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Perspective: The Soul of Things


One of my earliest memories is sitting with my mother, looking at a book. When I turned a page roughly, she said: "Don't do that! You're hurting it. Books feel pain!"


I found the thought of inflicting pain on a book unbearable, so I learned to turn their pages gently. Later, I learned that my dad would take our car to the shop for regular maintenance. My mom told me how her father, a professional accountant, washed his fountain pen every week, and disassembled and cleaned his typewriter every two months. That's probably why I care about things: I take my car for service regularly, I lubricate my bicycle, keep my laptop up to date and clean my pens. Why? Like an animistic shaman, I have the notion that things have a life we fail to understand.


You don't buy it? Then, why is it that computers slow down when you're in a hurry, umbrellas fail when it rains, shoelaces break when you are in a hike, and coffee spills on your clothes as you're leaving the house? Do they sense your urgency and choose to be uncooperative? Perhaps they're asking for attention. Can't you talk to your loyal car, pat your coat for having kept you warm, or thank your pets for keeping you company?


Wait… pets are not things. But that's an entirely different story.


I am Francisco Solares-Larrave, and this is my computer's perspective.

A Guatemalan native, he arrived in the United States in the late eighties on a Fulbright Scholarship to do graduate studies in comparative literature at the University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana. He has been teaching Spanish language, literature and culture at NIU since August 2000, and his main research interests are 19th-century Spanish American literature.