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The Ruins of Nostalgia 21

We didn't miss mercers or chandlers, and anyway the world was still full of silk cloth and candles. We didn't miss coopers or smiths. We didn't miss elevator boys or indexers, haberdashers or confectioners or lady's maids or almoners. We didn't miss typists. We didn't miss scriveners. So would we really miss doctors and lawyers and accountants when the day came, and the radio tonight said it was coming, when their expertise was surpassed by software?  *  We didn't miss the assembly line. We didn't miss data entry. Did we miss switchboard operators? No, we had too many photos. We did miss lamplighters, a little, because we missed the ornate gas lamps they had lit in the evenings, as we missed carrying flickering candles up to our rooms in our nightgowns, banking the fires in our hearths, out our windows the liquid vantablack of night, nightly flooding and drowning lux perpetua. We had missed itówe had missed the lamplighters and the candles and the banking and the snuffing. We had missed the labor of light.  *   Would we miss truck drivers? Would we miss flesh-and-blood babysitters, teenage girls the fathers would drive home in their Volvos in stares of sexual tension they would evanesce later, back home with their wives?  *  Software was so ... so very soft. We would miss software. We wouldn't miss hardware, though. We would secure for software the softest of soft spots among the ruins of nostalgia.

Donna Stonecipher

The Paris Review

Fall 2017

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