17 May, 2008

Snail spam

Ours is essentially a tragic age, isn't it? So many of life's old arboreal joys have been lost to electrons and photons. The tree-house sits empty, its former occupants toying with Second Life; unwanted conkers litter the ground, as the kids are mainlining Grand Theft Auto. Us bespectacled types—I do not wear spectacles—have moved on, too. We read brochures online, news online, even whole books online. And it seems as though all the old frauds and snake-oil have given out in the face of information-age obnoxities: viruses, spyware, spam. O spam! In the space of just a few years we have gotten so used to it that we can hardly imagine life without it.

It was a relief, then, to be reminded last week that the old pleasures, if fast receding, are not completely extinct. I received a neat official letter from the little rocks of the sea, Roquetas de Mar, on the south coast of Spain, informing me that I had won the El Gordo Spanish Sweepstake to the tune of €615,810, which in today's money is just over £489,777. All I had to do was kindly fill out my banking details on a separate form, and the prize money would soon be mine.

Just look at the opulence of this page, a veritable Book of Kells: no expense has been spared. From the random capital letters and underlinings, to the subtly-twisted English that would have made a Joyce proud—We hope that with the part of your prize, you will take part in our next Year high Stake of €1.3 billion International Lottery. The name Antonio Gomez has been lovingly constructed to denote approximately 5,000,000 persons, but look at the author of the letter: Dr. Diego Lupe, VP—Jake the Wolf!

Gentlemen, we are in safe hands: this is vintage snail spam, the sort of thing my illustrious forebears all tasted—from Ruskin and Arnold down to Beckett and Borges—before the coming of the dreaded internet. How much more charming, how much more elegant the sweepstake swizz, than today's flash ads for huge knobs. Make your thing as big as life, says my inbox this morning. We caught you naked in shower conradroth. Clutching my Spanish epistle, just for a moment, I swoon in the aroma of past ages. All, surely, is not lost.


John Cowan said...

I get lots of spam, but various programs and services filter out 99% of it.

Alas, the snail spam is almost equally numerous, but I must filter almost all of it myself, and I have no root cellar to insulate, nor any gully whose erosion must be checked. Such is the fate of those who, being too large to find their clothes in stores, needs must buy them either by mail order or on line.

(A delightful captcha today: qienexl, a most suggestive term for a posting about technology.)

Conrad H. Roth said...

Qienexl? Suggestive?

Shawn Thuris said...

Emits more of a pharmaceutical air, I'd say.

In finding names for their drugs, I wonder whether those companies would do better to hire brilliant linguists or simply to let their regular employees take hallucinogens and ramble freely.

John Cowan said...

What "qienexl" suggests, to be sure, is utter dissociation from everything that has come before, and therefore the New! Unique! which the device or drug is to be taken by its consumers to be.

Conrad H. Roth said...

True; it needs a couple of zeds, though.