Remember — if you can — what ignorance was like before the Internet.

You’d wonder something. Something trivial.

You’d have a think.

None the wiser, you’d downgrade the query onto your intellectual backburner. You’d keep it open, knowing that the universe may or may not provide an answer over the next sixty years.

The issue arises again. Maybe you’re reminded of the situation, or maybe the memory resurfaces of its own accord; mysterious, mellifluous.

Again, there’s no solution. You get distracted. You work with the attainable.

The not-knowing hardens inside you. The doctors can’t find it, but you know it’s there. Yearning.

Your children have children and you’re content, but there’s still something missing. Something tilting you toward Death — that great unknown — until the day finally comes when you fade, seamlessly, into its profound familiarity.

*   *   *

And now?

Google it.

Google is a verb, which often means to Wikipedia. This latter resource, though limited by its inflexible proper noun, gives you all you need to knowand plenty more — just as soon as you type in what you’re after (or its defective twin).

They’ve got an entry for most everything.

Of course, nobody (least of all, I suspect, those behind its scenes) would claim that one of its entries was full or true. But in spite of its uncited sources, weasel words and stubs, we’ve come to rely on Wikipedia for at least a working knowledge of a given subject.

Seminal, authoritative, definitive — such is what we can expect of Wikipedia entries at their best. And their pictures are just the same — serving as veritable holotypes for the subject in question.


*   *   *

Now, I know what you’re thinking: why am I looking up tights on Wikipedia?

Well, do you remember earlier, about that mellifluous mystery?


*   *   *

Where was I?

Ah yes, the pictures.

No, not that one — though it is worth a cheap laugh. The Renaissance: a transformative cultural movement reworking, amongst other things, classical ideals of beauty.

Don't look at it!

*   *   *

But seriously. Let’s catch another tantalizing glimmer of that deranged triptych:

Examples of current use…


of current use


OK. In at bronze, we have current use number one: Striped tights

Striped tights: Not untrue.

Ever wondered when to use the phrase ‘Not going to dignify that with a response’?


On to the silver — and a personal favourite — Tights occupy very little space when unworn

Nor, in fact, when they ARE worn.

Not only is this — and really think about it — one of the most stupid statements ever, it’s also completely irrelevant. It’s not a current use of tights. And yet, in its sheer irreverence, we start to get a whiff of the sublime. Monks spent millennia in solemn contemplation of the Godhead; esoterics divined subtle truths that cannot be articulated; artists worked at performing perfect effects; and Tights occupy very little space when unworn

Finally, we have tights

Oh, I’m sorry — I don’t know where that came from. Let’s try again:

You said TIGHTS. Our survey said...

Another current use of tights: the psychotropic Borgesian nightmare: another current use of tights: the psychotropic Borgesian nightmare: another current use of tights.

Seminal, authoritative, definitive — thanks, Wikipedia!

*   *   *

In the spirit of all things wiki, however, let’s get meta. Maybe by looking at the discussion behind this bizarre, bizarre page some light will be shed. Maybe there’ll be an explanation.


Not a drop. And the history and links specific to the image only serve to redouble the labyrinth; we find the same picture is used on the Wikipedia entries for school uniform:

and John Dryden:

For an image that’s inherently irrelevant, it seems particularly out of place on that one.

And for an image that’s inherently out of place, it seems to have been picked up for use in some pretty jarring combinations, including the Wikipedia quote of the day:

*   *   *


*   *   *

I can’t bear it… this picture, this nightmare picture of pictures, is everywhere. I need to get away.


I know.

I’ll get off the Internet.

I’ll turn off my laptop.

I’ll settle down the old-fashioned way, with a book in my hands.

*does psycho motif*


This entry was posted in Books, Photography, Special Effects, The Net, Transcribe Audio fail and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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