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Mr. Sterne took his leisure, his thought, his panegyricks, and perhaps even his fancy in this room, where he invited all his readers in. I am sore put to it to see where he put all of his readers, unless he was somehow able to stuff them into the ink jar and draw them out again with the hollow goose feathers. I have far fewer readers, so you needn't worry that you will come to be squashed in the inkwell. Tristram had his fools cap on his head the whole time he wrote, a wise investment, the Motley Fool would tell you. I have no such foolscap to write on, or maybe it is Tristram stuffing his foolscap into my disk player. Watch out for him for me, will you?

Where Tristam wore green and ...CHECK... yellow slippers in the study, (I do not know what Sterne wore, but it is a nice philosophical question, akin to Schrodinger's cat, the observed and the observer, all wrapped up for Cervantes, Borges, and Sancho to recover.) I however, know I am re-counting this story. Well, yes, you do have an epistomolgical ontological point there, and yes, I suppose I should stick solely to what I know, a posteriori. As my posterior is where his was, I will start there again.

To recap what I know, I am wearing my green silk skirt, the comfortable one that usually looks nice whatever I've done to it. However, it has large black current stains and rips down one side from last night's adventures, yes, the very ones I am telling you about. (I shall leave it here when I go, hidden under the quarry stones.) Hold still a bit and listen. Regain the patience of the storytelling centuries, or at least pretend to when you are in a study that is so redolent of age and words. Reader, I should not have to caution you again. The stains will probably not come out, but as with Tristram's Uncle Toby's twice turned breeches, there is little to be done about it. Or rather in his case, it was inside the breeches, and there was still little to be done--or found out in the end--about it. Least said, soonest mended, but what was said we will never truly know.

I am sporting my Electronic Literature Organization tee-shirt, with the caption emblazoned, "Read the Web." It takes me perhaps the entire time I have to explain to Sterne what this means, and why webs no longer refer to catching insects, but catching users and counting hits. This of course, puts off the story. And yet our dialogue is distinctly one sided. I hear him only in black and white, and occasionally the marbled color, an expensive, expansive universe that he claims as his emblem. Finally, I despair of explaining links to him, and connections. He does not answer me directly. His books remain still until I pull them out and breathe their heavy time. My links remain still until they are triggered, the anchors, the bindings only a portent of potential meaning.

Our dialogue, reader, is distinctly one sided. You see these words as only light on a screen, moving images. You envision the study, I envision you here. In the midst of this visioning and revisioning, Sterne goes off to envision a motorcar, a nanochip, a quark, a quasar replacing his beloved buttonholes. He tries to plug himself into the currents now flowing through his study, and manages to penetrate only the meaning of the black, the dark. He cannot surf our black currrents. And we all manage only headaches in the end.

Well, come into my computer at any rate as I key these words, looking over my shoulder in the flickering light, hearing only the sounds of the countryside, keeping an ear out for screaming rooks in the wild quarry below the tame philosophical surface of the outer garde, or muted voices in the passageway. Can you smell the lavendar that lurks just outside the window? I invite you to flick over these pages, carefully now, for time has rendered them too dear to tear. No, for security's sake, confine yourself to your screen, sir, where you may amuse yourself by clicking where you will--or where I have pointed you to. Consider your jaunt a mere walk on the wild side, a ramble through the lying and underlying the wild garden, in the old quarry, thick herb borders, from stands of plants and ancient roses that no one has crossed in a century. Yet your designated pathway is smooth. It's been carved for you, a dainty grassy way which will not even wet the top of your boots. Stay on the paths I have mown especially for you. Do not stray into the tangled herbs of time or sage. Beware of the wild grins that may have escaped this study. I did warn you, did I not, to shut the door tightly behind you?.

The old quarry is a smooth place, devoid of stone or glimpses of the underlying soil (for what lies underneath what lies underneath?). It is not like my quarries at home, raw wounds on the landscape, easily spilling their broken secrets. I was telling you about the black currents, but before you understand these, you must know about my quarries at home. These still have the stones left over from too hasty building, and the water is choked with the leftover metals. Black currents cannot grow there. Sweet blackberries, blueberries, elderberries, shun these places. But here, it is different. The wild garden is choked with tangles and retangles of berries, of untasted fruits of ancient labors sown and grown in soil that has been worked and reworked for centuries.

Writer, will you never get on with your tale?

Sterne addresses me variously from the repeating quire of his many editions and eruditions (SPELLING), peeking out here at madame, here at sirs, and yet here at your worships. Your reverences, your holies. Your readers. I am all, and neither of these, and he could not have clasped me into his audiences. What would he have done with someone who must not only keep a Norton Critical Edition for notes on who Rabelais was, but on the meaning of Tickletoby or an old hat? (I know, you guys are in the same boat, so I'll let you in on the secret--if only to keep you on this node and not to switch to the online Oxford English Dictionary--a tickletoby is slang for a man's organs and an old hat is slang for a woman's.)

Oh hush, Sterne, you should be the one to talk about the need for Shandean shambles, for the multiplexible, flexible, complexible, reflexible, contemptible, contempletable roundabout route that leads one to a destination in the end.