A Vestigial Archaic Spandrel


I write on my iPad. I use a Logitech keyboard that has a pretty good touch and is close enough to standard in size so that I don’t feel like I’m doing this (hunches shoulders, shoves hands together and wiggles fingers uselessly in a small space).

But copy and paste? It unnerves me.

I ask you: when you copy text on your tablet by selecting the text with your finger on the touch screen, doesn’t it feel like the pasted text is in the end of your finger?

I use the word “feel” deliberately. Because it DOES feel like that chunk o’ text is held oh so delicately in the pad of my fingertip and that I better be careful what I touch next. If I touch the top of my desk, I’ll loose the text, right? If I pick up my coffee cup before I paste the text, then my words will vanish into the ether, right?

So I know that this is not the case. Logic dictates otherwise.

But what do you call this curious notion? Is it magical thinking? Phantom pain? Hence the title of this blog post: my text-storing finger obsession seems sort-of-not-quite explained by one of these words:

Your appendix is vestigial. So are those horse-head hitching posts with a ring through the mouth that people used to put in the front yard long after the age of hitching horses was past. So are the laces in slip-on tennis shoes.

Archaic is like that time I plighted my troth to thee, my chick.

Spandrel is the thing you get by accident when you’re building something else. In architecture, it’s the triangular bit between two arches. If you have a series of arches, like in a Romanesque structure, then you have a series of spandrels. They’re a nice spot to add a bit of heraldic stuff or something.

I think spandrel is closest – an unintended result of the technology, the result being my sense of unease in that moment between the copy and the paste, where disaster lurks.

(The name of my next band: Disaster Spandrel.)

But it’s also phantom pain because I want to touch my finger to the screen of the desktop and have that text paste to my open Word document.

Such a technology would render much archaic indeed. The computer mouse would be an archaic affectation (oooo!) in the future for those who wanted to be retro.
And all of us finger-pad text-holders will be seen as visionaries.

(Image is from Dover clip art. It looks like a toaster oven/slot machine/dispenser.)