Monday, November 05, 2007

Agent Prevaricator


PC backlash starts in Leicestershire - Pants

This weekend I’d timetabled in sending out letters to literary agents (in between episodes of X-Factor and reruns of The Lion Man, obviously). I got as far as downloading the most recent list of approachable reject slip compilers and set about trying to compose an interesting and engaging covering letter. I am still sitting here bewildered nearly forty-eight hours later.

I’m not the least bit interesting, a condition which becomes immediately apparent the instant I begin to talk about myself. I can’t get on with this whole notion of ‘selling oneself’. It’s gauche, surely, and obviously well beneath the dignity of any principled soul. A Chinese friend once told me she found job interviews impossible because in Chinese culture it’s considered bad manners to big oneself up. One is not ketchup!

Besides, writers aren’t supposed to be interesting, with the obvious exceptions of Hemingway and Ian Fleming. Perhaps if you’ve an ‘eming’ in your name, you’re entitled to some sort of exemption from dullardry. Most of us sit at our desks as day segues wearily into night, creating vim, vigour and vitality in our characters, rather than ourselves.

It’s also not that easy to value your inner assets when all around you make it perfectly clear that they think anything that comes out of your mouth should be being monitored for its pollution content.

Last Saturday night in the pub, I said to Mr T, ‘I wonder if there’s a link between googling and chaos theory.’ Mr T gave me a blank look. That in itself is not unusual and I was not put off by it. The very next day I sent off an email to an old Australian friend who is a reader in Mathematics at a respectable university. I knew that he had at least a passing acquaintance with chaos theory as I can remember him talking engagingly about it at a dinner party.

The O.A.F. wrote straight back informing me that, to his knowledge, there is no link between chaos theory and googling, although Google is based on a mathematical concept. Such is the esteem with which my peers regard my intellect dear readers. Imagine my surprise, coming to terms with the astounding news that search engines are composed of algorithms as opposed to thousands of little Google elves running around the blogoverse trying to string a series of seemingly unrelated words together.

Undeterred, I wrote the following back to the O.A.F.

My interest is not so much in how people locate information they are searching for on Google but rather what they do with the information they find while searching for something else. Crudely, I thought chaos theory was about exploring patterns in random data. It occurred to me that following up Google threads changes the course of events for millions of people on a daily basis, whether they're diverted for just a few minutes or stumble upon a piece of information that completely alters the course of their lives. What interests me is that, although wildly chaotic, Google users following threads in this way is both a pattern and traceable. It also occurs millions of times a day. I thought someone might be studying it.’

My reasoning was based on the popular illustration of chaos theory, you know the one that proposes a butterfly flapping its wings somewhere in a Thai jungle will eventually cause a tornado in Kansas. To my mind, googling is a unique way of finding out things that you didn't even know you were looking for. In that sense it has altered the course of history, no? These are connections that would not exist if it weren't for google searches. There’s a PhD in that for someone, surely. I haven’t heard back from my O.A.F. so either he’s feverishly developing my theory into some Nobel-worthy thesis or he’s waiting for the injunction to come through which will prevent me from ever contacting him again.

Anyway, where was I? Dear anonymous agent. I say anonymous because that you will almost certainly remain. I'm not the least bit interesting. I’m sending you my book anyway, because it is interesting. If you want to talk to me about it, I’ll be in India. I might not be able to take a call because I might be on the road. They say it’s best not to ride a camel and talk on a mobile at the same time. Send me an email. I’ll pop into the internet café when I get back from tiger spotting.

I know what's going to happen though. They'll think I'm so boring they won't bother to read on...

26 comments:

Wisewebwoman said...

Dearest Pants:
I think it all goes back to the principle if you think you're something then you're not. i.e. if you think you're uninteresting then of course you aren't, as your blog attests over and over again.
Hence my soubriquet 'wise', of course I'm not, the name is tongue in cheek. I'm the furthest thing and hope to remain so.
As to your chaos theory I hope the bugger doesn't steal it from you, I think it most interesting and I do believe Google adds chaos to my life on a daily basis.
Today I was looking up the Irish word (spelling)for toy and got sidetracked on to the Aran islands and thence to leather boats of the seventh century and splat to a chorale of ancient music - well you know what I'm going on about!
XO
WWW

R.H. said...

Why not publish your book in India? They work cheap. Get it translated to Hindi and back again, you could be amazed at the result!

-Robert.

When I flush my dunny it causes floods in Maffra.

That's so pants said...

Hi WWW

I was just over at yours and about to comment on your fantastic post about having a second chance at life. You've no idea how that cheered me up as I face moving to the wilds myself. Then Mr T rang and, while talking to him, I idly flicked back to Pantsville to see if any comments needed moderating and there YOU were. I conclude that we were reading each other's blogs simultaneously. Two butterflies flapping their wings on separate continents - watch out Kansas!

xxx

Pants

That's so pants said...

Hi RH

Now there's an idea!

More 'butterfly wing' confessions everyone.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

We're on daylight saving now.
It's 7am here: Melbourne.
What time is it there?

That's so pants said...

Knock it off RH. This is a sophisticated and erudite blog not a speaking clock.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Sorry, and I misread your reply, I thought you said speaking cock.

Wooh! I wouldn't mind one of them!

Okay, well I have to find out the time, I'm not even sure what it is here.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

ROBERT!

That's so pants said...

Oh behave yourself. House of Pants has a respectable name - well not the actual name obviously - that's a bit dubious. I mean reputation.

You're eleven hours ahead timewise but about thirty years behind culturally, OK?

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Thirty years behind? Culturally?

Thanks. How generous, I thought it was fifty.

(Golly, and fancy publishing that rude comment!)

(Is my face red!)

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

-Anonymous.

That's so pants said...

Well you know me RH. I don't believe in censorship, especially when a liberal attitude can result in someone's face colliding with egg. Talk about a win/win.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Indeed, and looks like you know me too.

I need a lie down after that.

That's so pants said...

Thank God for that. Me too. But then it is my bedtime.

xxx


Pants

trousers said...

Uninteresting? Pah! Piffle!

But such is the case when you do try and sell yourself (I mean you in a generic sense, not you specifically).

I like your thoughts on googling/chaos theory. I would have thought the most telling difference (for some intents and purposes) is that googling is far more easily measured...I'm probably wrong though.

That's so pants said...

Hi Trews

Nice of you to say - are you a literary agent by chance?

Re chaos/google. My point exactly. Empirical evidence abounds. In order to find out what the impact on individuals is, a simple invitation to participate in case studies would certainly be taken up enthusiastically.

xxx

Pants

Andrew said...

I wonder if I google chaos google, will I get a link to your blog Pantseming.
PS I thought the butterfly was in a South American jungle?

That's so pants said...

Hi Andrew

You're probably right about the butterfly - I was too lazy to look it up.

xxx

Pants

trousers said...

Ah non, Ms Pants, je ne suis pas d'agent (why am I trying once again to speak wrongly in a different language? Je suis un twat).

I just noticed the title of this post though (took me a while), very good indeed!

That's so pants said...

Hi Trews

It takes me a long time, and a lot of sifting through the alphabet to come up with these clever titles. Thank you so much for noticing.

xxx

Pants

Janejill said...

Just tell the publishers you live in Hoxton or Shoreditch, surely? (Or maybe that you had a deprived drunken Irish childhood - Protestant this time)
I love the idea of chaos and google; I used to be amazed when , if I received an email from someone mentioning, say, perfume then alongside there would be adverts for - perfume! How clever was that? (I used to think) Now I know better, I think . Isn't there a programme called Inversens which uses rhythms to gauge where you go on the Web? I also like the theory about 5 steps.

That's so pants said...

Hi Jane Jill

Yeah that product stalking thing is pretty creepy. Five steps? What is that, an abridged rehab programme for people who are too busy to take it one day at a time?

xxx

Pants

Janejill said...

That might have worked for me....once.....:-) it's something to do with being no more than 5 steps away from anyone in the world. Pick two people, one of whom should be tucked away somewhere remote - Leatherhed for example; then the other , say in Tibet. there will be a link of only three people in between. The L'head person know someone from, er, Hoxton who knows someone who has travelled exrensively and met the Head of the village in Tibet etc. Head of village knows said man..Hope I have explained it with clarity....

That's so pants said...

Oh right - like six degrees of Kevin Bacon. I love that game.

xxx

Pants

Janejill said...

Degrees - that's the word I was searching for... who is Kevin Bacon? Will google him straightaway
Janejillxxxx

That's so pants said...

Its a movie variation of the game six degrees of separation -same principle as your five steps. Kevin Bacon not only rhymes with separation, but he's been a character actor in almost every Hollywood movie since 1983. The very fact that he was in both 'Sleepers' and 'A Few Good Men' links him with Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman and Jack Nicholson. You've covered most bases with them.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Kevin Bacon does not rhyme with separation

That's so pants said...

I admit it isn't a perfect rhyme but it works better than six degrees of Kevin Stacey, you have to admit. They could have called it six degrees of ego inflation but that wouldn't have made much of a game.

xxx

Pants