Narcissus: A Digital Translation

by Jacob Warn

Echo_and_Narcissus_-_John_William_Waterhouse

Born in the 90s, companies of men adored him even before puberty. Siri prophesied longevity: and didn’t he know it, as he watched it on his own fair skin, white blushed with the blood-red digits of his own heartbeat. A heart throb. A nymphomaniac unto himself, himself unto nymphs.

The light down of hair had barely touched his scalp before all sought him with gifts. His qwerty hands had barely unwrapped the Four before he synced himself to the Five.

His first love could have been Echo. She came from the same world as him. She too had a body, an unpractised voice, and alphabetic silicon fingertips. They felt good.

Squaring their digital eyes up to one another, once they even stammered in conversation. Up she popped and he asked, ‘Hello?’ ‘Lo!’ She replied.

Copying and pasting his last syllable was all she could manage, taught to type not to write. ‘I love your profile pic’, he commented. ‘I love you’, she edited back at him. Which he took the wrong way, and chose to appear offline.

She shot him with messages and they danced all around him: on iPhones winking sua sponte beside him, as whistles, tings and shwoops chorusing in homophonic synchronicity, and as erotic vibrations caressing his thigh. ‘Don’t let your hands stray’, he resolved, but dissolved as they retweeted, ‘Let your hands stray’. ‘I’ll turn you off’ he coldly shouted at the screens. But instead they turned him on with images of hot, topless girls.

By now he had forgotten about Echo. Anyway, she was mortal, blemished and older than 18. The next time his laptop reconfigured itself with the latest OS not even a .wav of her voice remained. He breathed a sigh of orgasmic relief: he had stored girls of the other kind in the safe, secluded Cloud.

But with all these images, he was not content. Google-eyed, he tumbled through page and page of his favourites. But his insatiable appetite finally undid him, and deviating from his normal web haunts, he StumbledUpon a secluded sylvan site. Thus did http://www.ramnausea.com take revenge on him.

Bending close to the screen, he froze. There he found one image that surpassed all the others. For whom did he see but his very own stripped body, reflected in poor light in a mirrored bathroom, iPhone visible in his left hand. God he was beautiful: ‘Sic amet ipse licet, sic non patiatur amato’ the caption read. The joke of some repressed Classics student somewhere.

The screen’s brightness did him justice. A silvery surface, like water. His own, unadulterated portal onto his own, unadult skin.

He didn’t dare touch a button, lest the page refresh or crash on him. His eyes drank deep of that image; and his hunger took high-resolution mega-bites of it. There, in wonder at his own physique, he sat like a screen-shot.

And liking him, himself he liked, and downloading him was himself downloaded.

Echo found the pictures too. Vegetative, they were rooted to their seats. But the mortality of battery life promised death by the percentile. And like fresh flowers, dead and turned to moist compost, little by little their lithium power was sapped, and gave way to eternal, absolving, darkness.

***

The Poor Print

The Oriel College Newspaper. Run by students, with contributions from the JCR, MCR, and SCR & Staff. Current Executive Editors: Tom Davy, Joanna Engle and Chris Hill

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