Monday, January 21, 2013

Eternal Archive of All That Is

January 4th 2013

Some miscellany for the new year -

Random beauty in the moment.  Save it forever... uh huh.

It has come to my attention that the Library of Congress is archiving all of Twitter – some 400 million tweets per day. Why? You might very well ask, just as I did, and as did my wife when I informed her of this. Our mouths hung open, our perplexity unattractive. We are not young tyros; we have seen our government do many inexplicable, weird and even randomly horrible things, because, as we all know, it is not a conscious or even marginally rational entity, and therefore such actions are inevitable. If the Library of Congress considers the random, fleeting thoughts of each and every human that uses this medium to be worthy of examination by posterity (the article mentioned the difficulty of welding this mass of words into a searchable, useful resource of some kind) then I would think the entirety of human existence, regardless of meaning or quality, is also of inestimable value and should somehow be recorded and saved forever. To the mind, our physical world is just a quicksand of change and transformation, and hence far less solid and real than our thoughts, which exist in a medium that encompasses, surrounds, creates, the idea of time, and hence feel eternal to us. Memory, and everything that enhances it or preserves it, feels more important than the maddeningly elusive, theoretical single moment of now, when physical and mental worlds intersect and merge.

 Blue chairs!  Everlasting grey!  Worlds collide!

Later in the same section of the W. Post there was an article regarding a large cache of Jewish documents roughly a thousand years old found in a cave in Afghanistan. Written in several languages and scripts, it testifies to the enduring addiction we all have to the products of our minds. At least the ancient Jews had a criterion for saving documents, in that anything mentioning God in any way was considered too sacred to discard. Going back much farther in time and in our human psychical development, we find the first writing, cuneiform, in large quantities in the Sumerian civilization, and there apparently most of the writing was used just to facilitate commerce and ordinary life – laundry lists, bills and receipts and similar mental detritus, which probably only survived because baked clay is a very stable material, and tax returns must be kept at least seven years. I've got tax returns twenty years old mouldering in my basement somewhere, but I lost last year's altogether when my computers fried in a storm, and I had been too lazy to back up or print them.

Which reminds me: File, Save As. The hopeful, pathetic little gesture trying to conjure some sort of 
immortality for our thoughts.

 Don't forget me.

Liquid Plumber Double Action Snake! The commercial I just saw was entirely pornographic in style and intent, lacking only some wildly gyrating genitals and screaming, spouting orgasms. So what, Pops? Your impertinent question is valid; one should no longer expect, in our sophisticated modern milieu, some vapid, sexless cartoon figure to sell household cleaning products in a way that will not make Auntie Mildred shake with the vapors. But then I saw a commercial for some auto-repair-and-tire outfit that must have been written and directed by one of our great modern absurdist provocateurs; the intent is no longer sexual but darkly psychotic. A nearly nude bearded fat man embraces a stone-faced mother figure in a staid outfit, and a masked, nearly nude midget utters a feral cry and leaps from a tall bookcase upon a nude fat man (the same one? we don't know.) in a towel, who is expecting a back massage. The technique, I assume, is to link the advertiser's name to strange images as a mnemonic, and this effect is assumed to be stronger if the images are disturbing and repellent, though lightly smeared with weak humor so as to deflect outraged criticisms from superannuated, fossilized, fallen Freudians such as myself. Freud would roll up his sleeves and flail endlessly but entertainingly, could he but see modern advertising. More and more, that imp he called the Id is dominating all human consciousness. Just read those Tweets for as long as you can stand it, if you really need confirmation. In any case, I can't remember the name of the car repair outfit, though I've seen the commercial many times, and will never be able to completely dump those fetid, hyper-banal images from my brain. What's wrong with me, Doc? Have I fallen down a metaphorical manhole, or a psychedelic rabbit hole, or a wormhole-in-the-time/space-continuum? Or has the Zeitgeist just passed me by like a Ferrari passing a donkey?

 Surrealistic Cookie Factory

I see on the web that today is the day Marty McFly was to arrive at in his headlong drive through time in the battered DeLorean. A perfect example of the same thing: as cool as that movie was, it now seems quaint in every way, especially in its earnest optimism. Nevertheless, we are not required to jump on the Cynical Juggernaut; if we wish we can stay in a decent mental space of our own, like the Professor hiding in the past, and perhaps be happy as our culture crumbles around us.

 Ride, Captain, ride, upon your mystery ship...

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He clasps the crag with crooked hands; Close to the sun in lonely lands, Ring'd with the azure world, he stands. The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls; He watches from his mountain walls, And like a thunderbolt he falls.