted to have nothing more to do with me. It was Lori, my wife, who said she thought that "Nepal Tree" was an anagram.

And so it was. The letters of "Nepal Tree" rearranged spelled the name of my old roommate. I called him out on the back page, where, after admonishing me for violating Wikipedia's code of ethics as he understood it, he made comments that suggested he wanted to be friends again. Not long after that, he contacted me on Facebook. It all seemed a little to weird to me, and, remembering the last letter I'd received from him, not to mention the flying chessboards and playing cards, I chose not to reciprocate.

But I digress...

I guess I'll keep on with the Ecuador theme tomorrow. It seems like there is a lot there.

from Mad Science in Imperial City

there is no point I see no point in further interpretation I smell the last lily of june I usher my lady of flower into my secret glass garden of budding black mushroom I feel an itching in the back of my knees spreading horizontally backwards and vertically downwards at the same time I don't want to go let me go

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