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  • It was late, late at night. I think it could have been early morning, really. The stars were clear, and the ground was hazy with fine dust and disco light. E. and I walked across the open prairie of the Burning Man Festival -- the infamous "playa" -- and the installations and dancefloors came suddenly, incandescently, out of the dark. Unless we slowed down to look, they disappeared again behind us.

    We found this installation: a typewriter. A man in motley perched on the chair. I have no idea whether the typewriter was supposed to be functional, but it wasn't. There was a single sheet of paper in it, with half a typed sentence on it. The man pounded away, his fingers moving forcefully, carefully. We could hear the clicks, but the machine itself was inert, a quiet agate in the changing light.

    I approached him with sudden, groundless confidence.

    "Hey, man," I said. "What are you doing?"

    He looked up at me, all patience and annoyance. His face was thin, kind, creased.

    "I'm working," he answered, as though it were the most natural thing in the world. He spoke loudly, lucid as the rain.

    Then, turning his back to us, he found his place on the blank page, beginning again.
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