Sunday, April 3, 2011

Camera Front and Back

As with the true depth of the snow when I was little, I have no way to know how my memory is being distorted by age. I am more engaged with the news than I used to be, but I'm also having a hard time remembering my state of mind as recently as when we all turned the Y2K corner.

I love having a smartphone which I can use for instant references: Names and historical data; definitions and showtimes - and I'm certain that it's making me a kind of 'as-if' smarter. But what's it doing to my consciousness? What does it mean when I can and will and must check in about every little question and curiosity?

Driving past bus stops now or walking along the road, it seems that everyone with an idle minute is looking downward toward something in their hand. Fiddling with it. But strolling through the glorious Balboa Park in SanDiego there was a lone man slouched backwards like some iconic take of John Muir, engaged with the landscape and looking homeless. I could repose in mind with him.

Through txting now, there will be video chat, perhaps, though you can't do that under your desk in class. I want my 4G phone and I want it now. I want all my screens united and I want the biggest one to envelope me. (the "I" will disappear in the end through and by and with this process)

So, two things happened recently: One, I finally shlepped my phone into Verizon for a replacement since my touchscreen has  been referring touches to random other parts of the screen from those I intend. I could fix it by "coloring" in the screen until it re-established sync, but it was getting worse and worse, and this was my way to defer wanting something cooler and newer. It's always better to wait a while, and no-time more so than now. Two, I randomly remembered Superman the movie and then there it was on Dish. I'd forgotten the part at the beginning where the Kryptonite criminals are exiled onto a 2D screen. I'd thought it made nice symbolism at the time.

The funny thing is that now that I have a brand new replacement obsolete phone on its way, the one I have started working again. I feel guilty for burdening the globe with more junk, although it's hard to trust it just because I worked it over good trying one last time to fix it. And the movies now are poised to go 3D, and that's being touted as the "new color." As though we'll all look back on 2D the way we do on black and white or silent.

I'm not so sure.

You know, here in California, they've had some success bringing city centers back to life by enticing in the mall brands. I'm thinking of Pasadena and San Diego, but I also saw the same thing in Spokane Washington. (one has to wonder why Buffalo can't do it?)

But then you find these cute little specialty stores, located in architecturally interesting little retro establishments, all going out of business because you'd have to know they are there and frequent the place enough to go there when you think of wanting something they sell. Which brings me right back to the consciousness changes happening with all the mass mediation of what we ponder and think we know.

There's only so much room in the brain, you know? Keep us distracted by too much information, keep us daily tied to news about the Middle East or world-threatening disasters, and we'll only have room for the mall, or the mall-like downtown, and its limited brands. Familiars.

And we don't even know our neighbors, and wouldn't want their low skilled artisanal outputs which are what national branding and interchangeable parts (right down to the food we eat) were all about in the first place.

The bats are dying and so are the bees, and we weren't really thinking of them when we thought we could go it alone on the planet. But we can't. It's so easy for me to envision mass transit on rails for getting to work each day, but much harder to imagine the political shifts which would have to happen first.

The disastrous outcome of nuclear energy proliferation seems inevitable in retro, in particular because if even the Japanese can't work it out on the corruption front, how do the rest of us expect to do so?

Well, you won't likely get the answer from me, since I go back to work on Wednesday (insert Hooray track!). Just like the rest of us, I wish there were actually a way to direct my efforts which did good for the planet.

I would be happy with a better political arrangement, so that at least I might be assured that the actual leaders made it into leadership positions, and that the thoughtless classes weren't so much in charge. Without reverting to some sort of aristocracy.

Maybe I'm asking too much? I don't really think so. It's all about trust and education and finding ways to put the two together. Maybe the smartphone and other devices can help with that. Maybe it will be the wearable computers. For sure, we need to get back our commuting time and not spend so much energy on the virtual but highly stressful reality of the freeways.

That would be my vote anyhow. But you know, before I get a chance to vote, we the people will ourselves have been turned into interchangeable parts. Hooked on "authenticity" as on a drug. And isn't that simply the most poignant irony of all?