Wednesday, July 4, 2012

There is Rumbling Beneath My Feet--

I can’t feel it so much as know it through some indefinable sense that I’ve never before tried to describe in words.  Bear with me it may take more than one try, but here goes.

Our world is changing! That's a truism. Everybody knows that but it’s getting too fast to feel.  I took many changes both in stride and unconsciously until recently then I woke up from a hypnotic spell to notice that malls are going extinct, newspapers printed on paper are going extinct, as are books and magazines, big clunky low resolution TV’s are waiting in Good Will stores for someone to adopt them before they are euthanized. Landline phones are hiding in neglected corners hoping to escape detection before their owners decide to cut costs, and only a few years ago when I was still working on Taos plaza, some shoppers (usually from Texas) were keeping track of family members with walky- talkies.

 Last year we were still renting DVD’s and I remembered far back to the 90’s how exciting it was when we got a VCR player.  While here in Arizona housesitting, we are downloading  Netflix from my iPhone to the TV.  It is in recent memory that Wal-Mart had a well-stocked bin of Kodak film. Only ten years ago and less, all of these things were doing just fine. Now in the post-historic blink of an eye we can wake up to a different world and you know what surprises me the most. Everyone goes on as if it’s always been this way. I think constant bombardment with new things causes brain overload that leads to overflow. We have more and more but it doesn’t seem like much. It’s as if we have so much coming in that there’s no place left to put it. 

With a mild electronic addiction, I have three computers; one is a Toshiba Laptop now on indefinite loan to the grandkids. I remember the excitement of purchasing it.  At that time, I was doing websites and wanted the ability to work anywhere.  It was light and powerful for its time way back in 2005. I was in Denver just after the sale of our family home, helping mom clear out 59 years of accumulation and move into her new apartment. She had money from the sale and gave me enough to buy a fine laptop with a nice case and wireless mouse, etc. Another is the eight-year-old Dell XP Media Edition desktop that has a wonderful sound system, but I seldom use it anymore. Nevertheless, it has some of the software I use that isn’t compatible with my new computer. I remember the excitement of buying this one also. I’d just sold several paintings and had the money to buy the computer and pay off my credit card; a heady euphoric experience that felt like winning the lottery.

Right now, I’m using a six-month-old Dell XPS running Windows 7 and thinking of upgrading to Windows 8.  I wanted a Mac Book Pro but it was too expensive, especially since I’d have to buy all kinds of new software.  This one is great though, very fast, with some great new features and most surprising for a PC it integrates perfectly with my iPhone. Nevertheless, I can seldom pass a store with seductive electronic gadgets. I have to hold them, caress them with my eyes and fantasize about the fun we could have together.

I used to imagine what a thrill it would be to create and edit movies that grabbed people’s emotions with moveable story art.  Then when I discovered the World Wide Web, I thought heaven had been smuggled to earth. I could find any information I wanted, and travel to many worlds with that little machine on my desk. Sci-Fi stuff for sure. I dreamed of owning Adobe Photoshop and then with the Big Dell I got it. But I haven’t upgraded from the original CS edition. Somehow the importance of having the latest of everything waned. I no longer create new websites because the technology is changing too fast to keep up with for someone living in Taos, New Mexico far from sources of web-tech knowledge.  

 Until recently, I had slow speed dial-up internet, which made it impossible to take online classes, and now I just don’t care. I think the time has come to move in a different direction. Some changes are not real changes just shuk’n and jive’n on a creaky floor thus the rumbling beneath the feet.   It’s all maya in the Hindu sense of mistaking shape shifting for reality.  Although fun, there is an imminent threat to the supply of all those fun things.  After all, they are products of non-renewable resources being used up faster and faster as excitement mounts. And isn’t excitement really what everybody is marketing right now? Smart phones, Big Screen TV’s, self-navigating vehicles, tablet PC’s, and cosmetic surgery are all about a happy fix, just as much as weed, cocaine, crystal meth and more traditional feel goods like chocolate, sugar and alcohol. I’m not saying it is bad to use these fixes with the possible exception of cocaine and crystal meth, it’s just that nobody seems to know what they are fixing or why it doesn’t last.

A long time ago, I learned that substitute indulgences don’t satisfy. Getting a new toy for Christmas when you want a pony never works. Ever fancier cars and mobile phones so full of features and apps that it takes months to learn them by which time they are outdated don’t fulfill anything. But they aren’t supposed to fulfill anything.  They are golden carrots held out to make eternally unfulfilled asses of us all.  It keeps us moving in the direction our masters wish us to go. 

Everyone knows, even if it not stated, that this can’t last and it seems that as oil peaks the showdown with reality advances. Mother Earth is stirring under her uncomfortable coat of asphalt, concrete and housing developments. I think she’s almost ready to shake it off.  What will happen to us then? There are many doomsayers out there trying to scare us, but nobody knows how it will really come down.

I don’t believe that we are alien invaders, although some do, and even if we are there are certain principles of survival extending to the cosmos. It may be that an entirely different set of human abilities will develop. Evolution has come to mean the advancement of the rational mind and conquest of nature.  Perhaps a changing world will result in the development of a more holistic blend of feeling, intuition and reason. Humans don’t usually change unless they have to do so.  Belief that we are above nature, our planet and our fellow beings is an illusion whose time is rapidly deteriorating. We will survive because it’s not entirely up to us, but we won’t be the same.