Several years ago, I discovered an article which claimed that a monkey whacking randomly at a typewriter would eventually reproduce Shakespeare’s Hamlet. (Newer articles replace “typewriter” with “IBM ThinkPad” and “Hamlet” with “Harry Potter.”)
This article fascinated me, not because of its cruel undertones (how long could the defenseless monkey “whack” — a word which suggests extreme physical exertion–before expiring?), not because of its deeper implications (Shakespeare Wasn’t Francis Bacon or Queen Elizabeth: He was Really a Monkey! — which sounds like a Darwin ripoff anyway), and not because its author had obviously overdosed on Lortab (“Mo Tab,” as my friend Rachel would say). Instead, I can sum up my fascination in two words: randomly whacking.
For some reason, this phrase conjured up delightful images in my mind and instilled within my heart a longing to randomly whack at something. No typewriters being readily available, I sat down at my Dell computer and began smacking and whacking away. This lost its charm and novelty after a duration of five seconds and an output of “lskdfiooc -skdf928 Dfkha q2RFodfl1.” Clearly, I wasn’t as clever as the monkey who produced Hamlet. If only there were some way to ensure that my random whacking would produce actual words. That’s when I had an epiphany!
Ode to T9 Words:
O, thou wonderful cell phone invention!
Thou createst actual words from random whacking
And allowest me to text my friends during theory class,
O, thou tool of joy!
Although thou writest “of” instead of “me”
And “kelly adam” instead of “jelly bean,”
Thou art still manna to my lips and power to my thumbs,
O, T9 setting!
(Note: Much of the world’s greatest poetry is unrhymed. Also, much of the worst.)
So I shuffled into my music theory class, pulled out my cell phone, and began to randomly whack. It was a transcendent experience. Within 10 seconds, I had given birth to such creative masterpieces as: “Meat tin are wife oil,” “Limp love or day as dim,” and “Kul tinkey vinta hue”–each teeming with more veiled meaning than Shakespeare (or Queen Elizabeth or monkeys or whatever) could have produced in a lifetime.
I felt instinctively that I was about to singlehandedly–or rather, double thumb-ed-ly– discover a 21st century counterpart to the Infinite Monkey Theorem of the Dark Ages/Typewriter Days. Then my cell phone rang, my theory teacher shot me a venomous glare, and the moment of inspiration was gone. My lofty thoughts plummeted earthward, and I was forced to analyze John Cage instead of meditating on the mysteries of monkeys and jelly beans. (Incidentally, John Cage is better known for randomly whacking at keyboards than most monkeys are!) Ah, well. At least I made it to the brink of a brilliant breakthrough without the aid of Mo Tab!
But now theory class is over, lunch is hours away, and I forgot to eat breakfast. I think I’ll text my friend Holly and ask her to share her stash of skittles and “kelly adam”s with “of” (hold the “meat” and “wife oil,” please!).”