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2009 September | Craig Nova: The Writing Life

The Open Mind

September 29, 2009 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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AfterAStrangeLight

I’ve noticed a change in the way we perceive media. A few years ago, media was outside of ourselves, and we noticed it at a distance. We went to the movies and the action, the story, the gestures of the stars took place on a screen. Advertisements existed only in the magazines or on billboards.  But in the last few years this has changed.  We seem to experience media not at a distance, but inside our head.  The screen where the media plays is not at the drive in, but right between our ears.

Technology is one of the items that is driving this.    The computer makes all of our interactions with images, sounds, news, text much more immediate, much closer to where we think.     And, where music is concerned, we can now download what we want and then play what we want through new ear phones that makes us feel that we are inside the music, or, more to the point, the music is inside us.

This is true, too, for other downloads, such as Podcasts.  The voices have moved inside.

I think, too, that the scale of the computer monitor contributes to this increased intimacy with images and sounds.  It is small compared to a movie screen and we have some limited control over it, and the sense of flicking from one thing to another, from one image or one sound to another has an interior quality that is a lot like thinking.

In fact, this movement from the outside to the inside is a lot like one that took place thousands of years ago in religion.   The gods, who previously had existed in the natural world or on a specific site, like Mount Olympus, moved inside the human mind.   It was no longer a matter of Zeus taking his revenge (with earthquakes or floods) but the interior whisper of the snake, of the private tempter, that was causing us such grief.

And, in the modern age, what are the implications of this migration of media?

First, it is far more easy to believe in the illusions we see and hear, just as the modern media, with its appeal to rank emotionalism, makes us more willing to feel it as being genuine.  After all, we experience it from the heart of our existence.

The sad part is this: in the endless quest for the authentic, which youth is particularly mesmerized by, the interior media works with more power than ever before.   I’d like to point out that almost everything that appeals to youth and that makes a young man or woman feel authentic, is a money making operation, and while it seems that fashion, music, nose rings, tattoos and a million other things that make people feel unique are somehow personal, they spring from the oldest impulse of all.  The desire to make money.   And the people who are making money, or using media to make money, are not our friends.  Not by a long shot.

Frankly, I’d like to move the media back about a hundred yards: about to the distance of a drive in movie screen.   At least from that perspective we can distinguish between the observer and the thing being seen.  Right now they are almost the same.

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Flying With Jack

September 17, 2009 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Picture 3

I have had some experience with the saying that there are old bush pilots and careless bush pilots, but no old, careless bush pilots.

Mostly, the bush pilots I flew with were in Maine, both warden pilots and men who had planes that they kept as part of a camp they ran. They were almost always precise men, although when they took a chance, they knew what they were doing. For instance, one of them told me that when he was trying to fly home in bad weather, he came home on the Iron Beam.

The Iron Beam meant this: he found a rail road track he knew, and then he would fly about twenty feet above it.

“But,” he said. “You’ve got to know your lines. There can’t be any tunnels on it.” He smiled here. “And you have to stay to the right, in case someone else is doing the same thing coming from the other direction.” Continue reading Flying With Jack…

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The Human Condition and the English Language

September 14, 2009 | Filed Under Uncategorized | 2 Comments

14 Middle Ages

In Politics and the English Language, George Orwell points out that the use of stale political phrases show that a writer has stopped thinking.  And while we have escaped some of this language in our political discussions, we are still confined by the new versions of meaningless phrases.  In the everyday life ordinary people try to confront ordinary problems and casually use such expressions as “role models,” “closure” and other examples of psychological Newspeak.

The first question, of course, to ask is why such language is attractive, aside from ease of use.   I think that the answer is in the cyrpto-scientific aspect of its provenance.   When you say “role model”, instead of “example,” you imply the existence of some comforting technical or psychological mechanism.  A “role model” implies that everything about human beings is adjustable, and that nothing comes from the depths of one’s existence.    That is, if one is playing the “role” of a father, such activity doesn’t come from the experience of having realized that one has a child, but from some external and completely artificial influence.   A “role” is something that can be “chosen” and worn like this year’s fashion.   It is appallingly glib, remote from actual experience, and obscures what it is like to be human.

It is this last item, the covering up of reality, that is the most seductive aspect of such words.   Being a father is not a role.  It is a fact.  You either do a good job or a bad job, or you are up to it or you aren’t.  You can accept your responsibilities or you can try to wiggle out of them.  But these are not “roles.”   They are who and what you are. Continue reading The Human Condition and the English Language…

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