Monday, February 22, 2010

Death and All of His/Her friends


"It has been said that as animals, one factor that sets us apart from all other animals is that our lives need to be stories, narratives, and that when our stories vanish, that is when we feel lost, dangerous, out of control and susceptible to the forces of randomness. It is the process, whereby one loses one's life story: "denarration". Denarration is the technical way of saying, "not having a life."

"Scott doesn't have a life."

"Amber is denarrated."

Up until recently, no matter where or when one was born on earth, one's culture provided one with all components essential for the forging of identity. These components include religion, family, ideology, class strata, geography, politics and a sense of living with a historic continuum.

Suddenly, around 10 years ago, with the deluge of electronic and information media into our lives, these stencils within which we trace our lives begin to vanish, almost overnight, particularly on the West Coast. It became possible to be alive yet have no religion, no family connections, no ideology, no sense of class or location, no politics, and no sense of history. Denarration.

In a low-information environment, pre-TV, etc. relationships were the only form of entertainment available. Now we have methods of information linkage and control ranging from phone answering machines to the Internet that mediate relationships to the extent that corporeal interaction is now beside the point. As a result, the internal dialogue has been accelerated to whole new planes as regularized daily contact has become an obsolete indulgence.

The West Coast continues to be a laboratory of denarration. In a very odd sense, the vacuum of nothingness forces the individual either to daily reinvent himself or herself or perish. Therefore it should come as no surprise that, sunny weather aside, Hollywood and the dream-creation apparatus of the 20th century should locate itself in a planetary locale of relative blackness.

Q: Who are you this week? This year?"

Taken from Douglas Coupland's Polaroids from the Dead pg. 179-180


First of all, I would suggest that if you ever see one of Coupland's books you should pick it up and read it immediately. After much criticism I will throw JPod into that category as well, though it will most definitely be a while before I read that mess again.

There are a few reasons why I wanted to share this excerpt. One reason is that I've caught myself a lot lately thinking in "status". Let me explain. Recently I was playing hockey upstairs with my son Miles and at one moment I caught myself saying in my head, "Brett is playing hockey with his son." This, of course, is a Facebook status that does not nor ever will exist. I am "writing" things in my head that I don't even mean to write nor do I want to write them. I'm sure that many others can relate to this. Maybe there are even a few Tweeters our there that can agree that this kind of thing is common. I am thankful that I am not a Tweeter.

"Brett is sitting." 4:17pm
"Brett's legs are straightening out." 4:17pm
"Brett is standing." 4:18pm
"Brett is thinking about sitting again. Details to follow..." 4:18pm

The point of this is that there are a lot of thoughts buzzing around in my head. I'm sure that statistics would show that most of us with sleeping problems have these problems because our brains are slowly frying, literally, and they never do settle down. Kind of like a big sunburn that keeps on burning while your trying to sleep. The reason why TV commercials are so annoying is because they stimulate your brain in such a way as to grab your attention away from all of the other distractions around you.

"Fred stopped texting on his cell phone while tuning out the voice of his lovely wife in order to look around his daughter's computer screen so he could see the new Rickard's ad."

The sad thing about all this is that we don't even have a choice anymore. I mean, walk into your kid's school and notice how many of those little rascals are wearing glasses. We are born into this distraction.

Ladies and gentlemen... Progress!

This is what we, as humans, have come to think of as "the good life." It seems to me that the good life is just good because its convenient and easy. The convenience is pretty amazing,

"How are you doing, George, who lives in Montreal while I am in China talking on Skype with you? You look well."

but I believe that though I can talk to whoever I want to whenever I want to, there is a tendency to build up a bunch of shallow relationships full of how-are-yous and see-you-laters.

I'm sure that pointing this out is nothing new. Most of us love all of the gimmicks and gadgets that we can spend our time with. Its like an addiction that everyone is addicted to so, when everyone has it, is it still an addiction or is it just the norm?

A few questions come to mind...

1. How many deep, intimate, genuine conversations have I had this week or this month for that matter?

2. Is the world progressing? Are all of these things for the better?

3. Will I still be able to go camping in the year 2035?

***Photo taken from the set of the film "Into the Woods". The trailer should be ready before April but the film itself might never be finished.


Becky said...

Tell me about it.

I've just cut my facebook time down to 2-3 times/day, limiting those times to 10(ish) minutes ... But I still love reading blogs and checking-in on-line with all of my favorite sites. In fact, I probably live on-line and in my headphones more than I live in real life conversation and interaction. Sheesh. I am doing more reading these days though, but books are not real life interaction. They can promote conversation though, so maybe I'm on the right track. Thanks for the debate.

This is a nice site I have recently found:

Barry said...

I just in the last month relayed to JB, my coworker, that I am often 'thinking in facebook status'', trying to decide what would be the funniest or most provoking way to say something, whilst keeping it simple. It made me a little sad, but I laughed at the same time.

Lois said...

Camping in the year 2035? I don't think I'd enjoy that - I'd be 79 years old (Lord willing!)
On a more serious note, the older I get the more I feel the need to 'draw the line' somewhere in my technological browsings. I've done that, I think, at one computer that just 'computes' and one cell phone that just 'phones'. It's just my own personal capacity issues!
Mom Gee