Wednesday, June 9, 2010
While I know it's been awhile, I have had endless, bountiless, boundless events that all deserve their own little blippet of prose. Alas, due to the 8-5 job, the volunteering in arts galleries, the constant concern with the dwindling of dollars, the zumba classes, the soaking up the sunshine moments, and my kitchen explorations, I have avoided the computer like I avoid doing anything with my laundry hamper, other than pile more and more clothes atop the volcano of knick knacks- any day now, mismatched socks, shirts and shorts and skirts, lost headbands and matchless shoes will explode upwards. However, before I go into the last few days, let's talk about what's presently on my mind.
"IS GOOGLE MAKING US STUPID?"
This article came out a few YEARS ago, 2008 to be exact, but it was brought to my attention when I read a review of Nicholas Carr's new book, "The Shallows," which I plan on buying, and with a twang of curiosity I was propelled towards his old article, the article that inspired the novel, the technology that inspired the book, the old school, the turnably crisp pages of written word. Does anyoen else feel like your brain is being rewired? Sometimes, I feel like I'm losing my mind...literally. I used to memorize phone numbers, birthdays, authors. I had to remind myself of this man's (Carr's) name three times, I was too distracted reading his article- my mind didn't absorb both his name, the title, and the information. I always say I'm bad with names. I'm not. I used to be really good with names, better with faces, but still- now, when I meet someone new, I literally have to remind myself to repeat his/her name in my head multiple times or else I forget it instantaneously. My friends know me to be a technology spazz- I don't check facebook all that often, I don't have Twitter, it takes me hours to respond to texts- the two technological forms I am best at are talking on the phone and emailing. Hearing a voice that's across the country while cradling my brick of a phone continues to excite me- phone calls convey emotion, in a way that only so many !!!! ..... :-) :-) :-D can do on facebook, texts, whatever. I miss the voice, the timbre, the hard grainy, soft rainy, melting, crisp, giggling, chuckling, chortling, snorting, combats of silences, battles over who speaks first- that's human nature, the closest thing to be with someone you miss in person. Email, that's different- I check my email and respond as prompt as possible, when it matters, because I fear being caught in my technological laziness by people I work for, look up towards, learn from, etc.
In his article, Carr talked about how difficult it's become for people to read long articles. Clearly, I WRITE A LOT. So I challenge you, my beloved friends, to stick with the words, just as I'll try harder to stick with yours. Do any of you pronounce words in your head when you read? Apparently, that's not normal, according to my dad, who passes off wise opinion as fact. I speak constantly in my mind- I say every word, sometimes I still have to feel out the corners of the phrase with my brain, wrap my neurons around how to pronounce different tentacles of prose, poetry, ramblings of alphabetic mishmash. My mind grew tired, reading Carr's article, just as he predicted. I had to reign it back a few times, remind her that I would not prove Carr right, when really, I want to. I want to believe that there is some neurological effect of all the glorified techno-communication that may not benefit us, that robs us of more intrinsic, natural reactions to people, situations, desires, dislikes. I want to believe him because then I would have an excuse to abandon my emails, disconnect my computer, and hopefully fall back into those days when I could read for hours. Don't get me wrong, I still love my reading time, but to be honest, it does take me longer to finish a novel, even the most thrilling of adventures. It took me a month to get through Wolfe's "Look Homeward, Angel." Longer. Sure, there were many days I didn't read at all, there were many I read 5 pages, many I read 15. And yes, his writing is as dense as the mountain forest he paints for us, but I LOVE his writing. My mind never used to be able to sleep- as soon as the pages of a book opened, BAM, guaranteed hour of reading at least- I would have to force myself to go to sleep, always pleasantly surprised at the immediacy of exhaustion that accompanied the snap of my lightswitch- I never suspected sleep to be lurking around my perimeter.
So, my challenge for myself, ironically through this very medium of technology that is discussed in his works, is to start by reading more, fervently, feverishly, in a frenzy of literary love.
First, I'll buy Carr's book and I'll finish it in a few days. I've never been a fan of the survey-stuffed, semi-dry, knowledge-spouting drudges of pages that go on for hundreds of flips, BUT, that's only because I have my mind set against them from the beginning. I want the facts, the cheap ABC, 123 of the interesting tidbits- the scientific rambles, the evidence to back everything up, I avoid. I don't want to. I want to be able to like important books, packed books, just as much as I love strolling through Wolfe and Bronte and endless other authors- the book I'm reading right now, "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society" (which I will also complete in a few days.) Work is beckoning, decisions to be made, but in the meantime, slowdom...I WILL RETRAIN MY BRAIN.
PS "Pancake people" is a phrase referenced by Carr from playwright Richard Foreman- it refers to the flattening out of people, the skinnying of the mind, the diet of brain, the shortcuts that derive from the juice, the meat, the squeeze.