Notes On The Accumulation Of

There are so many rooms with so many lights.  We try to keep the situation under control ourselves, but there are already too many, it would take forever and we have other work to do.  In the end, we seek advice.  Apparently the savings we could make to our electricity bill would more than pay for a temp to go round the building and switch off some of the lights, the particular lights we want switched off.  We listen to the advice and nod.  Afterwards we say to each other, “How did we get into this?”  “How did we get to this point?”

We try to imagine the kind of person who would be attracted to the job of switching off lights.  And when he turns up, he is exactly what we expected, a young man trying to cover up his complete lack of interest in any kind of work.  We show him, this is this and there is this, and this is what you have to do.  He starts off eager, but when he realises that we are making no show of monitoring him, he slacks a little, and when he gets away with it, he slacks even more.  We watch to see what he will do next.

The advisor would have chastised us for our curiosity, told us that this is how we got into this mess in the first place, but we phone him up and tell him that the situation is improving.  This keeps our advisor happy.  We should be cracking the whip, but instead we are fascinated by our new toy, and now neither he nor us are getting much work done.  We have research projects to conduct, paperwork to complete, correspondence, chores to do, but we are mesmerised.  We like watching the temp to see how long he can spend in a room, how much time he can waste, before he gets round to actually flicking the switch and moving on.  It becomes a study in procrastination.

It is also a chance to remind ourselves of all the beautiful rooms we have built here, and why the situation got out of control.  “I think this is how we-”  “Yes, this may have something to do with it,” we say to each other.  When the temp flicks the switch and plunges a room into darkness, we wonder if it is still there any more.

We watch as he goes into a room which is full of machines that are making other machines, which will make more machines.  He looks at the contents of the room, procrastinating for longer than usual.  We wonder what will happen next.  By now, the temp has given up on going home, he just wanders from room to room looking at things and switching lights off, until eventually he stops and falls asleep somewhere.  We speculate on his mental health, wonder whether this job has become something else to him, has evolved into a vocation.

He is still looking at the room which is full of machines that are making other machines, machines that will make more machines, will make more, will make more, will make more machines.  It is a good choice, it is one of our favourites.  Or rather, the room had not been one of our favourites before now, it had never quite seemed finished.  Now, as the temp stands and watches the machines, it is complete.

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