Monday, January 7, 2008
On Word and Upward
Thank you thank you a thousand fold for bitch-slapping MS Word in Sunday's NY Times Magazine. It's not often I laugh, cry, and foam at the mouth before breakfast, but oh, Virginia Heffernan, how you sliced me open: gut, duct, and tongue! How you pierced my template-bound heart; how you coaxed life from the dark, auto-formatted depths of my soul.
I, too, have known Word's poisonous kiss. Ripped untimely from the sheltering arms of Word Perfect (the only word processor, apart from a desultory affair with Xywrite in the late eighties, I had ever known) I was forced into Word's sordid embrace via disenchantment with Text Edit. And sure, yeah, Word goes through the motions. Word gets my documents up and keeps them up. It's open and waiting on my desktop night after night, even mornings and afternoons.
But there's something amiss, Virginia. Word is demanding. Some might even say twisted. At first I thought it was just a little role play: Word's the doctor, I'm the patient. But then it started in earnest: formatting this, restructuring that. It forces capital letters on me, even when I don't want them. It hates passivity, prodding me into active constructions when I'd rather just roll over and go to sleep. It will never, never accept anything less than a full-fledged sentence: no Word play for word! And worst of all, lately it's been smacking me around, trading red welts for words it doesn't know.
You can't blame Word, really. It grew up in a bad neighborhood. No one ever taught it to use its words, or that writing isn't about quick bucks and convenience. But still, I need to cut Word loose. And thanks to you, Virginia, I may find the strength. I have confidence now, in myself and in the future, renewed faith in the dream of finding -somewhere, somehow- something new. Yes, Virginia, there is a decent word processor.